Thursday, August 31, 2006
I've been without internet for a week. Shocking! I managed to log in briefly a couple times to check my email, but I've not had the opportunity to sit down and tell you all about my latest exploits.
I'm back here in the great state of Michigan, land of ripe, juicy peaches, big, succulent tomatoes, and cherries and sweetcorn galore. The weather in August sucks dead donkey dicks, but the produce coming in to the farm markets in the morning more than makes up for it.
Last night I went with the fam to an award ceremony. Mom is the MD of a professional theatre company, and one of last season's productions was nominated for several awards. It was a hugely fun night, and we even won one of the things we got nominated for. So that was cool.
Prior to that I was out in the great land of Taxachusetts, visiting Wally and Vi and the New Baby. Also called Wally. Ugh. (Some names just shouldn't be passed on.) Things out there are ok, but Vi is having a bit of a rough time of it. She's been getting some really crappy advice on nursing and things, and (long story short) it's not helping the baby at all and she's absolutely run down. I'm really annoyed with some of the things she's been told, but she won't listen to anyone but the supposed "experts" at the hospital, and she gets really any time some tries to suggest something that will make her life easier. Oh, well. She'll just have to deal as best she can.
The Pirate is lovely as ever. I call him often and we chat for ages. I'm looking forward to getting back to Bristol so I can see him. Our time together will be miserably brief, as his job is sending him out of the country for 2 months, and he'll be leaving just a few days after I return from the states. bugger. i'll have to do work or something to fill my time. horror of horrors!
oh, and i got my hair cut today. so that's good. 's about it, really.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The train trip was uneventful, save for the profound nuissance of the cosmically rude 11-year-old female chavs sitting across the isle from me. Had it been a more boring weekend I might trouble to write an entire post on them and what I would have done if I was their mother. But we have more interesting things to discuss, no?
The Pirate picked me up and took me to his parents' home, where they met me at the door with an enthusiasm that can only be described in terms of Golden Retriever-level glee. I expected a polite handshake, a "Welcome dear it's so nice to see you how do you take your tea" kind of welcome. I did not expect to be crushed in the arms of two people simultaneously as they vied to be the first to hug me and kiss me on the cheek, exclaiming in full voices "Welcome, welcome, welcome! We're so glad to finally meet you! Do come in! How was your trip? Are you hungry? We've heard so much about you, we're just thrilled you've come all this way to visit!..." and so on and so forth. They are absolutely lovely people, and I can't create enough nice things to say about them.
They are also walking charicatures of the English middle class, stereotypical casting rejects from every British comedy ever made. She's warm and lovely, very sweet, very high-strung, and fusses over one constantly. "How is that, dear? Would you like some more? Do try a little of this. No, no, I insist. While you're here you absolutely must..." etc. The word "no" isn't in her vocabulary, except when she is refusing to accept any sort of assistance. She bent over backwards to make me feel at home (and I would have, if I'd been raised at the Four Seasons), and was absurdly enthusiastic about absolutely everything I had to say, be it about my work, my family, my past, my future plans, whatever. It's easy to see where the Pirate gets his joie de vivre. I loved her instantly.
Mr. Pirate was large, silver-haired, jolly sort of man with heavy jowels and fat lower lip which he mashed against my cheek in a sloppy kiss of greeting when he hugged me. (I didn't think English people hugged total strangers. Any thoughts?) He's the sort of man who says things like "God show, old boy" and "Gosh!,"and sprays spittle when he says them. He has a tremendously strong sense of propriety and How Things Should Be Done (you could almost hear the longing in his voice for the days of the Empire). When we could have a conversation (ie when Mrs. Pirate was out of the room, because it's near impossible to get a word in edgeways when she's present), we talked politics, history, cricket, and wine. He interrogated me very sublety and very effectively about my future plans and intentions, and I was left with the vague unnerving feeling that I'd said rather a lot more than I intended. It's easy to see where the Pirate gets his brains. Terrific fellow; we got on swimmingly.
