Friday, December 31, 2010

A trip down memory lane

I've been feeling wildly nostalgic lately, no doubt due to the season. I find myself missing random things: bridges and fog and oysters and waterfront farmer's markets, wide open roads and diners serving biscuits and gravy, mountain ranges and soaring skies and pine trees...and I don't know, sunglasses.

So forgive me while I roll in it for a while in the form of old road trip photos. Which reminds me...I'm long overdue for a post on fact, that will be my New Year's Resolution: finish Moonpies. Feel free to flagellate me if I don't. (No, really. I may need it.)

But in the meantime, some pictures of places that bring me back...

I know, right? Gets you right there. 

Big hugs and love, and may your 2011 be full of quiet (and some noisy) grandeur,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I feel smarter already

I'll be the first to admit that my local library system isn't the greatest in the world. The book selection--council-wide--is poor, the books themselves are in pretty rough and grubby condition, and half the staff seems to be on a day loan from some sort of insane asylum. 

But today they officially won me over. Do you know what they're doing for the months of December and January? A 'lucky dip' loaner! If you are willing to check out a book without knowing what it is--there is a box full of books wrapped in paper--you get a DVD voucher! I'd go for this even WITHOUT the voucher. What a fun idea! A mystery book! They say it is to get people to branch out of their usual reading and try something new. I think this is fantastic--it's creative, it's unconventional--it's all things a good library should be. I couldn't jump into that blue plastic bin fast enough.

And after much fondling and shaking and weight-testing my dozen options, I picked out lucky number 29.

I got home with my paper-wrapped book, eager to see what the Islington library thought would be a good out-of-the-ordinary read.

Um...alarming start, but maybe The Handmaid's Tale has undergone a recent reprinting or something! After all, the library surely wouldn't be encouraging people to read new books that wouldn't benefit our literary souls? 

I kid you not.

I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, December 6, 2010

On Advent Calendars, Kerouac, and little else

a small village in Scotland, photos taken a week ago

I've been on an advent calendar kick lately. It was sparked by a certain wonderful KatyKatyKaty who has sent The Care Package Beyond All Care Packages. It was chock full of hard-to-get American goodies like bisquick  and cornbread mix and ohhhhhhhhhhh sweet macaroni and cheese and trader joe's your pumpkin bread mix makes me want to die inside of happy and in the midst of all this euphoria--that I have spread out all over the place because it thrills me to look at it and putting it away would be like hiding it under a bushel (no!)--was a super fun TJ's advent calendar full of yummy chocolate buttons. As soon as I saw it I was transported back to my childhood advent calendar, a colorful cloth one that hung right outside the kitchen door, with little pockets and wonderful treats inside, and how much it thrilled my sister and me to open a little door or pocket every night to get the goodie inside. I also loved counting it over and over to see if Christmas was getting any closer--only 22 days left! 20! 12! Still 12! STILL 12! 10! 3! ACK! HYPEROVERLOADIT'SALMOSTCHRISTMASDAY!

So now (thank you, Katy) advent calendars are on my accidental-radar, and I just saw this beautiful one from Portland crafter Shim + Sons that she made for her family (not for sale, alas how I suffer), and she's put activities ('make a gingerbread house,' 'go iceskating,' 'hot chocolate and peppermint sticks') in various slots along with the small trinkets or candies you typically see and I don't know why this has blown my mind but it has. It's such a great idea.

Just now for kicks I typed 'Martha Stewart advent calendar' into google, and roughly FORTY FIVE BILLION crafty advent calendars popped up. I had no idea you could do so much with baby socks and matchboxes. Awesome, Martha.

