Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Creature

I'm becoming a nocturnal dweller.

Awake until 2 or 3 AM some nights, sleeping until noon, I find myself turned around, much like a baby who can't quite get the grasp of when it's sleepytime and when it's awake time, and it's making me a grumpy Quin. As grumpy as if I were the parent of that child who shall remain nameless. *coughHRHcough*

I used to go to sleep peacefully, early in the evening... my writing done, my reading done, no television to bother my brain.... I'd drift off to my own thoughts quieting down, some tune playing gently in my head... perhaps a personal thought or two fluttering there. The point is, I'd go. to. sleep.

Upon my return from the U of K, I again fell quickly into the pit of darkness, exhausted by the change in time, my rushing around, the emotional sadness that overcame me. It wasn't until that Monday night, as I cuddled into my feather bed that is on top of the Titanic, having once again inflated said Titanic, nestling my head into my feather pillows (because if I have to sleep on an effing airmattress, I am going to have lots of feathers and good linen on top of it)...and I was--there. Jusssssssssssssssst there. You know, when you can feel yourself falling into the Land of Nod? Life is going away.... you know your next breathe will be an exhale into Nightworld when...

The Creature stirred.

What my wondering ears did hear, but what sounded like Santa and eight fucking reindeer!

Right in my little tiny flat!

It moaned, it groaned, it moved about, rattling and stirring and shaking everything. The walls trembled, the sound of the 'fridge was overwhelmed, and I was startled into full wakefulness.

We had a new furnace.

And, where is the new furnace located? Yes, right in the same area as my little basement flat. I am housed with The Creature. It seems the children who play the bongos and stomp on the floor weren't warm enough on the third floor, so, a new furnace was installed in my absence. I am only happy that I had cleaned, and nothing was lying about when they came in to do the work.

I'd hate to think I'd have left personal items out or something.

Can they still the beast? Well, according to Viggo, the nice plumber...who eyed my underwear the whole time he was talking to me...I keep it in a pretty basket (hey! it's New York! You store things where you can!) said "I gotta tell ya, dis is the best I can do. We put on da pump to drive the hot wadda upstairs for da childrun. You just gotta live wid it." Ogling the new silk bra and panty set folded on top, he left.

Now, at night, it's a race. Can I fall asleep before The Creature wakes up? Will 'da childrun' be warm enough? Will I hear the creaking of a floor telling me someone is up.. someone is moving..someone is adjusting the thermostat?

I'm becoming addicted to large doses of my herbal sleep aid, and nyquil is pretty good, too. Still, even in my fogged state.... when I'm deep in the pit of green gunk land... I hear it, rumbling. Waiting for me to go to the bathroom, when I'm partially awake...

When it will click on, and I'll lie there, awake, surrounded by it's gurgles and laughter.

Wishing everyone upstairs would just freeze to death in the dark.

Our Neville Fact:

As a young man, Neville wrote prose, and fancied himself quite the poet. When his poem, "Ode to the Titwillow" was turned down by the local Keats' society as 'quaint', he sat down, and realised they had a number of polite words for his work, including 'quaint' for his masterpiece, that they were all euphemisms for 'crap' in their eyes. He later privately published his work, and on occasion, will recite it at family gatherings, much to his children's dismay.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Echoes of What Was

I've been walking quite a bit lately.

Laundry to be done, that's a mile each way. The Met (a fancy name for a small food store) is another mile walk to and from the flat. When I'm going to the library, I am starting to walk at least half the distance... not that it saves me bus fare, but, it's a nice stroll.

Okay, it's not a nice stroll... I walk down a busy street, still, I walk.

I'll take the train, then walk the half mile into the main street when I go to the theatre, something I've been in the habit of doing lately. The sky has been blue, with lots of long, streaming clouds. Sharp winds are steady, keeping me wrapped in my scarves, coat buttoned, my faithful black gloves on my hands.

I have to wear the black.. I lost a red one at Loo's on the High Street and the brand new pair of brown ones I bought on the street last Friday didn't even make it to the Ferry before they disappeared. I try, I really, really do. It's amazing, when you think about it... I organise houses and offices; able to tell you where any piece of paper is, once I've touched it, yet... I lose my own things on a regular basis.

I'm walking, and thinking... putting together something I want to write. I have it mapped out in my head, I can see the entire film... I know the dialog, the costumes, the plot, the scenery... all of it. It's getting it onto paper that is difficult. Moving it from this vault in my head into the computer is harder than I realised... I've not attempted this sort of writing before, beyond a monologue... and, I find myself admiring those who do script writing more and more.

I've had some things come up that will make a wave in my world... not something I'm looking forward to, but, something I have to deal with in my own way. Something that will place me where I was before in a sense, having learned much, laughed a great deal, and sorry to see things change.

I'll move on.. I've got a great photo of my Dad smiling at me right now... Bud Buckley is singing his heart out while I type... and The Investment has told me he plans on doing this in the summer.

Life is good, yes, indeed.

Our Neville Fact:

News has arrived from the U of K that Our Margaret has broken her wrist while learning to clog. Neville is all aflutter trying to take care of the house while Our Margaret has her arm in a cast, and is unable to cook. Lately, tea consists of beans on toast and quite often Chinese take-away. Margaret would love a chicken vindaloo, but, Neville has boycotted the local Indian eatery ever since they forgot to include lime-pickle with his last order of papadums, causing him no great fury when he was forced to have them with only the mango chutney they provided.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Lied

I haven't sent Bob off yet.

The box is here, the mailing label... I simply can't bear to be without him.

Today, I made the call... DHS will show up at 1P to pick him up, take him away... I will be reduced to the library once more in order to check emails, have my fix of journal reading... I know, I know, I've cried a river, now build a bridge and get the fuck over it.

Adapting to life back in New York has been difficult. I miss the comfort of people around me, of loved ones, of voices in the evening calling out to watch a program, or to have tea, or just to talk. I miss reaching down and finding good ole' Frank crouched down next to my bed, sleeping the sleep of the neurotic. Whimpering on occasion as he worries how he'll get past the scary white radiator with the magic mouse that leaps out and then is squished by the ugly red DIY book. I miss long term friends in Colorado, people I've known for a gazillion years... who know me better than I know myself.

Arrival here was a long dreary affair, a nice welcome home, going two hours a day to a part time job, worrying about the house in the Land O'Utes, thankful Jarhead is home, and knowing the Zenmaster will be in the City for a month or so on a job,... it's sadness and wondering what I'm doing right now, if one of my children is right... it's time to "....go home. You've had your New York adventure."

I still find great joy in my train rides, amazing how my first trip always sits me next to a true crazy person.... this last time, I faced a man who looked sane. Well dressed, tidy, he smiled at me and said, "Fucking cunt." and proceeded to rant about Nixon.

Yes, I was back in New York.

Held up on the 'F' for hours on Tuesday, packed into the Ferry with all the other commuters, I sit silent, watching, listening... trying to sort out if this really is what I should be doing, where I need to be, what I want to do...

