Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

Endings and Beginings February 26, 2009

I’ve not really had a lot of time to dwell on all of my endings here in Florida.  But last night something occurred that drove the point home pretty harshly.  One of my geese was taken by, well, something large.  I am guessing a bear though I have never had that happen before.  However, whatever it was was BIG, I heard it crashing around out in the woods behind the house.  Anyway, it has been quite dry this winter and wildlife has been moving in in ways that are unusual all over the place.  I didn’t go after it as all of the “weapons” that I would normally have for chasing a hungry bear around at 3 am in the morning are in England currently.  Plus, if it was hauling a full grown and rather fat goose around chances are said goose was already dead and I would only get myself into trouble out there.  Yes, for once, I was sensible.  This morning I went out to check on the area and, well, lets just say that I made the right call.  There were feathers all over the place not far from the yard.

One disturbing thing that has happened is that Chuck the Duck who likes to Fuck has disappeared as well.  I know that he was alive when I awoke last night as I heard him fly by my bedroom window.  I know it was Chuck as he has a distinctive sound to his flying compared to the geese.  However, he is no where to be found this morning.  There are also no signs of his death.  No feathers spread in a violent way, nothing.  So, as mysteriously as he appeared he leaves.  I can only hope that he decided to take off for a pond with more chica’s than we have here.  So Chuck, best of luck and I hope you are somewhere where you can do as you like!

Today I also took Jiji to the Sheeler Road Animal Hospital for probably the last time.  She needed another steriod shot as she has a really bad allergic reaction to, well, something.  We are really going to miss the gang there.  They have taken care of our large extended family for over a decade now.  The vets know that I am ok giving shots to my animals as well as how much I pay attention to their health.  It took a long time to build the kind of relationship that I had with these folks.  They aren’t just the folks who took care of our pets when they were sick, but they are friends, and we will miss them.

Tonight is my last Hooker’s meet-up living here.  They are having a farewell party for me on Sunday, so it isn’t the last time that I will get to see them.   I will also be going to a meet-up when I am back to graduate.  But, tonight will be my last “regular” meet-up with the gang.  I am going to miss these guys more than I know how to express with mere words.  They have become part of the family that we all make around ourselves.

I can officially state now that we do, in fact, have a place to live.  The referencing process is finished and we passed, I guess.  I just hope that the residents of Ivinghoe Aston are ready for their newest neighbors!

Also, the hubby bought us a car!  This should be exciting…………..


Signed, Sealed and Delivered! February 25, 2009

Yesterday was the “big” vet appointment.  It was where the International health certificate, the EU health certificate and the Virgin Atlantic health certificate were all filled out by the vet.  It took several hours in total and was really important because if there are any major mistakes in this pile of papers our pets could end-up in a sort of international purgatory.  I am really keen on this not happening as you can imagine.  It would have also meant that I would have to make the drive that I just took today to Gainesville yet again, also something that I am going to try to avoid.  Not that the 2 hour drive up there isn’t lovely.  Well, really, it isn’t.  I think that most of the time it’s about as boring as cleaning except that you aren’t going to find any quarters that your husband randomly places around the house and get to wonder, “Now why did he put a quarter here?  Of all places, why here?”.  Anyway, I get up there and it is seriously a matter of just stamping the pile of sheets with the “official seal of GOD” otherwise known as the USDA stamp.  Everything checked out correctly and all we need to do now is the tick n’ tape and they are ready to fly!

Last night was Yarn Therapy.  Lily and I were a little late because of, well, me.  The vet took a little longer than I thought that it would…..  Anyway, it’s always a fun time hanging out.  I took my camera and then forgot to take any pictures.  I have SERIOUSLY got to get better at this!

Anyway, I have lots o’ crap to get done and not lots ‘o time to do it, so later!


