Reality Check (from city to village)

Over the weekend, the British hubby and I headed out for dinner, not because it was “date night” or anything like that but just because I declared war on any more cooking and dish-washing for the day.  People here in the UK seem to generally dress-up more when going out for dinner compared to Americans.  It’s most likely because eating out here is for the most part luxury (at the very least it is not cheaper than eating at home) rather than for convenience — meaning bone-tired, no desire to wash or cook, let’s head out to the local restaurant.  So when in Rome, bring out the toga.  I made sure I had on killer heels despite the cold, put on a stylish coat and my make up was right.  I have yet to purchase those furry, fake eyelashes British women would have you believe they are born into, but on the whole I was spruced-up and decently ready for a beautiful night out with the hubby.  Shortly after we get on the road, I begin to notice an odd stink in the car.  I began to sniff and look around — trying to figure the source of this funk.  Did the hubby leave yesterday’s lunchbox overnight at the backseat?  Did a rat find it’s way into the car and died?  The hubby noticed my fuss around the car and asked what was going on.

Me :  There is a strange stink in this car and I am trying to find the culprit.

Hubby (very calmly) :  That’s probably the smell of manure fertilizing Farmer’s Geoff’s farm at the back of the house.

Me (with that flash of enlightenment):  Oh yeah.  Manure and a farm.  I forgot about those.

And so the process of reorienting myself to the change in geography and lifestyle continues.  :)

Chicago · UK

How Does Your Garden Grow

I live in Chicago — or should I say I lived in Chicago, until I upped and moved over here to the UK after getting married 5 months ago?  <pause.  deep thought.>.  OK,  I think my opening statement stands:  I LIVE IN CHICAGO.  I have kept my pad there, despite moving over to England.  I commute back and forth across the huge Atlantic pond for work (since I haven’t sat for the Bar here in the UK yet).  I’ve kept my US phone numbers and continue to pay my utilities.  Yes, I guess I can safely say I still live in Chicago.  And in the City itself.  Not in the periphery.  No, not in the ‘burbs.  Not in “Chicagoland”. IN the Windy City.   I live in a highrise designed by a famous architect.  My window directly overlooks the Chicago cityscape.  I see the lights of Wrigley field from afar on game nights to the west; and catch the fireworks from Navy Pier to the east on Wednesday and Saturday nights in the summer.  We have a doorman, dry cleaning service, a pool and tennis courts on the premises.  There is a gym that I never go to within striking distance, as well as a grocery where I drag my little folding crate to stuff with survival essentials.  I don’t really need a car in a city where a week’s parking rates can pass for one month’s rent money in a nearby city.  The bus that takes me to work, or to the airport, stops right by my door.  Lake Michigan is 2 blocks east, an easy, healthy walk.  That’s my life in the US.

In the UK though, it is a slightly different story.  I live in a town in the greater Manchester area.  Which means, I live in a quiet place with shops, and churches, schools, supermarkets, a town centre, a local college, houses with beautiful gardens, restaurants, war memorials, post offices, the occasional Indian and/or Chinese fish-and-chips takeaway, and not one building that is higher than 3 stories.  When I crave or miss the bustles of urban life, Manchester is half an hour away — easy.  But I guess it can be safely said that for someone who grew up and always lived in big cities, this move feels to me like the “Countrification of the City Mouse”.    And yet I have no regrets, nor major complaints.  The hubby and I are rarely in one place anyway, as we both travel a lot for work; and for fun.  So its nice to be able to come home to quiet, and just us enjoying us.  Life is…. alright, and all right.

That said, there is one I’ve been discovering in our home.  The treasures that grow on our little patch of forest called our backyard.  Our garden is far from being the prettiest in this area — oooh, not even close.  But yesterday, while walking around it to find stuff to stuff into our, uhm… green “wheelie bin” (thats how they call the wheeled trash holders), I found these little gems:

Berries growing up the tree trunk.
our garden 2
Berries, up close.
our garden 5
Lilies "of some sort" -- is how the hubby describes these. They're a nice, happy, tropical orange color.
our garden 4
Defiantly hesitant hydrangeas that refuse to be coaxed out of their shyness. While our neighbors have these huge vibrant balls of blues and pinks....
our garden 6
Apples for baking. (If only I could bake)
our garden 6b
More apples
our garden 7
These are called "gooseberries".
our garden 8
Here they are up close. They look like marble-sized, translucent little watermelons.
our garden 3
Fuchsias. Their droop-down shapes actually make them look like little ladies in swirly ballgown skirts.

I guess there are SOME perks to stepping back from a highly-urbanized lifestyle.