Thursday, January 31, 2008


diaper free

So how much will Buddy hate me for this photo (and publishing it on the Internet)?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Kids these days

Last week I was joking with a colleague about the futility of consulting with youth (much to the horror of other colleagues). I told him that all they ever say is "There's nothing to do, nowhere to go." We had a good snicker over that.

The colleague in favor of consulting with the yoof-of-today hadn't heard my earlier summation and proudly pronounced that some research she was involved in with youth rioters had gotten to the root of the problems. It wasn't just the racism and the poverty - no, they also didn't have enough youth facilities.

Well, no wonder the windows were smashed and the cars were burned.


Tonight the Vol-in-Law and watched a programme called Why Kids Kill.

As it turns out, the reason is: there's nothing to do and nowhere to go.


Chores. That's what these kids are lacking. If they're bored, if they've no place to go, if they're brimming with excess energy that has no place to spell itself out except into property damage and fighting it's because they simply don't have enough chores to do.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fearless leader diary

The hardest working Mayor in the World

Tonight I’m at my desk until 3am, updating my Enemies of London list. Enemies of London are in their own especially high council-tax band. Their Oyster cards deplete faster. Nobody collects their bins or recycling.

Right now, Enemies of London include my rival mayoral candidates, Trevor Phillips, anybody who works for the Evening Standard, Channel 4 or the New Statesman, Jews, Americans, somebody who once pushed past me in the queue for a cash machine and people who don’t like bendy buses.

Help needed for a lazy Southern cook

Hey y'all - I'm jonesing for some biscuit. I was going on about it all day yesterday and I'm still wanting it today. Mmmmm....biscuit.

But my biscuits are SUB-PAR. I have to confess:

Hello, my name is the Vol Abroad...and....[sob]...I can't bake biscuits.

Now, I know I'm not alone in my poor biscuit making skills, but for the Southerner at home there are many ways to compensate. There are the fast food restaurants, there are those biscuits in a can (blechhhh - though flaking apart a Hungry Jack biscuit is oddly satisfying) and there are those frozen biscuits which are actually pretty good. And, of course, best of all there are networking skills - i.e. get to know somebody who can bake biscuits.

Sadly, none of these options are open to me.

Now, I know there are mixes that make kick-ass biscuits. For example, when a cousin of mine worked at a well-known fast food restaurant she stole some of the biscuit mix and baked it up for our Christmas eve dinner which that year was fried chicken and fixin's. Mmmmm - they were good.

You can buy Bisquick in England. But I don't like it. I mean, it's OK, but it's not what I'm going for. I want a biscuit that looks like this.

What dry mix do you suggest? I need suggestions this week, 'cause my dad and brother are arriving on Saturday. They live in South Georgia and East Tennessee, in case there are some regional specialties.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The camellias

White camellia

Camellias in Isabella Plantation. There were quite a few winter blooming shrubs in bloom.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A memorial to a Polish bear

There's a campaign to erect a memorial a Polish bear. Well, an Iranian bear enlisted in the Polish army.

No joke.

Known as the "soldier bear" he saw action at Monte Cassino, in Italy, before being billeted - along with about 3,000 other Polish troops - at a camp in the Scottish borders.

And like any other combatant, he is even said to have had an official name, rank and number.

Now a campaign is underway to build a permanent British memorial to the remarkable bear who fought so valiantly for the Allied forces and lived out his final days in Edinburgh Zoo.

Voytek the Bear carried munitions for the troops and also discovered a spy. And his reward? Beer and cigarettes and access to the shower hut. Oh, and a retirement villa at the Edinburgh Zoo, where apparently his old comrades tried to chuck him cigarettes.

Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski, 82, who still lives near the site of the camp in Berwickshire, said: 'He was like a big dog, no-one was scared of him. "He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer - he drank a bottle of beer like any man."

When the troops were demobilised, Voytek spent his last days at Edinburgh Zoo, where died in 1963.

Mr Karolewski went back to see him on a couple of occasions and found he still responded to the Polish language. He explained: "I went to Edinburgh Zoo once or twice when Voytek was there. "As soon as I mentioned his name he would sit on his backside and shake his head wanting a cigarette. "It wasn't easy to throw a cigarette to him - all the attempts I made until he eventually got one."

Yes, you can just imagine the Polish old soldier tossing lit cigarettes into the bear enclosure. Or did he toss him cigarettes and a lighter. If so, that's one talented bear.