Home again…..with hangover. February 23, 2009

You know how it seems that you are destined to learn things over and over again only to forget them?  I am so that way with getting drunk and staying up much too late and then climbing aboard a Boeing 747 for an international flight.  One of these days I’m going to cause an “international incident” with my “international hangovers”.  Ugh.  But despite the pain that it caused, I wouldn’t trade the night before for anything.  The Hubby and I started out the night, where else, but at the Green and Red where we met up with lovely Andy who was entertaining some folks from France.  She met up with us later in the evening at St. Johns, easily my favorite restaurant in London.  There, we had some lovely wines with our dinner which was fantastic as usual.  Then we went to a club which I cannot remember the name of that was much too crowded for our tastes.  Then we went to the Lounge Bohemia where we spent several chilled-out hours drinking the really amazing cocktails there.  Here are some pictures of them.


We were all pretty impressed with the applegomi bird on this drink.


Not sure what all was going on there, but it sure looks fun!

Then, we wandered back to the Green and Red and hung out there until sometime after 3am (it’s good to be considered family:-)).


We might have made an earlier night of it had we checked when exactly my flight was.  I had been thinking that it was sometime around 3 in the afternoon.  That’s when it arrived back here in Florida.  Nope, my flight left at 11am.  Now that may not seem all that bad, but let me remind you fair reader, that it takes a good hour and a half to get to the airport from the hubby’s flat in London and that it is an international flight so you need to be there a bit earlier than normal.  I’m just going to say that waking up was a very difficult thing to do.  Hell, bending over was a very difficult thing to do!

But, we made it to the airport ok and I got to my plane with plenty of time to spare and once again I had a whole row to spread out in and try to sleep.

Now I am home feeling the love from all of the puppies and kitties that I missed and who I am pretty sure didn’t miss me  too much with the wonderful Miss Denise watching them.  I am really going to miss having Miss Denise around to watch the family since I can leave now without feeling like a total shit.  It’s just so much easier on the pets to stay at home than going into the vets office to be boarded.

Oh, just to let you know.  We did “get” a house.  I say “get” as we are still in referencing but we did pay the deposit and all of that.  That was a fun day!  I rode on several crowded tubes and a long train ride with around 1500 pounds all in 20 pound notes in my coat pocket.  I felt like a serious drug dealer:-)  The Estate Agent was kind enough to meet with us that day and to both pick us up and drop us off at the train station.  Oh yeah, and to take us the “scenic route” on the way back.  It is truly a lovely area that we are going to be living in.  The village is called Ivinghoe Aston and it is in Buckinghamshire I believe.  It is a tiny village and we are going to be living in a converted chapel.  Here are some pictures:




Hopefully I’ll have more pictures later:-)


The colors of Bethnal Green February 22, 2009

When I said the other day that all of London is in mourning, there is one group that I forgot about.  The area that my husband lives in is traditionally an immigrant starting point, sort of like parts of New York city.  It is where the newest wave of immigrants lives for a generation or two and then they move up the social strata and a new group of immigrants moves in.  In the 50’s and 60’s this area was the Jewish area.  Before that, the Irish (and they worked in the mills that the area was known for…. It’s never really been a great neighbor hood.).  Anyway, the current inhabitants are from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and other countries in that area of the world.  The men wear the black uniform but the women, oh the women!  You will see a woman walking down the street in a full facial veil, only her eyes are visible, but trailing behind her like a color interpretation of her soul is a magenta or turquoise or yellow scarf with sequins flapping on the end.  There are some women who dress in the traditional sari, or variations on their traditional dress.  They are like dour peacocks who were promised a land of plenty only to be plopped down onto Bethnal Green where the only thing promised to them is a lot of work.  But their colors are still startling.  I’m certain that this is one of the few parts of home that they can still hold onto.  What will I still hold onto? Maybe it isn’t so important to hold on if you aren’t in the soul erasing city.  I don’t know, I guess that I will find out….

House hunting has gone well.  I have one house that we are planning on going out to visit and sign on and all of that tomorrow when the hubby  is here.  And, in case that one falls through for some reason I have a back-up house that is quite nice and, frankly, huge, that I would be ok in as well.  So I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do with myself.  I am thinking of going to the British Museum and having a bit of a look around.  The last time that I was there we didn’t have much time and I ended-up sort of “speed viewing” some of the most important historical discoveries in the world.  We’ll see…..

