Holiday spirit as experienced by the frugal introvert

The pups are lined up head-to-butt on the couch twitching in their sleep. I heard a report at work this week from David that speedy Emmy finally caught that squirrel in the back yard… with bad results for the squirrel. Her face is a little scratched up too. Walter and David were rather disturbed by the scene!

Thanksgiving has come and gone (and it was tasty). Now we’re solidly in the holiday season. I feel like purchasing zero gifts and I don’t want anything, which is generally a good thing when it comes to saving money and not indulging in consumerism. I suppose there’s some element of economic crash if we all stopped shopping, but I think it would be a good move in this country at least. I didn’t share in the outrage many people online expressed about Black Friday shopping starting early or even about holiday decor going up too early in stores. I really don’t care if there are decorations before Thanksgiving. If you feel retail is pushing you, don’t open your wallet. Big deal.

I think I’d like to put up a tree this year, especially since I collected so many ornaments while I was abroad last year, but I’m not sure we have room. There’s a foster rabbit in the usual tree spot and clutter tries to take over any leftover real estate around here.

Just heard the unemployment rate is down to 8.6%, the lowest in 2.5 years. Seems somewhat positive.

Bit of a PSA: here’s where you can opt out of receiving telephone books. My bunnies eat them but they can’t keep up with the supply.

Cute link of “grammar” gifts like air quote mittens and punctuation mark lamps. (But don’t buy me anything. 🙂

I made a tortilla soup last week that was yummy, based on two other recipes. My version:

Tortilla Soup

vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1-2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
14 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can black beans, undrained
2 quarts vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 can whole kernel corn
2 avocados, peeled/pitted/cut into chunks or slices

Tortilla chips
Shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese

Saute the onion in oil in a large soup pot. Stir in garlic, chili powder and cumin, and chili peppers, cooking until onions are tender and spices are fragrant. Mix in the tomatoes, pour in broth and black beans, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes.
Mix corn and avocado chunks into the soup, and continue cooking 5-10 minutes. Serve in bowls over tortilla chips, topping with cheese.

Pink footie socks

This is a post about hygiene and personal space, if you ask me.
It’s about protecting relationships and appearances, if you ask David.

We let Walter sleep on the bed, but I’m very particular that it must be on top of the comforter. He stays between our feet. I do not allow dog hair in my sheets! But since David sleeps many hours later than I do, and he has no ability to keep the blankets in any sort of order (he does everything, even sleeping, with flair), and he tends to wrestle with Walter when he wakes up, sometimes I come home to find some dog hair on the bottom sheet near my pillow. This annoys me and grosses me out, but the best I can do is remind my messy sleeper to please pull up the covers and clean the sheets when I find dog hair on them. I am good about keeping the bed made but I can’t help what Mr.-Sleeps-Till-Noon does. (I’m tempted to train Walter not to get on the sheets because I think the success rate will be greater than training David.)

So yesterday I came home and found the covers in a tangle and decided the dog hair involved warranted washing the sheets. But when I pulled them back to take them off the bed: fuzzy pink footie sock-slippers way at the bottom of the bed! Except we don’t own any of those.

Now, another woman might assume her honey was having relations with a pink-socked woman while she was away at work. But I know David well enough to know he hates pink in a way that he would actually pick another person to have an affair with! The obvious answer came to both of us: the dogsitter.

Is anyone else as grossed out by this as I am? She sleeps in our bed and we didn’t know and slept in it too!

I could go on about how this probably came about and her general habits and all that, but the point is EWW don’t sleep in someone else’s used sheets! I’m sure Walter thinks it’s great. David is afraid it will be too awkward to tell her not to sleep there and she might be upset and not dogsit for us anymore. So he wants to be all passive-aggressive and just plan on washing the sheets when we get home from our trips!

Plus, when we give her the socks back (she always leaves something here), won’t she assume it’s ok to sleep in our bed since we didn’t say anything?

Am I crazy?

