Saturday, 29 November 2014


I do not have fat fingers.  In fact they are very thin, and tapered perfectly for pointing and for tapping the letters on my iPhone.  I can also spell.  I'm not boasting; it's just a fact.  But already in these first four sentences I had to go back and interpret what Apple had decided I meant to say.  If that happens every time I tap the screen, I am wasting an awful lot of time and possibly wearing away my fingertip (oh my goodness, could the skin somehow wear away so that I would have no identification print to get into Disney and Universal?  Aaagh!)  I have also discovered that the iPhone doesn't recognise 'morphine' (morphing) or 'urine' (ursine/urchin).  Yes, these words (and other related ones that I don't want to write just in case I upset the stomachs of those of you with delicate constitutions) are part of everyday conversation with my still hospitalised brother.  

Anyway ....

So I thought it would be a good idea to NOT go back and change anything that Apple wanted me to write; and then see how it looked at the end.

Wouldn't you know it?  I composed and tapped what I fully expected would be a rather entertaining piece of gibberish.  Not a bit of it.  There was not one single mistake.  Not one.  So by assuming I would get it wrong, I didn't.  

Maybe this could work for my cooking.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Two places at once

I confess that when we bought this house, I hadn't fully considered that living in two countries so far apart would cause such diverse emotions, sometimes at the same time.

Setting up a new home has been exciting.  Still is.  But it also makes me miss the comforts (and space) of our UK home - my books and my cabin especially.  So while I wallow in the newness, neatness, and novelty of this house, at the same time I miss being able to reach out to a particular book or a new sewing/painting/media project.

Being in a foreign land (yes, even though we supposedly speak the same language, it really is a foreign country) and meeting new people is exciting.  I've met some very interesting locals, renewed friendships made last year, met up again with friends who have become like family now, and yesterday friends flew down from Connecticut to see us.  And my very oldest friend lives ten doors away.  But I miss my family.  While I'm laughing, chatting, or scaring myself senseless on a roller coaster ride, at the same time I'm thinking about the children, and I'm worrying about my brother.  Thank goodness for the internet.  We can all keep in touch - my brother and I for hours at a time.

I love it here.  It's (usually) warm.  The people are kind.  Barnes and Noble isn't far away.  Disney is around the corner.  But, little brother, right now I should be there.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The weather

As I write, we are in the middle of a tornado warning.....
It is raining so hard that a frog is trying to get INTO the house to get away from the wet.

Who says only the British are obsessed with the weather?  On the television here we have a 'Weather Channel'.  There are regular weather updates,  And if, as now, there is a threat of some serious weather event (today a tornado) then the television sends out loud blasts of noise that scare the ...  There are instructions of what to do - the best place to hide here is the laundry-room, a wonderful place too, I have discovered, for someone who is terrified of overhead thunderstorms.

So right now the Sunshine State is not living up to its promise.  We have had all kinds of weather except snow.  Should I ask for my money back?  No.  I still love it.

On a different note, my brother and I spoke over Facetime today.  He in his hospital bed, spaced out on morphine to ease the pain in his back; I on my bed lying on a heatpad to ease the pain in my back.  I'm coming around to the idea that there is nothing actually wrong with my back at all, and that I am having sympathy pains for my brother.  If that is the case, this brotherly love thing is all very well but ....

Sunday, 23 November 2014

This house

Setting up a new (part-time) home here has been an interesting and exciting experience.  Kitting out an empty house was like having a Wendy-house to play with, but more expensive.  And I discovered that I really do have a tendency towards OCD and minimalism.  But we bought the house for other reasons:
- to escape the cold wet winters in the UK
- to be able to be a child whenever I want (Disney fireworks ... Universal Studios ...)
- to have a base from which to explore the southern states of the US - something I've always wanted to do
- to have adventures before I reach my dotage.

Let's start with the weather .....

Saturday, 22 November 2014

My brother

There's so much I could say about my brother (and I probably will).  Today I noticed on Twitter - yes, since I persuaded him to start writing a blog 
he's gone way over the top public - anywaaay, I saw that he'd written that this is the first Saturday he has spent in hospital since the day he was born.  And I remember it well.  I saw him when he was about two hours old, all screwed up and wrinkled, with a shock of black hair which defied the laws of gravity for some time.  I fell totally and irrevocably in love.  Forever.

Oh,  I resented him too.  I'd been an only child for fourteen years.  The centre of my little universe.  Suddenly I was cast aside, only really noticed when 'the baby' needed taking for a walk or, embarrassingly, to the clinic (embarrassing because everyone there thought he was mine).  He's been embarrassing me ever since.  And I him - isn't that what little brothers are for?

