Skip to content

The question is not what you look at, but what you see – Part Five: U thru Z

Gosh, I jolly well hope none of you were holding your breath for this ‘and finally’ moment because if you were you are surely an unbecoming shade of grey-navy by now.  But ‘and finally’ it is.  My silly series of alphabetic ramblings on a year spent in The New World completes here and not before time, given that it was supposed to coincide with my returning to Europe on 1st December and we are now hurtling through a  not so New Year for which I wish you joy and laughter, peace and content and above all things love, which, I firmly believe, really IS all we need.  Hey presto bongo here we go:

U.  U is for USA naturally enough.  I’m a simple soul and I’m as apt to fall for the properganda and misinformation of others as the next girl or boy.  It’s fair to say that before I had this opportunity to actually be in this place that it did not really penetrate my consciousness just how absolutely vast and varied it is.  And this comes from a person who, in reality, has only scratched the teeniest scritch of New England.  Like Europe, the USA is a country made up of lots of different countries except that they are called States.  Since I take in my stride the fact that Italy is not at all like Germany, Belgium not a satellite of France but it’s very own bird and Spain certainly not a smidge like Britain it stands to reason when I take my silly specs off that California is really not at all akin to Alabama nor Wisconsin analogous to Texas or Maine to Hawaii.  I understood after a while that New England is it’s own special corner of the USA and that it in turn, rather like the place I was born in is made up of five particular personalities who have their own idiosyncracies and peculiaries and delights.  It may seem like kindergarten learning but it really did take living in the place to even begin to understand what a colossus it is.  When I return, which I hope I will later this year and for at least twice as long, I intend to travel and feel for myself why Massachusetts is no more representative of the whole Union than Florida or Alaska or California or The Dakotas.  I should also mention that the British tend to be a bit sniffy about the fact that many Americans have not travelled outside of their own country.  Well my people, I have news for you …. I was brought up by parents who believed that it is essential to understand and know your own corner before you start venturing into foreign lands.  With such a wealth of terrain, culture and, dare I say, history (for we Europeans tend to be snobbish in our assumption that these Americas are too young to have accumulated substantial history and in that hypothesis we are foolishy wrong), in just this chunk of North America without even venturing upwards to Canada or downwards to Central and South America, it strikes me that it is entirely forgiveable to live a life restricted to this continent.

V.  V is for Viagra.  Actually it’s for medical advertising but that doesn’t fit my carefully constructed alphabet so I’m stretching the elastic.  Coming as I do from the land of the National Health Service where we are entirely at the mercy of whatever is passed fit and fiscally viable to prescribe by a body called (eroneously many would argue) NICE, I was fascinated by the sheer volume of advertising for drugs and medical aids all of which are accompanied by  lengthy disclaimers about side-effects  uttered by the voice-over artist at death-defying pace in a crescendo from insignificant rashes through paralisis and loss of limbs to death (I am entirely serious).  Sometimes they are also chaperoned by the statement that if you are allergic to a particular drug you should avoid taking it.  Really? … you know you are allergic but you decide to take it anyway, presumably in a fit of boredom that might be alleviated by a jolly solid and possibly deadly bout of anaphylaxis.  In the case of Viagra, a slinky lady is seen to be skillfully seducing a fellow who is clearly very willing indeed to be enticed, and voice-over man states very distinctly that if you experience an erection lasting more than four hours you should seek immediate medical help.  I nearly choked on my passion fruit the first time I saw this advertisement but when I asked meekly if anyone else found this odd I was greeted by tumbleweed and a sense that I was very clearly a  foreign body.  Or V could be for Vermont.  We visited the North Eastern Kingdom at the outset of Fall and I left a little of my heart there.  Not only did I get to wave at Canada from Newport (and get waved at by an amused train driver hauling huge cargo behind his glorious richly hooting engine) and to see the burgeoning of the incredible gilded spectacle of leaves donning their most outrageous regalia before falling away to leave the trees slumbering for winter; I got to stay in an enchanting log cabin at a magical place called The Olde Farmhouse in Danville  and I got to sate myself on covered bridges which have long been an interest that blossomed into an obsession when Meryl and Clint played out their sweet-sad love story in ‘The Bridges of Madison County’.   Covered bridges are not a purely New England oeuvre, they pop up in varying density from Alabama to Quebec.  Indeed you will find a few in Europe too.  I unswervingly adore them.  They are evocative of so much to me from Headless Horsemen to Beetlejuice and endless galloping horses clattering over them on some or other grainy film on a rainy Saturday afternoon.  I’m pretty sure John-Boy Walton must have driven over one in that truck of his and certainly there were imagined teenaged canoodlings with whoever was the dream squeeze of the hour in my youth peppered with American TV which was surely so much more enticing than anything Oxford could possibly offer a gauche girl like me.  They just seem so romantic and being incapacitated from our usual walks and hikes gave left us free to hunt them down and snap and be snapped in my best Meryl poses all over this beauteous landscape.

