31 December 2008

Hey, 2008, you still here?

Man, I can't wait for 2009.

In 2008, I saw so many of my friends lose so much. Jobs. Family members. Pets. It seemed for awhile that every time I opened an email or logged into a message board the news would be grim.

2008 was an election year here in America...and I have not in my 37 years seen my country so polarized. You could feel the tension on the streets. People that I've known all my life have surprised me with their political leanings...on both sides of the aisle, to quote a cliche that I'm sick to death of by this point.

Dog food was contaminated. Baby formula was contaminated.

Our brave men and women that serve in the various branches of the military continue to be in harm's way due to the "war."

And yet, amid all that negativity, just when I start to mourn the loss of 365 days of my life that I'll never get back...there are bright spots.

January 1, 2008: Well, technically he asked when I got there on NYE but I'm going to count that it started the year...Simon asked me to marry him at Manchester airport...and all I could say was "What are you doing? What are you doing?"

February, 2008: My greyhound group was instrumental in recovering a greyhound that had been loose for several weeks and reunited her, unharmed, with her owner.

March 2008: Sandy Paws. Always a good time. Anything that brings me together with all those other people that are just as insane about greyhounds as I am is good. Plus, Simon was here for almost three full weeks, so that's good too.

April 2008: My Jeany Bean, the dog that I feared losing to my ex-husband, turned 11 years young and celebrated her 8th gotcha day. April was truly the Month of the Bean.

May 2008: Mills Mon Aristochat turned 10 and my former foster dog Simon (WV's Sweet Simon) found a new home with a young woman who has rightfully placed him at the center of her universe.

June 2008: Leah broke her ankle but came through the surgery to repair it with flying colors.

July 2008: After celebrating his birthday and then receiving some of the WORST care I have ever seen in my life from a "specialist" vet practice, my Hunky came through whatever was wrong and got back to his normal, silly, forgetful, now 12 year old self.

August 2008: The Olympics happened in Bejing, and for a few moments I remember why I'm so proud to be an American. But more importantly, the light of my life Daisy turned FOUR...and still hasn't grown into her brain. Ah well, there's always 5...

September 2008: A wonderful two weeks spent in Keighley and surrounds were followed by a fantastic trip to Myrtle Beach for Beach Bound Hounds.

October 2008: My time for one week this month was consumed by the Twilight series. I am so thankful for the reminder of how wonderful it is to be that lost in a book.

November 2008: The light at the end of the tunnel appeared on 4 November when We the People voted in Barack Obama as our next president.

December 2008: On the first of December my life changed forever when my niece Joy was born. I was not prepared for the feeling I would have for this tiny little person who was my niece...not just a niece by marriage but my sister's child. She restores my faith in the world, that one.

2009. Change is coming and it's all going to be all right. In three days I'll be married to the most wonderful, frustrating, hilarious, loving and caring person I've ever met in my life. In five days I'll have my wiggly and wonderful dogs back from the sitter. And in the next coming months I'll suprise everyone, especially myself, with the strength I'll possess in the face of the wonderful adventure awaiting me in the UK.

Happy New Year. Indeed.

23 December 2008

Sleep in Heavenly Peace...

Anna Joy
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
My Most Perfect and Gorgeous Niece, Anna Joy Allen Grady. This was taken when I was staying with Dave and Sooz, the night before I picked Simon up from the airport. Leah sent me a text asking "How's it going," and I sent this pic back in response.

Man, I can't wait to watch her grow up. Wonder if she'll call me Aunt Cee Cee?

Have Yourself a Busy Little Christmas...

Things around here are going...well, they're just going. I think this is the first time I've really had to sit down and just think since last Monday, and it's already giving me a headache. Simon arrived as scheduled Monday the 15th. I got to the airport just after he landed, and stood at the top of the escalator that leads to the baggage claim at Hartsfield for an hour waiting for him to jump through all the hoops required of international arrival. Perfect song after perfect song came on the iPod that would have made his appearance at the top of the escalator a scene to rival the opening ones of Love Actually...and he didn't appear. Honestly I don't remember what was on the iPod when he did appear because everything stopped. He was here, in America, and that was literally all that mattered.

We collected his bags and rode MARTA (because really, it's SMARTA) up to Kensington where my car was waiting, then headed to Susan and Dave's. Simon got to meet my Most Perfect and Gorgeous Niece, Joy, and then we all enjoyed a magnificent feast put on by my Sleep Deprived Brother in Law. A grand time was had by all.

Back up to Greenville via Canton, GA to pick up the pups. I truly think that Daisy remembered Simon because she danced and pranced and hopped and tried to jump into his arms. What a good girl. H and J couldn't be bothered with us because we interrupted their naps, I think.

Got to Greenville and we've pretty much been on the go ever since! Christmas shopping, two days of work at the University for me, lunch with Mom and Dad down in Commerce...busy busy. If I had any lingering regrets about quitting DMH when I did they're gone...I couldn't have kept up this schedule had I not decided to freelance my last two months in the US.

Now on to a bit more freelance work, an overnight with Mom and Dad, two nights with Sooz and Dave, a family Christmas party with Mom's family and then...the WEDDING.

Wait, let me take a sec to let that sink in...the wedding is a week from Saturday. One.Week.

Okay, now that I'm about to pull out all my hair, I'm off to get ready for a freelance gig and then get the rest of the presents wrapped and Mills to the vet for boarding and the dogs ready to go to their sitter tomorrow and and and...

Merry Christmas, Lettuce Readers. I'll catch you on the flip side...eat much, love much, laugh much, and count your blessings!

13 December 2008

This time, I'll get that Santa...

Mills has found a new hiding place now that I've rearranged his old hiding place. This picture reminds me of one someone took of my girl Franny a few Christmases ago in Montgomery, and made me miss all my babies that are only with me in spirit.

Tonight I'm sad for an internet friend of mine, Chrissy, who unexpectedly lost her greyhound boy Speck (Speculation, Specky Lee, the Speckster) today. There's a new star in the sky, but somehow the Christmas decorations seem a little more dim.

But instead of being too sad, I just imagine that Mills is lying in wait for the Fat Man to come down Mommy's chimney, so he can finally find out first hand (from someone that's been there) what the inside of the chimney looks like...since Mommy kept yanking him out of there and finally put the Gone With the Wind poster up to block further exploration.

In other news, Simon will be here DAY AFTER TOMORROW. At long last...

09 December 2008

Tis the Season...for Capitalism

This post is a shameless plug for my Lulu.com storefront. Please go and at least visit, but if you buy something that would be great too. All proceeds go to the Send Nancy To The UK With Enough Cash Left Over That She Can Eat fund. Truly a worthy cause.

Either click the title above or the linked text to see "what I'm on about..."

30 November 2008

Trash Can Followup

So apparently, if one slams one's trashcan into the kitchen floor, it will permanently affect the trashcan lid's ability to cooperate with the pedal that should cause it to open. Life lessons.

29 November 2008

Christmas Meme, Thanks to Liz

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags. Paper is wasteful and too much work.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial - easier to convince the dogs not to pee on it and the cat not to climb it.
3. When do you put up the tree? When I figure out where in my clutter I have room for a tree...
4. When do you take the tree down? The weekend after New Year's.
5. Do you like eggnog? No.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? My brittany spaniel Lady. It was the typical puppy with the bow on her neck. Perfect. As an adult, Simon proposing to me at Manchester Airport.
7. Hardest person to buy for? Simon.
8. Easiest person to buy for? No one really, a lot of thought goes into all of them.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Not at home, no.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Email except for the card exchange with my greyhound group.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? My ex husband gave me a chain for my glasses so I wouldn't lose them one year for Christmas. No joke.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Love Actually.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? After second payday in December. Not terribly organized, I know.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yep.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Little Debbie Gingerbread Cakes.
16. Lights on the tree? Yes please.
17. Favorite Christmas song? I'm not that into Christmas music.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Travel. None of my family can stand my animals for very long so I have to go to them.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Yes.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Nothing to open until Christmas morning really.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Radio stations that play nothing but Christmas music from the first of November onward.
23. What theme or color are you using? Isn't red and green the theme?
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Honey baked ham.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Simon and me in the same country.

27 November 2008

Pachelbel Rant

I didn't play the cello...but I did play the piano for 12 years and I feel his pain. Very funny.

