Monday, October 23, 2006

Nawlins Updates

Will be driving back to Miami on Sunday (and see Dazza .. yippeee) until that brand of craziness returns I'm writing a bunch of stuff on my Nawlins blog.

Friday, October 06, 2006

back to craziness

Dazza and I went for a stroll down to the post office on Washington Ave this afternoon and were immediately confronted with the reality of living in South Beach: a woman urinating in squating position, pants off, in the middle of the sidewalk!!

Oooh ooh - we crossed the street asap and shuddered but admittedly she could have been doing much worse.....

In contrast we were walking down Lincoln road avoiding as many tourists as we could (very challenging) when we heard a great squalking coming from the palm trees. We looked up to see lots of green birds which looked like budgies poking out at the base of the palm leaves.

It also goes without saying that we passed many half naked bodies, people muttering to themselves, ugly men dressed as women, fake breasts and way way too much perfume and cologne!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sad News

My wonderful Granda is in the hospital and is dying. He is 86yrs old and has had a long and rich life but I wish we could have another year.
So I am flying back to the UK today and flying to Aberdeen from London on Thursday. I know I may arrive too late but I want to try my best and at the very least be there to raise a dram and give him a proper send off.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New Blog: New City

I fell in love with New Orleans. I have only been there for two weeks and neither of those were Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest or Halloween. But this is a city that seduces quickly and you soon learn to know what it is to miss New Orleans.

I have so much to write about what I saw, experienced and felt in that city, that I have decided that it is worthy of its own blog. To please go to my new blog at
Or you can also click on the link to the side that says "My New Orleans Blog"

This blog will primarily be for Miami and my other wanderings.

Friday, September 08, 2006

New Car: must be a grown up!!

Yesterday we bought a new car - so brand spankingly new that we haven't even seen it yet!!! Its a Honda "Fit" (for those in Europe its the same as a honda "jazz"). Its a wee car but its a 5 door and the seats fold brilliantly so there is lots of space. Of course because this is America they make a HUGE deal about how much SPACE they have - like they want to say this is a small car but really it is modelled on the Doctor Who tardus and it is mammoth inside. I was extremmely amused by this - europeans know that its a wee car and that's great!!
Anyway the reason we haven't seen our purchase yet is that they are "hot" (not stolen - popular!!) and "cool" so they are all sold before they reach the showroom. We need the car asap as I'm off to New Orleans with our volkswagen and Dazza need to get to work. So we needed the next one that is coming in next week - so we ended up with the "sport" version and no choice over the colour. So what colour is it? It is SO Miami: it's white!!!
So we now have another sizable car payment - wee hee!! But we'd rather buy the car than lease it with all the worry of damage and going over the mileage and then you have to give it back with nothing to show for all your money. We know that Honda is reliable and we should be able to drive the car to its grave.
The big discussion now is whether Dazza gets the new car or me - do we add more miles to the volkswagen that already has a lot of miles on it or do I put them on the new car?
Anyway, I'm feeling very much like a grown up now having bought a car and having a proper job. I suppose its about time now I'm 30!!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Got some amazing news yesterday. I have been offered a job in New Orleans!! I have to leave on Monday for the Big Easy. I am so excited for this new experience and the job. Dazza will be staying in South Beach and I'll come back as often as I can (the job is until May and I won't know until April if it permenant). So my blogging will be sporadic until I find a library to use the computer and I will post photos of N'awlins when I am back in Miami. I know I will have plenty to write about - from the reconstruction, the devastation, the music coming back, the politics of it all and of course the food!! (one of my friends has already told me to skip the gumbo - it's "minging" apparently!? I guess I'm also going to hear plenty of creole in the morning now!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Raindrop Abstracts

These are some silly photos of some raindrops on my window:

Raindrops keep falling on my head

You would think I would be an expert on rain, coming from Scotland. But I am finding out that there is one type I have not known: Miami rain. It is pouring outside - and I mean pouring, like there is an old woman with a bucket pouring water down upon our heads. It has been like this for two days now and I'm beginning to feel a bit cooped up in our tweeny weeny apartment. It is still warm - 83 farenheit, 27 celsuis. So maybe I'll do an impression of Gene Kelly and go jumping through some puddles. I'll just have to watch out for frogs and toads. There were a group of them outside our window again today - maybe they were having a party as my Granny would say.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Che Guevara: turning in his unmarked grave!

