When the Alanis Morissette Under Rug Swept Album came out in 2002, I was in the middle of a dealing with a completely shattered heart.  I can't even say broken because that wouldn't adequately describe the pain I was in during this affaire de cœur. I sat in bed for weeks listening to the song Flinch off of the album, over and over again, never bothering to listen to any other tracks.  Flinch is sort of the soundtrack to that time in my life.  It's a pretty dark song, only meant for gloomy days, a glass of red wine, and memories of old lovers.  If you're in the mood for that, have a listen...
As I said, I hadn't really ever listened to the rest of the album with any attention during that time, and then one day I decided to put away everything that reminded me of said affaire and so into a box the album went.  Fast forward to nine years later and also to moving into the 21st century by converting all of my CDs to MP3s, during which time I found the album, tucked away with some Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones (also soundtracks to the affaire).  After I'd loaded all of the Alanis songs onto the computer I finally sat down and listened to the rest of tracks, discovering that one of my favorites is 21 Things I Want in a Lover. 
As I listened, it sort of struck me that London is my newest lover -- we are about to be in a relationship for a couple of years and I should probably ask for a few things that I want from my new lover.  I realize I can't realistically ask for things like 80F temps and blue skies with big puffy clouds (like it was yesterday here in Austin...in January) but working within my geographic parameters etc., I thought I could make a list of to-dos and/or expectations that would make this the perfect expat experience. 

So, I've decided that each Monday in February (as it IS the month of love and lovers) I'm going to post seven things I want to do, have, or experience, with my new lover: London.  Since there are four Mondays in February, I'm taking a few liberties with the Alanis title and making it 28 things I Want (to do) in London.  Stay tuned for next Monday and the first seven things!  (On the 14th my post will be sexy, spicy, and romantic in honor of Valentine's Day of course!)
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Click for attribution
 
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When I'm feeling particularly grumpy, I tell the Canadian I'm a grumpasaurus.   I thought this was *my* word, but a quick google search, as usual, let's me know that am I not original, AND that others have not only already thought of it, but also have had the time and energy to market it with mugs, t-shirts and plush toys.

Today, I'm feeling a bit like a grumpasaurus. Here's why:

1) Hormones: these sneaky buggers pop up at the most inconvenient times and cause me to snap at the Canadian, the Rotten one and pretty much anyone else who unfortunately crosses my path.  These f*!&ing hormones also give me a rotten case of insomnia, force my Advil Liqui-gel consumption to skyrocket to unhealthy levels to deal with the accompanying cramps, and force tiny eruptions on my face. 

2) Allergies: For the most part I have had these kicked since I started acupuncture a few years ago but for some reason I woke up this morning and have gone through half a box of kleenex in my attempt to deal with the incessant sneezing which I'm sure, by now, has broken a vessel somewhere in my body.

3) Asthma: Something I usually only have to deal with when I'm exposed to cats (I'm ridiculously and annoyingly allergic to cats -- but I LOVE them!!) but this morning when I was awakened by the sneezing fit, it also was accompanied by an asthma attack.  For no reason. 

4) Annoying people: I have a whole list of these -- like the crazy lady who accused me of scratching her ugly gold Lexus (sorry if you own one, but really, gold?) with my back-seat passenger side door.  Here's a mock-up of how we're standing:

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So, I'm standing there, loading groceries into the back of my car (notice the raised door in the picture) and the conversation went something like this:

Lady in ugly gold Lexus:You scratched my door
Me: No I didn't.  As you can see, I'm alone. No one would be sitting in that back passenger seat so I would have no reason to open that door, much less scratch yours.
Lady in ugly gold Lexus: You scratched my door
Me: *sigh* (still loading groceries in the back) No, I didn't.  I'm about 8 feet away from your car, there's NO WAY my door would even touch your car if it opened.
Lady in ugly gold Lexus: You scratched my door
Me: Open the door that you think scratched yours and see if it even touches your car.

At this point, she jerks open my back passenger door which misses her door by probably four feet.
Lady in ugly gold Lexus: Oh.  Maybe you didn't scratch my car.
No. $hit.