Anyway, best of luck getting a memorial to Voytek the Polish bear.


Reminds me of that bear that lived at a gas station in Pigeon Forge, TN. It was before my time, but I've been told that there was a bear that lived in a cage at this gas station in Pigeon Forge. It was kind of a tourist attraction. Obviously you can't do that sort of thing anymore, but folks would do anything to drum up business. Even cage a bear and show it off to the motor tourists. Sad really.

And like Voytek, this bear was partial to treats of a human nature. You know, junk food. Snack cakes. Peanuts. Bottles of coke and 7-up. He especially liked the coke. You could hand it into his big paws (if you were brave enough) and he'd tip it up and drink it right down.

Well, one day some drunken rednecks or maybe it was some uncouth yankees who weren't raised to know any better gave the bear some gasoline in one of those coke bottles. Just handed it right over. They probably reckoned that the bear wouldn't actually drink it. But it did. Just tipped the bottle up and drank it right down.

Well, that gas didn't agree with the bear. It started frothing at the mouth and raging and rattling in its cage and throwing itself about. And to be honest, the workmanship on the cage maybe wasn't what it should have been. Anyway, the bear got loose (scaring the pants off the drunken rednecks or uncouth yankees, depending on who's telling the story). And it took off up the road. Back towards the park. I guess it wanted to go home. (Well, who can blame it?)

That bear ran right up the road. And the people in the cars were pulling over. It ran up past where the outlet malls are. It ran up past the all those miniature golf places that are there now. It ran past where Porpoise Island used to be. It ran on past where Dollywood is now. It just ran and ran.

It was running up toward the park and then, just about where the welcome sign is for the park it just stopped. Fell over in the road. Fell into a huddled hunk of bear right there.

And you know what happened?






It ran out of gas.


Sorry. Sorry. My friend Vol-K told me that story one time as we were leaving the park, just as we were passing the sign and going the other way into Pigeon Forge. Man, she totally got me, too.

Years and years later she was visiting me in London and telling me about the bear scene in that horrible movie Borat and I said -"Did I ever tell you about that bear that was up in Pigeon Forge?" And she said no - and she had totally forgotten the story and I got her with it. Ha, joke revenge.


Check out these awesome bear pics. Including this one, which should be a lesson to all gas station bears.

Welcome sign photo from Flickr user The Paradigm Shifter used under Creative Commons license.


Genderist is still waiting to find out about her thyroid cancer treatment:

I'm still waiting until May to know how well my November's treatment worked. To say I'm pre-occupied with thinking about May is almost accurate. I think about it when I wake up in the night, when I hit the alarm clock, when I drop the soap in the shower, when I'm packing my lunch, when I'm stopped at a red light, during meetings, when I read email, when my patients at work come and tell me either really good news or really bad news, when I'm waiting for the microwave to cook my lunch, when I check my pedometer, when it's time for my three o'clock snack, when The Hater sends me sweet text messages to tell me he loves me, when I'm trying to look busy, when I actually am busy, when the cat runs to meet me at the door, anytime in church that anybody refers to faith or hope, when I water the plants (including John Wayne, which still isn't dead after 2 years under our care), when I'm grocery shopping, when I tie my shoes, when anybody asks me how I'm feeling... and any other time when I breathe.


"It won’t be hypothetical if and when it occurs. We are not legislating now on
the basis that we are bringing it in now for something that might happen in the
future; we are bringing it in now for something that might happen in the future;
we are bringing in a position for if it becomes unhypothetical. If,
unfortunately I and many other experts are right and we do need it in the future
it is in place."

Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary, securing her place in history. Sadly, only in the book of ridiculous political quotes.

I heard this on the radio while still lying in bed unfreakin'-believable. Iain Dale posted the words.

About the quote:

Jacqui Smith wants new legislation which would allow the police to hold "terror" suspects without charge for 42 days. (I use "terror" in quotes not because I don't believe that there are real and legitimate threats, but because I worry that the Government will use terror charges without real and legitimate threat.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Not in good conscience

Londoners were treated to a Channel 4 Dispatches expose on the methods and madness of our dear leader, Mayor Ken Livingstone. Among the charges:

  • violating electoral rules - appointed staff working on his re-election campaign while being paid from the public purse - on his orders.

