Monthly Archives: August 2011

Jumble sale

  1. Do you know how you can tell I’m feeling lazy?  I do a list of unrelated items on my blog.  Other clues include, but are not limited to: Spending all day in bed reading trashy books, ordering curry for dinner and eating the leftovers for the next three days, and the state of my kitchen.
  2. Somebody found me by using the following search term yesterday “is sal paradise a reliable narrator?” and my answer to you, intrepid internet surfer, is NO Sal paradise is absolutely 100% not a reliable narrator.  He spends the whole book hopped up on goof balls for goodness sakes!  Not to mention all that cheap wine.  Seriously, dude is not to be trusted at all.
  3. Vienna, I have lots to say about the trip to Vienna, but will be brief as I don’t have my photos handy.  It was a really surprising city.  I expected it to be pretty and sort of cold (not temperature wise but attitude wise).  I was right in the first case and totally wrong in the second.  Vienna was one of the friendliest and most comfortable cities I’ve been to.  People were super nice and helpful, the city itself was very manageable and easy to get around.  And, of course, it is beautiful.  Really breathtaking at points to be honest.  I would like to go back, maybe in Autumn or Spring and see more of it.
  4. While we were in Vienna we went to the neighbourhood where Jeremy’s Bubbie grew up.  The door to her old building was open so we went in and poked around.  Then we walked down her old street to the square where more of the family lived and then poked around the park, Augarten, nearby and imagined her and her sister strolling through and checking out boys.  Of course maybe the two of them were more serious-minded than all that but I choose to think that even if they were they still had the occasional frivolous stroll through the park and giggled under chestnut trees together.
  5. November is officially the month of action.  I’ve already requested a bunch of time off so I can make a serious attempt at completing NaNoWriMo.  I want this to be the year of the first draft (you know like I’ve been saying every year is the year of the first draft, but this time I mean it).
  6. On that note, if anyone wants to form a posse of support, cajoling and critiquing for November, please give me a shout.  Yes, writers do work in a vacuum, but it also helps to know there are other people in similar vacuums toiling away at the same time as you and with a similar goal.
  7. The allotment has been much neglected due to reasons involving travel and arthritis and laziness.  This week that must change.  Our tomatoes are almost ready.
  8. Arthritis is a demon.  I’m taking a new medication (sulfasalazine) and am only on a half dosage so far and it makes me feel horrible.  Nausea and headaches and super itchy skin and, so far, it’s not helping the arthritis even a tiny bit.  That will take 3 months at full dosage.  Apparently once I make it through the first month and move myself up to full dosage it should get better, right now it just makes me feel miserable.  But I’m pushing through and doing my best and trying not to bitch TOO much (I still bitch about it a little though, maybe more than a little even).
  9. Oliver’s face is back to a normal size although he does still have a sad shaved patch.  This has lead to many off colour jokes that I will not repeat here.
  10. I promise not to be so lazy next time and to provide a real and proper update about something interesting and funny, scout’s honor (insomuch as someone who never made it past Brownie in the Girl Scouts can give a scout’s honor).

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Filed under book? what book?, garden, health (or lack thereof), homely, olimuhver, Uncategorized

Home again, Hannigan

Back in London.

Vienna was beautiful.

I didn’t eat enough cake. 

My life is full of regrets.

Pictures soon.

I want to go back.



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Some of my own thoughts on the recent events in London (not nearly so cohesive as that other ladies)

This is how I learned there were troubles in Peckham on Monday night:

Jeremy and I were on the Vespa.  We were on our way to a yoga class and a woman standing at the corner of Peckham Rye Common, with a man who had a Slayer tattoo, said to us, “Peckham is burning.  They’ve set a bus on fire.”

We saw that there were lots more people out than normal, and we thought, “Well, that’s no good.” But we still went to our yoga class, which was probably silly, but we were already on our way, you know?

The class ended ten minutes early because they were closing Dulwich Leisure Centre early because of  the building that had been set on fire.  I’m pretty sure this was the lingerie shop on Rye Lane but I’m not positive.  I haven’t been down that way since last week.  It’s blocked off by the police right now.

So we got back on the Vespa and took ourselves home.  On the way we saw people breaking into the Tesco Metro on East Dulwich Road.  The door was smashed in.  The people who live in the flats above the shop were leaning over the railings and it looked like they were shouting something.  I couldn’t hear anything from where I was though.  It was like a flashback sequence in a movie, everything felt fuzzy and slow motion.

