February Blues

Friday 23rd Feb

Our first dinner guests under the new regime. Unfortunately I made a cardinal error with the starter, choosing a South Western dish, Santa Fe Shrimp Salad, which would have been a cinch to put together in Houston but in Middletown the purchase of shell fish bigger than a hamster's willy almost took me into an overdraft situation. Inevitably they were tough and the accompanying avocado (always so lusciously ripe in HEB) had the complementary consistency of a turnip. I'm hoping Italian chicken casserole and good old bread pud saved the day but I'm afraid my glossy Ultimate American Cookbook may go the way of fragile knick-knacks in an antique shop - "lovely to look at, in pricey UK, but if you cook it, Man, you're gonna pay!"

Saturday 24th Feb

The new washing machine and dryer have arrived. B is ecstatic. I have to admit they are ok although a "quick wash" still takes 68 minutes. And I do object to keeping a pair of specs in the garage just so I can programme the blessed things: on/off, large/small, hot/cold worked just fine for me. I am trying to avoid all mention of matters laundry, though, as any reference to the new delivery prompts my husband to thrust his face unnervingly close to mine and to hiss, in poor imitation of a British extra in a WW2 epic, "Perfekt in Form und Funktion!!". I think this is a quote from the AEG handbook. I know it isn't a personal compliment cos I haven't had one of those since, as my Cumbrian Granny used to say, Pussy was a kitten and that particular feline is long since buried in a Middletown backyard. Another, horrid, possibility is that this sinister mantra is a reference to his good self......let's not go there.

Monday 26th Feb

William is in a very snarky mood; even his darling Mama is Persona non-Grata today. My lack of favour became apparent early on when he refused to join me on the sofa for a showing of a new (to me) daytime TV instructional programme "The Gene Detective" in which a perfectly nice young lady was subjected to a choice between 3 possible long-lost brother candidates as tracked down by the "experts". It could have been my repeated shouting out of "No 2, you nitwits!!" from the minute the dreadful, long drawn out inquisition started ("and just how are you feeling at this moment?") which prompted his defection - and of course I had to sit there for the next 50 minutes and two more cups of tea just to prove myself right- so it took a while for me to register the herd of elephants racing up and down the landing. So what was the source of Mr William's dissatisfaction? Well, I suspect it began the night before when, around 11.30pm, he foolishly intimated to his "Dad" that he had a pressing appointment with the Great Outdoors and was promptly locked in the kitchen until 7 o'clock this morning - never mind Mars and Venus, why has no-one written a book about the phenomenal miscommunication between man and his cat? Discontent festered overnight and was further inflamed by the discovery that someone had tipped a load of old framed photos (and not one of them of him) across the floor of his favourite blue bedroom, making it not only unnecessarily hazardous to reach the bed but also forewarning of further intrusive sorting out activities to come. Appeasement came in the opening up of the hitherto verboten (silk and velvet quilt, awaiting dry cleaners' ruination) guest bedroom and the production of a nice new fleecy blanket from the also off limits built-in closet. When I looked in a few minutes ago he opened one eye, pointedly rearranged himself with bum angled towards the door and hooked a corner of blanket over his head. OK, we all need a duvet day once in a while.

Kudos to John Armitt, Chief Executive of Network Rail, for integrity, accountability and compassion following the Cumbria rail accident. And, congratulations, of course, to Helen Mirren for her Oscar winning performance of - and in - The Queen. I saw this film more than once in Houston and was much in demand to accompany Texan friends, whether for purposes of translation and extrapolation or for the added frisson of sitting next to a real live Brit I not sure or perhaps (hopefully) they just enjoyed my company as much as I did theirs. "The Queen" posed fewer problems and more enjoyment than my personal quintessentially British favourite, Wallace & Grommit: The Curse of the Wererabbit. "What's the deal with these xxx allotments, anyway?!"

Tuesday 27th Feb

The battle of the boxes is rapidly evolving into a war of attrition. After two weeks of really good progress the last couple of dozen are proving stubbornly hard to place and preventing the final transformation of the much-abused pink bedroom into the terracotta and magnolia retreat I have planned. My husband, Commander in Chief, recognisance and operations, has decreed that best use has not been made of the extensive (UK standards) fitted cupboards in the Master bedroom. My Houston wardrobe has therefore been relegated to the far end where the Texas-sized bedside cabinet blocks the opening of the door, thus providing another sort of opening for our resident wit - "Not only can she not get into the clothes, she can't even get into the closet!" Boom, boom - or, don't say it, Bum, Bum!! Actually I have begun a new fitness regime by re-enrolling at a local private swimming pool. The first session ticked several boxes - quality time spent with a dear friend, a good 60 lengths of the best sort of exercise and last but by no means least, I saw no-one (and was not, as far as I'm aware but no need to write in, seen by anyone) who knew me prior to my love affair with all things Texan and my totally mysterious metamorphosis into an elongated Dolly Parton, without the singing attributes.

Memo: to Whom It May Concern

A surveillance mission carried out today by coalition forces has revealed, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the majority of boxes currently stationed in the pink bedroom have strayed into an authorised exclusion zone and an order for their immediate redeployment in the garage has been issued. Failure to observe this order may result in the breakdown of already strained marital relations and/or the destruction of said boxes during the accidental release of so-called friendly fire, or vengeful claws, whichever shall prove the more effective deterrent.

Wednesday 28th Feb

We have a new car. It is very nice, a modest SUV Pretender, at least it's the same colour as the late, lamented Mountaineer. We both wanted it but B feels guilty so calls it mine and takes the Fiesta to work in order to maintain the pretence that he is going to follow his conscience and invest in a Toyota Prius. Similarly spooked by the silver pariah, I took the bus into town, all the better to admire the glorious spring bulbs on the village green and a multitude of other sites along the route from private gardens to public parks. At this rate, that second car is going to be a very costly garden ornament. Never mind the rabbit, there could be a lot of mileage in a new horror story for these environmentally-conscious (stricken) times, "Angela & Brian: The curse of the Were-Vehicle". If only, mused William from his beanbag bunker deep in the forest of the dining room chair legs, some maddeningly indefatigable engineer could invent a car which runs on recycled hot air.....

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