  • spending vast amounts of money on thinly justified foreign junkets

  • allowing millions of pounds to be funneled to sham companies owned by cronies and fellow travellers

  • drinking on the job, not just at his desk, but brazenly drinking whisky at council meetings and at "town hall" style question time with the public

  • appointing inappropriately skilled cronies to high paying jobs

Really, this is more than enough to not only turn the man out of office - this is enough to start criminal investigations. Any one of these alone represent a bad sort of politics, but together render the man wholly unfit to represent perhaps the finest capital city in the world.

And this is before taking into account that the man acts like an ass. That he refuses to answer legitimate questions from friends and foes alike - the key means of accountability for elected officials. That he bullies, blusters and evades. That he name calls like a child in the playground.

And this is all before you take account that he associates with some rather nasty characters like Qaradawi and seems to overtly endorse a radical, political Islam. And anyone who questions his association with Muslim Brotherhood fronts and members is called an Islamophobe.

The worst thing about all of this is that dear old Red Ken is likely to get away with it. His jocular bluster seems to sway large parts of the electorate. And in this country Socialist is not a dirty word, so his association with the Socialist Alliance doesn't sound so bad. Never mind that they don't practice the kind of socialism that's essentially benign -no - it's that deconstructionist, let's destroy everything that's good so somehow, some way a new society will come rising from the ashes - meanwhile we'll wander around drinking champagne and totter around on our hind trotters unless our snout is in the trough type socialism. And folks seem blind to the difference.

I know a lot of people don't like Boris Johnson. I know his manner is odd and his hair is wild and he's a master of the self-deprecating. I know that Mr Johnson hasn't yet really communicated his vision for London - and he must do that. But please, Londoners, you cannot in good conscience re-elect Ken Livingstone.

Why him?

Both the Vol-in-Law and I reacted a little more strongly to the death of Heath Ledger than we would have thought. It's not like we were big fans. It's not like we even go to the movies. But it did seem a little shocking.

The Vol-in-Law said "He seemed so full of life, and yet that Shane McGowan just goes on and on and on."

"Why couldn't it have been Amy Winehouse or somebody like that?"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Signs of life

I tend to think of the horticultural year following the calendar year. I often have a few hardy flowers hanging on in sheltered areas of my garden well into December. The weather in England is mild, but the early days of January can bring some harsh cold. But rarely, if ever, pipe freezing cold.

But by the end of the first month I expect to signs of spring, the hellebores in bloom - the green tips of narcissus and snowdrops poking through.

The hellebores are in bloom (pictures from last year) and the bulbs are coming up.

We took a walk in Richmond Park today - for the first time in a while. The weather has been so rainy and overcast that we can barely go for short local walks some days.

In Richmond Park, the witch hazel trees are in bloom. I've never been able to take any photos of witch hazels that I've been happy with - so this one is from Mason Bryant that I found on Flickr. It was too gray today to an attempt a shot against the sky and I can't seem to get the effect I want with the camera's automatic flash. And I guess I can never quite capture the sweet and spicy smell of the witch hazel or the brightness of the yellow in a bare and cold winter forrest.

I did photograph some other signs that the horticultural cycle is starting over. Like these incredibly early azaleas

first azalea - enhanced version

or these mahonias - another sweet yellow bloomer in the winter woodscape


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Buddy guest blogs

Hey Coach Pearl


Are there any vacancies on your staff? Or is more formal attire required.

Or maybe with my skills, I should be applying to Coach Fulmer:


I'll do anything:


I'll be the mascot

bill and the smokey hat

-Big Orange Buddy

Out for lunch today I overheard a father at the next table say to his toddler son "How would you like to wear a track suit like that?"

He said it like it would be some kind of joke or punishment or something.

You could tell it just slipped out. You could tell that he was thinking "Did I just say that, like that, out loud? I know they heard me."

And I'm thinking - "Hey, we're just at the next table. We heard you."

And then he says to us "That's a really nice track suit."

Errrm....thanks. Fact is, you don't see an outfit like that in South West London every day.

Wither Freddie?

So is the Fred campaign at an end? I bear him no personal ill will - but I do find it ironic that he seemed to do so much better before he was an official candidate. And I do agree with Knoxviews contributor Elrod that Fred's campaign provided a distracting magnet for TNGOP cash and attention. I just hope he stays in until the 5th of February so he can continue to do so.