Schoolwork is still crazy. They continue to trust us to self-guide our workload, which means I piddle around until Go Time and then whip out a ton of really ridiculous work. You should see what I can do with white-out and graph paper now. I also made the mistake of taking a mental break after turning in my mid-term sketchbook while the homework itself did no such thing. Now it's like a fire-breathing dragon lurking behind me and I know my only hope this late in the game is to maim rather than destroy. Luckily I'm getting better at accepting mediocrity. (Progress?)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Day Six chocolate elf to eat and some graph paper to destroy. I leave you with these (non-traditional, before you syllable-counters lose control) haiku by Jack Kerouac, sent to me by dear Okie. He says not to bother with most of Kerouac's poetry, but his haiku are magical. If this is anything to go on, I agree.

Big hugs,

In my medicine cabinet,
the winter fly
has died of old age.

Drunk as a hoot owl,
writing letters
by thunderstorm.

No telegram today
only more leaves

Monday, November 22, 2010

On the holidays and the power of the masses

Omigosh, blog. Look at how good I was at updating ALL THE TIME and now two WEEKS have gone by. What the?? I'm going to blame it on the winter that has officially arrived in Londontown. It's a bone-chilling average of 5 degrees now (that's Celsius but I'm using here because it sounds fiercer) and it gets dark at four in the afternoon. FOUR IN THE AFTERNOON. Small children are still getting out of SCHOOL at four in the afternoon. And it looks like BEDtime. Needless to say, by the time I get out of school all I can think about are my sweats and wooly socks. Blog wha?

On the bright side, London loses its MIND during the holiday season. I think they string up lights as a mad way of compensating for all the darkness. I don't know how on earth I ended up at Oxford Circus during the busiest time of year, but I will NOT make that mistake again. But check out the giant Present in the Sky! Thank you, Oxford Circus, for the gift of insanity.

And Carnaby Street, in another shocking turn of events, has decided to kick last year's bizarre holiday decor of 'snowflakes' and 'Santa' and has gone instead for the ever-underappreciated, more traditional 'Holiday Solar System.' I think we can all breath a sigh of relief.

And unrelated to holiday festivities, I made it to the Ai WeiWei (which I pronounce as 'I wee-wee') Sunflower Seed exhibit at the Tate Modern! The guy had hundreds of sweat-shop workers helpers painting each of these ceramic sunflower seeds by hand. BY HAND. 

Lest you not understand the scope of this, let's zoom out a little:

And a little more:

Can you believe the size of this? There are over ONE HUNDRED MILLION SEEDS. ALL. UNIQUE. It's supposed to be some sort of commentary on the relationships between 'the individual' and 'the masses' and what it means to be part of a society, but I left that soul-searching to the security guard while I attempted to steal one.

This is why they roped off the seeds. Originally you were supposed to be able to tread on them, but due to 'dust hazards,' they closed it off. I think we all know who 'dust' is. COMMON MAN, LEFT TO HIS OWN DEVICES. Interpret THAT commentary on the individual, WeiWei. You know what the power of them working together means? NO MORE SUNFLOWER SEEDS.

I must head off now--I have a soup to make and more homework piling up! (Always, always.)

Big hugs and love,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Only in America

I GOT A PACKAGE! I GOT A PACKAGE! Words cannot express how happy this makes me. Sandwiched between Indian menus and cab cards was personal mail! I LOVE PERSONAL MAIL! And then when I opened it--and by 'opened,' I mean 'frantically shredded,' it JUST GOT BETTER: I received an item that can best be described as 'Only in America.'  Jenn, * you * * complete * * me. *

This is a PEPPER grill. A PEPPER GRILL! For all those wonderful jalapeƱos that you love to stuff with yummy oozy things and bake. I know I'm not alone here in my pepper-filled-love. And while yes, technically I didn't know this * existed * just a few days ago, I now can't imagine how I ever lived without it.  Prior to this I had to cross-section my peppers (think little jalapeƱo canoes) and it was always a big drippy mess, but now I can stick the peppers in upright! OH THE POSSIBILITIES! I think I need to have a party  and serve nothing but peppers JUST BECAUSE I CAN.

It also doubles as a cookbook holder.

Speaking of international treats, Aya came over yesterday so we could work on our latest project together (more model-making, oh yes) and brought this lovely Japanese dessert! 