Visitors on my Birthday

Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
For my birthday this year I woke up to three gorgeous whitetail does in my parent's "backyard" (really, it's the woods!). Isn't she just adorable? Thank goodness for a zoom lens, and apologies for the quality but it was taken from the other side of a window.

Today I'm thankful for the ability to see the wonders of our earth like this little doe and her two "girlfriends" having brunch in the backyard. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

21 November 2008

Me: 1 Trash Can: 0

Man, something is up this week. My friend Debbie would say that my stars are not aligned but I don't think that's what it is. Though I don't really know WHAT it is, so maybe?

I've been freelancing at UGA this week and it hasn't been bad at all. The drive is not as long as it used to be now that they've re-routed 441 around all the little towns, and I enjoy being back on campus. Interestingly enough, though, it isn't making me pine for my old job there as it did in the past. I rather feel like UGA has moved on without me, rightly so, and I'm just there for a visit.

I do miss Athens. I miss the wonderful places to eat downtown, I miss the creativity and the culture and I definitely miss the liberal environment. Ten years of living in exile in a red state will do that to you.

But on to the title of the post, the battle with the trash can...last night I really needed to take a bag of trash out and was having some difficulty doing so. My trash can has a pedal that opens the lid, and has a ring that fits VERY TIGHTLY INDEED into the top to hold the bag in place. You remove the ring by pulling on the two handles that are inserted into each side.

Well, you do unless the handles come out of the ring. At that point there was some unfortunate language and then wisdom: pry the sucker out.

By the way, a knife that can cut through a plastic ring that goes around the top of a trash can is not a good choice for a lever. Just so you know.

Finally the handles did their job and the ring came out with a very satisfying POP. I'm still not sure if it came from the rings or my shoulder, to be honest. I closed off the bag with the ties and pulled upward to remove it from the trash can.


After more unfortunate language and lots of yanking at the bag, I realized that part of the problem was coming from my boots that have NEGATIVE tread on the bottom. Seriously, I could go ice skating in them, and do anytime I encounter leaves on the ground. I couldn't hold the lid open with my foot because it was sliding off the pedal. More unfortunate language concerning boots made in American having more tread than those made in the UK (and to be fair, these were from Primark so they probably weren't made anywhere NEAR the UK, but...) later, a change of shoes, and the bag still wasn't budging.

Last straw. Hold trash can by bag still firmly wedged inside. Bang can up and down against the floor until bag lets go. Take bag out to bin.

Luckily I have a hammer, so the dent I put in the trash can that was impeding the use of the pedal once I put on proper shoes with tread was easily hammered back out. Mostly.

Envy me, don't you?

14 November 2008

Just because I really don't get it...

Why is it that those that are Pro-Life believe that Pro-Choice=Pro-Abortion? Maybe it means Pro-"I'm going to keep my baby, but if carrying it to term would endanger my life then I'm glad I can still make choices that affect my body without the input of the government." It might mean Pro-"Thank goodness we live in a country where a moral and religious objection does not become restrictive legislation."

I am very proudly Pro-Choice. Unless it meant the difference between life and death for me or the pregnancy occurred due to horrible circumstances (incest or rape),I would not personally pursue an abortion because it goes against what I believe and what my church believes. It's MY choice. Not the government's.

Ugh. Time to stop reading the news and hit the bed. I'm going to leave comments open for now but if they get ugly they're getting closed. I really do want to understand because it makes no sense to me.

10 November 2008

Yes We Can - Barack Obama Music Video

The sweetest sound...

...is the sound of my Hounda starting up, ready to drive. Why have I picked that sound, dear readers? Well...

This weekend I headed up to Charlotte for the Renn Fest as I've done almost every weekend since the first of October. I was driving along, talking to Simon on the mobile and actually in a good mood. I got to a gas station and pulled in to refuel. After only spending $25 to fill my tank (I am LOVING the current gas prices) I hopped back in the car and turned the key in the ignition.



Not even clicking.

I did not panic. I did not cry. I called Simon first to tell him what was up and then Leah, because she was driving toward Charlotte as well and had her 16yr old son/amateur mechanic in the car. They came to my rescue, her son looked around under the hood, and pronounced that the issue was probably my battery but might be the alternator.

How to strike fear in the heart of a single woman who's just quit her full time job to freelance, therefore securing a higher rate of pay without a set date for receiving such pay? Mention the words "replace the alternator" to her five days before her last payday from the prior job. Seriously. You might just get to see her head combust.

They jumped off my car and got me running again, and I headed north to my friend and fellow Rennie Debbie's house where I was staying for the weekend. Her husband can work on PLANES and according to Debbie "...can take a hunk of metal and turn it into a racecar." Off the the festival on Saturday and then again on Sunday, while he looked at the car to see if he could fix it.

It was just the battery!! Apparently the original battery was still in the car, and once replaced my Hounda started up like a dream. Thank goodness, since said freelancing is taking me to Georgia this week!

05 November 2008

Good News

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends... Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection." And, to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too.
-President Elect Barack Obama


31 October 2008

Why I'm Voting for Obama

Well, not exactly...this morning on one of my message boards there was a discussion brewing about who was voting for whom, something that NEVER ends well. I think that for once I was able to make my point clearly and without too much stupidity, so I wanted to share. Also, I'm concerned that some of my readers aren't getting enough sleep, so I wanted to provide you with something other than Tylenol PM to try if that doesn't work for you.
I'm a liberal. I'm probably a socialist.

But part of the reason I am, I think, is because of the way I was raised and the field in which I work. My father is a United Methodist minister. I can remember more times than I can count that he went out in the middle of the night to the police station (in the town where we lived when I was a teenager) to give money and food to "transients" that turned up there for whatever reason. That came from a church program, not from our pockets, but it was a church program that he and several other area ministers were instrumental in heading up.

It came to be, though, that he was going out more and more. When I asked why he was always "on call" to help, he usually answered that the other ministers couldn't be reached or that we lived (literally) across the street from the PD so he just went. Was it because he was the only one that went? To that, my father said something that has shaped the person I've become: He reminded me that we can't change anyone but ourselves, and we have to lead by example and not by refusing to help. As long as he did what needed to be done to help those who had less than we did (without asking questions, just helping) then he had done all he could do. At the time I thought that people were taking advantage of my father, but now I understand that for me, he's right.

I work in a field where I see people everyday try to make their way in our country. They try to get jobs. They try to make a living for their families or just themselves. And they can't, because they don't speak English or don't speak clearly enough to be understood or are just too sick with mental illness to be able to maintain. I don't make a lot of money...thought I did because in my profession I'm one of the higher paid interpreters in my area...but compared to others I don't. But I stay doing what I do because of what I learned from my father. To me, it doesn't really matter what other people do or don't do for themselves. Some can help themselves and some can't. All I can do is keep doing what I feel is right and let them sort themselves out. I feel that because I was born able to hear and speak English, because I don't have voices telling me to kill myself or am so afraid of the world that I lock myself in my house and hide under my bed that I have a responsibility to be of whatever help I can be to those that ARE in those positions. I've stayed in a civil service job (state department of mental health) for 10 years because of that. I did have some things handed to me, so to speak...my parents paid for my education which to me is even more reason why I have to use what I have to help as many people as I can, regardless. They paid ME forward, I guess.

Anyway, that's why I'm a socialist leaning liberal, and why I'm voting the way I am. There are other reasons, like Roe v. Wade and such that I don't want to get into here because I don't find those kinds of arguments to be productive.

30 October 2008

Why I love John Stewart...

From tonight's episode, probably available on the above website tomorrow...

John Stewart (on McCain): "He will come out and say 'Barack Obama is a socialist,' and then on Larry King say 'he's not a socialist.' I mean, he's literally arguing with himself. He'll say...I mean Sarah Palin is from Alaska, they give a stipend from corporations to their citizens, that is...Marxism, is it not? Redistribution of wealth?"

29 October 2008

Anybody outside of Greenville got TIVO?

One of my favorites, The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, is being made into a television series called Legend of the Seeker. Guess which market it hasn't picked it up? Yep, Greenville. Charlotte has it, Myrtle Beach has it, Columbia has it...but not Greenville. Figures, huh? From what I've seen on the internet and iTunes I'm not sure that I'm going to like it, but I'd like to at least have the chance to see it.

Ah well, how many days till Twilight comes out?

28 October 2008

To Those Who CLEARLY Know Better Than I...

