30 June, 2010

Frumpy McFrumperson.

Today, I look hot. I say this because yesterday, I was frumpalicious. I mean, like Tweedledee in a dress, but without the stupid hat. Not attractive.

I've always thought I was born in the wrong era. Since my youth, I've been compared (unfavourably) to the long, lithe, tanned limbs of the girls in the magazines. I've never been thin, I've always been "healthy". Unless I was "just plain fat" which is what I'm hefting around now. *lol*

Since Rubenesque isn't the done thing, and since the one thing the doctor keeps harping at me over is that excess baggage aggravates hypermobility, I'm taking the bull by the horns and *gasp* starting an exercise regime. A couple of workmates and I are going to join the little gym around the corner from our office, and I'm going to start swimming on a regular basis. No impact, full body, cardio and all... I'm already tired just thinking about it. *lol*

That said, I've already taken steps to eat more healthily. I keep a drawer full of dried fruit and granola bars, and two bottles of water on my desk so I remember to drink during the day. I've been taking my supplements (when I remember while I'm dashing around like the proverbial chicken), but hey, something's better than nothing, right?

So, London had better watch out. Thinner Gabs will certainly be Gabs with more energy. God help us all.

28 June, 2010

Aural bliss.

Now stop that, I know where your mind went.

I refer, of course, to the most harmonious of undertakings, the Hard Rock Calling concert on Sunday. Elvis Costello, Crowded House, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and the ever marvellous Paul McCartney.

Hot, sunny weather; Hyde Park crammed full of aged hippies; Elvis Costello sweating his head off in a purple velvet suit; Crosby, Stills and Nash covering the Stones' "Ruby Tuesday"; Paul McCartney covering "Tequila"... These were but a few of my most excellent experiences on Sunday.

I've never been to a concert alone. The cinema, yes. To dinner, yes. To a concert? Nope. It was a truly eye opening experience. I haven't done very much completely alone in the last few years. Being married means you have a built-in companion for everything, and it doesn't even occur to me to book something for one person. This was no exception to that, actually, it was more a strange array of incidents that saw me traipsing on my merry way to Hyde Park alone, but it's made me keen to try it again.

I sat where I wanted to sit, in the dirt with a bunch of strangers, and made conversation with them where I wouldn't have had I been accompanied. I loaned out my sunscreen to people turning a bit pink in the sun. I handed my water bottle to a girl who had been directly after me in the path of overflowing beer from a guy walking past, we washed off and had a laugh together. I danced down the front in the crowds of people (something Himself HATES and refuses to do).

It was a bit of a return to the "me" before Himself and grown up life, and made for a nice departure from the norm.

The moral of the story? Paul McCartney's a proper weirdo in person. I mean, weird. He kept putting on this bizarre Jamaican/rastafarian accent, and he swore more than I thought he would. Which, of course, means I never pictured him swearing at all. *lol* Gotta hand it to him, though, the man's still got it. OAP gyrations aside, his pipes are still totally intact, perfect pitch and lovely tone. Eleanor Rigby made my day.

23 June, 2010

Fabulous Friday Frivolity.

And it's that time again! My five happy things for the week are as follows:

1. Seems like a silly thing to get so happy over, but it turns out there's a tiny little postage stamp of a garden at our office building. Surrounded by fairly well established hydrangeas, it boasts a garden bench and a picnic table. The grass is dotted with tiny daisies, and it gets a good amount of sun in the afternoons. It has become THE place to be at lunchtime, gets us outside and away from computers, and it makes such a difference to the rest of the day. A haven at Heathrow Express, if you will.

