Weasel’s playing hou-owse, Weasel’s playing hou-owse!) remindened me of something I hardly needed remindening of: it would be a HELL of a lot easier to approach Britain if it were just a little more frankly foreign. When you’re stuck up the Zambezi or the Po, you damn well know you’re not in Kansas any more (I assume) and you adjust accordingly. Britain is like…Kanzace. It’s so almost-but-not-quite right, it makes my nerves hum on a low, uneasy frequency.
Some of the differences are deliberate, for god knows what marketing reason. You can buy britches at TK Maxx. You can rub Oil of Ulay onto your face. Same companies, a tiny bit utterly fucking wrong.
Some of the differences are because we are not as same as we think we are. Brits and Yanks watch so much of each other’s television, share so much of each other’s history, that we forget the 200 years and 3,500 miles that separate us.
It’s inevitable — for some months, anyway — that this blog will be about an American houseweasel in darkest Britain. The trivial, pointless shite on which I thrive.
But what the hell. You don’t really want to read any more blogs about politics right about now…do you?
November 28, 2008 — 8:40 pm
This time when Charlotte vanished, I knew where she’d be. High in the inglenook is a small opening that opens into a great, dark hole lined with brick, a yard all around. It was once the bread oven — though whether there is a fireplace beneath it, or it was only used for proofing dough, we do not know.
Now it’s warm and dark and dirty and hung with cobwebs. I can’t imagine any place on earth more likely to call Charlotte’s name. And there she was, sitting demurely way in the back, blinking green at me through a fringe of spiderweb.
I walked into town all by myself today, like a real grownup. I got money out of an ATM (silly, colorful wampum with some lady in a tiara on) and strolled down the High Street (Woolworth’s has gone into bankruptcy this week, at last; that leaves only the Aussies to worship at the altar of Frank W.) and met Uncle B at the open air market. It was a little damp today, but they were out gamely selling anyhow.
A wind off the sea is howling around the house tonight. The fire is warm, the booze is soon and the turkey is waiting for the combined ministrations of a weasel and a badger. Much to be grateful for, this little mustelid.
You too, even if you are not lucky enough to be me today. Happy Thanksgiving!
November 27, 2008 — 5:25 pm
Well, okay. My To Do list is…done.
I haven’t done much more than sleep since I got in, but I promise to do more. Like drink. And then sleep some more.
Charlotte’s fine. She’s slinking around like a bad smell, but that’s a big step up from sulking in a box somewhere. She’s even voluntarily stepped into a room with Uncle B in it, mostly because she’s flat fascinated by the fire. She’s never seen fire before and, on the whole, she’s inclined to think it’s a good thing.
Wait ’til she sees her first Christmas tree.
Anyhoo, the champagne ain’t going to drink itself! Thanks for the good vibes, dudes.
Another day of treating myself like fine china — cracked, beautiful — and I’ll be back to my old self.
Yeah. Sorry. Best we can hope for.
November 26, 2008 — 6:37 pm
Please enjoy this graphic from last Christmas. Today, I am closing on my house and leaving on a jet plane.
Um…I hope. I wrote this a week ago and set it up to auto-post.
November 25, 2008 — 4:00 am
Some results of my Political Junkie Tour of Belle Meade above. Really couldn’t get a bead on Algore’s house; too many trees. It’s big. Frist’s is ginormous.
Okay, here’s the shed-yule:
8:30 Vet appointment — yay, we’re getting wormed!
6:00 A friend picks me up to take a last box to FedEx and have dinner
First thing: empty and clean the fridge, tidy generally
11:00 Real estate agent picks me up
3:00 Cat dropped at freight place
9:00 Our mutual plane leaves
2:15 (7:15 local time) We arrive at Heathrow. Clearing a cat through takes 3-4 hours. Don’t ask me why.
6:00 (11:00) My driver arrives.
Deep breath — here we go! I’m shutting down this machine…
November 24, 2008 — 7:53 am
That’s what Smartass gets for trying to tell the old coot something
he didn’t know.
November 22, 2008 — 9:11 pm
Heh. Cool. I told myself I’d Google image search Nashville and take the first image that popped up. This is it, from a travel site.