I said this is MY bed!
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
Okay, I know that I'm just biased or cranky or cold or something, but I think we have an exceptional crowd of Know-It-All's and Animal-Rights-Gone-Wrongers this year at the festival. I've been told that my dogs are too thin. I've been told that they were hit and abused while racing. I've been told that they don't live well with cats. I've been told that I need to cut their toenails.

Only one of those statements is true, and Mills will tell you it isn't the cat one! Jeany's nails are a bit long. So to all those people who leave the "Dog House" or "Hound Barn," as it has been nicknamed, thinking that the lady in the gray/blue/orange dress is starving her hounds and probably is in league with Satan because she is...gasp...a FAN of greyhound racing...



Yeah, can't even come up with anything. All I can think of is how I wouldn't go up to another adoption group for a different breed, one with whom I've never lived, and start quoting propaganda and scare-tactic-speech that I've gotten from an internet site containing 20 year old statistics. I'm also not sure about those people who need to tell me about all the umpteenthirty animals they have rescued over the years. Does it truly make you feel better or warm your heart to have "saved" an animal (which, by the way, in case you're keeping score, does NOT make you the same as me because the only one of my animals that was "saved" was Mills, who was adopted from the shelter...) OR do you do it so people will tut-tut What A Wonderful Human Being You Are and praise you as a martyr? I was discussing this with S on the phone and I think they remind me of the Pharisees. Shouldn't we be doing our work to make the world better and just keeping quiet about it? Actions speak louder than words, etc etc?

I know, harsh words, but seriously...it is on my mind. I don't tell people automatically that I adopted my dogs after they retired from racing. I just say they are greyhounds. I don't tell people that I serve as a selfless mediator between people of two cultures and languages that can't understand each other in the interest of bringing our big world a bit closer together, either. I just say I am an interpreter.

If you're hung up on the saving bit though...my animals are the heroes, not me. They've saved my life more times than I can count.

24 October 2008

Dropkick Murphys - Amazing Grace (LIVE)

As I'm getting myself psyched up to do my favorite weekend at the Carolina Renaissance Festival (Halloween Weekend), I'm listening to all my "celtic" music in my iTunes...and wanted to share one with you. All my Glisson buddies take note...can you imagine getting the chapel to look like the audience?

PS-if you're at work, you might turn your speakers down. If you're at home, turn them up and sing along!!

08 October 2008

A Straight Answer, Sorta...

I've been wondering how McCain is going to fund this $5k health care credit that he and Palin keep bringing up. I've been listening too, and not once have they said where the money is going to come from that will be given out as a "credit." Atlanta's NBC affiliate seems to have found the answer...(bold text is my addition)
In fact, McCain's plan would tax health care benefits people receive from employers in order to finance the $5,000 tax credit. Obama's ads argue the new tax would raise the cost of insurance for employers, forcing millions off the rolls.
Socialized medicine, anyone?

Thanks to Liz for the article listed in her "What I'm Reading At This Very Minute" feed. Click on the link in the title of this post for more.

07 October 2008

Schooled, Biden Style!!

Thanks again, Ben..."From an early age two of my greatest loves were Jews and Cuban Food."

06 October 2008

FESTIVAL! Weekend One

Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
Every year I work the Carolina Renaissance Festival with the Hounds of East Fairhaven, and this past weekend was the opening of the season. I took all three dogs, but only Daisy went both days. H and J stayed at a friend's house Saturday.

H and J did very well. We have an xpen this year in a room off the back of our building, and several times I put the Diva back there to rest while H snoozed on the beds out front. Seems his proin is now in the right dose because we had (knock on wood) ZERO accidents yesterday!

Daisy, on the other hand, had a bit of a rough weekend, and she may have secured a permanent place in the xpen. We have two dog beds that are really those one person futon cushion things...you know, that fold up into a chair looking thing without a frame? Anyway, they are the Beds Of Choice and Much Coveted. Daisy finally got her shot at one Saturday afternoon, and was lounging there when an ITTY BITTY kid came up to see her. Kid pats her head and touches her nose...no problem. Kid grabs her nose and kisses it...still no problem. Kid grabs nose a second time to kiss her again and Daisy showed her teeth at the same time that I felt a growl come up the leash. I pulled her up and took her out back for a Time Out.

Now, Daisy has NEVER shown that kind of reaction to anyone, big or little. I took her back in and she got back on that same bed. Another kid came to visit, looked her in the eye, and she did the exact same thing again. At the time I chalked it up to her being tired and feeling threatened by the kid looking her in the eye (and the first one grabbing her nose) and she stayed on her feet and close to me for the rest of the day.

On Sunday, she immediately ran to the big bed again and at the time I didn't think anything of it. I was sitting on a bench next to her when a little boy came over to pet her. He kept moving his head around to look her in the eye and about the time I said "Don't get right in her face sweetie" Daisy's teeth came out again with the same grumble that I could feel vibrating up the leash. This time Miss Thing got the xpen with Jeany for about an hour while I walked around with my Big Man and tried to figure out what had happened.

The conclusion I came to is this: it's the dog bed. That bed is more like a couch than a bed and I think that being on it elevated her status, in her own mind. She reacted as any dog who felt him/herself to be of higher status would to a perceived threat, IE the children looking her in the eye. I could beat myself up and say that I should have been more vigilant, but the truth is that Daisy is the low dog on the totem pole in our pack and I would never have thought to watch for that kind of behavior from her. After her time out, I got her back out but didn't let her on that dog bed again until the very end of the day when most of the patrons were gone.

No more growlies. I'm not anthropomorphizing that fact to say that she "learned her lesson" from sitting in the xpen. We all know that the truth is she'd forgotten the growl by the time she got to the xpen. However, I think that keeping her off the Big Bed was key.

01 October 2008

This time it wasn't insomnia...

Last night I was up reading. Reading. For four hours straight.

I haven't had a book touch me enough or inspire me in that way since I finished the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, and even the last two books of that series didn't hold me rapt like what I was reading last night.

I'm sure those in the know (and I KNOW that Julie over at Seven Impossible Things has) have already read this series when it first came out. I avoided it because it was Young Adult Literature...I never could get into the Harry Potter books and thought that was the cause.

I now think it's because HP wasn't dark enough for me...but I digress. Last night I was up reading New Moon...almost 500 pages in one sitting. I can't say enough good things about it...and I'm going to get the next one in the series, Eclipse, today. (If you're interested in the first book, Twilight, click on this post title for the link.)

30 September 2008

Nancy 1, Insomnia 0

YAY! Steeton!
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
With a little help from a LONG day in the car and my friend tylenol...seven hours of sleep! I know, not really front page news...but for those two or three people still reading the Lettuce...I'm excited!

29 September 2008

In case my last post wasn't clear...

I'm still awake...something about finding no less than TEN flies in one's house and needing them to be DEAD made me a little more awake than I should have been come bed time...

See if you can tell which one is the real thing...

No fair cheating by looking at the opening thumbnails...

Seriously, how scary is it that Tina Fey not only LOOKS just like Sarah Palin, but can sound just like her? Or that Sarah Palin actually said that she watched Tina Fey "with the volume turned down and it was hilarious!"

Or...that she really said what Tina said about a "maritime border between Alaska and Russia..." Also known as one tenet of her foreign policy experience.

A heartbeat away, y'all.

28 September 2008

Sunday Funny

Now, normally I don't care for "pet speak." I see it all over my greyhound message boards, from people trying to imitate how their dogs (and cats) would type if they could. Grammatical errors abound, spelling is horrible...and often you have to attempt to read the "message" out loud in order to get a clue as to the meaning (sometimes even THAT doesn't work). To me, it's degrading to our animals that I believe to be very intelligent. If they could speak English I don't think it would look like that. It annoys me to the point that I don't read posts at all from the people that "speak" that way for their dogs...too much work.

However...this is just plain funny, considering that I just watched the interview in question (well, a part of it anyway) this week. Seriously...you can't make this stuff up.For more animals with English issues (but sound political statements nonetheless), click on the link in this post's title or on YES WE CAN HAS in my blog roll. Funny, funny stuff.

25 September 2008

What Dreams had better NOT Come...

Hey, baby...
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
For the past couple of nights I've had either bad or jarring dreams, the kind where you wake up suddenly and either don't know where you are or are not sure that whateveritwas was a dream. Last night was the worst to date.