A pic of the new pup in the armchair

A few observations

Please note:

I don’t like The Great Pumpkin or any Peanuts movie or even the comic strip. While I’m not glad the guy died a couple years ago, I was looking forward to the end of Peanuts in the newspaper. It kept going! I’m hoping it will be gone by the time I get back to the US and get a newspaper again. Seeing Peanuts movies on TV makes me want to poke my eyes out. I admit I’ve started saying ‘no dogs allowed’ in the Snoopy movie fashion whenever I see a No Dogs sign in a farmer’s field here. I’ve never seen the movie (thank goodness) but David introduced the phrase.

Does everyone knit? Or is it just that everyone who knits has a blog? I swear, every new blog I visit has knitting. I’m not against knitting, and I know my mom and her peeps all love it, but goodness. Maybe we need a revival of scherenschnitte just to be different. (And I can’t believe I spelled that correctly! My memory is not fuzzy on some stuff at least!)

Speaking of fuzzy brain, I had a three month wait to see a specialist in Cork last week for that and the tingly arm thing. Everything looks ok, but I have a couple tests coming up to make sure. I’m so sure it’s not what he’s testing for that I’m not worried, and instead just trying to figure out the insurance. BUT. It will be good to know it’s not, and then I can go back to hoping I feel sharp again. It’s on and off and frustrating (but much better than this summer at least).

We met a few dogs to maybe be Walt’s next companion. I can’t get in touch with one rescue for some other dogs, so we may just go back to the first place where the lady is running a nice rescue. I don’t have patience for bad websites and mucking around with phones that never get answered. I figure I won’t get lied to by a place that makes time for all the fosters, and they know best how well a pup will do at my house. It’s really hard to think of choosing any dog who isn’t Casper, and none will be, but I’d love for Walt to have a friend by the end of the year.

I do not think the dog sitter should use my hairbrush, so I hid it.

This is a roadside sculpture? installation? just before the next town north, Belgooly. (You have to say it like a creepy Dracula.) I can’t figure out why it’s there.

Happy Halloween

I’m thankful it’s not political season here. We are able to watch NBC nightly news and Daily Show on TV, though we don’t see them every day. Mostly we hear on Facebook that it’s time to vote again. I admit it didn’t even occur to me to figure out absentee voting. Anyway, we don’t have any political ads to tire of, and I can’t believe it’s been two years since the US Presidential election.

I saw some humorous signs from the Rally to Restore Sanity at

I haven’t carved our pumpkin yet, and David says he’s getting candy for trick-or-treaters at the store now, at 5:30 on Halloween night. I had just planned to keep the light off! Halloween seems pretty popular here, with lots of decorations and everyone talking about parades and parties and fireworks. I have been incredibly lazy this weekend and barely got out of the house. Our biggest excursion was to the pub yesterday, the only way I could get David to join Walter and me on a walk.

An hour later the candy is gone. We’ve already fallen back with the clocks so the kids are panning for candy in the dark. It’s keeping Walter busy barking at the doorbell! David became crazy razor blade man and gave out apples when he ran out of candy. This place might be the 1950s but I hope they don’t still eat strangers’ apples.

Things that pissed me right the F off this week

I started this post several weeks back and thought I’d resurrect it.

All this travel means so many pretty pictures and not enough rants on my blog! That’s like going against my own philosophy. I’m afraid I’ll become extra boring if I’m not staying true to my roots. Or I’m growing older, I guess.

Pretty much all of these items were posted by US friends on Facebook. Either I don’t have enough acquaintances here to be close enough to be pissed off, or Americans really are self-centered and annoying.

home parties
fireworks killing dogs
going to the circus
purpose breeding your dog
whining about how much you hate moving (not you, TMC!)
right wing insistence on radical Islam’s focus
UK TV (it’s so American)

I guess I’m done now.

I thought of something else Ireland doesn’t have: big bags of potato chips. They only sell big bags full of single-serve bags of potato chips. Useless!

I’m trying to decide if I should do NaBloPoMo this year. I will never post a real post every day but I have a bajillion pictures and could do one a day pretty easily.

Someone at work made fun of me for saying awesome a few weeks back, even mimicking me with an American accent. So I tried not to say it so often (I didn’t realize I said it at all), and then our taxi driver made fun of me for saying awesome this weekend in Belfast. I looked it up and have said it 22 times on the blog. That’s not too much over four+ years, is it?

