Wednesday, 31 October 2007


Yesterday, I was barked at whilst entering my own country. I don't know what it is about giving some people a uniform that sends them a little power crazy, but it is annoying. However, it is rather funny to be nauseatingly chipper in answering them and watch the little veins pop out on their foreheads (as you don't want to end up dying locked in a security section of an airport). This is something along the lines of how the exchange went:

Normal girl not trying to smuggle anything in or be a terrorist: 'Hello' (smiles and hands passport and stupid customs document to nice and ginormous immigration man)
Uniform-wearing muppet: (grunt - throws passport back at girl)
NGNTTSAIOBT: 'I live outside the country'
NGNTTSAIOBT (with inanely happy grin on face): 'Almost a month. Until... the 24th of November.'
NGNTTSAIOBT: 'I am a recruiter for a university.'
NGNTTSAIOBT: 'The University of East Anglia'
(pause, while he figures out what the heck was just said)
NGNTTSAIOBT: 'Ummm. I recruit?'
(pause, whilst mupper furrows his brow trying to read that I have visited no farms nor am bringing sheep in with my luggage)
UWM: 'WHAT IS IN THAT BAG????' (points at large suitcase, which admittedly could fit a small sheep)
NGNTTSAIOBT (with baffled smile): 'Ummm. Clothes.'
UWM: 'WHAT IS IN THAT BOX????' (points at large box luggage)
NGNTTSAIOBT (with pitying smile): 'A display board.'
NGNTTSAIOBT: 'Recruiting?'
UWM: 'STEP FORWARD!!!!!!!!' (with no smile)
NGNTTSAIOBT: 'Yes. Thank you.' (with ridonkulously massive smile)

To contrast this, not 10 minutes earlier, on the other side of the barrier, a very nice immigration man said, 'Welcome back' as he stamped my passport.

I mean for crying out loud, drink some Kool-Aid or somethin'.

Actually, he might have been related to the Texas trooper who left another stopped motorist, chased and stopped me one time for the crime of driving a cherry red Grand Prix (bastard Enterprise) at the horrific speed of (dun-dun-DUN) The Speed Limit. That man was so extraordinarily angry that he couldn't give me a ticket for anything, that I thought he might have a coronary on the side of I-20. (tee hee hee) Now, I really do not have a problem with authority -- I just have a problem with people who decide they just might be a minor deity because they have something you don't (a badge, a newly purchased set of boobs, stock in a Fortune Cookie company... you know the type).

As it is now 5.45am local time, I am going to head down to the lobby and see if they have coffee out yet. It is very sad that sleep seems to have abandoned me for the night, esp. as the Cloud Nine bedding at Hampton Inns is soooooo luxurious! No, really! Maybe when I have a house, I will outfit the bedrooms like little Hampton Inns (with extra bookcases, woolen items and cats) :)

It is also interesting to note that the bill for the night is delivered at least by 4am, as mine was already under my door at that time. Someone isvery industrious.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Adventures with Chai

Tragically, there is no proper caffeinated beverage-making material in my tiny home, i.e., coffee or tea. This is entirely due to laziness and forgetfulness on my part, but this is not the hallmark of a good hostess and someone ought to be ashamed of herself (again, sloth comes to play here. Memory only rears its pompous little head when I am either a) stood in a very long queue at Tesco; b) when I am walking out the door of the Tesco; c) when i am unpacking the bags from the Tesco at home; or d) when I am grumpy in the morning.).

The closest approximation to proper morning beverage is some Chai Tea from a Whittard's run, oh, about a year ago. So, I have been making do with this (I am well-known for my ability to make do. This also stems from apathy, acquiesence and laziness, although I choose give the impression that this is a 1940s-era fortitude and stiff-upper-lippedness.). For those unfamiliar, Chai is made up of black tea, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, ginger and other spicy goodness. Of course, it is better if one takes the time to steam and froth some milk and honey. I do not have the wherewithall to do this.

