29 May 2009


Hunky died of a probable heart attack this morning around 9:30am BST (4:30am EST). More later. My only comfort is that these two are together again...what a reunion that must have been.

Thanks for all your prayers over the last two months. They really have meant the world to me and Simon. The Lettuce will be back soon, once I get my head around this.

27 May 2009

Happy Birthday, Mills!

Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
While I'm not exactly sure of his birthdate, I usually celebrate for Mills the week of Memorial Day. 11 years ago in June, my ex-husband and I went to the Spartanburg Animal Shelter to get another cat. We ended up being chosen by a gorgeous orange tabby male that the shelter said was about eight weeks old. He and some other kittens, probably his litter mates, were found in a dumpster and brought into the shelter.

We were driving away from the shelter discussing what to call our new little ball of fur. I was strongly pushing the name Toulouse, while the ex wanted to call him Stupid, so we just gave up on the decision making until we got home. We passed Spartan Mills and I said something about "Spartan Mills," then heard a MEOW from the backseat. I said Spartan again and heard nothing. But when I said "Mills" the kitten meowed again. Thus, his name became Mills.

Mills has moved house with me eight times in the past 11 years, including the most recent one to the UK. He has outlived his two other feline housemates, Franny and Zooey, whom he loved dearly and looked up to as though they were his real siblings. He has been a willing and unwilling cat tester for many greyhounds, and has been at the center of an altercation with one of my first hounds, Henry. Regardless of that trauma, he loves my current hounds Hunky and Daisy as though they were cats just like him, rubbing on their legs and curling up to sleep next to their giant chests. I'm sure that he mourned the loss of Jeany two months ago along with the rest of us, as the two of them would sit for hours, snuggled up together with Jeany "grooming" him. Bless him, he came away from some of those times looking like a drowned rat, but he always sought her out for more love.

Mills found a girlfriend in the short month that we lived with Anne in Greenville and I wonder sometimes if he misses Molly. They would stand at opposite ends of the hallway in her house, Mills taking slow steps toward her while Molly hissed. Poor boy never gave up though...and I think that secretly Molly loved his advances. A girl can't look too easy, you know?

So, I'm wishing my Little Man a happy 11th birthday this week. As much as I say I'm not a cat person and I'll never have another cat, the real truth is that I've been spoiled by my tiny terror to ever have another cat in my life. He was here to help me through the deaths of several greyhounds and my first pets as an adult, my cats Franny and Zooey. He makes me laugh on a daily basis and I can't imagine life without him. Here's to 11 more, furball. Here's to 11 more.

Memorial Day Revisited

American Field Kitchen
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Memorial Day has come and gone, and even though we had a bank holiday here in the UK I sort of forgot about it. I want to take a second to tell you about the members of my family that have served and of whom I am quite proud.

My mother's brothers were all in the military. My husband, who is an aviation buff, had a great time talking to two of them at a family gathering once about their time in service. My father's brother in law JC was a POW in WWII and is now sharing with us stories of his time in the European theatre. My father was in the Army, but finished his enlisted time just before the Korean war.

I may be a tree-hugging card-carrying hippie-wanna-be pacifist...but I can acknowledge and be proud of the journey made by those that came before me, the journey that led to what I know as my home country. Their sacrifices and service led to what it means now to say I am an American. And while I may be living in Britain at the moment, America will always be my home and I will always be proud to say that I'm American.

20 May 2009

Nothing wrong with being cautious...

are you my mummy?
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
I've finally figured out Twitter! I know, I'm out of the loop and probably so behind the times that I'm under them, but I'm starting to make friends...that are in Keighley no less! I've also discovered a network of social agencies that use Twitter to get their respective words out, and I'm re-tweeting as much as I can to do my part.

In other news, today I actually found a job and have requested an application pack. Cross your collective fingers that they will want to interview me. It's a teaching assistant position and it isn't too far from home so I think I could find my way there without too much trouble. It doesn't start till September and follows the school term, which leaves me with summers for travel.