Frustrated in some areas of my life, I think men are pooheads (not you, AR partner), but, every other man I know is... do you not listen? They are clueless, really clueless in life.

What are you like??

Our Neville Fact: (the last one until Bob is back)

Margaret is fond of brussel sprouts, but, finds they give her wind. Her mother told her, "... a lady never has wind in front of her husband.", therefore, Margaret has never passed gas around Neville. For the last 45 years, she's stepped outside to look at the stars on a regular basis whenever they have her favourite veg. Neville has yet to put two and two together.

Golfwidow and I will be creating a Wikipedia entry for Neville. I'd be honoured if you think of some aspect of Neville and Margaret's life, and add it to this entry when we have it up and running upon Bob's return. I guess I'd best tell GW about this...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dead Computer Walking

They didn't fix it.

Oh, they said they did, those crazy Gateway (yes, I made sure it was Gateway, and not Dell) tech folk...they swore they'd fixed my problem on Bob, my trusty laptop.

I sent him off right before I went off to see the Godmother, and he was home when I rushed back for my 1 day layover before I headed back out, to go to Loo's... all cleaned up, new keyboard installed, DVD drive working... the major issue of the AC adapter fixed.

Or, so they said.


Bob will not hold a full charge, and on occasion, wanders off the main feed, forcing me to rely on the battery... watching it drain, the little warning light coming on... I jiggle the connection, cursing, praying... sometimes it reconnects...sometimes, it don't.

The nice folk at Gateway (not Dell) want Bob back... again. They are going to replace the motherboard.. this is what they were supposed to do last time. Now, understand, I've finally reloaded all the crap I unloaded the last time. I'm not happy here.

What does this mean? It means no online journals for me. No Our Neville Facts. No emails or surfing or shit.

I may go into withdrawals.


The last two days have been interesting... I've had two talent gigs... count 'em, two.

One was as a model for an interactive exhibit that will open at the Museum of Modern Art on 20 February. It was fun to do, and the artist is very creative in his approach. You'll have to go see it, and, yes, my name is listed.

The other was in a film, shot today...I was background fluff, something I'm starting to enjoy. You get paid to do nothing but provide a face and chatter. This is good. The owner of the restaurant we used in the shot asked for my number... I'd be flattered if he wasn't married. And far older. Still, he did ask... and the other actors were younger, and prettier.

No, I didn't give it... I did, however, grin.

Our Neville Fact:

Neville and Margaret are nationally ranked competitive dancers in the International Standard Foxtrot.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Life Carries On

I'm adjusting.

Strange not to have the silence of a small English village in my ears...instead, to have the sounds of my landlord's children running about upstairs... the rush of cars in the street, the SIRR train in the distance. Walking down to the bus in order to make groceries, and deciding I want the stroll to work off my time away... going a mile before I give into the cold air... and only having to wait a few minutes for transportation... on the right side of the street.

Re-calculating when I shop, remembering the prices are just what they say they are... not double the shown cost. Not seeing things I'm used to; small corn, long counters of cheese, nibbly bits, free range chicken, entire sections of lovely desserts, and things in general are... different.

The clerk bags my food, another change from what I've grown used to... I bring them to my friendly bus, which is free... once again, the machine is broken, and we are all cheery with our saved fares making it a good day.

One thing I did take home with me, something I've put off, something I'm not tickled with....

My glasses chain.

Yes, I, Quin, was forced to use a glasses chain. After losing one pair of glasses on my third day, and walking about the rest of the time saying, "Where are my glasses?" (I need them for reading, thank you very much)... Loo said, "Right, that's it. Get a chain."

I did.

They laughed. They pointed. But, they were pleased they no longer had to look for glasses.

They just had to look for glasses and a chain.

And pick up my book when I left it on a bench in London, and help me find a hat and my knitting and my shoes and....

At least, I can find the glasses.... even if I do look like Principal McGee. I'd thought I might go for the pince-nez look... but, alas, I'm stuck with my reading glasses and a chain that is around my neck, keeping them in place... making me feel...


Our Neville Fact:

Neville has a sister, Beatrice, who is married and lives in Surrey. She and Neville seldom speak, having had a row over the Will left by their father, who divided his property equally, however, he left his Piece of Cloth touched by a Crusader to Beatrice. This was an heirloom, and much coveted by both. Neville felt this should have come to him, as the eldest child and only son, as had been the tradition for anger, he said his sister had tricked their father into changing his will. Beatrice, called Trippy by her horse set friends, told Neville he was a sorry old sod, and never spoke to him again. She and her husband, Geoffrey along with their three children, Audrey, Neville (named before the Great Row) and Davina all pretend they don't know Neville when they see him yearly at the family gathering in Wiltshire. It makes for an uncomfortable day for everyone else, and Cousin Sevilla gets potted with the good sherry to help deal with the stress.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Sucks rocks.

Although we made it to the airport on time, it seems BA didn't realise the importance of my leaving Heathrow as scheduled, and therefore allowed one of it's planes to have a scary incident, thus closing down one of the runways in the busiest airport in the world.

Hello? I'm flying out?

Virgin continued the happy smiling face of "Of course you won't be delayed, madam!"

Hello? The emergency vehicles almost pushed Loo and I off the road on our way in... we looked at them, then at each other, "Wow, there are fire trucks... we should be okay if they don't go towards Terminal ...shit."

We were processed, our bags weighed (we won't mention some people's bags were 3kg overweight, however, our clever jokes and ever pleasant manner let that slip by without a fine), given a good seat, and sent on out way.

Some of us don't like to wear our reading glasses in public, so, we squint at the little Virgin boarding card, see the 30, and head for that gate.

Upon arrival, we find out it's a BA gate, which is closed, and the real gate is 3... on the OTHER side of the huge Heathrow Terminal 3.

Some of us have no problem flagging down a cart, smiling, and asking if we can hitch a ride.

We also tip.

Running down the last of the concourse to our gate, still seeing the little TV screens saying, 'On Time', we arri... okay, I arrive... to find everyone standing about, milling about, swirling about... they won't even open the little glass doors to let us sit down, ffs. An announcement is made, the BA episode, etc. Yes, we know. We may be a teensy bit delayed.

Oh? You think? Since the airport is down to one runway?

All of the passengers knew that hours ago.. we could have told you that.

We queue, some of us do... others push ahead to press their faces to the glass... all of them seem to have American accents... bless. A group of college students are behind me, talking of their past two weeks in Europe and the UK. One, a male, is going on about how much of an ass he can be..

"Oh, yeah, that flight to London... I had the exit row, where you can stretch waaaaaaaaaaaaaay out, then, I put my seat all the way back, so the guy behind me was squished. I'm an ass that way." and he laughed.

I turned around and said, "I sure hope you aren't in front of me." and smiled.

He said, "Why? What could you do?"

I said, "I'd reach forward and titty twist your ear, you rude little prick." and I smiled.