Have just provided Eamonn with a lovely cuppa this product (since there has been no enthusiasm over my suggestions of either going to breakfast at The Waffle House -- NOT like the ones in Loosyanna -- or collecting Turkish hazelnuts outside my front door), and his assessment is that it tastes like someone poured boiling water over a bowl of potpourri.

He does seem to be consuming said cuppa just fine, however, and no ill effects have been observed thusfar, except for facial expressions.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Flower Girl

No. I do not have any flowers (although if anyone wants to buy me any...), but I am feeling a bit like a personal disaster today. In the fashion-related sense.

There seems to be a small problem that my left shoe has developed (am seeing pattern here: left eye twitching, left shoe). Yesterday, I slightly fell off my shoe sideways, leading to a disconnection at the buckle, which ended with the little grabby arm part of the buckle -- the part that goes through the hole -- turning itself inside out and detaching the strap from its position of strapped closure. Such shoe trauma could be because said shoes are quite possibly more than 12 years old (BUT I LOVE THEM!!! And they are good shoes. And they shall be mine.).

Anyway, today, I thought my remedy of shoving the prong thing back through the buckle would be fine and so it seemed upon attiring my feet this morning before the walk to the bus. However, prong keeps escaping from its correct side of buckle, releasing strap and causing entire buckle to jingle in a most impoverished and slovenly manner. This does not amuse me.

As well, my tights are holey; and not in a religious way. (AGAIN, should like to point out that these are the BEST tights in the world, PulsePoint tights, which stupid Victoria's Secret no longer produces; hence the reason that I do not have new ones.) One hole is about one inch above my knee, so this is easily hidden as few of my skirts are higher than the fashionable right below the knee level (some royal designer once said that classy women should never show their knees, not least because few people have anything that could be called 'attractive' in the knee department). Hole le Deux is on the inside of my heel, kind of on the side. Fortunately, this is on the right foot and is therefore NOT exposed when my shoe decides to flop about rebelliously.

These two things are today lending credence to my belief that I am really posing as an adult and therefore not really eligible to be employed and live in my own abode.

For a last office day, however, things are going actually fairly smoothly. My computer has been prodded by an IT person, and no billing disasters have occurred.

The additional bonus of comedy on the way in got the day off with some giggles (and I think it has positively affected the eye-twitching) :
It starts with Suzy, whose baby is due the end of November and whose last day of work is next Friday (she indicates that her brain power is slightly deficite right now). She agreed to collect Lorraine at the garage (mechanics) where she dropped of her car this morning.
However, Suzy went to the Honda garage and Lorraine was at the Renault garage. Finally, Suzy and Lorraine were driving down Earlham Road, saw me at the bus stop, honked and stopped (which kind of threw me off since I couldn't see due to my glasses being on top of my head at the time) and picked me up! I showed my bus pass to her.
Toodling along towards the University, Lorraine shrieked as we passed the next bus stop up the road, 'THERE IS SALLYYYYY!' To which we replied, 'Nooooooo. Can't be.' But Suzy made a U-ey, we returned, it was Sally, horn was honked, Sally was confused, Sally was concerned because we were all going away from work, everything finally became understood, Sally got in, and we proceeded to work after another small U-ey.
And when we got here, it was discovered that Suzy has white paint on the hem of her black trousers from where she painted her bathroom door this morning before work (as you do).

Hoorah for it being Friday :)

Thursday, 25 October 2007


Today's magic number is 119, because this is the number of emails remaining in my inbox by the end of the day today; at the end of last week, I think the number was approx. 374. (Of course, this is not quite as bad as a certain person of whom I am aware who has 1281 emails in their inbox, with 682 of those being unread. That person ought to perhaps stop doing overly kind things for other people, like taking broken computers to the tip...).

There has been a woeful lag in blogging. I am ashamed, esp. as there have been marvelous rants, incisive cultural and behavioural observations, and loads of amusing events. Sadly, each day is a new world to The Brain of Amrie and she forgets what creatively brilliant and brightly coloured balls were bouncing around in her head the day before. Then she is so poopt-edy when she gets home from work, that she is lazy and does not blog... but she does knit, so she is not entirely a lazy lout.

