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Archive for June, 2008

There are some things I will never get used to living in the UK, no matter how long I live here. First, in late Spring and early Summer the sky never seems completely dark.  At 1am, standing outside, you can see light on the horizon.  Its also light around the 4am hour. When we went to the airport in late May the sun was already rising as we drove to the airport at 4am. So strange to not have the sun rise the next morning until 7am in Spain.

The other thing that I will never get used to is that, on the last day of June, its cloudy. I am cold. Its been cold. Going out does not sound like fun. My poor son has not worn any of his Summer shorts since Spain. This is the second year in a row that has happened. And, as we head into the “hottest” months of the year, we are looking for more sweats for him to wear because I did not buy enough sweat pants for him to wear around the house to stay warm this SUMMER!

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What gives?

Ever feel like there is a mass conspiracy out there to ruin everyone lives? I am not big on conspiracy theories but right now I would buy it.  Why is the price of oil so high? The more I see and read the more I believe its the speculators and worlds stock markets. We hear about shortages but I remember what a shortage is like. As a kid we had to que up for gas/petrol. Prices where up and I remember a limit being in place. I even remember odd and even days. There are no lines now. There is plenty to go around. The major oil companies are saying there is no shortage, OPEC is saying there is no shortage. So what gives? Someone out there is making a butt load of money on the backs of working people all over the world.

The only bright spot is that companies that have had their products made over seas in China and what not are now bringing them back home. Its to expensive to ship that far so they are having companies at home do the work. This is the one bit that makes me very happy. In both America and Britain manufacturing jobs have gone. Factories have shut. You can not build a country without manufacturing. Its the building blocks that the sustain the rest of the economy. We need these jobs. So if brings manufacturing back home then there is one massive bright spot in this whole par larva.

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Nerja, Spain

A few weeks ago we went on our bi-annual holiday to Nerja in the Costa Del Sol, Spain. I had never thought of going to Spain. It had never been on my list of place I must see. But when my husband, then boyfriend, suggested a trip, I jumped at it. Why not? I fell in love. Its all the best of Spain. Small town feel as it was a small fishing village in the past. Touristy enough that you can get by on my limited Spanish. (most of Europe speaks English I have found) And close enough to the Sierra Nevada, which is the mountain range I grew up next to in California. Seeing its namesake is quite a thrill to me in my own stupid way.

Spain feels like home. Spain looks like home. All the new communities in Spain could be anywhere Calfornia. If I would of woken up and told I was in CA I would believe it. As you leave Nerja and head up into the hills of the Sierra Nevadas and head towards Granada you really feel like you are driving between Reno, NV and Carson City, NV. Its strange. It feels familiar. Like home.

I am weird, I know. Its Spain. But when you are an expat you long for anywhere that feels like home. The sense of not belonging can be suffocating at times. You have moments where you just long for something familiar, something that brings you home. In Europe, its Spain for me.

We had a lovely time, my family. Traveling with a two year old was a challenge. Time flew chasing him. We where knackered and would of loved a bit more time. But my son loved it. He loves the Spanish lifestyle. Staying up late, eating tea (dinner) at 10pm, wandering the streets and looking in shops late into the evening. Warmth.  Warm into the night. Even in late May, with the wind blowing hard off the sea onto our apartment, it was warm when we walked the few blocks into town. Bliss. Such a change from our cold life in the UK.

I hope we get back. We thought of this as a sort of farewell trip as traveling from the West Coast of the US to Spain is an expensive and long journey. But it will always be my happy place. A place with some of the best memories of my life. Where we got engaged. Where we went on our 2nd part of our honeymoon.

The Sierra Nevadas from our apartment.

Sierra Nevadas from our apartment

The Med from our window.

the med

Nerja. Balcon de Europe

nerja

At night from our Apartment with a full moon

full moon

The little white town on the hill, Mijas Spain

mijas, spain

mijas, spain

From out of nowhere, two legs apeared out the window.

legs

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I am trying to do one thing every day that will get us closer to our move. Yesterday it was cleaning out a cupboard. Today we went through the coats in the front porch, went through all the junk stuffed in the kitchen and sorted and thrown things out. I also went and cleaned out the shelves in the bedroom. I got rid of two rubbish bags of clothes, which surprised my husband to know end, and put a ton of stuff in a large suitcase to store in the loft (attic).