I am a little sad that the value of my little personal heirloom has probably already bottomed out. Any offers? No timewasters, please.

But the best thing about the Fred campaign has got to be this picture. If I'm not mistaken, I know this woman. I don't know if this is her grandson, but I guess it must be. She's had some bad luck lately, but this is a fantastic photo. (It's published under a Creative Commons license under the Flickr ID Freddthompson).
There are some other great pictures of Lawrenceburg around and about because Fred's homecoming. (The bloggers who bring us the great pics and blogs at Sugarfused and Nashville Files were there with their cameras.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

One Saturday in January

Hey South Carolina and Nevada - what a great day to hold an election. Seems like maybe more people could get out and vote on a Saturday, maybe that's what the US should do. And then I wouldn't feel bad about staying up all night to watch the returns. But of course, so many states are going for the early voting that maybe it doesn't matter anymore.


My dad and brother will be visiting soon and will be here on election day. Both of them have opted for early voting. Apparently VolBro has already voted and we don't agree on a primary candidate.

VolBro says that Hillary Clinton is the Republican's best chance at the White House because she's so divisive. You know, I used to think that, too. But the Clintons have overcome that before.

Besides, seems to me like the last election we had was the Democrats to throw away - given that the Republicans were running that "uniter" George Bush. If ever a candidate was divisive, that must be the guy. Seems to me divisiveness maybe isn't the handicap people think it is.


I sure hope Fred does well. It'd be great to see prices going up on this thing..

At least he made the buses run on time

While the American readers will be focusing on an election months and months away (ok, I know the primary season is upon us), the London electorate have a campaign coming up in May. For London mayor.

It's Boris v. Ken - and it should be interesting. And just based on the names, if you didn't know the characters involved, you'd be surprised at which one of them has nasty Trotskyite tendencies.

It's no secret that I really, really, really hate Ken Livingstone. I hate his Marxist style empire building amongst the London boroughs. I hate his divisive politics under the name of cohesion. I hate the cozying up to the Islamist elite.

Apparently there's to be an expose on some of his political shenanigans on Monday night through Channel 4's Dispatches programme.

Check out a little foreshadowing here at Harry's Place.

Friday, January 18, 2008

secret high school diary

Now, I'm not really into the teen tv scene. I know what Hannah Montana is, but I'd never heard of this Zoey 101 until she turned up knocked up. Minor relatives of washed up musical celebrities, anyway...

I assumed that Zoey 101 was an American only thing, 'cause I'd only heard of through blogging world. Good for her for keeping her baby. Bad for her, 'cause she's a role model, etc. etc. etc.

OK, then.

Well, as far as I knew she wasn't on tv here in the UK. But since we have 10 year Sally Jesse Rafael's in endless rerun on British tv, why wouldn't a current teen phenom also have some place on children's channels? Anyway, she must be on Brit tv somewhere because today I saw a Zoey 101 part series advertised on tv.

The part series

I don't think Americans do the "part series" - at least I never noticed it. Anyway, these are things where you buy a part of a model of a sailing ship or a toy dinosaur skeleton, a chunk of mineral, some beads and gew-gaws or improvised explosive device each week and each part is accompanied by a magazine explaining the wonderful world of pirates, dinosaurs, geology, jewelry making or insurgency or some such and further instructions for the use of the part you bought.

The first "part" is usually at some knock down price and then once they get you hooked, the price jacks up. And these magazines with crap attached in a plastic bubble are available at your local newsagent.

Like Zoey 101, these things seem to be aimed at the 8 to 12s. Anyway, the Zoey 101 part series and magazine advertises "tips from Zoey" like "get the Zoey look" and "Zoey's secret high school diary". I don't know why, but that sort of cracked me up.

Dear Diary

I wondered what was in Zoey's secret high school diary...

16 August 2006

My sister thinks she's so hot, but she's not. Ever since she got pregnant she got fat.

10 February 2007

Now that I've got this tv show, I'm earning enough money to live in my own apartment. I'm 15, so I think I'm old enough to live on my own. It's not like I won't have my boyfriend with me.

11 October 2007

I think I might be pregnant. Thank goodness my tv high school has one of those in school day care centers, although I plan to raise the baby in Louisiana where it can have a normal life. At least, now I can show the world that I can be better than my sister at something.

the lottery dream

VolBro has a recurring dream where he wins 41 or 43 million on the lottery. He's very specific about the amount. And he told me that if the lottery jackpot ever reaches 41 or 43 million, I should buy a ticket because it's kinda preordained. He's very specific about the amount. He says the type of currency doesn't matter.

