General

The Doors – St Patrick’s Day

Well the neighbours have not let me down so far.  I have no idea why Americans go so over the top for St Patrick’s Day. This year a number of TV sitcoms even seem to be doing Irish-themed specials.  I think it’s the day that they celebrate most fervently of all, if they can take a break from proudly declaring how their great-great-great-great-great-great-step-grandfather-in-law’s windowcleaner’s cat was one sixteenth Irish.  I feel quite bad when I point out that it’s not celebrated anywhere near so much in Ireland itself.  Anyway, this is the neighbour’s fantastic front door:

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More leprechaun-based shenanigans to follow shortly….

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The Doors

Americans LOVE the holidays.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are the real biggies over here, of course, but they don’t like to miss out on celebrating ANYTHING.  (Did you know it’s Administrative Professionals’ Day next month?  There is a worryingly large number of cards on sale here, should you feel the need to express feelings of gratitude to the Administrative Professional in your life.  Personally I always preferred a pay rise, but hey ho.)  Last year, my neighbours celebrated pretty much every possible holiday with some spectacularly unnecessary decorations on their front door.  I’m hoping they will repeat this feat in 2014 so I can illustrate for you the USA’s insatiable love affair with tinsel and flags etc.  They have started well, so here I bring you Valentine’s Day:

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More to come throughout the year, I hope.

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Does this look normal to you?

So I haven’t posted much on here recently. I’ve come to the alarming conclusion that this is due to the fact that not a lot surprises me any more. No longer do I see something completely weird and feel the overwhelming urge to get on here and tell everyone. Worryingly, this is because it’s all becoming far too normal to me. The weirdness is still happening on a daily basis but I don’t even notice it any more. I even realised the other day that I occasionally (well, far too frequently for my liking) find myself thinking in an American accent. Thankfully I’ve not started speaking in one, and I still find it wrong to have to use words like “vacation” in conversation. I even found a local beer that I really genuinely liked the other day, rather than the usual “well, for American beer, it’s not too bad I suppose”. Still ….. I think I may have been assimilated. Oh ‘eck.

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What’s Another Year?

This year I gave up my job and as a result we have a lot less income into this household.  However, also this year I:

–          Moved to a whole new continent

–          Now get to enjoy fantastic weather 98% of the time

–          Get to go outside and actually see the sunshine every day if I want to, instead of spending October to March in perpetual darkness – literally and figuratively

–          Have found the time to learn how to make cakes and generally to cook proper meals from scratch

–          Fortunately also have found the time to go to the gym almost every day and am feeling much healthier for it

–          Have started reading all those books I’ve always meant to but never quite got round to

–          Have got myself a bike and live in a nice flat area with cycle paths (well, what people in the UK would just call pavements, but you don’t get pedestrians on them over here) so I can get out and about for free whenever I want

–          Get to actually spend quality time with my husband on most days of the week instead of only seeing him properly at weekends

So, on balance, I am actually so much better off than I was this time last year.  As Sinatra would say, “It’s been a very good year”.

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Don’t Try This At Home

Well the US is renowned for being a country full of people who will sue you at the drop of a hat, so it should probably come as no surprise that most products come with massive health & safety warnings in an attempt to idiot-proof them.  These are my favourite so far:

On two boxes of frozen food: “Not ready to eat.  Cook thoroughly.” and “Do not eat pizza without baking.”

On one of those big silver sun visor thingies that you put in your car’s windscreen to keep it cool when parked: “Do not drive with visor in place.”

On a hairdryer: “Do not use in the bath”

But my absolute favourite, seen tonight on a TV commercial for a car where the car is driven off the side of a cliff: “Do not attempt.  Cars cannot fly.”

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They Think It’s All Over

So Sandy has left us and is now bothering New York instead.  We’ve survived really lightly, with our city only suffering a few downed trees and flooded streets, nothing major.  And for us personally, no problems at all.

The husband went off to work on Sunday night while the storm was working up to its peak, so some friends who live in the same apartment block kindly invited me down for the evening to stop me feeling lonely or scared in the dark and stormy night.  Nice idea in theory.  What did we spend the evening doing though?  Watching a TV drama about Zombies.  Yeah, that will help with the fear when I’m back in my own apartment in the dead of night and we have a power cut!

Hubby made it home without problems in the early hours of Monday.  This was meant to be the worst day of the storm so we had no plans to go anywhere and kept our pyjamas on for the whole day.  Heavenly.  Contrary to expectations we had no more power cuts so it was a really uneventful but lovely day spent catching up on TV and just having a nice time together.  We normally want to use all our days off going out and exploring this new place that we live in, so it made a change to just hang out and do nothing.

