exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

finally photos

by Jen at 11:20 pm on 2.01.2009Comments Off
filed under: blurblets, photo

so i’ve finally managed to migrate all my photos to the new domain name, along with a re-org and general tidying.  nearly 3400 pics in all, with more to come (now that i’ve got a proper structure in place).  there’s still a lot of tagging to do, but hopefully this is a much more managable system.

got all the morocco pics up here – have a gander.

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by Jen at 10:40 pm on 29.12.2008 | 6 Comments
filed under: photo, travelology

morocco was fantastic.  i took wayyyy too many pics.  will get some links with all the photos up soon



by Jen at 8:15 pm on 19.12.2008 | 1 Comment
filed under: londonlife, photo

got to hang with my friend stacey who was passing through london for a day, and we spent an evening wandering around down by the southbank, then going to see this show.  bizarrely enough, with all the pics i took, i somehow didn’t get a pic of the two of us.  go figure.

but i love hanging out at the southbank at holiday time.

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by Jen at 5:05 pm on 16.12.2008 | 4 Comments
filed under: holidaze, photo


i’m stalked all day, by things i didn’t try

by Jen at 7:43 pm on 14.12.2008 | 3 Comments
filed under: mundane mayhem, photo

i recently went to the salon for a haircut.  it had been quite a while since my last visit, as evidenced by the thick band of dark roots showing at the crown, the frazzled, too-long ends of dry, lacklustre, pull-it-back-in-a-ponytail hair.  and when my stylist started segmenting it into miniclips for cutting, i felt a large pang of embarrassment at the shock of grey hairs that came shining through.  i looked, i thought, like someone who’d begun to let herself go.

i’m not high-maintenance by any standard, but my one vanity is my hair. i’ve always enjoyed playing around with different styles and (in my twenties) colours.  i’ve never been a clothes horse or one for trendy fashions, but the one thing that keeps me feeling young at heart (even as i get considerably greyer) is my hair.  for the most part, i don’t think i look too bad for my age – i’m in decent shape, have few real wrinkles as yet…  objectively speaking, i’m holding up okay.  and yet there i sat, looking at this washed out, grey shell of myself.

so why have i let my hair get to this state?  this frumpy, boring, can’t be bothered, look?  it’s not like i don’t have the time or the money for this one small thing, every three or four months.

and you know, when he was done working his magic, i walked out of there feeling so terribly cute.  i had a spring in my step, an instant mood lift.  my new cut made me feel young and funky.  it was worth every penny i paid for this feeling.  i just can’t fathom why i don’t go more often.

a resolution for the new year – an investment in my self-esteem.

nada surf – the way you wear your head

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christmas classics

by Jen at 3:36 pm on 13.12.2008 | 1 Comment
filed under: photo, tunage

today is possibly the dreariest day so far this year.  pouring rain, whipping winds, cold and nasty.  in spite of this, my christmas cactus has burst into shockingly vibrant blooms, an assault of determined festivity.

more than ever, i need something cheery today.  the house is full of the spicy smell of freshly baked pumpkin bread.  the cat has become uncharacteristically cuddly and is curled up on my lap.  i’m about to light a few candles for glowy effect, and play some christmas classics.

Bing Crosby – White Christmas
Ella Fitzgerald – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
The Ronettes – Sleigh Ride
Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song
Louis Armstrong – Winter Wonderland
Brenda Lee – Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
Vince Guaraldi – Christmas Time is Here

MP3 playlist (M3U)

and here’s the Podcast feed for downloads.

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as the winter night comes on

by Jen at 5:38 pm on 20.11.2008Comments Off
filed under: mundane mayhem, photo


The austere sun descends above the fen,
an orange cyclops-eye, scorning to look
longer on this landscape of chagrin;
feathered dark in thought, I stalk like a rook,
brooding as the winter night comes on.

from “winter landscape with rooks”, sylvia plath

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autumn visit

by Jen at 2:50 pm on 13.11.2008 | 5 Comments
filed under: family and friends, photo

a few pics from my visit home



trick or treat


boston night


jen and grandpa

jamaica pond


election night

kate and piper

cat and grandpa

carl and piper


on the pulse of this fine day

by Jen at 4:01 pm on 5.11.2008Comments Off
filed under: mutterings and musings, photo

in elementary schools all across america, we ask our children what they want to be when they grow up. we encourage them to dream big. we tell them they can be anything. we tell them they can be president of the united states.

