04 December 2012

For my friend Carla, with all my love...

“Where are they?”  Daisy asked, her question directed at thin air.  “And why can’t I see you?  I saw Profile before.”
“Because we’re all together now,” Jeany said.  “Things are different now.  Things are changing.  But we’re all still watching Mommy and now watching Daddy Simon.  You’re the one that has to take care of Mommy now, like Profile taught you.  She is going to be lost without us.”  
“I’m lost!” Daisy sniffled.  “I can’t do this by myself.”
“Yes you can,” Jeany said, her voice fading a bit.  “I’ve got to go, Pup, but we will all be watching and listening.  If you need us, just go outside and look up at the stars.  That’s where we’ll be, dancing around and playing.”
-from An American Greyhound in Yorkshire

I won't say goodbye, because it isn't. I'll just say see you later, because I will, Stardancer.

Carla with FTH Sassy Thang, Sandy Paws 2009

19 November 2012

Nanowrimo Update...

So far, so good-but-behind.  Not gonna let this get on top of me like last August, though...

As I may have mentioned already, I'm doing another EQ fan fic this time around and actually, I am seeing results that I hadn't expected.  Characters that I have lived with and loved and fueled and written about for almost ten years now are trusting me enough to show me their back-stories and I'm finding it hard to stay in the here and now because I want to spend all my time in Norrath around the campfire burning in my imagination and listen to everything they have to tell me.  Who knew that two of them met while imprisoned in Lower Guk, or that two others were actually childhood friends?

Anyway, it's proving to be one of the most enjoyable Nanos I've done so far, and for that I am so grateful.  It takes my mind off flooding basements and inoperative toilets and back pain due to corset contortions in a privy at festival two days ago...well, the typing probably isn't helping the back pain but with stories like I'm being asked to tell by my characters I can endure.

See everyone the other side of 50K words!

14 November 2012

Xie-xie, Mei Mei.

My Mei Mei and Me at Gretna Green, May 2011
Today I want to talk about my dogs.  Well, one of my dogs.  I know, that's a real departure for me.  Well, hang on to your hats.  Today I want to tell you about my angel, my Daisy, my Mei Mei.

The idea came to me while reading a wonderful article from the SF Gate about how greyhounds heal hearts.  Click here to have a read, it's a good one.  I will wait.  You might need a tissue.

I got into the office today meaning to write about that, and found my entry for Daisy to win Beach Bound Hounds Queen this year (she didn't win, but to me she is more than a silly title anyway):

I pre-adopted Daisy when she was about a month or two old, via the Follow That Hound! Program (now sadly closed).  I watched her race (badly) and then when she retired, she came home to me.  Daisy has always been a light in my sometimes dark world, but I’m nominating her today because she made the difference between me giving up and trudging on during the two years we lived in England. Don’t get me wrong, I love England and the reason I moved there, my husband Simon.  I moved there with Daisy and my two other precious GC dogs, Hunky and Jeany.  They arrived a few days before I did and sadly Jeany took a bad fall down the stairs in the house.  She waited until I got there with her little sister Daisy right by her side, literally.  Daisy stuck by Jeany and gave her comfort through what must have been excruciating pain, which was amazing because Daisy was a little afraid of Jeany.  To be fair, we were all a little afraid of her, bless her sweet Diva Princess heart! Sadly, Jeany did not make it through surgery on her shoulder.  Hunky was devastated.  Jeany was his world.  Once again, my Daisy came through and even though she had never been close to either of them, she was Hunky’s shadow, generally making sure of him, to paraphrase Piglet from Winnie the Pooh.  Hunky gave up and went to be with Jeany about a month after we lost her, and Daisy found herself with a new charge:  Mommy. Losing them so close together was awful.  Going through that while 4,000 miles away from everything and everyone I knew was soul destroying, honestly.  I didn’t want to do anything after that, but Daisy knew better.  She would crawl up on the sofa with me and snuggle up for hours.  She got in the bed with me in the mornings after Simon left for work and did everything she could think of to make me smile and laugh (hard work, that).  She helped me remember what was good and happy and furry and loving in life.  Daisy helped me get out into the world again, and was instrumental in making me more social because people always wanted to meet her and pet her (red fawns are apparently more rare in the UK than here, and especially so when they are as tall as Daisy is).  She rode buses and trains like an absolute trooper, and I never had to start a single day while I was there without her bouncing on the bed and licking me from hairline to chin.  We all say that our greyhounds saved us and not the other way around, but I truly believe it to be true for me and Daisy.  She saved me even when I didn’t want saving, and for that (and the fact that she has traveled outside of the US!) I want to nominate her for BBH Queen 2012.

If you look up the meaning of Mei Mei you'll find a variety of answers.  I call her that because, via being a Browncoat myself and learning all my Chinese phrases that I know from the Firefly 'verse, I heard Simon Tam call River that during one episode...and looked it up.  I choose to call her that because one translation I saw was beautiful little girl.  The title, "Xie-xie, Mei Mei," in the 'verse would translate to Thank you, Mei Mei.  Dong-ma?

Daisy came to me at a very turbulent time in my life.  My ex-husband and I had pre-adopted her when she was about a month old, and from that time until she was two I watched every one of her 5 attempts at breaking maiden at JAX and then watched for the results of her races at Sanford-Orlando.  Babygirl got up to grade A there!  In the late autumn/early winter of 2006 I got "the email" from Cathie Lambert, Daisy's "Mama Caffie," saying that my girl was ready to come home.

Profile was sick.  The tumor on top of his skull was getting bigger and was impairing his vision and his ability to eat.  I took him to the vet at Thanksgiving and found out that it was cancer.  Hunky and Jeany weren't young by any means, and my old cat Franny was getting older and more frail with every passing day.  Oh, and I was in the middle of a divorce which thankfully was amicable, and had moved to Montgomery, Alabama which might as well have been the other side of the world from all my greyhound support.  When Cathie emailed me I freaked out and said it wasn't the right time.  But she knew better.  And she was right.

