Tuesday, January 22, 2013

We have written since the snows of winter

... though not yet through the kingdom of Murcia.

We have snow!  We are excited!  This, by my standards, is great weather, something we've been a little short of for the past few years.

I love the snow - for me, it's everything all the storybooks claim and more.  It makes everything look beautiful.  All is muffled, quieted.  The air is crisp, cold, and life-affirming.  I put on all my gear and go out just to be in it.  Many years ago, when I was living in Connecticut, we had a snowstorm starting in the afternoon.  By early evening, the snow had accumulated, and everything was blanketed fluffy white, and it was still snowing.  I had gotten home from work, had dinner, and told my roommate I was going out.  I put on my longjohns and trousers, turtleneck and pullover, parka, snowboots, and hat, to the sound of my roommate telling me how crazy I was. When it snows at night, at least near cities, the whole sky is light.  I walked through the soft flakes, feeling the crunch, crunch under my feet, smelling the cold air, looking up to the bright sky, reveling in it all.

I have never lost that feeling.  In fact, I believe I have found something.  I seem to have a talent for building snow creatures.  Remember the fish I made a few years back, when we had enough snow to do so?  This time I was inspired to make a bunny - perhaps by Bagheera.  I am really pleased:


Lauren made an Octopus called "Octo":

What's wrong with this octopus?
And a snow fort:
That was on the first day - Friday, Jan 18th.  I couldn't post this blog entry any earlier because there was some problem with Blogger uploading photos. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lost in translations

(I won't comment on how long it's been. Nor the paradox of the previous sentence.)

I often feel the urge to construct a UK English - US English colloquial dictionary. I know there are loads of dictionaries out there, but I don't think many of them contain the following:

UK English - US English
  1. Heath Robinson - Rube Goldberg
  2. Daddy long legs, Crane fly - Mosquito hawk
  3. Scampi - small tailless fried shrimp
  4. Kung-pao chicken - Chinese-style dish with onions, peppers, in a sweet and sour sauce
  5. Italian wedding soup - tomato based soup with some pasta, vegetables, and small meatballs
  6. Corn - grain
US English - UK English
  1. Rube Goldberg - Heath Robinson
  2. Daddy long legs - unknown spider
  3. Scampi - prawns pan fried in garlic butter
  4. Kung-pao chicken - Chinese-style dish with peanuts and dried chilli peppers in a soy flavoured sauce
  5. Italian wedding soup - chicken based stock with green vegetables and meatballs and/or sausage, sometimes with pasta
  6. Corn - maize, sweetcorn
UK English - US English
  1. To hand - at hand, handy
  2. Cater for - cater to
  3. Different to - different from
  4. By contrast - in contrast
You get the idea. To paraphrase Steve Martin, it's like these English have a different word for everything!

Of course, it's not as bad as all that. But after being here for awhile (over 6 years now), I'm starting to forget what Americans say in certain cases. Sometimes I'll ask Richard "Do the Americans say ... " and sometimes he won't remember either. One of my American friends says it annoys her when she can't remember what people in the US would say. I find it difficult to talk to her, in a way, because I'm not sure which phraseology to use, and it slows me down.

There are things I still either won't say or have trouble saying:
  • quid - slang for a pound, similar to saying buck for a dollar, it just sounds so contrived in an American accent
  • petrol - gasoline, I still prefer to say gas, I think due to the very English way this word is pronounced, PET-troll
  • dosh - slang for money, possibly meaning ready cash, admittedly I don't hear it much
  • mate - my Scandinavian friend uses it all the time, maybe because she used to live in London
  • idnit - isn't it, used at the end of a phrase in place of many phrases like doesn't it, isn't that right, don't you think, don't they, etc. I don't use it because it's ungrammatical slang.
Occasionally I use the English pronunciation of words, like tomato, because if I'm discussing tomatoes with an English person, it feels very weird to keep hearing tuh-MAH-toe and yet saying tuh-MADE-oh. Other times I lean towards the English pronunciation just to be understood. I forget that I have an accent, and then I'll get this deer-in-headlights look and realize that the other person probably has no idea what I said.

