getting the best computer buying experience

February 6th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

We want to buy a senior, computer-novice (Mumzie) something for emailing, sharing digital photographs, writing the Women Insitute meeting minutes and looking at her family on Facebook.

What’s our shopping experience going to be like?

Online buying?

To prepare I did some online searches. Would I be able to sit with mum using my surface, look through and decide between different available computers. No. The choice was overwhelming, the marketing was invariably lists of product features and Spec’s which would mean nothing to mum. There was a lot of reading required, small fonts, technical reviews. It was tedious for me and I could follow what they were writing about.

There was no way mum could choose a computer on the internet, even with me navigating and advising here.

NO!

Specialist technical shop?

I wandered into PC World (Currys) to check out what the experience would be like for mum. I wandered around the laptop displays, looked at the labels for each laptop. It wasn’t easy to choose between them even when you know a little bit about processors. A customer service person approached me and directed me towards a Surface Pro telling me how good it was. I started asking him questions and he not only didn’t know the answers he gave me the wrong answers e.g. you can’t buy a Surface Pro without a keyboard attached (which I’d done, so you can!). He was rude and condescending, he started arguments with me and didn’t let me draw them to a close.  It was so frustrating that I ended up just walking off, there was no other way to get out of the conversation because he wouldn’t let it close and he wasn’t being helpful.

The company lost a potential sale because of his attitude. No way was I taking mumzie into this ignorant geeky tat-palace.

NO!

Shop specialising in service?

John Lewis’s have a department that includes computers, cameras and peripherals. The layout was similar to PC World, the staff were more stylishly dressed and so much more polite. They listened to me, they found out that I was looking for a computer for my mother. They answered my questions or said when they didn’t know and offered to find out for me. Thank you!

The store has a café with a decent menu, the store sells furniture and clothes, and kitchen stuff. Plenty of fun to be had here above and beyond the computer buying experience. A really good context. Hooray.

Mum’s coming to John Lewis with me for a friendly, well rounded, comfortable and possibly even fun computer shopping experience…

YES PLEASE!


Roses’ cafe – closed tonight

February 4th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Day 7: October 27th

typical cafe and motel - that are still openThe Office to this motel was open, doors to rooms were open, guests’ SUVs showed the place had life. I was still suffering from Texas chainsaw film hangover and I was hungry but Rosie wasn’t around to fill me up for the night. Plenty more nearby towns on the map. I’ll try their facilities. I didn’t know it yet, but I was in for a long night and would soon regret not taking hospitality from this motel…


Surface Pro first impressions

February 2nd, 2014 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

BoxedIn early September 2013 I bought a Microsoft surface. The box is firm, strong and its easy to both see and feel what to do next, pull the white box out from the darker gray box. It’s a tight fit, but smoothly pulls out revealing a continuation of the simple branding, without the typical set of legal, feature, geeky must-know information. Nice.

Lid offThe white box is opened by a lid, again it’s obvious and easily turned back to open. No latch or catch used because it’s not needed with the sleeve design lf the gray box. Pleasingly simple, it feels like playing pass the parcel with myself, and I’m almost at the prize… The inside of the lid is the same bright blue as the logo on the outside.

The surface is right there, wrapped in a shiny cellophane wrapper, not necessary but I loved being able to see it and having yet another level of the present unwrapping feeling. The power cable was wrapped in the same shiny cellophane, given the same gift status as the actual surface. They were Out Of the Box (OOBE) and plugged in within the minute.

Shiny packagingAt first I barely noticed the paper user-guide and electronic pen placed under the surface. I didn’t need to notice. The power cable had ‘snapped’ into position on the surface, there was only one place it could go and they were literally magnetically attracted, no need for me to be dextrously precise in placing it. Ooh! NICE! Below the surfaceOnly 2 buttons on the Surface, one looks like volume so the other must be power. I pressed both as I reached for what I presumed was either a user manual or quick start guide. It turned out to be a 3 page, concertinaed quick start guide labelling all the external hardware features. Easily digested, superfluous yet comforting.

I turned away from the packaging and logged into the surface using my ancient Hotmail account, it was so smooth, quick and immersive that I didn’t take any photographs and was finished in a couple of minutes, relaxed in my comfy chair, exploring the possibilities

Quick start guideThere were some minor demo’s of interactions that showed how to find the side controls and search, the bottom of screen controls and the stuff on the right. Possibly some more, I can no longer remember if I was told about or discovered the pinches, flicks, pulls and long-presses. They’re not intuitively discoverable so someone, sometime must have shown them to me.. ready to goIt wasn’t long until I white screened, while loading my thousands of photographs up to the SkyDrive, which couldn’t cope.