I picked up my Mei Mei in February of 2007 after losing Profile in January.  My heart wasn't ready.  But she knew better.  Daisy came dancing into my life and always seems to know when I need a spin around her own personal dance floor, because I'm missing Profile or Hunky or Jeany or Franny or even Mills, her nemesis.  She crawls up onto the sofa with me, inching ever closer until she is touching me and then she just stays there.  Hours after hour after hour she stays there.  That's what I was talking about in the entry for BBH Queen.

Now don't get me wrong, Daisy is 110% her Dah-dee's girl.  My Mister is, without a doubt, the center of Daisy's universe.  But she has a job to do, and that job is to make sure Mommy is okay, and she does it without fail nor complaint.  She is my angel, my Mei Mei.  Clown brings his own talents to our little family, but it is Daisy that keeps me off the ledge.  Ta very much, Mei.  Mommy loves you to absolute bits.

08 November 2012

My Post-Election 2012 Stump Speech

(Disclaimer: This should not shock anyone that really knows me well.)

I'm here today to post as a very happy American.  I've made no secret of the fact that I voted, again, for President Obama and that I'm pleased and relieved and all that sort of thing that he was re-elected on Tuesday.  

Let's do a little factual posting first.  Mr. Obama was elected not only by a landslide in the Electoral College vote, but by a reasonable margin in the popular vote as well.  I'm pointing this out in order to remind those that think that it was some sort of vote counting conspiracy or nefarious business within the Electoral College that won him re-election, that it wasn't.  It was simply that more people cast their vote for him than for his opponent.  Pure and simple.  Your candidate may not have been elected, but mine was elected fairly and according to the election process in our country.

Now then, here's the part that may get me unfriended on Facebook, unfollowed on Twitter and possibly even disparagingly commented about here at the Lettuce.  Friends (and those that unfriend/unfollow), I can take it.  Do what you have to do, that's what I'm doing here, and by hiding posts/people in my Facebook feed until after all of this rancor dies away a bit.

You may not realize it, but there are people out there in the world that have opinions that differ from yours.  There are people out there that worship a different Diety/Higher Power than you do.  There are people who eat meat, people who hate greyhound racing, and even people who believe with a strong conviction that if you think differently than they do you are, to quote my Facebook feed, morally inferior and/or corrupt.  The truth is, though, that there is NOTHING wrong with those people, they are just different.

I just wanted to post here to let everyone that reads the Lettuce (yeah, I know it's like five of you, but still) know where I stand so that you can make an informed decision about how you and I proceed from this point rather than jumping to the conclusion that because I support President Obama that means I am made of Satan.  Because, to be fair, I'm really not.

I am a Democrat.  I am a Liberal Democrat.  I am in support of equal work and equal pay regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, and anything else that might differentiate one person from another.  I am firmly in support of the notion that we are here on this earth (not this country, mind you, but the whole earth) to take care of each other and support each other.  I believe that support includes helping others any time that you can.  I believe that support includes sharing what you have with those that don't.  I believe that if you work hard and live a good and fair life, you will not only succeed but have the means to help others succeed.

I think that health care is a basic right just like food and shelter.  While I am not so sure I agree that you should be taxed if you choose to go without health insurance, I'm very sure that sometimes the end justifies the means and that everyone should be able to go to their doctor when they need to go, and not just when they can afford to go.  I believe in Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security.

Need to take a break to hit unfriend?  Because this is only going to get more personal and probably make some people more disgusted with me as a human being (again, another FB quote).

I believe that my religious beliefs are none of anyone's business but my own.  I believe that whether or not I go to church is no one's business but my own.  I do not believe that Go Make Of All Disciples means Get Every Pew In The Church Filled.  I believe that everyone is on the path to their own understanding of the Divine.  I believe that the Divine is one entity that has many faces.  I believe that it is not my place to judge because I don't want anyone judging me.  I believe that in my religious tradition there are mandates such as "Do Unto Others" and "As you have done to the least of these, you have done to me" that are not just suggestions.  

Still there?

I believe that people are born gay/straight/lesbian/bi/whatever, and that is between them and the people with whom they share their lives.  Further, if someone finds another human being that they want to spend their life loving and supporting and being with, then they should have just as much legal right to do that as anyone else does.

I believe that this body my brain is sitting in right now is MINE, and that no one has the right to tell me what I can or can't do with any working part of it.  Further, I believe that every other woman in the world has the same right to make decisions about her own body as I do.  Those decisions include the use of contraception and the ability to make decisions about pregnancy, especially in cases of incest, rape, and other trauma.

I believe that exclusion is a smoke screen for nefarious purpose, and that inclusion is the only way to be a true member of our global community.  And while we're on the topic of the world community, I wanted to just point out that there is a HUGE difference between the "Israel" of Jewish tradition, mentioned in the Bible and other scripture and the Israel that exists as a country today.  One is a body of people, beloved of their God.  The other is a country that is just as guilty of terrorism as any of its neighbors in the middle east.  I believe that the US should seriously re-think its devotion to Israel.

I don't think the US is the best nation on the planet.  We have all kinds of problems.  People are starving.  People are homeless.  Animals are abused.  Schools don't have the money to educate students, let alone produce future leaders.  I think that if the US would stop trying to prove its imaginary superiority and would focus on its own people at home for a change, we might be healthier and happier.

I don't think Republicans are evil.  I think that they are people with a differing opinion than mine.  I don't think the Tea Party should have chosen that name because I believe that in doing so they are denigrating the original act of rebellion that took place in Boston.  Their issue isn't lack of representation, it's changing your mind after you elect representation and then crying that no one represents you.

