France · Life · Life On The Road · Lost In Translation · love · Short Notes

Lost In Translation, Yet Again

Once in a while the strangest blonde moment creeps up — no offense to the blondes, just using it as a cliche — that truly embarrasses me. We were driving along the dusty backroads of the French countryside (Normandie!) when the Hubby looks skywards sharply, points a finger, and says “Hawk!”.

Me (puzzled and looking up): PORK?  (I swear I heard him say “Pawk”, as in the British pronunciation for “Pork”)

Hubby (even more puzzled): HAWK! Big bird. Hawk!

Me (realizing the absurdity of a high-flying piece of meat, and trying to be cool about the sudden drop of IQ): Oh, HAWK, right. ok.

Hubby: Pork?  Why would I say “Pork”?  I was pointing at the sky….

Me: I don’t know.  That’s what I thought I heard.  But hey, you never know. You know what they say —  “when pigs fly….”

Nonstop shaking of head and laughing between us. You’d think by now these lost-in-translation moments would long have banished.  Oy vey.

Wall Art in Nottingham, UK
Wall Art in Nottingham, UK
Accent · British Traits · Expat Dilemmas · Fitting In · Life · Life On The Road · Lost In Translation · Shopping · UK

Snippet on Adjusting to Life in the UK

I realize that I haven’t posted in a while; and I am a little half-hearted about jump-starting it with a grumble.  In particular, it will be about (the virtually non-existent) customer service in the UK…. again.  It’s the one thing about  UK life I can’t quite get my head around, just because it’s a puzzle that in a country where everything is about civility, politeness and niceties, very few stores (or “shops”) seem to be able to get it right.

Today I headed into town to run a few errands at the bank and the post office.  Too early for the return train — and yes, I DO have to rush back home as I have a conference call to Chicago by 9:30 Central Time — I decided to go to Debenhams to use up an expiring gift card.  The gift card had a 24-month lifetime, and we got it as a wedding gift 2 years ago.  Hence the urgency to use it before its expiration.  I got a few small things at the home section, and headed up to pay.   Here goes the convo at the till:

Cashier :  Hi, you alright?

Me :  Hi, yes, I’m good how are you (waited for her to scan the 2 items, tell me the total, and then I handed over the gift card)

Cashier :  (peering from the top of her bifocals for some time and swiping it) — Do you know how much money you have on the card?

Me : (slightly surprised why it was up to me to tell her how much was left on the card — she could swipe to find out couldn’t she? — and trying to remember how much I had left on the card).  Hmmmmm…. I’m not too sure.   I think I might have around £120-something on it….

Cashier : (looking back at me)  So, in other words, — you do not know…..

Yup, those were her words  — “so in other words, you do not know….”

I am only slightly amused, but  mostly annoyed at myself, for being thrown off by comments like these, especially when they come with an accent and a nose in the air (literally, as it tried to hold up her bifocals).  I am not too sure whether to react the “American way” of always being right as customer; or to tread the polite line of putting sales staff softly in their place by a slight change in my intonation, the right choice of words, or the just-enough raise of my right eyebrow.  It really is tricky to make that split-second decision to either dare to be yourself and risk awkward attention; or to live as the Romans when in Rome and tone everything way way down.  I just know that each time I come over to the UK, I do not stay long enough to get out of the mode of being the visitor or the outsider, and to know how to deal with situations the way locals do.  But because that is my choice and this is my life, for now all I can do is sigh.  Until I get it right, if they don’t.

Life · love · Photography · Travel

Year in Perspective

MMXI is due in 3 hours.  Hubby and I still hem and haw whether or not to hop on the bus (it’s free anyway) to Navy Pier to watch the midnight fireworks.  We’re hearing the 8:15 fireworks (the “family bash” session) from our apartment and can see little flashes towards the east of our mainly south view directly at the city.  Another bigger display is due at midnight.  Meanwhile, I cannot let the month and year past without a last post so here, a quick look back at the year that was.

