One of the weirder cultural differences is subtleties of information presentation or queries in everyday conversation. Even before we moved here I was aware of this because Doc used to get SO cross with me when he'd say "Do you have any water?" and I'd say "Yes, I do.". The problem was that I thought he was asking for information, which seemed a little odd because I always carry a bottle of water everywhere, but actually he was asking to drink some of my water. He thought I was being rude and making fun of him, and I couldn't understand why he was getting so huffy. Eventually we realised it was simply a difference in , because in the UK we would just say "Hey, can I have some of your water?" if that's what we want, which saves any confusion. Doc wasn't very clear on why not asking the question directly is more polite, but until I asked it hadn't occurred to him that his phrasing of the request was in any way ambiguous.
Similarly when someone is explaining something complicated to you, let's say particle physics just for fun, it's going to be a one sided conversation for the most part. In the UK to indicate we are paying attention, especially if it's something really dull, or to encourage the person to carry on talking, we would politely smile, nod and occasionally say "right", or "yes" or something else positive. I find if I do that here the person talking stops, and asks if I already know what they are talking about, then I have to explain that I was just acknowledging paying attention. It's most odd.
In my previous office I had a colleague who, whenever she gave me information, seemed to get stuck in a loop. She'd say "X" and I'd say "Ok, thanks". Then she'd explain X again in a different way, and I'd say "Right! I understand" and this could go on for several years minutes. I finally realised that she likes to top-and-tail a conversation, so if I said something in response, she then had say something else. That's fine, I don't care about having the last line, but I cannot work out for the life of me how to acknowledge that I have understood the information without saying something to that effect. It was very trying.
I'm sure I can be bewildering too, and I know that I employ a particularly British trick of asking "You know Edith?" before launching into a story about her. I know you know Edith, it's a rhetorical question which is simply alerting you to the fact I am about to tell you something about Edith, but here people look at me funny and answer the question seriously.
Well obviously it's Monday, and that did require me to go in to work but I'm taking three days off this week, so that was quite fun really.
And then after work -
Mini Golf! Tuna steaks! Red Wine! "Dance Your Ass Off"! Booking a hotel in DC!
I haven't been paying any attention to the football whilst Doc C watches the England Germany game, but even I think Lampard got a second goal for England.
Anyway, time to go to the airport and collect Jason. Yay!
When Doc and I do at some stage own our own home and it comes to redecorating the bathroom I would hope that you will remind me that I absolutely hate and detest floors tiled with ridiculously small white tiles and unsealed grout. Most of my day has been spent cleaning the bathroom floor, and, whilst I am very pleased with the results of my new method of grout cleaning, it is most frustrating to know this is but a fleeting moment of snowy whiteness.
Actually Doc C already wandered into the bathroom with shoes on when the floor was not quite dry, which resulted in footprints. Grrh! He is damn lucky they were very easy to wipe up.
Still, it was quite fun cleaning today, because it's all in preparation for a visit from Jason, and because I used it as an excuse to pin my hair up and then tie a red polka dot handkerchief around my head, so I looked like Rosie the Riveter in aqua short-shorts. Or at least that's what I was aiming for!
Thursdays are gym days, so I should go to bed early on Wednesdays; but last night I stubbornly stayed up to watch "Work of Art" (Bravo - Why won't you repeat this at a decent hour? Repeats between 1 and 8 in the morning do not help me at all, and you're not streaming episodes on your website or Hulu. What is the problem?). Don't worry, I won't spoil it for you if you intend to watch it (good luck with finding a repeat or a web-streaming version though. Grrh!), but I will say the judges on "Work of Art" do not seem to appreciate the contestants biting the hand that feeds them and being snarky in their pieces.