We talk (text actually) every day, sometimes (as now when I am 4500 miles away) for hours, me in an early morning, warm cosy haze in bed, far too early to get up, and he in his hospital bed, late morning, waiting for drugs or doctors or treatment, sometimes fearful, always always brave and smiling.  I am in the wrong place.  I want to be there at his bedside.  But maybe it's okay - when we are together we laugh.  Pretty much all the time.  So maybe we'd laugh out his cannulas.  Maybe it would hurt him.  So for now we must rely on texts and blogs.  

But I'll be there in a few weeks.  I can hardly wait.  Then they'll have to drag me away.

Barnes and Noble

I have a Barnes and Noble discount card.  This is because I was a teacher and I still belong to a teachers' union.  I think it may also be because the staff recognise a spender when they see one.  This card is a very dangerous piece of plastic in my wallet.  In this land of complicated shopping rituals, I am most excited about my B&N card.  
You go into your 'local' store (18 miles away), you find some books you like the look of,  you sit down and check them out, you buy quite a few (well, you have a discount card - it's like saving money, right?), you buy a hot chocolate or a cold orange juice, you make yourself comfortable in a huge armchair and read.  Hours can go by.  Then your friends turn up, laden with bags after trawling around the other shops.

Maybe I should make clear that I have thousands (thousands) of books.  But they are in the UK.  So I have been forced to start a new collection here in the US.  Oh the hardship.

New clothes versus new books.
No contests.

Monday, 17 November 2014


In a land where nothing is the price it says on the ticket, and where there are discount vouchers for pretty much everything (holidays, Tuesdays (or any other day of the week it seems), grandparents' day each week, they like your British accent (I got 10% off in a department store just for talking!), Veterans' Day, Black Friday - which incidentally now stretches out for the whole of Thanksgiving week; sometimes, by the time you've factored in all the discounts, an item that cost $60 originally will end up being $7) shopping is a complicated business.  Factor in the search from store to store to find the best deal, and it becomes an almost full-time occupation.  This is why I hate shopping and do so little of it.  I have a theory - while the Disney parks I am sure pump out Prozac from the drains, there's a certain enormous supermarket that does the opposite - it sucks the joy out of you, like JK Rowling's death eaters. 
However there is one shop where I could (and almost have done) spend all day .....

Sunday, 16 November 2014

4500 miles

4500 miles is a long way, but until now it seemed more of an inconvenience really.  Nine and a half hours in an aeroplane, hundreds of complete strangers, noisy, smelly, dry-aired and tedious.  Forgotten as soon as it's over.
But today, right now, after a simple text - "I'm going in" - 4500 miles is heart-wrenchingly too far.  My brother ( has been rushed into hospital,  I sit and wait here, while he lies and waits there.
The Florida sunshine can offer no comfort today.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Vive la Difference

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Yes, I hate shopping so much, I was traumatised enough to forget blogs, birthdays, food ....

But now, at last, I am back here again in the new house.  It is almost finished, and I love it.  Even my husband loves it.  I think IKEA loves it - most of the furniture is from there.  This was for three reasons - one, their furniture is relatively cheap; two, their furniture is of decent quality; three, said husband likes building IKEA furniture.  And even the leather sofas came in pieces!  Happy husband.  Of course, now that we definitely do not need any more furniture, he has to find something to do when we are not out and about.  Every door has been rehung; all taps have been checked and if necessary replaced; everything has been checked.

I say everything .... last night, after a wonderful day with friends, we came home tired and happy and planning an evening of quiet.  We'd been home not more than ten minutes when the smoke alarm in the sitting room started, well, shrieking is the only word for it, at ear-splitting volume.  Nothing was burning - I hadn't been cooking.  It was then that I realised that we have five smoke alarms around the house.  And ALL of them were shrieking.  John turned off their electrics (I don't understand that bit - something to do with boxes and switches and fuses) - the shrieking continued (I was expecting the police at the door at any second); John removed the batteries from four of the alarms (the fifth being unreachably high) - the shrieking got even louder.  The electrician came (at 9pm - would that happen in the UK?).  Apparently these alarms 'talk' to each other, and the one we couldn't reach had a flat battery, so the others were complaining.  How they had their 'conversation' without batteries or electricity remains a mystery.  In punishment for making so much noise, they have all been ripped out, and we await replacements.  We have no smoke alarms now, so I am not allowed to cook until they have been replaced - I could almost forgive them the noise :-)