The Great Controvertial Pie was a hit. Mr. Pirate went back for seconds and thirds, and Mrs. Pirate explained that she had been reading in a Bill Bryson book about how Americans always show up with pie to welcome a new family to the neighborhood and she was thrilled beyond words to be given a Genuine American Pie made by a Genuine American. Seriously, she was beside herself. (She even asked if I'd picked the berries, which was great because it gave me a chance to say that yes indeed, I had. Class.)
On Sunday the Pirate and I went for a long walk through some woods, along a babbling river, and up and over the moors. The heather was in bloom and the hills were aglow in the sun with purple and rust and gold. Glorious countryside. He took me for lunch in, well, it would be a criminal understatement to call it a pub, but let's face it, it was a pub. And criminal understatment is a national pasttime here, so what the hell. But the chef was a gourmet chef (even has a Michelin star), and the food was unbelievalble. Damn that swashbuckler knows how to eat well.
After our huge and leisurely lunch we wandered into the empty field next to the pub with a cricket ball and a couple baseball mitts. Thus began the Pirates crusade to make me into a first-class fast bowler. He insists I've got the right physique and natural temperment. There's just one problem: I throw like a girl. Well, I used to, anyway. A long hour in that field under the encouragement and watchful eye of Speedy McSpeed and I made rather significant progress. (Now I throw like a large girl.) I did rather enjoy it. I'm looking forward to working on my technique more with him. We had a lot of fun.
After that we came home, got out the chessboard, and put on the radio, listening to the drama of the scandalous England-Pakistan test match as it unfolded sunday evening. Then dinner with the 'rents, coffe in the sitting room, evening constitional to aid the digestive process, news on the telly, and finally curl up on the sofa watching The Magnificent Seven. Somehow I managed to fall asleep with 30 minutes to go of the movie. It must have been a combination of the happy exhaustion, full stomach, and warm Pirate reclining comfortably against my chest that sent me to dreamland just as the film was getting really exciting.
Monday we wandered into the village where we admired the explosive assortment of hanging baskets and window boxes, perused an art gallery, a bookstore, and few gourmet delis. I bought a load of Christmas gifts for my family, and the Pirate (operating under orders from his mother) bought me a small wheel of good, local cheese. Yum! We met Mr. Pirate for lunch at the nearby golf club, where he (not the Pirate, Mr. Pirate) invited me back for Christmas. Very touching.
Then off to the train station where the Pirate waited with me on the platform, kissed me passionately and appropriately as the train rolled in, didn't let go of my hand until the last possible second, and stood there, waving, until I was completely out of sight. Eat your heart out, Bogie.
I think the weekend was a smashing success. No once was anyone offended, accidently or otherwise (that I could detect), both Mr. and Mrs. Pirate appear to absolutley LOVE ME (yay!!!), and as far as I can tell I've been compeltely welcomed to the family. They were wonderful people, real people, with a house full of photos of the boys (Pirate and his brother), trophies and certificates, models of ships and airplanes, souveniers of family holidays, threadbare, mismatched rugs, shelves overflowing with well-read books, and a healthy layer of dust that suggested the inhabitants had better things to do with their time than run around all day with a feather dusters in hand, preening and cleaning the Household Memories. They're a strong family, justifiably proud of their offspring, supportive but not overprotective, and not unwilling to let them take their own risks and make their way in the world. (Very much like my own family, really.) Love 'em. Love 'em six ways to sunday. I couldn't ask for better in-laws.
Friday, August 18, 2006
I made the mistake of telling the Pirate that I would bring him and his parents a blackberry pie when I go to visit this weekend. Fatal error. If I'd kept my big yap shut, I wouldn't have been committed. I would have had the option of looking at the weather this morning and saying "Fuckit, i'm not picking sodding berries in this weather."
OK, to be fair if I told the Pirate that I couldn't make a pie because the weather was too shit for picking berries, he would not have held it against me one iota. I also had the option of going to Tesco's and buying some blueberries or something and making a different kind of pie. So really, it was my choice.