The challenge this week was to design a cover for one of six different classic novels "Alice in Wonderland", "Dracula", "Frankenstein", "Jekyll and Hyde", "The Time Machine" and "Pride and Prejudice". As an ex-bookseller and a collector of books I have a lot of strong opinions on this matter, and I found the whole show fascinating as a result. I was saddened that barely any of them had read the books, but, you know, not everyone enjoys reading and that's fair enough; however I do think almost all of the titles have a strong presence in contemporary media (the exception would be "The Time Machine" I think), so when one contestant mis-named a central character in her chat to camera, I was mildly annoyed. Then she photographed herself, half-naked, with an anachronistic hat that ended up being the wholly inappropriate focal point of the whole cover AND she mis-spelled the author's name on her final piece. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth in my house at this point.
The grand prize this week was that the winning design would be used on a Penguin edition of the book, which seems very appropriate as covers are really so central to the Penguin brand. Before I watched "WoA" I had already photographed my most recent vintage book purchases, which I bought solely because they were crime novels in the classic green-and-cream thirds of Penguin Books and I don't see those very often over here. Weirdly I had never heard of the author before, and he's popped up on Pop Sensations this week, although the featured Dell cover is really a lot more lurid, so now I'm quite intrigued to read these.
Impending fashion disaster alert - My Polka Dot Converse Skimmers are developing a hole in the toe, so although they currently look suitable to be worn in the office, there will be a time in the not too distant future where they will begin to look distinctly untidy and unsuitable for office-wear. The easiest solution would be to buy another pair, but Converse no longer make them and there is no way of making them in the "Design your own Converse" section of the website. What to do?
I have searched on-line for Polka Dot canvas flats and not found anything as nice as these. Bearing in mind that I automatically ignore anything that is just randomly positioned dots of varying sizes, because what I want is the precise pattern of rows of dots; my options seem to be cheap-and-nasty, twee little bows or ballet pumps (I used to live in ballet pumps, but my left ankle requires a cushioned sole on my shoes, or it suddenly remembers it once had Plantar Fasciitis.) So I am thinking of trying out Vans. They have some Polka Dot designs and they appear to be sturdily constructed, but I'm worried that my Converse will fight with them. Can Vans and Chucks live together do you think? And are Vans too obviously a skater shoe, or can I rock them with a pencil skirt in the office? I may even break out of the Polka Dot constraint altogether and go with a black-and-white checkerboard instead, or is that too much?
"Artists in Crime" I bought for 25 cents in Asheville. The other two were both bought from Pop Sensation's Rex Parker's collection.
You've got to admit the older books, the ones on the right in the photos, are just so much better.
I can see that I'm going to develop quite a habit working in the English department.
Every so often the table in the hall way mysteriously becomes covered in second hand books, and they are there to be taken, who could resist that? Today five large cardboard boxes appeared whilst I was at lunch, so I have no idea where they came from, and I had a good dig through the contents. I found lots of interesting titles, but I limited myself to carrying only 6 books back to my desk where I perused them and then chose to keep only two; this is impressive restraint on my part I'm sure you will agree.
The two books I chose were "Mark Twain's Best: Eight Great Stories by America's Master Humorist" and "Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behaviour" by Temple Grandin.
I didn't bring "The Master and Margarita" home, because it looks depressing frankly but I love the cover art. I'm assuming that the woman is Margarita, and she looks really annoyed about something. Not, I would imagine, her fabulous hat though.
When we went to Asheville I saw several of the Yellow Owl Workshop stamp sets in Malaprop's, and I had to very deliberately walk away from the shelf or I would have come home with the Tea Party set (if you click on the link you'll then need to scroll over a bit to see the tea party set).
Isn't it fun? I love that the set has a teapot (although, as I'm feeling pedantic, that's actually a coffee pot), cups and a textural stamp to make a table cloth with. I have no clear idea of what I would do with a tea party stamp set, and that's why I didn't buy it because it would be wasted if I had it stuffed in a drawer somewhere. It needs to be used! To create infinite tea parties!
Malaprop's had several of the other sets as well, and I've been picturing a very satisfying mash-up of the Cityscape box set with the NYC and Paris bag sets. I think that would make a splendid blueprint for the city I want to be living in. An urban landscape full of sky-scrapers, beautiful architecture, trees, cafes, bicycles and taxis. Naturally I'd live in the nice town house with the shutters, and all my friends would live next door.