Finally feeling better after having a nasty upper respiratory thing last week, though the cough is lingering. I’ve been frustrated by lack of cold medicine here–all they do is take acetaminophen and suffer. You can get codeine OTC but not cold and flu treatment. I saw empty blister packs for something orange called DayNurse at another sick person’s desk and got excited that it might be like DayQuil, but it was just the same pain reliever crap. Anyway, I learned two new words for being sick: dosed and smothered. “Oh, you must be smothered!”

I also heard someone use the term away for slates, which I picked up at but had never heard in person before! It’s something like being content or everything’s hunky dory (the more common phrase is “happy days”).

A peace wall in Belfast. Our taxi driver was a little strange and looked like he might have been in Flock of Seagulls. I think he said the walls, gates, and checkpoints are currently scheduled to come down in 18 more years. The gates are still closed at night. I took the name “Peace Wall” to sound rather hopeful, but really I think it’s just acknowledging that the only reason there’s peace is because of the wall.

Does Egon drink Guinness?

Our second day in Dublin (last weekend) included a trip to the Guinness brewery. Here’s how a conversation went after seeing the old flower ad above: How do you define flourish? Then looked up fleur de lis. That’s the symbol of the Three Musketeers. They were in Slumdog Millionaire: what were their names? Athos, Porthos, and had to look up the other one. Aramis, but can only think of someone in Ghostbusters… Harold Ramis!

Ireland is a country in love with its courgettes and aubergines. Now, I thought I loved zucchini and eggplant, but darn it, I’m getting tired of them. At home every token veg dish is pasta and here it’s pasta with aubergines or some other variation of aubergines with courgettes tossed in for good measure. Hasn’t anyone heard of BEANS? I miss beans.

There are no screens in the windows. Cheerios taste like sugar cereal here and are marketed by Nestle, not General Mills.

The letter Z is pronounced zed here. We have a lot of abbreviations and acronyms at work, so I hear zed just about every day. And I always think of General Zod from Superman II.

I found this handy from Wiktionary: (Latin script letter names) letter; a, bee, cee, dee, e, ef, gee, aitch, i, jay, kay, el, em, en, o, pee, cue, ar, ess, tee, u, vee, double U, ex, wye, zee/zed. But I’d also like to note that H is not aitch here, but rather haitch, so it’s p-haitch at work and spelling my name includes haitch in the middle too.

I’m sure it’s not dominating the US TV and water coolers like it does here, but the World Cup is going on in South Africa right now. The Irish folks at work said they would be rooting for the US since they didn’t want to root for England. We get a lot of British TV so I’m seeing a lot of support for England as it is. David and I watched the England/USA match last night and I still think soccer is boring. Somehow the US is considered to have “won” even though it was a tie game. And there was this horrible buzzing noise from the crowds the whole time. Oh well, I’m going to have to live here longer to understand this one.

Some good news from the States:
California bans plastic bags
Pet-friendly license plate will be available next year in Indiana!

Albuquerque bans companion animal sales in pet shops: “Since the ban started, animal adoptions have increased 23 percent and euthanasia at city shelters has decreased by 35 percent.”

And yes, I get almost all my news from Facebook.

It’s a small world (with a lot of fences)

I’ve developed a fascination with customs and border patrol shows, where people try to bring sausages into Australia and then argue for hours about paying a fine because they didn’t declare their booty. I’m hoping to glean some tips on what exactly makes for legal import, what paperwork you need to visit a given country, and what it is about immigration enforcement that gets people so riled up. It’s uniformly sad to raid, arrest, and deport a hard working person. I won’t say whether it’s good or bad for the country’s resources, just that if someone is willing to cling to the underside of a truck to sneak into a new place, the old place must be pretty bad indeed and I have sympathy. I find the American debate about illegal immigration particularly bizarre for being a nation of (mostly) immigrants. How long must one squat to make it legal? Ten years is not enough if you ask the lawmakers, but a couple hundred apparently takes care of it. A couple hundred years of history is but a blip over here, as well as in the grand scheme of who has the “right” to keep someone out because they got there first.