I watched him get on the plane, and scan to see if he was near me... he wasn't. I did smile and wave from my empty row, through... he was in a full one. It does help to be nice to the agents and crew.

With announcements coming from the Captain on a regular basis, we found out the runway would open, then close when it became dark because there were no lights. I didn't know why they couldn't go put out little tea lights from Ikea... they are dead cheap, and on special this week. The crew did run the films, so, I was able to watch Atonement, a film I felt was almost as good as the book... the sense of betrayal is so deep, you cringe from the pain a lie begets in these people's lives. The score, as Bee pointed out, is excellent.

We watch, we wait.. we leave... two hours later.

I stretched out and slept for six hours, which helped on the jet lag a bit. JFK is so poorly run on the passport control area... when I arrived at Heathrow, we were in and out in a matter of minutes... I've never had to wait huge amounts of time. When I have flown into LAX, it's been a quick process. This took two hours. Two.

Finally, I had my luggage, my extra see, even with the American dollar being worth jack shit, I did find a great buy on a beautiful wool full length coat in red, for $50 (down from $260)so, I was wearing one coat, and carrying another...what? and was outside in the cool air, hearing American accents fully for the first time.... The Weather Guy was there to pick me up, and I was home.ish.

A hot shower, tea, good conversation... I fell asleep quickly. I did wake up early today, re-shuffled my luggage (having left a portion of clothes with Loo to ship) and proceeded to come home from TWG's house.

Have you noticed it's that last bit of travel that really gets you? Even with cab fare in my pocket, I forgot to take one, I was so tired when I got off the Ferry. The train took forever, with that last few blocks dragging my big case a lifetime.

I unpack as soon as I get inside, why put it off? With that said, I do wonder... why can't we have little packing elves??

It's all done, candy and my soaps I buy with the delight of many women in jewelry stores, my 10 books (no wonder I was overweight), the laptop which has to be fixed again... they didn't get it right the first time...mail opened and sorted.... and I had a long nap. One of those where you think, "I'll lie down for a few minut...". Two hours later, you wake up.

No milk or food here, it's raining and I'll eat peanut butter...

I'm home.

Missing Loo, Ev who came over tonight, and my girls.

Yeah, sometimes home isn't what it's cracked up to be.... tomorrow I'll feel more into the groove.

Right now?

I wish I heard someone calling, "Quin? Tea?"

Our Neville Fact:

He has a thing for Margaret Thatcher, and indeed, found her to be a saucy minx. Often, when speaking to his Margaret, he pretends it's the other one... even in the bed chamber, saying in, panting tones..."Oh, Margaret!" It often surprises her, since she's barely staying awake during the process, although, his vigor did account for that orgasm in 1984 when Margaret stood firm against the coal miners in County Durham, giving Neville even more admiration for his 'Iron Maiden'.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I'm leaving on yet another jetplane.

Although it's early morning here, in New York, it's still middle of the night, and by tonight, when I land in the early evening, my body will say it's midnight... thus doing the entire jetlag thing. My body will be tired, I'll have baggage that weighs more than when I arrived, and my heart will be sore.

It's been a run about few months; going from home to Colorado to be with Godmother (who is gaining weight and working towards chemo) to home for a day and a half to flying here. We've lived in the decorated house from hell, The Very, that has had one positive impact; all of us love beige now, embrace it with a passion.. I may never wear colour again. Packing, boxing, loading the small van and the car and moving into Home, and spending the last few weeks unpacking here, setting up Loo and the girls (I should say young women, they will always be the girls in my heart) in their new home, after all the changes of the last year.

Last night the Girls were here, AC, Limey, Candy, Loo and I... we had a nice curry to end my long stay... then tea, gossip, wine. I've been pulled into that lovely group of women, who all come together and love and respect each other. It's the kind of group you always hope for as a woman, as an adult.. but, more so, as a woman. Their husbands are all great mates, too, which adds to gatherings. There are others involved, these are the main core. They take holidays together, eat together, do holiday time together... it is so foreign to me, who has good friends, but, never a group such as this. I consider myself fortunate they let me hang on the peripheral edge, always opening up when I arrive, acting as if I've only been gone a week or so, accepting me as one of their own... I'm lucky with that. Very lucky. They do amazing work in Kenya, this group of women, supporting a village and building a school, helping students there get an education, having water piped in, if you are interested in donating, drop me an email, I'll send you the link.

Meeting Ev, Loo's fiance, a wonderful, tall, sweet, tall, funny, tall, dear, tall man. The deep love they have for each other is apparent when they look at each other, and the atmosphere in the house, with his easy going ways, is such a change from the old ways. He loves Loo, and the family package she brings to the table. Frank will leave our sides for one person; Ev.

HB makes me laugh almost as much as The Investment. She has that same droll, dry way about her. We watch comedians I've never heard of before, ones I'd never think to watch without her guidance, and I laugh along with her, even though she knows most of the routines by heart. She is one of the smartest people I know, and trudges off to her huge school in the country every morning, six days a week, to study her 'A' levels (I do not understand this school system, however, the more I hear, the more it makes sense). We celebrated her birthday by going to a film, all of us, giving us one more of those silly things to say that all of us repeat, that will bind us together for a long time when one of us says it.... I like things like that. HB is quick, quiet, quirky, loving. I'll miss her. When out shopping with her Mum last week, they passed a woman with an American accent... she turned to Loo and said, "We have one of those at home." She calls me The American. It's a nickname she says with love.

MB has brought that Gaggle of Girls in my life... of those, MP is dearest. We all play gin, and laugh. Loo and I have created the next generation of gin players. MP looked at the score, knowing that when Loo is ahead of me by 1000 points, we start over again. She has been trouncing me quite regularly over the last few days...and with the girls just joining the never ending game, they are far behind our scores. Her cheery voice said, "Oh, right... at this rate, it should only take a few hands for that to happen, and we'll all be equal!" Gee, thanks. MB is at that growing stage, where she is gaining her height...she takes after her mum and her Grandad and will be a willowy blonde, with those clear blue eyes. She smiles, and her whole face glows. She's fierce in her loyalty, stubborn in her position, and will not change who she is to please anyone. I'm not saying she won't compromise, I'm saying she knows who she is as a person, and she's good with that... something to be said for that kind of confidence. She and MP are joined at the hip, good mates, the kind you can see being friends for life. I hope that happens. MB is realising she has to fix her sights on her future, and is changing how she's going about life... she's becoming a young woman.

I'm happy to sit and watch both of them, and see how they turn out... with the guidance they've had, it won't be surprising to see they will be... lovely.

Except for the mouth MB has when she's trash talking at gin.

Then, there is my Loo.

I can't do that today. Too close, too near being sad... tomorrow, perhaps.