We did venture out in the evening (finally having to get dressed at 8pm) for a games night with some friends.  I’m pleased to report that I kept my games champion tiara with a convincing victory 😀  Also by the time we finally crawled home in the early hours the wind and rain had definitely dropped off a bit.  This morning we woke up to a tiny bit of sunshine and dry streets.  The temperature has dropped significantly but this just means that it’s a bit more like your average October day in the UK rather than the sunbathing temperatures that we had a week ago.  It’s a bit strange actually having to wear a coat now.

So, overall no real harm done here by Sandy.  It’s felt just like a UK Bank Holiday weekend as pretty much everybody was off work/school and we had the chance to get together with friends.  Oh, and the weather was horrendous.

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Batten Down the Hatches

So Hurricane Sandy is on its way to us.  Aside from experiencing the same hurricane on two sides of the Atlantic in 2004 (in Cuba and in Cornwall), I’ve never actually had to worry about such things before.  I also vaguely remember the UK storms of 1987 and I really enjoyed sitting around the radio by candlelight with my parents for several evenings during the lengthy power cuts, actually having conversations for a change instead of all staring blankly at the telly, but I didn’t have any actual responsibilities that time around so it wasn’t really a worry.

Hurricane season should be over now but we’ve just got wind (yes, pun intended) of this last-minute bonus “severe weather event”.  I thought we would get by without having any excitement of the weather variety this year.  We started noticing Sandy crossing the Caribbean a couple of days ago, but this is something that we’ve become very accustomed to, despite having only lived in the USA for a couple of months, and as usual we paid it only cursory notice because every other hurricane or tropical storm has passed us by without any bother.  Not this time though.

It’s pretty exciting for the hubby and me, as well as for the other Brits that we know who have been out here for less than twelve months, simply because a hurricane is not something we normally have to deal with.  As far as we can tell, at the moment the eye of the storm is predicted to make landfall a fair bit further north than here so we shouldn’t get the brunt of it, however these predictions can and do change fairly swiftly.  Whatever happens, we’ll get heavy rain, flooding and high winds, peaking somewhere between Sunday and Tuesday, or thereabouts.  So we shouldn’t have too much of a weather issue.  Hurricane Irene went right through here in July 2011 and that was a fair bit worse, by all accounts.

The issue we are really expecting to have is either losing water supply or, most likely, major power cuts.  The electricity can get knocked out at the merest puff of wind here, and it can take days to get it back.  And you thought America was a highly developed country, huh?  Multiply this by the fact that a massive chunk of the East coast is all likely to lose power at the same time, and you start to have some serious problems.

The mass panic buying started late yesterday morning and seemed to peak around tea time.  By this morning the supermarkets were out of water and no doubt a few other basic staples too.  Given the fact that the power should only be off for maybe five days at the most (oh I sound so blasé, just wait until I’ve been without t’internet for 48 hours then I’ll be moaning!) we personally haven’t gone too mad.  We already had a hurricane lamp, radio and torch passed on by some of our British predecessors out here, so I did take the sensible route of buying batteries for all of those items, along with some water, bread and cheese.  We’ll live on cheese sandwiches for a week.  The hubby then sent me back out for the secondary essentials – beer, wine, crisps and chocolate.  Oh and the flat is full of candles anyway, cos we’re romantic like that.

The weather has definitely changed over the last twenty four hours, although it now resembles your average breezy day down on the front at Southsea.  Given the fact that we normally don’t get any wind here though, this has come as somewhat of a shock.  I was thinking about it, and we’ve probably had no more than about seven days of rain since we moved out here.  We might just be making up for that over the next seven days.  Well I was only saying the other day that it didn’t feel like proper October weather out here.

So here’s to the next few days of hiding by candlelight in our designated “safe room” (otherwise known as the walk-in wardrobe) with a stash of beer and snacks until this thing blows over.  Hubby is pleased though – it looks like trick or treating might be cancelled…..

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Title Goes Here

Some blog posts ferment in my brain for a few days.  Some just come splurging straight out.  I’ve realised, however, that they only feel right and ready for the electronic page once I have a title for them.  I have nothing else to say on this matter.  I like my title though.  😀

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Fobbed Off

In the UK my purse was stuffed to the gills with loyalty cards.  In the USA, the key fob seems to be the thing.  I’ve got one for the gym, one for the library, one for the coffee shop and one for the pool (that’s my life pretty much summed up in key fobs).  So, 4 fobs, but only 2 keys.  Hey ho.

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Picture This

Just to let you know, dear reader, that I’ve discovered there is a disappointingly low limit to the number of photos I can upload to this blog.  Therefore most pictures are going onto my Facebook account instead.  If you are a friend of mine in the real world but not yet my friend on Facebook, just get in touch and I’ll give you my details so you can find my Facebook account.  Simples!

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