I'm also currently annoyed with:
  • my twenty-something next door neighbors who play beer pong in their backyard (very loudly) when I'm trying to sleep.
  • my knees, which haven't been quite right since I fell on them (on concrete floors) back in September while heading to the bathroom to pee out the 4 bottles of champagne I'd consumed with the Canadian and my Louisiana cousins.  (I don't walk like I have rickets or anything, they are just sort of achy these days)
  • the hangnail on my left thumb which has turned into something far more dramatic
  • several moms on facebook who seem to think their child is the only child who's ever learned to poop, pee, say their mom is awesome, and generally look cute.  We get it.  Oh, and, I've now hidden you because you just did that about the millionth time too many, and while I enjoy the other normal posts you make, your crappy facebook etiquette regarding your kids kind of overwhelms the other stuff.  
There's plenty more, but, I've pretty much turned this post into a giant rant due to my feeling like a grumpasaurus today.  On the up-side, I do feel better about getting some of it out.  Sometimes a girl just needs to scream into the proverbial pillow once in awhile. 

Also, to get back on track in this blog, I have more expat news to post as well, but the Canadian and I are going on a very teeny getaway this weekend so I will do my best to post that when we return.
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The fluffy version of the Grumpasaurus Rex. Can anyone make me one?
 
I felt a little princessy with my last post, and I almost deleted it, but I decided in the end to keep it because it's honest if not entirely well-written.  I mean really, who demands their dog be put to the top of a cruise ship waiting list just because I've paid for a cruise? I'm kind of disgusted with myself, especially given the fact that my entire Ph.D. is dedicated to humanitarian causes in developing (formerly known as third world) countries.  But you know, blogging is a funny thing. It's a weird snapshot into your life but it doesn't encompass you entirely...

For example, I haven't blogged about the fact that one of my dearest friends and I may have irreparably damaged our relationship.  She doesn't read or know about this blog (to my knowledge) but I just don't think it would be respectful to discuss it on the off chance that she did.  Nonetheless, it has been a huge part of the last 8 months of my life and I feel sad about it and somewhat helpless and powerless in this situation.

I haven't blogged much about my last year in New Orleans save a few brief posts.  Living a year in that extraordinary city shaped me in ways I never would have thought (and that was part of why I knew I would move to London -- I was hungry for more). 

I haven't blogged about my father and the fact that we haven't spoken in a decade as of February save a few words at my Grandfather's memorial service in 2003.  I probably won't ever discuss it publicly but it's heartbreaking to know that you have to grieve a relationship in such a way so that you're not devastated by the fact that you have a parent who is living but who chooses not to interact with you. 

And for that matter, I haven't blogged about my parent's divorce, subsequent remarriages (both of them) and subsequent divorces (both of them), and how all of that has shaped me and my views toward marriage.

I haven't blogged much at all about my amazing group of phenomenal girlfriends in Austin and Houston who are mind-blowingly incredible.  Some days I seriously marvel at how brilliant, talented, loyal, thoughtful and downright extraordinary these women are and frankly sometimes I'm a little shocked they are friends with me.  I am so, so, so fortunate.

I haven't blogged about my political beliefs.  I follow politics a lot but mostly global politics -- particularly when they pertain to developing countries.  I may find myself posting about a global political occurrence (like what's happening in Tunisia right now) but I won't talk about U.S. politics, or if I do, likely you won't be able to elicit my beliefs.  I'm incredibly neutral.

I haven't blogged about my high school experiences which shaped much of who I am (mainly from traumatic experiences at a private parochial school.)  Maybe someday this will come out, but I still struggle with talking about it.

So, all this is to say, we are all intricate and complex humans, hopefully more than the sum of our parts.  My last post was more about being frustrated with a customer service issue and trying to right that issue (as is my strong-willed nature) versus demanding princess treatment, even though when I re-read the post, that is TOTALLY how it sounded.  I was a little mortified, frankly, and apologize if that is how it came off.  In any case, I hope you'll interpret it as was intended.

I have more to say on the subject of blogging, not anything that hasn't been said before, but more of just confirming what others have concluded...however, the Canadian is asking me to watch a Vicar of Dibley episode and so I need to save that for another day.
 
About 6 weeks ago, I wrote an open letter to Cunard about what was going on with expatting the Rotten One.  In a nutshell (for those who don't want to re-read all of it), when the Canadian and I heard we'd be headed to London we decided immediately to go via boat so that we could take Dacia (our Rotten Dog) with us in non-traumatic way (versus flying).  We're leaving in the summer, it's hot, most airlines don't fly dogs during that time, plus, it's really just hard on the animals.