Che must be turning in his unmarked grave at the knowledge that the hurricane/storm called after him should turn out to be such a flop. It also seems like tempting fate to call a storm aimed at Miami, Ernesto.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Our Ernesto [the alternate 'Motorcycle Diaries']

We awoke Moday with butterflies. Our apprehension grew as it appeared that Ernesto wanted to visit us directly.

I went for a walk with intentions of strolling up the boardwalk along by the ocean and pondering the storm brewing a few hundred miles away. My intentions were thwarted however, by the heat. It was a beautiful day - perfect blue sky with glorious sunshine and very little humidity, but hot. Apparently what happens before a storm you have a beautiful day with greatly reduced humidity because the approaching storm sucks in all the moisture. It also causes it to be hotter. I feel that I have definitely been adjusting to Miami heat but I could only muster going round the block!!

Dazza came home from work loaded with a flashlight ('torch' in UK terms) that also glows in the dark, batteries for our fan and radio, and masking tape for the windows. I went to town taping up the windows - although I fully appreciate that I was probably going overboard as we actually have hurricane strength glass but it made me feel better and I'd rather be ridiculously over prepared than under. And anyhow I quite like the new look of our latticed windows!!

Dazza was eager to go for a stroll to the beach, his earlier anticipation having given way to adventurous excitement. The calm before the storm is beautiful and the strong breeze in the evening had dissapated the unbearable heat of the day. the hummidity gone from the atmosphere, we could see the stars over the beach and watch the puffs of clouds racing along with the wind.

When we went to bed, the news reports were stating that Ernesto was likely to arrive in Miami as a tropical storm, not a hurricane. This was very welcome news, however they were also saying that they were expecting winds of 70mph, only 5mph below hurricane category one. Basically, we can predict a great deal when it come to hurricanes but nothing is certain until Ernesto arrives. After all only three days ago Ernesto looked like he wanted to visit Mexico instead of Florida.

We woke to my Mum calling just to see how we were doing and what out plans were. Dazza finished putting all our things off the floor in case of flooding - I particularly like the trainers on the bookshelves! Then we loaded the car with things we can't do without and drove to Dazza's boss's place to leave our stuff. The drive was quite beautiful - the sky was pink and orange with puffy white clouds.

Dazza then went to work and I went to Starbucks armed with a New York Times, magazines and my journal.

12.30 pm Tuesday August 29th
The sky has an ominous dark cloud threatening in the distance and the wind is testing its strength, getting prepared for its big show, by tusselling some obliging palm trees.

1.45 pm Tuesday August 29th
The rain has begun thrashing the tarmac. The wind has taken a break. Its like two warriors taking turns to warm up for battle.

Time passed and the internet (slow) at Dazza's work was reporting that Ernesto was tired and didn't seem to want to pick up steam. We also must have done something to offend him because he was deciding to make a path more towards the west coast and the retired folks in Naples.

By the way Borders closed at 12 noon and I had to abandon my wandering amoungst books. Then my peaceful sipping of coffee was aborted when Starbucks closed at 4. Dazza's work was still open and looked like they'd not close, now that the storm was less threatening.

Dazza and I decided we'd be OK going home to South Beach - we'd rather sleep in our own bed (well, futon...). So after dinner we picked our stuff up from his boss's place and headed home. There was rain and wind but nothing too bad. It was novel to be driving with such little traffic. I pictured everyone in Miami sitting at home sipping mohitos while the rain pounded the windows.

Once home we turned on the local news to hear that Ernesto was indeed tired and would arrive as a weak tropical storm in the middle of the night. So we went to bed.

I woke a couple of times around 1am to some rain and howling wind but I have to admit I've experienced much much worse in the north of Scotland. We are very grateful that our first Miami hurricane experience shoul be gentle and that we still have all our possesions.

Until next time..........

Hurricane and Cockroach: FUN!!!

Hurricane Ernesto is looming over Cuba and threatening Southern Florida - and Miami in particular!! I can't believe after two weeks of being here AND it being the FIRST hurricane of this year's season that it is headed straight for us!!!!
South Beach will more than likely be evacuated - so we are going to have to find one of Dazza's work colleagues who can put us up. So we'll make some friends! :)

Hopefully we will return to South Beach and our stuff will be OK (you can't get renters insurance on South Beach). The major threat is flooding - we are on the first floor but about 6 feet above the road. Fingers crossed!!!

