28 January 2013

Quickie...Cross your fingers, please?

Proud Racer: An American Greyhound
in Yorkshire, by Nancy E. Dunne






Just wanted to give you guys a little heads up that Daisy's second book, An American Greyhound in Yorkshire, has been entered in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest for 2013.  I don't expect that it will go anywhere but...you never know.  Three cheers for Daisy Mei Mei, international dog of mystery...and for her mommy for finally sprouting a pair and going for a contest.  Fingers and paws crossed!

23 January 2013

One more...a sort of a flashback post...

Daisy's Eyes by Nancy Dunne
Daisy's Eyes, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
See that look there?  That one is how my Daisy says, "Seriously?" as in "Mommy, seriously, take the camera out of my face and give me the whateveritis that you're holding over my head to make me look at you, already."

That is how I felt when I posted this back in August of 2011:

Okay, for the last time... 

I was still fairly newly repatriated and I was still fairly raw about the entire experience, mostly due to the fact that the three most important souls in my universe (Hubs, Daisy, and Mills) were four thousand miles away from me.

I'm reminded of that post because now, a year and change later, Simon is here and I've been back from my expat adventure almost two years...and I still have moments where I'm not sure where I am or, even better, where I belong.  I still have moments where I struggle to make myself understood and have the urge to go all Tanzanian Chimp (see?  There is a Big Bang Theory reference for EVERYTHING) on someone that giggles if I say wheelie bin instead of trash can.

We have a new captionist on staff here who loves all things British and I have to say I'm probably rambling on and on to her more than I should, bless her, but she gets it and that's cool.  Andrea, if you're reading this, ta very much. I still say lift sometimes, I still say mobile, and I still ring people up if I absolutely have to do so, and I don't imagine that will change much.

But last night there was a new experience to add to my list of "only other US/UK expats will get this" weirdness:  Last night we saw the Black Watch and Band of the Scots Guards at the BiLo Center and as any good British programme does, it included Jerusalem, the hymn that is the unofficial national anthem of England.

Y'all, I got teary listening to it.  I almost let out a choked sob.  The feeling of belonging but not belonging, of home and homesickness all happening at the same time was just overwhelming.  Hubs got a bit of a giggle out of it, not of my distress but of how surprised I was at said distress, I think.  These were "my people" due to my Scottish ancestry, but they were also "my people" because they were British and I feel like I was getting close to that, for a time anyway.

I said on Facebook: "Well, it happened. I teared up at 'Jerusalem.'"  The only people who have liked the comment are expats or have them in their lives.

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

I would like to say when, but for the time being I will say if...IF we make it back to live in the UK, they will have to burn me out to make me leave a second time.  It is my second home...and I can't wait to go back for a visit, at least.

Spades, Cabbage, and Hazelnut Coffee

I had a memory resurface the other day, and it's a memory I'd like to share here.  Most of you that know me know that a great deal of my life was spent either as a camper or on staff at Camp Glisson, a United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center in Dahlonega, Georgia.

Camp Glisson Staff Photo, Summer 1992
I decided not to crop this picture down to just me, or even point out where I am, because that is not what this post is about.  It's about every single person in that photo, and the impact made on my life by that summer.

I was a camper at Glisson from 1978-1988, missing only two summers (I think...might have been only one). As a preacher's kid, I didn't really have a "home church," so Glisson was my surrogate home church.  Further, as one of THOSE PKs who saw the seedy underbelly that some churches have and how it had the power to devastate my father, I looked to Glisson as the place where I could feel close to God and feel the fellowship of believers that my home churches often claimed but fell short of creating.

Once I graduated from high school in June of 1989, instead of taking one last summer as a camper, I joined the staff and had a marvelous, frightening, overwhelming and amazing summer.  I had never lived away from home before and spent many nights dreadfully and privately homesick.  I painted a rock.  I decorated my own cabin with toilet paper.  I made friends, sang songs, and generally felt so accepted and loved that I thought my heart would explode.  Seriously.  I know that I tend to poke fun at the Kumbaya-like expressions of emotion that sometimes accompany "church," but it's only because I've seen the real deal and I  have yet to find anything equivalent.  

I was a village camp counselor for the summers of 1989-1991, and then in 1992 I applied to be a section leader.  Camp structure works this way:  Campers, Counselors (in various camps, at that time it was Village, Pioneer, and Sparrowwood), Section Leaders, Camp Directors, etc.  There were four section leaders in Village Camp and I got to be one of them that year, along with three other guys whom I adore to this day.  

What does all this have to do with Spades, Cabbage, and Hazelnut Coffee?  I'll tell you, hang in there.