Our Neville Fact (which will carry on, even when I'm stateside)

Although Magnus and his wife, Phillipa, raise lovely Field Spaniels, Neville and Margaret have two Corgis. They decided to have the 'Royal Dog' because Margaret's family is descended from the ancient Stewarts (Stuarts), and wanted to show her alignment with the Royals, even though her ancestor was born on the wrong side of the blanket. Usually a fairly well behaved dog, Neville and Margaret lavish all their attention on Pharos and Vulcan, thus turning them into insufferable creatures who nip at the grandchildren and wee everywhere. They hump the legs of anyone who comes over to visit, to the great amusement of Neville and Margaret who laugh while shouting, "Oh, you naughty boys!" Margaret has made them little pillows to sleep on, which they ignore, choosing instead to sleep on her antique sofa instead. They wear matching sweaters that coordinate beautifully with the ones Neville and Margaret own, allowing them to look quite smart when they go walkies. Unfortunately, that is where smart ends, as Pharos and Vulcan go separate ways, wrapping around Neville and Margaret's legs, barking and yapping at every thing they see. They terrify every dog and child they meet. They like to poo under the beds where Margaret can't reach it, and will only eat free range chicken that's been boiled and chopped up, then mixed up with cooked brown rice which has been cooled to room temperature, served in their matching bowls, and placed next to the cooker. Both dogs have gas that will peel wallpaper. This usually manifests itself when they are being fed tidbits from the table as they sit on 'Mumsy' or 'Daddsy's laps during family meals at holidays. The grandchildren must relinquish their chairs when watching telly if the dogs want them, and should they be nipped, they are asked what did they do to "Dear, dear snookiebottoms to make him want to make kibble out of the naughty things?" The grandchildren try to feed the dogs chocolate on a regular basis.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Too Tired To Post

Our Neville Fact:

Flick had hoped to be recruited by a branch of MI 5 after she finished her University studies in Political Science. Unfortunately, she was arrested when she was 16 for scrumping. This blemish on her record prevented her from achieving her life long goal. Her second choice was to be a reporter for BBC1, again, her West Country heritage stepped in, with her accent so heavy, no one could understand her. This put her into a year long depression, whereupon she flew to India, and studied with the Beatles, finding spiritual peace. Returning to London, she married her husband, and settled into middle class life. Sometimes, she regrets the scrumping incident, when she was egged on by Hilary Stratton-Halloway, and wonders how life would have been as a spy, instead of life as she knows it now.

Monday, January 14, 2008

There's A Moose Loose Aboot This Hoose

She had a dream.

In the early morning hours, Loo was dreaming of Prince Charles, and of a tarantula on her head. I don't know how the two were connected... it was her dream, not mine. She kept brushing her head, to remove the creature from her hair... she reaslised that part wasn't a dream when her hand encountered something moving, something warm, something...furry.

We have mice.

Give her credit, she didn't scream or squeal or even gasp.

She did leap from bed in a perpendicular movement, however, and race downstairs to get Cat.

Cat is a 30 pound Maine Coon Cat, who usually spends his days sleeping on one bed or another, snoring while dreaming of chasing mice, I reckon. When put the task of actually chasing one, he was as useless as a chocolate fart.

He did a few sniffs, stalked the room, then curled up on her bed and went back to sleep.

Now, realise, I do not like killing things, not even bugs... it's the squish factor. I've written before I usually keep a can of AquaNet black label around to freeze most bugs that cross my path. Even the dread grasshopper will escape death at my hands.

Many years ago, we lived in a house that abutted a field... with winter came an influx of mice. I simply couldn't bear to hear the traps go off... and bought 'humane' mouse traps that lured the mice in, tipped back, and allowed them to suffocate. This worked for me. Later, in the Land O'Utes, I once again lived by a field, and every mouse for miles found it's way into my home. I'm pretty sure they sent out fliers to tell homeless mice of the warmth of the house along with the many flavour options of DeCon that I offered on the Mouse Menu. If I'm not mistaken, when they tear my house down at some part, most of the insulation on the south wall will be mummified mouse bodies. The consumption of DeCon was so rapid, with no visual results, I contemplated putting out little tables with candles and small napkins... I really think they had the stuff as a starter to the main course of dog kibble.

Nothing like putting your hand into the dog kibble bag and having a mouse run up your arm to wake you in the morning.

I still refused to do the traps, it was the little heads caught in them, the SNAP!! of it going off.. HRH and The Investment were no better.

We were a house of non killers.

Plus, you never know what will happen to that poor mouse in the trap, what indignities can occur to it's little body.

Back to the issue at hand.

Loo went out to pick up MB at school, I was doing... well, nothing.

Suddenly, I caught Cat moving. Cat doesn't move... as I said, he sleeps, he eats, he accepts the worship that is his due. He was--moving. He was moving with something in his mouth. Something that was also moving.

He. Had. A. Mouse.

I am not Loo.

I screamed.

Okay, I screeched. I'm surprised Neville isn't here, to be honest, I was that loud.


Cat did. I now had a stunned mouse looking at me. Cat seemed pleased I was this stupid. "You wanted me to drop it, there it is, you silly moo."

Ah, but, I'm quick.... I grabbed a wicker basket and put it on top of the mouse, who had regained it's sense of survival and made a dash towards me, teeth bared.

I sat for an hour, feet up on a chair, two large dogs by said chair, Cat watching the basket which has two heavy books on it, and a mouse under it...waiting.

I didn't know how we'd get the mouse out, but, I knew we'd do it.. or at least Loo would.

Her car pulled up, I met her at the door, blocking Cat from knocking over the basket. MB and I hovered as Loo assessed the situation.

"Right. I've got to kill it."

Stone cold silence and shocked looks met her.

"What, did you think I was going to give it a going away party? What are you two like?" she asked in those plummy London tones of hers.

She picked up the basket, after we conferred and decided to let Cat do his animal duties..... no mouse.

"Are you bloody sure it was here? Now I've got a mouse in my kitchen!"

I swore the mouse had not left his little home away from home, and we peered into the tipped over basket, which promptly spit out the mouse, who jumped up into the radiator.

Cat looked at me, smug in his knowledge he'd have taken care of this mess if I'd just left him alone, and went back to cleaning his paws that are the size of saucers.

"Right, Quin, you get a broom, and poke at him, I'll squash him whe..."

"What? You'll what?" MB and I both looked horrified. Loo gave us a look that would have withered advancing German troops. Grant would have surrendered without a whimper.

"I. Will. Squash. Him. He's vermin. What d'you think I'm going to do? For fuck's sake... poke at him with the broom!"

I poked, Cat watched, MB squealed and the mouse jumped. With his leap for short freedom, MB and I retreated into the kitchen, cringing as we heard: BAM! BAM!BAM!

"There. Done." Loo came into the kitchen, picked up her heavy work gloves, gave us a glare that said all she thought of our miserable ways and picked up the squished body, throwing it away into the green bin... it is biodegradable.

We are okay now, MB and I forgiven for our cowardly ways... traps will be set tonight, Cat still sneering at me on a regular basis, and Frank terrified of the radiator now.

Pay attention Alanis, this is real irony.... She killed it with a huge DIY book.

Can't get much better than that.