2. I've been dying to get a massage for ages now, it's been months since the last, and in general discussion early in the week a girl in the office mentioned that there was a spa behind our building, so we wandered over to check it out. Turns out that it's not only a (very) well appointed little spa, it's a bite-sized gym as well. It's got a Fastlane pool, the sort that's very small but creates a current against which to swim, and a sauna, and all the machines I'd ever have the inclination to use. Even better, the lady that runs the place said that as we work so close, she'd give us ten percent off anything (massage, gym membership, anything!), and we could do a month at a time on the gym instead of having to sign our lives away for the next two years as most gyms require. The workmate that took me down wants to join for a month and try it out, we could go over at lunchtimes for a quick swim, and if it's both of us going there's accountability and we're more likely to go. Can't wait to get in that pool!

3. In the kerfuffle surrounding my hurty foot, a piece of fairly startling (but at the same time, not so much) news came to light. I've been diagnosed as hypermobile. I grew up calling it double jointed, thought it was cool that my thumbs could go flat against my forearms, and used my extreme flexibility to show off at karate and at yoga. Now that I realise it's not only not natural, but potentially harmful to my longevity as a mobile person to continue contorting myself, I can take better care of things as they are now. It's got me taking my supplements again, gelatine and fish oil, one a day multivitamins, the lot, and I'm feeling better already. Clearheaded and alert are the order of the day. This may not sound like a happy thing, being diagnosed with what is essentially a life-altering condition, but at least I know about it now and can be more careful. Knowing is half the battle, a reference which may or may not be lost on you depending on your year of birth and in which country you were spawned. *grin*

4.The Etsy thing is rolling ahead at a slightly alarming pace. The girls in the office are chomping at the bit to get their mitts on my shop address, and as soon as I get the logo and banner sorted out with my sister's design mate, we're good to go. I've ordered shipping boxes, tissue in which to wrap the goodies, and yet more supplies as I'd begun to run out...! This Saturday will be spent crafting to my heart's content. Now if only I could figure out how to stop the moggies attempting to eat my feather stash...

5. I've saved the best one for last. A girl in the office came to my desk on Tuesday with a pair of concert tickets in her hand. I asked what they were, and she said "oh, they're to see Paul McCartney on Sunday, but I can't go now, do you want them?" Sorry, do I want them? Uh, yeah, I want them. Sunday afternoon, Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, Paul McCartney supported by Crosby, Stills and Nash, Crowded House, and Elvis Costello. For free, at the last minute. Awesome. Those are the kinds of surprises I'm totally behind. I have to pay it forward now, will be keeping my eye out for potential happy-making acts.

Go on, check it out. *grin*


So, all told, it's been a decent week. Hope it's been the same (or better) for you all. x

21 June, 2010

Saturday saw Gabs and Co. en route to Chelmsford for the second chapter in the Great House Hunt. We had four to view which Himself had arranged with various estate agents in and around the area.

The first house was beautiful, the garden was amazing, it was in our price range and very close to the station. The catch, you ask? A distinct lack of storage space, I reply. Where would my shoes live??? We moved on to the next.

It was a milk carton. Square, white, oddly arranged inside (a window in the front coat closet?) and smelled of rental property. Someone else's food, you know what I mean. On to the next.

The third was quite large, three bedrooms of which one would more than suffice for my in-house craftiness, utility room, garage, huge garden, in pretty decent decorative nick. Very nice kitchen, and the stove would be left for us. Right in our price range, and Himself reckons we might even be able to talk them down by £5k or so. Very promising, on to the next.

The fourth house was HUGE. Separate garage, wendy house in the garden with carpet and electricity, three bedrooms of which one was a loft and perfect for my Etsy business. Issues there are that there was rather a lot of mainly decorative work that needed doing, and it's thirty grand more than the other three which puts it over the threshold for stamp duty (another 3% of the entire purchase price paid to the government, for those of you not in the know). It also needed a new kitchen and none of the appliances would be left so would need to buy all new, and the garage door needed replacing. Himself thought he might could get them to knock off a decent amount of cash, but still wasn't enthused about embarking upon such a massive project.

End result is that we both agree that the first house was too small, the second too weird, the fourth too big of a project, and the third might be our "just right". He's arranging for us to view it a second time this week, will take my camera for those of you who care to see what it looks like.