Ben (Village Camp Director), Marty, Joe, Andy, and I would get together most nights on the porch of cabin B-1 (Boys row, first cabin) to hang out, play spades and, most importantly, drink hazelnut coffee.  My stomach lurches even now to think of how many cups of that I drank without sugar or milk!  It was hard for me that summer...I was still young then and of course, everything revolved around me and my thoughts and feelings...and I was the only female in a group of guys.  But those guys were marvels and made me feel at home...well, most of the time. 

Now back to my memory...Hubs and I got a mini-Keurig for a housewarming gift from my parents, and one of the K-Cups included was "Hazelnut Cream."  As soon as that liquid hit my mug and the smell drifted from the machine, tears sprang to my eyes.  I was 20 years old again, sitting on the screened porch, listening to the drone of the crickets and waiting for my spades partner (whomever had drawn the short straw that time as my lack of card playing ability was EPIC) to either tell me Cabbage (which meant to throw something good) or Garbage (which meant to throw something useless).  To be honest with you, I'm not even sure why I was throwing anything because the rules of that game are a bit fuzzy, but I can hear Ben saying "CABBAGE!" as clearly as I know my own name.

I was happy then, even if I didn't know it at the time.  I was supported and loved, even if my actions and attitudes made it so that I wasn't deserving of such.  I knew what I was doing and I loved my job.  It was a joy to get up every morning, even if it meant waking up with no campers to rouse and no living group plans to implement.  I loved Camp Glisson, and all I have to do to feel that love again is look at the mini replicas of the Dining Hall Porch, Cane Creek Falls, and the Chapel here on my desk...or stick a hazelnut K-cup in the machine at home.

It was all cabbage, all the time...and I have each and every person in that photo above to thank for it.

02 January 2013

Just popping back in for a sec...

Tower of London by Nancy Dunne

1. We are getting our fence today. Hallelujah!
2. I'm not at all motivated to be at work, other than to be up and doing something. Although, if there was a job opening for Sit on Couch and Watch Telly All Day, I would be the girl for the job.
3. The Quest continues. Fingers are crossed. That is all.
4. Yes, I'm being intentionally vague.
5. Yes, my listmaking this morning is inspired by my dear friend Liz's blog from last August.
6. I want a Keurig for my office so that I can brew only apple cider all day long.
7. Having just stopped to think what that much of a fibre-filled fruit would do, I think I'm better off with a kettle and Yorks Tea.
8. I need more Yorks Tea.
9. Three day work weeks not only rock but should be the standard.
10. Guess I should get some work done...

01 January 2013

What a long strange...year...it's about to be.

Starry, Starry Blackberry Wallpaper
I'm not going to do my standard "Year in Review" post today.  I'm also not going to list resolutions for the new year that I will certainly break.  What I am going to do is tell you my plans for the year, so that this time 2014 I can look at this post again and see how close I got to getting it all right.

A short disclaimer:  This optimism is destined not to last, so enjoy it while it is here.  I'm sure I'll be back to my regular emo ray of sunshine self very, very soon.

This year is going to be very lucky for me and mine.  We have a house.  We will have a fence and a deck soon.  Our basement floor will return to normal.  We will get all our boxes from the overseas move unpacked before summer.  We will have guests from the UK and the US and Canada and wherever else we have friends to come stay with us. I will be having a Eurovision finals party at my house in May. Daisy and Clown will maintain, healthy and happy, as they are today.

Our family will grow.  We've gotten downright scientific about this whole process, and while we will definitely increase the canine population of the house with a larger and fuzzier newcomer, I am confident that we will also add to our family of humans.

I will get something published.  In the past, I have resolved to "make part of my living with my writing" and I've done that. Daisy's book and my others are still available on Lulu.com. This year, however, is when that takes a step up.  This is the year that all my nano-noveling and other pecking at my keyboard will be shared with the world, as well as the year that I truly start to believe that I have a story to tell that people want to read.

I will be doing more things in the name of self-care.  There will be yoga and meditation to quiet my mind as well as a dedicated effort to start running again while my knees will still allow me to do so.

There will be travel.  Watch this space, as I will be filling all five or six of you in on my travels in a more timely manner than I have in the past.  Along those lines, and in combination with the above publishing work, there will be a photo book in the works of our honeymoon trip.  We are fairly decent photogs, me and my Mister, and I want to share the incredible experience we had with others.

I am going to be a better listener and friend, and will spend more time doing and less time talking about doing.  Of course, this blog doesn't count...

Finally, I'm going to look back on this post on 1 Jan 2014 and smile at all I've accomplished this year.  Happy New Year, Lettuce Readers.  Live long and prosper, and all that jazz.

Dia duit ó GARF.

Almost TOO Irish, that. Go raibh míle maith agat  to Chris Heffron (of the Southern Travel Guide ) for this great shot from last Sund...