Let's see... umm.

It has been cold. My toes are rawther chilly most of the time, although have managed to figure out that front room is cosier if middle door is shut (but it doesn't really attain full cosiness, as am penurious scrooge with my heating) and am proud of m'self for making a cunning draft stopper for the 1-inch gap under the middle door out of some looovely light brown file-waled cordouroy, 1 kg of rice and a black ribbon (and some black thread for a seam).

Tomorrow is my last office day before my next excursion. Thinking about the 6.15am flight on Tuesday kind of makes me feel a bit faint. But this decision is my fault, entirely, as it was selected so that my arrival in Newark will be before rush hour traffic. Work has been amusing in a nuthouse sort of way this week, because:
* people outside my office keep thinking of more, more complicated and wonderful (and costly) things that I personally need to do to improve US numbers
* people keep suggesting things that can come out of my budget to support them 'helping' me do my job (thereby creating more work for Sally, Clare(nce) and moi)
* faculty members keep referring to the fun that I am apparently going to have on my 'trip' -- this is the trip where I work for 23 days in a row primarily in four different metro areas (and 7 hotels) with one day off. This is not to be taken as a whinge, but it is really annoying to have people just think this is luxurious and posh.
* people express disapprobation that my little 'trips' are so long (thereby inconveniencing their addition programming that they want me to do for them) -- It is tempting to ask them if they think that, since our campus is supposed to be this Environmental Wonderland of Erudition (EWE -- titter), it makes sense for multiple short hops across a big ocean to be taken to areas that are very close to each other on a single continent.
* and today, a new entertainment came in the form of a faculty member who felt rather ill-equipped (well, that is his own fault -- oops. sorry. how rude of me.) at an event that he guested at for us.
  • He criticised that we/I didn't send him a tablecloth -- we barely have enough for our own staff.
  • He wanted fourteen boxes of prospectuses for undergraduate and graduate levels (shipped across an ocean AND a continent, I might add) so that he could give one to each person who came to his stand. A prospectus is a big book approaching 100 pages in length, which is NOT printed on lightweight paper product. (He is from the Enviromental Science department)
  • He brought me some pictures of other universities' tables -- the ones who did not have people like him standing in for them. There were no pictures of those tables... WOW! I have never seen an exhibition display before! That is soooooo helpful.
  • He looked at me disapprovingly for the fact that I am leaving again. And he asked how much of the time I am in the office. 'Oh. About half the time,' she answered perkily. 'This will be my sixth trip for work since beginning in February!'
* my computer has been brain-wiped, but is now acting like it is operating on a walker (aka, Zimmer frame). This is not amusing in anticipation of going out into Wild World.
* my left eye has been twitching for an entire week now. This is called a blepharospasm. There will, however, be no Botox injected into me ever, particularly near my eyelid! Ick.

It is not all woe and grumping, though...
* I like it being cold!
* There is a new girl in the office. She did her doctoral studies on the effects of WWII on Poland, particularly women, and one of the methods in which she was punished as a child was that she wasn't allowed to read :) I think we will get along well! (To my non-familial readers, this was a primarily method in which I was punished...)
* Sally has begun a blog!
* Clementine did not murder me for sitting in her prescription chair and moving all the adjustments around.
* The Norwich Beer Festival is this week, and our office is having an outing thereto this Saturday. The queue on the news on Monday looked formidable.
* Am having massage splurge at Ritual tomorrow after work. Rituals are good things to have. Oh look -- knitting time! (Have not gone to knitting tonight due to exhaustion and continual eye-twitching, which is kind of making me sea-sick).

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

The Great Storm

Twenty years ago last night, the largest hurricane (and only, I think) in memory (or at least in 300 years. Some people have a hard time remembering 300 minutes ago...) hit Britain.

Yesterday, they had as guest meteorologist yesterday on BBC1, Michael Fish, whose unfortunately categoric denial of any hurricanes coming to Britain has been much mocked. Poor man. I think I would have become a desert island shell collector or something. Or an accountant.