On top of this we discovered our first cockroach running about our apartment this morning - yuech we squished him and squished him good!!!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hulk Hogan; and Creole in the Morning

Wow, yeeeeaa, squeeeel - I saw my first famous person on South Beach today!!! I was strolling up Alton Road (sweating profusely of course!!) and low and behold this BIG guy gets out of an SUV and crosses the street. He had BIG tanned muscles (not unusual for SB) and almost white blonde hair with a handlebar mustache. It was HULK HOGAN!! And there were two guys - roadsweepers I think - calling on their cell phones, giggling and pointing - I guess they were thinking the same thing.

The place where I work (that shall remain nameless and so too the folk that work there) for a part time job is a real eye opener into how different this place is from anything else I've every experienced. For a start I am definately in the minority both in the colour of my skin and the fact that I am not bilingual. All around me I hear several different languages. The predominant one doesn't seem to be English but Spanish and I want to start learning some asap so I don't feel so stupid - or cut off, or 'white colonial-esque'! I had a thought this morning as I was performing one of my many meanial tasks - I love the sound of French Creole in the morning. It is quite beautiful and god bless the Haitian woman who sings creole songs to herself as she works.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Scottish Exports

This is hilarious and only too true:
go to the link to hilarious first foot and click on the link "brit's abroad"!! It had me in tears - of laughter!!

Fish & Feathers

Fish and feathers as decorative emblems are all over south beach. I was particularly struck by this bird - with dancing naked figures on his wings.

South Beach certainly is a fishy sort of place.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

at the frog interface of cyberspace and reality

I look out my window and see something moving between the apartment blocks outside that are getting renovated. I presume it is a rat - a pretty sizable rat.

I look again.

Its not a rat nor a chipmonk, prairie dog or even large mouse.

Its a frog. A brown and cream speckily frog with big bulging brown eyes perched on the top corners of its head and he's sitting squarely on his hind legs looking at me.

I wonder if he's thinking is that a Cuban, a Columbian, a Mexican? No its a quine fae Scotland. Now that's exotic!

So he lumbers a few times between sitting squarely until he finally dives into a pile of wet leaves.

I get online to write this amphibian incident and the page that is open has an advert for a mortgage company or some such and that advert consists of a frog - much more conventional bright 'green' tree frog - lurching in an out of the frame.

I definitely feel that today is a frog kind of day - lots of rain and thunderstorms. I wonder if I'd be enjoying this day more if I were one.

Cuban Hospitality

So yesterday I had to get some new keys made for our tweeny apartment. I stumbled across a little hardware store on Alton Road. It must have been there for decades because the cluttered store was full of merchandise covered in serveral years of dust and grime. Matching the store was the man who runs it. He must be around my grandfather's age, in his eighties and had white hair and a matching handle-bar mustache. Even though he must've been there for so long, he spoke practically no english (Miami is known as the capital of Latin America afterall). I managed to let him know that I needed two sets of new keys made and he revved up his ancient key copying machine. After he produced the keys he asked - well mimed - whether I would like a shot of cuban coffee. I thought this was such a great gesture. However when I came to pay he didn't have enough money in his register to give me change of $20 - so I gave him all the change I had but I was short about a dollar and fifty cents. I tried to go back at 5.30pm but he had closed up shop. I felt bad because it seemed like it was possible I may have been his only customer of the day. So one of my aims in the next couple of days is to go back and give him a couple of dollars. And I have to admit I enjoyed the whole Cuban hospitality so much that I'm glad I've got an excuse to go back.

ps apologies - spell chk nut wurcin agin

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Just Like Tobermoray ...bit a wee bitty different

Went for our first excursion into the weird and wonderful world of south beach. The art deco buildings are stunning - like perfect cakes with fondant icing. They also, in a parallel universe sort of way, reminded me of Portree harbour or Tobermoray bay. Perhaps they could have the American version of ballamoray (sp?) in South Beach?? The heat wasn't too bad and there weren't too many people around (probably all still in bed on a Sunday afternoon recovering from partying on Saturday night).