We watched "Inglorious Basterds" last night, because somehow we hadn't seen it at the cinema when it came out and it seemed perfect for a paper Doc is writing. I liked it a lot, however it is really quite a violent film. I know, I know, a violent Tarantino film? How shocking!
Unusually for me, the screen violence led me to have a nightmare where I murdered someone, in retrospect in a manner very similar to the film, and spent the rest of the dream on the run and on edge. There was a funny part to the dream though; after I'd killed my victim, I ran off to find my Christmas presents and I opened them early. They hadn't even been gift wrapped yet, that's how prematurely I opened them.
Isn't that weird? Clearly my subconscious thinks opening your presents early is a really bad thing to do.
Before I got out of bed this morning I checked Facebook on my iPod; there was a wallpost from one of our favourite breakfast places announcing that their special this morning was Cinnamon Raisin Brioche French Toast.
So we went out for breakfast. It was so delicious, and after I'd finished all of it I had that pleasantly stuffed feeling you get from a large breakfast that someone else prepared for you.
Then we went to look in the general store, because we've not been there for a while and I wanted to see if they had yellow hooded raincoats (Yes, I am indeed shopping for my Coraline Halloween costume in June). They didn't have any, but what they did have were some really nice raspberry red hoodies.
If I'd been shopping by myself I might well have just bought the large straight of the rack, but Doc pointed out a mirror and offered to hold my bag, so I tried on a medium. It was nicely cut so it wasn't baggy, but Doc suggested I try on the small as well. So I did, and that fitted me better. It was most exciting.
It wasn't until we got home that I noticed the price tag had a typo and that made me even happier.
I had a nice day at work and now I'm in a great mood, but nothing really note worthy happened to cause this phenomenon; for example, I am super-thrilled to have found a new cleaning technique to try out on the grout on the guest bathroom floor, just in time for Jason's visit no less, but I don't expect anyone else to be.
Well, maybe Jason and Doc C, and quite likely our landlady too, but apart from them.
Ooh and my Mum, obviously, and my friends Jen and Sarah, who both like things to be clean. And Stu, who is very environmentally conscious.
OK, so that is quite a few people actually. Maybe I don't feel so silly mentioning it now.
We go past an interior design place at least once or twice a day that has a large LED sign outside, and that display changes to show the names of the various different products they sell. Our observations suggest that it changes every hour, but we have never actually observed a change over.
It's getting ridiculous now, it's got to the point where we know what will be written on the sign at almost any time of day but all we really want is to see that moment of flux. When we drive past on the way to the office it's "ANDERSON WINDOWS", and on the way home "FLOORING", however our absolute favourite time to drive past is 6 because that is "BIG GREEN EGG". And I enjoy shouting that every single time.
I cannot tell you what an anti-climax it was to find out that the Big Green Egg is essentially a type of barbecue-slash-smoker, and not a large moss coloured dinosaur egg or something equally cool.
It's very exciting in the office today because not only do I have a new Mac (I actually got it on Monday, but I wasn't able to really use it until Tuesday and then I was all headachey which is why I didn't mention the Mac joy previously), but I have turned on... the air conditioning in my office!
This may not sound like much, but temperature control is still an alien concept to me. So much so that, all day yesterday, I sat in my office and stewed in the warm and humid office with my headache. It was literally only when a faculty member gave me a funny look, and asked why I was sitting in an overly warm office that I realised I had the power to change that.
Today was entirely different, I was comfortably cool and it was just delightful. I just wilt in warm weather so it does make a hell of a lot of difference to me, but I am still aware of the amount of energy that air conditioning requires, so I'm intending to use it sparingly. Promise.
Ooh! Look what Megg Quiddity found:
"The ultimate Doctor Who collectors set! Features all eleven incarnations of the Doctor presented in an impressive Tardis display box with a small bio of each Doctor.