Our Neville Fact:

Neville decided to get a tattoo on his one drunk leave while in the Army. It is on his right upper bum cheek, and is the perfect shape of a woman's lips wearing red lipstick. Margaret has never seen it, as she's never seen Neville naked with the light on. It remains his little secret, an reminder to his wild times as a youth, all two hours of it... what he doesn't know is, Margaret has the same tattoo. She got hers when she had one too many Snowballs (Advocat and Sprite with a cherry) in Liverpool with her friends at her hen party (bachelorette party). Only her OB knows about it. He was so shocked he never met her eyes when she had her follow up appointments, and suggested she see someone else after Flick (Felicity's nickname) was born.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Roast

What a great tradition.

It's've worked on Saturday, unpacked boxes of stuff, Hoovered the house, dusted, laundry, shopped at Tesco (we are the riff raff), I've gathered my things together in one place...what's left of order to pack, leaving only a few things out to finish out my last few days. You have a nice lie in on Sunday morning... no HB to take to school on Saturday, at her Big Ass School, where I'm finally able to go without dropping my jaw in amazement. She attends on a academic scholarship, huge numbers of boarding students, horses, beagles ("These are not dogs, they are hounds!" they are told.)

The last of the Gaggle of Girls, leave semi quietly, the rest have a huge breakfast cooked by MB, who makes up a nice bacon sandwich for me.

This is food of the gods.

I take my tea, and read the paper in bed, with Frank on the rug, where he sleeps every night now. I've a lunch date with a friend and his daughters, whom I've not seen in a few years.

Loo suggests we do a Sunday roast with chickens and veg and roast potatoes, rather than all of us go out... a suggestion I leap upon, as this is one of the best things you can have on a Sunday... A Chicken Roast.

We work together, me playing sous chef, her dealing with 47 pans all at once, potatoes being par boiled, parsnips, brussel sprouts, cauliflower with cheese sauce, the chickens stuffed with lemons, put into the oven to be roasted perfectly. Then, it's time for the potatoes..... you take them out, put them in oil, and into the oven with the parsnips. Roast them in a hot oven... crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. Once you've had them, you are sold on their perfection.

Company arrives, again, girls surround us, we sit around the dining room table, fill our plates and conversation and food abound.

Beautiful chocolate deserts, one with blueberries on it, one with orange flavour... both with a lovely single cream poured over them, coffee and the girls are gone. Dishes done promptly, and the three of us, Harle, Loo and I sit around the kitchen table, discussing single parenthood, and other blah blah things.

I lost track, as Loo decided it was time for me to stop knitting scarves, and move up to a sweater.

This item takes 120 stitches cast on for the back, and 180 rows to be knit and purled. That's just the back. I've a front and two sleeves to do, too.

I've knitted the same row five times. The yarn is rather ragged right now. I've finally learned how to tell when I'm knitting or purling (the tag of yarn is at the bottom or top of the row..hurrah!) and have finally reached eight rows. At this point, I should be done by 2015.

Therefore, they were chatting away about something, and I was knitting, and I've no idea what they were saying. You'll have to ask them, to be honest.

Finally, the company had to leave... it's a long drive back to London. The girls were also beautiful young women, much grown since last I'd seen them. He's done a nice job as a Dad.

We are watching Catherine Tate now... she makes me laugh.

The day's done, Sunday Roast, that wonderful, amazing tradition is done, and I'll not have another for a good year.

Sad, that.

Our Neville Fact:

Recently Margaret joined the local W.I., in the hopes no one will find out her past history in this noble group. In Devon, she belonged for a great many years, rising to be Chair, until the disastrous Christmas Luncheon of 1999. It was then she was voted out ignominiously in a special session. This occurred when she hired a policeman from Tanya ('Tanya by Name, Tanya by Nature' a card she'd seen in her local tobacconists shop) Pandoro, who claimed the officer would give lessons to the ladies of the W.I. in personal defense. When he showed up, he promptly started to remove his uniform to an old song by WHAM! Poor Mrs. Bittlebury-Brown fainted when he showed her his 'extendable baton' , thus sealing Margaret's fate as Chair. This caused Neville great distress, as he was in a high position in the Rotary Club, where all of his fellow members expressed their dismay at the event. It came to roost in each member's home, as all of their wives were at the Luncheon, finding themselves so shocked by the event, they were prostrate with shock, lying in dark bedrooms with a cool cloth on their foreheads--unwilling and unable to partake in their weekly, marital shag.

A Gaggle of Girls

MB has a posse.

Although the number is under six, at times, it appears to be sixty. They come in and out, with the usual greeting of "Hiya!", cheery voices ringing out, all of them with these beautiful smiles, flawless skin, awake to the world around them, on the cusp of what is there, just beyond their reach.... ready.

They go to different schools, yet meet up afterwards, on the bench, gathering at pub, here at the house, walking about, talking, texting, now playing gin like old hands. Dark hair, deep blonde, MB's light blonde hair standing out. Brown eyes, varying shades of blue, each ringed in sooty dark lashes and black liner. Slim hipped, laughing, the occasional arguments, for the most part, they stand loyal to each other, chattering so fast I sometimes struggle to understand them.

Slang, songs I've never heard of, quotes from films I don't know (or didn', I, too, say 'yarp'), nattering on about this and that, they fascinate me. The difference between this lot and the girls I watched grow up with HRH is apples and oranges. It's the culture, the bonding found in sex segregated schools, perhaps.

They take the piss out of me, M asking me "How do you say this?" then mimicking me, her echoes of my non-anywhere American accent precise. L, who introduced me to the. best. marscara. ever. Ever. Their words tumble over each other, wondering about New York, and the amazement of how huge the US is, how all of the UK would fit into Colorado.

They all want to come visit, they are all welcome... they are funny and polite and good natured, even with the occasional spat. They take responsibility for what they do, as proven last night, when something went a bit wrong at the sleep over.

I was impressed with MB's standing up for her culpability, for the way she handled a situation, for her friends standing with her, for the suddenly mature way she dealt with what happened, and how she discussed it with her mother.

They suddenly weren't little girls anymore, but, young women.

I'm here in my Harry Potter room, listening to them play gin, as they listen to Holyoaks, text on their phones, and gossip. They can do all of this at blazing speed because they are teenagers. I'd be lost.

I'll miss my Gaggle of Girls, who come in, surrounding me, pulling me into their whirlwind of silliness and swirl out again.

They liven my life, exhaust me, make me smile.... and I'm so glad not to be their age again.

Our Neville Fact:

He has a personalised license plate: N4 NEV. Both cars face outwards in the garage, because Margaret has a phobia about reversing. In 1965, Margaret backed out on her way to the Village to attend her meeting of the W.I., and ran over the family cat, Phumpry, causing little Magnus to not speak for a year. Since then, she's refused to drive in reverse. So, now, Neville will back the cars in, to allow her to pull straight out.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


There are two kinds of gin.

We have both of them here, at Home. With one of them becoming more and more outrageous, we may have to break out the other.