I believe that President Obama was born a citizen of the United States just like I was.  I also believe that a great lot of the outcry against him is a smoke screen...I think it all boils down to the fact that our country was not ready for an African -American president. 

I have always been proud to be an American citizen and I still am.  My time living abroad gave me a new perspective on what that means and what it should mean, and that's what I'm working to emulate.  The world is not laughing at all of us, Mr. Trump.  If the world is laughing, it's at cartoonish buffoons who declare the end is nigh/gather your guns/prepare for the apocalypse because of the election of one man to power.

Huh, that just gave me a thought.  It reminded me of all the people that were threatened by another man who came to the table talking about love, inclusion, supporting each other, and sharing what we have with each other.  Interesting that some of the loudest voices claim allegiance to that man yet clearly have no understanding of his message.

Yeah, so that's what it's like inside my head these days.  Take this information and do with it as you will.

30 October 2012

Battening down virtual hatches...

Hurricane Sandy, Satellite Image courtesy the Telegraph
Say what you will about those of us who spend a lot of time on Facebook, but today it has been a godsend.  I have so many friends that I consider family stretched all up the eastern seaboard and Facebook has helped me check in on almost all of them to make sure that they have made it through the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy as it made landfall last night.

One of those families, a Follow That Hound family member, had to be rescued from their house by kayak...and their greyhounds, long hailed as superheroes, walked through the chest deep water until they could get to higher ground.  I will be continuing my good thoughts, vibes, and Facebook watching until I know each and every one of them is safe and dry and out of harm's way.

29 October 2012

Just one more: Flashback Post - 22 Sept 2010

All this thinking about cats and Mills had me running through my archives and looking at things labeled thusly...and I found this marvelous ad that I'd forgotten about.  100 greyhounds in IKEA...what an idea.  :)

Happy Inside

Flashback Post...Miss you, Little Man.

I was at an event at the Greenville Humane Society last week and wandered into the PK room (The Mister works there and apparently that is jargon for the Puppy and Kitten room) and locked eyes with a beautiful little black/grey tabby boy who reached out from his cage just like Mills had done in the Spartanburg shelter so many years ago.  I purposefully rubbed his head and then my eye just so I'd remember why I can't have any more cats.  But that has gotten me thinking about my Little Man...and tomorrow will be a year to the day since he left me and Simon for the Bridge.  I'm still thinking about Alfonso, the green eyed devil in the PK room...but no one could replace my Mills.

Night Night, Little Man.

Miss you, Mee-uhls.  To.Absolute.Bits.

Corsets and moving vans and nephews and Nano...oh myyyy...

Random acts of Silly doth abound in Fairhaven...
(You should absolutely read that Oh My in the way that George Takei says it.  In fact, every time anyone says Oh My it should be using his voice.  Every. Time.)

So it's been awhile and I've promised time and again to blog about the honeymoon, the European extravaganza that was the months of May and June for me and The Mister.  This isn't going to be that post either, so if you've been waiting for that, you might as well keep surfing.

It's currently the end of October which means the Carolina Renaissance Festival has been in full swing for four weekends now, leaving only three to go before we sadly pack up the Dog Barn for another year and start madly plotting our garb for our trip to the "Southern Kingdom" of Newcastle in Georgia in the spring of next year.  But wait, that's not all that's going on...I'm still working on getting my soon to be former roommates decked out in garb of their own (a court gown to be done by this coming Saturday as well as a doublet!  I must be MAD.), moving into a new house, and starting a NaNoWriMo on Thursday.  Mad indeed!

We thought that it would be easy to do when we started this sewing project back in August (nevermind that I was doing a Camp NaNo then as well).  We planned to do the parts of the gowns at the same time and finish them both before Opening Weekend so that we didn't have to worry.  Ah, the best laid plans...

My gown is mostly done, as you can see in the photo above.  There are some bits that need finishing and WHO KNEW that thing would be as HEAVY as it is, but there you are.  Beauty is pain.  I had a little girl curtsy to me yesterday because she thought I was royalty ("your dress looks like the queen's!") so I guess it's all worth it.  Out of the mouths of babes...if ONLY my garb looked like Bettina's work!

Anyway, so mine is almost done and will have to be re-done before next year.  The sleeves are the heaviest part and will have to be grommetted in so that I can removed them before performing mundane tasks such as going to the privy or picking up poop or...amazingly enough...putting on my cloak!  It was like I was holding two persian cats under there.  Not good.

We've almost completed our move into the new house.  As I type, The Mister is wrestling with putting up blinds and unwrapping/setting up IKEA bookshelves.  It never ceases to amaze me the size difference in our furniture in our American house as opposed to our English one.  Where are my "huge" leather sofas?

Over the weekend my brother in law Andrew and his...partner?  Girlfriend?  I'm not sure the appropriate term, but they had a little boy, the first grandson/nephew for the Dunnes.  I'm hoping to see photos soon, and I need to get on the ball and email my niece, the new kid's big sister, to check in on her.  Being a big sister is not always as glamorous as it looks, and I want her to know that Auntie Nancy has been there/done that and would love to listen if she needs to discuss the finer points of siblings.

Finally...Nano starts on Thursday and I think it's going to be EQ fanfic for me again.  My hope is that all of this writing I grind out in November (as well as the past Nanos that have been on the same theme) can one day be edited to remove anything that the EQ head honchos may think is actually their property and made into a fantasy novel that can be published and read by people other than me and my sometimes muse, Mike (who brought one of the main characters to virtual life in game for years).

Yeah, so...that's what's going on here.  Not much, really, in the grand scheme of starvation and war and Hurricane Sandy, I suppose.  But enough.  You hear me universe?  I've got enough for now.

Oh myyyy indeed.