We called our cruise travel agent (in spite of the fact that we are travel gurus, we still use a travel agent for cruises because they get really great bulk deals etc.) and booked our trip, and then talked to Cunard about transporting Dacia.  They had one small container available but she was too big for it by three measly inches, so we would need to have two small containers which would open into one big one. 

I asked if we could reserve that one container and be on the waiting list for another.  I was told no, and, that there was not a waiting list, that I would just have to call back and hope that someone canceled.  I did call back, numerous times, all to be told each time I asked that a waiting list didn't exist.  Sure enough, back in December, I called again, and asked, again, but this time was told that there WAS in fact a waiting list, they just didn't tell people about it because it was rare if anyone canceled. 

So, I then asked to be put on it, only to be told I'd be third down.  Interesting since if I'd been told about it before, I'd have been first with one kennel already reserved.  Frustrating.

I wrote the letter on the blog to Cunard because I was hoping that putting it out there in the public domain might have some results.  I notified @cunardline on Twitter and to his/her credit he/she said that he/she would pass it along to guest relations.  Well that netted me...crickets. 

I've asked a few people some advice about pursuing this a little further and I think I am going to actually email AND write Cunard about this.  Unfortunately, I think I have to be the squeaky American wheel here because my kind of polite, tongue in cheek, humor (from the blog post) got me nowhere.  I am sure Cunard is going to think I'm silly and petulant for asking to be moved to the top of the list (and maybe you do as well...) but

A) I'm spending a LOT of money to expat over on Cunard. 
    Not as much as some (we don't have a penthouse) but we do have a very nice room and between MomE (who has to buy a single ticket which is time and a half a regular ticket!!), the Canadian and me, there is some serious cake being forked over.  So, you know, a *little* extra attention to this issue would be nice.

B) Blogging about my experience and how this incident is treated nets them some amount of publicity (either good or bad...take your pick)
    I am all about giving great as well as negative feedback.  I am not a well-known blog celebrity (yet.. ;)) but, already several people have found me and contacted me privately because they are searching for information on taking their pets across on Cunard.  Many expats are following this blog here and on Twitter thanks to the brilliant expat community -- and if I have an awesome expat experience, maybe others will too.  I will be brutally honest as to how this was handled by Cunard.  I will also post on CruiseCritic (where I'm a member) and of course on Twitter.  I am not trying to badger or threaten and don't want you or Cunard to think that -- I just want to give the community an honest assessment of how this was handled and then they can make their own decisions accordingly should they want to choose this option to take their pets over.

C) We may not even *get* Dacia on if no one cancels. 
    This could be a moot point because even if Dacia does get moved to the top of the waiting list, there might not be any cancellations and then we will have to fly her over regardless.  So, Cunard could make my day and let me sing their praises and not even have to deal with my dog :)  Plus, I'm taking the cruise regardless -- I'm really excited about it and the opportunity to make such a fabulous transition.  This only has to do with taking over my dog.

All of this aside, I have to give a lot of credit to the folks in the kennel department.  Once I finally talked directly to them, they were SO helpful and were the ones who actually told me about the list and put me on it.  Kudos to them.

So, I will keep you posted on this ongoing saga.  I've posted a request on Twitter to @cunardline for the guest relations addresses (email/snail mail) and I will be sending both a letter.  Cross your fingers that she'll be sailing with us!!
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Look how cute I am!!?? Cunard, don't you want me to be the poster-dog for Cunard puppies crossing the pond?
 
Ok, so the Canadian casually mentioned over dinner that he was leaving for London in three weeks (see here -- I don't join him until June) --  and all of a sudden I felt the panic begin to tailspin...

The timeline is this:
He leaves on February 12th and arrives in London on the 13th.  Works in London until Feb. 26th.  Home to Austin for a couple days (hopefully including my birthday) and then taking off again back to London without me for 12 weeks...

It's not like I didn't know the dates -- it just hadn't really *registered* -- but now it seems so tangible and so soon.  Part of the onset of the panic because I know that once he leaves, I will get approximately 7 or 8 days of him over the following 14 weeks.

I could use some reassurance from my expat friends that it will be ok, that I can pack an entire house by myself, get the dog ready, finish my coursework, work on my dissertation, and generally make it through those 14 weeks managing to get through the day to day before heading over....holy crap.  This feels very real all of a sudden. 