-William Hartnell (1963–1966)
-Patrick Troughton (1966–1969)
-Jon Pertwee (1970–1974)
-Tom Baker (1974–1981)
-Peter Davison (1981–1984)
-Colin Baker (1984–1986)
-Sylvester McCoy (1987–1989, 1996)
-Paul McGann (1996)
-Christopher Eccleston (2005)
-David Tennant (2005–2010)
-Matt Smith (2010-Present)
Look for this set from Underground Toys to be released in August."
We bought a Kickeroo for Edith mainly, because she enjoys play-fighting and I thought kicking the hell out of something inanimate that was also stuffed with cat nip would be her idea of a good time. Edith does like it, but she doesn't play with it every day, and she's never brought it upstairs for us. It's no ball of tinsel as far as Miss Cavell-Cat is concerned.
As Nancy doesn't really have much reaction to catnip, other than the munchies, I didn't expect she would be particularly interested in the Kickeroo and she certainly doesn't play with it like she does her crocheted grenade; however she does very gently wash it sometimes and will curl up next to it for a nap.
It's very sweet, if you'll excuse the anthropomorphising of a small pet cat, that she seems to be quite fond of the thing.
This post also illustrated another difference between the cats; Nancy is almost incapable of posing for a picture. Edith would have nailed this one.
Doc C got a fitness evaluation last week, which amongst other things involved measuring his body fat by sending an electrical current through one foot and timing how long it took to be transmitted through the other foot, and it turns out he is healthily average and has nothing to fret about. So naturally he's decided we need to eat more healthily and he's joined the Abs and Back class at the University Staff Health Center. The class meets from 7 to 8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and so this morning I came with him and did some cardio.
Which seems to have given me a stinking horrible headache, this might be from the unexpected exercise after a six month break from the elliptical (Damn you Mono!), or I might have dehydrated despite my best efforts, or it might be because I didn't supply my body with coffee until 10, a full two hours after it can usually expect to be properly caffeinated.
Any way I came home early and it's taken 4 Advil, two naps and a lot of lying under a ceiling fan to make me feel any better.
The summer's Hummingbird action is really picking up, we have two or three regulars now at our nectar stations; including one very tiny but territorial Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)who thinks the hanging feeder is his exclusive nectar supply. It’s not unusual to see miniature mid-air dog-fights between the birds, and we were actually wondering if it might be part of their courtship routine because there is one particular female who he keeps a particularly close eye on.
This evening our feisty Red-Throated Baron got annoyed at a big orange Butterfly and kept zooming around the poor thing to get it off the feeder. The Butterfly was having none of it. Not only did it twitch it’s wings to try and keep the bird away, but once forced to fly off it started dive-bombing the bird instead!
It was amazing to watch! Particularly as neither combatant was much bigger than my thumb. Which reminds me, after seeing the “courtship” rumble, I looked up some info on the Ruby-Throats and their eggs are pea-sized. PEA-SIZED! The eggs are laid in a nest the size of a walnut. A WALNUT!
That is so adorable I may need to have a nap.
When last we discussed this benighted project, I had started knitting the new pattern I'd found that matched my gauge; but I didn't pay close enough attention to the equipment specifications and, after the second increase row, it quickly became clear that this project was going to be way too big for the needles I was making it on.
So I frogged it. Again.
Then I sat down with the pattern I'd tried originally, but this time I worked out the dimensions of the finished piece and then I used the previously calculated gauge to convert it to fit my materials and equipment.
Damn it, I did a lot of calculations so this had better bloody work!
Today has been bad movie day.
First I watched "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" instead of the USA v. GB match, and then the SyFy channel played a blinder with "Category 6: Day of Destruction" followed by the marvelously named "Stonehenge Apocalypse". After this it's "Annihilation Earth", which I don't think we'll be watching actually, but I do appreciate the whole Armageddon theme they are going for this evening. I bloody love the SyFy Channel.