Things are starting to settle for me here I think, though that could be just that I'm giving up and going with the flow. Or, it could be that I'm more encouraged because in a month and two days I'll be on my way to the States for a visit. Either way, I've gotten loads of laundry done today and the kitchen is relatively tidy...I've even hung said laundry out and then turned around and rescued it from the rain.

Last weekend was a hoot. Simon and I went with his sister Louise and our two nieces to Haworth for the 1940s weekend. I'm an amateur history buff and the 1940s is one of my favorite decades in history. The re-enactors were incredible in the detail in their costuming! I could feel the need for a sewing machine and some fabric bubbling in my soul, so we may have to visit that idea when we have a bit more money in the old bank. The picture in this post is from Haworth and is a mannequin sporting a gas mask...so I couldn't help the title. I admit it, I adore Doctor Who!

Wednesday is on its way out...Thursday is on its way, and then Friday which starts a Bank Holiday weekend/Memorial Day weekend in the States. I'll be spending my holiday going to Costco. The excitement of being an expat! I'll be sure to take some tissues for the weeping that always happens when I enter America-Lite...

19 May 2009

Full Stop to Bullying at the Bus Stop!

This blog post is part of Zemanta's "Blogging For a Cause" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

15 May 2009

I still do not understand...

Hello from the sitting room!
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
So I just finished watching last season's America's Next Top Model...and those that know me and know my general disdain for reality elimination television can take a moment to collect yourselves.

Better? Okay.

I don't get it. I watched this show in the hopes that I would see what it's really like to be a model...that there is some reason for that kind of fluff, that kind of...is vapidness a word? All my life I've stood in those kinds of girls' shadows because I was too tall or too fat or my face was too round or my hair was too weird. I guess I just wanted to know what those girls lives were like, that there was some purpose.

I did like the fact that Mckey, the girl that won last season, started out life like I did, as a tomboy. That made her a little more real. But I'm sorry, I still don't get it. Maybe it's just because I've never been really comfortable with people looking at me for me? Acting was never a problem for me because I was someone else on stage. Interpreting is the same thing, in a way...it's not ME that's having to say things, it's the two people for whom I'm interpreting.

Anyway...I think I paid attention to the wrong things while watching...like how much I loved Elina's tattoos or how big Tyra's thighs actually are. The rest of it, the glam shoots and the fierce shapes and all that? Lost on me. I mean look at me! Not a bit of fierce there, not one bit.

And it's not that I didn't try when I was younger...I was in two pageants when I was in high school, one local and one national and I didn't get very far in either. I was in the band, in flag corp during marching season, in high school after trying out for and not making cheer leading.

I really need that national insurance number to come in the mail so I can get a job and get away from the television.

11 May 2009

Another Hurdle Done

My brother in law, Dave, had warned me that going to the cinema for the first time would be an experience over here. He was right. For the 2+ hours that Simon and I were in the theatre watching the new Star Trek movie (which is AWESOME, by the way) I could very well have still been in America. With the exception of the adverts shown prior to the previews, the movie-going experience is no different here than it is in the States...with one tiny exception.

Butter.On.My.Popcorn. As in there wasn't any, at least not much. The woman at the till asked if I wanted sweet or salty popcorn. Eh? Come again? I picked salty because the idea of sweet popcorn (I'm thinking that's like kettle corn in the US?) is just wrong. You get the vat of buttered and salty popcorn to make you thirsty enough to need the barrel of soda. It is the way of the movies, friends.

Unfortunately I forgot to warn Simon "No, I don't need any popcorn, thanks" Dunne before he grabbed a piece of my popcorn. The face he made was hysterical. "What is on that popcorn? It's not sweet at all!"

I didn't get hysterical when we came out of the theatre, probably because I knew we were going to one of my favorite stores in Leeds and then to Nando's for tea, but I get what Dave meant. Things that are the same here are SO much the same that it is jarring to come away from them and be in the UK again.

