Wendy: How Ewe doin’ ?
Local: I’m living the dream
I think there’s a touch of sarcasm pervading the region. I like it. I must stop giggling and join the conversation….
Wendy: How Ewe doin’ ?
Local: I’m living the dream
I think there’s a touch of sarcasm pervading the region. I like it. I must stop giggling and join the conversation….
To hotel guest: “Nice jumper, urrrr, sweater”
To colleague with lots of equipment “let’s use the lift, um, elevator”
To person looking desolate within a crowd in the Comcast service centre “is this a queue, uh, line”
“here in the US the colour of the pumps for petrol and diesel are reversed, in the UK black is diesel and green is Petrol. I nearly made a nasty mistake because of that” (autocorrect complete fail) “you mean gas and diesel, right. Brits call gas petrol?”
“I’ve got a British ice-scraper for my windscreen, a short handle, not with the sensible long handle that the local scrapers have” (autocorrect didn’t even know there was a potential problem here but my translation package was soon updated) “windscreen? Windshield”
I’m trying my darnedest not to be too cute in my regional language. Mostly, I know the USA word. I know the UK word will be understood after the listener has worked out my accent and often they quickly correct me. If they don’t correct me, or smirk, I don’t even know that I’ve used a quaint word.
Under the stool in a bar where the floor is probably washed on a daily basis.
This is salt, walked in by customers crossing the car park. Wow! My car is now half white. I wonder what effect this has on the local water table, so much salt spread everywhere…
The carpets at the entranceway at work are thick with the white-out. My Dr. Martens carried the salt across several hundred yards to sit under my desk which looks a mess. My apartment has become a slippers-only place in the winter.
When shopping for cleaners I tend to look for something that will zap as many things as possible with a minimum environmental effect. Vinegar and baking soda are pretty darn good at cleaning all sorts of things
‘Bed, Bath and Beyond’, takes a very different approach. They make the cleaner very specific to the stain. This approach would fill my cupboards with numerous cleaners for tomatoe sauce, tea, beer, toothpaste, egg etc
Presumably, to be financially viable, a specific stain has to be an extremely common cleaning problem. A stain that has no commonly known alternative cleaning method. I was taught that white wine and salt are best put on red wine spillage
I wonder of the red wine stain problem is particularly prevalent in Minneapolis
Wendy: thank you very much
Checkout staff: you’re welcome very much
Without any studying I passed my ‘knowledge’ test for a Minnesota driving licence. I also passed the eye test, which SUPRISED me because I was squinting and the text was fuzzy. Not good. Now I’ve booked a proper eye test with an optician to get some more up to date lenses. No squinting allowed when driving, working or watching films on my surface.
It feels like everything I do is a test, can I get a new phone service, can I find a good optician, can I pick how to invest for my 401k (pension), can I find a place to park downtown, can I follow my GPS (Satnav) directions? There’s a lot more concentration and thinking needed when you move countries (jobs, homes) than when you stay in the same place.
All these tests get the adrenaline flowing, they make me feel alive.
So far I’ve been passing most of the tests… just….
The world looks a bit like this fuzzy photo, even when I’m wearing last year’s prescription glasses. Evidently that’s good enough to drive here.
I’ve booked myself in at an opticians. The next test will lead to a new pair of spectacles… and lenses.
I find myself looking up and wondering about what the ceiling is made of, whether it hides another ceiling, whether it’s original to the building and many other little, life-peripheral things. Will I recover, will my neck develop a kink? I’ll let you know.
Meanwhile here are a couple that caught my attention this week.
Several people roamed around the spacious yet cluttered store. Heated sufficiently to remove the steam of our breath and feel like outdoors in a temperate climate. For a Minneapolis winter, this is a good temperature for a store. Customers are bundled-up in clothes suitable for minus degrees Fahrenheit. The winter is coming…
All these beautiful wood, doors, columns, sconces…. every piece with a story to tell. This is a magic shop. I left the magic undisturbed, leaving with a raised heart and the treasures left in their place for others to see and enjoy.
I’ll be back,
Next time I may bring a friend….
Bob the building manager is a hero in my world, and it’s only my first day in the Wendy house loft. Bob’s not his real name. We met in the car park of my apartment building. It started with a friendly hello and within the hour I’d discovered many things that make Bob a hero. Bob:
If can, I’ll spend time helping Bob
Now my key ring has returned to full jingle-too-big-for-pocketness. It holds
My apartment is empty because my belongings are in a shipping container that’s been caught in a container jam in Norfolk VA since 23rd December. Meanwhile I can start visiting my empty apartment to fill it with new electrical goods and work out how to get the internet working before moving in.
This may be the last time I see the polished concrete floors before they’re covered with cosy Persian rugs…
The keys tie me to a cosy life with a home even if the building is still bare.
Next to the “City Salvage” store is a place reminiscent of a large UK pub. When I wandered in at 4pm it was almost empty. By 6pm it was busy with couples and families.
The dapper waiter looked like a younger version of Colonel Saunders with his neatly coiffured moustache and beard.