Did any of you experience this? 
 
Wow, my first blog award.  Thanks Michelloui over at The American Resident for tagging me!  She said such nice things about my blog that I'm a little bit at a loss as to how to thank her, except to say, you should definitely go check out her blog!  She's a mom and an expat living in the UK in an old pub house with quite a story!  She shares tips on all subjects (weight loss, blogging) and shares tidbits about her own life as well -- like -- she climbed down a drainpipe out the castle where she once lived (story here) -- anyone who did that is pretty much extraordinary in my book!! 

I'm currently reading her blog from the beginning (as I do with every blog I come across...more on that below), but send her some love back if you have a moment, will you?  And now...on to my award.
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There are rules. I am to send a link back to the home page of the person who awarded this to me, I am to list seven things about myself the blogging community may not know and I am to list 15 recently discovered bloggers, send the award to them and let them know that they too are stylish.  I probably can't do 15 but I will definitely do a few!

The seven things:

1) I am an obsessive researcher.  Actually very few people save my sister (who is also an obsessive researcher) and the Canadian know this about me. (I can assure you, it comes in handy when getting a Ph.D.)  Even with every day items not related to academia, like Meyer lemons.  I probably spent 2 hours scouring the internet for lemon and meyer lemon recipes to make for the food swap. Also, this is why I read blogs from start to finish -- I can't help myself, I love research!!  I could say more...but you know, it gets boring after a few sentences. 

2) I secretly wish I were a spy.  When I was a kid I wanted to be a spy, a pilot, a journalist and a veterinarian.  Since my B.A. is in Mass Comm/Journalism, I learned enough about the industry that it sort of lost its luster for me.  The veterinarian thing I grew out of pretty quickly.  The pilot aspirations stayed around for awhile (when other girls had pictures from Tiger Beat on their walls, I had F-14 Tomcat photos plastered all over the place.)  My eyesight is just rotten though, so piloting is out.  The spy dream, however, hasn't really gone away.  I wrote my M.A. thesis on covert propaganda and spent days in declassified records of spy operations.  Heaven.
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The F-14. Drool. (Click photo for attribution)
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I still want to be a spy!!!
3) I almost became a doctor. The M.D. kind. I am constantly researching (see #1) and identifying/diagnosing strange ailments (mostly my sister's, her husband's and the Canadian's -- my sister and her husband acquired dengue fever in a remote village in Mexico and I was on the phone researching and diagnosing to see if they needed medical treatment).  I also love to research natural healing remedies and treat most of my ailments with some sort of combination of tea and acupuncture.  My grandfather was an eye surgeon and his brother was an internist so the medical DNA runs in the family, but after talking to a lot of doctors, I was dissuaded by all of the post medical school drama (tens of thousands of dollars in liability insurance, hospital managers dictating treatment rather than the physicians, insurance companies denying needed procedures etc.) it just wasn't worth it.

4) All of the art in my house is original.  On my very first trip to Europe I came home with the crappiest souvenirs which I completely loathed after about 20 minutes and then threw them away.  So I decided that instead of cheesy junk, I would make one large art purchase and bring home artwork as a souvenir/memory of my travels.  Those pieces coupled with the gifts from my incredibly talented artist friends (see the My Favorite Things page for their art), are all hanging all over my house.

5) I really like felons.  That is to say, I have worked with/sat on the board of directors of a non-profit that transitions felons back into the community after incarceration.  I prefer to work with groups and individuals that are the most marginalized, the most persecuted, the most shunned by society.  Felons tend to fit the bill, especially those trying to make a life after a felony conviction -- most people don't want to hire them or live near them.  I love it and I'm inspired by it -- and believe me, there's nothing cooler than having a chat with a guy who used to run a pretty large gang organization.  Felons rock, won't you hug one today?

6) I am not afraid of public speaking but I am paralyzed with fear by cockroaches.  I taught for five years, have given tons of presentations, sat on panels...no real fear of public speaking.  But, a tiny (or worse, huge) bug that doesn't even bite causes me to turn into a shrieking banshee, screaming for the Canadian to come kill it and remove it from my sight.  Thankfully in five years in this house I've only seen two roaches but one those of times a roach put in an appearance when the Canadian was away.  It is indelibly printed on my memory how I was trying to get it (after I had sprayed it) with a piece of paper, while explaining to myself that there was nothing rationally to be afraid of -- all the while my body is shuddering, and I'm gagging and almost in tears.  You should also know I have no fear of spiders, snakes, or mice.  Only roaches.  