I have been going to a coffee shop/”art gallery” near the flat to get my e-mails and a daily tea fix.  Not that there isn’t tea in the flat, I just need to find a place to us the internet!  I put art gallery in quotes as it seems to primarily show graffiti which I still haven’t made up my mind as to if I think it is art or not.  The guy who is behind the counter seems to have a fetish with the volume of the music in the place.  It attracts all sorts of normal and interesting folks.  Yesterday a very tall, blond man came in with his curly hair flying out from under the bottom of his very tall top hat.  The rest of his attire was as, unusual, as his head-wear.  It was truly like looking at an extra from a Harry Potter movie. It was interesting to see.  I wish there was some way I could’ve Kinneared him.


You’ll never guess what I found yarn made out of this time! February 19, 2009

So, one of the many things that are going to be difficult to get used to in this country is the customer service in the stores.  I’m hoping that it will be a bit different out in the country but I’m not terribly hopeful.  I did end-up going to a yarn store in London.  I’m not going to name it here since, well, I’m not going to be really super nice in my review and, as they say, if you haven’t got something nice to say it’s best not to use names:-)

There really isn’t all that bad to say about it to tell you the truth.  It was about the same size as the front room of the Sip and Knit in Maitland, which is pretty normal for this continent I think.  They did have beers and bottled wines for sale in the back but no place to really sit and enjoy them.  The thing that really, well, put me off is that they did not even acknowledge my presence in the store.  An American knitting store who’s owner didn’t even try to acknowledge customers when they walked in the door would be out of business within the year.  Here, it seems to be the norm.  Anyway, so I found two interesting yarns in this store.  One I took some pictures of for the pimp.  It’s called “Jelly Yarn” and it is a plastic yarn that can be knitted and crocheted.  Here are some pictures:



It looks a lot like (boy am I going to date myself here!) the jelly bracelets that we all wore by the arm-full trying to imitate Cindi Lauper except all in one roll.  Here is one of the things that they had made from it (the rest of the stuff was smallish and really hard to tell what the heck they are in the pictures!).


But that wasn’t the real shocker of yarn materials.  It was this:


Yes, you are reading that right, Possum.  Now, if I hadn’t had a conversation with a lovely New Zealander just a couple of days before about this specific animal, I would have been seriously grossed out.  I mean, have you seen up-close an American Possum?  I am usually pretty non-judgemental about animals and how they look/smell/act but possums, well, they’re just nasty.  I mean, they can be sorta cute when they are little, but when they get older and sort of greasy and nasty and smelly and they hiss with those mouths full of teeth.  If you don’t know what an American possum looks like or want to be reminded or are just trying to give yourself nightmares click here.  Anyway, the possums in New Zealand are actually a completely different species and look, well, cute.  Click here for some pictures and info.  They were introduced to the island nation and have become quite a pest there as introduced species tend to do.  However, you can imagine how much of a disconnect there was in that conversation for a bit when our New Zealander friend said that people use possum fur for clothes and things like that and that it was quite soft and nice.  

Yesterday I spent most of the day looking at a view like this:


I sort of went from train to car to train to tube to train to car to train.  Had at least one lead on a house.  It’s nice.  It has a jacuzzi tub!


I’m not going to put any more pictures in here of it for fear that y’all will jinx it again with your good thoughts sent this way.  For some reason, that doesn’t work too well over here!  I think it’s because of the national mood of the British, especially Londoners.  I swear, I feel as though I am in the middle of a funeral of gargantuan proportions walking around here.  The uniform is definitely BLACK.  All black and nothing but black all the time!  I feel like a freaking peacock and I am not exactly known for my colorfulness in dressing!  Seriously, it’s like everyone here is taking their fashion cues from Severus Snape!

Anyway, I have another appointment this afternoon to look at yet another house in yet another area.  I’ll be glad to just have the matter settled one way or another!