As for yours truly, I'm trying to wrap my head around no longer living in London. It's going to be very, very weird. However, as Anne and LM Montgomery seem to feel, it'll all work out if we find our little House of Dreams. x

18 June, 2010

Existential tenets, or some such rubbish.

I know this should be my FFF post for the week. I'm breaking with tradition just this once.

Don't get me wrong, there have been happy things this week. One of the girls in our department had her leaving do on Tuesday night, and a convivial time was had by all. Things at work are falling into place, the cats have been silly, I've talked to family, etc. I just have something I want to say, and I want to say it badly enough to let it take the place of my five happy things.

I've had my iPod on shuffle at work for the last week, and it's funny how certain songs create a mental atmosphere. Calm, sad, joyous, angry, introspective, it's all there in that tiny black box. Ingrid Michaelson is a personal favourite, and in particular, the song entitled "Highway". For lack of a better way of expressing it, for me that song creates a mood of "enjoy it now, because things change".

I know once we die, we don't have regrets, but let me indulge myself in suspended disbelief for a minute. When my life comes to an end, I want to know that I've lived fully and well. I don't want to think back and wish I'd told the people I love how important they were to me, or wish I'd traveled or made love or cooked or just kicked back with a glass of wine and girlfriends more often. I don't want those regrets. I know I won't be thinking "I wish I'd tidied the house more". It's the things that feed me emotionally and spiritually that I want to savour and repeat as often as possible.

With this in mind, I try to live as fully in the moment as I can. If I'm talking to a girlfriend and I think she looks beautiful, I say so. I tell my sisters how wonderful I think they are, each in their own way, and that I'm proud of them. I tell my college roommate that she's one of the most interesting, talented, beautiful people I know. I don't see any reason to have positive thoughts and greedily keep them to myself. I want to seize opportunities with both hands, I want to say "yes" more often. I want to live.

So, maybe I'm a bit maudlin. It happens. The events of the past two weeks have been clarifying for me, sort of a distillation of the last few years. I'm a very different person now than I used to be, and I suppose it depends who you are as to whether you think the changes are positive or not so hot. My point, I suppose, is this. For better or worse, I am who I am. Love me or leave me.

16 June, 2010

I'm fighting my own nature at the moment.

Everything in me wants to be at home, sewing and being crafty. Everything I need to do is here in the office. *sigh*

I have a mental image of myself in the future. I envision, in a slightly misty out of focus way, a bright house with small people, hand baked bread with homemade jam, parties in the garden with bunting and home cooked goodies, vintage finds lovingly restored to their rightful places in the universe...

Unfortunately, this couldn't be much further from real life. *lol* Bleary trip to the shower, hop on the motorbike to fight traffic through Holland Park, much talking and not many actions with people unused to being chivvied along, hop back on the motorbike to fight traffic through Notting Hill, collapse on the couch to watch a few hours of tv with Himself and the mogs, fall into bed. Only to do it all again the next day. *grin*

We're viewing more houses at the weekend, this time in Chelmsford. There are a few promising possibilities in which I could see my blurry future come to life, and until then I'll simply content myself with sewing intricately handmade pretties whilst firmly ensconced within the loving walls of our 'appy 'ome in 'ammersmith. x

14 June, 2010

Great expectations rarely deliver.

The Great House Hunt has stalled slightly. *lol* We viewed the two properties in Eastcote on Saturday, with slightly disappointing results.

The first of the two was the one I was most excited about, as it boasted a large garden, a conservatory, and three, count them, THREE bedrooms. It would have afforded us the space to dedicate the smallest of the rooms to my burgeoning craft supplies and sewing machine, and still leave a proper guest room for visitors to the House of Gabs. The garden was a blank canvas, completely undeveloped and waiting for a loving touch to bring it to life.