I twitted about this and then got into a frustrating bug-diagnosis discussion with the surface twitter feed. Oh dear, a great start, packaging, went down hill dramatically quickly as the expensive device demonstrated poor usability performance and ill thought-out social media use which merely inflamed my situation. I didn’t learn, over the next few weeks. I had several frustrating interactions with Surface twitter who asked me questions I wasn’t able to answer, making me feel stupid, and not making any noticeable progress to solving my problem. Compiling the anti-climax of my first experience.

Alas, Mumsies experience this January went downhill from when we turned the power on, but that’s another blog post…


not the Bagdad cafe

January 31st, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Day 7: October 27th

typical cafe motel - unclear if it's still open...On my drive through the Texas panhandle, I hadn’t booked a place to stay in advance. As dusk began to fall I started pulling into the forecourt of roadside motels. This sign attracted me. As I drove closer it was difficult to tell if this place was open or not. I drove a long slow loop around it and left without getting out. I shouldn’t have watched the “Texas chainsaw massacre” it’s skewed my perception of run down, isolated places in Texas


a House trip to the Ukraine

January 29th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Mum and dad had booked a holiday cruise through the Ukraine this summer. Unfortunately dad can’t go (dead). Mum liked the idea of my taking Dad’s place.

The internet is full of news about the rioting in Kiev. Police throwing Molotov cocktails at people protesting their lack of a right to protest.  Two too-cute-to-harass elderly ladies should sneak past easily when chaperoned by professional tour guides. Mum says “we might not get to go into some buildings dear, if they’re rioting nearby“.

Kiev and the Crimean Peninsula (Odessa, Yalta, Sevastopol)…. wonderful and rather more exciting than my normal vacations!


woking

January 27th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

I pronounce ‘Were’  like the ‘ur’ in ‘blur’  with an ‘w’ added to the front = wur

I pronounce ‘Where’ like ‘air’ with a ‘w’ on the front = wair

7pm one evening, at the end of a long day an Italian colleague said “I’m working with Michele“. Myself and another English person simultaneously reacted with “Working?!”, shocked that anyone would be able to continue working.

Italian: “Yes, working to the Hotel”

We understood. “Oh, Walking

The Italian encouraged us to say ‘walking’ a few more times, then imitated us. His British accent for this one word became impeccable.

“How did you do that?”

“It sounds like that Chinese pan, the Wok, I say Woking

And indeed that’s what he said, it was easy to understand and sounded awfully posh.


OS measurementation of what?

January 25th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

what's this for?One of the joys of working for an engineering company is learning the new language, the language of Engineering

For example, this item raised a smirk from me and so many questions. What is this? What does it do? Who would buy it? How would they use it? Does it come with any attachments? Does OS mean ‘Operating System’? Should I buy one in case of emergencies?

What do you think?

 

 

 


unselfconscious

January 23rd, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

Reflecting on this unselfconscious body language, I suspect my wearing my kilt is a risky event for anyone in eyeshot
listening, talking, note-taking


midgets, geese, guns and cycles

January 21st, 2014 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Day 6: October 26th

mgmidgetDSCN1002 (2) 1) Classic cars, an MG midget rattles around in the SUV sized road lanes.

2) Laid-back wildlife, a flock of Canadian geese wander around a suburban road (I’d lost the route again)

DSCN1014 (2)3) My guns bigger than yours, a big black SUV demonstrates the owners gun-toting capabilities with a big gun box.

Sapulpa (12)4) Cycling families, bicycles on board the carry-all car

The drive through Oklahoma was mainly overcast, threatening rain. The weather reminded me lf British summertime, comfortably familiar.

 


in the jaws of a lift

January 19th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

Lift atmospheric loghtingThe amount of time I spend in lifts has dramatically increased over the last year. Often a curious rather than a joyful experience.

This lift in, of all places, a ‘Holiday Inn’ hotel was rather pleasing to be in as the atmospheric lighting gently rolled through a rainbow of colours. Getting in and out of the lift was more difficult, the doors attacked me and several other guests during my visit. I learned to jump quickly in and out of the Lift’s jaws


ground floor facilities

January 17th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

lift controlsWhat button to press to get to the ground floor?

Does the lift stop at the ground floor?

