Showing posts from July, 2008

Animal Planet

Why aren't all nature programs like this?

Hey, Baby

I'm making a watermelon feta salad to go with the tofu burgers tonight, and I needed to pick up a few things. I had a nice stroll into town, drank a coffee and restocked my book options, then went to Sainsburys. Keiren was picking me up, so I stood in front of the store to wait for his arrival. I'm wearing knee length jean shorts and a baggy mens-ish shirt and sandals. And holding a watermelon. Which made me think, "Hey! I'm just like Baby! You can't put me in the corner!" And I did a little merengue in my head. If I'd been standing next to a ginger, I'm sure people would have noticed the similarity, and probably pointed. I just hope my hair wasn't as puffy. I really need to start working again.

Make these

Seriously, they're delicious .

If I were a cat

The other day I saw the dorkiest, clumsiest cat ever. It was a bit fat, and it wanted to get to a shed roof to sun itself. So it struggled to claw it's way up the side of the fence. It finally made it. "It's smooth sailing now, my friend," or so I thought. After a few seconds' pause to steady itself, it did this awkward claw/crawl along the top of the fence and the rail just below the edge that keeps the fence slats upright. It had to stop mid-way, seemingly to catch its breath and balance. Eventually, Lard Kitty made it to the side of the shed, and did a gingerly side step and crawl maneuver that moved it up on its destination, and then it collapsed in a heap, its chest heaving while it relaxed in the sun. I think I'm going to go for a run tomorrow. Could probably do with a little exercise

Against the tide

I know this is going to make me very unpopular in blogland , but I'm here to tell you that, while bacon is delicious and chocolate is might- ee -fine, combining bacon and chocolate is just asking for trouble. In fact, bacon and chocolate sounds nasty. Especially bacon and white chocolate, which has no bite at all and would simply dilute the smoky goodness. No, I'm even willing to go out on a ledge and say that putting bacon and chocolate together is a downright bad idea. I also think bacon martinis make no sense and that a bacon trifle would also be disgusting. Bacon and jello might work, but only if there were carrots and celery in the mix, too, and probably only with the lighter, more refreshing jellos of the orange/lime/lemon variety as they would give a better balance. I know. I'm a rebel. But I will not stand by and allow this rampant bacon lust to continue without a sanity check.

Getting down to business

1. So today, I have to get a little more serious. I've been revising my resume to get rid of the UK spellings and to have a US address. In a bit I'm also going to make a marketing manager version of it to use for comms jobs, all ready for sending out tomorrow. Wouldn't want to do too much in one day. 2. I have developed a serious love of the show Flight of the Conchords . K&C have the first season on DVD, and we started watching it for kicks this weekend. Good lord, that's funny. 3. My youngest nephew's little league team just won the Minnesota championships. They're on to Indianapolis next weekend to play in the Midwest Regionals, next stop the Little League World Series. He's pitching this year, and I see by the game summaries his hitting doesn't suck, either. I wonder if he's watching The Bad News Bears to prepare? Or maybe that lame movie about an angel in the outfield. (Duh. Everyone knows angels don't play baseball.) I just hope h

Adventures of the unemployed

1. While I'm waiting for the movers to arrive in MK, I have been killing time at Gloria Jean's coffee in the Hub:mk. I wouldn't be one to go to a Gloria Jean's in the US. I associate them with those naff flavored coffees like hazelnut and amaretto creme. (I hate flavored coffees. A lot.) But here they have a nice atmosphere, free wifi, they play decent music and the coffee is excellent. They do a proper leaf pattern on the top, always the hallmark of a barista that knows what they're doing. They also make iced tea, which you can't find ANYWHERE in the UK, and which is one of my favorite things to drink on a hot day. I give a big thumbs up to Gloria Jean's in MK. 2. My friends Justin and Alexa have the best dog. Her name is Camilla, or Millie for short, and she is a Yorkshire Terrier. Now, I am not a fan of the tiny yippy dog. But this dog is sweet and funny and very smart. She has the most expressive face and she has a big personality and when she climbs