I dreamed that my adoption group came to repossess, so to speak, Hunky. The reason given was that I'd signed a contract that basically promised I would put his well being first and do nothing that might cause him harm, and they felt that my taking him to the UK was dangerous for him. So, feeling justified and strangely enough with a lawyer in tow, they showed up at my door and dragged my heart-dog out my front door, leaving me sobbing on the floor in the stairwell.

The dream went on in snippets, with me trying to figure out where they were keeping him and eventually begging to see him. I was told no, that he would adjust better to life without me if I never saw him again. I woke up, interestingly enough not in the tears I had streaming down my face in my dream, but resolved to get on my email and let the adoption group know that I was coming to get my Hunky.

Weird, huh? I'll tell you this, though, I have NEVER been so glad to be awakened by my old man standing up and turning around on his dog bed. Never.

21 September 2008

Bye Bye, Beach

Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
We had SUCH a good time. I really needed this weekend. I think I can return to work tomorrow, attitude much improved and jet lag definitely all gone. Ta very much and love love love to Leah and Janet for a fantastic time...and much love to "my" boys, Nee Nee and Bern. How long till Sandy Paws??

19 September 2008

Beachbound Hounds

Well, we made it.

We set out yesterday at 11:30ish with the intention of picking up my friend Janet at the Myrtle Beach Airport at about 4pm. Along the way we slept, fussed, slept and slept...well, H and J did, Mommy was driving.

Somewhere past Florence I found a gas station that was selling unleaded for under $4 per gallon...and it had a sign on each of of the pumps stating that customers needed to limit their transactions to 10 gallons per fill-up because of the severe gas shortage affecting the Southeastern US.


After putting 10.01 gallons in my car, we headed on toward Myrtle Beach. Jimmy Buffett on the MP3, dogs blissfully sleeping in the back...and the traffic screeched to a halt. Dead halt. Stopped. Car in PARK.

Turns out there was an accident up ahead...so I rang up Leah and she headed over to get Janet at the airport. Finally, after a 20 minute wait, we headed on down to the beach.

So far I haven't even made it to check in with BBH staff, only into the hotel. Jeany isn't happy about the non carpeted floors in the room, but she's managing.

Best part so far? I have my Daisy Mae Mae Psycho Puppy Girl back with me.

17 September 2008


Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
Remember my previous Steam posts, from when I was living in Alabama?
I am a professional.

I am fluent in both languages. I'm not sure that you're even fluent in English.

I don't need to be told how to do my job. I had to have been pretty clear about what I was doing for my college to grant me a bachelor's degree and my professional organization to grant me national certification.

I'm fairly familiar with mental illness and working in this setting. The past 9 years of working in this setting have seen to that.

I know what I was hired to do, and I know what you were hired to do. Let's not confuse the two, shall we?

Until you know what it is like to be a necessary evil...until you know what it is like to be a walking after-thought...until you have been spoken about in front of your face as though you are an appliance or a chair in the room...

(Here's where my more sensitive readers might want to scroll down, by the way.)

Until you can understand sign and English and work between the two, get the hell out of my face, my business, and my way and let me do my job.


Well, this one's going to be a bit more cryptic because I don't really know who reads me up here in SC...but I still need to let it out or I'll explode.

When you make a computer mistake that affects your employees, it should not be the responsibility of the employees to make it right. I understand that it makes more work for you to correct the mistake, but I'm still not seeing how it's anyone's issue but yours to see it fixed.

When someone is hired for a job, it is assumed that the person has the required knowledge and skills to perform the job. If you weren't hired for that job then you probably don't need to try and tell the person in the job how to DO the job. I'm sure that he or she can handle it.

Creating a working environment where you have happy and willing employees almost always leads to productivity. A work environment where employees feel like they are either being watched every step of the way or they have to beg and scrape for the materials needed to do their jobs will not lead to productivity or a boost in morale. I try to remember that when I'm supervising my interpreters.

I did a 9-1 stint today alone...lots of clients back to back to see a doc, but also discussion in between with deaf staff members. My hands are worn out, my brain is totally mush...yet I still have to finish out my day (till 4:30 rather than 5, though, since I left home at 8 to get to the gig on time). And we're in a hiring freeze so it has to be justified that we need another interpreter in this area. I'll tell you what, put on my hands and feel the pain in my joints right now, or try to string a coherent sentence together with my foggy brain for the past two hours and you'll get your justification.

It's funny, an interpreter I know who used to work where I do now warned me when I took the job all those years ago that "this job will be the end of you...they will work you to death there," but I scoffed. And have been for the past almost 10 years.

Ten years. Lordy.

Once September is over I will only have two months left at my job. Sobering thought...and honestly I'm not sure if it's because I will miss it or sobering because there are still two months left. Time will tell.

16 September 2008


Zyrtec? Check.

Proper dinner? Kinda check, if you count curry noodles as a proper dinner. Do the onions in the sauce count as veg?

In bed on time? Another Kinda Check. I fell asleep on the sofa around 9:30, woke up at 11:30 and got in my bed so kinda.

Woke up at normal time? Nope. I was up at 4am with Jeany wanting to go out, and then dozed off and on (more off than on really) from 4:30 to 7:30 when I finally gave up and got out of bed.

Still, 4:30 is better than 3. I'm moving in the right direction at least.

Nancy 1, Jet Lag 3.

15 September 2008

What do you get when you add...

enroute to MAN
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
Jet lag, no zyrtec for a week, and a cat that would clearly rather stay at the vet's than be held by his long suffering Mommy whose allergy ridden head has just come back to Georgia in full bloom and humidity?

Me. Sick as a dog yesterday and aching for allergy/cold meds. Two benadryl later and I couldn't think straight, let alone keep my eyes open. I was asleep on the couch when the guy from Papa John's brought my comfort food...err...pizza. I ate some and then went promptly back to sleep. That was at seven thirty EST, otherwise known as midnight BST (British Summer Time). My body thought it was bedtime and when the meds agreed we all took a nice long nap...till 3am when I was wide awake and mostly productive!

So...now I've been up for fourteen hours and I'm sleepy and barely able to string a sentence together. Seriously. What I've typed so far has taken me much longer than it should have, considering the quality. Here's hoping I will be back to normal soon...changing my work hours to the middle of the night MIGHT raise a few eyebrows.

14 September 2008

Vacation, Day Fourteen: Almost Back to the Grind

I'm leaving from Cleveland in about half an hour to head to Anderson and collect my Meee-uhls from the vet. I'm really looking forward to snuggling my wee orange man. It's amazing how the heart forgets the constant ME-OOOOWING and the running across the face at midnight and the litter box cleanings when one hasn't had a cat close by for over two weeks. After that, I'll head over to get Hunky and Jeany. Daisy's going to ride down to Beach Bound Hounds this weekend with Auntie Leah, so I'll be getting her then.

While I'm decidedly NOT happy to be away from Simon and interestingly not so comfortable here in the US, I'm desperate to see my critters. Simon and I talked about it while I was visiting last week...I'm not all of me without them. Am I addicted? Sure. Is it a mental illness? Possibly. Do I care if people don't understand or make fun of how well I treat my animals? Definitely not. They have saved my life more often than I care to count, and I'm a better person for having had them in my life.

Now to get the car loaded (UGH) and then hit the road for South Carolina. I drove Mom and Daddy up from where they collected me at the MARTA station last night, so at least I'm set on which side of the road I should use to drive home. Home to my dirty house. Home to my chair and my TV and hopefully a working refrigerator. Home to a house, really, because my home is four thousand miles away.

13 September 2008

Vacation Days Twelve and Thirteen: Hello Steeton and Goodbye at Manchester Airport

On Friday Simon and I went to see an absolutely tiny house in Steeton. Uh, no thanks. If Simon doesn't fit in the house I know he and three greyhounds and children won't.

We also had lunch at a fantastic fish and chip restaurant with Simon's parents. Yummy.

On Saturday...well, I once again learned how much I can take before I completely lose it, including some huge tears dripping onto my lap on the plane. Ta love, ta very much. 12 weeks.

11 September 2008

Surfing on the Train...

Vacation Day Eleven: Sheffield

We went to see the dogs run at Owlerton Stadium in Sheffield today and tried to get to a shop that sold Sheffield United Football Club stuff for Dave's birthday. We found one by accident last time but couldn't remember where it was this time. The worst part of the day, I think, was not the weirdly hot/cold/hot/cold weather or the lack of a seat for either of us on the train from Leeds to Sheffield (we surfed in the part of the carriage where the toilet was, blissfully it was not in service)...but was the fact that we tried to get to the SUFC football grounds to visit the shop for a birthday present and arrived LITERALLY two minutes after the shop closed. All we got was photos of the football grounds, which are currently uploading to my Flickr as I type.