last night for the first time ever, that became truth – for every child.


i was celebrating with a dear friend that i’d also celebrated the turn of the millennium with. she reminded me how on that hopeful morning, with a new dawn breaking, a small group of us climbed to one of the highest points in boston. we stood looking out over the cold city, and we read a poem to mark the occasion, to signify that we were witness to something momentous.

yet for some moments in history, even the most expansive breadth of our language cannot quite encompass it all. last night, there were no words. only jubilant, exhilarating hope mixed with tears. lots of tears.


but this morning, with a new dawn breaking, that same poem seems to fit once again. if there are words that can capture this moment, surely they are these.

(Maya Angelou – 1993 Clinton Inaugural Poem)

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers–
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot…
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours–your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
Into your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.






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the silver lining

by Jen at 8:53 pm on 21.10.2008Comments Off
filed under: mundane mayhem, photo

in the dreary season that is british autumn



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almost better than a haircut

by Jen at 4:34 pm on 4.10.2008 | 5 Comments
filed under: mundane mayhem, photo

new glasses!

jen glasses


one by one, the seasons change you

by Jen at 8:05 pm on 28.09.2008 | 3 Comments
filed under: mutterings and musings, photo


running along, i feel compelled to stop and pick them up, glossy and perfect, littered as they are across the pavement, celebratory confetti rained down from the broad branches above.

i can’t help myself. even as a kid, i used to collect them every autumn. line them up to decorate the rungs of my bunkbed. fresh out of their shell, they’re so tactile – the burled skin as slipperysmooth satiny as sleek polished marble, shining brightly like wet lacquer. so smooth they almost feel moist to the touch. the warm brown marbling giving a deep resinous glow, like antique wood. i used to oil and burnish them to a high sheen, then arrange them with care – a plethora of nut tchotcke festooning all the ledges and sills.

even now i am drawn to them. holding one as i run, feeling the satisfying weight of it, caressing the soft smoothness with my thumb, like a worry stone. inexplicably soothing to the touch.

they will soon shrivel and dry and lose their lustre, roll off into the gutters and cracks, and winter will come. but for now, they glitter against the bright autumn leaves underfoot, little golden embers winking at me invitingly, as i pass by.

the acorn – dents

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wake me when this punishment is done

by Jen at 12:00 pm on 23.08.2008 | 1 Comment
filed under: photo, zeke the freak

as many grave concerns as i have about sharing my own personal information with officials, i have absolutely none when it comes to my cat.

zeke is officially on the matrix.

this is how he consoles himself after the indignity of being poked, prodded, vaccinated and microchipped – by incessantly licking the space where his jumblies used to be.


foo fighters – the one

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morning goodies

by Jen at 9:50 am on 9.08.2008 | 1 Comment
filed under: mundane mayhem, photo

what a lovely way to start the day! get-well parcels from my sis and friend bethany in the post this morning! i feel better already.


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i have the most thoughtful friends

by Jen at 5:00 pm on 5.08.2008Comments Off
filed under: mundane mayhem, photo

thanks so much stacey and kim!


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country weekend

by Jen at 8:06 pm on 13.07.2008Comments Off
filed under: family and friends, photo

spent the weekend out in wiltshire with kerryn, tracey, chris and tonia – the occasion was j’s third birthday!

amazing how quickly the time has flown. watching children grow so fast makes me feel old.

but i can think of few better ways to spend a weekend than surrounded by gorgeous countryside, with good friends, good food, good drink, and birthday cake.

back garden



trace and jj



j and j

j and harmonica

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she’ll be waiting in istanbul

by Jen at 9:16 pm on 8.07.2008 | 3 Comments
filed under: photo, travelology

we had a fantastic time in istanbul – the weather, the people, the culture.

some of the highlights were:
– listening to german opera co-ordinated with a light show on the blue mosque
– hearing the evening call to prayer resounding from all corners of the city, against the backdrop of a magnificent sunset
– sipping thick turkish coffee in a hidden little cay bahcesi (tea garden)
– pounding meze, beer, and raki with the locals in the raucous saturday evening ambiance of the navizade sokak meyhanes (kind of like a rowdy tapas bar)
– walking and wandering aimlessly through the back streets of the bazaars, looking for spices and finding leeches
– walking and wandering some more
– and (believe it or not) watching the wimbledon men’s final!

