estimating the odds

June 30th, 2014 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Seattle, 2006, I’m 43. A weekend phone call home. Dad always triages the phone calls. One phone is next to his computer. He doesn’t chat, but I’m prepared with a question primed by my annual medical check-up

“Dad, how old was mum when she started the menopause?”

“56 and we’re still suffering!” She was 66 at the time

I was still giggling when mum picked up the extension line…


door stop

June 28th, 2014 | tags:  |

Door to mazeA crowd of people are about to leave the canteen as I approach for my late lunch.

I heave the heavy fire door open and hold it for the escaping lunchtime throng. Many pass without eye contact, talking chirpily to each other or striding into the heart of the building. A few catch my eye, silently nodding their head or muttering a thank you. Toward the end of the crowd a fellow offers to take the door holding role. I accept.

People not acknowledging my small gesture had enhanced the power of my invisibility cloak and my urge to drop the door and walk into the canteen leaving them to battle the door one by one. This fellow’s xray vision confirmed he too was a superhero.


Joseph will not get you damp

June 24th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

Would you like me to follow-up with Joseph, waiving my overhead costs, to supply you with a blog post tailored to you and your damp proofing needs? It’s tempting. Entertaining letter with absolutely no evidence that he has any idea about the contents of my blog. I am slacking in publishing despite lots of stories from both the Route 66 tour and the Turkey escapade

with mumsie.

Joseph the plumber


marketing services want the wendy house

June 21st, 2014 | tags: ,  |

I am 100% responsible for authoring everything on this website, except a few identified quotes.

Marketers are able to find my email address and they often email offering to produce blog content for me. The letters they send are a standard format that shows no awareness of my blog style, content or theme. Normally I file their emails under “junk”, ignoring them and they move on. Occasionally one will be persistent, sending multiple related emails with well crafted text designed to engage me in the possibility of letting them use my blog to host their content. Lucy, email below, is an example of a persistent marketer. Unlike previous emails this one provides email addresses that appear to be hosted on the domain of an agency promoting it’s digital marketing services. This might actually be legitimate! http://www.click.co.uk/

I’ve written to Lucy and quoted my fees and conditions for hosting her content on the Wendy House. You’ll be reassured to know that I’ve informed Lucy that any blog post provided by her team will be overtly credited to them and will incur fees to cover my costs – legal review, copy editing, insurance, my time and other incidental expenses such as a bottle of champagne for me and a new luxury scratching-post-tower for Sampo. I wonder if Lucy will reply.

Content offer


out of synch

June 18th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

Tonight is my first wide awake night since the 1980’s

I don’t know why, though going to bed, sleep, at 9pm last night probably led to waking at 3am, feeling bouncy and full of energy. 6 hours continuous deep sleep seems like a good dose. I’m not bemoaning my current wakefulness. It seems I’m just slightly out of synch with the majority of people living in this time zone. In the 1980s I used my wakefulness to go clubbing, read prolifically, socialise with local nocturnal misfits and drink copious amounts of tea. Good times brought to an end by my first serious romance. A healthy sex life definitely aides deep and long sleeps.

Today, a gentle pre-sunrise has seen me sort a pile of paper mail into 4 neat piles including a huge one that’s gone straight into the recycling bin. Gosh, I’m way too organised this morning! Freshly laundered sheets don the bed, waiting for my tomorrow night’s flop into the world of sleep.  Sampo doesn’t seem the slightest bit disturbed by my pottering around the house. I love how she adapts easily to my changing ways.


genie

June 16th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

I don’t spend much tome looking at myself in the mirror. I catch a glimpse when brushing my teeth, or a fuzzy glimpse after I bathe as I throw my towel around trying to wrap myself in dryness.

Zultanite ringBut my hands are almost always there, tapping on the keyboard, gathering food, lifting a glass. I see my hands many times a day. They show my age. I still remember the smooth skin of their youth and notice the miniscule mosaic shapes of age emerging. They get enough attention, I don’t care to draw the attention of others to my hands. Until I saw a little light magic in a Turkish gemstone. Zultanite.