Hey Spin, did you (or any of you other Brizzolians out there) notice the torrential downpour at about half nine this morning? The one that made looking out the window an experience akin to standing on the Maid of the Mist and trying to see through Niagara Falls? Guess where I was in that rainstorm? 2 miles from my flat, picking sodding blackberries, that's where!
It is not an exaggeration to say that there are times I've gone for an (unintentional) plunge in Avon waters and come out drier than I was when I got back to my flat this morning.
Actually, I'm just whinging for drama's sake. I didn't mind. It wasn't cold, and god knows I spend about 20% of my waking hours soaking wet anyway. (Truth be told, it was kind of fun. Shhh, don't tell anyone I said that.)
Monday, August 14, 2006
1. Have you had sex in the past 24 hours? In reality? No. In my mind? Every 24 seconds.
2. Are you gay? Bi.
3. Do you have hairy legs? Yes. Hair is mature, sexual. Hairlessness is suggestive of the pre-pubescent body, and is creepy.
4. Do you smoke anything? Baby, I am smokin'!
5. Do you like monkeys? I like the band. Not so much with the mammals.
6. How many fillings do you have? 2 I think. Not entirely sure to be honest.
7. Would you rather swim in the ocean or a lake? Lake. The ocean is scary; it tried to eat me.
8. Have you ever licked one of those square batteries? You don't know where that battery has been!
9. Have you ever read the Bible? Lets see here: 12 years of Catholic education. Yeah, I've read the Bible.
10. Did you ever go to Sunday School? Oh yeah. Rather liked it, too. We got to sing lots of songs.
11. Do you wear a lot of black? More brown, actually.
12. Did you ever bring a weapon to school? Just my rapier wit and piercing academic arugements.
13. Have you ever hugged a tree? Loads. Seriously.
14. Do you know what a sphincter actually is? Duh. Don't you?
15. Describe your hair? George Harrison circa 1965. I wish I were kidding.
16. Are you a wildbeast? A wild beast? or a wildebeast? Depends on where my feet are, I s'pose.
17. Do you like to have fun? Um, isn't that the definition of "fun"? Stuff you like to do. Who doesn't like to do what they like to do? That said, I don't generally enjoy the things the average person finds "fun."
18. Do you like drama? Yes, especially Elizabethan drama. Christopher Marlowe is god.
19. Have you ever taken a bong hit? Nope. (See question 17)
20. Do you like mayonnaise? Nope. I distinctly prefer Miracle Whip. That tangy zip, ya know?
21. Are you afraid to die? Not afraid as such, I'd just rather not if it's all the same to you. Life is finally starting to get interesting.
22. Do you like playing in leaves? YES YES YES YES!!!!
23. Have you ever peed your pants as an adult? No, thank god.
24. Have you ever thrown up on somebody as an adult? Yes, and he completely deserved it because he was an asshole AND he had fair warning that it was coming, so I don't feel guilty about it in the least. In fact, it was rather funny.
25. Are you an adult? Yeah, for a long time. *sigh* I'm not old, I just grew up way too fast.
26. Ever won a spelling bee? Damn straight, bitch. Loads of 'em. Ha.
27. Do you ever eat because you’re depressed? Depressed? no. Bored, yes.
28. Are you a television addict? Only a few select programs. (CSI Las Vegas, West Wing, Cash in the Attic.) Most of what's on TV is total crap. Especailly "reality TV." Ugh.
29. Do you think OJ was guilty? Of course he was.
30. Do you enjoy spending time with your mother? In fact, I do. We rather like each other.
31. Have you ever had sex in a hot tub? Not yet.
On a swing? Ooh, that sounds fun!
32. Do you like Elvis? A few tunes, In the Ghetto, Fools Rush In, Love Me Tender. That's about it.
33. Do you enjoy watching animals "do it" on the Discovery channel? Used to. Outgrew it.
34. Have you ever had sex with a total stranger? Nope.
35. Do you enjoy the calming effects of turkeys? Aye. Mmm, the great Thanksgiving Nap. Ahh.
36. Does your mom [sic] think someone is hot? Loads of people. All Olympic swimmers, most Olympic skiiers (espeically Jean Claude Keily), a few Olympic ice skaters, and Liam Neeson.