 


fountains

January 16th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Today, at work, in a one-to-one meeting with another woman - she interrupted the meeting to take a personal phone call. Afterwards she explained by saying her father had died in November. This was the first time I just burst into tears in a public, work, situation. She sweetly went on to explain how loosing her father had changed her life. She didn’t cry but commented on how she tended to spontaneously cry.

I told her of how my mother emptying her fridge of the stuffs that she would not eat; things she’d bought because my father liked them, had made a painful impact. Mostly because everything mum wanted to dispose of was something I loved to eat…. it’s these small pragmatic details that bind us and demonstrate the loss in such a concrete way. I enjoy eating. I remember, with

  • Blue cheese
  • Pepperoni Pizza
  • Pickled beatroot,  yummy!

 


car over football

January 12th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

what does it mean?Mumsie: But how do I keep the email address so that I can find it again?

Wendy: You can ‘Save’ it in an address book on your computer. Can you see anything here that suggests ‘save’ or ‘keep’?

Mumsie: No

I look at the symbol of the floppy disk and wonder what dipstick in the Microsoft visual design icon set development team thought that a floppy disk would be meaningful to youngsters who’ve never seen one and oldies like mum who’ve never used one. While I can’t imagine a universal symbol for ‘save’, ‘keep’ or ‘store’, this symbol clearly misses the mark now and will miss the mark even more with the younger generations to come.

Wendy: What does that look like?

Mumsie: the car driving over the football?

Wendy: Yes! Brilliant, that’s exactly what it looks like, a ‘hummer’!

Mumsie: What’s a ‘hummer’? Someone in a choir who’s forgotten the words?

She’s quickly learnt the symbol now I’ve told her that it means ‘save’, the car saving the goal strike. Mumsie is very bright. Gotta love her and question who was recruited by the windows 8 user testing team to test the legibility of this icon.


nice ride

January 7th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Day 7: October 27th

Friendly Americans on the street, and the owners of places I stayed, spontaneously enthused ‘nice ride’. They meant my hire-car, a soft-top Chevy Camaro.

The ride is all show and no punch; a fairly average drive. I did like the impression it had on the public, I imagined it was like driving a Ford Capri in the UK in the 1970′s. I felt like a big kid driving it. I loved it.

My first choice for a car had been a classic 1968 Ford Mustang. How much?!!!!! The price for that, or a classic Cadillac, had been in a different galaxy from my budget. The Camaro rocked it, more than fine.

Texas (10)


deserted

January 4th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Day 6: October 26th

Ghost town near Texas border

One of several ghost towns on route 66. This one on the Oklahoma, Texas, State border. So many questions are raised, who lived here? How did they live? Why did they leave? Why did no one else move onto their property? Were all the derelict homes left at once or was it a gradual desertion? The ghost towns are peaceful yet sad places. I would take a break from driving to walk around and feel the place that had once housed families, heard laughter and crying.

ghost town, Texas


boxes

January 2nd, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

power thingiesPower adapter thingies who’s devices have long since escaped.

Dad’s study is full of boxes of things he’s kept that might one day come in handy. Neatly organised. It’s difficult for me to value them beyond the stories they tell of his own values, which make me smile. Deconstructing dad’s study is full of pain and smiles. Mum follows me in and I talk to her about what to do with things. She’s thrilled when I find one box that holds an inbound book dated 1896, a present she bought for dad that she had thought lost.

Dad teased, irritated, and fascinated me. I loved him, he knew it. I’m so glad he’s left lots of puzzles and surprises to unravel and left us all knowing he was deeply loved.


sudden storms with high winds and flooding

January 1st, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Lamp and Wing Mirror on Bridge in rainy traffic jamAfter 6 weeks

Sometimes I don’t cry on short car journeys.

The real crying has started, home alone, listening to music while cleaning the house. The sort of crying that splatters the inside of  your spectacles, a thunderous downpour without windscreen wipers inside of my spectacles. Needing a big hanky to clean the streams of mess. Temporary disabled in a sudden storm. It feels like some form of progress.


calling

December 30th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

My dreams have taken a slightly sinister turn. Not nightmares because lucidity takes them to a peaceful conclusion, but they all start with a variation on one theme; Someone has broken into my home. I never meet the intruder, I see the results of their intrusion.

During last night’s episode the intruder broke in to connect a 2nd phone, identical to my current landline phone. The new phone produced calls of a baffling nature, they were for me but came from people I didn’t know who sounded confused and distressed. They needed help and I’d try to unravel their needs and sort their problems. I didn’t want to answer the phone with the disturbing calls. As the dream progressed the calls gradually stopped.


