Wednesday, 30 April 2008

happiness is a working washing machine

823 feet to arthur's seat

After nearly 2 years of living in Edinburgh, I finally did it.  Arthur's Seat is one of the cities most spectacular views - up a 823 scramble of rocks and paths and overlooks Holyrood Park

After a huffy, puffy ascent,  Mark & I reached a clear blue day and got an eyeful of our beloved city and the waters just beyond.

Friday, 25 April 2008

flirting with life clubbing

You deserve to be happy. That's the slogan. I like it.

On my way south to London to 'interview' or check out the possibility of running my own Life Club when we move to Glasgow. Mark Lister does one in Edinburgh... Lex does one in Bournmouth and I think I'd like to try my hand.

It is a novel ideal, created by CTI trained (my school) coach Nina Grunfeld, author of Big Book of Me and Big Book of Us. They are weekly meetings that are open to anyone to come along and do a bit of Me Focus. I have been trying not to think about it as coaching lite. But it is a chance (affordable compared to one-on-one coaching) for folks to come and set aside 1.5 hours a week to work on goals, take a pause, get perspective. It is a cool notion.

And for me, it aligns with my greater purpose to see people's strengths and help them see them too. It is an idea worth checking out. And as these meetings are held weekly, it woud keep me in action and on purpose each week.

So, we shall see. I am enjoying the journey.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


Another UK milestone.

I have a brand spanking new visa in my passport that allows me the right to remain in the UK. Indefinitely.

Literally, that is what it is called. (Indefinite Leave to Remain)

Even though if I leave the UK for more then 2 years, I have to reapply. I guess that was too long of a name for a visa.

Can't kick me out now!

But we better start thinking about Green Cards for Mark for a move back to the US someday.


Monday, 21 April 2008

she shoots. she scores!


I am proud and happy to announce I have passed my UK practical driving test! Sheesh. It was harder than I anticipated and my elation matches. I now realize the USA has wide roads. And lanes in the road Just For Parked Cars. And no roundabouts. And you can cross hand-over-hand when you turn. And you don't use your hand brake at stop lights. And the lights go amber when it is about to turn red (rather than GREEN here!)

I had a nice examiner named Ewan -- a lovely Scottish man in his 50s with a nice kind face and a gentle sense of humour. He calmed me down immediately. I had to parallel park, do a reverse around a corner and drive in all manner of roundabouts and junctions and various obstacles in the road. (At one point it almost felt staged -- I encountered a lady with a baby carriage, a worker on a ladder, construction, the whole works!)

So, a giant WHEW from this 40 year old learner. Even though we don't have a car, it is nice to know I never need to do this again.

Friday, 18 April 2008

things clogging my brain

  1. UK driving test on Monday
  2. Washing machine broken for 2 weeks on final undies
  3. Indefinite Leave to Remain Visa (the FINAL visa) appointment Tuesday
  4. Life Club meeting/interview in London Saturday
  5. Awaiting mortgage official offer letter
  6. Need new swimming suit
  7. Colour schemes for the new house
  8. Furniture for the new house
  9. Mark bad cold/overworking
  10. Long hair needs cutting
  11. Travel to Florida and R2 California
  12. Packing
  13. Moving

Monday, 14 April 2008

choosing the right side

(on Inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers)

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story of recovery and awareness -- of how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another. (Recorded February 2008 in Monterey, California. Duration: 18:44.)

Thursday, 10 April 2008

"Do you just not like ironing?" A rant about dry cleaning in the UK

 ... asked the 50-something weathered Scottish counter worker as I dropped off and collected 2 weeks worth of items.  Sigh.  Our dry cleaning has become an issue of question, slight scorn and disbelief for many people in Great Britain.  And I am well and truly over it.

It started when we would go to the dry cleaners in Cambridge with mounds of Mark's work shirts. The worker ladies would be quite hassled at the amount and give us strange looks as if we had committed crimes with them and were trying to erase the evidence in soap and water.

And it continues in Scotland.  Our local dry cleaners is Johnsons -- a national chain.  And they are pretty used to us. But on more than one occasion our business brings discussion amongst the staff and patrons. 