37. Are you a sugar freak? Freak, no. But I definately have a sweet tooth.
38. Ever been arrested? Much to my parents' dismay, no. My mom was furious with me when i graduated Uni never having been arrested for civil disobedience. Apparently I wasn't protesting hard enough.
39. Ever commit a crime and get away with it? No, I've never so much as shop-lifted a pack of gum. Always wanted to steal one of those road signs to hang on my door, though. you know, one of those that says "Dangerous Curves Ahead." That would be cool.
40. Do you like orange juice? yep. So annoying living in a country that doesn't grow its own oranges. OJ costs a fortune over here. And you don't have FCOJ! What's up with that?!?
41. What sign are you? Capricorn, but I don't believe in that crap.
42. Ever do the party boy dance in front of the elderly? I don't know what that is, but I'm sure I've never done it and never will. I like to live under the delusion that I have some shred of dignity. I'm pretty sure that engaging in anything called the "party boy dance" would shatter that delusion forthwith.
43. Where do you wish you were right now? Anywhere with the Pirate.
44. Did you enjoy this? Meh. Not the best meme I've seen, but it staved off the laundry for a good 15 minutes, so mission accomplished.
I would like to humbly apologize to all my readers for the shockingly long delay. For a while I had nothing to say, then I had no time, and eventually the resnet system in my building went on the fritz and i havn't been able to write or read posts. Fucking annoying, I can tell you.
All the news that's fit for the shitter:
The USA and France hammer out a treaty to end fighting between... the USA and France? No, that would make sense! The USA and France have decided to end the fighting between Israel and Lebanon. Does anyone else find this utterly laughable? The absurdity of the very notion makes me snark my coffee. Last I heard a ceasefire was supposed to go into effect this morning, and then Israel announced that no, in fact they would like to keep shelling Lebanon please and thank you. There's a big fucking surprise.
I have of late been learning the game of cricket. The Pirate, you see, is quite the cricketer. This past Saturday and the Sunday before that I spent watching various of his matches. He plays for 4 clubs just for kicks and for 2 professional teams. (!!!) I love watching him bowl; his run-up is like a steam locomotive. And I can testify that the man has rhythm. Ahem.
At the first match I saw I had the pleasure of overhearing the conversation between some of his opponenents who were padding up to bat. One said to the other, "Do you have a bigger helmet? This one won't go over my head." The other replied, "But you never wear a helmet." Said the first, "I know, but if I get out there and they send McWheels at me, I'm not facing his fast balls without a lid on." HA! I relayed this bit of entertainment to Himself after the match, and we both found it endlessly amusing.
I must confess it did please me rather a lot to hear his team mates speak so well of him and hear them cheer him while he was bowling. To be admired by your comrades and feared by your opponents is, frankly, a good way to be.
This week is my last week of work at the temp agency. Yay.
Saw Cars. Cute flick. Though, frankly, not Pixar's best. The animation and voices were undeniably superb, yes. And yes, I laughed my pants off. But I have a problem with the larger message. On a fundamental level, it's a backwards-facing film. It seeks to return to the glory days of yore, the good ol' days. The basic, overriding theme of the film is that the advancemtns of the past 60 years have come at too hight a price, and we'd all be better off if the universe just turned back the clock about 6 decades or so.
Are you kidding me?!? The glory days? Of what, the 1950s? Of McCarthyism, the Cold War, the days before the Sexual Revolution and the Civil Rights Movement??? Those good ol' days? News flash, people: the Good Ol' Days weren't that good.