Zultanite ringThe stone changes colour depending on the light source. Captivated by the magic of perception reflected in this gem, on my Turkish holiday I purchased a ring. Green in fluorescent light, strawberry pink in sunlight and Topaz coloured in another light who’s source I’ve yet to identify. Mixed reflection when mixed light sources are nearby. It makes catching a glimpse of my hands more joyous.

I fancy there is a genie of the ring and maybe there’s more magic that will change the colours in my life. I’ll rub it and see…


Advanced teasing

June 11th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

AshtrayWaiting for a lift

Waiting

Shifting my weight from foot to foot

Waiting

Swinging my hips in circles, because…

Waiting

Fiddling with my pocket contents.

Waiting

Noticing this classic ashtray design, the (do not) use instructions, and evidence of a small rebellion.


work ethic

June 9th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

Istanbul street vendoTurkey was a big surprise in many ways.

The country feels ‘rich’. Rich with water, it’s very green with many fields full of healthy looking crops. The countryside is littered with Dams and windfarms.  The roads are smooth surfaced and clearly being resurfaced regularly.

During my 2 weeks there I never saw a beggar, though they clearly have many very poor people. The poverty is evidenced by the many people doing jobs that rarely exist in places like the UK or USA. These people are selling food and flowers to drivers through the Istanbul traffic jams on a 3 lane motorway.

Istanbul street vendorCan you imagine collecting stuff to sell, walking onto a motorway and tapping on the windows of the drivers to try and get a little money for your efforts?

 

 


Out of State

May 19th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

Surface power adapter exploded – sparks everywhere.  Just before I went to the airport for a long, long trip. A quick l;ook online shows that these power adapters are getting poor customer reviews for lasting, like mine, under 1 year. Tush and Pah!

Dixons at LHR doesn’t sell Surface power adapters. At Atlanta airport, none of the 4 technology outlets sold surface power adapters. It’s still covered by a warrantly but all my documentation is at home so that’s no use to me. I’ve ordered one online for delivery to the hotel. 1-3 days. I hope it arrives before I leave for my next destination. Amazon’s tracking service makes it look likely :-)

TrackingI suspect a dearth of posts for about 3 weeks, but dont worry, my camera is working overtime and the stories are flooding in …


Spring is here

May 14th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

General Cemetery - beautiful on a sunny dayI seem to have stopped crying about Dad’s death.

My body’s stopped grieving.

Only 6 months after his passing, is it my Britishness that leaves me feeling a bit guilty? Shouldn’t I be upset for longer, is this ‘improper’. It feels right and doesn’t hurt anyone so it can be right. I miss dad, but that’s not the same as the tired, distractedness of grieving. Sadness happens in everyday life, grieving is different.  Maybe now, now the grieving has stopped, saying goodbye makes sense, feels right.

Bye bye dad, miss you, love you.


scared

May 12th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

I’m scared that my life is on a road that will make it stylishly bleak, like a rest break in Guggenheim museum

LA


empty

May 10th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

Retirement home: No onward chain

Five word Flash Fiction Friday (5F).

remembering to remember

May 8th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

Watching a mellow, slim, attractive man saunter along the sidewalk.

Briefly glimpsing a reminder of those intense, happy feelings that accompany falling in love.

I’d forgotten that I’d forgotten that unique, addictive high.

A fleeting insight too quickly lost.

 


Queen of the Orangerie

May 6th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Sampo is the Queen of the Wendy House Orangerie. Here we see her surveying her Queendom, making sure the rug doesn’t escape and no unanticipated guests can sneak in through the new French doors. Sampo doesn’t trust those French doors.

Sampo


seasonal crop

May 4th, 2014 | tags:  |

Summer CropSummer is coming. It might be unseasonably hot (for the UK). Climate change. Meanwhile, Minneapolis has hair-static overload. Together these natural forces make shorter hair an attractive option. Like well sown fields, I’ve got a fresh crop.  It’s got a swirly bit at my crown. Crown, how very British.

No hair dye. At 50yrs those are my natural silver streaks. Looks like I’ll have to wait at least another decade for the ‘arctic blonde’ look.


Need to know gender for buying a house energy certificate?