11 October 2012

Can Dungeons & Dragons Make You A Confident & Successful Person? | Idea ...

This goes along with my previous blog post on "How Gaming Levels My RL."  I only wish I had discovered the PBS Idea Channel sooner...and that I hadn't given up on D&D in 7th grade when some guys that I knew rolled me a character, dropped her into a hole, and sealed it off before she could get out.

Anyway!  Go!  Watch!  No roll necessary.

13 September 2012

Yeah, yeah, I'll get that catch up done soon, promise.

Iseabel Poytnshoot by Nancy Dunne
Iseabel Poytnshoot, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
I'm working on it! I just have to get three sets of garb done, get to a closing on the house that we are hopefully buying, start the Carolina Renn Fest, and get through a trip to Myrtle Beach for Beach Bound Hounds...and that's just in my free time. Relax. Maybe I can sneak in a spot of blogging this afternoon...

The picture today is from the Tower of London, and the gamer girl in me says it's my interpretation of all my toons with crossbows.  The real Nancy says it's a metaphor for what happens if you cross me lately.  Get it? Cross bow?  Cross me?

I think I still need a nap.

31 August 2012


There were nefarious plot monkeys at work, there was swearing and I am most certainly void of some hair and sanity.  Furthermore, I am not at liberty to really discuss all that led to this victory.  Let's just celebrate the fact that I crossed the finish line.  I will be much more prepared in November.  End of.

30 August 2012

One more...FLASHBACK Seven Years Ago...

Particularly appropriate I think, because I'm in a place right now where I'm wanting to throw things.  The picture above is just because I think it's awesome...and missing those two boys makes me want to throw things, now that you mention it!

"I hate this!" from 1 September 2005

Light reading till I'm done catching up: FLASHBACK POST!

Since we're coming up on the first of September, let's see where I was this time last year... "Things I Learned This Holiday" from 1 September 2011

Lions and...yeah, you know the rest

Tower of London by Nancy Dunne
Tower of London, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
I don't have much to say today, and clearly haven't all summer, if you go by my blog here! I'm formulating a "catch-up" post about what has happened since returning from Europe, Simon moving to the US, and our seemingly never ending search for a house in Greenville. In the meantime, please enjoy these lions made of wire and mesh that grace the front of the Tower of London.

Hey, at least it isn't a bunny with a pancake on its head...

27 May 2012

How Gaming Levels My RL

Tired and Fussy by Nancy Dunne
Tired and Fussy, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
First, let me say for the .0000 of you that are Lettuce Readers that didn't know, I'm a gamer. I play Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). Currently I play Everquest and Star Wars:The Old Republic but I have toons (Avatars, characters, etc) running around in Jade Dynasty, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Runes of Magic, and probably Free Realms and Shaiya. I say probably because those two...oh, and Perfect World International as well...those THREE didn't hold my attention long enough to count, really. Now then, disclaimer done, on to the post.

Simon and I are currently on a long-overdue honeymoon. We started in London on the 17th of May, flew to Paris on the 19th, and have just returned to the UK yesterday. We're currently (as I type this) at his folks' place up in Newcastle for a few days before heading off again to spend the rest of our trip in one of my fav cities on earth, Edinburgh.

The picture to the right, there, was taken last Monday. We went to the Louvre because it was chucking it down with rain (dontcha love Yorkshireisms?) and we thought it would be a good way to stay dry and see Paris. Dry, yes. Massively huge with ridiculously hard floors and lots of steps? Yeah, sadly.

So...onto how "Gaming Levels my RL" (Real Life). The idea for this post came to me as Simon and I were learning how to navigate the insanity that is public transport in Paris. There is a train, called the RER, a subway of sorts called the Metro, and then a tramway that thankfully we didn't have to even think too hard about while there. We had gotten turned around...for about the millionth time...when I took hold of the map and started navigating. We found the right transit line and sat down, and Simon mentioned how good I was at navigating. I started thinking about where I learned to read maps with such ease and came to the conclusion that it happened in the old days of Everquest.

When your character got killed, you had to run back to where you died and 1. hopefully get resurrected and/or, if no "rez" was possible, 2. collect your things. I spent a LOT of time running all over the game world of Everquest (Norrath) and most of that time the in-game map was superimposed over the view of my toon running. Map reading should have been a skill set in that game. I would have been a Master Mapper.

Okay, that sounds too much like a hip-hop performer gone very wrong. Moving on.

The revelation about my Master Mapping led me to think about the other places in my life that my gaming experience has helped me level up (gain experience and progress to higher ability and content) in my real life. I came up with two more things that I'm good at in real life that I think I can tie to gaming.

The first one (or second one, really...that is counting which is part of Math, in which my skill level is a fat (0). Anyway...): Navigating crowds and new places without drawing agro. "Drawing agro" is a gaming term for moving your toon too close to something that wants to eat you. It realizes that you are close and BLAMMO. Dead Druid. Okay, maybe that's just me. Again, moving on...

I am pretty good at not getting in anyone's way, especially in a crowd. I think Simon was annoyed with me a few times because in a long queue I would move out and around a corner (opening up a place for someone to cut in front of us) just so that no one would accidentally back into me, thus drawing agro. I can also weave through a crowd when on the move, avoiding the very social (meaning one mob/bad guy will see you and will bring several friends to eat you) survey takers and beggars in London and Paris and managing to not knock anyone out with my backpack as I run past.

The third one (hey! Math (1) for me!) is auto-follow. In Everquest and other games, there is a command that you type that lets your toon follow along where someone else's toon goes. That can be dangerous, in game, when that other toon runs into a forest or around a path through a mountainous area. In real life, if you don't pay attention when you're following or watch out for the person on /af with you, one or both of you will get lost. Occasionally in Paris I almost got knocked out cold by Simon's backpack because I was following too closely and he decided to look around to see if I was still there. Bless him, he doesn't game.