Most people are bringing in and collecting 1 or 2 items -- a fancy dress, a suit, a set of curtains. Mark wears 5- 8 shirts a week and is a bit hamper happy and is known to wear a shirt 4 hours and throw it in the dry cleaning pile. So on a normal run, we have like 16 shirts, 4 trousers, a few scarves and a blouse or 2.  We get looks. One fellow customer pensioner aged- lady looked at my load and just started laughing, "My oh my, I have never seen anyone bring so much in before!  Is that a year's worth?"  

And today, the woman at the counter just accusingly saying "So, do you just not like to iron?"
Sigh.  I was not in the mood.  I explained to her that in the US it is quite commonplace in most cities to have business shirts laundered and pressed and not at all uncommon.  She STARTED to say before perhaps twigging that I was indeed American that it was probably because "they have everything done for them in the US." I tried to explain that we really are just the same, but it was a different way of doing things.  I felt myself get defensive and hot.  I hate it when American behaviour gets lumped, especially when the person in question probably has never been there. 

I also explained that it is quite affordable to have shirts done in the US and in fact, my husband actually preferred it to my own meager attempts at ironing.  Wow, do I live in a different country.  She answered "Well if he can afford it honey, let him pay!"  Now granted, Mark IS paying just now, but I didn't appreciate the inference that I clearly was not.

In the end it just underscores the difference perhaps in the mind-sets. Maybe this is a luxury. But we also don't spend our money on cigarettes and lager and the chippie 5 times a week like many folks do in this country.  It is our luxury.  I am not a bad wife because I do not iron my husband's shirts.  The British people as a general rule seem less inclined to spend money on themselves to make life easier.  Americans spend loads of money making their life easier. 

My defensiveness  comes from a place of not wanting to be seen as lazy and if I had more peace in my heart about it, I would just see the dry cleaners of the UK with different sets of priorities and maybe that 30 quid buys beer. Or maybe it pays for food. Or new shoes for their kid. The national average salary is £22k yet living is not really cheaper than in the US.  Money needs to go further. 

So instead of letting this make me feel slighted, I really might try to feel lucky that we can afford to have professionals handle these clothes.  

My rant, like my ironing, is lousy. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

334 revisited

I rarely have recurring dreams.  Or dreams that trouble me.  I am really fortunate that my dreams are usually easy like reading a good book and often just take me into pleasant day-to-day situations and living.

But I have been having a dream now over and over for months.  I must get back to the Quebec House to retrieve something. It is mail, or a package or my car (it is my 1988 Madza in my dream which I have left in the parking lot for 4 years).  Somehow I try to break into Apartment 334. Or pass myself off as the current resident to get the mail behind the front desk. And there is always something weird with the elevators. I can't get to my floor, or there is construction, or a giant crowd.  And it is really annoying.  Like it is a total pain in the ass errand I must run and can't get finished.  And every time I go back, it feels weird and 'other' since I no longer live there. The deeply familiar is now 1% off and foreign. 

WHAT is up with that? What am I trying to retrieve? What don't I want to let go of? What am I missing?  And why can't I get it?

Friday, 4 April 2008

3 small points

1) Pigeons have made the window ledge above our flat their hang out, which at first glance is well, fine. But they are gathering en masse. And feeling rather comfortable.  And 100% using our front stoop as their own private toilet. I now need to run up the stairs (or down) to make sure I am not dive bombed.  It is super gross and I kinda wish I had a firearm.

2) Out to practice drive today with Mark.  My regular instructor tests my mettle.  In as far as occasionally grabbing the wheel or using her driver instructor brake.  Which for any experienced driver makes you think "What are you doing? That is DANGEROUS to grab the wheel!"  I truly am having a hard time with the beginners mind and have to go through several perspective shifts before I enter her car each week. Lessons lessons. 

3) Spring is starting to show up even through forecasts of snow.  Our wee garden has gone from dead to green seemingly overnight, and once again I am stunned at the miracle of the changing seasons.  I always forget to notice it happening and then am surprised when it does.  And pleasantly reminded that life is constantly changing around me.  It is a nice reminder to feel that forgotten warmth.