French doors

December 29th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

 

installing internal French doors

Installing internal French doors between the Wendy House Orangerie and front room

French doors? According to internet gossip, the French have a reputation for not being very good at keeping out invaders and these doors have big windows so invaders can see what to steal and they are easy for burglars to open, not very secure.

The cool air from the Orangerie, in the winter, is drawn around the heavy drapes by the warm air from the wood burner rising up the stairs to the hayloft in the North wing (bedrooms). A draught. On cold winter days the drapes stay closed to trap the warmth in the main living space where I lurk like  vampire afraid of daylight. This won’t do if Mum’s going to be visiting this winter. Costing on ugly UPVC doors were all rather expensive, especially given how ugly they are. I found a carpenter and briefed him with

‘simple, plain design consistent with Victorian period. Wrought iron hinges and door furniture, bevelled edge glass, that’s the one fancy thing I want’

His sketch captured the ethos well. True to French insecurity, no locks on these internal doors. It took a week for the carpenter to make the doors and 2 days full of sawdust to install them. It took me a day to put two coats of varnish on them and a day to buy new Voiles and hang them without the use of the irritatingly ineffective superglue and rod solution that the last owners of the Orangerie had installed.

The droughts have been subdued with a beautiful work of art. Daylight has found the front room in winter. Mum can visit.

 


All change at Yorkshire

December 26th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Mumsie: I think you’d better read this letter I received with a Christmas card dear, I can’t really explain it. It was a bit of a surprise

She passed me a page of A4 printed letter. The first paragraph thanked mum for her letter, apologised for losing touch over the last decade and talked of how difficult life had been, using vague terms. I assumed this was from one of Dad’s old work colleagues that cared deeply about him and wanted to convey sadness at his recent passing.

The second paragraph explained the ‘difficulty’. This letter was from a woman who had undergone sex change therapy and surgery, now she is a man. Her male partner had also undergone sex change therapy and surgery, he is now a woman. They had changed genders, sexes and swapped names. Living in Yorkshire, they were trying to avoid persecution from ignorance and prejudice. I’m a wee bit surprised, who is this? I skip to the letter’s signature.

Oh, it’s Dad’s half-sister, who I’d encouraged mum to write to, to let her know of his death even though we’d had no returned letters from her last known address for over a decade. Ah yes, a relative. Another one of the colourful House family. Of course, it all made sense. Mum didn’t mind that I laughed.

Wendy: I’ve always thought of myself as being boyish, but happy in who I am, drugs and surgery seem like something people do when they are deeply unhappy with who they are

Mumsie: Dear, you’re not boyish, you’re just the 3rd child with 2 older brothers

 


state lapse photography

December 24th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

I took 100s of photographs on my Route 66 tour by balancing my camera on the top of the steering wheel without looking at the viewfinder. Point and click.

The sense of ‘space’ and ‘freedom’ with so few obstructions like traffic jams, traffic lights, people crossing the road was striking compared to the crowded mainland island of Britain. One photograph from each State might help you see this and the variation in the atmosphere created by the varied climate, vegetation and landscape

Route 66 by state

Route 66 by State

 


white lines

December 22nd, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |
Dropping curb and adding house number and name sign

Dropping curb, adding house number and name sign

This year I discovered that cars could legally park in-front of my driveway entrance. I discovered when a person on vacation in the USA left her car across my drive blocking my car in.

I took the bus to work, £25 per week bus fare seemed very expensive, a lot more than the £10 diesel costs. Not knowing when, and if, I’d be able to use my car was very disheartening.

It was also disheartening that a person would choose to block my car in, it seems such a mean spirited thing to do. When I’d knocked on my neighbours doors to see if they knew the car owner, could contact her and ask her to move, they were all wonderfully outraged on my behalf. Some had seen her before, none knew how to contact her. One neighbour offered to park her car so close to the offending car that it would be unable to get out without knocking on neighbours doors. We decided against this potential emotional escalation path, and giggled.

The council wouldn’t put their white lines “Access Protection Lines” (APL) outside my drive until I’d dropped the curb. This is when I discovered that every time I drove in and out of my drive I was breaking the law by driving over the public pathway. Oops. Myself and rather a lot of my neighbours were all breaking the law.