I just can't remember if it was 43 or 41 million - or was it 45? No. Definitely 41 or 43.

Tonight's estimated jackpot is 41 million - pounds. I think that's roughly a squillion dollars with the current exchange rate. I've been thinking about calling him and asking him what numbers to pick.

Would I be morally obligated to share the winnings with him if he told me some numbers to pick on this preordained lottery win? Or could I, you know, just buy him a beer?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Back to work

I went back to work today. I'm only working one day a week for a little while. But it's good.

The Vol-in-Law called me at about 11am. When I got off the phone, my co-workers wanted to know if the baby was doing alright, if the ViL was doing alright.

"Oh no, everything's fine" I said. "He was just in the cemetery and told me there was a floral tribute of leaping dolphins that I'd probably want to photograph tomorrow."

Old co-workers were not surprised. New ones - well, they thought that was a little weird.

Keep on rockin in the free world

Yesterday I got my paper notice about the Global Primary. (If this link doesn't work, don't worry - more info below). Since Buddy is eating paper these days, I wanted to get it on the bulletin board and out of his way. But of course, I forgot and left it dangerously close to the changing area.

Me: Hand me that voting thingy.
Vol-in-Law: Voting thingy?
Me: Yeah, that paper there.
ViL: Oh, your voting thingy. (Extra derisive tone where you see italics).
Me: Yeah, you know the vote the directs activities in the free world.

Living abroad? Want to vote in the primary? Check out the Democrats Abroad site.
Need to register to vote? Check out -

Monday, January 14, 2008

Your good advice, I disregard it

That's not really true. I've asked for reader advice before and I always - always listen. I've often changed my mind or at least moderated my course of action. But y'all told me it was tacky - but I've decided to go ahead anyway.

I've submitted info to receive a quote on the fake grass lawn.

But let me tell you, y'all saved me. 'Cause there's been a huge advance in fake grass technology between then and now.

I'm telling you, at a glance, the stuff we're getting looks really real. Even the chunk of sample turf looks like a little chunk of real turf - like maybe a zoysia - or a really fine, fescue blend.

Oh, it's sweet. It'll look like the lawn I'm too lazy to ever have.


Here's a picture of Buddy watching me take the pictures to send off to the faux lawn place. My brother and I wore similar expressions when VolMom made us come outside and keep her company while she gardened.



I've got this user ID and password for this website that's kind of important, but not something I'd be checking all the time.

So I chose something unforgettable.

I've pretty much been through all my unforgettable combinations of user IDs and passwords and no dice. (Yes, I do know it's not as secure as it could be, but I do have a little collection of these passwords)

Dang it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Reliance on appliance

Steve at WhitesCreek Journal has a busted dishwasher. The way he's written the post, I've just totally spoilered it, but I think it'll be alright.

He thinks the modern human cannot live without the dishwasher. Millions of Britons would disagree.

But they are, of course, in the wrong.


My in-laws are kind of anti-appliance. Well, they're anti-convenience. I've joked with the Vol-in-Law that there's the easy way, the hard way and then there's his dad's especially difficult way. Seriously, that man goes way out of his way to make his own life hard*.

But anyway, they don't have a microwave, a dishwasher or a dryer. They don't even have a hairdryer.

My father-in-law told me once that by the time you've unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher you've spent just as much time as hand washing the dishes.

I asked him if he'd ever had a dishwasher. No. Well, then, I've lived with dishwashers and lived without them and I guarantee it takes less time than washing up by hand.


The Vol-in-Law doesn't have his parents ideological opposition to labor saving devices, but he doesn't have an American's experience of them either. So it took me a while to convince him that we needed a dishwasher. Once we had one, he agreed that a dishwasher was a higher priority than a washing machine. When our dishwasher went bust last year, we wasted no time getting a new one. We probably should have spent a little more time, because the new one isn't nearly as good as the old one.

And as for dryers.... I don't really know why but he resisted that one for years. Years I tell you. Which was kinda dumb because he was the one who did the laundry. And like millions of Brits we had laundry hanging off radiators and drying racks in our living room and in our kitchen and goodness knows where all.