Anyway, those are ways that gaming has positively affected my real life. Don't try to comment on the negs, okay? I know all of them...and to quote Stan from South Park, " I am socializing *****! I'm logged on to an MMORPG, with people from all over the world and getting XP with my party using teamspeak."

And yes, I realize how sad that was, quoting a cartoon character to rationalize online gaming fandom. So? /rude


09 May 2012

I have a question...

Dunstanburgh Castle by Nancy Dunne
Dunstanburgh Castle, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
Or several, actually. I'm thinking a lot about the vote yesterday in NC that added an amendment to the constitution of that state which legal defines marriage to be between one man and one woman. To be honest I'm pretty disappointed.

Of all the southern states, I always thought of NC as being sort of progressive, at least in parts. Charlotte and Raleigh seemed to me to be kind of like Greenville and Charleston in SC...small pockets of sense in an otherwise right-wing religious led extremely conservative state. I had hope for NC, that NC would not make the same divisive and exclusionary decisions that the other southern states have made. Oh well.

I heard on the radio this morning a woman speaking from a victory party last night in which the refreshments included a wedding cake. She said they were thrilled that the amendment had passed because the same-sex marriage ban they already had was okay, but that marriage needed more protection.

Protection? From what? Roving gangs of monogamous, committed, same-sex couples? I truly do not understand her statement.

And this morning...this morning I am sad for all the families that face being discriminated against or having their rights to support each other and be a part of each others' lives taken away...seriously? Is the group that is so threatened by couples that love each other and raise their families in loving homes...jealous? Maybe?

Ugh. Disgusted. That's about all.

30 April 2012

Well, that's another one off the list...

Whew!  After last year's failure with the Proud Racer: One Greyhound's Journey screenplay, I have redeemed myself.  My July 2011 Camp Nanowrimo novel, "Mirror Mirror," is now partially reborn in screenplay form in my hard drive!  It was a lot of cutting and pasting and will probably NEVER leave my computer, but it was a good experience and I'm already looking forward to SCRENZY 2013.

Now then, when is the next Camp Nanowrimo? I'll need more material for the next Script Frenzy, of course.

 Oh, and if you're an agent, I'd love to tell you about my Screnzy 2012 project...after I've slept some.  I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog reading.

What I've been up to...

You'll see me for a second when she talks about the heavy costumes we wear...I'm on the left in the orange.

16 April 2012

Desperately Seeking...His Family.


So this adorable little character turned up at the house where I'm currently staying with my friends (East North Street/Stone Avenue area of Greenville, SC) about two weeks ago. He had no tags, no collar, and no microchip when he arrived (the collar in the photo belongs to my roommates). He is young, probably right around a year old if that old. He is intact. He CLEARLY was living with someone as he is well fed and appears healthy. His teeth will blind you if you catch him smiling into the sun, they are just that white.

Does he belong to you? Do you know of anyone looking for their pup? He is a sweet dog, really, but probably would be better as an only dog. He is probably a foot and a half tall at the most. We are guessing that he is a black and tan Jack Russell Terrier mix...mostly JRT but his head is a bit wide to be full JRT. He minds fairly well, and seems pretty clever. We are afraid that someone has just turned him out, which makes me VERY stabby, because he is all but terrified to NOT be allowed in the house. 

We've started calling him Mouse because when his ears are turned back he looks like Mighty Mouse, but he doesn't answer to it. We also call him Little Bit, Little One, Shawty (that's my addition), Short Stuff, and Hey You, so he isn't locked into the name Mouse. Contact me here at the Lettuce or through the other usual social media suspects if you think you know this little guy...or you'd like to get to know him. 

13 April 2012


Seriously. by Nancy Dunne
Seriously., a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
I need for all the crazy to stop, please?
I need to be able to go to work and not get my back up before I even walk in the door.
 I need for this insane pulled muscle under my left shoulder blade to GIVE IT A REST ALREADY!
I need for a rental house with a fenced yard and no defects and the ability to lease for 3 months to materialize in Greenville proper or I'm going to end up in an outlying area and be VERY VERY cross.
I need a vacation.
I need the Loco to Stop.

01 April 2012

And so it begins...again...

See you guys the other side of 100 pages in May (because I'm just not sure that there will be much blogging while there are pages to write and rennie garb to sew...)!!

12 March 2012

A Falk in the Driftwood Worest..with Peaches.

Are we there yet? by Nancy Dunne
Are we there yet?, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
(thanks and love to Zilch the Torysteller for part of the title...)

This weekend was the annual Sandy Paws event...and if this were years past I'd be doing something uber fun right now in Jacksonville before getting ready to go to Orange Park to watch the dogs run. But alas, with gainful employment in higher education does not always come annual leave, so here I am, back from my break, blogging. Yeah.

I headed down Thursday night after work to spend a whirlwind weekend of meeting, greeting, laughing, and even a little tired crying (on the way home yesterday) with people that are one of my families of choice: my greyhound friends and more specifically my Follow That Hound friends. Even though with the closure of B&J Kennels this year the FTH program is no more, we all still get together and we all still feel like a big extended family.

Friday afternoon Anne and Leah and I went out to Driftwood Beach for some photos of me and the dogs...but I ended up just wandering around and taking pictures because HOLY MOLY is that place amazing. Oaks felled by a hurricane created petrified sculpture. It's like walking around and seeing dinosaur bones. Insane.

Friday night was spent laughing until we cried with good friends. I need more of that in my life. I need my Peaches.

Saturday was more Sandy Paws fun, including the crowning of the king and queen, a live auction (including one of Daisy's books that went for $55 I think?), and then the tired returning to the villa for one last night's sleep to the sound of the waves.