1.  The year started with the passing away of my father– and this means that from here on, Life is changed in a significant way and it will just never be totally complete.  But it is true how when the rug is pulled from under your feet you realize who your true friends are:  classmates from high school and university many long lost and suddenly rediscovered, colleagues, former assistants who made themselves on call for errands, cousins who are almost our siblings.  And most importantly, it has made me treasure my mother even more, as I know I have much to catch up with her.

2.  Adjusting to Life in the UK is ongoing, slowly but surely.  I’ve long been able to move around on public transport on my own.  I am doing my share to put our new home together.  I am meeting C’s friends and carrying on longer conversations with them, with sharper ears now keener to their accents.   I have favorite restaurants and favorite shops now.  And I have met my first friend on my own, a wonderful American expat who is uber-smart, funny, and fun to hang around with. I have yet to get that driver’s license (but let me get over “the big switch” from the wrong side of the road to the right and proper one ;p), and take time to sit for the England & Wales Bar Exam.  But the hope is that this year I will not use the transitoriness of my stays on either side of the pond as excuse not to get things done.

3.  I visited Paris for the first time in my life.  :)  In celebration of our first year of marriage.  E-tickets for our paper anniversary.

4.  I’ve joined a group of 4 other enthusiasts to put up a daily photoblog. I’m learning to tinker more with the camera, often taking long solitary drives to the strangest places for a photo op.  And the hubby has been supportive by supplying me, unasked, with gadgetry and accessories to go with the camera (haha).  More than that, when I suggest to him that I want to take a picture in this or that place, he almost always goes along with my crazy ideas, drives me to the destination, and helps me set up the camera.  It’s only when he starts to direct me how to do the picture (he being a former photography enthusiast) that the battle of wills between us rears its head.  Did I ever tell you of that time we tried to catch the August moon?  Good that I didn’t.  Let me just say that I was told in no uncertain terms to read the manual first next time we set out on a cold, dark night for a photo shoot.

5.  In March, on the very day I was driving back to Chicago from CowTown having concluded my work with a major client, I learn that the file room and accounting office burned down (about 40% of the office space).  What to do but to make a U-turn and head back?  My own office was water-damaged.  There was no power for the duration of the restoration.  Operations were done in the big conference room, public-library style.  My laptop did its bit with a big-time sympathy crash (blue screen of death) and I had to delay return to the UK for quite a bit until things were put together, records reconstituted as best as able, systems put back in place and the life of the company can go on as normally as possible.  As with most major trials, everyone pulled together and worked doubly hard with the most limited resources.   All this during a peak busy period.  Today, the stitches don’t even seem to show.

6.  Health is alright.  The eyesight has reached that interesting stage where I have to take my glasses off when I read.  Meanwhile, hubby and I are contemplating whether adoption is something for us (the social worker will not be very impressed with our travelling lifestyle though).  On matters like this, I often wish there was some wise sage who can just tell me what the correct answer is.  Just tell me, I’ll do it.  This is one of those tough essay questions Life has hurled at us; and it’s constantly whirling in my mind on those long drives, or when I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep.   I shampooed my hair thrice in the shower once, lost in thought over this, and that’s when I decided that maybe it would be a good idea to set reflecting aside for a while.  Result that day:  dry Medusa hair.

7.  Career is alright.  I now have contract work with an American firm in London, in addition to my busy little independent practice in the US.  Hubby is busier than ever working in power plants.  I still cannot answer for sure when people ask me what EXACTLY he does.  It’s too narrow and specialized a field to describe.  Most of the time it’s just easier to say he works in a power plant much like Homer Simpson.

8.  Relationship with hubby is wonderful and edifying.  Our families are safe and well.  If just for these, I already cannot be thankful enough.  And thus bittersweet as the year has been I will say 2010 has been good.

Asian · Birthday · Food · Life · love · People

“I’m A Celebrity. Get Me Out of Your Camera”

Ever had one of those panic-filled, embarassing moments when you wished you could instantaneously burrow a hole into the ground and hide in it?  Happened to me right on my recent birthday.  And it involved a “celebrity” of sorts.  So read on.