It is rainy, rainy, rainy. Which I do not mind one single bit, as at least I am not sweating like a lady of ill repute in church. And because tights are one of my favourite things to wear.

Oh, and last night, I got to go to dinner (well, and lunch yesterday, too) with the Deputy Minister of Education of the Republic of Tatarstan! She is a lovely person even though everything had to be communicated through a translator. It should be noted that people from Tatarstan DO NOT like to be called TAR-TARs. Until Suzy described internal flights in Russia, I had grand ideas that it would be adventurous to go there. Now, have changed mind and decided am great coward with no desire to go on aeroplanes without seatbelts or oxygen masks.

The fact that I was sent to dinner with the delegation meant that I got dine like a posh person -- at Tatler's Restaurant. Everything was terribly delectable, however I would like to not recommend the White Chocolate, Honey and Pinenut Cheesecake, so there will be more for me. As well, was most impressed by the presence of Hendrick's! (Am quite displeased by the realisation that Matthew McT failed to accompany me to the Hendrick's Olympiad this July, as I seem to recall a vague ginny plan to do so. There is video footage of what was missed! And now I shall weep.)

Sunday, 14 October 2007


How does one go about labelling one's self?

At evensong, the vicar in his sermon inquired as to how we would identify ourselves (e.g., father, banker, daughter, doctor), and this has left me a little puzzled, as I am not quite sure how to identify myself, and don't think I could do it with one word or phrase either. John, of the Gospel, identified himself as 'the disciple whom Jesus loved'.

His point was tangentially referrent to Frere Roger, who was killed during the celebration of mass by a deranged woman, and that the new book about Fr. Roger describes that he died in the way that he lived -- in love for his neighbor, that being one of the two Great Commandments -- this being the identifier of this man's life.

While I am a lot of things (many of them a bit silly), I would certainly hope that there would be a little more soul to my reductionary epitaph than 'knitter' or 'blogger' or 'reader' or 'resident of ____ city'. It makes one want to try a little harder to make a better label.

if the world is night shine my life like a light
Indigo Girls, 'Let It Be Me'

Little Things on a Sunday

It is very difficult to photograph a ladybug (aka, ladybird). They are small; they are cute; and they are rather like my Oma in that they move very rapidly and look lovely in red.

Yesterday's attempt is shown here.

...and portrait of this morning during outside knitting-in-plein-air session (well, obviously, it is a not a portrait of the morning... Incidentally, how would one go about capturing a portrait of the morning? What is a morning? It has infinite variations and my morning may have been completely different from your morning, for example. Or, you may have spent your morning on the doorstep of #3, knitting and drinking two cups of tea and photographing ladybugs. And you were right next to me in a parallel universe. And now I am slightly disconcerted that you may have overheard me do something rude.).

Ladybug has been perched on my table for about an hour now and whilst she is being still, photos of her are just not coming out well at all. Various neighbors may also be peering through their lace curtains wondering if they ought to be afraid of the strange girl with the wooden sticks who keeps taking photos of her tabletop.

Am quite proud of m'self for knitting project (although would have been prouder had I managed to finish project last evening), which is for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. The lovely ladies from Norfolk Yarns, who come to knitting on a Thursday, brought the information last week. The Knit a Natty Key Ring Campaign is creating key rings to be sold as a fundraiser. (Please read about it, as their little sweaters are much
cuter than mine.
Pattern for tiny sweater is a raglan pattern, and I have never knitted one of these patterns before. I believe we learned some things about finishing, as it is really damnably difficult to attach an arm and sew up the arm edge to the cuff when you have attached everything else on the whole sweater (this is also reason that the left arm -- on the right, facing -- looks like it is for a person with an arm paralysed into the air).
Am also not sure how to make the ring part neatly covered in
wool all the way around and so my ring is kind of boring (and I hope it is fastened strongly enough). The whole thing, with ring attached, is about 3 inches tall.
Methinks I shall do another!
AND, have also found out what the craze is for the trees out front in the churchyard (by being nosy and interrogating people who are out there picking nuts up) -- they are Turkish Hazelnut trees and you can apparently toast the nuts and eat them! Who in God's name knew there was a Hazelnut Council...?