They're chewy rice balls covered in this caramel-esque glaze that Aya made with soy sauce, sugar, and some corn starch. Hea-ven-ly.

I'm off now! Aya's returning to the wreckage that is our craft for a few more hours of slave laboring. * sigh * * but a happy one, because at least a friend will be here *

Big hugs and love,

*This is a banner week. Mon amie, I got your picture of Elena! Now she is totally on glorious display on my favorite living room shelf, right next to the photo of me and you holding her at the farmer's market. She makes the room so bright!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rambling, and some pictures of East Anglia.

So many nice things have happened lately that I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by goodness. Like yesterday morning I had a great chat with an old friend, and over the past couple of days I've received a few 'thinking of you' nudges from people that I love, which means so much, and also I'm getting to do a lot of neat things here in London-town and beyond. It's just too much. I'm just waiting for something to happen--BLAMMO!--to disrupt it. Probably in the form of my drawing teacher.

Speaking of, I have an absurd amount of homework due tomorrow. These are my best blogging conditions.

I need a cup of coffee. Please to hold.

Today is the sort of wonderfully quiet day that wants soup made and something baked.

I really hope some sort of homework-related urgency strikes soon.

Over the weekend I got some lemon and thyme olive oil from this farm shop in Norfolk and yesterday I added it to the cold pasta salad I bring to school for lunch every day (ingredients: pasta,  olive oil, a splash of white wine vinegar, a handful of cherry tomatoes, some crumbled feta or goat's cheese, and if I have them, some chopped scallions. Oh, and some cracked black pepper or red chili flakes on top. So easy so good!), and the seasoned olive oil made my pasta go from yum to YUMMMMMMMMMM. Officially addicted. Now wishing I got the mega-bottle rather than the sweet little artisan one. But it was so pretty.

Aya taught me the word for yummy in Japanese! It's 'oyshe!' Exclamation point required. I love Aya.

Omigosh, this is what I'm going to make today. Love love love.

That is, when I'm not hand-crafting a full-sized, wearable bird mask and wings. And writing a paper on cork.

These brownies will help. So will that carrot and orange soup.

Speaking of Norfolk, here are some pics from the weekend. It was An Authentic English Countryside Weekend Holiday, complete with fall colors, blustery beaches, lavender farms, and precious centuries-old villages.

And gnomes. Never forget the garden gnomes.

Hunstanton Beach

AND SANDRINGHAM! Okay, I had never even HEARD of this place prior to four days ago, but apparently it's just one of those things that Everybody Here Knows About Without Even Knowing How They Know, so maybe a lot of Americans know about it too and I'm just That Out of Touch, which let's be honest, wouldn't be much of a surprise. Anyway, Sandringham is the Royal Family's country hangout. You know, when they're bored with Windsor and Buckingham Palace. They come out here to do things like ride horses, and look at trees, and shop at the Sandringham Gift Shop, where they can buy postcards with their faces on them. Can you blame them? Look how gorgeous it is! It rivals any golf course in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

This is the gated entrance to the estate itself. They wouldn't open it for me, no matter how many times I sang my 'I've Come For You, Prince William' song:

I have way more photos to show you next time I have loads of homework to do, so get excited! Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get to work on this soup bird project. I'm thinking about doing a penguin just so the wings are suitably anti-climactic. We also have to take photos of ourselves wearing our contraptions, so you may see me squawking around this blog soon. Depending on how they turn out. (Shoving the cardboard out of sight under the kitchen table.)

Big hugs and love!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oh yeah? Does a Philistine like stuffed birds??

After class today I headed across town to the V&A and Natural History Museums--in part because they're AWESOME and in bigger part because I had to for my drawing homework. But let's not focus on that latter reason when the former makes me sound so cultured.

One of my favorite things about the V&A and the Natural History Museum--other than their free-ness and rad gift shops--is the fact that you're allowed to take photos. Of EVERYTHING. I always feel drunk with power when I can wield my camera in a museum without a small Asian security guard squawking at me. (I miss you, SFMoMa.)