To avoid breaking the law I needed to arrange to drop the curb. To be able to ask the police to remove people parked in front of my drive I needed APL. I gave the council a cheque and some sweet-talk – you know so much, you’re so good at your job, I’m just so ignorant of all these things etc.  The road workers were at my place before the cheque had even cleared, 2 days later, at the weekend! Sweet!

  • 4 road workers including  “Mr. Reading” a local looker. He did compare favourably with Brad Pitt.
  • A compact digger
  •  A truck
  •  Pick axes, spades and all sorts….

It took them a day to rip-up the pavement, half a day to lay the concrete foundation and half a day to lay the surface tarmac. Less than an hour to paint the APL

Hooray! Confident, legal and easy access to my driveway has been established. Peace of mind

Then, I added a house sign to the mix. The name and number of my home with an arrow to help people see which way to go to find the Wendy House. My neighbour used his cable-less drill to fix it. As he fixed the sign he told me stuff I didn’t know:

  • People deliver mail for my house to their house and they then bring it round to my home and post it through my door.
  • People knock on their (3B) door to ask where 3A is because it’s clearly not between 3 and 3B.

He’d been suffering without telling me, so English, he was thrilled that I’d decided to put this sign up.

Front of house access sorted.


ghost road

December 21st, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Day 6: October 26th

Route 66 Oklahoma, rinning next to the new road

Much of route 66 has been replaced by a newer road  Often the newer road is directly next to the old road. The original road is left to nature, gradually becoming impassable. I quite fancied trying this old road out, but I would need a car with higher clearance than my sporty little Camero to really do it justice.

Learning for next time: Hire a white pick-up truck that’s suitable for ‘off roading’ and carrying stuff picked up in antique stores


Sayre

December 19th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Sayre, by the train stationDay 6: October 26th

The small town of Sayre has many of the qualities of the small towns on the route:

  • A small railway station used by local businesses to transport their products across the USA. Often the equipment is antique, working but gradually decaying
  • An impressive and well maintained courthouse. Some places had old and new courthouses. The law has a prominent place here in city buildings
  • A very wide main street where cars can park bonnet pointing at the curb on both sides of the street still leaving room for about 4 lanes. The majority of ‘cars’ parked on the street are pick-up trucks (mostly white)
  • A secure looking brick-built ‘National Bank’ at the corner of a main downtown street
  • At least one antique store and often several thrift stores. Guns are available in the antique store. This one in Sayre appeared to have an unusual variation on a gun decorating the sidewalk
  • A local newspaper, often called ‘The County Record’ 

Sayre bankSayre, outside an antiques mall
Sayre record - local newaperIt reminds me of the old western films – a bank, the law, the train, guns, and newspapers.


open sesame

December 18th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

finished curbI reversed onto my drive, with no bumps or bangs as would happen before my dropped curb. Beautifully smooth. A figure in the dark opposite is fiddling with my neighbours door. I get out of the car and can hear the figure cussing.

Wendy: Can I help you?

The elderly lady sounded distressed and talked about how the keys my neighbour had given her weren’t working. I offered her a cup of tea in my place and I’d call my neighbour’s mobile phone. She calmed down and tried the keys again.

Wendy: it probably won’t make any difference, but I’d really like to try the keys.

She gave me the keys and the door unlocked smoothly with absolutely no problem

Wendy: I’m magic

The lady laughed. We exchanged praise of my lovely neighbour and went our separate ways.

I’m magic and available for all your ‘locked-out’ needs


cowboys and indians

December 17th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

DSCN1027Day 6: October 26th

Leaving Oklahoma city, driving west, I start seeing signs of cowboys (large trucks for transporting horses) and Indians (gift stores). These Indians were Cherokees.

The lack of tourists during October is painfully obvious in empty car parks and stores. I’m often the only potential customer and I failed to buy anything in any gift stores. I’m a pathetic gift shopper. I was tempted by many colourful cowboy boots and moccasins, the head-dresses, jewellery and pottery bowls didn’t capture my attention.

DSCN1020 (2) Other local industries appear to include some sort of mining, is this ‘fracking’? It certainly looked like some form of gas or oil drilling.


3 days for parental death. You cannot be serious?!

December 16th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

When I told my line manager that dad had died he offered condolences and said “take all the time you need to grieve and stay in touch“. An awesome reaction, just what I needed. Later I went to visit personelle, official leave for bereavement is 3 days.