That may sound like a very lazy day, and it's true I've done very little today. In my defence it's been warm and humid with thunderstorms, which means Edith and I have been listless and sleepy because neither of us do well in muggy weather. The pair of us flopped in the living room with the ceiling fan on all day. I've napped and knitted, Edith has napped and tried out every possible piece of furniture in the quest to find the coolest seat in the room.
Nancy on the other hand loves this weather, she has been rolling around in a classic display of small cat hedonism.
After dinner this evening Doc C suggested that we go out for frozen custard. Wait, let me revise that, on the way home from work this evening The Doc mentioned custard and by 9:30 this evening he was in a custard craving frenzy. Fortunately the Custard Depot is open until 10:30 on Fridays, Yay!
So we drove into town, and joined the queue for our frozen treat. As soon as we walked in one of the girls behind the counter said "Hello Doctor ******!" to Doc C, and we realised it was the student that the Doc had given the, um, reference for last week. The owner of the shop, Crae, looked up and said "Is that Alien Spouse?" and I knew I'd been rumbled.
Ah well! It had to happen at some point, and actually Crae was very kind and gave us our custards on the house because he'd found the Jane Doe story funny. There is not much better on a Friday night than a free Mint Cookie (Oreo) custard, although Doc C begs to differ, he thinks a free Vanilla custard is actually the winning ticket.
What happened was that the business has a Google alert set up, so they are notified every time "Custard Depot" gets mentioned and my post popped up. I should have thought of that, and usually I'm fairly diligent at concealing easily identified business names; in fact this is the first time in three years that I've been identified from my blog by someone who didn't "know" me previously. That's actually pretty impressive! I think the reason that the Custard Depot slipped by my internal firewall was that I really like the name.
My new office chair arrived today, and I started putting it together before the UPS guy had even left the building. I know you are probably thinking "Wait a minute... Didn't she just get a new chair?" and yes I did, a mere three months ago, shortly before I got a new job.
And that chair was nice, but this chair is really really nice.
It's a black leather LZB2000, made of 91% recycled materials and it's recommended level of usage is "intensive", which means it's designed to be used for five or more hours a day. I love that sitting for over five hours a day is catagorised as intense; do you think sitting for longer than that is "extreme"?
For me the very best part is that it's actually a La-Z-Boy chair, I just think that is hilarious, even if there isn't actually a flip-out footstool.
Today I learnt how to tie a Buckaroo Knot in my silk scarf (actually I suspect this one of being 100% Acetate, because it says so on the tag), and I'm pleased with the results.
The scarf itself behaved perfectly, and this may well become my favourite way to wear this particular scarf. Naturally, once I'd mastered this, I tried this technique out on all of my scarves and it was very satisfying to see how the different patterns worked with the nice square knot.
I think my favourite was my plain hot pink jersey scarf, because the draping of the fabric as it tied really emphasised the criss-cross effect.
It would really help if I remembered that I don't actually like knitting with fine black yarn before embarking on new projects, because after 5 rows of 135 stitches I frogged that version. So now I've swapped over to the smoky blue cotton/wool yarn, it's actually a lot closer to the original gauge of the pattern so I don't have to do all the conversions I would have had to otherwise.
I think I'll crochet with the black cotton yarn instead, I'm thinking about a fine net headscarf, possibly with a sprinkling of crocheted flowers over it.
First things first though - I need to make this cape so I've got another layer to throw on at the office/cinema/restaurants or anywhere else with killer air conditioning.
It was sunny outside today, but it was chilly in my office and I was wearing knee length jeans with a thin shirt. I ended up curled up in my chair, hugging my knees to my chest for warmth. Doc C suggested that he take me home at lunchtime for a change of clothes, but that seemed like a wasted journey to me; so I just wrapped myself up in a fleece blanket. That made me look totally insane, but at least it was warm and I only had to explain to one member of the faculty that, no no, this was not a security blanket.
So this evening I am going to buckle down and start the short summer-weight cape I've been skirting around making. The hurdle has been that none of the yarn I have corresponds to any of the patterns for capes that I like; this isn't an insurmountable problem, but it does require the application of arithmetic to work out the difference in the gauges, and then conversion of the pattern based on that.