This statue KILLS me. When I first saw it, I was like, 'SWEET! The Romans knew how to raise their young!' but then I looked at the sign and it was all, 'Achilles Getting Dunked.' SO not the same. Though I have to hand it to his mom. A for Effort, Thetis. HILARIOUS.

What up, Rooster?

Okay, so this is wild: did you know that in Victorian times, people used STUFFED BIRDS as art? And not just one on a branch, like the dead pet parakeet that little Jane couldn't let go of, or some owl that your mustachio'd husband shot while hunting the foxes with the hounds, but a FULL, WALL-SIZED windowed CABINET full of them. Like the one above, which dates at least as far back as 1819. This was one-sixteenth the size of the entire display. Victorians, you are tricky tranny hot mess FIERCE. Why buy hummingbird wallpaper when you can kill and mount a hundred real ones? And yet...I was strangely drawn. Like a hummingbird to a feeder right before its brains got blown out.

I've got to run now--I'm going to see David Mamet's House of Games at the Almeida tonight! I picked tonight's performance because it's captioned--and anybody who's ever had to endure a movie with me knows how I love my subtitles...! ('You just get so much MORE!')

Big hugs and love!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

On poetry, art, and why my blog is wack-tastic right now.

So I tried (am trying?) to get a custom domain to update my blogger address to just 'TodayIWroteNothing dot com' and now, four days later, the domain is still marked as 'not found,' and now my blog is all screwy. Apologies to those who have told me they've had trouble leaving comments--I'm sorry! (Notably because I need comments to survive.)  (No, really.)

Now I'm going to compose a little poem about how this whole ordeal has made me feel:

Ode to My Custom Domain

I tried to get a custom domain
Only ten dollars, they said!
But now it turns out to be super lame
I should have just stayed in bed.

See if I try to upgrade again
It's been nothing but a big mess
I'm going back to the good old days
When whether to bathe was my only stress.

Thank you.

And now for something that makes me happy happy: the drawings I received to use for my homework! I know what you're thinking as you scroll through the below: 'Sharona, that it way better than anything you could ever produce.'

Katymylove drew this log(superfluous hyphen)cabin. I had NO idea that all this time she was hiding such mad skunk-drawing skills. And Katy, if you ever decide to retire as an opera singer, you should DEFINITELY consider architecture.

OMG WILD CARD!! This is from Maria, my new favorite Kansas-City-ian. It is 'a human, a book, and a treasure box.' All of my favorite things! Maria, * you * * complete * * me *

And last, but not's Lealea's picture! Well, okay, not * really * Lealea as much as her friend Anna, who can wield crayolas like nothing I've ever seen. I don't know WHY my art teacher didn't put those on our supply list as a rightful medium.

Ladies, your prizes are on their way! My drawing teacher is going to be so proud...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Also, I bought bacon.

On our way to the Modern Pantry for dinner! Today was nice: the sun broke through the clouds, a walk was taken, a pumpkin was picked out at a street market stall. A friend in town--notably an adventurous one--makes everything new.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'll show you mood diary.

I'm currently stalling on a load of homework for my drawing class, which is both labor-intensive and slightly too abstract for my puny, literal brain to interpret. We're to do strange, impenetrable things like 'observe' and 'respond' to things, but using our sketchpads. Like THAT makes sense. I'm more likely to tell you how I feel about something using interpretative dance than I am with a colored pencil. So I sit here with a giant blank pad in front of me, and the instructions to 'respond to a daily news story' and create a 'mood diary,' and I have NO idea what any of this means.

Some (small, fleeting) part of me recognizes that these sorts of assignments are intended to inspire creativity--you know, the less specific the instruction, the more freedom you have--but I worry that what I'm producing is all wrong, that I've totally missed the point. I'm not looking to create the Mona Lisa here, but I would at least like to know that smearing black paint all over this page in an angst-filled response to the news of 'tube strike' gets me a few points. I can't get a bad grade in this class; bad grades aren't what I do. I graduated top of my class in high school and college; I cannot fail a class in which we are instructed to make shoes out of cardboard.