Upon viewing, we discovered that the bedrooms all contained moldy window frames, rotting door frames, shredded carpet edges and dodgy paint features. Opening the bathroom door revealed bubbling lino on the floor, a buckling tub surround, and imminent tile collapse in the shower. The conservatory's sealant was dangling around every pane of glass, its foundation was crumbling, and the garden was smaller than the pictures portrayed it. Basically, it could have been a great property if we had the time and money to completely gut the place and start from scratch. Himself says no... *insert open mouthed cough here*

All I could think while we were stumbling from room to room was, haven't these people seen House Doctor? *lol* Mold is easily cleared up with an application of bleach and good circulation of air. The bedrooms were cluttered, one of which obviously belonged to a teenage boy as it proudly ensconced a bar in one corner and had stolen road signs in another, none of them smelled particularly fresh, and the master bedroom had peeling wallpaper and ivy growing over the single window, blocking out most of the natural light. Himself made the point that as it has three bedrooms, the listing price is only as low as it is (£288,000...!!!) because of the state of the place, and it's obviously a single-parent family from the set-up. She likely just didn't have time between shifts as a policewoman to sort the house out. I sympathise, honestly, but that house just wasn't going to happen for us.

The second isn't even really worth too much discussion due to its general ordinariness. We left there, and the only thing we could say about it was that it was better than the first. *lol* It didn't create emotion or opinion for either of us, it was just ... there. So, another no.

I'm sure we'll find the right place to build our lives in a more permanent way, it'll just take more than a day's worth of looking. But then, anything worth having should take time and effort. I'm desperately looking forward to decorating new surroundings, to having properly appointed space for my budding Etsy business, to bringing family over and having enough room to put them up comfortably, and all of these will make the finding of the right place for us even happier.

Until then, we'll tick along happily in the current House of Gabs, watching tv scrunched up on our battered red couch, me crocheting and Himself unwinding the wool as I progress, both of us attempting to chase the moggies away from eating the strands before they can be turned into a blanket. Homely contentedness.

11 June, 2010

Fabulous Friday Frivolity.

It's been a funny week, I'm having to think a little harder to find my five happy things. But we will persevere, and they are as follows:

1. We're looking at houses at the weekend. *grin* There are two in Eastcote that we have appointments to view, and it's very exciting. I don't really feel like a grownup, but I do love moving into a new place and nesting my head off. Plus, we're only looking at places with at least two bedrooms, so I'll have a place to put my sewing machine and any spare Texans I find in our area. No more air mattress in the living room floor! Woo hoo! Unless, of course, the whole family comes at once... I think I'll save that air mattress after all.

2. I love a bit of spring cleaning. I know, I know, I'm sick, but every office I've ever worked in has needed a proper thorough cleanout and archiving session, and it's been me that instigated and executed. I spent a few hours yesterday filling boxes full of stuff that nobody needs access to. Everybody was watching me, and then started getting involved in the clearout, and soon enough it was most of the floor emptying cupboards and throwing things out or into boxes. Love it, love it, love it.

3. I planted my veggies outside this week. Bell peppers and tomatoes, grown from seeds, in pretty lime green and cobalt blue pots on the back steps. Hopefully the snails will stay away from them long enough for us to get some edibles off them, but either way, there's a tremendous sense of accomplishment in growing something successfully from a packet of seeds. Warm fuzzies.

4. Everyone on this side of the world is going to smack me in about five seconds, but those of you in Texas will understand this one. *bracing myself for the smackage* It's June, and it's not hot outside. It's 54 degrees outside Fahrenheit, 12 degrees Celsius. In Texas right now, it's four in the morning, and it's 79 degrees Fahrenheit, 26 Celsius. At four in the morning. In the dark. Everybody here hates it, they're wanting excuses to strip off in the park and get royally roasted, but not I said the fly. Cool weather plus motorbike equals happy Gabs.