Yesterday was awful...I hate the annual theft of an hour by Daylight Saving Time even though it means I'm only 4 hours behind Simon rather than 5. But the pretty face in the picture there kept me company for the ride back to Greenville, and I wouldn't trade a minute of that time even if it did seem to be an hour earlier.

I'll get my pictures uploaded to Flickr soon...stay tuned. Roooooooo!

05 March 2012

Flashback Post #5...for those about to Sandy Paws...

Again, for Cathie and Leah...

Daisy in Orange by Nancy Dunne
Daisy in Orange, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
...I've got my blogging face on! Well, I had it on last Thursday, as well as my Sad Dog Owner face AND my I'm Trying to Avoid Homicide face.

Daisy came back "home" to the US last Thursday. She flew all by her little self from Manchester, England, to Atlanta, Georgia. Simon and I made arrangements via a pet relocation service to get her on her way, and we were assured of a certain number of things upon handing over almost $1600 to them.

On the day, everything started well and Simon and his dad got Daisy to the airport and checked in on time. She was xrayed and then sent on her way, and apparently her flight was fine and she actually got to Atlanta 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

My friend Joanne and I headed down to pick her up. We were told by the relocation folks in England that all I would have to do is turn up at the Air Cargo warehouse, pay my import fee of $50, present them with an airbill number, and they would then hand Daisy over to me. That is not exactly what happened.

The very very very nice man at the warehouse told me that while Daisy was on the ground and on her way to the warehouse, I wasn't going to be able to collect her that night because she'd arrived too close to the time that the customs officers at the warehouse leave for the day. I assured him that we'd been told that they were there 24-7. He assured me with a very sad look on his face that they left at 5 every day, and any animals that arrived too close to that deadline would be taken to a nearby kennel for the night and their owners could collect them. I told him that we hadn't sent any food with her and he said they would feed her. I told him that we feed her raw and further we'd paid a lot of money to get her on that flight and I was not leaving without her. He looked like he was going to cry but told me he couldn't do anything. I went in the bathroom, cried a little, swore a lot, and then got on the phone to Delta.

Oh, easy, the lovely representative I spoke with said. You get her paperwork from them, take it to customs in the actual airport, they will approve it, and then you bring it back. I told the guy that, he grinned and got to work on her paperwork. He asked if I knew where to go, and I said that all she had told me was "customs."

All of you who fly regularly...where is customs in an airport? Yep, you got it, inside the secure area where you need a boarding pass to get through. A boarding pass assumes that you are BOARDING a flight. See a problem yet?

I got to the airport and NO ONE could tell me where I needed to go to get a gate pass to get through to customs. I spent an hour just finding out that I had to go on my own to find a TSA agent to get a gate pass. Only, that's NOT what I had to do at all, I needed to go to DELTA to get a gate pass (where I started, an hour prior). There is something about telling a ticketing agent that TSA sent you that makes them very snarky, just so you know before you try it. Finally, I had my gate pass and I was going through security.

One full body scan later, I was on the train under the airport to the concourse at the complete other end of the airport for international arrivals/departures and customs. I spent most of hour two since leaving the warehouse getting to that concourse and then sitting while the customs agent checked her paperwork and finally stamped it. Back through security (thankfully no full body scan this time), back on the train, back to the car and by 8:40pm we were waiting on them to wheel Daisy's crate out. For those keeping score, that was four hours after she arrived in Atlanta, and a whopping EIGHTEEN hours after she was put in her crate at Manchester Airport.

My baby girl hadn't made a single mess in her crate. Bless. I was so happy to see her that I just sat there and held her for a minute, big stupid tears rolling as she wiggled to get away from me and glare back at her box. And now she's here, she's learning about being one of five dogs in a house instead of the only one, and she's taking most of it in stride. I think I've seen her snarl more in the past two days than I have since I've had her.

A strongly worded complaint will be issued to Delta because that was just unacceptable. Not only did the right hand not know what the left hand was doing, but I don't think it knew there WAS a left hand.

There is a positive, though...Simon's visa was approved at his interview a week ago today, and on this past Friday he got his passport and the Mysterious Brown Sealed Envelope that he has to take AS IS to customs when he arrives in the States to stay.

Well...to stay until I've had it with my life here and feel that old need to move on...but hopefully that won't be for a long time yet.

28 February 2012

Just around the bend...

Simon and Daisy by Nancy Dunne
Simon and Daisy, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
It seems like it was just yesterday when I took that photo over there. It was at Sandy Paws 2007, and I had only had Daisy in my life full time for one less day than I'd had Simon!

Five years ago today I drove to Hartsfield International Airport to pick up Simon on his second ever trip to the United States. I was scared to death...that he wouldn't like me, that I wouldn't like him, that the dogs would be TOO MUCH, etc. etc. etc. But everything changed as soon as I got out of the car and bent my neck backward for the first of whoknowshowmany times to hug him. It was right and perfect and it still makes me hoppy to think about.

Hoppy: to be in a state where one's feet simply cannot remain on the ground. Eg: me in a fabric store.

Moving on...

I was scared and nervous and and and to pick up our Mei Mei at Sandy Paws the next day, but we headed on over to the villa where Cathie and Anne were to get her. Once again, all that melted when I had her precious little self in my arms, even though she wanted to run from the crazy lady strangling her.

Five years, gone in a blink...and just around the bend, Daisy in my arms and picking Simon up at the airport. Life is good...or will be, just around that very happy bend.

17 February 2012

Spring...in February?

I went across the way today to grab lunch at the student center and was struck by how WARM it is. WARM, y'all. Like open the sun roof and put Kid Rock on the radio, warm. Like I can't believe this time last year I was freezing, warm!

I was reminded in that short walk of one of the reasons why I wanted to move our family to the United States. While there are many, MANY lovely things about the UK and England in particular, and I do miss parts of it every single day...the weather is not one of those things.