We got home and saw our neighbourhood on the news and looked at pictures posted by friends on Facebook.  Jeremy called one of them who said things had mostly calmed down.  I called my mom and told her not to worry when she saw the news in America, we were fine.  We watched the news until the presenters had repeated themselves for a second time and then changed the channel, as Facebook and newspaper websites were giving us more accurate updates anyhow.

We went to bed late and slept poorly.  In the morning I discovered that our wheelie bin had been stolen and our trash had been dumped all over the walkway next to our house.  We retrieved our spare bin from the allotment and picked up the trash.

And then I went to work and everything was basically normal.

My feelings about the riots are conflicted.  I don’t think they were the right response to the shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham a week ago, I don’t even think that by the time they hit SE15 they really were a response to that anymore.  I can’t pretend to understand the motives of the people rioting (both young and old) although I can see how truly messed up life is for many people in this country (I am, with my yoga classes and allotment and Vespa driving husband, not in any way representative of the reality most people inhabit), and I don’t know if they fully understand why they chose to do this, some of them probably do, some of them probably just got caught up in the moment. I don’t see this as a legitimate means of protest,and I don’t expect anything will change for the better anytime soon.  Things will almost certainly get worse first. 

I’m angry about the damage done to my neighbourhood, my community, and I do want people to be punished for it.  But I also hope there’s a way to fix the things that are wrong so this doesn’t happen again.  Because in order for destruction like this to happen, there’s usually something desperately in need of fixing.  Something deep and remarkably wrong with the society we live in.  Something that won’t be fixed easily or quickly.  Something that all the proposed cuts to social programs certainly won’t help and something that increased police numbers will only contain in the short-term.

I don’t know what the answers are, I still don’t know the UK well enough for that (despite passing my Life in the UK test with flying colours) I probably never will.  The way I look at class and opportunity and government and just life in general is very different from the average English person.  I don’t say this because I think I’m superior or that the US is better/more right or whatever.  I just say this because there’s still a lot I don’t get about the culture here and the way I was brought up to look at life in general is different from the way most people here are brought up (again, not better, just different). I’m still pretty new, really, and adopting a new country is vastly different from being born into one.

Anyhow, not sure where I’m going with this.  I had a point when I started typing this out and it’s gotten lost in my head somewhere.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens next, where we, as a country, move on to from here.  What happens to the perpetrators and the victims and how we define those roles.  And mostly I hope my neighbourhood recovers and becomes even stronger and better than before, I hope these acts of violence don’t defeat it, because I love this place.  I love its poncy galleries and butcher shops with chicken feet hanging over the counters, the wig shops and all the different pubs and the libraries and the Persian shop and the greasy cafs and view from the train station and riding the bus as I eavesdrop on kids having ridiculous conversations.  I chose to live here for a reason, you know, and I want the good back and the bad to get fixed, even if I’m not totally sure how to do that.

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Filed under the travails of living abroad

Someone else’s thoughts on the recent incidents in London

A couple friends of mine have recently posted this link on Facebook.  I think it’s worth posting again.  I don’t know if I agree 100% but it bears considering.


In the meantime, I hope all my friends in London and the UK are staying safe and well.

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Filed under polimuhtics, the travails of living abroad

Hidden good things

So since I had to get Oliver to the vet by 4:30 today, I went in to work early, and left at about 3pm.

Since I posted about having to take Oliver to the vet at 4:30 today My friend Kirsty got in touch with me and offered me a ride, which was nice for two reasons, first it meant no buses and second it meant hanging out with Kirsty for the first time in ages.

Since I left early to meet Kirsty and take Oliver to the vet that meant I wasn’t taking a bus through Peckham shortly before actual rioting kicked off.


So you know, well done Oliver, for throwing my day totally out of whack and changing my regular schedule.

Also Oliver is doing well now, they had to knock him out so they could drain his cheek (which was also shaved and looks very sad) so now he’s a bit goofy, but he should improve shortly.

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Poor sad monkey

Oliver has a giant half swollen face.  He’s like the cat version of Sloth from the Goonies.  He just lays there and stares at me as if to say, ‘Why have you let such a tragedy happen to me?’ 

Except I don’t force him to brawl with all the neighbourhood cats (except Ivan of course) and I don’t force him act like such a hoodlum.  No, sir, I don’t.  I do however have to take him to the vet this afternoon which is always an adventure of the unpleasant variety, especially since we will be taking the bus.  I rarely wish I had a car and a valid UK driving license, but on days when I have to take a grumpy cat on two buses to get to the vet where his grumpiness will only increase before taking two buses with grumpiest cat ever home, well, on those days, I do wish I had a car and a license.  But I don’t and I won’t so this afternoon Oliver and I will have an adventure through SE15 and SE22 as we go to get his poor head sorted out.