Simon and I did get to visit Meadowhall for the first time, making that two firsts we've had on this holiday. The other was deciding to eat at Nando's in Leeds after returning/exchanging things at Primark yesterday. Holy YUMMY CHICKEN batman...that was one of the best meals I've had in ages. I could have had just the hummus and pita with the Peri Peri sauce drizzled over it and been a happy clam.

After that in Leeds we decided not to try to go up on the moor at Haworth, mainly because it was getting dark. I can lose track of time in Primark and we didn't even make it to the Market before it closed yesterday.

Tomorrow's plan is to hit Keighley Market and possibly the one in Bingley, then go look at a house in Steeton tomorrow night...though I would prefer to live in either Wakefield or Leeds. We'll get to see Simon's parents tomorrow as well...and then make a final Sainsbury's run for me before packing up to head to Manchester Airport at SIX AM on Saturday. Give me strength...

10 September 2008

Vacation Day Ten: PRIMARK RULES

We took a shopping trip to Leeds yesterday with the intent of hitting Leeds Market but got stuck in Primark...holy moly...sweaters for £10, shirts for £2.50...and not junk, either! I got a great blue overcoat for £17 and some stuff that I unfortunately have to take back due to my inability to try on anything in the store...but I'm blaming it on the difference in sizing here. Yeah.

We also hit the Leeds City Art Gallery and saw two paintings by JW Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott(Looking at Lancelot) and Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses (which was on loan from Oldham).

Today we're back to Leeds to exchange those clothes for some that fit and then go...? We had planned a trip to York but I want to go somewhere I haven't been so we may go up on Ilkley Moor since it isn't raining, or to Harrogate to see Fountains Abbey. I wanted to visit Edinburgh again on this trip and Simon had joked about taking the Eurostar to Paris, but you have to book things that far away WAY in advance and we didn't. Might try for a trip to Liverpool today but that's still a good long train ride. Tune in tomorrow to see where we ended up!!

09 September 2008

Vacation Day Nine: Hello from the Piece Hall in Halifax!

"You went to Halifax on your holiday?"

Simon had a dentist appointment yesterday afternoon, so we dragged our lazy selves to the train station and headed to Halifax. As we started out for the office from the station, he said to me that he had always thought Halifax looked a bit derelict...which of course made me think of Zoolander but that has been a real theme to this holiday and again, I digress... The area around the train station is a bit dodgy looking but the High Street is quite nice. After his appointment we headed up to the Halifax Borough Market and the Piece Hall for some shopping. You can see more photos (and some from Skipton that were still lingering in my camera) on Flickr.

Long train ride back got us to Leeds in time for rush hour. Man alive can they pack them in on the train! I heard the conductor telling a guy that he just didn't have room for one more on this train and I remember thinking that there was a bit of space in the overhead bin...

Home via Sainsbury's and polenta with a bolognaise sauce for our tea...today we are off to my favorite market on the EARTH, Leeds Kirkgate, because (as Simon says) it's supposed to be peeing it down rain today and who wants to sight see in that?

07 September 2008

Vacation Days Seven and Eight: Nostell Priory and Junction 32

Remember how I said I thought my family was the only one on earth that went to outlet malls and other malls while on vacation? Today Simon and his sister Sarah and her boyfriend Gareth did just that. Sarah and Gareth live at Nostell Priory (Gareth works there) which is a gorgeous National Trust site. We headed up there yesterday after a soaking wet morning in Skipton getting me some Wensleydale Cheese to take home from the market. The four of us visited a lovely pub that was in walking distance of the Priory, then went back for a fantastic dinner of chili con carne and all the trimmings. Much love to the two of them for that dinner...I think we all inhaled it without speaking, it was so good.

This morning we got up and set off to visit Simon's other sister, Louise, and her husband Rob and their daughter Phillipa. We had a great time just doing nothing but visiting. After awhile the sun came out and Lou headed off to take Phillipa on an outing to take advantage of the lovely weather so the four of us headed to Junction 32, something like an outlet mall in the states. I almost bought some COM-FEE clogs but seriously, how often can one wear periwinkle blue suede shoes? I did make off with a gorgeous orange handbag for only £12. Can't beat that for leather...at least it smells like leather.

Now we're back in Keighley...Simon's napping and I'm about to start downloading three days worth of pictures off my camera to add to flickr. My holiday is going just as I needed...slow with lots of time for doing NOTHING.

06 September 2008

I couldn't have said it better...

...so I'm not going to try. (And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I have trouble with the English setup on the keyboard, I swear.) Your Vacation Update will come after we've actually left the house and done something.

But in the meantime, please go here or follow the link in the title. Heather Armstrong says it better than I ever could.

05 September 2008

Vacation, Day Six: Surfing through Keighley on my knee...

I could NOT get going today to save my life. I think that I slept until well after noon and we didn't make it out of the house until after 3pm local time. And that, dear readers, is when my surfing began...and ended, really.

It was raining buckets and I was convinced that I was NOT going to take a single step out the door without the umbrella opened over my head. I remember stepping out onto my right foot and raising the umbrella to look for the button on the handle that should be easy to find but I have to look every time, and then feeling my right foot sliding out from under me. Next thing I know I'm almost doing a split, bad cheerleader style, in the small entryway to Simon's house while clinging to the umbrella with my right hand and Simon with my left. I hit the pavement pretty hard with my left knee and bent my left foot completely backwards.

We came back in to sort me out, but I felt okay. You see, in this country they don't sell a lovely little medicine called Midol. When you ask for that, the kindly pharmacist at Boots gives you Paracetamol with Codeine. Seriously! Over the counter! No Rx required.

I made Simon look that up earlier to see what paracetamol is and agreed to take it after finding out it's derived from the same compound as the active ingredient in Tylenol.

I had taken the recommended dose of the paracetamol and didn't really CARE about the pain in my knee or ankle. In fact, I only started limping a little bit after we got to downtown Keighley. Gooooood stuff. I'm sure I'll have a goose egg on that knee but that's what long trousers are made to cover.

We're back in now and I'm off to go make myself a sandwich and nurse my knee...when the meds wear off, that is, and I start caring again...

04 September 2008

Vacation, Day Five: Shipley and Keighley

Today got started a bit later, I think, than Simon would have liked. Nasty little thing called JET LAG got in the way and I was in a coma until about 10am local time. My body was absolutely convinced that it was 5am and not even close to time to get up.

We went to Shipley and I got to see the lobby of the building where he works, and then meet his co-workers that came down to say hello. We then had a fantastic buffet lunch at Aagrah in Shipley...that was possibly some of the best curry I've ever had, good service, and rather posh environs. A definite must-visit if you ever find yourself in Shipley.

After that we decided just to head back to Keighley, mainly because of the weather. Rainy off and on...more on than off, really. We went to Keighley Market and just did some light shopping, and now I'm catching up all four of my Lettuce readers while Simon takes a nap. I've also loaded some photos up on Flickr, so do check that out and keep going back, I'll be updating it every time I get back in from an outing. I'm using a different camera this time, one borrowed from my parents. It's a Cannon PowerShot A530 and other than the slightly worrying LONG TIME between pressing the shutter button and the SNAP that means it took the picture, I am loving it. I'm especially loving it's video function because unlike my Fuji S3000, it has SOUND. How posh am I?

See? You can see AND hear what it's like to be on a train in the UK...

Okay, so there are better things to video in the UK...that one was an accident, because I'd forgotten that I had just video'ed Simon while waiting at the train station.

Off to edit photos!!

03 September 2008

Vacation, Days Three and Four: Cleveland to Manchester in under 24 Hours

Day three started with me riding over to visit my aunts before leaving Cleveland to head for the airport. We had a good visit with one but the other wasn't home, unfortunately. Dad and I hit Ingles quickly on the way home and I packed like a MAD WOMAN before heading out with Mom and Dad to drive to the MARTA station at North Springs.

MARTA...because it's SMARTA. Brilliant ad campaign, no? Anyway...