With time I’ll get habituated to the wooden columns and exposed wooden ceilings in many lf the downtown buildings. For now my jaw slackens and I study the texture of the beams and layout of the columns. Were there once walls here? Was there once a ceiling hiding the roof beams and holding ornate plasterwork?
The lady at the table next to me was considering moving to Minneapolis from Boston. She introduced herself and asked me what it was like moving to Minneapolis from the UK. How friendly. In the UK I’d have found the self introduction somewhat surprising, possibly even rude. I like this open, direct, way that American’s have. I can go out and just meet people and share stories with them. It’s not as lonely as the UK’s polite reservedness.
Wind-chill is translated to the “number of minutes before frostbite” All I know is that Frostbite is bad. I think it kills the parts of the body that it effects and they drop off. This is like the weather people saying don’t stay outside this long, even if you’re wrapped up well it’s just a really silly idea.
Schools are closed based on wind chill levels. Different schools have different policies. Looks like a wind chill advisory of -35F is likely to close schools. That is 15 mins to frostbite…
I made a mistake at the weekend. Walking 50ft from the car to a building, I didn’t bother to put my gloves on or button my jacket. It’s not a mistake I’ll make again. My temperate climate habits don’t fit here.
Silver-car parking on the streets of St. Anthony.
We are free to park where-ever we want, as long as we pay at the metre. Sometimes it looks like car owners flock to their like-coloured colleagues.
Wandering into the antique shops in this fabulous building revealed that the local parkers were, like me, pale skinned (Caucasian origin?). I’d parked a couple of blocks away, among the black cars. My dark blue blends in almost seamlessly.
There’s a rogue bicycle lassoed to the parking meter in this photo. I’m so impressed by the cycling commitment of local residents.
“I can’t believe that you just got here, and bought a Lexus”
“but I can’t find the brake pedal (waves foot around in footwell) that’s not good for your confidence in my driving”
“We’re not driving yet”
On days like these I leave 15 minutes earlier for work. I scrape the ice or snow from the front, side and rear windows. Some cars come with heated wing mirrors, steering wheels and seats. Not the VW Bug I’ve been given as a rental car.
This evening I drove into a mall parking garage. As I drove into the warm, underground parking my windscreen fogged. Out of habit I turned the in-car warm air blowers to the windscreen. The fogging appeared to increase. In a random effort to clear my view I turned on the windscreen wipers. Voilà! The condensation was on the outside of the cold car windows, not the inside.
A local told me that I should open the windows before I park outside at night to let-out all the damp warm air from within. To make sure the insides of the windows don’t ice-up as well as the outside.
Oh. I’m learning….
The USA home buying process is radically different from the UK process. Here are some of the features that actually change the way people behave:
Meanwhile my inspection raised lots of minor functional questions, like
It feels good to shift to asking trivial functional questions, clearly the big stuff is working well. The apartment is 4 miles from work and has ample bike storage in the basement. I could get fit in the summer. The route to work is through prettily housed suburbs.
As the inspector checked the apartment I pondered the view, watching the tail’ lights of city traffic. I felt at home. It felt right despite being so very different from my little hidden garden cottage in Reading. We all change as does the world around us. Time for a high rise garment with scary balcony…..
In the dark, driving slowly, I search for the car park entrance to the supermarket.
There is a roadside Christmas tree sales spot. Someone has camped on the abundant sidewalk and placed their neatly cut trees in the snow. Music is playing, they have bright lights pointing at the trees. It reminds me of TV programmes, films, I’ve seen. The Christmas trees shopping experience in below zero USA climates is just like that in the films.
A portly black man, reminiscent of father Christmas, dressed in ‘Salvation Army’ red rings a handbell at the store entrance. I pull out some dollars and push them into his collection jar. His voice is cheerful, hearty, as he talks of his day job and, this, night time volunteer work. I thank him and listen. I admire his dedication. It’s below zero and he’s collecting money to help those people who’ve been excluded by society. He likes my hat and warns me against the problems of drink.
How did he know?
I’ve successfully sold the Wendy house in Reading Town. There were bumps in the process. The four month process from putting the place on the market (July 22d) through to completing on the sale (Nov 28th) was efficient by UK standards. The buyers were first time purchasers in the UK. A French couple. Their lack of familiarity with the local process meant that it took longer than the 3 months it took me to originally buy the place. I left them champagne, a gifted plant, a folder of historical documents and a book describing the history of the area. The garden looked a bedraggled, neglected mess and removing my furniture revealed some dampness that neither I nor they expected.
The market in Minneapolis has Ground to a halt between Thanksgiving and the Super bowl in mid February. I’ve been tracking properties and prices online since April 2014. I feel confident that I know the type of properties and the places. I’ve now driven to, through, and walked around the areas I’m considering. I’ve had an offer accepted on an apartment that is very good value for money and checks most of my requirements. The requirements it fits are:
I’ve been researching the building developer and condominium management company. This apartment block was built in 2008 and is managed by a huge company that manages condominiums all over North America. The developer is prolific and their conversions, including this one, have won design awards. I’m comfortable with the developer.