I know that in a troubled world there is a natural tendency to look back with longing on what we perceive to be a simpler, happier time. But every era has its problems, and the only way to genuinely improve society for the betterment of all her citizens is to look to the future. Think about the difference between Cars and Monsters, Inc. The messages here are perfect, beautiful, diametric opposites. M.I. looked to the future, drove home the idea that if we want to change things for the better we have think creatively, allow our minds to be open to new ideas and innovations. Cars tells us to bog ourselves down in the past, to better our lives by hiding in our memories, a mindset which is inherently limiting and stultifying. It is a frame of mind which is tantamount to stuffing your head in your sandy ass, and it is that same mode of thinking which is responsible for most of the woes from which we are all trying so desperately to hide.
Also, the short at the beginning wasn't all that funny. I liked the one with the birds better.
Capricorn: This weekend you will meet the parents of the man you love. Embrace your new family with an open mind and heart. Bring them pie.
Authorities are currently seeking information leading to the identity of a new anonymous M.E. lurker. The lurker is flirtatious, has a poetic streak, and is presumed to be male, between the ages of puberty and pensioner. Any information leading to the outing of anonymous's identity should be submitted to the usual comments space.
(Personal to Anonymous: Thanks for the offer, but the, er, position has been, um, filled. Yeah.)
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Saturday, August 05, 2006
5:06 pm. The reply: ?? You mean right now? I'm at work. Or do you mean tonite? No plans... y?
5:08 pm. Pirate: Are you ready to receive?
5:09 pm. Me: Your reply, sir, is enigmatical. Receive what?
5:12: Pirate: Why, my glorious person of course.
5:15: Me: I will be out of work in 15 mins, at which time I would honored and elated to receive your exalted company.
5:19: Pirate: I agree, you would be honoured unnecessarily but i shall deign to inflict you upon me. Standby to standby.
So he shows up at 6:30, lean, tanned, smiling. "This is a delightful surprise; I didnt expect to see you until tomorrow. I hope you like tuna noodle casserole," I told him, "becasue it's all i've got the fixings for."
"You needn't worry about dinner. I've taken care of everything."
An hour later we were sitting in a loud, crowded Italian restaurant around the corner from my flat. I'd walked passed it a million times but never went in, having dismissed it as an overpriced pizzaria. My god was i wrong. First of all, it's BYOB, which I love. There aren't nearly enough BYOB restaurants in the world. Secondly, the menu was fantastic. It's been a while since I had that much difficulty ordering on a menu. My osterich filet in marsala wine sauce was the best piece of meat I have ever eaten anywhere ever.
"This is a wonderful evening. Thank you so much; I love surprises! What's the occassion?"
"What are you doing on the weekend of the 19th/20th?"
"That's the weekend before I leave for the States for 2 weeks. Why?"
"I was wondering if you'd like to come home with me for the weekend and meet my family."
Question of the hour: WHAT DO I WEAR???
On another cheerful note I spent the afternoon blackberrying. Of course, it's been a couple years since I were blackberrying, and I made a crucial, tactical error: I neglected to wear long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt. Let's play Guess What's All Over CB's Arms And Legs!
a) scratches from blackberry thorns
b) stings from acres and acres of poison nettles surrounding aforementioned blackberry thorns
c) mosquito/horsefly bites
d) ALL OF THE FUCKING ABOVE
If you guessed "d" give yourself a gold star, Einstein.
But it was worth it, all the same. The berries are big and sweet and they explode on your tongue and bathe it in thick, purple juice. How wonderful to stand in the sunshine on a hot afternoon and pick wild berries! One in the basket, one in the mouth; two in the basket, one in the mouth. I piked 2.2 kilos of wild blackberries, y'all. 2.2 KILOS. I made about half of them into sauce to eat over icecream (they'll keep better in sauce form). Pudding tonight is fresh blackberries with double cream. I think I'll pick some more in a couple weeks to make into a pie to take to Mr and Mrs Pirate. That should go over well with the in-laws, don't you think?
Thursday, August 03, 2006
It was really moving. I really had no idea he felt that way. He's not one to express his emotions in words, but I think at this point he figured he had nothing left to lose. For the sake of fairness, because I previously published a list of all the things he did that bugged me, I'll let you read a bit of the letter, to leave you with a more balanced and favorable impression of his character.