And the strangest thing is that while I'm struggling here, the slackers in my class--the ones who won't do ANYthing until the tutor is standing directly over their shoulder demanding it--under supervision produce works of brilliance. Their sketchbooks blossom under their sullen hands, their one sketch outshining my forty in five short seconds. I'll see something that they've begrudgingly produced and be like, 'Oh, THAT'S what we were meant to be doing this whole time!' as I slide my arm over my drawing of a stick man beating a bus with a bat. A bat that looks like a penis, which isn't as much symbolic as accidental.

Now if you'll excuse me, I should get to work on this 'mood diary.' Capture THIS using nothing but color:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear chair: I still don't want to be your friend, but maybe you're not entirely deserving of death

I'm slowly forgiving the chairs for their terrible, atrocious behavior last week. We're healing somewhat; making tentative friends. Not CLOSE friends, mind you. But we can say hi on the street now and it feels okay. The second years and third year in my group gave Aya and me some invaluable tips and the difference in our construction was like night and early morning.

In other related news, I have a school friend! Her name is Aya and she's from Japan and I love her. She's tiny. Like even by Japanese standards tiny. (She told us so.) And she's teaching me Japanese. So far I know the words for rhino, elephant, and bee. Apparently I'm headed for some sort of Japanese safari. Look how fantastic she is. This is her ALL THE TIME:

Aya-ya! Guess how old she is? You'll never guess.

This is another one of my new favorite people! You can call her Dom--it's short for Dominique, or Dom-Dom. She has got the greatest little English accent and she's about as tiny as Aya. It's like I'm collecting people that can fit in my pockets. She is also HYSTERICAL. Look at that face and tell me it's not someone who knows how to have fun:

I've got to jet now--it's the first time all week I've been able to make dinner before 9 p.m. and I am THRILLED. And maybe--I don't know, I don't want to go crazy here--I may even sit on the couch and watch the TELEVISION. I know, I know. I'm losing control. 

Big hugs and talk to you soon!

P.S. I've got a small job for the weekend! I'll be doing some marketing at my local taqueria's food kiosk at the London Restaurant Festival! I knew eating all those burritos would pay off...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dear chair: I hate you.

Having received no instructions, tips, or materials for model-making, two other first years and I tackled five miniature chairs this afternoon. Armed with nothing but toothpicks and some stolen wooden coffee stir-sticks from the cafeteria, we then went crazy with glue, fishing line, and tape. I'm not gonna lie when I say that what I have created is both shameful and pathetic. I won't hesitate to scrap them when this project is over (versus my usual sentimentality for all handicrafts however poor or sad), and I won't be lying when I say that I can very well see myself only designing furniture in the future than can be created with a bit of cardboard and a dowel-rod. Everything I do for the next three years will be some variation of a cardboard bench with legs. And shoot, maybe sometimes I'll leave the legs off. 'Modern functionality,' I'll say haughtily, throwing my hair over my shoulder. 'I do hope you are astute enough to understand what I've done here.' 

We have an art class this Thursday (perhaps that is where they will teach us to build these models?) and the list of supplies we need (blue tac, thin thread, and a scalpel, among other things) leads me to believe that we might be building traps for small animals or perhaps practicing some minor surgery. That would be useful given the injuries I received today using dull scissors and a thousand rubber bands.

Yes. I used rubber bands to make my chairs.

I don't want to talk about it.

I'm taking my first break of the week (I know, I know, it's only Tuesday, but I DREAMT about chairs last night, so it feels well-deserved) and heading off to book club now. I didn't finish the book, but I did flip to the end to find out how it finished. So I feel pretty prepared. 

More tomorrow, I hope!

Hugs big hugs,

On my first week back to school

Have you ever stood on the edge of a surf and felt sure in your footing when a wave roars in and WOOSH! You're somehow fully in the water and struggling to regain your balance? That's what this week is like, and it's only Tuesday morning.