May 2nd, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

No-one should need to classify my gender in the process lf my purchasing an energy certificate for my home. How annoying. I won’t be using this service

gender options for home emergy certificate


picture this

April 30th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

International relocation info graphic


Moving decisions

April 28th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Minneapolis city skyline at dawn I’ve been driven around different desirable areas in Minneapolis (thanks Peggy Pearl!) and will get some home choosing advice from a professional realtor. For now, these are the things influencing my likely choice of Wendy House in Minneapolis.

Warehouse conversion in downtown Minneapolis as a home because:

  1. Meeting neighbours.  Making friends, in lifts, in corridors, in the shared facilities – garden, gym, swimming pool, garage, other social spaces
  2. Managing structural maintenance. Apartments have management companies. I won’t need to find, interview service providers and make arrangement to let them have secure access then check their work and follow-up if there are any problems.
  3. Size appropriateness: Not too big, not too small, not too many bathrooms to clean, no huge basement or loft to fill with stuff that I don’t need or use. Under the bed is enough space for unused stuff….
  4. No snow shovelling to get my car out. A warehouse apartment must come with some form of covered, maintained garage.
  5. In home Sampo care. Some apartments provide a service for caring for your pet while you’re away
  6. Walking places. The sidewalks downtown will allow me to walk to places (temperature permitting) like a range of restaurants, shops and galleries
  7. Bus services nearby. The Minneapolis bus services were pretty good, the city centre provides a central hub enabling me to get all over the place easily, not just use the ‘local’ route that goes through the village.
  8. More people like me. Single, no children living with them and elderly.

Arts and Craft’s house in a village style location in suburbia as a home because:

  1. Commute time and traffic. My work place is in a suburb with some very nice villages within easy distance with relatively light traffic (compared to Berkshire or Seattle)
  2. Can’t hear neighbours. I love living in a detached home, though I’ve had a lucky history in town homes (terraced housing)
  3. Garden for Sampo. Sampo has always been an indoor cat, but she does enjoy a wander in the current Wendy House garden and watching the other cats and birds play there
  4. Property space for the price. I can get more square footage for my dollar. Feels like more of an ‘investment’.
  5. Gardening. The relaxing pleasure of planning, planting, caring for,  and watching my own garden grow

Have I missed anything that you think it’s important to consider? How would you rate the value of things. Not hearing the neighbours is a fairly weighty requirement…


Sated sofa search

April 26th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

sofaI bought my first sofa aged 31 in 1994. At £899.00 it was a BIG purchase. Only the house and car cost more. We visited many sofa shops, we asked friends, we searched online. I saved up for a year and we used interest free credit for 3 years. It was a cast iron frame, hand made, sofa bed. I loved that sofa, it was so comfortable, in forest green, mustard and rust colours. The sofa moved several houses with me and eventually went to Seattle.

After 10 years of intensive use, in 2004, it looked its age. The arms had faded, the pattern was dated. It was still awesome to sit and sleep on, but I’d tired of it. I tried selling it on Craigslist as an imported, handmade classic British sofa. But even for $50.00, there were no takers. Eventually I got to a point where I was grateful that someone just took it away. It left to adorn a nice fellow’s mountain cabin porch where his Great Dane would enjoy lounging on it.

I’ve procrastinated on buying another sofa since then. 10 years of procrastinating, that deserves some kind of award. Close friends have pointed out that a front room without a comfortable sofa is not really good enough. I’ve got individual chairs, I’ve got a 17th century ‘Settle’, I’ve got a love seat. There are places to ‘sit’ comfortably. But a sofa seems a social necessity.

sofaSince moving back to the UK I’ve been searching. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to my search for a sofa. I’ve sat and bounced on sofa’s in stores, on my own and with friends. This has helped me to refine my awareness of my sofa purchase criteria to:

  • Enough room for a cat to run underneath it
  • Enough room for a vacuum cleaner to run underneath it
  • Classic or innovative design
  • A  tight proportion of seat-space to sofa-size. No big arms or areas not used for sitting-on
  • Plush, something that says ‘luxury’
  • I can fall asleep on it (sat-upright and lying down)
  • It can fit through my cottage front door and round the immediate hallway corner
  • Must tone in with my golden and orange Persian rug

Finally I took my credit card to Bright of Nettlebed and commissioned a 2.5 seated Coleridge with claw and ball mahogany legs, feather seat cushions. The photograph was taken in the Nettlebed showroom. I’ve placed my choice of fabric over the back.  The gold is a thick thread that has a delicate pattern as part of the weave using different textures. The orange thread is thick, like a dense chenille. It reminds me of the

  • Designs of Charles Rene Macintosh
  • Warmth of fire
  • Symmetry of Japanese designs
  • Gentle curves of nature.