5. This is a silly one, I know, but it just made me happier than I've been in a good 48 hours. One of the gentlemen in my office is having his fiftieth birthday today, and must have been feeling beneficent as he brought in a load of cakes from M&S. I just had a scone with cream and jam, and my tummy is happily digesting it as we speak. Yum, yum, yum.

There, that wasn't so hard actually. Funny how when you break it down and really think about the happenings of the week instead of the general feeling that accompanies it, there are some happy bits that you might have missed otherwise. I'm in a much better mood now. : ) Go have a good weekend, all of you. I'll update at the weekend about the Great House Hunt. x

10 June, 2010

Upheavals all around.

And no, that's not a (very) thinly veiled reference to my recent illness.

Things have a habit of changing, no matter how hard you hold on. Sometimes it's little things; gray hairs or crows feet, a little extra weight put on over the holidays, your favourite jeans coming apart at the seams. Sometimes it's big things; a sibling choosing a life path you don't agree with, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a friendship.

The BFG and I met on a mutual contract at the Ministry of Justice, hit it off immediately, and have been practically inseparable ever since. We've weathered hard times with our respective spouses, family drama, work drama, and everything else life could find to throw at us for the last three years. There were bouts of random silliness, sarcasm, people watching, shoe shopping, mountains of good food and probably a little too much booze. And now it seems our friendship has run its course.

I've always had a hard time saying goodbye. Himself doesn't understand that part of my psyche. When he broke up with his previous girlfriends he threw everything away. Pictures, notes, gifts, every piece of anything that could be counted a reminder of the relationship. I, on the other hand, have boxes of nostalgia from the myriad relationships that made up my life before I was married. He didn't understand at first that it wasn't because I had any regrets or untoward feelings about the ending of those relationships. It's because I want to remember. My life experiences formed who I am today, and whether the relationship was a good one that just ran out of steam, or a bad one that ended explosively, they're all experiences that I appreciate for what they were.

It's going to be hard to let him go. My frustration with how things have gone for the last few months aside, I have a lump in my throat and an unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach. As he so succinctly put it, I have a hard time imagining my life without him in it. Looks like I'm going to have to try.

09 June, 2010

Sick days suck.

That's right, friends. I'm poorly. I'm feeble. I'm struck down with a mysterious malaise.

I'm blogging.

I find sick days intolerable. I'm incapable of "resting". I'm not good at "putting my feet up". Unless I'm perfectly well and have a load of things to do, that is. Then, I'm perfectly capable of sitting on my rump and watching an entire season of Prison Break in a day.

When I'm ill, things get reorganised. I've got a load of laundry in as we speak. I've scanned in a work document to send off to a consultant and drafted the email to go along with it. I'm looking at a pile of folded clothes with a spark of initiative in my eye. It's half eight in the morning. *sigh*

It's not so mysterious, to be fair. Last night saw myself and the BFG in the pub with a laptop and headphone splitters to watch Going Postal. Pub food ensued, and it all tasted great going down... won't go into detail with where that sentence went in my head. Suffice it to say, I'm not well. To add insult to injury, the BFG is totally fine. Bastard.

So, in the interest of getting back to normal, I'm going to go eat a piece of toast and hope it stays where I put it. If it does, I'll be at work by noon. Send me happy non-vomitous vibes. x

04 June, 2010

Fabulous Friday Frivolity.

Welcome, felicitously frolicsome friends!

I am aware that this is late. Read number four and take pity on me. Or not. It's whatever. *grin*

My five happy things for the week are as follows:

1. I'd forgotten what it was like to be a grownup. Let me explain. I dress for work, not for what washes well. I haven't had a single person wipe their face on me, and the words "get your finger out of your nose" haven't been necessary. I've tidied the kitchen in the office a couple of times, but it's been because I was waiting for the kettle to boil and I wanted to, not because it was my job. Roll on, office days. Also, the extra added bonus of this office is that I'm busy all the time. Got to work at eight this morning and didn't realise time had passed until it was one in the afternoon, at which point I forced myself to leave the office for lunch to prevent permanently square eyes. I would much rather be busy and have a day that passes quickly than count minutes until the hypothetical bell rings, so it's a definite plus.