I am going to have to find a farmer to buy wool from as it is ridiculous to buy it at sheep and wool festivals when there are sheep ALL OVER!  Hopefully I will be in a small enough village that somebody will know a sheperd or two that I could buy some decent wool from even though I get the feeling that most of the sheep here are for the table, not the sweater. (Damnit, need to start saying “jumper”.  What the fuck is that about?  Sweater is much more descriptive than “jumper”.  I mean, you are WAY more likely to sweat in one than you are to jump in one right?  Ugh.)

Anyway, I’d best be getting back to the Liverpool Station to catch the train out.  

Until later…. Cheers!


Fun-don in Lon-don February 17, 2009

So, in case you haven’t guess where exactly I am already, this might give you a BIG hint.


Yep, I’m in lovely London again.  This time, it is a last minute run in order to find a house.  The hubby got sent to Sweden rather unexpectedly thus taking up his “week to find a house” and so we booked this trip on Friday afternoon and I left on Saturday.  This photo was taken from the window at the Green and Red, my home away from home..

The flight over was one of the nicest and smoothest ones I’ve ever had.  Here were my seat mates in my row on the plane.


The plane was so seriously thin so I got my OWN ROW to spread out into.  To say that this was nice would be an understatement.  However, if I have the opportunity again, I will try to get the middle group of seats as there are more seats there and you can REALLY spread out.

Getting into Gatwick was it’s usual brand of mountaineering and long-distance power-walking.  I did, however, get to get this shot of my lovely airplane, “Hot Lips”.


On Sunday Chris and I went and got some essentials in my housing quest:


We went through at least 3 markets where we also picked-up some lunch.  There’s nothing quite like still being pretty jet-lagged and going to a busy London market!  We also hit the Tesco Metro near the hubby’s flat for some provisions and then I took a little nap.  One of the things that I have found is that the silly little sleep masks that they give you on the international flights actually help you sleep.  Crazy huh?


I found some proof that I think that even though I didn’t know I was making this trip, the Brits somehow did.


You got it!  They were giving away ugly ombre yarns with a knitting magazine!!!  Magazines in the US really should take a serious idea or two from their British counterparts, especially in the “giving things away” department!!!!  I mean, really, perhaps the US magazines wouldn’t all be going under so often if they would only give fun things away with the magazines!!!  It obviously must work or why else would nearly every magazine over here do it?  It’s great product placement for a yarn or knitting/crocheting equipment company and they could even make a pattern for any small balls of yarn and put it in the magazine like they did with this one.  I think that the Americans are missing a pretty serious chance for marketing here…..

Anyway, that evening we went to get dinner with Hubby’s friends at the Green and Red down the street.  It was, as usual, a very tasty meal and they even made me a pina colada which is not a drink that they usually make.  In fact, they don’t even usually have the ingredients for it!  This was a testament to the drink making skills of the bartender in the fact that I scarcely noticed any substitutions.  

Tech support left yesterday morning at about 4 am.  I slept in a little late (it was hard for me to feel guilty, no alarm clock with big red glowing numbers beeping at me to get up and my body saying that it was still the middle of the night and that handy-dandy sleep mask and the fact that I have been sleeping on either an air mattress or a plane seat for the past 2 weeks….) but I ended-up getting up around 10 and going out into the world that is Bethnal Green.  I went down to a coffee and smoothie place that advertised free internet and ordered a smoothie.  The internet there was so slow that I felt it would be faster if I walked the message to it’s intended recipient!  About the time that I finally got really fed-up with the place I was at it was time for the Green and Red to open again.  So I wandered down another couple of blocks and totally vegged on one of their couches and did some serious on-line house hunting forays.  At around 2, I walked back to the flat to start calling the estate agents that had the houses that I was interested in.  I’ve set-up 3 appointments so-far and have several others in the works.  Keep an eye on the photos on the main web page if you want to see some of the exciting places I’m looking at:-)

Since I hadn’t any appointments today, I went down to the Apple store here in London to get a converter thingy for the power thingy for my computer (we’ve got some seriously technical language goin’ on here don’t we!?!) and I may even check out a yarn store or two.  Maybe.  You know.  If I happen to be near one….


Valentines Day Surprise! February 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 7:46 pm
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Guess where I’m going tomorrow?

Happy Valentines Day!