My University courses began yesterday, and so far it's CRAZY. Crazy AWESOME. But crazy-busy. Wave-crazy. I'll write more on it when I'm not racing off to dress/catch the bus/sprint late into my first class.

Big hugs love and see you soon-soon!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Big mean girls

You know how when you're little and a girl's mean to you, your parents tell you all sorts of reassuring reasons why: 'She's insecure; she's just jealous; she's threatened by you, etc., etc.' And you try to take comfort in this, though it's hard to fathom why a cheerleader would feel threatened by a girl who wore her pants up to her armpits and had glasses so thick her eyes nearly disappeared behind them. But okay, if it's due to jealousy, then...maybe she wishes she too could read in the corner of the playground during recess and had arms so long that she didn't know where to put them.

But at this age when a girl isn't nice, it's different. Meanness takes on different shades of gray as an adult, and like a star, it can be difficult to see when you look directly at it. It isn't as straightforward as when you're young, when it's simply, 'Get off my monkey bars.'

There's one such girl here in London, part of a book club that I used to go to. Her mean is sly, the sort of thing where if you tried to describe it to someone, you'd come off sounding paranoid and crazy. For example, we'll be in the middle of a conversation when a mutual friend will come up to join us. Instantly she'll turn to them, cooing wildly and affectionately and asking them all about their day, putting her back to me and leaving me alone with my unfinished story: ' thought the play sounded...interesting...' She also likes to exchange looks with other people while I'm talking, like, 'Are you HEARING this?' And just last week, I was telling her about an episode in which I couldn't get on the bus because I didn't have enough fare, so I joked that I 'shed a little tear then decided to top up.' She responds with (after exchanging a glance with someone): 'You CRIED?!' 'Um, no. I was kidding.' (Another exchange.)

See what I mean? I sound nuts. And the worst part is, she's absolutely the most wonderful person with everybody else; she's adored and adorable, spirited and fun. Everybody is constantly exclaiming about what a joy she is. So it's not like I can say anything to anybody without coming off like a complete loon.

Alas, we're thrown together often enough, I've just got to deal with it. And heck, maybe I AM just being paranoid, and I should give her the benefit of the doubt...we can all be rude if we aren't paying close enough attention...

Though I AM pretty good at the monkey bars.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A starlet, a pizza, a crazy London sky

Happy Saturday, ya'll. I don't know what you have planned today, but mine has been nice and quiet--a skillet burrito for breakfast, a small errand to make me feel productive, and a day spent with my book and laptop. Just the way I like my Saturdays, really. I'm going to make a potato and thyme pizza for dinner; I hope it goes well. I'm trying to use up a bunch of nearly-done produce in one go--tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, peppers--and what better way than throwing everything onto a pizza? It's either that or a quiche, right? I don't have mozzarella cheese, though, just gruyere. I know that could really mean pizza FAIL, but I'm going for it. Unless of course somebody leaves a comment in the next hour saying 'WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T USE GRUYERE! GO GET THE MOZZARELLA!' But man, that would mean I have to run another small errand, and that's not what Saturdays are about.

I've got another picture of my niece for you. I can't stop loving her face. Whenever I see her I have to take four thousand photos and she always humors me for the first two thousand and then the hand starts to flappin'. In her defense, I do get right up in there, and I * can * go for hours. Peypey, my other little niece, has equally-lovely leanings, but her two-year-old-perpetual-movement means I rarely get a usable photo. I get a pigtail, or a heel. This is why if you were to look through my photo archives, you'd see about a 6-to-1 Hunter : Peyton ratio. I don't mind, though; I'm sure once Peyton gets to an age at which I can tie her up, we'll even it out.

But Peyton--should you ever read this blog in the future--let it be said--from one second child to another--that there aren't fewer pictures of you because you're number two; there are fewer pictures of you because you're FAST. Unlike me, so wholly underappreciated... 
* dramatic sigh for my therapist *

Oops, still here. Forgive. 

