28 April 2007

A good day for a cat...

I was never a sun worshiper...until I moved to England. Growing up in Northern California, we had our fair share of sun all year. When summer hit, I was not one of the masses that would stake a place in the sun and bake for hours. My sunbathing lasted only minutes (luckily I tan easy). I preferred sun from a shady point of view.

However, after three winters in England, I have changed my mind. It's no wonder that come winter, the Brits all make plans for holidays in Florida and the Canary Islands. They're not worried with the beauty of it all, they just want sun. And frankly, I don't blame them. Grey day after grey day leaves you begging for a break in the clouds, and when it comes you run outside like a madman so that you don't miss it.

Today was one of those days. We've been having beautiful weather for a couple of weeks now (with only a few minor exceptions), but for some reason today just seemed better. There was a haze, but the sun was warm. Before I set out to actually work in the garden, I relaxed in one of our patio chairs, stretching my legs out to try and remove some of their winter white. Our little boy played in his sandbox and I just sat soaking up the light. I had to laugh - where did this woman come from? Can a change of location really affect a person that much? I guess so...when you deny them their sunlight.

I have to think, if I were a cat, I would've probably curled up and stayed there the rest of the day...

25 April 2007

A girl and her blue jeans...

Can there be anything more frustrating than the search for a good-fitting pair of jeans?

When we moved to the UK, I was still in the process of losing pregnancy weight. Never a pretty time for a woman. I came here with few clothes that fit, which included - gasp - only TWO pairs of blue jeans.

You have to understand. I am a blue jean girl. There have been attempts (by myself and others) to cure me of this, but it's been to no avail. Growing up on a ranch, working on a ranch, living in the country...well, blue jeans are part of my DNA. I can honestly say, prior to the arrival of our son, I never had less than 5 pair of jeans at any one time. My poor husband, who never wore jeans until he was out of high school (okay, he had one pair...just for the sake of having them), would look at me in confusion when I would tell him that I needed new jeans even though there were several pairs sitting in our closet already. Two pair of jeans was totally unacceptable. Yes, we were living in a town now. Yes, I didn't really do anything that merited a tough denim material. But I NEEDED them - plain and simple.

And so began our search for blue jeans in England.

I could stop here and just say that the mental institution only lets me out for good behavior so long as I don't go shopping anymore...but that would be jumping to the end of the story - and where's the fun in that!? No, seriously, in the effort to find good-fitting, not-too-trendy, affordable jeans, my poor husband has thought at times that a trip to the asylum may be the only answer.

Okay, I'm a bit picky about my jeans...but not horribly so. I'm not a trendsetter, especially where jeans are concerned. I like relatively plain ones. I grew up in Levi's 501s and also have a soft-spot for Gap's original boot cut. I do sometimes have one trendy pair in the closet for wearing out at night or to certain gatherings. But, all in all, I keep it simple. Sadly, though, moving to Europe also means moving to a more fashion-forward society. If you want extremely low cut or strangely faded/dyed denim or cutesy appliques, then this is your place. If you want plain 'ol blue jeans...well, then you should probably go home. Not to say they don't exist, but they are hard to find.

Also, I am not big, but I am also not a twig. In the States, this isn't a problem, but in England it is. Unless you look like pick-the-starlet-of-the-week, your options for jeans gets even smaller (no pun intended). You would think that everyone over here is the size of a model, but they're not. They look pretty much like...well, like me. What are they saying? If you're not 20-years-old and stick-thin, then you are relegated to a life of elastic waists and lightweight chambray?

After dragging my husband shopping on numerous occasions (I don't do this to torture him, I simply value his opinion), I have found some jeans that I can live with, even some that I like. Sadly, most of these were priced out of range. $100 for a pair of regular jeans! I'm sorry, but my country girl sensibilities scream "I don't think so." I have settled for a few pair of reasonably priced UK jeans, but they are not the loves of my life and therefore sit at the bottom of the pile and only come out for garden work or trips to our son's art class. Did I ever find jeans that I fell in love with? Yes. In the States when I went home for a visit.

Oh, I am sure others will tell you that finding and buying jeans in the UK is not that bad, and you know, they're probably right. But, for this cowgirl transplanted in the outside world, jeans are more than just clothing, they are a part of who I am. Even though I have four pair of them in my closet right now, I always have my eyes open for more.

And yes, I am still holding out hope for finding a pair to fall in love with here in England.

(By the way, my husband now owns 3 pairs of jeans. Hey, it's progress.)

23 April 2007

Where life takes you...

Truth - I really am a cowgirl.

I grew up on a ranch in California. My life for over 20 years consisted of ranchers, cowboys, cows, cowdogs, foothills and mountains. From the time I was born, I figured that was were I would be forever. When you're born into tradition, you tend to stay in tradition. Why would I have dreamt that I would do anything else?

Mind you, while we lived on a ranch, we weren't isolated from the rest of the world. Our area was reasonably close to major cities, so I wasn't that much of a country mouse when it came to understanding what lay beyond the ranch gate. Like most girls during the time, I had crushes on all the right heartthrobs (with the exception of Roy Rogers...he wasn't too popular with my friends, but hey, they didn't know any better!), listened to all the right music (mostly), and wore all the right clothes....okay, maybe not the right clothes, but I wasn't that bad. I fit in with my contemporaries, and yet I didn't. There has always been a part of me that remains a cowgirl through and through.

As life progressed, I followed paths that made sense. I worked in marketing for the beef industry. I was an outspoken proponent of all things ranching. I had a mission and I was on a roll. Then I met my future husband...and life turned upside down. Within a few years, I was married and headed on a path that would take me all over the world...and far away from the life that I grew up with.

Today we live across the pond in England. A million miles away from things and a life familiar to me. For a country girl, even when you adapt to a new area, there are days that make you gasp for air. So I have decided the best therapy to maintain my sanity is to put my thoughts down in writing. I'll grab my cup of coffee and share my views on the path that I am following.

Truth - I still wear cowboy boots.