The ride to Hartsfield was pleasant enough...I am probably the only person over the age of 13 who sometimes imagines that she's on TV when out somewhere, but today I was imagining myself like someone on Sex and the City or Lipstick Jungle, zipping into "the city" with Michael Buble's Save the Last Dance for Me blaring in my ear. I was glamorous. I was together. I was jetting off to a foreign country, all I needed was a white scarf to flutter along behind me and some huge sunglasses.

I was not so glamorous trying to make it through the turnstiles at the airport with all my luggage. Audrey Hepburn faded as I huffed and puffed toward the baggage check-in, dressed in clothes more appropriate for the fall temperatures of the UK than the sub-sarahan Atlanta climate. Checked in, breezed through security, and got to the gate...all under control, until I had one of my typical panic attacks and thought I was at the wrong gate.

See, my gate was E4. My seat was 34E. The flight leaving out of E4 after mine was also to Manchester, but operated by AirFrance. I was on Delta. I looked up at the gate, saw AirFrance, checked my boarding pass, saw 34E and started a mad dash down the concourse toward gate 34...until I happened to look again and notice that 34E was my SEAT assignment. Skid to a stop, calmly walk back to the gate and ignore all the gawking and giggling Brits that would be sharing my flight.

All in all the flight was much better than it has been in the past, despite the fact that I was in the BACK of the plane and it was crowded. My secret? Tylenol PM + VERY CARBY DINNER IN FLIGHT + a neck pillow. I think I got 5 hours sleep out of an 8.5 hour flight!

Day Three started when the little girl across the aisle RIPPED OPEN HER WINDOW SHADE and suddenly the cabin was filled with SUNLIGHT. Breakfast? Check. Land safely? Check. Manage to find the train station? Well, check, even though I had to call Simon to find out which way to go out of the Arrivals gate to find the sign with the CLEARLY MARKED ICON THAT LOOKED LIKE A TRAIN. (Vaguely reminiscent of trying to find the GIANT Northern Rail sign that was right behind my head in London...but I digress...again...)

Best part of Day Three? Pulling into Leeds Station and seeing Simon standing there with that look on his face. Any of you that have come home to your significant other know that look...the one that bursts into a jubilant smile once you are spotted in the crowd.

Now off to convince my body that it's really 11:15 and not 6:15...

02 September 2008

Vacation, Day Two: Holy Shopping, Batman!

After a very leisurely morning of doing basically nothing, Mom and Dad and I headed to an outlet mall in Dawsonville, Georgia...along with HALF OF THE POPULATION OF THE STATE. Seriously. There were times when you had to wait a moment for the line to pass you before you could move down an aisle in a store.

We had a good time, as we always do when we go out shopping. My family is probably not alone in our love of shopping, but I doubt that there are many that go shopping while on vacation like we do. I can remember being a child and being on the family summer vacation and going to a mall or other shopping center as an outing! And boy, can we ever shop...my father can work his way through a store in minutes flat, and come back with several things that just look stunning on my mother. The man has a talent.

As a result of the outing yesterday, the lower half of me rather feels like I ran a marathon. However, it's up and at 'em this morning...suitcases to be repacked, relatives to be visited here in Cleveland, and then I'm off to the airport for the over night flight to Manchester. Wish me luck that the middle seat I've been given (on my "overbooked" flight) isn't between two large people who want to talk to me all the way there...

31 August 2008

Vacation, Day One: Young Harris Memories

Today started very early. I went to church with Mom and Dad and then took a trip back in time when we decided to eat lunch at Young Harris College's new "restaurant." It's where the cafeteria/dining hall used to be.

Liz and I talk often about how different our experiences were at YHC. She loved it and counts it as one of her more fond memories. I have blocked out so much of the 2 years I spent there that when Dad asked me what I thought of the new dining hall today I absolutely could NOT remember what the old one was like. I have no memory whatsoever of ever setting foot inside that building. Funny what the mind does.

My heart broke a little bit when we parked in the upper lot behind Appleby West, my first dorm at Young Harris, and I looked up the hill in front of me to see a parking lot where Mama and Papa Rich's house used to stand. Robby, their son, is the person in my life that I have known the longest (that isn't family) that I am still in touch with and count as a friend. I spent time in that house as a friend of the family, as a girlfriend, and finally as "family," and to have it not there just seemed kinda wrong, even though the inhabitants are all long gone.

The swing that was given to the college by my sorority, Sigma Beta Sigma, was one of the few things I recognized out in front of the new dining hall. I remember vividly sitting on that swing with Amy one night and figuring out the secret to life, the universe, religion, and probably calculus...only to be interrupted by a yelling Robby thundering down the hill toward us and forgetting what we'd only moments before been sure would CHANGE THE WORLD.

I wasn't sad to leave today, despite all the tiny smiles I afforded my heart as we walked around that tiny corner of my past. It made me who I am, unpleasant as it was, so I can't wish I'd never been there. I can only wish that I'll forget all the bad things, just like I have the dining hall. And then, after I've forgotten, I can don my old purple and yellow sorority jersey and take my children there. I can tell them how Amy was convinced she was developing pneumonia because I had to leave our dorm window open a crack so I could hear the chapel bell that my sorority was "in charge" of protecting. I can tell them how Liz and Heather and I made a snowman on the front porch of Appleby Center and then snuck it into the lobby.

I can tell them how I was a student there just like their Grandpa, my father was before me, and I can say then that if they want to go there I'd be very proud.

I wonder how long that bit of forgetting will take?

29 August 2008

Quote of the Day

People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.

-William Jefferson Clinton


Last night, or rather, this morning I had a dream. I dreamed that I wasn't with Simon anymore, due to some action on my part, and I'd gotten back together with an old college boyfriend called Charles. We were at some big religious thing, which is appropriate since we met while working at Camp Glisson (a United Methodist summer camp in Georgia and the closest place to Heaven on this earth...but I digress...). I slipped away at some point to ring Simon and make sure he was okay. He was angry on the phone and got even more surly when I suggested that since the ticket was already purchased I might just come on to England on Tuesday. I asked if he'd be around, or if I'd just be wandering around Manchester and Leeds on my own for two weeks (funny that I never thought, in my dream, to head to London and see Liz and Andrew)? He said he didn't know because some of us have to work for a living...

I woke up feeling just AWFUL. Of course nothing of the sort has happened...Charles is apparently married and has kids, for pete's sake! Anxiety is a funny thing...it sneaks up on you and pounces when you're defenseless...like when you're asleep.

Anyway, off to work. Less anxious somewhat for having talked to Simon. Somewhat.

28 August 2008

T minus...

Six days and counting until I see Simon again. That makes it five months and thirteen days, give or take, since I last saw him. And no, the webcam doesn't count.

Five days and counting until I put my life in the capable hands of the Delta pilot to fly to Manchester from Atlanta (and hopefully get some sleep along the way).

Two days and counting until I drop the kids off at their babysitters (and Mills with his fans...err...the vet's office) and head to Georgia to visit my parents for a few days.

And finally, several hours until I have to get up and go back to the hospital for my last day of work until September 15th.

On a completely unrelated note, I spent part of today reading/watching the speeches from the DNC and was blown away. Say what you want about Hillary, her speech showed what a class act she can be. She is a strong, opinionated, professional woman who knows what she wants and puts everything she has toward getting it.

She quoted Harriett Tubman at one point, and the words really resonated with me in the context of the uphill battle our country has in front of her starting in January. "If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see torches in the woods, keep going. If they're shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."

Bill's speech was phenomenal but who would have expected less from him. Count me in the group that say "I miss Bill." Joe Biden hit the nail on the head with so many of his points, but as did all the other speakers he did it with class. I'm looking forward to the coverage of the RNC to see if they can keep up the same level of decorum as I have seen this week.

26 August 2008

Playing Chicken with a Tornado

We've had a crazy weather day here in the Upstate and I don't know that it's going to get any better soon. Thanks to Kay coming on land and getting a bit stuck we've had rain rain rain and more rain today with a few thunderstorms and a tornado thrown in for good measure. Apparently there was a bad tornado that left some damage in Clemson...but Tiger Fans NEVER FEAR, it hit NEAR Death Valley, not IN Death Valley. I apparently caused a resident at the hospital tonight a momentary fright when I said that it had hit "at" the stadium.

Not that I don't totally get that...you tell me or anyone in my immediate family (except for my brother in law who suffers from a raging case of "I'm a University of Alabama Fan") that a tornado has hit Between the Hedges and watch the hysterics ensue. But I digress...

