Monday 31 May 2010

Tired and Crabby.

Ugh - I've not been sleeping well. I've been taking ages to get to sleep, and then I seem to spend the entire night in bizarre, vivid dreams. Daytime I've been spending feeling like a zombie, then night comes and the process repeats (though, oddly, I feel nearly alive come evening - how useless is that?). I'm afraid I've inherited the Schultz crappy-sleep gene (esp given that I remember, when very little, sitting up half the night and crying b/c I couldn't sleep). Yay.

Anyway, we're just coming to the end of Bank Holiday Weekend, which has been, exhaustion aside, generally not bad. Saturday I hung out with Paul (discussed the world, gossipped, la dee dah) and then headed to a Eurovision Song Contest party on Saturday evening. If ever there was a gay version of the World Cup, that is it.
So many silly people singing terrible songs, and so much overtly political voting - it's fab! Anyway, imagine 25 people, mostly gay men, packed into a small room, shouting at the TV. Like I said - the World Cup for gay men.

Yesterday I cycled a nice 70 mile ride out to Ashford, off through the hills and hop fields of Kent - it was a perfect day for it - sunny and breezy (at my back - I'm not dumb), and took the train back. And today I hung out with David, Avi and Robin - went for pub lunch and had a generally useless time at the bike store (took it in for a tune-up and they were missing two parts - have to take it back Friday - for the third time. Useless).

Last weekend it was a ride out to Bicester (pronounced 'Bister' - OF COURSE!), off through the Chiltern Hills, and the week before that I spent doing the most boring thing I have ever had the displeasure to do - a week-long, PRINCE2 project management course. Ugh, pulls my eyes out with spoons! It's definitely time to get out of local governemnt - just have to find somewhere to go...

I think this is a Hindu temple - it's in North London. Very multicultural, eh?

I just thought this was pretty - it's about 25 miles northwest of central London.

The Chilern Hills - ooh, glacial hills!

Some dead ivy going up this tree...

Pastoral - sheep in Chiltern meadow... Moo! ;-)

It's the town of Quainton. No, I am not making up the name. It's quaint, ain't it?

Bluebells and beech.

Hills and hop-fields of Kent. There's vineyards in there as well - English wine, believe it or not.

And a few of the local London residents - just a normal weekend way wandering around central London (and these are on two completely separate occasions!).

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Curse this global warming - I'm cold!

Well it was another cold and crappy May day - I think we were in the low 50s maybe? I suppose the lsat time I remember it being so cold in May was when it snowed on Memorial Day in Minnesota, but you kind of expect stupid things like that there. The tulips are still blooming, the trees are still in 'spring mode', and there are still cherry blossoms (of course, the cherries here often get confused and bloom in December).

Our leaky roof has finally been fixed - in a rather half-assed manner, but fixed nonetheless. It was a very very slow leak in the back corner of the bedroom, enough to wet the ceiling and the wall, but not enough to actually drip on the floor. Still though, we have to have part of the ceiling ripped out, and there is mold behind the walls, which I am blaming for the wacko dreams David and I have been having every single night for the past several months (if it were just me, I'd be worried about my mental health, but both of us, seems environmental...). Ah, the wonders of rental living - I'm probably brain damaged now. Dur...

Anyway, that's the news today from Lake Dougbegone, where the women are tarts, the men are on the lam, and the children are special needs... ;-)

Oh, I forgot my latest thump-ow incident... Some bad person, not me, I'm sure, left my suitcase out in the way. Like a big dummy, I walked into it - not very hard, I didn't think, but apparently hard enough to bust my little toe. Yay! It's not too bad, but it did turn black and blue and hurts like a mo-fo (though, thankfully, I can still cycle). I suppose it doesn't help that I have simian toes (or 'hobbit feet') as Avi lovingly calls them (he's afraid of my feet). Anyway, I really just a hazard to myself and others. But, they do say, most accidents happen in the home (especially when I am involved). That's about my 6th toe to break in my life, and there is a big lump on my right foot where I dropped a butter knife on it a few years ago and it went into the bone. Yippy skippy!