Which will take me a little while and I need to concentrate, so I'd better get it done before the finale of "Glee" starts, because O.M.G. REGIONALS! Squee!
I have eaten my dinner, which included the first smores of the summer, and now we are settling down to watch "All The President's Men".
This is made slightly problematic because of the seventies sound (which won an Academy Award, that seems a little ironic), so Redford and Hoffman are having difficulty competing with the dishwasher in our kitchen despite the TV being wired through our stereo for the best possible audio quality. Marry a former sound engineer and you too can hear a pin drop on any reality show you fancy.
Still, it has been a very pleasant evening.
Last weekend we went to Asheville with Laura and Jasmine, and, after a lovely day, we drove by the cinema on our way out of the city. As we passed I saw a poster with a Banksy rat on it and I realised that "Exit Through The Gift Shop", a title that I just hadn't recognised, was the documentary about street art that I'd been reading about a few weeks ago.
So Doc and I drove back today to see it, and it was a really amazing film well worth a two hour drive to get to (That's actually not much of a yard stick for me - When I lived in Brighton I was only round the corner from the local Odeon but it cost eight quid to see a film there; whereas if I hopped on a train to London and went to the NFT it was free, because I worked for the British Film Institute at the time. Traveling for two hours just to see a film is completely fine to me). We also had a delicious noodle lunch, and I bought discounted yarn, a vintage Ngaio Marsh with some groovy cover art and the new Goldfrapp album.
Doc C didn't actually do any shopping himself, but he did get to see a film that will most likely be useful to show in one of his classes and he discovered that Dunkin' Donuts have perfected our donutty grail; I speak of the Chocolate Butternut. It is glorious.
When we stopped for donuts we caught the eye of a gentleman sitting outside the shop, who noticed the Union Jack in our car and asked if we were British. On the way out he spoke to us again, and we got a long rambling travelogue about his hitch-hiking through Europe as a teenager. After that he had something else to tell the Doc, but it wasn't for my ears apparently so I got into the car. Doc told me afterwards that he'd been told two dirty jokes, neither of which he heard the punch-line to, and the confession that the guy had been drinking since 6 in the morning. It was around 4:30 in the afternoon by the time we ran into him.
Ahh Asheville! You never, never, disappoint.
I have become very fond of a quite ridiculous iPod app, FlowerGarden, which is a virtual garden. I plant virtual seeds in virtual pots, then I virtually water them and they virtually grow. Different plants require different amounts of water, which you can see by the coloured bars at the top of the screen, these screengrabs actually depict three of my more demanding plants.
Once they are fully grown you can pick individual flowers to make a bouquet and then e-mail or Facebook to someone with a little card.
It is ridiculously engrossing, sort of like a Tamagotchi but not irritating. I also actually quite like the sound effects, there is a pleasant background of birdsong, then you have a tinkling noise as you water the plants and a sort of happy zinging noise when you've finished. When you move from plant to plant you hear the pots scraping on the tiles of the garden, and cutting the flowers is accompanied by a satisfying scissor noise.
Mostly I'm growing flowers that I think my Mum would like, because I really quite enjoy sending her bouquets but she gets annoyed if I spend any actual money on her.
Virtual flowers it is then, Mother!
Whilst I was having lunch with my husband today (Doesn't that sound grown up? Unless you know I ate a packed lunch of cold pizza in Doc C's office, and then took my afternoon nap on the sofa), his phone rang and it was the Custard Depot.
They weren't calling to tell him that we were customers of the month or that we had won a lifetime supply of frozen custard unfortunately. It was the manager and he needed Doc to give him a reference for one of his students who had applied to sling custard over the summer. The Doc didn't know this particular student would be using him as a reference, but he gave an off-the-cuff recommendation with no problem. All was well.
Five minutes went by.
Doc C suddenly turned to me and said "I was talking about Jane Doe-A, not Jane Doe-B, and that's who he was asking about. Oh..." Brief silence as Doc C considers the conversation with the Depot manager. "Actually everything I said would apply to both of them, so it's fine."