My niece, with a flourish:

I KNOW. Like my sister, gone Hollywood.

Peypey stood still only this long because her sister was doing some sort of acrobatics on the swing set behind me. Then she was off to try her sister's tricks herself, despite her diminutive size. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see her become a cheerleader in a few years...

Now that I think about it, they're both like my sister.

And on another note, look at how my apple and red chili jelly from last week turned out! Isn't it beautiful??

Thank you, Marie, for the best recipe ever! It's ridiculously tasty. And so versatile! It can be thrown in with pork for a sweet/spicy kick, dolloped over a log of goat cheese as a snack or appetizer, smeared onto a slab of crusty bread--or let's be honest, just eaten by the spoonful...

Speaking of goat's cheese--I'm reminded of a funny conversation I had with my SF-roommate, a professional chef (and discovered hater of goat's cheese). A friend had emailed looking for goat cheese recipes, and forgetting my roommate's aversion to the monster, I went to her for ideas:

Me: Hey! What would you do if you had a bunch of goat's cheese?
Sara: Throw it in the TRASH because it tastes like GARBAGE.

I nearly cried from laughing. I always hear her voice in my head when I shop for goat's cheese now: 'Throw that in the TRASH, because it tastes like GARBAGE.' It's just too GOOD!

Speaking of too good, check out the identity crisis London suffers every day: neither sunny nor cloudy, just dramatically poised in between.

I must be off now, big hugs!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On making jelly, blind dates, and my favorite nieces

I have wonderful salt and pepper shakers*.  I got them years ago at the SFMOMA store as a thank you gift for a graphic designer who had helped me out with a project. I ended up keeping them when he tried to receive payment by calling me 'honey' and 'sugar' and asking what we should name our firstborn. I decided to thank him with a card in the mail. And now I've got these wonderful shakers, bobbing happily away in front of me. * sigh * * affectionate nudge to my salt *

Question: is £60 too much for a watch repair? The cobbler/keymaker/watch-repairman said he will have to take the whole thing apart and put it back together, hence the price. Does this sound right/normal? And why do I have the sneaking suspicion that my mechanically-brilliant grandfather could've fixed it in five and a half seconds if I had thought to show it to him when I was home last?

I'm currently making apple and red chilli jelly! I made apple butter two days ago and have been loving it with English cheddar as my late-afternoon, I-can-make-it-to-dinner-without-chewing-off-my-arm snack, and I'm excited to try this apple jelly when it's finished. Right now the fruit is dripping torturously slow in a subtle attempt to test every single ounce of my patience. I can see why they say to leave it overnight, as to watch this thing all day is to court madness. And every website in the world on the topic of jelly-making says 'DON'T SQUEEZE THE JELLY BAG!' as part of the instructions, because apparently it will make my jelly 'cloudy' and 'destroy the human race' or something, but look at this and tell me it's not begging to be squeezed:

Just a little pinch?

But I'm holding it together. Now when I enter the kitchen and see it, I bite my fist and leave immediately. 

I'm meeting a possible new friend on Monday! It was orchestrated through a mutual friend in San Francisco. I had blind dates like this last time I was in London--the girl and I would be put in touch via a friend, make plans to meet for lunch, one of us in a blue peacoat, the other wearing a yellow flower so we'd recognize each other, then we'd sit at a table in a hip cafe, making conversation and hoping to hit it off since our mutual friends swore we would 'absolutely LOVE each other.' And sometimes it'd click and we'd make plans again, and sometimes it was just nice and we'd go through the motions of trying for another meet-up but after three cancellations each, things would naturally fade out. I have good reason to hope this one will be a good match: she takes lots of pictures and she's cute and she's been funny in our digital communication. This is pretty much all I require out of my friends; that and a little bit of madness.

Speaking of madness, look at my darling nieces! These pictures are from my last visit home:

On the left is Hunter, a voracious reader and a formidable opponent in Bananagrams. She also tells a LOT of interesting stories. You should see the monologues my sister gets on video. It would put any theatre major to shame.