Yelp reviews of the condominium management company are not good, they mention things like phone calls being ignored, maintenance work being difficult to schedule and generally tardy. Apparently getting the cash is the one thing they’re reportedly good at. I’m hoping that the reports are disproportionate and that when the company works well, no one bothers to review it on yelp.
Most of the time it’s below freezing. Today’s been an exception, I’ve walked out with my coat undone, no hat, no gloves and my scarf hanging limp in the sunshine. Yet the restaurants don’t offer to take your coat when you arrive.
Cloakrooms are definitely not ‘de rigour’. They exist. If you ask, you are offered a coat hanging solution, but this offer is not naturally forthcoming. Odd, given the weather and dress of the locals.
I’ve been in Minneapolis for a week, eaten out once per day. My oversized WW2 style flight jacket is heavy, when placed on the back of a restaurant chair, the chair surrenders. It falls backwards to the floor. I’ve now sent the jacket to the dry cleaners because it’s hugged way too many local restaurant floors.
Lots of helpful snow clearing trucks take to the road as soon as the little white mischievous chilly things start to fall. Meanwhile, I’m driving around looking for a pre-owned home and car. I wonder what I’ll find.
More than enough to be researching….
This blog post is bought to you courtesy of ‘procrastination’ and the letter T
Received an unbirthday present on my birthday. Mind imploding concept. There was carrot cake and singing to celebrate.
Being over anxious about finding the right place, I turned up 90minutes before my appointment ladened with half a redwood tree of supporting evidence, credit card, and my passport.
I had to line up, in separate lines to:
Standing in line, sitting in line with a number, is an integral part of the USA visa getting process. There are many ways that new technology could be used to streamline the whole process. Streamlining the process would remove the Kafkaesque quality. Perhaps being Kafkaesque is fundamentally important to government procedures.
The young, blonde, Brit who interviewed me was being observed by a senior member of staff who smiled when I got excited and when I behaved like a normal person… forgetting things, being uncertain.
Interviewer: tell me about your Diplomatic Visa, your A2
Wendy: Gosh, I’d completely forgotten about that, way back in 1999 I worked for the UK MOD on secret things, I signed the official secrets act and they got me a diplomatic Visa. Well done you for finding that out!
The USA are going to give me another Visa, despite my having to declare that I’d repeatedly lost my passport several times while living in the USA. It seems they can tolerate my human scattiness in return for my fabulous expert knowledge…. mainly knowledge of human scattiness….
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:
Arts and Craft’s house in a village style location in suburbia as a home because:
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…
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
Bus driver: where do you want to go?
He explained that for $1.75 I could travel anywhere in the city for 2.5hrs. Brilliant. I can get on and off any bus I want to. Luxury. I wanted to spend a day travelling on the busses but instead focussed on the more socially acceptable activity of going to a local art gallery.
The bus driver reminded me when I got to the stop I needed to get off at. He was very helpful. We met again on my return trip and he remembered me, greeting me with a warm smile hello. The bus drivers that I met were all very helpful and friendly. Very impressive.
I was able to explore some artsy stuff on a Sunday during my recent Minneapolis visit. The Walker Art Centre was a real pleasure. I found myself enjoying the building almost as much as the exhibits. First, they had a brushed-suede alcove for watching film exhibits.
Next, for visitors suffering from Museum fatigue they’d provided plenty of comfortable seating with views of the local scenery rather than the thought provoking exhibits. I watched children sledding down the hillside. Apart from myself the seats were…
Each corner that I walked around provided a new and interesting view of the architecture. There appeared to me more docents in the museum than visitors. I felt guilty looking at, and photographing, the building. There will be another post on the fabulous exhibits, to compensate for my guilt. The corridors were….
Normally I have to wait, twist, and stretch to find a view of a building without people messing up the view. Not in the Walker Art Centre on a Sunday in March. It’s a place where you can be alone.
Maybe even lonely.
Minneapolis airport had a surprise for me at gate G4. Tables with IPads, even outside the bars, everywhere people using their own or the airport’s computers. I slid up to a nearby bar and found the menu.
Kid’s under 12? I can eat them? Cool. I found myself a large glass of red wine and paid using the swipe-card slot on the bar. The bar staff talked to me about the system. She liked it, the customers liked it, I liked it. Sounds like an all around win.
I’ll go straight to the gate next time I’m at Minneapolis airport. No need to unpack my surface, no need to find a power socket or go through connecting to the airport WiFi. Just use the local iPad which even supplies flight information for the anxious passenger. That wasn’t me, I’m not the anxious passenger. I’m the one who’s snoozing after a large glass of wine….
Some good reading for my long flight home from Minneapolis, courtesy of the talented Peggy Pearl who gave me an exciting tour of the snow-bound city.
I’m now full and cultured.
The cars develop their own icicles while they’re waiting for the owners to return. These icicles took about 2hrs to form on a warm day. Things happen fast and frostily here in Minneapolis.