a few photos below, more photos here



aya sofya

basilica cistern


harem windows


whirling dervish

blue mosque



cat at aya sofya

they might be giants – istanbul (not constantinople)

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double happy

by Jen at 10:49 am on 3.07.2008Comments Off
filed under: family and friends, photo

happy birthday to my dearest brother dave… and happy anniversary to my sister kate and her husband carl!

love to you all )

dave and kate

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that’s what i get for trying to be too cute

by Jen at 2:09 pm on 2.07.2008 | 5 Comments
filed under: photo, zeke the freak

whenever we sit down to eat at the table, zeke will perch himself on another chair and intently sniff the wafting aromas coming from our plates, eyes wide, licking his lips. he sits there for the entire meal, *almost* begging, but not daring to touch the actual table with a paw.

today, i made myself some smoked salmon on a bagel. he was sitting next to me, sniffing, sniffing, sniffing… and i thought i’d take a photo.

apparently the temptation was just a little *too* much, the bagel just a little *too* close…


the reason this picture is so blurry is that before i had a chance to focus, he reached out and nipped the salmon off the bagel, and i found myself screaming, dropping my camera and chasing him as he dashed across the kitchen and dove under the living room chair with his delectable fishy bounty.

cheeky bugger… but i have only myself to blame!


feeling you’re here again, hot on my skin again

by Jen at 9:15 pm on 30.06.2008Comments Off
filed under: mutterings and musings, photo

woke up today with the strangest feeling in my stomach – a gnawing sense of purposelessness. my first day of unemployment, and i couldn’t even bring myself to have a lie in.

instead, i filled my day with errands and phone calls and cleaning. the kind of cleaning you never really have time for – re-organising drawers, sorting through old clothes and shoes, and cleaning my jewellery. (how strange, i just typed and re-typed that word, but it still looked weird…turns out, the american english version, “jewelry” now looks too odd to my eyes. go figure.)

going through my jewellery always makes me a bit wistful because it so tangibly reflects different periods in my life. my jewellery is so readily demarcated by age and personal era. my turquoise collection is from my late teens, my amber from my early twenties, my garnets from my later twenties, my peridot and glass beads from my early thirties – the infatuation with different stones paralleling different phases of where and who i was in life at that time.

stirring through all these pieces also stirs up memories of relationships. more than most other objects, jewellery is so often a physical representation of the emotional ties we once had. the gifts of past lovers, long lost friends, family members now gone, their history now memorialised by the holding onto. the pink heart earrings that were a valentine’s day gift. the grandchildren’s charm bracelet. the gold wedding ring from a dissolved marriage. the silver bangle from my foreign exhange parents. the garnet ring i exchanged with my lost friend beth. the amber earrings from my university girlfriend. no longer jewellery i wear, but mementos of the past that i can’t bring myself to part with.

intermingled with them are the loved treasures of those still much missed. the miniscule diamond from my brother’s first christmas. the coyote pendant my dad gave me when i left home. the souvenirs from cambodia, new orleans, amsterdam. the coveted kaleidoscope necklace from my mum for my birthday. the tin bubblegum-machine ring from my dear friend jo. the blue quartz earrings alex made for me as a going away present. the delicate stringed bracelet my sister gave me when she was 12. the red glass dangles from my first weekend with jonno. reminders of people and places held dear to the heart, the little trinkets and presents presence, that make me feel close to those so far away.

and so i spent several hours today cataloging this old mish-mashed collection of recollections. sorting through tangles, polishing away the tarnish, pairing up twos. and as i did so, i let the twinges of sadness and longing play at my heart, unboxed old aches and ghosts, brought good memories back to gleaming bright, turned them over in my hand and mind, letting them catch the light…

then nestled them carefully back in their velvet, put them neatly away, and closed the drawer.


my morning jacket – golden

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by Jen at 9:05 pm on 28.06.2008 | 4 Comments
filed under: londonlife, photo

british summer may have many flaws…

…but they are nearly all redeemed by the british strawberries.


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