Today's Alien Spouse top tip is for job seekers: Do tell your referees if they can expect a reference check on your behalf, if only so they don't get you mixed up with someone else with the same first name.
I've noticed a very odd thing about American consumerism, but I can't remember if I've mentioned it here before or not. I don't think I have, and a cursory glance at my archives doesn't bring up any posts, so let's just assume I'm right.
Anyway... What I've noticed is that whilst Americans like to have a wide range of brands to choose from, more often than not, those brands are selling virtually indistinguishable products. I find this most peculiar.
It's most noticeable, for me anyway, when food shopping and in need of a jar of honey. Here a good 90% of the honey on a supermarket shelf (at least in NC, I'll admit I haven't been country-wide in my research for this blog) will be runny honey and the choice will be whether I want a squeezy bottle shaped like a bear or a bee-hive. There is usually only one choice of set honey in any given supermarket.
How weird is that?
In England I took it for granted that there was nearly always a respectable selection of honeys to choose from which would vary greatly as to the colour and the consistency of the honey itself, and I could choose which type of nectar the bees had made it from. It is entirely possible to waste quite a bit of time in the jam aisle trying to decide if you want heather or clover honey, well, it is if you are me and you are in the right frame of mind.
So that's today's observation, I don't really have any nice satisfying conclusion to this post; other than I usually will choose the bee-hive shaped squeezy bottle because I find the bear shaped bottles tend to be harder to get all of the honey out of.
To continue the saga of "The People Who Viewed Our House and Outrageously Alleged It Smelled of Cat", when we got home yesterday we both inhaled deeply as we came through the front door and were confident that it would pass even the most finely tuned of noses. All was well.
I thought nothing else of it; until I came to be tidying up before I went to bed, the last thing I did was to scoop the litter trays and then I noticed something on the bathroom floor. I picked it up and saw immediately that it was the carefully folded wrapper from a throat lozenge (I have been trying to find a suitably bi-contentinental way of explaining what the damn thing was, without using the actual brand name, all day). I stomped upstairs and brandished it at Doc C, demanding to know if it was his. I was already fairly confident that the answer would be no, and, after a few minutes of staring at me in total bewilderment, the penny dropped for Doc C as well.
It had been discarded by "The People Who Viewed Our House and Outrageously Alleged It Smelled of Cat".
How rude is that? Insult a couple's housekeeping abilities, so that you can almost guarantee that they'll be on their hands and knees scrubbing the floor, or dry-shampooing the carpet; then come back and just drop rubbish in the house. I was seething, and Doc was equally cross.
Having slept on it we decided not to phone the estate agents to complain, because we don't want to jeopardise a potential sale for our landlady (How bloody nice are we?), but the next time we get a call saying someone wants to view the house we are going to make it very clear that we expect people to refrain from littering in our home.
The second hand bookshop that we really love in Asheville has a small bowl of badges (American Translation: Buttons or Pins) next to the till, and all these badges have photos of authors on them. I usually take a moment to rummage through the bowl, and usually only recognise a couple of the portraits, and then it's never anybody I enjoy reading.
Except, on this last visit, I found Dorothy Parker.
I did double-check with the booksellers that it was actually Miss Parker before I bought it, although who else could it be really? She looks both hungover and world weary, with a distinct air of sarcasm in her pose.
Did you know that D.P. left her estate to the Dr Martin Luther King jr foundation? And her ashes were not officially claimed for 17 years and were just sort of kicking around the place, including being stored in a filing cabinet in her attorney's office, until the NAACP claimed them in 1988 and designed a memorial garden for them outside their Baltimore headquarters. Isn't that great?
Dear Humming Birds of North Carolina,
Both of the nectar feeding stations on our balcony have been washed and re-filled with fresh delicious nectar. Please feel free to join us for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Perhaps even a quick snack! We would love to see you!
Jen Alien-Spouse and Doc C