Saturday, 13 October 2007


There is a small horde of Americans out in the churchyard playing kickball. I think the world needs more kickball games.

Of course, I will not be participating in those kickball games for the time being, as it is all I can do to recover my ability to walk after not having walk any further than 20 feet from my car to a shop or restaurant or school for a month :) My legs are feeling rawther shaky after only two days of walking to and from the bus stop. And an evening nap was also a part of the last two days as well... Feeble McBruner. Next trip, I AM going to get on the treadmill at my hotels...

Yes, the world needs more kickball. And also more Rock, Paper, Scissors -- someone I was talking to the other day put forth the idea that large global decisions and conflicts could probably be solved by Rock, Paper, Scissors. When she taught in China, any time children were fighting over something, she could have them do Rock, Paper, Scissors and they would accept whatever the outcome was. This seems to me to be an interesting cultural characteristic -- to be able to simplify things to such a level.

Today has been an absolutely gorgeous day and a very good day for buying raspberries and haberdashery items for crafty projects (the raspberries are obviously NOT for crafty projects but for improving one's attitude and interactive abilities with others. And they also have anti-oxidants or something.). Have now started on the edging for the gloves which are on the needles now. This is my first-ever glove attempt, and whilst it is gloriously fun, it does involve quite a bit of paying attention and counting and a little vexation from the tiny holes between fingers which are reportedly inevitable and completely fixable when doing finishing. But they are still annoying.

Leaves are just turning here, but slowly. The heating has had to go on for short periods this week, and I have also been considering medieval methods for de-drafting my abode (e.g., dramatic tapestry curtains over the front doorway and middle doorways and a draft snake for the middle split between the sash windows. For the second project, have purchased some lovely light brown fine-waled cordouroy remnants and am trying to decide what is the best filling to get tomorrow.)

Think, think, think crafty thoughts....

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


It is the little things in life.

Like being thrilled by being listed in a phone directory like the real people are.


(and apparently, conkers/horse chestnuts can be used as moth deterrents. this useful tidbit from the web is a result of my wondering why in the world people were out in front of my house picking them off the pavement. this is the only reason i could find for this behaviour. any other suggestions will be welcomed.)

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Fun with Guests

Not to be terrifically mocking, but British people in general have some things to learn about hosting guests. Now British culture is not nearly as in-your-face-damnably-chipper-so-people-want-to-slap-you as US hosting would tend towards (or maybe it is just my privilege to be Southern).

However, there are loads of good things to be said for being in-your-face-damnably-chipper-so-people-want-to-slap-you, because at least guests are able to have some sort of emotion or want to take some sort of action (even if that is a violent outburst) instead of just sitting stiff-upper-lipped, idly uncomfortable and rawther stuck. Perhaps Martha Stewart needs to be a little more popular in this country.

There is a contingent of visitors to the university here this week, about 40 of them. Most of them are Asian, but there are also some African and US attendees. I have not been involved in the planning of this, and so am totally tacky in my armchair quarterbacking, BUT it seems a good and amusing thing to tell a small story about last evening...

So, Sally kindly collected me (light laughter here from our Texas contingent of readers) from my abode approximately 5 minutes before 7pm (19.00 on our 24-hour time system) and we tootled off to Ye Olde Wildebeest Pubbe (or something involving a Wildebeest), where the coach full of guests was expected to arrive for drinks at 7.30pm and then dinner at 8.00. Upon our approach down the country lane toward the pub, we encountered a coach heading in the opposite direction. This was slightly unusual and despite the noticeable number of Asian faces in the windows, we decided it couldn't be the same coach with UEA guests. We were incorrect.

Upon reaching the pub were told that the coach had indeed been that same one, but was having to go a different way due to a double 90* turn bridge. (More humour comes in here in a moment)

So, we had a glass of wine and stood around catching up with everyone (and reintroducing on my part since people didn't recognise me due to extended absence). Then the conversation started to get a slightly thin (not a little due to a certain pompous short man who unfortunately finds himself in a position of power and enjoys asking inane and irrelevant questions just to prove that you are unable to answer them -- I was gleeful to have chosen to wear 2.5 inch heels. HA!), and 7.45 came and went.