We also went to the arts center on Lincoln Road. They have lots of artists studios and lots of artwork to see and, if you've got any money left over after rent in this place, buy. They have a particularly spectacular floor which swims in mosaic swirls of ceramic tiles. I am so excited to find out that they have art classes and in particular life drawing class for only $10!! And I can just walk a few blocks to get there!! It has been way too long since I had access to this stuff. They also have a public darkroom facility - perhaps I'll get around to getting a new lense for my SLR and take some black and whites and try to remember how to develop photos in the darkroom again.

Here are some more South Beach 'candy' pictures - all very sugary!! I especially like the prisoner transport van on the beach and the guys shooting a video!! Oh and by the way we passed the biggest blondest transvestite with the deepest voice strolling - or maybe I should say teetering - down Washington Ave. Things don't seem to get dull here although it would be a very scary day when seeing the myriad of weird characters around here became dull and common place.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Many different "America"s

Now we are up and running with our high speed internet we are back connected to the world. I had a great tiime catching up with friends and seeing lots of different "Americas" this summer.

New York was shining. It sparkled with energy. I felt like I was finally waking up from my midwest slumber. I always feel that that city is the gateway to the world. That things are happening. It was awesome.

Atlanta, Georgia, was hot and a shining new city (it got burned down in the civil war) but the disappointing thing was that the city is still very much segregated on racial lines - my friend stays in the white north of the city and I hardly saw any african americans the whole time (very sad for the hometown of Martin Luther King). I had a great time with my friend. She showed me every nook and cranny of her neighbourhood. The huge houses in the rich part boggled the mind!!!

Indianapolis (Carmel really), Indiana was as scary as usual: every house looks the same and I swear the stepford wives club actually exists there. Time I found goes very very slowly there - maybe it is twilight zone - I am also convinced that there are little elves that come out in the middle of the night to cut every blade of grass to perfect exacting specified length.

Houston, Texas, was hot!! Not sit out hot - sit indoors because it is unbearable hot. The humidity there is unbelievable - you could slice it up and serve it with ice cream, the air is so thick. It is one of Americas big sprawling cities. I didn't have much time to see much but we went to a great place for BBQ which had a lot of character.

The Trip from Houston to Nashville was a hoot - Kristen, her sister Sara, and me in a rickety old van towing Kristen's car. It took us WAY too long but we had plenty of daft songs to sing on the way. We drove through lots of little Texan towns and some "dry" counties (ie no alcohol allowed!!). It is amazing when you see cliches unfolding before your eyes - the old man sitting on his front porch in a rocking chair.

We rolled into Nashville, Tennessee, at 4 am. We were exhausted. The next day we explored a bit after breakfast at Ihop - Ihop is an American institution - it stands for International house of Pancakes. It is a diner type chain restaurant which specializes in breakfast - lots of food and not much of it is good for you :) Nashville has a small town feel to it. We avoided the tourist strip downtown and explored a nice grungy neighborhood with an excellent coffee shop and used bookstore. There was evidence everywhere of cowboy hats and boots!!!

Miami. Florida. Our first impression was this is nuts we are moving here!! Palm trees abound. There is lots of brightly colored buildings and down town is a jungle of high rises with more being built. After a saga with apartment hunting we finally found our place in south beach with the reasoning that if we are going to live in a crazy place we may as well live in the craziest part of it for the full experience.

Salt Lake City. Utah. Wow, amazing mountains!!! The city nestles at the base of a mountain ridge of some of the most stunning mountains I have seen. The city however is weird. It is a mix of outdoor snow types, hippies and conservative straight laced mormons. We visited the mormon temple - scary in itself. The mormons believe the weirdest stuff - that a guy in upstate new york in 1832 had a sign from god to find 'golden tablets' in a hill on his farm, and that the ancient eqyptian writing on them could only be translated by this same man, Josh Smith; they beleive that prophets from biblical times came to America and had a civilisation here that died out and that Josh Smith and the subsequent 15 prophets after him are talking from God. I went with the attitude that I was open to anything and sort of wanted to see if they would/could try to convert me. I came away feeling more convinced of the craziness of their beliefs. I think the mormons are very like a cult - a cult of people who are very 'nice' and smile all the time - oh and don't drink alcohol, coffee, soda or condone homosexuality or equality for women.