The sofa will arrive in August… …when they’ve made it.


bluebells, whitestone, orangecat

April 24th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

SampoFrom 7.8 to 6.2 KG in one year is great progress for Sampo’s diet.

We’re aiming at 5KG so still some way to go this year.

I love her cuddliness.

Seeing her get perky, running around more often, as a slimmer cat is really pleasing for both of us.

Here she’s parading around the recently pressure washed patio of the Wendy House, soaking the  sunshine in the warm inviting garden.


nature’s pace

April 22nd, 2014 | tags: ,  |

April 2008. As found on moving in, lots of patio and a small  lawn
Stalking a Cautious cat

April 2009. Rearrange Patio, introduce borders, do some planting, and put a hair sculpture over the drain lid
April garden 

May 2010. Almost getting some ground cover and some flowers to welcome me home from work

March. 2011. Add more garden furniture…. wait for plant growth
Morning light

April 2014. Enjoy the Easter sunshine and the last few years lf plant growth taking the borders to waste height. The dwarf trees (Acers) may stretch to near 6ft in another decade….
Spring in the garden


time pieces

April 20th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Rotary Watch

Tissot watchThe watch I wear has a fixed-length strap. The watch tells me the time and fluctuations in my size.  Since starting my new job in July 2013, I’ve lost weight. The watch used to be a tight fit, now it swivels around my wrist and slides over the nobbly bit of bone at the base of my humerus

In my previous job I’d gradually grown pudgy and the watch had tightened on my wrist. It didn’t move, the strap left pink patterns indented on my skin at the end lf the day

Dad left two watches when he died. One, a beautiful Longines watch that mumsie had secretly saved for from her meagre housekeeping budget, a birthday surprise for dad. The second an almost identical visual design, a Tissot, that he wore on a daily basis. It’s a little scratched, battered. I remember it and can see it on his wrists in photographs

When I was a child mumsie gave me  t-shirt with the word “Tissot” on it. I didn’t know what it meant, but the word was on the fast cars in the formula 1 racing that we watched on the TV every weekend. It was an adult size t-shirt, much to big for my gangly teenage body, I wore that t-shirt to school, proudly. It meant nothing to my friends. To me it was a present from mum, something special to her and dad

After dad passed, Mum gave the Tissot watch to me. I love that watch way beyond it’s aesthetic or monetary value. I get very attached to things

6 months after dad’s death and I’m no longer spontaneously crying. I wonder about mum…

 

 


you can do it noisely

April 18th, 2014 | tags:  |

Aloud sounds like Allowed

Permission to be noisey can be such good fun!


perspective

April 16th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Truch clearing snowBar staff: where are you moving to?

Wendy: Minneapolis

Bar staff: (raises eyebrows, furrows brows looking perplexed)

Wendy: It’s in the USA

Bar staff: Wow! I’d love to move out of Reading


colour saturated grass

April 14th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Estate Agent #1

  • This is the only other coach house on sale in the area, one more bedroom but no garden or off-road parking
  • Buyers can find out what you paid for this house, and when you bought it
  • I had to explain to my Indian client what a coach house was, he just didn’t understand
  • Someone will walk into the garden and fall in love with this place before they’ve even got through the door (Indeed, that’s what happened to me)
  • Oh! That bath…
  • We’ve never had a problem showing houses to people with cat allergies, we did have one client bitten by an owner’s dog. The dog had been locked in the garden and the client was told not to go into the garden
  • I’m from Bristol

Estate agent #2

  • This is the most desirable area in Reading
  • Double off-road parking is worth around 20K
  • We don’t get many character properties like this downtown
  • I’m from Bristol

Estate agent #3

  • I can tell you what the other agents said (he did, and he was wrong)
  • Fantastic (repeatedly, like a carbon copy of his colleague that I spoke to on the phone)
  • What a fantastic kitchen
  • Our website is new and really good, it’s got pictures of the founding partners on it
  • We’ll do a TV presentation for a character property like this one.