I have gotten pretty darn good at being ruthless. When I moved to the UK, I got rid of a lifetimes worth of stuff. I managed to sort my life down to 10 boxes and 2 suitcases. That was a major achievement for the pack rat in me. So I look at the stuff I am sorting through and ask myself ” do I want to pay to move this?” Most of the time that answer is no. So its gone. I am feeling very very motivated at the moment and need to take advantage of it.

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Jeff

When I first came over to England 5 years ago my husband took me on a “pub crawl” around town. We went into several pubs and it was nice. We ended up in the British Legion. Immediately I was welcomed in and everyone was so kind to me. So kind that I ended up working there.

One man, out of so many, was particularly kind. His name, Jeff. Jeff told me that his mother was American, from New York. He had a few kids that lived over in the states now as well. He felt a kindred spirit of sorts. Over the years he continued to be a friend. Not super close, but a sweet guy that I really liked and was happy to sit and chat with. He was the one guy my husband knew he could sit with as well. Always welcoming, our Jeff.

Jeff, old, ill, missing teeth. A real character. He has been ill for a while and I don’t see him as often. I was lucky enough to be on my way to the chemist (pharmacy) to get my son his prescription at the same time as Jeff. We had a nice chat for 15 mins or so passing time. This was a few weeks ago, just before we went on holiday.

Last night I found out Jeff passed away. Others have passed since working at the Legion. It is, after all, a club for ex soldiers, and mostly full of elderly gents. Jeff’s passing has really touched and saddened me.

Tonight we will have a drink for Jeff. Cheers mate, for all the kindness you have shown me in this new land I have lived in the past 5 years.

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We are one step closer to our move. S went to London this last week and had his medical done. They did the typical blood work and chest x-ray. All should be okay. Next step is the interview at the embassy. Nearly 1 year after we started this whole process there is finally light a the end of the tunnel.

The house is that much closer to being on the market. Now that we are this close we are going to really push ourselves to get it listed. My poor son has had most of his toys put away so we can make way through the living room. Funny thing is that he hasn’t even noticed. He seems happier with less toys to choose from. I may be on to something here.

I am really looking forward to starting a new life back in the states. Being closer to my family and having an area that we can live a more outdoor lifestyle will be fantastic. I just got back in touch with my best friend from 5th grade. We haven’t spoken in a decade or there abouts. Looking at pictures of her kids out in the sunshine makes me homesick. They look so happy and healthy living an outdoor lifestyle. It also makes me a bit more motivated to light a fire under us and just go.

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Crocs.

I have always loved any clog type shoe. I think they are so cute. Especially with jeans. I like ugly shoes too. I grew up in Birkenstocks. They where the popular shoe in high school. Maybe that is where I got my taste for ugly shoes.  I have very wide feet. I have big feet. I am a size 10 wide in US sizes. Don’t ask me what size I am in the UK. 8 I think. Doesn’t matter. I can rarely find shoes that are 8s on the shelf and forget about wide shoes. So a few years ago when we went back to California for a visit I bought my first pair of Crocs. They fit the ticket. Clog, check. Ugly, check. Wide, check. Perfect.  Black Crocs. They felt great on the trip home on the plane.

After we got back to the UK I went into Costco. They had a shelf full of Crocs and I grabbed up a pair that I thought was tan in the dull, warehouse light. They fit. £18. Awesome. Imagine my surprise to find out that they where not tan, but yellow when I got home. So now I have a pair of black and a pair of yellow Crocs. The yellow ones are my slippers.  My husband was mortified. They where so ugly. He didn’t even want to go in public with me when I wore any Crocs. My step daughter felt the same. They liked to take the mick. But my son loved them. He was forever wearing my yellow Crocs. So cute on his just learning to walk legs. Especially when he had them on the wrong feet. Charlie Chaplin-ish. So cute. So funny.

So a few weeks ago we where on our Holiday in Spain. All the tourist shops had fake Crocs in them. We bought our son his first pair. Yellow. He was in heaven. They seemed a bit small as he got a blister so we went and got him a size larger in blue. He has refused to wear anything else since. That’s my boy.

What was most surprising was my husband. He kept eyeing them. So we made a deal. Buy a pair for 5 Euros. Wear them on the trip and if you don’t think they are the most comfy shoe then dump them. No great loss. If you love em, we will buy you a real pair. So he got a tan pair. Hmmm. I was right (again, am I not always 🙂 ) They are so comfy.  So now he has two pairs. Yes, much to my step daughter disgust, we are a Crocs family.

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