I left the hospital early today because I was very concerned that said storms would produce tornados in Greenville while my dogs were safely locked in their crates on the SECOND STORY of my house. I got home and sat through the outer edges of a nasty nasty storm, and finally was ready to feed the dogs and get on with making my dinner. Suddenly my phones were all going off with text messages and voice mails. Seems the hospital was trying to find me because there was ANOTHER deaf patient there and they needed an interpreter.

Did I mention that the hospital is about 45 minutes from my house on a sunny day with no traffic?

I fed the dogs and hopped in the car to head south to the hospital. I was listening to the radio, as you do, and the weather alerts just kept coming and coming. As I got off the interstate onto the road that leads to the hospital (but is still a good 20 minute drive), a new weather alert came on talking about a BAD storm that could produce a tornado that was heading RIGHT for the hospital where I was going. In fact, it was supposed to be at a town about 10 miles from the hospital at 7:30. I was supposed to be at the hospital at 7:30.

Enter the game of chicken. I was determined to get there first. I didn't. What I did, however, is get to the hospital while it was under a weather warning...which means that you can't leave until it is lifted or expires. Thankfully it was changed to a watch rather than a warning shortly after I'd gotten there so I could leave but under a warning from public safety that it wasn't a good idea. I considered that after I'd interpreted the intake and was ready to go until I asked when the watch was set to expire.

PSO: 2am, ma'am.
Me: Yeah, NO. I'll take my chances.

On the way home I came up on a wreck. I couldn't really tell what had happened because I was kind of blinded by all the flashing lights from the emergency vehicles that responded. However, it did give me pause because I had come that same way only hours before. What is that saying, there but by the grace of God?

So yeah, I raced a bad storm and didn't really lose, I think it was a draw. And now I'm back home, tired, full of bad take away food and ready for bed.

I just had to blog this...

APD and Friend.
Originally uploaded by ebeth
It came up on Liz's photo stream on her blog and I just had to do it. Hello, future brother in law! Who's the guy holding you?

Just kidding, Andrew. Much love.

19 August 2008

Not Really News

I am officially...

...tired (of the psych hospital...of the drive TO the psych hospital...of having a dirty house and no motivation nor energy to clean it).

...frustrated (the perfect job comes available for me and I can't take it because of my upcoming trip to the UK...and the fact that it doesn't carry benefits).

...lonely for Simon (it's now been over four months since I've seen him).

...achy (muscles I didn't know I had in my neck feel like concrete).

...ready for it to be January and the chips to fall where they may...ready to move to wherever, find a job wherever...just ready to be past all this bloody ridiculous and counter-productive waiting and anxiety. It's hard to get anything done when your emotions are so raw that you are quite literally reluctant to open your mouth for fear of either snapping or weeping. Most unattractive.

Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering, I know that I'll be leaving my family in the US to move to England, I know that the sign language is different there so I can't work, and I know that despite the fact that I'm clearly quite selfish I'm also positively rubbish at saving money for myself and we're most likely going to starve. Thanks for wanting to remind me, though. Seriously. The support means everything.

Hang on, my tongue seems to be lodged in my cheek. There, that's better.

I'm going to go crawl under my ratty old Ikea duvet and hide until 6:30am tomorrow when I get to do it all again. Hoo-friggin-rah.

"...she's yer sister..."

The BBC has recently put out a program focused on the inbreeding practices in the pedigree dog world that is causing somewhat of a stir. Pedigree dog people not only in the UK but the world round are up in arms that these scientists are telling them to worry over something that they say isn't harming their dogs. On Cold Wet Nose I found a quote from Terrierman's blog that made me happy...(bold type is mine)

"We find extremely inbred dogs in each breed except the Greyhound, and estimate an inbreeding effective population size between 40 and 80 for all but two breeds. For all but three breeds, more than 90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations, indicating a dramatic effect of reeding patterns on genetic diversity."

Simon and I were talking about the study this morning and before I read this I commented on how the Greyhounds I work with (NGA registered racing dogs, not AKC show dogs) don't have that problem as far as I knew because the NGA looks at who is bred to whom and I think if it's too close don't register the pups. I could be wrong on that. I know that their family trees used to look like telephone poles but I think it has gotten better lately...as have a lot of things in the industry.

If you're in the UK, "Pedigree Dogs Exposed will be shown on BBC One at 2100 BST on Tuesday 19 August.

16 August 2008


...that if you say one word too many times it becomes really funny, or maybe just that I need more sleep? Thanks to Dooce for this one:

15 August 2008

Just in case you still wish you were me...

Today I got myself trapped in my bedroom.

Yep, that's right, trapped. As in couldn't get out. As in door won't open and there's no way to go out the windows because my bedroom is on the second floor.

Here's the lead up...

I was on call this morning for an admission to the psych hospital. I was asked to come to a meeting an hour's drive from home to get some information on the patient from the case manager. So off I go, dressed to the nines (having originally been in a T-shirt and jeans since I knew I'd be going on the men's ward) to drive an hour away to a meeting...a meeting that I knew I'd be attending for about 10 minutes before I had to dash south to the hospital.

Sure enough, I was no sooner in the meeting room but I was again hurtling down the highway, planning to stop at home and put on my more androgynous outfit from earlier in the morning and then go straight to the hospital. The patient was coming from a good ways away so I felt sure that I would have time to change and even grab some lunch.

Speaking of lunch, I'd have to give the chicken sandwich at McDonald's a Nice Try. It's clear that it was supposed to resemble the Chik-Fil-A sandwich, down to the boiled/bagely texture of the bun and the pickle. Supposed to, but didn't. Reminded me more of the chicken we used to get in the lunchroom when I was in school. But back to the story, lunch comes long after the issue with the bedroom door.

I stopped by the house and dashed in the door, barely shutting the front door behind me. Up the stairs and to the left (that was for you, Liz), please, and into the bedroom with Jeany to change back into my "Looks Like A Boy" outfit. Of course, I didn't want Jeany running into the dog room and getting the other two all wound up so I shut the bedroom door.

Problem. When the bedroom door shuts, it sticks along the top. This isn't usually a problem because the door opens inward and I can hit it near the top as I turn the knob and it opens without a problem...from the outside. From the inside it doesn't budge.

Guess who's claustrophobic? I paced, I cried, I'm sure I scared Jeany to death. I hit the door, I kicked the door, I tried to get it to open by shoving an underwire (don't ask) and a metal bookmark between the door and the top of the door jam. Both those objects are now bent.

I called my parents for ideas. Mom asked if I had a knife in the room with me.

Pause. A knife? In my bedroom?

Anyway, then Simon called and tried to talk me down. It wasn't working. He did come up with the suggestion that saved the day, however. "Have you called Katy?" he asked. I love the text I got back from her... "Here I come 2 save the day!" Bless. I'm so glad she and her husband were close by and had time to come help me or I might just still be there.

So yeah, save your envy for another post. Today was not a day I'd wish on anyone...except those folks that think claustrophobia is a joke...

10 August 2008

See ya later, Boys.

Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
Bernard and DeNiro, my two houseguests for the past two weeks, will be going home today. While I was trying to get myself ready by thinking about how much more calm the house will be with only three dogs and fewer dog beds to step on, etc etc...the real truth is that I can't stop thinking about how far away I will be from them and their Momma, my best friend Leah when I move. But I can't think about that or I'll be late getting ready to go meet her and take her precious boys back.

Thanks for a rip roaring rousing restful relaxing reminder, boys, of what (and who) is important in life. And thanks for letting me sleep till at least 7am most mornings. Aunt Nancy loves you very much.

08 August 2008

Thoughts on the Olympic Opening Ceremonies

(My disclaimer here is that it is now 12:41 am and I started writing this post as the ceremony coverage was ending just before midnight.)

First of all, let me say that I hadn't planned to watch this. I used to be BIG into the Olympics when I was younger. I've never been an athletic type but something about getting to see all the countries of the world gathered together just fascinated me. The events I watched at the summer games were things like gymnastics (of course, what little girl doesn't?), track events, and swimming. I'm sure there were others, but those were the biggies for me. I loved the winter games even more, probably because when I was younger I had a secret dream to become a figure skater.

Yeah, those of you that are my regular readers, try to stop laughing. Seriously. You're causing a spectacle.

Somewhere around college I became slightly less interested in the games. I still followed the progress of the American team and celebrated our successes, but the thrill was not the same. I was working at the University of Georgia during the 1996 games and one of my less fond memories of that time is being underneath one of the speakers placed in the trees when it announced a welcome to the games in French and English at an ungodly decibel level. There was also being literally locked into my office because the toilets in our building became "Public."