But once he had the dryer, he felt that his life was transformed. Transformed, I tell you, and we don't even have a good set up. We don't have room in our tiny house for a dryer, so we have it in the shed. But still what took him all day now takes him mere hours. And sometimes a lot less, because with the dryer I'm sometimes willing to do a load or two myself.

But now our dryer has had an accident. A stroller and extension ladder precariously stacked on top of the dryer fell off the other day, striking the door and causing it to be - and this is a technical term - wonky. So now it cuts out, unless you prop something against the door. (I'm thinking of rigging it with a bit of bungee cord). Until we figured it out, the dryer was suffering from a mysterious ailment. I was panicking about the dryer situation.

But the ViL, his view was starker. "Our whole way of life depends on a working dryer."

*Although my husband has given them the URL for my blog, I think my inlaws don't read it. Though I would be so curious I wouldn't be able to help myself. You know, to see if there were any posts like this one here, for example.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Nicole -another South London American expat blogger - wants to go to her 20th high school reunion this year.

I do, too.

I mean - not to hers. That would be weird. Plus, I bet her reunion is in Vegas and I've kinda sworn I'd never pay to go there again.

No, I want to go to mine. Mine should be sometime this year, too. My 20th high school reunion. Holy moly.

I gotta lose weight and make up a convincing, yet over-the-top tissue of lies and half-truths about my glamorous London lifestyle. And get a haircut.

And now I ask you...

OK, do you like the new look? The Vol-in-Law hates it. He's offered some constructive and un-constructive criticism. He says I should go on my baby discussion forums and say:

"DH says my blog looks like cr@p. Tell me it doesn't, support only please." (You have to spell crap like that because the discussion forum has naughty word filters.)

I don't have a lot of time to wrangle with HTML or CSS, but I can always go back to an earlier version.


How do you feel about the Princes in the Tower. I mean did Richard III do it, or did he do it? VolMom passed along a book which exonerates Richard. I haven't finished the book, but I'm pretty unconvinced.


Tortillas: Corn or flour?
Popcorn: Butter or plain?
Peanut butter: Crunchy or smooth?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Dog bites man

I don't really know how to tell my non-Tennessee readers just how ridiculoso this headline is:

Moonshine and marijuana found in Cocke County

And in more breaking news...

Pope confirmed Catholic
Shocking new evidence: bear poo found in woods.

Even the discovery of a stash of oxycodone along with the grass and whiskey isn't in the least surprising. Perhaps if the police had bothered to check the back yard they might have found the chop shop and the fighting cock houses.

Thanks to KAG for that gem.

The disputes of the wallabies

Doot-do-do, I'm eating my cabbage, yummy cabbage.

Yummy, cabbage
That's a tasty leaf you got there.

Hey, wait - that's mine
Hey wait a minute, that's mine!

Maybe we can share
Maybe we can share?

Maybe not now that it's got your slobber on
Or maybe not now that it's got your slobber on it.

Or yours
Or yours.

Hurray for Hillary

I've already stated that my preferred candidate in the Democratic primaries is Hillary Clinton. But I'm not bashing anyone else in the race, because we've got a bigger, more important race coming in the Autumn.

However, with yesterday's election results I was quite happy to say Ha ha

Not to the other Democratic candidates, certainly not to any of their supporters. But to the media who gleefully predicted Hillary Clinton's demise in this "fight of her political life."

New Hampshire is just a small Northeastern state, not a deathmatch. But even so, I'm glad she won.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

And now I will blog about the 2008 Presidential race

For so long I've avoided blogging about the 2008 run for the White House and sworn I wouldn't until it was seemly. Maybe it was because I was a bit sickened by the campaigning kicking off before the 2006 Midterms even concluded. It's like retailers putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween. It ain't right.

I did have a post or two about Fred, but I tagged them Not the 2008 election, so I feel I kept my promise in a moral sense.

But now it's 2008, so I'm ready.

To the Republican party:

Y'all are making me laugh. Your candidates are crazy or lazy.

To the Democrats:

Can we please avoid having a nomination until the rest of the nation freakin' votes? We did this last time and look who we got. A loser. A guy who was so lacking in charisma and winning-ness that he couldn't resoundly beat that no-hoper George Bush.

To the "liberals":

Stop calling Hillary Clinton "shrill" or "close-to-tears" when she's not. Y'all need to take a look in the mirror and think about where this attitude is coming from. From what I've seen Hillary Clinton has acquitted herself admirably. Yes, I am voting for her.