And actually, it's not just foreigners' accents that people here find hard to understand. We'll be home watching television and there'll be an interview with someone from the north of England or Scotland, and we'll look at each other and admit neither of us has any idea what the interviewee said. And Richard is English. Other English people regularly admit that they don't always understand what people from other regions are saying. This doesn't happen very much in the US, unless you get someone from a real backwater ...

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Don't allow auto-recharge on SKYPE!!!!!!!!

Skype takes NO responsibility for someone hacking into your account, even if the hack came from outside your computer.
Disable your auto-recharge!
Set a 25 character password!
Better yet, use a phone service that provides decent customer service.
Tell all your friends and contacts - Facebook, Twitter, wherever.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Oh fudge!

While our volcano-impeded visitors were biding their time, they spent a day in Bath. As a thank-you to us for our continued hospitality, they brought us a box of fudge. On the outside of the box is written a promising:
Handmade Creamy Fudge

and further:
A delicious creamy fudge handmade in copper pans

Mmmm, doesn't that sound yummy? What flavor(flavour)? you ask. And well you may. Without qualification, "fudge" here means a sort of buttercream flavor. There are other flavors in fudge specialty(speciality) shops, but the generic pre-packaged bags and boxes of fudge chunks (often made with clotted cream) are this buttercream sort of flavor.

Wait, pre-packaged? Bags? Chunks?

Yes, you read right. It took me years to figure out, because I thought it had to do with the pre-packaged, not-freshly-made status of the fudge that gave it the, um, differing texture.

English fudge is not fudgy. Nor, despite the label on the box, is it creamy. Nope, it's dry and crumbly. I suffered (bring out the world's smallest violin, please) bags and boxes and cuttings and tastings of the stuff, pre-packaged to still-warm, and was disappointed each and every time. These poor people haven't tasted what real fudge is all about! Not surprising really, as it is apparently a US invention.

I contrast this crumbling confection to the fudge I purchased in Old Town Spring, Texas about a year or so ago. I really wanted some maple walnut fudge, so before we left the town, we stopped in the Little Dutch Girl, a Dutch gift shop with a sweets and fudge counter. We bought a few flavors, including maple walnut.

Oh my!

Should you ever get to Old Town Spring, I highly recommend you buy fudge at this shop. Yes, See's makes a lovely fudge, but it doesn't hold a candle to this stuff. Creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, not sickly sweet, perfection.
These guys should open a shop in Bath.

Fudge? Rocks? You decide.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This photo has been volcanically enhanced

We had guests over the Spring Break, a little longer than we expected!
People asked us if we could see the volcanic ash from Mount Unpronounceableandhardtospell. The short answer is yes, some days it was hazy. But the more compelling answer appears below:

© RJJenkins, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The view that keeps us going

It was difficult to get a clear photo, but the moon crescent reflected on the water the other night was so peaceful:

And the view while washing the dishes (we do not have a dishwasher, or, well, we have 2, me and Richard):

The flowers in the foreground are a bunch of freesias given to me by a friend.

And just in case you didn't catch the weather reports, some shots of the snow a couple of weeks ago:

Our neighbor's(neighbour's) monkey puzzle tree.

And my snowfish:


Cats got my tongue

I realize I haven't written in awhile - I have sooooooooooooo many topics, but I am stymied by my desire to write them well. And I was sitting in my glider and ottoman, tapping away on my laptop (working, presumably), when I heard Ziggy make a little chirp (which is funny, since she's a cat). And I looked down, and saw this:

And then I looked at Bagheera on the couch next to me:

And I thought, "Oh, it's a cat's life."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pond life

Is it me, or does green tea smell like a fish tank that needs cleaning?

(I mean, I drink the stuff, if it's hot, but every time I bring the mug close to my nose - hrrrmph.)

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A few weeks ago, an incredibly calm day with a slight haze ...