To celebrate the day, C and I decided to cap it with dinner at a Japanese restaurant.  C picked Sapporo Teppanyaki at the Castlefield Centre (Manchester).  He had been to the one on Duke Street in Liverpool a year ago and had raved about some of the “tenderest beef” he has ever tasted.    We arrived around 7.  The place was sparsely filled, with only one group seating full.*   We sat next to a newly dating, couple,**  them to my left, and C to my right.  We had the spicy tuna for starters, and I ordered the lobster teppanyaki and C got the beef fillet in teriyaki sauce.***

While into our starters, another couple came in and were seated next to us.  The woman sat next to Craig while her husband (hereinafter referred to as “Mystery Man“) was further over to her other side.  They pored over the menu for a while and the woman occasionally turned to C with polite conversation (e.g., have we ever been to this place before, were we celebrating something, pointers how/what to order, etc..).  Later, C quietly turned to me and whispered that he thought Mystery Man looked familiar and that he might be in some program on TV.  He couldn’t remember his name though and said he had a funny feeling it was “Nick Something“.  In attempt to quench his curiosity though, C took out his spankin’-new Android phone (which he hates) and began his Google-sleuthing, angling the phone away from the woman beside to avoid detection.  Every now and then, we turned back to polite chit-chat with our seat-mates and “oooohed” and “aaaahed” along at the chef’s knife- and flame-throwing maneuvers.****  After some time though, C frustratingly complained that the dang Android phone wasn’t coming up with answers.   In the tone of a mastermind to his accomplice, C told me to “look closely at the guy, and remember what he looks like.  When we get home, we can google again and see if he is who I think he is.”  Hmmmm….  The thing is, I really am not very good at this.  C had given me a similar assignment a couple of months earlier.  We were visiting Fountains Abbey when he told me that one of the women in our group might be an actress in a daytime soap, whose name he could not recall.  He had then told me to “memorize her face” so that we can do our google- and wiki-research when we got home.  The problem is, I had not quite developed “English eyes” yet (still haven’t) :  i.e., Every platinum haired, skinny, put-together English, stylish, middle-aged woman looked like Helen Mirren to me.  So when we got home then, the Google “identify-the-mystery-person” project failed largely because none of the possible results matched the image in my head — which was … Helen Mirren, and of course, we weren’t looking for Helen Mirren.

But back from the tangent, back to earth, back to Sapporo Teppanyaki. I groaned back to the Godfather :  “Not again!  I can’t do this!  I don’t know who he is.  I can’t tell him from Adam, and I don’t think I can remember his face”.   The guy, FYI, looked the typical pale, slim, British nerdy/geeky cute, — which is every third or fourth male person you see on the street.   But still, wanting to be helpful, I thought of the next best thing.  I pulled out my ol’ reliable iPhone, and pretended to be taking pictures of C, when in fact, the camera was trained beyond him…. right onto Mystery Man.  And so while a commotion was going on as the Chef danced on the next table, I clicked and clicked on Mystery Man.  Now how’s that for “documentation”?  Pat on the back, Miss Chicago.  Well done.

Towards the end of the meal, at that the uneasy lull between wrapping up the main courses and the dessert menu came chit-chat again.  C feebly toyed with his Android phone, and we decided to snap a picture of ourselves.  But the Android was new, and C fumbled through the menus to get to the camera.  So I, being the fabulous techie that I am, puledl out my iPhone and clumsily tried to take shots from the front facing camera.   And this is where the drama/action begins. Suddenly, Mystery Man gallantly comes to the rescue… when he volunteers to take the pictures for us.  UH-OH.  Anyone with an iPhone would know that the camera always displays at the bottom left corner, the last picture taken.  And in this case, it would precisely be that one of MR. MYSTERY MAN himself.  Once he held the iPhone, he would see that I had surreptitiously taken shots of him! Flustered, I tried to “clue” the hubby into the situation we were in.  He was, of course, blissfully clueless.  At this point, I tried to take any — any — random shot with the camera just to block the last shot recorded and jabbered something about setting the camera up (as delaying tactic).  But I fumbled and failed.  Mystery Man assured us not to worry —    “I am familiar with this, ” says he, “I know how to work it.”  Wow, ok.  Off from my hands and into Mystery Man’s…. the camera with Mystery Man’s own picture as the last shot.  I’ll never know if Mystery Man caught the photo that I took.  Most likely he did.  But he was nonchalant enough, or polite enough, to not say nothing of it.   When he left to go to the rest rooms, C finally asked the wife point if he was the host of some regional (Northwest) TV show.  She said yes, but clarified that he worked for national television.  He was with the BBC Breakfast show.  Apparently, the BBC is relocating some of his studios out of London and into Salford (in the case of the Breakfast Show).  And thus Mr. and Mrs. ________’s look-see into Manchester.  Below is the picture.  Can you guess who he is?  (Clue:  No, his first name is not Nick.  But it has one syllable.)