7) I always knew I'd marry a foreigner.  I just didn't envision a Canadian.  In my head I *knew* that I would never marry an American.  I'm not sure how I knew this, but American boys were just so...American.  I liked the different cultures and sort of assumed I'd end up with a lovely Englishman, or a spicy South African, or maybe a hot Australian or a delectable Frenchman.  Note, Canadian was not on that list.  Nothing against Canada or Canadians -- I love both!!  A lot!!  They just never really crossed my mind before I met the Canadian...
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And now, five blogs you should follow (on Twitter it's Follow Friday so this is perfect!)

Not From Around Here -- A Minnesota girl moves to the UK for a job.  She loves her sister as much as I love mine and she always has great posts that engender lively discussions (her Dear So and So are wonderful!)

Le Fabuleaux Destin de Brenna-- Sassy pants English teacher living in France with gorgeous photos of her travels

Is there such a thing as too much cheese?-- a lass from Oz who lives in the south of France with her marathon running boyfriend.  She's a teacher and her posts are refreshing and hilarious! (She also loves books as much as I do...)

Sara in Le Petite Village-- J'Adore Sara and her adventures in Le Petite Village -- she has a fabulous cast of characters that often make appearances in her post, not the least of whom is her dog Fifty!  (She's been tagged before, but I think it's time for another time around the block n'est pas?  We want more!)

International Woman of Mystery-- I love her posts, they are little novellas and some of them (like the countryside post), are stuck in my head for days after I read them...spicy and awesome!!

 
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This blog post is dedicated to Addie Broyles (over at Relish Austin)
who suggested the topic based on our conversation yesterday and Kate Payne at Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, because she's the reason I now know Addie and the other reason for this post.  Also, even though this is an expat blog, my not-so-secret obsession is food (and Tom Selleck, but that is a different post altogether) and because of this, I reserve the right to hijack this blog for food purposes anytime I want. 

My friend Kate, over at Hip Girls, lived in Brooklyn for a couple of years and during that time was on a VERY strict food budget (you can find out more about this on her blog and in her new book coming out this spring!).  As a result she began to get quite creative in her culinary endeavors, particularly along the lines of canning and preserving foods.  She then ran into the dilemma that many canners face and that is the problem of overstock.  I mean really, how many jars of marmalade do you need?  Not 20.  So she started a food swap group in Brooklyn for all of the folks out there who wanted to divest themselves of some of their extraneous canned goods/homegrown items/homemade treats or breads or whatever and get something a little different for their pantry.  (More details on what a swap looks like here and you should know I'll be starting one in London -- details soon.)

In any case, when Kate texpatriated back to Austin from Brooklyn, she decided to start a food swap here, and of course it caught on like wildfire!  This month I'm hosting the food swap, but I'm not much of a canner so I've opted for the baked goods route.  I've also recently discovered, thanks to Kate, the Meyer Lemon -- a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon which led me to a voracious google search on something to bake for the food swap that included lemons -- and thus I found this phenomenal recipe, Olive Oil Cakes with Lemon and Thyme.  This recipe fascinated me for several reasons - 1) It's made in a blender (hello, interesting)  2) Thyme (which I grow) and lemon (for which I will be substituting the Meyers) and 3) Olive oil in a dessert!!  Um, yes please.

Interestingly enough, I just read on Uchiko's (an Austin restaurant that makes me drool) facebook page that they have designed a new dessert that includes an olive oil semifreddo, saffron gelato, pistachio, & yuzu.  Drool. 

I also decided to do a little googling here and there on desserts made with olive oil which led me to this Chocolate Mousse with Olive Oil and Flaky Salt -- if anyone wants to make this for me, I will slather you with praise and adoration in addition to my undying devotion. 

And finally, to bring this post completely full circle, in my googling I came across a recipe for Lavender and Olive Oil Macarons (which look gorgeous and sound absolutely dreamy).  Imagine my surprise as I was reading the blog post when I realized they were made for a pre-baby party for Addie Broyles celebrating the impending arrival of her second kiddo.  In all the blog posts all over the internet...