When I first mentioned gin to Loo, she had never played the game... I was weaned on it, my mother a card playing fool, who is one of the best poker players I know, and who can shuffle a deck of cards with the skill of a Vegas card shark. She taught me gin when I was in my teens, in order to hone her own skills... and it was one place we bonded when all else was chaos.

It's a place we still can meet and enjoy each other even when we barely speak away from the table. I taught HRH this game, bringing it into the third generation.

Understand, we do not play gin, we live the game. There are curses you throw, you do the titty dance (don't ask) and we run victory laps. Sadly, HRH has inherited my mother and my "Ah HA! I've won!" cackle, a sound that lifts the hair off the back of your neck when all of us are issuing forth as we grab cards off the pile of discards in a heated game. Our games go on for the entire time we are together, and lingeredthereafter, when Mother had left.

I never thought to find someone else who'd have that desire, that burn-that cackle.

I introduced Loo to this tradition three years ago, on my last trip to her home. We decided to play a few hands, then go to bed before our 'Let's play tourist' day in London.

We went to bed at 4AM after 2,ooo points and a bottle of vodka.

The neighbors below were treated to cackles, victory dances, mad screams of "You FUCKING cow!" whoops, and slapping cards.

She was a true gin player.

We've kept the book up, she brought it over when she came to the Land O'Utes to visit me and we've also kept score on little bits of paper... which I've lost, so, although the official score is only around 2715 each (can you imagine it's even!), unofficially, it's around 4,000 points.

MB has taken an interest. At first, she was hesitant, playing slowly, carefully, silently. Now she sits, hunched over her cards, cursing like a sailor, doing the titty dance and "doing a Patsy".

A Patsy is when you make a move my mother made famous... picking up a huge number of cards in order to play a single one--then hoping no one goes out, leaving you with a handful of points.

Another rule of Patsy is, always keep your aces.


This has accounted for me sitting there, when Loo goes out, with two aces and a two face cards, thus, putting me 400 points behind her for most of this trip.

Last night, we went dead even on points.

It will be an interesting last few days... MB is far behind us point wise, but, fully caught up in the trash talk, and the gris gris thrown, each of us with our own good luck move, the idea this is all about laughing, enjoyment, the thrill of victory and cackling in the loser's face.

It's bonding and something to do during the day, when you have your tea, and say, "Okay, one hand...." breaking the cards out, the curses start, and the new neighbors wonder what in the world is going on as voices cry out "BUGGER ME!"

When just the two of us play, we ban three of a kind throws, to make it more interesting. We twitch, seeing two or three cards sitting there, knowing they are no good. Trash talk picks up even more.

"You see that card? That card is shit."

"Wait, let me move my cards still nothing."

"Did you shuffle? Buggeryfuck, I don't think you did."

Nothing like a game of gin to get the blood going, traditions to look forward to, as the book crosses the pond to carry on that tradition, and a good Patsy to cause a gasp at the table.

I likes me gin, both kinds.

If she doesn't stop picking up 20 cards and winning, I'm going to need more of the liquid kind.

Our Neville Fact:

Neville worked as an Environment Officer, for the Devonshire Council. He drove a Ford Mondeo, checking on farmers around the villages, making sure they kept healthy animals. Upon his retirement, he purchased an A4, which he only uses to drive in and out of the garage or to Waitrose and bought Margaret a VW Polo, a bog standard car. The pen set in his pocket was for 30 years of excellent service to the government . Before he started with the Council, he was a Regular in Her Majesty's Army, in the Supply Office, serving as a clerk in Quartermasters Stores, in Inverness, where he met Margaret. His job there was providing urinal cakes to all of the latrines, making sure they were sent to the proper camps. He also worked with the Boy Scouts when he left the Army, helping them with their camping badges, comforting them when they were frightened at night. There is nothing Neville likes more than when Margaret makes Spotted Dick for the sweet when they have tea. He wept when the Queen Mother died.

DISCLAIMER: Neville facts are totally the creation of FMD. Or, are they?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wot I Wrote Somewhere Else

Oh, and while I was sans interweb, this posted, too.

Feel free to read, and comment there, if you'd like.


Our Neville Fact:

Their daughter's name is Felicity Muriel Roslyn Whitlash-Hand. She is married to actuary, David Whitlash-Hand, and has two children, Cosmo and Bess. David hopes to become an MP one day. Neville's son is Magnus Hammish Theodolite MacPhearson (insert Neville's surname). His wife is the Hon. Phillipa MacPherson-Farquharson, of Inverness, although childless, they breed spaniels. The MacPhearson part of his name is from Margaret's family in Scotland. He is a solicitor in Manchester. Both the children and grandchildren call Neville and Margaret Moo-Maw and Moo-Paw.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Blog Wot I Wrote

Life carried on while we went without interwebs.

Aside from meeting our Neville... I noted a number of other things in my time bound to taking notes with a pen and paper.

  • I am locked in a home with varied dialects. This means nowt to those who speak on a normal level...with me, it creates havoc. Loo and HB have London accents, MB is more Northampton, and Ev is Yorkshire with a touch of Northern Ireland. I have a tendency to reflect the dialect around me... I've been known to sound almost Glaswegian after a few whiskeys, a feat some Scots can't lay claim to, truth be known. Here, I end up sounding like a fishwife from ... I don't know who to sound like. Oh, right.....someone from Coventry.
  • Frank has developed new neurosis here at Home. We have a semi-open floor plan, which includes a bridge on the second floor, connecting HB and my room to Loo and MB's room... Frank is leery of the bridge, and eye's the railing with a great deal of fear. Most of the floors are wood, we've put down some rugs, and I laid down my robe the first night, to give him a sanctuary. He stepped in, grateful for a place to go, then dashed out, with a look of "Not a real rug! Not a real rug!" on his face. I now have a real rug, and have to deal with Frank trying to hide on my single bed when I get up to go to the bathroom. Right.
  • Tea. I am drowning in tea. We solve problems, gossip, move furniture, unpack boxes, wake up and go to sleep based on tea. When we can't make a decision; we have tea.
  • Last Saturday, we all took the Virgin train down to London and went to a panto. Pantomime is a UK tradition, complete with cross dressing, standard phrases ("Oh, no, you're not!" "Oh, yes, we are!" "Look behind you!") that are part of the audience participation, fairy tales that are fractured to say the least, a celeb that takes part, and packed houses. Mr and Mrs G gathered all the G family at the Old Vic, and we watched Stephen Fry's version of 'Cinderella'. To say a fun time was had underplays the entire day... with the exception of the Menopause Express. As soon as we got on the train, we started to strip off our clothes.... it was h.o.t. Well worth the day, however, with all of us singing along, yelling at the cast, and remembering to yell "CAKE!" back whenever it was mentioned in the script. Personally, I loved the cross-dressed step sister who had so much hair on her back, she could have shaved it and made it into a toupee.
  • I love the names of things here, in the medical area... if you have gas, you have wind, and you take 'Windeze'. How wonderful is that? You don't have strep, you have 'putrid throat'. Now, that is something you can use with force when you call in sick to work. I love the medicines... you can get a small dose of codeine in your paracetamol... how brilliant is that?
  • When you run into someone, with, oh, your trolley, they say "Sorry!"
  • The dollar is still crap. It did, however, gain .01.
  • I've lost a glove, a pair of glasses, my hat and almost lost a book. You can trace my travels in the UK by the things I lose.
  • I've consumed my weight in chocolate.
  • Loo and I have continued our never ending gin game, which we've played off and on for three years. Currently, she's ahead by 300 points. Other people join in... no one plays it with the intensity and complete silliness that we do, with the exception of HRH. We throw gris gris, have the cursed titty dance and run victory laps.
  • There is a television channel here called 'Dave'. Imagine.
  • I found more soaps.
  • I remembered how much I love London on my brief stop there.
  • Rain. I'll say no more.
  • The 4700 boxes we're unpacking. And unpacking. And unpacking.
  • Jealous. This is HB's birthday present. Jealous is a chameleon who is still very small. And green... and he eats live crickets. Thankfully, the crickets don't make any noise...they quietly die as he flicks out his long tongue and laps them in. I find it too 'ew' to watch... however, Loo and HB love to watch him, and coo as he consumes cricket after cricket. It seems he'll get rather large. I won't be here.. proving there are small favours in this world.
  • Loo's forgotten holiday present for me from a few years ago. I'm so sorry she found it.
  • We've not walked the way we said we were going to do when we moved back here to the village. All we've done is unpack. I've not been to London beyond the panto. We did go to the films, though... if you've not seen Enchanted, see it. Satire at it's best.
  • Films in the UK. There were 22 minutes of commercials. Count them, 22 minutes. However, you get to PICK YOUR SEAT in the theater. Imagine that.
  • Rain.