61F in February. 16C. That's the great British Summer if you live up north like I did. I had to TAKE OFF MY SCARF outdoors because I was TOO HOT. (I didn't even bring a coat today!)

Oh, and in other news...she's coming home. Very soon. Like next week soon if at all possible. And then she can think I'm a dork and a geek and whatever all in person, and it will be okay, because she will be HERE. With ME. Mei Mei. Life might be starting to get a little bit...good?

15 February 2012

I don't think I can jinx this...

My little girl, my psycho puppy, my sweet Mei Mei who has gone so native she's forgotten that cookie means biscuit...is coming home to me and Clown VERY VERY soon!

I'm not mentioning anything else because I've already jinxed that once, and we didn't bury St. Joseph in the backyard yet. Mainly because we don't have a backyard, and we'd have to bury him upside down in a plant pot. And then the plant pot would get sold and .... yeah, I wasn't going to mention that, was I?

Coming soon to an airport near me...FTH Oopsie Daisy, world traveler and my baby girl. I might even get her some choccie bikkies to celebrate.

07 February 2012

Recognize that young lady there?

No? I didn't think you would. She's Rachel Mazique, and she is the currently reigning Miss Deaf America. She was invited to perform "America the Beautiful" and "The Star Spangled Banner" in ASL at Super Bowl XVII this past weekend in Indianapolis.

Are you scratching your head now, as I was, wondering how you missed that? Well, let me tell you why. You missed it because NBC chose to film (in close up) Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, and Kelly Clarkson instead as they simultaneously performed the songs in English.

Oh, no wait, they did manage to film the choir of children that were singing with Ms. Clarkson.

What does that say to the Deaf community that tuned in to watch because they had heard she would be performing? It certainly explains the lack of sign language interpreter during those two parts of the pre-game festivities...I guess they thought they had that little bit of THE LAW covered when they asked Ms. Mazique to perform.

I'll tell you what it says. Your language is an afterthought. Your language interferes with the general public being able to gaze longingly at pretty celebrities whilst they sing. Your community is not legitimate in our eyes, so we invited her as a token gesture which has NO actual meaning.

Think this is wrong? Yeah, me too. If you click on the link here you can sign a petition demanding that the NFL and NBC offer an apology to Ms. Mazique and the Deaf/HOH community for this blatant snub.

Marlee Matlin tweeted about the ability of the camera people to capture M.I.A.'s rude gesture but not Ms. Mazique's performance.
When we expected some beautiful sign language during the #SuperBowl National Anthem, we got instead a "sign" during M.I.A.'s rap. Ahem.

Well said.

06 February 2012

Flashback Post #3: 6 February 2008

This is a good one, though...and it has reminded me to check my calendar because we may just be coming up on Pancake Day!

Shrove Tuesday Meal Attempt

Where's mah powdered shu-gah and jam?  

31 January 2012

Flashback Post #2: On this day in 2007...

Yeah, soon I'll get back to writing original stuff, but for now...this one's pretty good.

Thought for the Day...Kinda...
Feel free to dive into the archives over there and let me know what you think of what you find. The more I re-read, the more I can see how my blog writing is progressing...and regressing...so I'd love to hear your thoughts as well.

30 January 2012

Flashback Post: This day in 2006

Go check this out...it's about the cancelling of a television program that to be honest, I only have vague memories of watching, let alone being THIS outraged about it being cancelled.

In which the preacher's kid in me comes out to play...rough

Crazy...that was six years ago today.  

You Days of Our Lives Jinxed It, Didn't You?

Mommy, did you say GO? by Nancy Dunne
Mommy, did you say GO?, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
If you are not familiar with the Days of Our Lives Jinx phenomenon, let me briefly explain. I watched Days from the time I was in pre-school until about four years ago, so I consider myself somewhat of a home-grown expert on soap opera plot construction, at least for American soaps. I also should mention that I just did the math on that, and I spent an incredibly HUGE chunk of my life in the fictional town of Salem...and I'm not sure whether I'm impressed by my own loyalty or horrified that I've just admitted that in public.

Right, so on to the Jinx: You can always tell on Days that a major plot twist is coming when a character utters something in terms of absolutes. I'll give you an example. "Nothing can ever come between us again!" is the signal that the third member of the love triangle is about to arrive in town. "Your prognosis is beyond excellent and I'm sending you home today!" means that this character will be in hospice by the holidays. That sort of thing is the Jinx, and I have a hard time avoiding it in my real, non-soap life.

I seem to have done it again, on a grand scale. Remember that post before, about how we had sold our house? The buyer backed out. So, all of that "we are on the path to happiness" business of last week is now replaced with "hello, Square One, fancy meeting you here, AGAIN."

I chose today's picture because it's a visual reminder of the Days of Our Lives Jinx which is loosely related to the adage about counting chickens too early...and because it's my Hunky Man, whom I miss desperately. Ugh. I need a do-over.

25 January 2012

SOLD! Almost...

Yep, after almost four years of waiting and tidying and waiting and chasing down estate agents for feedback someone wants to buy our house.

Let me say that again, because I'm not sure I believe it yet... SOMEONE WANTS TO BUY OUR HOUSE IN KEIGHLEY!

I'm not sure how I feel. I'm overwhelmed and overjoyed and when you add in that I'm probably overtired I find myself to be a little bit...sad. Yep, as much as I used to scream that I hated that house, I'm sad. It was our first house after we were married. It was the house where I stayed the first time I came to visit Hubs.

But at the same time, everything is coming together in a way that I admit I never thought it would. Hubs has his interview at the end of February, almost a month from today. The buyer wants to take possession of the house in four weeks. I may very well be picking Daisy up from Atlanta in less time than that. It's all more than I ever thought would happen.