Steamboat Springs. Colorado. The journey through the mountains to colorado was beautiful and we saw some odd things on the way - like prairie dogs eating road kill fearless of being knocked down by a car and a big giant plastic pink dinosaur on the side of the road. Steamboat is a typical colorado town with lots of wealthy people and outdoor types who have no money. The mountains are beautiful but to be honest they looked just like all the other colorado mountains I've seen. The Rodeo at night however was brilliant. It's amazing to see the cowboys at work and their skill. I wouldn't get on one of those bucking broncos or bulls for the world - definitely scary. The funny part was when they got all the kids between 6 and 12 to go down into the ring and then let a calf out into the ring with a ribbon tied to its tale. The first kid to catch the ribbon from the calf got a prize. You should have seen the petrified expression on the calf's face when it was faced with a crowd of kids running after it. They did the same thing with the under 6 year olds and a sheep - I think the sheep got the better deal. There was also a six year old who did barrel running - that is when they ride around three barrels in the stadium at a full gallop. The six year old was amazing on a big horse going full pelt.

Moab. Utah. The drive down from Steamboat to the dessert was astounding. The landscape slowly split and moved into being a wonderment of canyons and red red stone. It felt like going back in time. The rock formations were like the ruins of ancient castles. The heat was unbelievable. I actually felt like my brain was cooking. We were glad that the little hairdryer on wheels that Darren's work had hired us at least had air conditioning. Moab is a small town in the dessert with a big wide main street. The main industry there is definitely tourism. There are lots of shops to spend money on nothing. It is a bizarre place because it almost feels like it is incomplete due to the dry rock surrounding the place. I think if you lived there you would dream about trees and grass lawns. In the morning we went to Arches National Park. It was breathtaking. The rock formations were so varied and wonderful it was difficult to believe (I'm afraid that Mum's geology explanations of Arthur's Seat are going to fall a bit flat after this). This is a place unlike any other and somewhere everyone should see once if they can. Only do yourself a favour and don't go in the summer unless you wish to experience your brain frying - it got up to 115 degrees farenheit!!!

Now sitting in South Beach I am amazed by how many different Americas there are in this country. I feel very lucky to have seen so many of them. This country can never be pinned down. As soon as you think America is one thing something pops up to contradict it. There is lots of go get em enthusiasm in parts of America but there is also extreme conservative pessimism too. There is so much to explore in this one country that it is no wonder that so few leave to explore the rest of the world. I've had a rich and eye opening summer. I feel lucky to have had such opportunity.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Airline Humour....

I meant to post this last week. When my plane touched down in Houston from Atlanta lastweek, the airline steward went through the usual rigmerole of thanking us passangers from flying with them and then tagged this on at the end:
"We hope that next time you wish to rcket through the skies in a pressurised metal tube, we hope you'll choose us!"

Mormon Smiling Contest

Yesterday Dazza and I went to temple square in downtown Salt Lake City. For those who are not aware this is centre of the Mormon church - or 'the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints' as they generally preferred to be called. The square consists of several buildings including the tabarnacle where their famous choir sings, a conference center, office buildings, a chapel and most crucially The Temple. The Temple is a grey building built over forty years by the Mormon's who came and settled Salt Lake City in the 1840s. They are extremely proud of how long it took them to build it and how 'beautiful' it is but I have to admit that it didn't strike me as particularly special - probably years of living beside an English cathedral (Wells) has tainted my ability to appreciate Mormons architecture. When I get to Miami and set up our computer and figure out the whole photos and posting them online thing you can judge for yourselves.

They give tours of the square led by their 'sister' missionaries from all over the world (young women that they call sisters - I don't know if they are 'nuns' or not). Our guides were Ahn from South Korea and Adhadhe from Ghana . They were lovely, sweet, gentle, kind and never ever stopped smiling!! They told us about how happy they are to know that God is their father and that Jesus Christ is the center of the universe. They told us the story of the seagulls: when the Mormon pioneers first came to Salt Lake they planted their first crop but that year there was a swarm of black locusts that descended eating everything; at first they tried to fight off the insects but to no avail; so they turned to prayer and prayed and prayed and then a miracle happened; a flock of seagulls appeared and ate the locusts leaving the Mormons with a small but viable harvest. They told us how the seagull is the state bird of Utah and that they have a beautiful fountain with gold seagulls atop to honour their miracle. They told us that they believe that a group of prophets left the holy land in 600BC and came to America and wrote of their prophecies on gold tablets and hid them in America until Joshua Smith came and found them through a vision from an angel and translated them from an unknown ancient Egyptian language into English and compiled 'The Book of Mormon'. They told us that they believe in the living prophet and believe that the current one (the man who is head of the church) talks directly from God. They told us all this and did so still smiling and smiling. They sang us two songs and their voices were sweet and the envy of every girl guide troop the world over. And they smiled.