It was decided an our Neville fact will be provided on each blog during the remainder of my stay here. Why? Because inquiring minds want to know....

Our Neville:

Neville and Margaret shop every Tuesday, wearing matching hand knitted jumpers, and clever matching bottoms... his trousers and her sensible skirt are from a bolt of cloth she purchases while on holiday in the Highlands. It's the family plaid from her grandmother's side of the family. They take the list, and shop, with him pushing the trolley. When people move into the Village, they usually tell them to shop at Tesco's, since it's closer... this way, it keeps the riff raff out of Waitrose, where they shop.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Neighborhood Watch

Every neighborhood has one.

That person who knows everything about everyone, who keeps track of every event that's ever happened in their life or in the life of those around them.

In the UK, there exists an organisation called The Neighborhood Watch, which keeps an eye on the area, making sure vandalism doesn't occur, looking out for evil doers... being that extra set of eyes and ears that prevents crime from occurring.

They also know every bit of gossip around, and will fill you in on all that they feel is important when you move in.

I'm not sure who the official Neighborhood Watch commander is in the new neighborhood... however, HB and I have declared it to be our Neville. We have declared him to be ours, and ours alone.

On Friday last, while Loo and Ev and MB were busy transporting the furniture and such from The Very to Home, our new abode, HB and I were in charge of setting things up. This suited me just fine, as I was able to settle in, organise, alphabetise, arrange, and create my own way in Home. We took a break and stepped outside to have a look at the new Close.

No more than 30 seconds after I announced to HB, "I'm sure the neighbors are lurking behind their curtains, wondering who we are, and what we are like.", the garage door across the street opened up, and a car pulled out onto the driveway, stopped, and an elderly gentleman stepped out, shutting the door.

He walked across the communal road to us, asking if I was the lady of the house. "No, I'm just visiting."

"Ah, you're not from around here!", he exclaimed, showing his astute ear for dialects.

Since I've arrived, our inside joke has been that I've casually claimed to be from Coventry when questioned about my accent. People nod knowingly, and say, "Aye, well, I could tell." whenever I make this pronouncement.

Not 0ur Neville. He wasn't thrown off by my casual toss off of a city 30 miles away.

"Oh, you can't fool me," he carried on. "I hear a touch of the United States in your voice." Our Neville is clever.

"I've been to the United States, to Seattle. Have you been to Seattle?" Before I could answer, before either of us could say a word, our Neville launched into his story.

"I'm Neville. I live over there, at The Barn." He pointed at the home he'd walked over from, in case we'd missed him and the entire move the car routine. "Yes, we moved here from Devon. Devon is 280 miles from here, you know (no, we didn't, but, we do now). We only came here the once, after we bought the house. It's quite a long way from Devon. I know for you Americans that 280 miles is just a hop down the road, nothing at all, really. You just get in your cars and there you are! For us, however, it's a long way to go, from Devon to here. We decided to move here because our daughter lives in Buckingham, and we wanted to move closer to her. Therefore, we bought the house after we sold our house in Devon. We came here the one time, and that was all. When we moved, it was a terrible time, I hope your move is ever so much nicer. Where are you moving from?"

"Ahhh...just down the road, really. The Old Parsnip?"

"Never heard of it. And I've lived here four years. Where is it?"

I gave him the location. He thought a moment.

"Oh, yes, that big old house. I know it. Where was I? Yes, well, our move was quite exhausting for Margaret and I. We moved here with all of our belongings in one big lorry. The man we bought the house from knew we were coming, we'd made all the arrangements, transferred the money, and had the keys. We arrived at 8 at night, and wouldn't you know it, he was still here! His things were in the house and he had a lorry and a truck still in front of the house! Well, there wasn't much we could do, was there?"

HB and I politely shook our heads in dismay for him, HB never leaving the doorway, me trapped in the drive with him. HB is one of those amazing people who are never really a child. She is much like my Investment; droll, intensely bright, deep reserves of humour, sometimes saying things that go over your head and bounce back before you get what she's said.

"The next day, we came back, he still had the truck there, and then, we had the problem of the woman on the end of the Close, she had her car parked there, in the drive! We couldn't find her to move it, and no good calling the police, was there? She was a policewoman herself, they certainly weren't going to do anything! Oh, it was horrible! Took us two days to get in, get our things in. Yes. So, you live in America?"

My mind registered he'd actually asked a question. I stopped staring at the matching pen and pencil set he had in his golf shirt pocket.

"Yes, I do. I live in New York. I'm here helping Loo settle into the House."

"Have you been to Seattle?"

"No. I've been in the Northwest. I love the area.. it's so beauti..."

"Yes, my cousin lives there, Maud. She lives in Seattle. She's 90, Maud is. Gets around on her own, bless her. Her husband died not too long ago, he used to be (here he gave her husband's former Army job... pretty impressive). She married him after the War, you know. War bride and all that. Maud gets around on her own, although she's broken her hip and an arm and a rib or two. We flew over there, beautiful city, Seattle!"

I agreed with him, glancing over at HB, who had a deer caught in the headlights look.

"Beautiful." I said weakly.