On the right is Hunter's mischievous little sister, PeyPey. And yes, she's holding her shirt up for this photo. That's just the sort of girl she is.**

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my Vancouver post.*** Until we meet again!

*And that's not a metaphor.
**Also, like her mother.

Monday, September 6, 2010

More on London life and what to do with a zillion apples

Vancouver is a tricky tranny hot mess and while I have the photos finished on it, I'm finding the text more difficult. How many ways can you say 'SUPER DUPER AWESOME' before you start getting repetitive?

Instead of blog posting, I've had much success in stalling by goofing around Picnik, doing a load of laundry and ironing, changing my fb photo, and running to the post office, where I purchased yet more pyschedelic stamps with the old queen's head that I will no doubt never use. 

In other news: I just discovered that Groupon's in London! Life as I know it is officially complete. Between that and my new subscription to Time Out, I am totally making life-as-a-local headway. I have worrying suspicions that I'm going to become one of those horrible rabid Yelpers while I'm at it, but I take comfort in the fact that Yelp is so new to London that it's not yet a ten-headed beast.

It's raining out. I have my kitchen light on in the middle of the afternoon because it's so dark. After a week of sun, this seems long overdue. And--could it be?--did I hear THUNDER? London, THAT is what I'm talking about.

Sidebar: do you ever go to the grocery store, load up on dinner fixings for the week, and then come home and order a pizza?

I just spent twenty minutes downloading an updated driver for my new wireless mouse (thank you, Grampa! I love it!) before finding out the reason my mouse wasn't working was because I was using it on a glass tabletop and it wanted a mouse pad. Awesome.

I just wrote a paragraph that didn't make sense (wrap your head around that), but not being willing nor able to hit the final 'delete' on it, I copied and pasted it into a document titled 'blog text,' where I keep miscellaneous notes and other such trash-can-text that I can't bear to part with. And while the document was open I saw a note that 'Navajo Indians add powdered milk to their Indian tacos while Plains Indians add powdered sugar.' 

Yeah. That's the sort of useful stuff I keep in there.

On that note, we should wrap up today's show. And because it wouldn't be my blog without pictures that don't relate to the text...more random London! Bottom right is the local butcher, dear sweet old Maurice, third generation owner of E. Wood.  Left of Maurice is a bushel of apples that I * personally * picked yesterday, making me pretty much the coolest girl I know. It also means that I'm in desperate need of apple uses--anybody have some good recipes or ideas?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My first post from London-side!

Okay, rather than tarry on any London postings because my road trip blogging is so grossly overdue, I have decided to ONWARD! this bad boy and do all my road trip postings on Moonpies. I'll just link to them here so you know when it's been updated. That's right--I'll be updating two blogs simultaneously. Says the girl who can barely keep up one. I am determined not to embarrass myself this time, though, and actually do it.


My first four days back in London have been an absolute whirlwind of catch-up shopping (foodstuffs and cleaning supplies, not clothing, I'm proud to point out) and getting my iPhone to work with a UK service provider. After proving that I'm a master hacker by jailbreaking and unlocking it from AT&T's Death Clench of Horror, I then went to O2 and got a local SIM. And get THIS: my plan is not only a fabulous pay-as-you-go service meaning no nasty sticky contracts with the Spawn of Satan but also  incredibly cheap. Guess how much my month's service is going to cost me. GUESS. Okay, I'll tell you. FIFTEEN POUNDS. That's right. FIFTEEN POUNDS, PEOPLE. That's TWENTY THREE U.S. DOLLARS. Do you know how much I was paying AT&T every month for the same service? While on a FAMILY plan? I don't even want to say it. It's just that grotesque.

Speaking of grotesque, how precious is London acting right now? Old ladies sweeping their gardens, bicycles with leather seats and wicker baskets, red doors and tassled's all a bit too much:

I've got to skidaddle now--I've got Seattle pics to work on * cough cough * and other such fun times.

Until luego!