They were so nice that they deflected all questions. They were so nice how could you possibly wish to deflate their bubble of niceness by suggesting problems or queries about what they believed. So we found ourselves smiling and nodding and smiling again. My ambitions of getting answers to why they think it is ok to try by whatever means necessary to 'cure' homosexuals, or why God would have no prophets after biblical times until an immigrant in northern New York state in 1832 and thereafter have a direct succession of fifteen prophets or why they don't believe in evolution or where is the evidence for a people emigrating to the Americas 600BC? - all those questions were rendered mute in the face of those smiles. I suppose I naively thought that I may find that they would want to engage in discussion - at least try to convert me. But instead their means of conversion is much more subtle. Their message is become a Mormon and you too can smile like us, can have the power of smile.

I left with my cheeks aching and my brain dazed. Dazza and I both agreed that we felt violated by niceness. None of our questions had been answered and we didn't feel that we knew much more about the Latter Day Saints. So we went to their book store (a trip in itself - with books with titles like "What I Wish I'd Known Before I Became a Missionary" and "So I Married a Mormon") and bought a copy of 'The Book of Mormon'. As I get more answers I will have more to write and ponder. The most profound thing I learnt however is the powerful deadly precision of a smile. Perhaps the Israelis and Hezbollah could take a leaf out of the sisters book of Mormon magic and just smile with avengance.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Update - gut instinct restored

Yesterday I wrote an email to Monica about the apartment and how it affected us. We thought that would be the end of it and we'd achieve that holy grail of (usually american) psychology "closure". Well, I received an email back from her today and turns out the 'new roommate' was a ruse. The true situation is that her parents are in dire financial straites and Monica needs to sell her apartment in order to help them out. She made up the other roommate excuse because she couldn't face telling us the truth.

I feel terrible for her but yet I am also pleased that my gut instinct has been restored. I was mostly upset that a person whom I thought to be full of sincerity and integrity would up and dump us having led us on. I am pleased to know that she is not that kind of person and my first instinct was correct. I wrote back and hopefully we can meet up when we get to Miami and still be friends. I am just glad that I took the time to email her and find out the full story. I am also glad that being genuine and honest people doesn't mean that Dazza and I are doomed to be screwed over by others. In fact hopefully this very aspect will mean that we can still gain a great friend - watch this space.

Lebanon Crisis

I feel terrible. I have just read an account of what is happening in Lebanon right now in the Guardian. It is an account by a young woman who is an artist forced to witness all her hopes and dreams come crumbling down. I have also found a blog that is also a must read:

This conflict is complex but there is one basic reality that is coming out of it: innocent people are dying, are injured, are living in fear. Israel is bombing the infrastructure of a country. They are targeting trucks - how is humanitarian aid going to be able to help without trucks? With Bush at the helm I am fearful for the outcome and it breaks my heart to read of the reality for the poor people in Lebanon. When will people realise that violence is not the best method - violence complicates matters, it violates lives, it harms those who have no part in the mess that created it.
The sun may be shining today in Utah but I have a heavy heart.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Salt Lake City

I am now in Salt Lake City for the next couple of weeks while Dazza finishes the end of his training. There are the most beautiful mountains on either side of the valley. Last night we went up to Park City which is a small town in the mountains reminiscient of Aspen but not quite that rich - yet!! We had ribs at a local restaurant and wandered about. This morning we went hiking for the first time (for me not Dazza) and saw a MOOSE!!! - that's the big hairy kind with antlers not the scottish small rodent kind that I co-habited with in Edinburgh for 5 years!! It was a magnificent animal and quite happily munched on some flowers as Dazza and I ummed and awed. The views up in the mountains are stunning and if it weren't for all the ski parifinelia then you'd feel wonderfully in touch with nature.