Monday 10 May 2010

It's Monday morning and all is crap...

Why can I never sleep on Sunday night? I lay there last night and tossed and turned for like two hours, somewhere between awake and asleep (that sort of twilight zone full of weird thoughts and general unpleasantness). This morning I could have slept fine, but no, my stupid alarm had other plans, so I feel pretty much like donkey dong. Yay, another week. I just checked the job ads, as I’m bored in this job (though, I guess I should be thankful I have a job in these dark and foreboding days). Anyway, nothing. Blah.

This morning’s ride in was more annoying than usual – got honked at by a truck (I gave him the finger as a helpful indicator that I heard him) and was cut off by another cyclist who didn’t bother to look before he turned. I shouted at him – I’m sure he felt just terrible. Or something.

I neglected to mention the animal count on yesterday’s ride… Three foxes, two deer and six rabbits – none of whom attacked me. It’s probably b/c they are nice tame British rabbits, rather than wild and crazy American swamp bunnies. I’m sure.

Anyway, I should probably look busy…

Sunday 9 May 2010

Sunday Evening, 10pm

I couldn't think of a clever title - oh well.

So, coming up to my first full week of work now in, well, a few weeks, and, I have to say, I'm not looking forward to it.

We got back on Weds morning, after a delayed flight from Atlanta. The plane had some sort of hydraulic problem (which the flight attendant assured us only related to the brakes - um, hello, planes, hydraulics? Kinda think the hydraulics are important!). We drove around the airport aimlessly, made one aborted attempt to take off, poodled back to the gate, sat around, were told everything was fine (even though it was still making the noise) and managed to get back to London without falling out of the sky. All without any explanation. Yay Delta - you suck. I didn't get any sleep on the way back (I never do), but slept for about 1.5 hours when we got home. I woke up completely confused, couldn't figure out how to turn off my alarm, and generally felt like donkey dong. Still though, I managed to do a short gym workout. Couldn't sleep well that night, so I was a complete zombie the rest of the week.

It was a very good trip though - and neither David's mom nor I had to be put in the naughty corner even once! Maybe we will actually end up getting along... Stranger things have happened!

I slept about 12 hours on Friday night, which is very unusual for me - spent most of yesterday feeling dead. Oddly (or not), I felt much better last night after a few beers at a friend's bday party. Very nice bday party out in Greenwich - almost all female, which was a little odd (though, for better or worse, I can dish it with the best of the women! ;-) There was even a 1 year old there - she didn't drink much. And it was the first part I'd been to since I was about 8 that had a pinata (the bday girl is also a San Diegan). I have to say, it was the best pinata I've ever seen - no crappy Tootsie Rolls for us! No, it was full of Lindt chocolate, Cadburys, and other high-end candy. I llike that kinda pinata! It was a little dangerous breaking it, as the back yard was very (very) small and had one of those propane patio heaters. We opted not to have a blindfold - just as well since one person fell over and another broke the stick in two.

Today I cycled down to Brighton - only about 55 miles - I got up too late for a long ride. Still though, it's spring and beautiful (though very cold - hello? Spring?). And tomorrow back to work. Yuckypoo.

Cricket on a spring afternoon - how very English:

Windmill on the way to Brighton:

Oh yeah, and we had an election. One month of campaigning and now we have (maybe) someone with about as much charisma as cold oatmeal. And that's if Brown actually leaves. British politics is a strange things - not as much sleaze as American - but also not as amusing... Hmm.

Monday 3 May 2010

Sitting on the Front Porch, on a Lazy Southern Afternoon...

So, I'm sitting on David's mom's front porch in Birmingham, looking out over a golf course to the leafy hill beyond. It's absolutely bucketing down rain, the humidity is about 900%, and there is thunder in the distance. Perfect Southern Sunday afternoon.