2. I went out with the girls last night...! No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you, I, Gabs, left the house on a weeknight. I finally got to test the menu at Ping Pong, which included a lemon/basil/cracked black pepper martini that was, while strange, completely delicious. We ate an obscene amount of food, talked and laughed, and a good time was had by all.

3. I *may* have left my house keys inside our securely locked flat on Wednesday, which forced me to take shelter from the Great British Public in TK Maxx while I waited for Himself to make it back to Hammersmith. This jaunt *may* have resulted in my buying one of my favourite products for which to shop. That's right, storage jars. They're pretty, they're functional, and if the cats break them, I'll murder them both. Look how prettily my cottony products look, nested in their gleaming confines. Well appointed storage gives me the warm fuzzies.

4. You might want to sit down for this one. Not only did I leave the house yesterday, but I have plans tonight as well. I'll wait while you collect your collective selves. That's right, I'm going out tonight with a friend from a previous office job. Imminent plans in Chiswick straight after work also means that I took the motorbike to work today, and the benefits are threefold. 1) The ride when it's sunny and warm out through practically deserted Notting Hill is just lovely. 2) The journey only takes half the time of taking the tube. 3) To take the tube is roughly five pounds a day. To take the bike is £3.50 parking per week. Score.

5. I think I've made a new friend. That said, she's facebook stalking me and has begun reading this blog, so I won't be too glowing or she'll get a big head. It's rare for me to make friends in roughly the same situation I'm in currently (not twenty years old, not single, not up for going out and getting drunk until the wee sma's every night) so it's kinda nice. And that's all I'll say. *grin*

SO, pretty good week, all told. Hope yours was copacetic as well.

02 June, 2010

Square eyes and odd obsessions.

One of the things I've never really agreed with in this country is the TV license. If you use your TV to watch regular programming, you have to pay a yearly fee to use your TV. Even for just the BBC. For years I lived with a TV hooked up to a DVD player, and had to call them up every time they stuck a note through the door reminding me to pay the fee to assure the drone paid to take my call that no, I did NOT have an aerial and did NOT watch TV, only watched DVDs from my (extensive) collection. They never fully believed me, and told me more than once that they'd be coming by to check out my setup, although the threatened visit never materialised.

Himself and I ticked along without regularly scheduled programming for a couple of years after we got together, and had actually been married over a year when we moved into this flat and he decided having the option to watch TV was worth paying the fee. I'll admit, the novelty of it was a very strange feeling for an American.

It's bad, though. We watch TV instead of going out. We live in London, there's no excuse not to go out at least once a week. Theatre, music, history, fabulous restaurants, pubs, clubs, you name it. How often do we go out? I won't answer that question due to the inordinate amount of embarrassment it would cause me.

The funniest thing about getting TV was this. Himself has some... interesting... tastes in television programming. Flavour of Love: Charm School. Wife Swap. How Clean is Your House. And now, Britain's Got Talent.

That's right. We'll be home all week, watching the semifinals. Last night saw us raging over Simon Cowell's decision to let the crappy ten year old boy band through instead of the middle aged Frank Sinatra singing bouncer. Screeching ball of fury, thy name is Gabs. I don't think I've ever been that angry, and about half way through my shrieking fit I had a slight out of body experience where I saw myself, a thirty year old woman, screaming at the television over a talent show. Not a pretty sight.

So tonight, we're torn between four of the eight acts as to who we fancy through to the next round. Hopefully one of them won't be the sixty year old Madonna impersonator named Philip. At the moment, he's inside a giant disco ball wearing a spangly unitard and rather a lot of pancake makeup. Where he gets his shoes is beyond me. He's frightening the cats, so I'll stop blogging and comfort them with treats and violent loving. They can't get enough of it.