Final Notes:  The food was excellent.  The couples on either side of us were very nice.  The day was perfect.  Happy, funny, birthday to me.

_____________________________

FOOTNOTES:

*Usual Japanese teppnayaki style : 4 long tables connected on the ends to form a big square.  One-sided bar-style seating, with the chef(s) performing in the middle in front of a modern gas-powered teppanyaki griddle.

** Of course, I knew they were newly dating.  Women can “sense” these things.  And sometimes we overhear conversations.  Accidentally, of course.  :)

***  Wow, did I really just list down what we ordered/ate?  Can’t believe I did that.

****Ok, so I am slightly more blase in general but let it not be said that I could not feign enthusiasm enthusiastically.

POST POSTSCRIPT:  04/21/2011.  Mr. Turnbull will be staying on with the BBC Breakfast show and will be making the move up north.  Go Manchestah!  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12920382

Life · Road Signs · Travel · Uncategorized · USA · Work

Meanderings

In a few days I will be headed home to the UK, and I can’t wait.  The best thing is always that moment when I finally exit UK Immigration and look through the sea of faces for That One. :)   Yeah, home is really where the heart is.  I have been musing today about how little I blog while I am in Chicago, or while travelling around the States.  I seem to dive in getting my nose dirty in books and papers, catching up with friends, finding ways to bask in the new and get back in the groove of the familiar, running around doing 3,000 things.  In short, I blog less wearing my “Miss Chicago hat” than when I am on the other end of the Atlantic “missing Chicago”.  Which really makes me think whether this whole blog needs a change of direction.  I have ideas swimming in my head.  And re-packaging, and a new related blog which may involve providing my loyal readership of four (one of whom is my husband) with US Immigration and Nationality laws tidbits and updates, may be forthcoming.  Oooh, lucky you.  (really….).

On a side note, I have a professional collaboration possibility in the UK the off-ing.  It’s not employment, and at this point in my life, anyway, “employment” is not something I am interested in.  (Did I tell you my Indian name was “Bindher Dandhat”?)  I like the freedom of being on my own.  I got an (unexpected) invite from them, but the proposal on paper seems ideal.  The talks are scheduled for the day after I arrive in the UK.  I take the train to London the next day, and am keeping my fingers crossed on that one.  My Jewish and Chinese sides tell me to keep all other details under wraps.  Wish me luck. :)

This is a picture of where I was over the weekend. I drove quite a ways to Eureka Springs. The trek was not what I expected. It was on the mountains and I was on 36 miles of steep and curvey roads. I drove through 15 mph hairpins, if that gives any indication of why I was mostly thinking.... what would this drive be like in the WINTER when covered with snow? Boooo. Scroll your pointer over the picture to find out the name of this place.
CowTown · Life · Lost In Translation · love

Wii Don’t Need That

From my desk in Chicago.