David and I got to Birmingham two nights ago - drove down from Pigeon Forge, about 250 miles. We'd backtracked in seasons, driving from South Carolina to Tennessee, but mid-spring has definitely been pushed forward a few weeks with the drive down to Alabama. It's super-green, unbelieavably muggy, and there is a massive storm working its way east - apparently it just dumped 20 inches of rain on Mississippi and Tennessee. Cool!

Anyway, we got here sort of mid-evening on Friday, after having a lunch stop along the Tennessee River in Chattanooga. First thing we did was to go with David's mom to this old Southern queen's house, where he was busy auctioning off antiques of various sorts. The house was absolutely jampacked full of antique furniture, and the homeowner (mid 50s or 60, native New Orleans screaming queen) had a voice that would have done Scarlett O'Hara proud. The house itself was maybe 100 or so years old. Odd thing was, we were standing around in a hallway, and I heard and then felt this sort of whooshing noise go around and behind my neck, causing all the hairs on my neck to stand up. A few seconds later, the front door, which we had left open (it was a still, warm early evening and he said to just leave the door open), slams shut. Homeowner says, 'oh, that's just the ghost of the guy that was murdered here 50 years ago'. Interesting that was just after I felt something go behind my neck (that was not wind). Hmm. David's mom insists her house is haunted as well, and both of them say her previous house was. Actually, I always wondered if the place I lived in San Francisco was haunted - I'd frequently get the sense that something was in the room with me. Who knows. Anyway, you know it's a proper Southern trip when you feel a ghost...

Yesterday we got up fairly late, then headed down to Oak Mountain State Park, about 15 or 20 miles south of here, to spend the afternoon hiking. Alabama is beautiful and green, but it's also in the Deep South, and it's been a wet spring, apparently. The temperature was probably only about 85, but the humidity was somewhere in the quadruple digits, and the gnats and flies were out in force. Thank God for DEET! I've been trying to get David to know what poison ivy looks like, as both he and his mom seem to just wander through it with alarming frequency. She insists that if you wash yourself with bleach afterwards, it will make sure you don't actually get poison ivy. I wonder if that is just because all your skin falls off? Anyway, we spent the afternoon hiking in the woods. I nerded over the various new kinds of trees. David's mom was way out ahead on some sort of power hike, and David was taking pictures of everything. I very nearly wet my pants when, at the very same instant I stepped on a pine cone, he said "Oh my God!", stopped dead in his tracks, and pointed out the rattlesnake coiled up right next to the pathway, right by where I was standing. Fortunately, pinecone was not snake, and snake was quite happy to just watch us and remain coiled. Good times.

We went out for steak last night. I ordered "steer butt", which was probably the best steak I've ever had in my life. I don't think I'm going to be able to buy steak at the supermarket for a while - esp in England, where the steak usually sucks.

Ooh, cool - the light is taking on a sort of greenish tinge, the rain is getting heavier, and there is more thunder. How I miss this sort of thing from Minnesota. British weather is just boring.

We had another late morning this morning, then headed off for some more hiking. We'd made it about a mile out when the heavens opened, and we headed back as quickly as possible towards the car. That was the first time I've ever been on a trail in the woods with an umbrella (in a thunderstorm, nonetheless) - it was just too warm and muggy to want any extra layers on. We had a lovely picnic lunch under the picnic shelter, then headed to Home Depot to pick up a bunch of scrap lumber and some pallets to put down in the garage so that David's stuff (which will come down from Connecticut) can sit off the ground.

And here I am back on the porch, wondering how long it's going to pour buckets, as I want to run (and don't particularly want to be struck by lightning). American trips are very good for eating all the yummy things I don't get to have in England - they are not so good for staying thin and svelte. Oh well.

Oh - fast forward to late middle age? Not sure - very scary... And lots more lightning - I'm very happy sitting on the porch watching all of it!

Addendum... I went for an evening run up over the (rather large) hill behind the house. There are views of the lights of Birmingham, spread out below, and pretty swanky houses as well. The skies opened once, soaking me completely, but it was a warm rain (I love warm rain!), so it was no big deal. Another thunderstorm is moving into the area now, and it's pouring out again.

London could definitely be improved by some very large thunderstorms... Sigh.