So, thanks Addie for the inspiration for this post (and also being the reason for the creation of the lavender and olive oil macarons!), thanks Kate for being the food swap genius that inspired me to make the lemon thyme olive oil cakes, and thanks readers for allowing me to wander off the expat track and talk about food....

 
Arriving somewhere has always been a bit magical for me.  Overnight trains or flights seem extraordinary when you think about going to sleep in one country and arriving in another.  Even a mere 7 day boat trip transports you across the ocean on the QM2. You step off into a new journey, a new experience, a new adventure.

In exactly 5 months we arrive at the Southampton docks on the QM2.  It seems funny when I think back to the exact moment I decided to take the leap to expat over to the UK (which will be just about the time we dock in England).  I was in my car sometime in the summer of 2010, waiting at a stoplight to turn left onto the street where I live.  The Canadian had a job offer from a new company (who'd actually contacted him a year previously -- more on that here) and they wanted us to move to England in 2011, should the Canadian accept the offer. And as I sat at the stoplight, I was thinking about what it would mean if we moved to England, what we would give up and what we would gain.

I'd been mildly panicked ever since we'd received the job offer.  I had a life here in Austin.  A fabulous network I'd built over the 10 years I'd been here.  I was heavily involved in several nonprofits. I had a job and was in the middle of my Ph.D.  My dearest friends in the world were all a 10 minute drive away and a few more were a couple hours away in Houston.  I was only an 8 hour drive from west Texas -- Marfa, Terlingua, and Big Bend National Park--where I would go when I was exhausted and needed rejuvenation.

Please understand, I'm not someone who's never left her hometown.  On the contrary, I've made many moves and traveled all over the world, but I'd finally settled down, bought a house, tried to be 'normal', or so I thought (or told myself).  I guess I've always had sort of itchy feet (as Sara in Le Petite Village says...) and as I sat at that stoplight, staring at it, waiting for it to turn green, I thought "How many times are you going to sit here at this stoplight?  Aren't you bored with sitting at the same stoplight, going to the same place?"  And I realized I was.  I was so bored. 

I LOVE Austin.  I adore it.  It will always be my home over Houston where I was raised.  I'm restless by nature, though, and when most people get bored, they remodel a bathroom, but that just doesn't cut it for me. Living in New Orleans for the last year sort of underscored my boredom when I re-awakened to how extraordinary it was to get out of your comfort zone and do something different.  Something to shake your beliefs a little, rattle your everyday (in a good way).  I knew I was on the verge of becoming extremely complacent with my life and that is something I swore I'd never do. 

So, I called the Canadian at that stoplight and when he answered the phone I said "Let's do it.  Take the job.  Let's move to England."  And so we are. In five months from today, we arrive to the next adventure. 
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Queen Mary 2 arriving in Southampton. (Click photo for attribution)
 
This is honestly one of the best stories in the history of stories.  It's one that I really should save, and build up over weeks and weeks, but tonight Kissinger is swimming in a giant vase in the sky and so I'm telling this story as a tribute to a phenomenal fish.  Kissinger -- you were extraordinary.

You might remember I introduced you to Kissinger here -- it's a good introduction to this story.

The story begins around 6 am sometime back in 2006.  I have a 7:30 am appointment so I'm up at 6 to head downstairs to get my mandatory morning coffee.  From the stairs I can see into my dining room and on this particular morning, when I look into my dining room, I see an enormous puddle of water underneath my dining room table.
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My first instinct was that the dog we had at the time (a rather large German Shepherd named Delilah) had peed under the table.  Now, she had never done this before, but mind you, it was 6 am, pre-coffee, and not all of my neurons were firing.  Upon closer inspection of the scene (including dipping my hand into said liquid and smelling it to make sure it wasn't pee), I discover charred bits of fabric, broken glass, melted wax, bits of rock and...my fish under the table sitting in the puddle of water!!!
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I quickly jumped into action grabbing a bowl, filling it with water and scooping up Kissinger into the bowl, hoping and praying he wasn't dead.  Sure enough, after a few minutes he began swimming around and I breathed a sigh of relief.  Now that the fish was safe, however, I still had quite a mystery on my hands as to the enormous mess in the middle of my dining room.   As I made my coffee, I began working backwards in an attempt to piece together the events of the previous evening...