Needless to say I was a bit turned off by the Olympics after that. If you watch it on television it's all pomp and circumstance and national pride and glory. If you live and work in the city that hosts it (and Athens only had a few events, but it was enough) you see the underbelly of the Olympics and some of the glitter wears thin.

Now, y'all that know me know that I'm a tree hugging left wing liberal peacenik. I am also a child of the Cold War. It amazes me to think that the college students graduating today never knew the overpowering shadow of the Communist Block. All of these parts of me sort of collided when I started thinking about the Beijing games.

But I sat down, with a semi-open mind, and watched the opening ceremonies. The past four and a half hours have been amazing. I was able to temporarily put aside concerns about Tibet and Darfur. The outrage felt over the dog and cat food contamination faded. But I will be honest and say that my emotions were all over the map as I watched.

The opening performances that told the history of China tugged at the girl in me who loved learning about different countries. I had a book called "The Book of Knowlege" or something like that (I'm making a note to ask my mom tomorrow) which had a blurb about everything under the sun, including sections about different countries. Each one had a sample of that country's language and notes about culture, and I devoured all of it. Tonight I found myself devouring the performances, listening attentively to the normally annoying American commentators as they explained what each section represented.

The Chinese children that bore the Chinese flag in made me miss my goddaughters Kaya and Tai. It's been far too long since I've seen them and they only live a state away now. I was so impressed and awed by the absolute beauty of those young faces, clearly overflowing with pride for their country.

Remember how my emotions were all over the map? When the children handed off the flag to the soldiers to raise on the flagpole, I felt a strange twinge in my gut when the soldiers marched away. It was the way they marched...the high steps, the arms and legs moving slowly and in unison...I remembered, as I watched, being a child and learning about the Communists in school. They were the enemy. They had the power to blow us all to kingdom come. They didn't care about individuals as long as their agenda advanced. To an American child living in the land of the individual capitalist and the home of the easily outraged, the Chinese and the Soviets were about the scariest things I could imagine.

Oh how well the politicians did their jobs...clearly the politicians of today learned the same lessons I did as children and are still teaching them...the target of the lesson is just different.

Anyway, I took a moment to process my feelings upon seeing the soldiers. Truth be told, that old twinge had surfaced for a moment in the beginning of the ceremony when some 2000+ drummers performed in unison. One of the announcers commented at the end of that segment that it had been impressive, but intimidating. I agree. I think that was done purposefully, even though (as told by the same announcer) the drummers were told to smile. There is something intimidating about that many people moving in unison...there is also something very Chinese about it. The same feeling crept in again while the Tai Chi masters performed. Precision. Symmetry. Intimidation by sheer mass? Perhaps. China is inviting us into their country and introducing us to "modern" China, but they remind us always of their strength and position in the world arena.

So what's wrong with that? Dubya makes it a point as often as he can to remind anyone that is still listening that America is the most powerful nation in the world. But are we? I wonder if some of the discomfort some Americans feel when faced with countries such as China is because they know that regardless of the Rah Rah Rhetoric preached by Dubya and others, we are not truly a United bunch of States. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link...

Now I'm not naive enough to think that everyone in China is equal. I've heard the tales of the orphanages that my goddaughters lived in before they were adopted. I've seen, as has everyone in this mass and immediate media age, the images of China "cleaning up" before the opening of the Beijing games. But the looks on the faces of the Chinese people in the crowd...the roar of the crowd when the Chinese athletes entered to finish the INCREDIBLY LONG parade of nations...China from the outside seems to be a country of people that recognize its faults and hope for the future. I'm not so sure that the US can say the same about its people.

I applauded a bit for the delegation from Great Britain...never too early to start supporting my second home. Who knew that one of their competitors is only fourteen years old and isn't a gymnast?

I will admit to a fluttery feeling when the American athletes entered the stadium. I may complain about the state of America and I will say to anyone that asks that I think our current place in the world arena could use some serious upgrading...but at heart I'm still that little girl who almost cried when the American flag showed up in the Olympic stadium and sang "My Country Tis of Thee" with all my heart. I love my country. I love being from the South. I'm proud to be an American...I just wish we could get back to the real America. Seriously. This ultra-conservative place we've ended up in after the past eight years is really starting to get old.

My flutters over the Stars and Stripes halted abruptly as I compared the demeanor of the American athletes to those from other countries. Some of the athletes, especially those from the smaller teams, seemed to enter the stadium with a look of awe on their faces, almost reverently like they were on holy ground. The Chinese entered all smiles, waving their flags proudly. The Austrians did some sort of a strange little dance, but they all did it together and then resumed smiling and snapping digital photos and waving.

While some of the Americans seemed to appreciate the magnitude of the setting, others were talking to each other, some were even swaggering about, shouting into the cameras and generally looking like a group of children. They represented the American ideal, I thought: proud, smug, and eager to remind the world who they were. AMERICANS. Stand back.

The torch lighting was awe inspiring to say the least, and it really seemed to drive home how important these games are to China. As the final torchbearer "ran" around the scrim at the top of the Bird's Nest stadium, faces of athletes and other Chinese people appeared behind him. It was as though the energy and pride of that enormous country surged through the flame as it burned up toward the top, then finally the torch was lit and the games were begun.

The Chinese outdid themselves for the opening ceremonies. Here's hoping that Team USA brings home some medals and that the world can pause for a moment and see these athletes standing side by side, appreciating each others accomplishments and coexisting in peace.

Thank GOD it's Friday.

Mmmm...POM tea...
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
First of all, if you haven't tried POM pomegranate tea, you totally should. I'm in LOVE...and so is Bernard, apparently...

Not that much to report, really, only that I'm very glad that it's Friday today. Lots of fantastic blog posts have crossed my mind this week, but I've simply been TOO STINKING BUSY to sit down and write them as they come up.

I'm the only interpreter in my region now that N has moved to the Low Country. That means every single assignment that comes up is mine and mine alone...unless it's something that needs a team, of course. I may be dedicated to my profession but I'm not an idiot nor am I a martyr. If I want to keep being able to provide communication access to folks that can't communicate with each other, it's downright stupid to think I can be superwoman and interpret long assignments alone.

Oh, and then there's the minor issue of the PAIN that it causes. Now, I know that K is reading this and I'm NOT NOT NOT trying to make you feel guilty. Not in the least. I learned a lesson this week, and that is I can't interpret an hour of support group meeting alone. Period. How do I know? After attempting that on Tuesday (not the first time I've done that, either), on Wednesday I had pain in my right elbow like I've NEVER felt. Sharp. Shooting. KILL ME NOW pain. Thursday it was better (with tylenol, GOD BLESS MEDICATION) and by today it seems to be gone.

In addition to work, I've been totally blessed to have two furry houseguests these past two weeks. Bernard and DeNiro have been as good as gold...I honestly forget that they are here a lot of the time! I took all five pups to play day last night which was an adventure, to say the least. Did you know that five greyhounds will NOT fit in a Honda Element comfortably unless you take the seats completely out? File that away for future reference. I have the pictures to prove it.

The dogs ran around and socialized while I worried about the family that showed up with twin toddler boys and LET THEM IN THE FIELD. Now I understand childcare can be an issue and if your kid is raised with big dogs then they're accustomed to them, etc etc. I fully intend to NEVER be without animals as a part of my family. I feel it makes for better adults to grow up loving animals and learning to care for them. However, these kids were used to ONE greyhound. We had about 15 out on the field last night. And tell me this, those of you that read me that have kids, how many toddlers do you know that will sit quietly on a bench in a dugout for two hours? Yeah, thought so. NONE.

So I quietly panicked every time the mob of dogs got anywhere near those kids and verbally panicked when H did. He loves kids and loves babies even more but sometimes forgets that he outweighs them when he tries to get them to play. All I need is to be sued by someone because my geriatric greyhound knocked her toddler down...a toddler that had no business in that fence to start with in my opinion.

Storing the soapbox away till another post...

I'm off now to get ready for two appointments followed by some birthday shopping for my mom and then hummus preparing and muffin baking! It's going to be a full day, but it's FRIDAY!!!

Music Monday: Getting in a proper frame of mind...

All I can say about this video is that this is one of the best scenes from one of my favorite movies, and it positively drips with high sc...