Going to see my dad in Nashville today. He was originally supposed to come to Jollye Olde and do the whole father-of-the-stoat thing, but he’s at that awkward age where one broken vertebra leads to another. His dog knocked him over last month and took out his shoulder, which spelled the end of his mobility. He’s still perfectly compos mentis, but he’s gone from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair inside a year. We’ve got to find something for his huge, throbbing weaselbrain to do or it’ll tear itself to pieces on idle.
Weaselbrains are like Lamborghinis. Pre-Chrysler.
Anyhow, my plane leaves at 6, which means I have to be up at three. And I’m checking a six-shooter in my luggage, so that’s always fun. It has to be inside a locked case which is inside a locked case which is inside your luggage — but before you can check it, you have to prove to the ticket agent that it’s unloaded.
That’s no problem with a semi-auto: you transport it completely disassembled. My old S&W 5-screw doesn’t come apart, though. I’ve only done this a couple of times, and I live in fear some security guard across the room will see me pull that thing out of the case and give me two in the hat.
Anyhow — I’m off the grid until late Sunday night. Don’t trash the place!
November 21, 2008 — 3:12 am
The phrase “RC Cola and a MoonPie” came up two threads down and, because I totally have nothing else to do, I hit Google. Turns out, it’s another fine culinary innovation you can thank Tennessee for. You’re welcome.
The MoonPie was invented in Chattanooga in 1917. It’s two big round soft graham cracker cookie things with marshmallow filling, dipped in a sweet coating. I only remember chocolate and banana, but Wikipedia says there was also vanilla and strawberry. And, in modern times, lemon and orange. MoonPies are unspeakably vile.
Royal Crown Cola was invented in 1905 and is apparently also still around. The company renamed itself Nehi in 1925 — you may know them from the truly awful grape and orange drinks — and were later responsible for Diet Rite, the first diet soda. In the mid ’90s, RC came out with a “draft” cola — a 12-ounce premium cola made with cane sugar like the old days. Sales were disappointing due to distribution problems, and the line was dropped.
In the ’50s, an RC cola and a MoonPie became the standard workman’s lunch across in the South. You could get the combo special RC Cola and a MoonPie for a dime, which is one giant asswad of sugar and food coloring for a mere tenth of a dollar. Jesus. Wikipedia reminds me that some would buy a packet of peanuts, empty it into the cola, drink the cola then eat the peanuts. Damn you, Wikipedia! I had successfully papered over that memory!
This filthy combination was so wildly popular that it was set to music repeatedly, beginning with Bill Liston’s 1950s ballad “Gimm’e an RC Cola and a Moonpie” (which is where I’m guessing my mother picked up the phrase) and ending with the recent children’s record — I so totally and completely am not even a little bit shitting you — “Weezie and the Moon Pies.”
The little town of Bell Buckle, Tennessee has an RC and Moon Pie Festival every year that features deep fried MoonPies and crowns the Queen of…no, it’s no use. I can’t bear to paraphrase. I quote:
The 2008 Queen is Dr. Phyllis Qualls-Brook, Assistant Commissioner of Tennessee Community and Industry Relations and the King is actor/director Lane Davies who will be directing the 1st Annual Tennessee Shakespeare Festival to be held in Bell Buckle the two weekends following the RC-Moon Pie Festival.
Taking center stage as always is the wildly popular Synchronized Wading extravaganza, lovingly referred to as “dry humor on a wet stage”. This year’s performance will be “A Midsummer’s Nightmare” starring who else but the lovely little Moon Pie and the charming RC with unfortunate guest appearances by GooGoo Cluster, Coke, as well as a host of fairies and soldiers. Director and choreographer Carla Webb who is also known as the First Lady of Bell Buckle says that this year’s Synchronized Wading performance is one of the best since she began performing in a kiddy pool over 13 years ago.
Some things are unforgivable even in jest. There is also a more recent association of MoonPies and Mardi Gras, with some krewes throwing miniature pies into the crowd. You have to show your tits to make them throw beads, I don’t EVEN want to know what you have to show to make them throw MoonPies.