Then 8.00 came and went. The pompous little man started getting antsy and bustling about on his mobile, again giving me a cruel sense of pleasure.

Then 8.30 came and went and the atmosphere started to get hysterically funny in a tragic sort of way.

Approximately 8.45, our poor guests finally disembarked. We shoved drinks in their hands and ushered them to seats for instant food. Several were slightly flustrated and frustered (these being the fully intended morphs of these words), and sadly most of these were the Americans (we give a lot of care, only to guests though, and we expect a lot of care, which can be a good and a bad thing. no judgement given by me here.).

Firstly, they had been collected (pause for tittering) from their hotel (Dunstan Hall, which is easy to see on the Wildebeest Arms review map, linked farther above) at 7.00. Said hotel being less than 2 miles from this pub...

Secondly, the twin 90* turns at the impassable bridge were approximately a 5 minute walk from the pub.

Thirdly, not one, but TWO of the guests, had been commandeered by the bus driver to debark and direct the bus in its backing endeavours using the sophisticated equipment of a flashlight (torch). It appears to have been jovially agreed to by the two lucky guests until they realised (mentally and physically) that this involved quite a bit of darkness, danger and large vehicular reversing for a distance approaching 2 miles.

Fourthly, how choice that one of the guest selected for this backwards-running-torch-carrying venture through East Anglian darkness was one of the American partners (in exchange programs) who we (that is, my mostly vacant position, admittedly) most severely vexed and angered last year! This trip was supposed to be a pleasant experience to smooth over these ruffled feelings, and hopefully a few pints will... but STILL!

And now, 'tis time for tonight's adventure :)

Monday, 8 October 2007


Well, his name isn't Will Robinson, but a mosquito bite during a trip to the US has put a Scottish man in a coma. He has been in a coma since 31 August. New England appears from this article to be a significantly dangerous destination. I am so pleased to be going there in 3 weeks' time. Can one build up immunity based on thousands of bites over one's lifetime?

In other news, it is rainy and cool in Norwich (hence, no mosquitos so far), but I refuse to turn my heating on yet. Heat and cosiness only makes one a bit calm and dosy, not an efficient frame of mind for dealing with vexing banks. (Apparently, my new bank did not do as they said they would according to my written order and failed to change my standing orders from my old bank account during the month I have been gone. This has resulted in an overdraft from my old bank account, instead of the cushion I intended to keep there. I changed from my old bank because they were inept and also refused to upgrade me from a pitiful student account. Hmph. Am thinking of converting completely to shells as currency.)

Sunday, 7 October 2007


And we are home again, home again...

Jasper and Carrot seem mildly thrilled to have person movement in the house, but Forsythe is harder to read. Snail emotion is so difficult to gauge, you know.

Although it was not according to recommended travel behaviour, yesterday was mostly spent in comatose drooling. After short awake period, in which watched France upset New Zealand (after England routed Australia earlier, the last 2 minutes of which I listened to as eyes refused to crack open) and then half of Sleepy Hollow (quite a silly movie actually. Don't feel need to ever see the first half.), have managed to feel slightly recovered after 10-ish hours of sleep (not completely recovered, as cannot seem to manage the will to excurse to Tesco for some laundry detergent).

Trip was fun and rewarding (a month is a long time for a ), although I do have some insightful points to make regarding various items, such as Northwest Airlines being fairly the worst airline ever (but did encounter two lovely employees); certain aunties and uncles are lovely chauffeurs for various visitors to Austin; even anti-Starbucks British persons do seem at a loss when there is not an establishment readily available (in Schipol Airport); La Margarita restaurant in San Antonio Old Marketplace creates some lovely fajita meat; and the fact that iced chai tea is completely vile.

Pictures will be posted when I get m'self organised. So far, have only managed to unpack my windchimes, my two Marx Brothers box sets, my shoes and my wool...