One perk I have is that Simon and the folks I've met so far seem to accept and enjoy the fact that I'm an American, and don't expect me to be English. Simon knows that I don't plan to become a British citizen and he's fine with that.

Still...is it late June yet?

10 May 2009

Finally! A Sign that Gets Me.

I was looking at my blog stats this morning and found that someone from France was looking at an older post from The Lettuce recently. It was a post I'd written concerning a woman in a WalMart that was upset over a sign being in English and Spanish. The ensuing debate between me, Liz, and Amy (basically 75% of my readership!) was interesting to read. I must admit now that I've had some distance that a lot of what Amy was saying made sense and I didn't read all of it as intently as I should before I responded. There's a huge difference with disagreeing with someone's well researched points and responding as though you think they don't know what they're talking about just because of their position.

There's also something to be said for my own verbosity. My former English teachers would have had a FIELD DAY with some of my responses! I'm amazed that anyone involved in that debate could follow ANYTHING that I said.

Anyway, it was interesting to revisit that post now that I am living outside of the US. While you do see most signs and almost all product packaging, etc., in several different languages here in the UK, it's somewhat of a paradox. One of the newer requirements of immigration to the UK is a certain level of English proficiency. if you don't pass the test, you're not granted a visa and certainly not eligible for British citizenship.

That requirement is new as of the past few years and at first didn't even register on my radar because I obviously could pass easily. However, in light of that post I went back to read, I thought it interesting that the US, who doesn't have an OFFICIAL language has all signage in English and a few in Spanish here and there, and yet has no such language requirement for entry as a visitor or potential naturalized citizen. The UK, who clearly has an official language (with the exception of Wales, where Welsh and English share dual recognition as official language), has most signage, etc in at least two languages but won't let you in to stay unless you can speak English.

Interesting, no? Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled Sunday. Simon and I are off to see the new Star Trek movie in Leeds. Hope everyone is having a wonderful Mother's Day in the US!!

08 May 2009

Still blurry, but clearing...

Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Wow, what a Pitay-Partay I have been throwing for the past few days! Yesterday I actually blew some of the proverbial cobwebs out and got two loads of laundry done and rearranged some upstairs. My next big project, and this is hush hush between me and you 5-10 readers that I have, is to try to convince Simon to rearrange either the bedroom or the kitchen. I'm not holding my breath, though, because that shade of blue doesn't really suit me.

I'm feeling better today, better than yesterday, though I would still give my eye-teeth (what are those anyway? Did I have them pulled before I got my braces?) to have a dryer and a dishwasher. I'm getting my National Insurance number squared away and then I can start applying for jobs. There are two on my radar, both library jobs which I would LOVE and would be very familiar to me (Thank you and Much Love to Papa Rich and Duckworth Library!!). One is in Keighley and one in Shipley, and either would be pretty easy to get to transport-wise. Also, they're both part time, so I can ease into life without my career while I'm hopefully taking BSL classes.

And speaking of sign language...One of my goals today is to get a post up on Nerda's World. While I do the crazy person thing and sign to the dogs and myself almost all day, I need to have feedback from real live deaf people. Look for that by the end of the day today...

So that's me, still in a bit of a blur but clearing up somewhat...but still, if I'm honest, very much looking forward to the end of June. TakoSushi here I come.

07 May 2009

File under What I Miss Most About Home...

Yesterday was a rough day. I was in an I MISS HOME place all day, and nothing could break that funk. So I thought today, since I'm crawling back out of that hole, it would help to get out all the things I miss and see what there is here to satisfy me until I can visit in June.

The people in the picture here are at the top of my list, of course. This was taken well before Joy, but I can imagine her sitting in Dave's hands, feet smacking him in the eyes. Or in the crook of my father's arm, because like her mommy and her auntsie she finds that man irresistible when it comes to hugs. Hoyt Allen gives the best hugs!