"From there, we drove to Palo Alto, and stayed the night in a lovely hotel, there in Palo Alto. Do you know Palo Alto?"

I nodded.

"Drove all the way from there to Santa Fe. Just amazing, really, how your country changes day to day in the landscape and all. Just amazing! Quite lovely, and so beautiful to look at!"

I'd managed to slowly move towards HB, nodding, smile in place.

"Finally, we went to Tijuana... oh, quite a story to be told there!"

I jumped into the breach..."You'll have to blame Mexico for that city, I'm afraid.", and gave a weak laugh. "Well, we really need to get back inside and tidy... it was so nice of you to come over...stop by and meet Loo next week." I had no problems throwing her to our Neville, she'd left us here unprotected.

Our Neville wasn't done. "If you need anything, anything at all, knock on the door. Don't go to the other neighbors, they aren't friendly at all. The policewoman moved, you know... other people there now, and they don't speak to us since we took down the shed that was behind their fence. It was on our property, and it was within our rights to do so. The woman next to you hasn't spoken to us in four years. Nasty one, she is. So, you just come over to The Barn, just there, and knock on the door if you want tea, or to borrow anything at all."

He smiled and wandered back to the garage, shutting the door.

HB and I were stunned into silence. His words hung in the air, "....borrow anything, anything at all." We went back inside, into the kitchen we were arranging, and as we shut the door, she turned to me and said, "I wonder if he has an aquarium?"

Our Neville has given us a great deal of joy... we've created an entire backstory for him now, knowing he can tell you what jumper he wore on every one of his birthdays, we are pretty sure he wears Margaret's garters when she's not around, he watches cricket, cries during the Queen's speech on Christmas, and he knows the number of times Margaret's had an orgasm.


Margaret will tell you he's wrong by one.

He knows everything about everyone.... He's the Neighborhood Watch.

At least we know where to go if we need something... an aquarium.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Frank and Nova

I'm used to a small dog.

This is something Frank and Nova aren't.

They are a breed you don't see too often in the US; Belgian Shepherds... large, long haired (some versions) faithful, bigass dogs. Big barks, big feet, long snouts, big teeth. I've gone from a small terrier to these dogs that are almost as tall as I am when they stand on their hind legs.

Frank and Nova are cousins, and totally different in personalities. Nova is a complete attention whore. She presses against you, loving in her manner, letting you believe you are her total world, the center of her universe. She lays against your legs, looking lovingly at you with her black eyes, wallowing in whatever bits of love you give her... rubbing your feet against her body, caressing her ears, scratching her head, she is there for you... your own dog, yours for life.

Until she sees someone else.

She sidles over to Loo, who is sitting on a stool from her position by me, glances over to see if I've noticed she has now abandoned me, and leans slightly foreward.

Loo lightly touches the ear closest to her.... presto, chango! Nova goes from an upright position to flat on her back, all legs in the air, with this, "Yes, do me, do me NOW!" look.

See? Total attention whore. Her affection is bought by the stroking of any part of her body by whomever is closest to her, and she will shoot a look of smugness to the person who has stopped petting her from her leaning-against-them-because-they-are-her-new-god place with the new person.

She has no real loyalty in the petting arena.

I do find comfort in knowing she'd protect all of us, forgoing a good scratch behind the ears or a rubbing of her belly from a stranger who was breaking in... still, you'd like to think she actually cared for you.

She doesn't.

Nova is your basic dog, she's housebroken, well trained, her only peccadillo being she will not settle at night, therefore, she's locked in the kitchen area with the 30lb cat, Cat. Frank, on the other hand, is the Niles Crane of the dog world.

Frank has a short list of what he's not neurotic about.

We have to feed Frank in a plastic bowl--his tags hitting a metal one frighten him to the point of being anorexic. He will not go near shiny tile flooring. In the Old Parsnip, this was an issue...the kitchen had shiny tile floors, therefore, Frank never went into the kitchen. He'd cower on the edges of the room, his ears back, his eyes begging you to not make him go near the evil floor that was smooth and stuff. Here, in The Very, the tiles are dull--except in Frank's mind.

We coax him, cajole him, sternly command him to 'COME HERE, FRANK!". Frank is convinced those matte finish tiles will change the minute he steps on them, and therefore, he refuses. He'll moan deep in his throat, looking yearningly at everyone in the kitchen, Nova being caressed by one and all, his beloved Ev just beyond his reach. Oh, yes, this is a great trial for Frank, who could use some serious meds and couch time.

His plastic food bowl is set near the back door, with rugs near it to allow him to eat. Should the rugs be moved accidentally... or if I'm bored...Frank will stand will all four feet firmly placed on the rug, and lllllllleeeeeeeaaaaaaannnnnnn with his neck stretched out as far as possible, picking up his kibble with his lips, sighing in relief as he pulls his head back, retreating to the pretend wood floor in the hall to consume his meal, one bite at a time. If he's not fast enough, Nova (who has sucked down her food in record time) will finish it for him. Again, he will stand by, looking pained while she chomps away, moving to the lounge to slump down, sighing in defeat and hunger.

He will climb on your bed, shape shifting to leave it when caught, always with that pained look...

Fearful of the different flooring, he's trapped as to where he'll go... he will enter the front hall, but, not the hall to the office, even though they are connected, and contain the very same flooring material.

Go figure.

He's afraid of that hallway..... we don't know why.

Frank is also afraid of whatever lies beyond the doorway. He will attack the door when someone knocks or rings the bell... fierce bellowing barks, throwing his massive body at the wooden barrier that stands between him and the intruder. Open the door, and he is still the warrior, defending his home.

Try getting him to cross that doorway.

Ain't gonna happen.

He is also afraid of the vacuum, the broom, the mop, and fast movements, and yesterday, he became afraid of the clothes drying rack when it fell on him.

They shed, they bark, they leave piles of poo as big as Camden Town..they bark at the neighbors, people at the door, the wind, a leaf falling.... and when you have a putrid throat and cold, they are happy to keep you warm.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Loo Nightingale

What is she like?

She's hauled me to the stores to get what I want as I whinge in the passenger seat, bought me my current addiction, Winter Soup (okay, it was on clearance for .99p... still), makes hot bread, says, "there, there" a lot, puts me in hot baths with a little bowl of boiling water to hold under my chin that contains some magic stuff to clear my lungs, makes me honey and lemon water, tucks me in the big bed with the hot blanket, makes me far too many chocolate puddings with ice cream and custard so they will slide down my itchy throat, she pats my head, gives me my medicine, hides under my arm when Sylar is on Heroes, (she deserves that part), buys me boxes and boxes of Kleenex, deals with two teenaged girls, two dogs and a cat, takes me to the doctor, paid for the doctor when they wouldn't take my magic bank card, yells out, "QUIN! Have you taken your medicine?" Reminds me I will feel better by tomorrow, keeps the rest of the house going, makes us all tea, and never loses her sense of humour.

It's because of women like her, Britain survived WWII. It's because of friends like her, I remember I am capable of being loved.