Relaxing in the English sun

1. I spent my birthday relaxing in the garden. Read papers, drank coffee, soaked up some sun. It was lovely. When they were done working for the day, Kieren and Corrie and I split a bottle of champagne. Or rather Corrie and I did. Then they took me to dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant. came home, had more champagne and sat in the garden chatting. It was a lovely day. 2. They have one of those strange wand things in the shower, much like the enema looking thing at the Royalton . This morning, I learned that if you accidentally turn it on when you're just trying to turn on the rain shower it will spray you in the face. It is surprising. 3. I burned my forearm on a wok, but didn't realise it until today when the blister popped. 4. Took the train to London and then on to Milton Keynes. I'm staying here tonight and tomorrow, having dinner with friends and meeting the movers when they come pick up my stuff. I have one last chance to rescue some favourite things from the tw

Now THAT'S some foreign policy

Nothing says, "I'm a seasoned diplomat who will raise our standing in the world and gain global consensus for the war on terror," like a grotesque stereotype of a European power used to taunt your press entourage into hating the other guy . Seriously, who in the McCain campaign is that stupid? The joke might actually be funny if it appeared as an op ed cartoon from a neutral source. Because it IS kind of funny that normal journalists with months on the Obama campaign have been kicked off so Katie Couric and that annoying Charlie Gibson can get a holiday abroad. And who doesn't find a Frenchie in an ill-fitting beret and a neckerchief amusing? About the only thing that would make that funnier is if he talked like Kevin Kline when he's pretending to be French. Or maybe a talking frog wearing an ill-fitting beret and neckerchief and speaking with a fake French accent. Now THAT'S comedy. Unfortunately, coming from inside the McCain camp, this is not funny -

Sexy Men

Occasionally I see tags out there wherein people denote the 10 sexiest actors/singers/etc. I don't usually do these. But today I feel like blogging but I haven't had enough coffee, so here I go. Giving you a window to my soul. In no particular order we have: 1. Ryan Gosling - both handsome AND a Mormon (though perhaps lapsed, therefore no funny underpants.) 2. Jack Black - hubba hubba. 3. Brad Garrett - My he's tall. And dark. 4. Chow Yun Fat - Because I've always wanted a boyfriend who could fly. 5. George Clooney - Don't hate him because he's beautiful. He didn't ask to be born that way. 6. Johnny Depp - I mean, come on. Does he EVER not make one of these lists? 7. Mark Ruffalo - whiny, gruff, a little slurred, scruffy, sweet and sorta brainy all in one. 8. Peter Krause - I know, I know. He's totally off type. Blond, from Minnesota, Scandinavian. Alas, I can't help myself. He's divine. 9. Sacha Baron Cohen -

New Tools

From the Washington Post on May 21, 2008: Dear Miss Manners: How does one go about introducing a new eating utensil? I have great problems eating pizza, onion soup and spaghetti neatly. What I need is a delicate pair of scissors, which would be called "cheese scissors." They could resemble the small scissors that hairdressers use. On the place setting, they could be placed to the right of the knife. How can I go about making these scissors acceptable? Shall I just buy a pair and start using them? It seems to me that discreetly cutting the cheese string would be much more ladylike than pulling a long string of cheese or wrapping it around my finger until it finally breaks. What do you think? Obviously, the gentle reader is a certified genius. I mean, a fish knife looks nice but doesn't necessarily assist in eating. But a cheese scissors THAT is a useful table implement. Nothing burns like a string of hot cheese slapping an unsuspecting chin. And all t


NOW NEW AND IMPROVED THROUGH THE MAGIC OF PROOFREADING! 1. After a mad scramble, I FINALLY got my belongings narrowed to shippable plus three suitcases and a carry on. You have no idea how hard it is to narrow all of your belongings to three suitcases of things for the foreseeable future. It's safe to say that these are the only things I will have access to for the next six weeks, possibly even the next two to three months - all depending upon how quickly they fill the rest of my shipping container. Work clothes, winter clothes and things I don't wear more than once a month went in the ship section. Summer clothes, interview clothes and things I would hate to have lost at sea went in the suitcases. I have a really good red and off white zipper cardigan that I've had for over 10 years. We had a soulful moment, even shed a tear as we were saying goodbye. 2. The people on Location, Location tonight are lottery winners who want to buy a house with their winnings. The woma

A Saturday night in Milton Keynes smells like Lynx and meadow fresh feminine hygiene products

Oh my. Even on a windy evening with hundreds of people smoking in the night air, the five minute walk from a restaurant to my hotel gave me a headache from the cheap cologne. I have never, ever smelled such a melange of buck-two-eighty pheromone scents in my life. I wonder if they actually work? You'd think they'd eventually cancel each other out and everyone would just end up confused. Not to mention nauseated. Or perhaps this explains the nonsensical fighting in the streets.