Please light candles, say a prayer, do a chant of any sort so that I don’t have to give the little fink pills.  It’s bad enough having to do this when he hasn’t been wounded in the face but I don’t know if I can stomach prying his mouth open when he’s already all misshapen and cranky.

Editing to Add:  The internet is magic!  My lovely friend Kirsty read this post and has offered me a ride to the Vet!  Kirsty is super awesome.  True fact.


Filed under olimuhver

Sixty Five

On the 4th of August my grandparents will have been married 65 years.

Here are some things I can tell you about them from my admittedly limited stores of knowledge, this list is not comprehensive, but I hope it shows just a tiny bit how wonderful they are.

  • They met in Keego Harbor, Michigan when Grandpa moved here from Iowa.  They were both still in high school and Grandma once told me, when I was doing a school project about the 1940s, that she knew right away that he was the one.  However all the other girls in school thought he was the one too.  She knew they were wrong though, so she held out and eventually (wisely) he came around to her way of thinking.
  • Immediately following graduation Grandpa joined the Navy.  He was stationed in Africa for much of WWII and I believe he also worked as a fire fighter on the ships. 
  • He wrote to Grandma regularly, sending letters addressed only with her name and Keego Harbor, Michigan.  No street address.  They all made it to her, but at some point, something happened.  Grandma has never been willing to tell us what, exactly happened, but whatever it was it must have been bad because she destroyed all his letters except for one Christmas card that she still has.
  • The mystery of this story drives me crazy.
  • When he returned they were married.
  • They bought a car jointly with one of his brothers.  It had no engine.
  • When Grandma went into labor with my uncle it wasn’t their night to have the car so they had to wait for my great-uncle to get home from the movies before they could go to the hospital.
  • I think they had the car situation sorted by the time my mom came around a year later as no anecdotes exist detailing difficult journeys to the hospital.
  • Grandpa drove a truck for CalGas and AmeriGas which allowed him to everything about everybody and have lots of long detailed conversations with them as well.
  • Grandpa loves having long detailed conversations with everyone.  He will talk your ear off, but you won’t mind.
  • Grandma’s favorite book is Gone With the Wind, she has about a million copies of it.
  • They are both masters of garage sale and thrift shopping.  Some of my earliest memories are of going to garage sales with them and combing through all the goods on offer looking for the best deals.
  • My grandfather keeps a garden so perfectly ordered it will make you weep with envy and he always has.
  • One year I ate all the cherries off their cherry tree and Grandma told me that such gluttony would make me constipated (according to Grandma just about everything will make you constipated if done in excess, especially swallowing chewing gum).  I did not get constipated but I did spoil my appetite.
  • Once they took my brother and I to an AmeriGas company picnic and we got to go up in a hot air balloon, I remember the earth spread out below us like a patchwork quilt.
  • When I turned 12 my grandfather built me a 3 story Victorian dollhouse which is currently being cared for by my middle niece as I am unable to ship it to London.
  • When I graduated high school my grandmother and mother made me an Amish Star quilt with a black background and tons of small multicolored stars.  It’s in my bedroom in London now.
  • Grandma has a magic basement full of crafting supplies.  I never leave her house without multiple boxes of yarn.
  • Grandpa paints beautiful pictures, usually of natural scenes.  He used to paint them on saws, frying pans, mailboxes, Butterfly houses, bird houses, kitchen cabinets, anything.  We always had the best mailbox on the street because of him.
  • We always ate Kumle at their house, and lefse too.  Although from the late 90s on Grandma got sneaky and started using tortillas (TORTILLAS!) for the lefse.  It was still delicious.
  • When we went to Naples for our honeymoon Grandpa told me stories about the little boys he met there at the end of the war and how they would help the soldiers out, for a price.  He told us to keep an eye out for similar hoodlums.  We very nearly got taken in by an old man at the train station who just wanted to help us find our platform.  I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe he tried to help Grandpa out once upon a time too.
  • They signed my marriage license as witnesses on May 30th, 2007, which I still view as a great honor.
  • They have 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. 
  • They are two of the kindest and most loving people you will ever meet.

I am hugely lucky to have been born into their family for reasons so varied and extensive that I would wear my fingers out trying to list them all here, but I hope the list above gives you a small indication.

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Filed under Memory lane, simply the best