A chunk of my time when I am in the US is spent outside of Chicago. In “CowTown” as I call it, — a busy little city at a corner of a state that shares a border with Illinois. The reason for the prolonged stop here is one of my major clients. I drive down from Chicago to do practically what an in-house counsel does: make sure everything is in order from ongoing litigation, to their labor, tax, immigration, contract, and business matters. Often I collaborate with local practitioners (by “local” I mean those licensed to appear in court in that state), which often makes me wonder whether or not I should just make life simpler and apply for reciprocity in this little state to add to my New York one. But that would mean less fraternizing with other practitioners (the banter can be fun), and more work for me (bad). Better not. And anyway, the travel to CowTown is but fair. The client pays for my plane fare to and from. Who am I to complain? Until I slow down and prepare to sit for the QLTT, and qualify myself as a solicitor in jolly olde England and Wales, Life will continue to be bi-coastal. Or maybe I should reinvent myself and do something other than lawyering. Maybe tight-rope walking or aeronautic engineering. Did I go on a tangent? Back to the topic. Small towns/cities. Ah yes, small towns and cities, such as good ol’ CowTown, DO have their charm. Life is slower. Streets have no sidewalks. Food is greasy. Walmart is busy (at night it also becomes Meth Central). People take time to smile and chat. People behind the counters are sunshiney and chirpy, and… can we just cut the crap and get the lines moving quicker please!?

And quite unlike it is in Chi-Town, people here in CowTown have their gym in a box. Yup. The handful that I know have a common denominator : a Wii console with all the bells and whistles, which they use for exercise. What a beauty. Recently, I even got to run a virtual bike race at “Wii Resort” against a 4-year old with pigtails. I need not tell you who between us got to the finish line first, and who pointed her little finger upwards and laughed a hearty “hahahha you lose!”. Suffice it to say that, well… it wasn’t me, and mostly it was because I didn’t quite know the rules of the game which included, inter alia, that I had to go slow on the pedalling once in a while, to manage my energy level lest I get disabled and dizzy and faint. At least onscreen. Which is precisely what happened. Ceteris paribus therefore not knowing the rules caused me to lose to someone 1/10th my age. I do not care if you’re thinking the lady protests too much. It’s always good defense: I-didn’t-know-the-rules-and-that-I-could-slash-could-not-do-that. Good faith always accounts for something. Even in Wii matches. And believe it or not, all the humiliation of losing actually made me more interested to get my hands on one of those gadgets. I checked out Best Buy. A “bundled” set for 2 players would cost $260 at Best Buy (with sales taxes a third lower than Chicago), and the basic set for a single player is a $199 special at Target. I asked the guy at Best Buy if the baby will work in the UK, and he assured me that I only need an “adaptor” to plug into the electric socket. But otherwise, the toy is, for all intents and purposes, multi-jurisdictional.

And so that afternoon over the phone, as the 6-hours-ahead hubby called to say good night, I deliver the important news: “Sweetheart (*you need a term of endearment in these times), we really, really need to get a Wii.” NEED. Not just want. We need it for exercise. As flab-buster. To maintain good health and wellbeing. The other end of the line is quiet. The hubby is appalled. He is a non-believer of virtual life. Methuselah thinks exercise should entail gym equipment, a racket, a ball, wheels, or at least REAL sunshine. He tells me he can’t believe I am going the way of the young and misguided who type before they can write, and who live full lives in the Non-Real realm. And then he throws me this punch: “And what will they think of next? Wii sex?” Then it was my turn to be quiet. — NOW WHERE ON EARTH IS MY BADMINTON RACKET?

Some shots from the weekend (scroll pointer over photos for description):

(c) smallbatteryball photography
British · British Food · Food · Life · UK

Treat or Treats

Reading through my journal notes, I found this one written about a year ago.  I’m re-posting it here, — another story about life in the UK.  Note:  this was written a couple of months after we got married in Chicago, and I moved across the pond.  :)

Today is a day of FIRSTS, and SECONDS.

My first time to tag along to C’s [i.e., the hubby]  racecar sprints.

My first time to Aintree, home of the Grand Nationals (supposedly one of the most difficult horse steeplechase courses in the world). See: http://www.articlesbase.com/sports-and-fitness-articles/history-of-the-aintree-grand-national-race-course-374614.html

My first try at a right-hand drive vehicle; and my first to revert to a manual transmission in many years.