Now to find a place to live so that the four of us aren't continuing to squat in Anne and Damian's house...

Hey, did I mention I'm now working at Clemson University? No? Oops. Next blog post. Swear.

08 January 2012


Lurve by Nancy Dunne
Lurve, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
Well, my bags are packed (not really), it's early morn (in the US), the taxi's waiting (he's here for a neighbor I guess), he's blowin' his horn (not really, that's just someone jaywalking)...

I don't leave till tomorrow, but I am trying to go on and process it today so that tomorrow isn't so awful. Flying days SUCK, but at least there are some bright spots this time:

I start a new job on Tuesday. More details on that later, as I'm not sure they've told everyone else that applied for the position.

We are an interview (and possibly a piece of documentation or two) away from Simon having his green card.

I will be living with my ClownA at least M-F and hopefully more if I can find a place to live that I can afford.

But still, something is tugging at me. This tiny island grabs hold of you with all it has when you let it, and it is so very hard to let go. One day I'll be back for good, but for now we are ready to start a new chapter living in America. I've been ready to start that chapter since May!

See you guys on the other side of a big ocean and a tin bird.

04 January 2012

Three Years and Counting

At Last... by Nancy Dunne
At Last..., a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
So it was the third of January, 2009, and I was getting married. Simon had been in the US for about two weeks already, and we had done the rounds with family and friends, had wedding showers, Christmas parties, and New Years Eve had been rung in properly. I had spent the night with my sister and brother in law the night before, and that morning I remember waking up and thinking "FINALLY!"

Everything was as normal there, and to be honest it didn't seem like anything exciting was happening. My friend Leah and her son had stayed there as well, and we all got up, had coffee and breakfast, and went about our morning. I hadn't made an appointment to have my hair done or makeup done at all, having chosen instead to just do it myself. Susan was my matron of honour and she couldn't go have that stuff done because she was dealing with a perfect little daughter of her own who was just two days past turning a month old.

The last minute preparations were going on when we realised we didn't have any Yorkshire Tea. It was important to me that we have it as it is Simon's favourite and instead of toasting with alcohol (since we were having the reception in a church) he and I had special mugs and would toast with tea. But we had no tea.

Mom and Dad couldn't go get it (I can't remember why). Susan and Dave couldn't go get it (see above month old baby Joy) so Leah and I set out to find the store and get some tea. We had to go what seemed like a million miles away to find this little British Import Shop to get some...a fact that I still laugh about now as I walk into Whole Foods and there's m'tea, on the shelf.

We got back and I discovered that I was not as proficient at putting on makeup as I thought I was. No worries, Liz helped me tremendously. There was no plug in the bride's room for my straighteners so I went to the bathrooms off the fellowship hall of the church and tried any number of ways to get the wild brush on top of my head to behave. Nothing doing. Finally I pulled it back into the messy bun I wear most of the time, pinned my veil on, and here we go.

Liz was helping me into my shoes when the call came that we had to go SOON so she scampered off to make sure her daughter, our flower girl, was ready to go. Unfortunately, I discovered too late the buckle on my left shoe was too loose. I hadn't had a chance to stand in it and tell her it needed tightening as I had the right shoe, and I couldn't bend over to do it myself. At least my right shoe was on properly, I told myself. I can always try to keep my weight shifted over to my right. I won't look too much like I should be shimmying up a ladder and ringing the bells and shouting Sanctuary!!  Well, I hoped I wouldn't anyway...

I remember standing in the narthex and Andrew, Simon's brother, giving Mary Catherine (his and Liz's daughter and our flower girl) some last minute instructions and then winking at me. I remember that because he had looked so very uncomfortable the rest of the time that the wink seemed incongruous to the point of being funny. Maybe he was trying to help himself relax as well as make me smile?

Wedding March started..."How do you solve a problem like Maria?" from The Sound of Music, natch...and in Susan went, followed by Andrew. They shut the doors and Daddy and I got ready and then suddenly there we went, me reminding him not to let me fall and holding his arm for dear life.

And then I saw Simon look at me and smile, and I know it's trite to say but everything else was gone. I barely heard anything Daddy said during the ceremony. I almost didn't answer when it was my turn. Didn't matter. I was marrying Simon, my best friend and the most wonderful soul I know.

Remember the loose shoe? That could have been a real problem if I hadn't been powering through the unsteadiness and pain in my foot.  Halfway through the ceremony, for example, because I hadn't asked anyone to tighten it I could SEE the skirt of my gown wiggling because my leg was shaking uncontrollably on that side due to that darned shoe.  Thankfully after the ceremony Leah came to the rescue and we took both the shoes off.  I had said from the start I was going to get married barefoot so at least I got to go to my reception that way.  I can remember my god-daughters Tai and Kaya picking up the flower petals from the aisle and Mary Catherine telling them to put them back, puzzled when they didn't respond because she didn't know they were deaf.  I remember my cousin Sandy telling Simon that if he hurt me Sandy would come after him.  I remember Brian and Courtney's Finn being recommended to a 12-step program for cheese after being caught a few times too many at the cheese plate.  I remember laughing and family, and just generally being overjoyed.  That doesn't happen much in my life, so when it does I hang on to the memory with all ferocity.

Three years and his smile can still stop me in my tracks...and make me smile right back. Happy Anniversary, Sweetie. Here's to a thousand more.

01 January 2012

So Long, Twenty Elebben!

We're in the UK again...I thought that Simon and I would be watching the ball drop this year rather than the London Fireworks...but alas...truth be told, we didn't even remember to watch these live because we were so caught up in watching Jools Holland.  I have to say, this is a display that, at the chiming of the hour, would make Guy Fawkes proud.  Happy New Year, Lettuce Readers.  Here's to the end of an awful 2011 and a brilliant 2012 to come!

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...