...I dreamed of serenading you with my guitar under your balcony last night, except you don't have a balcony. If I could actually play the guitar I could play through the intercom system, but I guess that would distort the sound and you wouldn't understand me. (laughing hysterically)
I could send you a love poem but I guess you'd recognize my plagarism and laugh.
The fact is I feel compelled to write to you with all my heart... (getting choked up)
...there are many things I love and admire about you even though I never took the opportunity to tell you. When we're out walking I love it when you seem to just disappear when i turn around I discover you have stopped to smell a lily about 50 metres back along the path. The confidence in your voice and the sound of you speaking puts me at ease... (cue the weeping)
...CB, I love the way a little sigh escapes your mouth when you seem peased or contented. I love the smell of your hair (that's not just a line, he really did smell my hair a lot)... I love the way your skin feels when I touch your arms, shoulders, and back. I like the way your bum wobbles when you go out jogging and I love it that you don't seem to care. Most of all I love it when I wake up and find you lying there beside me...
There was more to it than that. Some bits too personal to publish here, some too mundane, questions he would like answered, etc., but anyway. I had to respond; couldn't just let that one lie. I sent him a response, 3 pages typed, single spaced. Too many times in my life I've heard the phrase "I love you, but..." This has led me to conclude that "but" is the most wretched word in the English language. I never thought I'd hear myself say it. Today I hate myself.
Was out with the Pirate last night. Saw "Cars." Cute flick, but I have some issues with it. Maybe I'll do more with that later.
Right now, I promised you food for eating. I have had several requests lately for recipes for light, summer fare. First Nations is in the process of re-learning how to cook, the Great She Elephant is looking to slim down a wee notch, and I'm sure I remember HC asking me for some salad recipes. So for the next few weeks I'll be posting a recipe ever couple days or so. These are all light, easy, and really super yummy. If you try them and have any suggestions as to how they can be improved, by all means leave your thoughts in the comments. Bon appetite!
Ripe baby plum or cherry tomatoes
Greek olives (optional)
Slice the tomatoes into quarters. Coarsely chop the basil. Mix the tomatoes, basil, and olives in a bowl. Drizzle with oil, vinegar (be spare with the vinegar. seriously, less is more). Season to taste. Crumble the feta cheese. (Always add the feta last or the balsamic vinegar makes it go a wonky, unnattractive colour.) Serve immediately, room temp.
Because this salad is so simple, the key here is good ingredients. The basil MUST be fresh. Dried basil has no flavor. You can buy a pot of fresh basil at Sainsbury's for a pound. No excuses. Use really ripe tomatoes, good olive oil, and a fairly sweet feta. (Most fetas are too salty for me. If you can't find a feta you like, give it a whirl with goat cheese or mozzarella.) Enjoy!
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
(Here'r the links if you want to jog your memory:
I, Dentity Crisis
What's In A Name?
The Announcement. Maybe.)
I know y'all are sick of reading about how in love I am, how perfect he is, blah blah blah, and there's not a hell of a lot else going on at the mo, so I thought at this point I'd give you an update on the name situation.
While most people found it (predictably) difficult to call me by a new name, I've taken advantage of my temporary employment to give 'Mara' a test run. I work 30 hours a week in a small office a couple blocks from my flat, and everyone here knows me as Mara. Swell!
I actually expected it to be a lot wierder than it was. From the first day I never hesitated to answer to it, never once accidently said "Stephanie speaking" when I picked up the phone. It was all surprisingly seamless. So that's good.
Here's the funny bit: I had just settled on 'Mara' a couple days before I met the Pirate. When I went to that party I intended to introduce myself as Mara, but completely forgot to. So he became the very last person to meet me as 'Stephanie.' And now I can't imagine him calling me by any other name. I love the sound of it when he whispers it to me at night. For the first time I actually like the sound of my own name. Oh, the irony.
So I don't know what I'm going to do in the long run. But it doesn't seem to matter as much any more.
(Sorry about that. I really did try to write a post w/o mentioning the P-word, but that's just the way my mind has been (non)functioning lately.)