During the lunch break of the sprints, C and I each had a medium-sized whippy ice cream more popularly known as “99”. This awesome to-die-for piece of heaven on earth is a huge, rich, creamy, milky mass of the whitest ice cream on a cone, with a little Cadbury chocolate flake on the side. You can opt to have raspberry syrup swirled on top of your ice cream. C did, I didn’t. 99s are popularly sold in soda fountain set-up moving stores (fairly large trailer-type vehicles, with open windows on the side). I love them because, unlike American ice cream, they are not overly sweet. They just taste….rich and full. I had that as dessert after a lunch that included ham sandwiches, cold chicken legs, a “Walker salt and vinegar crisps” (chips in the US), and a can of coke. Admittedly, I felt slightly guilty to indulge in dessert.

But when C clocked his personal best time today, and finished a very close 3rd in his Class, we decided to celebrate, and went back for a second round of 99 whippy ice cream. It tasted just as good as the first. This time, I felt double the guilt I had from the first one. After all, in a span of 3 hours, I had all of 198 (99, 2 times).

When we got back home, I went straight to the weighing scales. I weighed a grand total of 8 stones (dreadful and unprecedent — go figure that in lbs). Groan. I promise to have none of that for the rest of the week. :)

Happy Saturday!

More on the Whippy wonder 99 :
1.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/99_Flake
2.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5223328.stm

Life · Life On The Road · love · UK · Wedding

Home Finally

Threat of more Icelandic ashes notwithstanding, I arrived in Manchester early this morning, UK time.  The 2 months that I’ve been in the US while C is in the UK is the longest we’ve been apart since we got married a year ago.  The length of time apart is part collective decision, but it also had to do with a seeming series of unfortunate events that sprouted one after the other in this trip:  A key client’s file/records room and accounting room (i.e., yup the one in CowTown) burned down requiring tedious reconstitution of lost documents.  The volcanic eruption in Iceland that closed the skies from air transport, and the skyrocketing of ticket prices once flight resumed.  A settlement proposal that went awry in an admin case now headed the direction of a heated trial, among other things = which of course translates to even more heated preps.  Admittedly, after Dad passed away, I suddenly left everything behind in the US for a month.  Imagine the backlog of work I came back to. And that’s just MY side of the situation.  But all’s well and ended.  Nothing beats the priceless feeling of gratefulness and happiness running into those welcoming arms at the airport.

I’ve often been asked how C and I manage our marriage where we often have to be apart.   I can give the sacchariferous, syrupy answer that others may tend to give about how Love having no bounds in time or space.  But in reality, I know it’s not all about Love.  At least, not solely.  It’s only that we are aware and accepting that our married life together defies convention.  We married in our 40’s — both our first, and none of us having kids previously.  Each of us having ongoing busy careers (both professions, actually) which we are passionate about.  C having projects (power plant projects) tied up for the next coming years.  My own expat life extending even before the US.  My transitioning to practicing law in the UK requiring yet another Bar exam to hurdle; and in the meanwhile a US client willing to shoulder all costs relating to travel and stay in the US for work every 2 months.  For now, maintaining the best of both options on either side of the Atlantic seems the prudent way to go.  Particularly given our plans that at some point in the future we will be moving back to the US.  It also seems in C’s nature from the start to be encouraging of my practice as an attorney.  He has always said that my personal and professional growth works to my happiness, and that that happiness translates to a happier relationship altogether.  Makes sense, I must admit.  Even if it may sound more scientific and rational than romantic.  :)  So being determined and committed to make the unconventional circumstances work is really key.

Nonetheless, I am not taking from the important underlying ingredients:  trust, and love, and faithfulness should be there.  But more than words is action.  And a man who immediately puts a new kitchen together for me while I am away in the US, and takes all the heat (oooh, a pun!) so that I do not have to worry about “joiners” (English for “carpenters”), sawdust everywhere, and hanging electrical guts; and who happily announces my return home in his Facebook (which I secretly peeked today — No, we are not each other’s “friends”) — yeah there’s substance to the unspoken there.