But here are two people who probably/certainly aren't voting for her who've spotted the woman bashing, too. (Kathy Flake and the Tennessee Guerilla Women here and here and elsewhere). Heck, even my husband who subscribes to Pat Buchanan's American Conservative magazine noticed and has been stunned by the level of woman bashing.

To the British media:

Stop pontificating on this election as if a) you have a vote or b) you deserve a vote. You are merely outside observers. You do not get to anoint your chosen candidate - Barrack Obama. Although, maybe I shouldn't say anything since I believe that The Guardian with their stupid letter writing campaign along with the some vote tampering managed to lose Ohio.

And since I'm supporting the shrill and close-to-tears Hillary Clinton (yes, this according to the British media), go ahead, please shoot yourselves in the foot on this one, too.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The mismanagement of the social diary

Do y'all remember that Andy Griffith episode wherein Andy is overwhelmed with social engagements? A dinner party and a bridge night. And he reckons that he can go to both if he skips dessert. But the problem is that he goes to dinner at the bridge folks' house and then he shows up to play cards after the dinner party is over.


We were invited to a family party this weekend several hours away by car. The Vol-in-Law isn't especially close to his extended family, but he really wanted to show off his new boy - especially since he's the first of his generation to reproduce.

The last time we went up there we did have two social engagements. A traditional wedding in this quaint East of England village and then a wedding reception back in London with yummy margaritas made with real limeade smuggled in from the States. We actually did go to both.

And did you know that champagne does not mix well with tequila? I'm saving you the two-day hangover by telling you now.

This time we didn't have two social engagements.

But we got the day wrong. (And by we, I'd like to make it clear that I'm taking corporate responsibility for the actions of another member of our family management team.)

Because of the baby, we went up the night before so we'd be fresh and ready for the day long party. Only as soon as we arrived, after packing and dealing with the baby. And did you know how much stuff you have to pack for a baby? And then driving up and checking in. And then we discover that we got the day wrong. And the party is almost over.

So we change out of our baby food decorated clothes and run up there. Where Buddy appeared for a quick photo call (at one point there were four or five cameras flashing and popping in his face), which Buddy loves. He's ready for his close up now.

And then we go back to our bed and breakfast. And that's it.

Oh, except for the travel cot which Buddy mistook for some kind of Dick Cheney approved interrogation cage and just would not use. And the bed that was way too small. And the heat that went off at two in the tiny room with no insulation - meaning it was hot, hot, hot and then freezing cold. So no sleep.

But all was not lost. For on the way back we stopped at Woburn Safari Park, where we petted wallabies.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Seventy-six trombones

If you're the hoping, praying, rub on a brass monkey, knock on wood, send good vibes type person please hope for me that a daycare place at my preferred provider opens soon.

I'm ready to go back to work. I've been at home long enough.

I'm hoping to go back part time which actually shouldn't be a problem, but I need to a place to stick Buddy. We went by the place the other day and said "Puuhlease, next available slot please." We're waiting to find out if someone else is declining a place. They're vacillating, apparently.


Returning to work will obviously be a little bit bitter-sweet. Probably more on the bitter than the sweet. I've been unhappy with my job for a while. It's not the work (well, a little bit) or the people (hmmmm) or my short attention span (this is the longest I've ever held a job - though I've worked in this field for a long time). It's mostly the h.ot.des.king. You see I have an office job, one that requires a small amount of travel (like maybe once every six weeks or so and can be a lot less) and that does require meeting with folks off premises on average once a week, but mostly I'm IN. But without a desk to call my own. Top management, who all have desks of their own, were sold a pig in a poke by some fancy-dan architects.

What, you don't have h.ot.des.king? Why, how can you even call yourselves a _______ business. Everyone has h.ot.des.king these days, prevents the corruption of the workforce, you know.

I could go on and on and on and on about the stupidity of all this, but I really don't want to give away too many details on a blog that I have pretty much tried to keep work-blogging free.

When I was pregnant, I insisted that they keep a desk reserved for me on health and safety grounds. Which was mostly rubbish, there was kind a tenuous argument because I use a footrest and it was uncomfortable to get down on the ground and move that around. Really I needed the desk reserved because I'm a human and therefore a creature of habit. But pleading the belly worked. But now that I'm not pregnant any more it'll be back to rats in a sack when it comes to finding a place to plug in my laptop and park my behind.