And people wonder why I’m changing my name and moving thousands of miles away to a country that makes puddings out of sheep guts.
November 20, 2008 — 6:47 am
It is very shiny. They apparently have some kind of weird-ass color bubblejet, because it’s printed right on the first blank page of my passport. How you print a hologram dealie, I do not know.
So! I totally finished packing last night. I mean, everything but the plate I eat on and the cat’s bowl, the things I’ll throw in a FedEx on my way out of town. Would you believe, I don’t have a mover yet? Last one coming to quote today.
November 19, 2008 — 8:50 am
Today’s Hair Across Weasel’s Ass: plane-legal pet carriers. A regular, take-her-to-the-vet-sized pet carrier will not do (never mind that mine is 30 years old, solid as a brick shit-house and served perfectly well to fly a bigger cat than Charlotte from Tennessee to Rhode Island). If the airline doesn’t turn the cat away, there are grievous fines on the UK end for shipping an animal in a container they consider too small.
And so, of course, they provide really precise instructions for choosing the appropriate carrier.
Ha ha! Just woofin’ you. Every document describes the requirements s-lightly differently. It should be the height of the cat standing, the height of the cat sitting or two inches above the ears of the cat standing. There has to be ventilation in all four sides, or it doesn’t matter as long as it’s 13% open to air. The animal has to be able to stand up turn around and lie down again (which makes jump down turn around pick a bale of cotton spin up on my mental Wurlitzer). The problem is the confluence of airline regs, US government regs and UK government regs.
I particularly liked this instruction from DEFRA:
Containers for cats should have litter trays which are either heavy enough not to move around or fixed to stop them moving.
Litter trays! Holy pooperscooper! Charlotte needs at least a five foot radius to operate a box properly. She’s a sweet girl, but stupid. She stands with all four feet inside, hangs her ass over the side and pees on the floor.
Whatevs. I bought her the biggest carrier that’ll fit in the Weaselmobile. And it occurs to me I never told you what needs to be done to bring a dog, cat or ferret into the UK. It’s a hell of a deal, but I won’t complain — they don’t have to go through six months of kennel quarantine on the British side now. They essentially allowing the pet to serve out quarantine at home. Zo! In this precise order:
■ Spay and microchip. (Very important — that microchip is checked before every stage of the process. Some people drop a couple hundred bucks for their own chip reader, just to be sure).
■ Vaccinate for rabies.
■ Some time later — twenty days is recommended — draw a blood sample and have your vet send it to Kansas State University.
■ They send back a document certifying presence of rabies antibodies (my documentation didn’t have the official seal, so I had to chase them to send another one).
■ Six months after this date, the travel documents can be applied for. If the rabies booster comes due before you’re ready (ours did), booster and documentation.
■ When the time comes, gather all the documentation and FedEx it to the nearest USDA veterinary office. They FedEx the docs and the stamped travel permit back. This document is good for four months.
■ Not less than 24 nor more than 48 hours before Puss gets on the plane, one last vet’s appointment. She gets de-ticked, wormed (must contain Praziquatel!) and the vet makes a final entry on the USDA and airline forms.
■ Show up at the approved airline’s freight service six hours before the flight. There are, incidentally, one or two government-approved cat-flying airlines for each city that flies to London.
■ After going through People Customs at Heathrow, hop a taxi and drive four miles (oh, the cabby’s going to love me!) to the Animal Reception Center. They say it takes 3-4 hours to process a cat through. Why? I don’t know!
And…umm…ta-dum, I guess. All for the filthy little crooked-tailed, squint-eyed, bug-eating feral Goblin Princess I trapped in my garage five years ago.
Oh, well. One good thing I’ve gotten out of this: pee pads! They’re giant Kotexes for bed-wetters. You put one in the bottom of the travel kennel to mop up accidents. I got a ten-pack of 30×36″ pee pads for six bucks at Wal*Mart.
So that right there is nine wonderful, lazy Sunday mornings I can say to myself, “nah. I don’t feel like getting up yet…”
November 18, 2008 — 1:12 pm