And so I am “home” now, where he is, in a truly meaningful way than a mere cliche.  And happy.  Here is to more adventurous in Little England in the coming days. :)

Family · Life

Gone Too Soon

I’ve been out of the (blogging) scene for a while. A little over a month ago, my father passed away. It was 2 weeks before the hubby and I were due to fly over from the UK for a visit. Right after a very cold, early morning appointment with the dentist (7 a.m.) while in the US, I got the text message that changed my life forever. As they say, when you think you got all your plans nailed Life throws a monkey-wrench (“spanner” to you Brits). This one landed hard and right on my head. In the days following I mourned much, reflected more, worked zilch. I am also mostly lost. To this day. The proverbial rug pulled from underneath, I feel my footing totally gone. I can only hope to find balance at some point. Though I already know that post-Dad my life will always be slightly askew. Compared to my siblings I was not as close to my father while growing up. I did not curl up to him with the sweet affection of a daughter. My father and I — we talked politics, history, sports, photography, and world wars. We argued over events going on in goverment, and discussed my professional plans and career paths, mostly mine. He treated me more like a son, than a daughter. To me, my father rarely showed love openly. Like most of his generation, tender emotion is not something men openly expressed. But Dad rarely hid, or could hide, his pride in me. This was obvious to all. And it’s not as if I’ve achieved much. On the contrary. For that, I will always be grateful because a lot of what I am today I owe to him. Had he not set his standards and the bar for integrity high, I would’ve settled for less than is worth the effort in many aspects of my life.

You know, Dad, when you were alive, I did not get to talk or spend time with you much, particularly the latter few very weak years. But somehow I felt the ground under my feet more solid then knowing I could if only I would, than now that I can’t even if I did. I am truly sorry and broken. But I promise that when we next get to see each other, I will sit long hours by your side, and every day talk silly, fun things with you, other than career and politics. I will tell you about the Boy I found, who brings me happiness every single day, and takes good care of me. I am alright. You don’t worry. And I will hold your hand as we talk, and you can pat my head, and all in the world will be fine.

It’s only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home—it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love.

Margaret Truman

So in honor of my Dad, enough sadness and downtime now. And back to regular programming. Hopefully soon.

Chicago · Life · Weather

Oh Snow!

It snowed nonstop for a whole day here in our little village outside Manchester 2 days ago.   It didn’t take long for our front and backyards to be covered in a thick, puffy quilt of white.

For all that it felt so cold during those days, I find that the temps were at its worst just below 30*F (-4.0C), — quite a ways away from the sub-zero (Fahrenheit) windchilled winters of Chicago.  And yet — why did it feel so cold?  Why did the snow fall accumulation seem even more extreme?  I was griping about the cold until the Hubby reminded me that it is nothing compared to our winters in Chicago.  True, I probably complain less about the cold there than here.

Simple explanation.  The cold is more challenging here because the UK is largely unequipped or unprepared to tackle extreme weather of this sort.  On a grocery run for instance, I was surprised to find that SALT had run out, in Tesco, Sainsbury and in the neighborhood co-op.  I was later told that many had to resort to using table salt to dust their icy front door to prevent elderly from slipping; — which gives you a clue that the roads are totally ungritted.  The council took a while to send trucks to plough the snow off the streets, and if they did, it would only be the main thoroughfares.  Most houses are not amply insulated for harsh winters (and of course, let’s not forget the prohibitive cost of heating).  And the government services all seem to come to a halt.  The garbage bin (“wheelie bins”) were not collected.  Mail was not delivered.  Schools are out.  Parents cannot go to work because schools closed.  The roads to the supermarkets are superclogged.  Cars are stalled and abandoned.  Power is cut off in some places…. yadah yadah yadah.  I’m sorry if this sounds like a gripe sheet, but in some way it probably is.  It’s crazy how life almost comes to a stand still, and daily living just seems helpless to go forwards for those few days.   It makes me realize how much I miss the efficiency and readiness of Chicago for wintry elements which make for what appears to be hardier, keep-going, can-do city.  Remember this comment of Pres. Obama regarding a snow day in D.C. same time last year?