But I have to go back for at least three months or else I have to pay back maternity leave. (Yikes). But I also resolve to be looking for something new, too. Something maybe with a desk.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Namer's remorse

Katie Allison Granju points to an article highlighting the phenomenon of baby namer's remorse. Too many people on the baby forums I frequent were "I don't care what other people say, I'm going to name him Laffable McStoopidname or Ridiculously Over-popular if it's a girl."

Maybe, just maybe, you should care what other people say. Now, I'm not saying you should necessarily bend to other people's whims. There are lots of names that might be perfectly acceptable but that I would never use because it's the name of an ex-boyfriend or that boogery girl in 3rd grade. But maybe a little market testing isn't such a bad idea. And then you wouldn't have to re-name your child. Not that I would do that, I've tried it with pets and unless you do it straight outta the pet rescue it doesn't work. (Our own Fancy was aka Missy at Battersea.)

I knew the first name we had chosen would be popular - maybe even the number one choice in Tennessee (it has been for several years) and it makes the Top 10 in England and Wales, where it's probably been since the decade or so after 1066. Although it's not the US national choice, not even in the top 10. But it's a name with a little bit of choice for nickname and it's a family name. His middle name is in current vogue - not sure where it figures exactly - but again it's a family name. And given that it's a family and coincidentally reflects the Vol-in-Law's Ulster heritage, too, it's gone down well with both sides.

For a girl's name, our choices were less solid. My favorite shortly before the gender was revealed to us rendering the discussion moot was Edith. No one much liked it, but I didn't care - I was thinking of using Edie as a nickname. But recently I read that Edith might be on the comeback - and while for a boy's name I like the traditional yet popular, for girls I like the traditional yet unusual. (Not unlike what my parents and the ViL's parents did.)


In the UK, I think it's a bit easier and a lot cheaper to change your or a kid's name.

down home taste

Mmm, SunDrop

I didn't actually give him SunDrop, I mean do you know what's in that stuff?

What's in this stuff?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

They shoot kitties, don't they?

VolMom bought her most favored son-in-law a BB gun for Christmas. She tried to make me promise not to tell my brother about this gift, but she'd already bought the thing. There would have been times growing up that VolMom could have made VolBro the happiest boy in the world if only she'd given him a BB gun. Or maybe he would have put his eye out. But my mom was so anti-gun than I'm pretty sure he never even asked for one.

Anyway, the gun was a gift to me too if I could say "Hey, my brother, mom bought my husband a BB gun for Christmas. Something she still wouldn't buy you."

This BB gun is some sort of "safe" version, though - hardly what a boy most desires. For one thing, the safety won't stay off unless you're actively pressing on it. For another, it's battery operated with a constant force of BB expulsion - that means you can't pump it up higher and higher and higher resulting in a more painful shooting experience. And it uses plastic pellets, not those little metal eye poppers.

But it still hurts to be hit by this BB gun. I know this because that's what the Vol-in-Law told me when I shot him.

It sounds like a domestic, I know, but it wasn't. It was a carefully controlled experiment. Kind of like science.

First I put on the ViL's down jacket and had him shoot me in the back. I couldn't really feel the impact, though I kinda felt the fabric move. That was a bit disappointing, given what we had in mind. Then the ViL put on the jacket. Similar experience. Then I tried to convince him to let me shoot him in the chest with only a shirt between him and the plastic pellet. He said no. He did let me shoot him in the butt. Over the pocket, he felt it, but it wasn't painful. Above the pocket he said it stung.



We want to use the BB gun to shoot cats. We don't really want to wound them, but we do want to scare the begeezus out of 'em. There are a couple of neighbourhood toms that come into our house, eat our expensive anti-allergy cat food, terrorise and wound our kitties costing us money on vet bills and piss on our stuff. Not acceptable. We've tried locking them out, we've tried squirt guns, yelling and arm-waving.

Now it's time to bring out the small guns.

So far, the Vol-in-Law has managed to wing one of the cats. The result is that the cat does make itself scarce - as in over the garden fence - when he sees us, where before he arrogantly retreated a mere few feet.

That's a start.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year - I hope every day next year is lucky for you.

And for those not in the know - black eyed pea eatin' for us is like dram drinking or first footing for the Scots.