  • 1. Day of death. When I heard the news I was unable to work. Had to leave.
  • 2. Day of funeral – For a close relative (Dad) I can’t imagine not attending the funeral. Luckily, I love less than 2hrs drive from my parents so there wasn’t a major flight involved to and from the funeral. That could easily add a day either side of the funeral to the ‘needed’ leave.
  • 3. Day after funeral – so with the wake alcohols is consumed, stories are told, relatives are staying over. It’s highly probably that the mourner os going to be able to turn up at work on the day after the funeral. This day needs to be taken off.

3 days compassionate leave  is woefully inadequate for parental death.  Luckily my dad had a will and solicitors in place and was financially organised, my mum is competent, organised, pragmatic and impressive. If any one of these things were not the case. My personelle specialist implied that I could take more leave unofficially and no one would cause a fuss, she said I should consider taking sick leave if necessary.

I’ve taken 2 days, and an hour here and there, of sick leave. It’s necessary to be healthy. The unofficial attitude of staff and colleagues enables me to contribute while being tired (grieving disrupts sleep) and a bit grumpy.


don’t start

December 15th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

Road Crossing InstructionsUsing a pedestrian crossing in the USA is a complicated process that requires the pedestrian to be English literate. I suspect I’ve been doing something wrong because I’m prone to not reading instructions until after something has gone wrong….


flahsbulb memories

December 14th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Service program coverSo much from the day of Dad’s death is etched onto my memory, it will stay for decades without the aid photography or digital recording.

I was due to go on a business trip, had just driven home to pick up my bags. As I was about to leave the house my phone beeped with a message that I had a voicemail. My parents home number is filed under dads name because he nearly always answers the phone at their home. Dad had called me. Dad has only called me once during the day. The day his brother died. So I knew instantly it was seriously bad news. No point listening to the voicemail of I can talk directly to Dad.

Mum answered.

Wendy: dad just called, um, I just got a call from this number

Mumsie: It’s your dad dear, it’s not good news

I could hear she was not her easy self

Wendy: How are YOU?

pause

Mumsie: he said he was feeling strange when we were having our morning coffee, feeling strange – what do you do with that?  I didn’t know what to do. He said call an ambulance, so I did and when I got back (from the hallway phone, she doesn’t use a mobile yet) he had keeled over. He’s dead.

The maritime reference was a beautiful, natural, touch. They live in the old port of Bristol, dad loved ships, Britain is an island full of nautical sayings. She went on to describe what happened next which involved helicopters. Dad would have approved, many of the retired engineers he mixed with worked on helicopters, he’d shown me video of the testing of  the “Bristol” a helicopter with two sets of rotary blades. She’d been busy on the phone since the paramedics had taken his body. She listed who’d she’d called. How organised and thorough. Mum sounded like me.

Wendy: I’ve got my bag packed for a 2 day trip in front of me, can I come over to your place and get a hug instead?

Mumsie: yes, yes, that would be good, drive carefully though

Wendy: I’ll be there in 2 hours

When the call ended I was stood by my front door with my bags at my feet. A bag with a William Morris print, the strawberry thief. The sofa in dad’s study is a William Morris print. I called work to tell them (about the death, not the William Morris prints). That’s when I started crying. The call ended somewhat awkwardly as I trailed-off into tears and my manager said take all the time you need….

My mind was busy during that drive:

  • I’m glad he died quickly
  • I’m glad I visited last weekend to tell them about my route66 trip adventures and share a birthday (Chinese take-away) dinner
  • I’m glad I moved back to the UK and enjoyed his company for the last 5 years of reasonable health
  • What do you say to a mum who’s just lost her life-long partner, over 55 years living together?
  • I must cancel my hotel
  • Are my tears blocking my road vision or just making my cheeks itchy?

I stopped at a motorway service station and picked up some wine, chocolate and dried apricots. It’s not clear what works for the recently bereaved. I don’t eat chocolate or apricots but I remember a friend telling me that a constant supply of food was useful and both these products would last if not eaten immediately. The wine was more for me, though later I only drank a glass.

 


Sapulpa Oklahoma closes around 2pm

December 13th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Sapulpa (4)Day 5: October 25th

I stopped looking for an all day breakfast. All the food places close at 2pm, reminiscent of Britain in the 1980s. Instead of a late lunch I browsed the local antiques mall and walked up to the drive-in ATM (UK = cash machine).

USA small town antiques malls are fascinating glimpses of everyday life in days gone by.

Learnings for next time:

  • Eat lunch before 2pm
  • Hire a car with a big boot to carry purchases of strange thing’s found in antiques malls
  • Buy an extra suitcase while travelling to carry all the antique mall purchases

Sapulpa (6)