The most bizarre happening was on the way down. We met a long crocodile of young girls being frog-marched up the mountain by a blonde woman dressed as snow white!!! I kid you not. We felt so sorry for all these prepubescent girls being tortured by camp leaders who think nothing of dressing as though they work at disney world and stomping up mountains in Utah.

So, a lot has happened since I last wittered on this site. I had a fantastic time helping my friend Kristen move from Houston to Nashville with the added bonus of having her sister Sara along for the ride too. It took us 18 and a half hours to get to Nashville and I think such craziness deserves a post of its own - watch this space!!

Then I went to Miami to meet Dazza to look for apartments. This turned out to be much more of a saga than first anticipated.

We had set up a plethera of realtors to meet, apartments to see and also a girl to meet to see if sharing would be a good answer to the thorny issue of how expensive everything is in Miami. The first day, Thursday, we saw a bunch of yuechy yuechy beside D's work, we saw this girl, Monica's not quite finished 2 bedroom apartment and a few places in south beach. We didn't really want to be in south beach because of the commute to work for D but the cost for having a non-yuechy place near his work in Pinecrest was proving very difficult. So ... it was coming down to south beach or if this girl Monica was nice then a room share near D's work.
Monica hadn't been able to meet us to see the apartment that morning so her Mom did it instead. So we met her that night. She is a pretty girl with long dark hair and eyes. She has just graduated from Columbia with a comparitive lit degree and is currently working for one of the democratic hopefuls for Florida governor. She is lively and intelligent and talks a mile a minute. We hit it off immediately and thought our prayers had been answered. Dazza felt exactly the same - I was somewhat surprised as he'd not been keen on sharing again as its been 6 years since we last had a roommate. So we called Monica and said we'd like to take it. Great she said and arranged to meet the next day, Friday, in the evening to discuss furniture and moving arrangements.
So we had a great day on Friday driving around Miami getting to know the place. Both of us have jaws that are kind of dragging on the ground at the realization that we will be living with palm trees!! Anyway, that evening at 5 we went back to our hotel (doubletree in coconut grove - awesome by the way found on priceline for $100 a night) to get a snack before meeting Monica.
The phone goes..... its Monica. She tells Dazza that she's decided to go with someone else for the apartment. They apparently could pay more and after discussing it with her parents and she had to think of herself blah blah blah... We were gutted!! Here we thought we would have a great new friend and have our apartment stuff sorted all in a one-er. But instead we had to scramble to find places to look at on a Friday night in Miami ....aaaaaAAAAAAAAArrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhh!!!

We got on craigslist (thank god for craigslist) and set up 4 places to see that night. The first was a studio in South Beach. It was on the pricey side but the photos looked great. We were not disappointed. It is only a year old and has stainless steel kitchen and a washer and dryer in the apartment. It is small but not too small and feels safe. We took it. So we will be in the north of south beach in prime position to watch all the craziness - the movie stars, the body builders, the tanning obsessives, the transvestites, the tourists, the multitude of bright colours everywhere. Although the apartment situation with Monica was a terrible thing to happen, I think we will enjoy south beach much more (her apartment was in dadeland across from the biggest mall I think I've ever seen.....!!!).

So now we just have to decide how much of our stuff to take and how much to leave in Indianapolis. Until that time though we have two weeks to hang out with mormons (we are going to visit the temple), climb more mountains, and chill out before the craziness of moving and realty hits.

(PS apologies for typos and just my weird and wonderful spellings - just in case anyone wanted proof that I am actually dyslexic or as I prefer to term it dephlumphlic - but this library computer won't let me do spell check!!!)

Friday, July 07, 2006

What A Privilege

Time ticks by at the speed of a giant sloth. I feel like I'm in a kind of stupor. I'm in another universe where the trees and grass all abide, loyally, by the laws of geometry. I have an erie feeling that I don't really exist and am merely playing a role in a very large film set.

The houses all sit obediently in perfect rows and the sun sits smugly in its sparkling blue sky. The only sounds are the occasional bird and the perfect laughter of the perfect life of the perfect families.

Nothing disturbs here. No one steps into the dangerous territory of being 'different'. The only difference allowed is of the colour of the skin of the nice people who serve the perfect people. This is of course allowable because people who serve don't really exist. They are only extras on the movie set and will not have their names on the credits.