I didn’t get the impression that any of them offered anything that would add any real value over the property details and access to buyers that have been pre-screened for a mortgage. None of them really told me about their access to the type of people that would like to buy the Wendy house. I suggested excluding:

  • couples planning to start a family – dangerous staircase, downstairs bathroom
  • elderly people or planning for this to be a last, retirement, home – dangerous staircase, downstairs bathroom
  • people over 5″8 – low beam crossing the dangerous staircase
  • people that love to cook – tiny kitchen separated from the dining area by the hallway

Estate agent #1 was the least offensive, arrogant. She listened and related to me as a person most effectively.  Maybe I’ll have to make my own promotional materials pack – showing related documentation from my purchase, guarantees on work done, local service professionals etc


come and see this

April 12th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

Mumzie just phoned to find out what TV programme I was watching and suggest that I change channels. Then she hung up. Do I need to get a life? Or is there something strangely comforting about the informality and brevity of the conversation, as-if mum had just called me from another room. Yes, I like that call from a virtual room emotionally nearby


key purse

April 10th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

Microsoft Card KeyChecking my bag, have I got everything that I need, before I leave the Wendy House for the big scary world outside?

No key card.

Without my key card I can’t get into the safe, secure, place that is ‘work’. An hour searching the finite, small, tidied through previous searching, Wendy House, didn’t uncover the key card. Sigh. I’ll have to cancel this one and arrange a replacement. A photograph of my looking harassed and bedraggled will adorn my key card until the next time I lose it. Why can’t I put my favourite selfie on my key card? Resigned to the dull, administrative, overhead, I wander out to Thomas and open his door

On the drivers seat is my key card

Relief


t’ ryst

April 8th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

watches as jewelleryI remembered picking up my watch from my bedside table before my bath.

Between then and my clean, sparkling-self dressing it appeared to have vanished of the face of the earth. I spent an hour searching the small finite spaces of the Wendy House, but nothing. Sigh. My watch has great sentimental value. Easy to replace at a functional level, but this loss left me saddened as I faced my daily jungle trek

After an outstandingly enjoyable jungle trek, de-robing  for bed, I noticed my watch wrapped around my right wrist, not it’s usual left wrist

Sweet surprise


foggy days

April 6th, 2014 | tags: , , , , ,  |

tree before smogWhy I love England #22: foggy days

Seeing the winter tree skeletons defined against a soft canvas of white.  Hearing the laughter and chatter of children as the emerge, ghostly forms made real, from the fog. I love the mystery of the fog

I’m not so keen on the smog

My wood burning stove uses special filters to reduce the pollution possible from wood smoke. I took this photograph thinking it was fog. Later published pollution levels imply this picture is actually of pollution. People were warned to stay indoors, mot exercise…    …so sad…

 


ancient games of strategy

April 3rd, 2014 | tags: ,  |

Ancient games

Soon after moving home in 1968 Dad started to make this Marquetry games box. On one side is a chess board, on the other is a Mills board. The box has 2 drawers on each side to store the game pieces.

When dad got home from work, in the evening, and at the weekends, he’d either be using his Stanley knife to carefully cut and place the thin pieces of wood, glue or varnish them. I don’t know how long it took him, but I remember being fascinated by the process and watching the box slowly take shape.

Once the box was finished dad taught me, age 5, to play chess and mills. I loved it, quality time with Dad, the look on his face when he won or I made a good move – equally pleased. His pleasure in such things was inspiring and made learning fun. I’ve never lost the desire to learn something new, look for a strategy and ‘have a go’.  A special box with special memories. Mum found it when tidying out the old games cupboard which included over 5 different chess sets. I only had 1 set, now I have 2. Both precious well beyond their financial value.