The Canadian was on the road so it was just the dog and me having a cozy evening by ourselves.  I was looking to create a little ambiance for our romantic evening so I thought I might add a little mood lighting.
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I found an old candle I'd bought years previously and decided it fit the bill -- nice smell and quite lovely since it had potpourri embedded in the wax. I decided that I should put the candle on the dining room table (on top of a beautiful silk table runner) next to the giant vase where Kissinger lived, which was filled with bamboo (so he could swim around in style.)
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It's very important to understand the placement of all involved objects as they play a major part in the development of story...

Sometime later in the evening, I decided to head to bed accidentally leaving the candle burning ... and here is where the events are a bit fuzzy.  I don't exactly *know* what happened, but there are two scenarios, both valid, however, one is slightly more scientific than the other.  Nonetheless, I will give you both of the stories and you can choose which is your favorite.

Story A (slightly more scientific) Sometime during the night, as the candle burns, the potpourri in the candle catches fire creating quite a large fire for a candle
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The candle fire quickly spread to the table runner...
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As the fire grew, burning hotter and hotter next to the vase, the glass also became hotter and hotter.  Basic scientific principles here -- heat = expansion of molecules = glass breaking.
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The water from the vase put out the fire, thus saving my home from burning down (the table was wood...so you can see where it might have gone had the vase not broken.) 

Now for Story B, which I personally believe is the correct scenario, and also the reason why you too will believe that Kissinger is a hero and saved my home from burning down

As the fire grew hotter and hotter, Kissinger realized that the table might catch on fire.
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So Kissinger begins ferociously swimming against the side of the vase, throwing himself as hard as he can at the glass, in order to break it.  He knows that the water from the vase will put out the fire, but, as any true hero realizes, he also knows he might not make it.  This does not deter him from attempting to save us!
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And that is how Kissinger Also, saved our house from burning down.

I should also tell you that the story really doesn't end here.  There is an entrance by Delilah (the German Shepherd) into this story that really puts the 'cherry on parfait' so to speak. 

Fast forward back to where I'm having my coffee at 6:30 am or so (after Kissinger is safely in a bowl of water).  I began cleaning the mess and I see the awful char marks on the table.  My mother-in-law had told me at one point that rubbing a bit of mayonnaise into a wooden table often helps with imperfections or problem areas.  Remember I had an appointment at 7:30?  At this point, I'm in a huge hurry, so I grab a mayonnaise jar and LIBERALLY spread the mayo on the charred area in hopes that I might salvage some of the table when I get home. 

I quickly throw on my clothes and race out the door.  I return home sometime around 9 that morning and walk to the table to see what I can do to repair the fire damage.  When I get to the table, I see that not only is the mayonnaise completely gone -- in its place are ENORMOUS claw marks stretching from the charring at the center of the table to the edge, ALL AROUND THE ENTIRE TABLE.  Apparently, Delilah was after the mayonnaise - and what WAS a 4 or 5 inch spot of fire damage, now became a thoroughly scarred table.  Really, at that point, I was kind of just ready to start drinking...I was fairly certain it was 5:00 in Beijing or Australia. 

So, friends, THAT is the story of how my fish saved my life and my dog not only did NOT save my life (see the P.S. below), but she also ruined my table.

P.S. You might have also wondered (as I did much later in the day), why the dog didn't awaken me as my table was catching on fire?  You have probably heard of dogs saving owners from fires?  I cannot answer this except to say that, while Delilah was indeed a very smart dog, she was also a really unusual one and sometimes she just really couldn't be bothered -- with anything -- including saving her owner (who fed her...). :-/
 
I have a special blog post for you on its way.  It's an Allie Brosh style one (much like my Lobster story), but in the mean time, I will leave you with two things. 

1) Someone found my blog by searching for champagne addiction.  Wups.  If you're an alcoholic, you just found yourself reading a blog post about how much I love champagne, different types/delivery mechanisms of champagne, accompanied by pictures.  Kind of like bringing a chicken fried chicken smothered in queso and bacon to a weight watchers meeting.  (Never heard of that?  The Canadian had one last weekend at Cafe 290)
Picture
2) Really, I love British humor.  I've been watching BBC and Channel 4 shows for a LONG time.  If you like it too, you'll enjoy this voice over video of BBC One animals.  Hilarious.

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