An time ticks slowly by, quietly so as not to disturb anyone. So no one notices that everyday is like the last and each season like the same season the year before. Everyone smiles as they sleepwalk, slowly, imperceptible through their wonderful, perfect lives. What a privilege.
Suburbia, USA

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

If you ever visit Atlanta it is well worth taking the time to go the Botanical Gardens. Not only was the orchid house filled with some stunning specimens but they have some really amazing fantastical sculptures. A couple really grabbed our fancy. One was a rather naughty fountain of three women where the water was shooting out of their reclining mouths AND breasts!!! They other much cleaner one was giant skull which was so big you could sit inside it. All the sculptures are made from colorful pieces of glass, beads, stones and mirrors constructed in a mosiac fashion. All the figures are very portly and cheerful. There were totem poles, lions, whales, snakes - a veritable garden of eden in technicolor.
Then to polish off the day, last night Darren and I went with some new friends - Louise and Jared - to movie on the green. There were 17 thousand people gathered to watch 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' (the original version). It is totally free event in a large park in Midtown. There were people from all walks of life, all there to enjoy the evening. There was the added bonus of everyone cheering at the good bits (like when Charlie gets the golden ticket) and singing along with the favourite tunes - ompahlumpah being by far the favourite!! We had a great time and would recommend it - the picnic was good too!!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Atlanta - hh-h-hhOT!!!!

I am in Atlanta visiting my awesome friend Ginny. We left Cleveland - great joy to all!! - and moved all our stuff to Indy. The drive to Indy was interesting. D was driving the U-haul with a trailer on behind so the speed didn't really manage to get above 65mph and the average must've been 60. I managed, even with the car totally loaded with two basses and stuff, to get 36 miles to the gallon!! It did go through my mind that if I drove that slow everywhere I could save a lot of gas - but who am I kidding it took us an extra hour to get to Indy at that speed!!!
D's folks, Steve and Jean were brilliant when we got to Carmel. They helped us put our stuff into the storage shed and probably saved D and I from tearing each other's heads off. When all our stuff is beautiful and in our apartment and all the books look great etc. D calls it "our" stuff but funnily enough when we have to box it all and move it it suddenly becomes all my stuff!!
After all the moving and sorting Dazza had to go back to Salt Lake City for training. We didn't get to hang out much and being apart sux. However at least we only have ten day periods before we see each other - much better than our year apart due to the wonderful US immigration system. Anyway Dazza is having a whale of a time in Salt Lake going on lots of hikes and surrounded by mountains - the only danger is getting accosted by the mormons (which happened to him on his first plane journey out there!!).
Meanwhile I am having a proper summer. I had three wonderful days in NYC with my friend Heather. We stayed in the Millenium Hotel just beside the UN building on 44th street. The view from our hotel was astounding!! Waking up to see the empire state and crysler building was a very rare treat. Luckily for us the beeb were footing the bill. We had a great time catching up on our lives, events and world politics. However I have to admit I liked the fact that Heather got a kick out of seeing a yellow american school bus!
It was perfect timing for me: NYC woke my brain up and shocked it out of its midwest slumber. I felt better than I had for what felt like years. I do not think the midwest agrees with me. I get a severe allergic attack of apathy and blah-ness when I am there.
But we are gone now so my brain no longer has any excuse for apathy or slumbering through life. Miami will definately be a culture shock after the midwest but a welcome one. I can't see us being there for very long but I am looking forward to the adventure of it all. The response so far has predominantly been "its SOOOO hot" and "hurricanes ..dan dan daaaaaaaaaa!!!". But I welcome the challenges and am fed up 'living in fear' which I found infected me in Cleveland. Afterall I am the girl who got on a plane to a place I had never been to be picked up from an airport by a guy I hardly knew (and then married....).
So now I am in Atlanta. I drove down from Indy on Monday. It took longer than it should of thanks to a wreck outside Nashville and roadworks on the other side. There were some very pretty spots in the mountains/hills of Tennesse and at one point an absolutely gorgeous lake.
I like Atlanta: it is fresh and new and it doesn't hurt that the sun shines most of the time! However it is very hot right now - my car thermometer registered 105 but it is normally off by 5 or so degrees - but still that is HOT!!! All very good practice for Miami.