Meanwhile, Irish radio advertises Cuban vacations. The complete lack of info on Cuba in the U.S. leaves it a foggy, concrete, communist country of the 1960s in my mind… and apparently it’s a nice place to take a vacation if your country lets you go. When I was trying to book a flight through London from Spain after the ash cloud canceled the direct Irish flight, the agents had to consider what country’s passport I held to know if the UK would let me through. It’s bizarre to me that you can’t just go somewhere.

In other news, my brother has jumped into the world of blogging and is posting his magazine articles as well. His writing appeals to a broader audience than my ranting (I realize you are only here to see me fall off a cliff like other tourists or to look at my dogs), so go on and visit at General Tomfoolery! Bookmarked in the sidebar as well. Also Arliss the cranky bunny has a new post up.

From a day touring a bit of County Tipperary (and a smidge of Co. Waterford) with my stranded guest, Carlton, a few weeks ago, I give you a lot-easier-to-upload gallery of pictures:

The first four pics are from Cahir Castle, built in 1142, including a view of the town and some from inside the castle.

The next six pics are from the Rock of Cashel, which had earlier structures but most of the remaining ones are from the 12th and 13th centuries. Despite the scaffolding, this is a fascinating place and very well preserved/restored in many parts. The tour guide was quite good and the soaring walls and fresco remnants (I think they’re still called frescoes in Ireland) are worth a visit. The view on a sunny day is pretty too.

The last picture is from the Vee Gap area of the Knockmealdown Mountains, but either volcanic ash or a general haze kept the view a little dull. Carlton and I went on a fuel quest right about then and fortunately the GPS found us some just in time.

This just in: David has just arrived! Our company driver picked him up at Shannon. I hope he isn’t mad that I didn’t get up at 3 a.m. to go get him and have to take a day off work! I will see him at lunch. He claimed his steak on the plane (good old business class!) was better than any he’d had at home and he felt sorry when he saw the folks in “steerage” when he got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. I pointed out we will be back in steerage soon enough, but this year we get to enjoy horizontal plane sleeping.

His account of the arrival at the house:

*going to the door*
Dogs: Who the F*** is thatOH it’s YOU!!!
*commence Velcro/shadow dogs and a lot of Walter jumping*

I feel like Arliss today

I almost made it a month.

I have been the friendly newcomer (as much as is possible for me) since March 5 when I got on the first of three planes to take me to live in a place I’d never visited. And now, on April 1: I’m grumpy. I woke up that way and I’m not fighting it today. Please review the best introvert article ever as detailed here. My energy has been sapped from dealing with people (none of whom are in any way close to me) and I’ve pet all of two dogs for less than twenty minutes in this whole time. I only saw a sad rabbit through a pet store window.

I’m not complaining (beyond that which comes with grumpiness) and I don’t want to leave. I just want to be grumpy and not return calls, schedule meetings, establish accounts, ask twenty times what Irish Boomhauer just said, figure out what I can eat at a corporate meeting at a fish-only restaurant, explain why my credit card doesn’t work like everyone else’s, or fill out any more forms. I’m tired of telling people where I live and what I think of town and defending why I don’t go out to pubs on my own to get to know even more strangers I don’t have the energy to know. I also don’t really want to read any more procedures with 12 attachments but actually that kind of work is much better than other things I could be doing at my job today, so I’ll read.

I didn’t want to go to tea either, but I did and just listened. I can’t do a total alienation today but I shall invoke the code of almost-silence until I feel better or find a fuzzy animal to cuddle. It’s a reasonable coping mechanism.

Arliss takes over the world

I’ve had a really trying day attempting to book flights and receive documents and fill out even more forms, but this makes up for it:

Arliss has her own blog! Yes, that’s right, I kicked her to the curb while I went on a European adventure for a year and she has already taken over her foster home’s computer to complain about it. I guess she got an even bigger head when she became a famous Disapproving Rabbit.

Please visit Arliss and I’ll try to let y’all know when she posts a new rant. Those are the only kinds of posts she will be publishing, I’m sure.