I apologize if you haven't seen my little UK visit in your site meter lately. For the last few weeks my primary (and only) blog access has been at work. And let's face it. Some of you people swear an awful lot. Which is fine, unless the internet police are looking for dodgy sites accessed during working hours. In fact, one of you got me a little warning on my second to last day. Thanks, Chris.


A liberal "think tank" here in the UK has asked for the banning of the word " chav " from pop parlance. They say it shows extreme loathing for the working class. Personally, I think their recommendation shows extreme loathing for the working class. Certainly they are correct that being called a chav is seldom seen or meant as a compliment. But not all working class people are chavs . Chavs are showy, loud and drunk, and they are proud of their ignorance and readily display their bad manners and lack of common sense to anyone in their immediate vicinity. They are the English equivalent of trailer trash. And like trailer trash, they are a unique breed - not a complete representation of those from blue collar backgrounds. By suggesting that chav is equivalent to working class, the think tank seems to be saying that they think anyone without money, education or position is a loud, obnoxious boor in track bottoms and too-tight-trousers covered cheap cologne and lo

Oh, how the mighty

VS. How sad to go from beloved wacky sidekick to creepy boob-staring candidate for Bub's Weenie-Waver Wedensday ? I guess with a name like Andy Dick he never really had a chance. Personally, I never did like the cut of his jib. He and Molly Shannon should never be allowed near each other for the good of humanity.

Inner conflict, vol. 2

Point: I will not miss, not even a little bit, the toilets in restaurants in the UK. In the winter they are not heated, and you risk freezing your butt to the toilet. They are often up stairs or in far off areas of the building, and it can be a major effort to hike to the loo. I once went to a little french place with my friends Susan and Patricia that required you go up stairs, down a hallway, across a catwalk and then up a few more steps to get to the ladies. And while the trek certainly works off calories, woe be to anyone who drinks a bit to much wine and needs to take a wee. Especially if they've worn taller shoes than usual. Counterpoint: I love gastropubs. They're often in picturesque settings and they have delightfully varied menus and often have nibbles and bits that can make for a perfect convivial evening of grazing and sipping wine and talking smart. They serve you reasonable servings of food (not gargantuan ones that could feed a family of four) and the food

They stole my line

My family has a tendency to absent-mindedly eat, or to eat with reckless abandon and passionate fervor - be it out of stress, joy, pain, nervousness, celebration or even boredom, when you're hanging with my family, at some point a little snack like a snitched pickle or olive turns into a strap-on-the-feedbag gnoshfest that will make outsiders fear for their lives (or at least limbs.) And it isn't just a genetic trait. We seem to gravitate towards like-minded ubersnackers - my sister-in-law is like this, Tom is like this, and virtually all friends close enough to attend a function in the inner sanctum exhibit this trait. (And don't you all get pious on me. Take a look at the size of your asses and then tell me you don't mindlessly snack on occasion.) When my dad was in hospice last year, Tom was making margaritas and we were eating a perfectly healthy meal. And then about an hour after dinner I decided that I wanted a nibble. Which turned into cheese and crackers. Whic

Inner conflict, vol. 1

Point: I will not miss the stuff that passes for pizza in the UK. The crust is often the correct combo of chewy crispness, but the sauce they use is miserable. It's like they open a can of chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce and use it with no seasoning, not even salt and pepper. I like me a zesty, herby kick. It ruins the whole thing for me. It is also traditional to eat the pizza with a knife and fork. No slices. Everyone orders their own 9" pizza, and you cut it like a steak. At the very least, I like to eat a triangular slice with my hands. Even better if it's tiny little squares, allowing one to hoover vast quantities of pizza without the guilt of knowing how much you've eaten. (That is obviously a deep-rooted value established through constant exposure to Mabe's as a child.) Nope. Pizza in the UK is just so so. And I'm moving to CHICAGO, where they have a whole style of pizza named after them. Rock on. Counterpoint: I will miss the chocolates. Even cheap