Anyway... My family is at the top of the list of things I miss. I can call them whenever I like, but I find myself not doing so because sometimes hearing their voices only accentuates how far away they are. Next in line? My friends...you all know who you are. I want to be having Chik-Fil-A or on my way to Tako Sushi with a grumpy bloodhound puppy. I want to be sitting in a hotel room in San Antonio looking through the RID program book. I want to see the fairy lights in Greenville. I want to raise my hand to the "bings" on MARTA. I want to walk from the Courthouse to downtown for lunch.

I miss my car. I miss my dryer. I miss my dishwasher...good LORD do I miss the dishwasher.

I even miss Days of Our Lives.

The worst part, I think, and the part that is going to take the most soul searching and the most improvement on my seriously underdeveloped ability to communicate is that there is no one here that I can talk to...no one that has been where I am, knows who I am and where I've come from, who can be there with that background to tell me it will get better. Sometimes when I'd finished a bad assignment or was having an I'm A Bad Sister/Sister In Law/Daughter day back home I'd think how nice it was going to be to have a clean slate in England.

Clean slates are great, but they can be lonely. But I'm climbing back out of my pity pit, and I should be back to normal very soon. Then I can file posts like this away and enjoy my new home...hopefully.

03 May 2009

One month down...almost

on the bus
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Today Simon and I took the dogs to my sister in law Louise's house for a BBQ. It was fine and a good time was had by all (his family have been so welcoming to me!) but that was the easy part.

We walked a mile to the train station with me watching Hunky's every step and being positive that he was going to fall over with exhaustion before we got halfway there. No such thing happened, and before I knew it we were waiting for the train.

Two train changes later we were on the train from Leeds to Wakefield, then in Louise and Gareth's cars heading for her house (they were incredibly kind to come pick us up, especially since it required two cars, one dog per car). Lovely food, lovely conversation, and totally worn out dogs...and we caught the train back to Leeds and then to Keighley.

The final part of the adventure was getting them onto a bus to go back from the train station to our house. We walked over to the bus station and waited for our bus, then headed home. Hunky got a chorus of laughter on the bus when he unceremoniously flopped down onto the floor of the bus as if to demonstrate that he was DONE with the entire journey.

We've been home for about two hours now, and I am, as Simon would say, absolutely shattered. The dogs are as well...they got some treats at the BBQ so we're skipping dinner tonight and I don't think they've been awake enough to even notice.

In other news...they have been here for a month yesterday, and in five days I'll have my first month in the UK under my belt. The job search is slow, but I've gotten some leads on library jobs that would be loads of fun. We'll see. Simon and I are going to America on 22 June and while he will return on 29 June I'm there till 7 July, so I'm pretty stoked about that. For the first time, when we arrive at Manchester Airport I won't be sobbing like a fool, because we'll be on the plane together. It's the little things...

Little things like using my new UK debit card for the first time and remembering the PIN...making it to Morrison's and back on foot with groceries...having a fantastic conversation with my sister in law about a book that we both LOVE...it's starting to feel like home.

01 May 2009

So, I almost made it...

View from Our Back Garden
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
The plan was that I would go to the grocery store today to get some food for the dogs and for me and Simon for tea tonight. There were several hitches in that plan.

1. We have no car.
2. It started to rain.

I altered the plan to go to the grocery store and butcher across the street from our house. As with all good plans, there were hitches there as well.

1. It started to rain.
2. The butcher has a beaded curtain across what I can only assume is the front door.
3. The "grocery" is really more like a convenience store in the states.

When I couldn't figure out the door I did what I always do in a crisis. I ran away, all the way back home.

And just because it's England, when I shut the door (and shut off the faulty alarm, which was blaring like a foghorn) the sun came out. I may yet try again...but it would just be to Morrison's on the bus this time...if I can catch the bus.

Why don't grocery stores that deliver in this country have same day service?

And with that, I have officially become SAD. Happy Friday, y'all.

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