In defense of Mamma Mia

Many critics in the UK are panning Mamma Mia . They are saying that it's over the top and silly and completely falls flat. I disagree. Whole- heartedly , by the way. Let's get one thing straight. The musical was never about good dialogue and strong acting. It was a story of stilted dialogue and silliness intended to help move from one Abba song to another. It never had the complexity of Wicked or the subversiveness of Avenue Q or the social commentary of Rent . It didn't even have the depth you find in an Oscar and Hammerstein or Lerner/Lowe classic. It was, is, and always will be High School Musical with middle aged protagonists. While we have all seen more intense, nuanced and dramatic performances from the actors involved, this is not Sophie's Choice or Pride and Prejudice . Or even Cybil . This is an all singing, all dancing tribute to one of the best pop bands ever, and I think they all delivered a funny, sing-along performance that deserves commendation.

The week in review

1. Have consolidated all belongings into shippable and packed for carrying. My return ticket is booked for August 19 th , and on the 31st they pick up my belongings. 2. I am vagabonding from place to place, never staying anyplace more than three or four nights so as not to outstay my welcome. This is a pain in the ass, FYI. 3. On Friday, 1330 kids under my direction broke the world record for the Longest Game of Chinese Whispers. We go in the book, unless someone else does it before publication. 4. We've also raised £120,000 for charity, which is not the official total since we're still raising money. 5. Next Friday, I become an unemployed slacker for the foreseeable future. Haven't done that since February 1998. It is both terrifying and exciting. 6. Big moves make me wish I wasn't such a people person. Once I make the decision to move on, the regrets always revolve around missing people, and they have kicked in once again. I'm still moving to Chicago, but now that

Sheesh, you people sure ask a lot of questions

11. There's NOTHING wrong with the Twin Cities. They're great. And I love you people who live there. The thing is, in theory living in the Twin Cities is a good idea. For me, though, in practice it isn't a good thing. I'm not happy there, even though there are many things I like about the place. So I'm electing to live within striking distance of regular weekend visits. 12. Yes, more fat people is definitely one of the pluses of moving to the Midwest . 13. No, I haven't considered moving back to Decorah . Whilst it is a pretty town with an excellent natural food coop, a thriving farmer's market and numerous high-calibre restaurants, I prefer to live in places with international airports, less parking and more crime. Even the Culver's won't sway me. 14. Of COURSE I'll come to Minneapolis to see the Little House on the Prairie musical. What kind of stupid question is that? 15. I appreciate the offer, but I'm not leaving the UK because I'

Answers to questions from Wednesday's #10

1. No, I have not gotten a job in Chicago. I just decided that while I'm looking, I might as well use this opportunity to settle somewhere for awhile. And Chicago seems like a good place. I hear they have hot dogs AND pizza. 2. Yes, I do love London, and would have been very happy staying here. But ultimately, getting a fancy job in the UK and making a bunch of money and living in London isn't really moving forward, it's extending this period of my life. If I wanted to live here forever I'd do it, but since I want to come back to the US eventually it just seems like postponing to wait a year or two. So here I go. Keeping on the edge so I don't take up too much room. 3. Yes, I WILL miss the UK. A lot. I have made some phenomenal friends here. Really fine people. You'll like them. But there are lots of flights to and from Chicago. Like 20 non-stops from LHR a day or something. So I'll still see them. I mean, I've managed four years away from all of you.

Fast 10 on Wednesday

1. I've moved. My things are in storage. My back is sore. 2. Last weekend in London I saw a family of gingers that justified the prejudice often shown them in the UK. Oh my, were they pale. And such vibrant orange hair. It was like looking at the Weasley's . 3. I think that advertising a care home for people with Alzheimer's and dementia with the slogan "Simply Unforgettable" is tacky. 4. I had a lovely Sunday evening with Timmy in the Big Smoke. We had a few cocktails before dinner, namely "White Ladies", which are a delicious nectar of gin, c ointreau and lemon juice with a cherry in the bottom. They are shaken until frothy - I think there was a little egg white in there, too, because they practically have a meringue on the top. Beautiful and very tasty. But when you order them, it sounds better if you say "white LAdy " as opposed to "WHITE lady." The latter sounds like an order at the Chicken Ranch, not a swank bar in London. 5. T