W.  W is for White Mountains.  My leg injury put the brakes on our aspiration to hike all the 4,000 footers of the Presidential Range through late Spring and Summer but we did walk up Mount Eisenhower in December (naively without poles nor crampons) which revealed the most exquisite Narnia moment as we hit the snow-line (or more accurately that day, the ICE-line).  I’ll be back and with The Bean we will conquer those peaks and drink in the magnificent  panaramas  this range exposes over New Hampshire and Vermont.  And W has to be for Weather.  I am of the opinion that if those bonkers nutcases that boarded the rickety Mayflower in 1620 had not landed at Plymouth and colonised what became Massachusetts, that it is entirely possible it would have been left to it’s own  devices.  It seems to me, a girl used to a little cold and a little heat that no-one in their right minds would willingly settle in this climate of extremes.  In my year-long tenure the temperature plummeted to -24°F (that’s -32°C) and rose well into the 90°sF (40°sC) with high humidity in summer.  I, being British, am hard-wired to be weather obsessed.  I make no secret that had I my time again it would be as a weather girl and in idle moments I can be found practicing my sweeping hand gestures (with back to map) and seemlessly eddying between hilarious weatherly quips and serious warning face.  Here though my fascination snowballed (quite literally) into a full-blown mania and I found myself lipsinking and second guessing my two favourite weather men Mike Wankum (yes, really and no giggling in the back row please) and the sublime Harvey Leonard.  Both are incumbant on WCVB-TV and were I not happily married I might suggest a meteorological ménage-à-trois whereby we would huddle together and discuss the gravity of all the impending storms that we would watch closely for the viewer to facilitate a worry-free day for them, safe in the knowledge that the W-Team had got it covered.  And of course we would be zealous in ensuring that all were versed in what effect the weather will have on a Patriot Game …. never mind that juggernauts might be crashing off bridges or houses washed away in floods, the important thing, the really important thing is whether The Gronk  is going to get cold toes whilst he struts his finest at Foxborough.  And if you are wondering what The Gronk is – Rob Gronkowski is Tight End for the New England Patriots … well you did ask.  As a point of interest, last winter brought few storms and relatively little snow (which still seemed a fearful lot to me) to Massachusetts but Harvey was watching all sorts like a rear-gunner in a Lancaster bomber presumably swivelling hither and thither on his stool as he craned his neck for the best view.  Despite this, however, he managed to entirely miss the two biggest we had, so twice I opened the back door to let The Bean (6″ at the shoulder) out for her morning airing to watch her quite literally submerge headlong into the snow mountain  and then reverse indignantly shaking legs, tail and ears of the cold white stuff that encased her.  Comedy value rating 10/10

X.  X is for Xing.   The first time I saw a sign saying Ped Xing I thought it was some sort of martial art.  Then I saw Equi Xing and chewed on what on earth it could be for days.  Finally my husband put me out of my misery.  It means crossing.  So Ped is Pedestrian and Equi is Horse aand there are many others including my favourite Moose Xing which they never did but they might have which is quite beguiling to a dull English girl like me.  I don’t know if this is a New England foible but I must comment that America seems to love a little shortening (and not just in pastry).  I find it quite endeering though it did make it near impossible for me to complete the weekly X word in the local paper as I struggled with acronyms and initials and generally had to content myself with the kids korner (stet K) to satisfy myself that I could fill in a grid at all and believe me even then it was barely.

Y.  Y is for Yard.  In France I have a jardin, in England I had a garden and in the US I had a Yard.  This took a little getting used to because in England a yard is generally a concrete area and if it is domestic, typically swing-a-cat-at-your-peril tiny.  In Massachusetts we have 1.6 acres (almost 3/4 hectare) of which much of the back is woodland.  HB2 is proud of the fact that he has left this to be mostly natural not out of laziness but to ensure the wildlife have unimpaired habitat.  We have chipmunks and squirrels as previously noted, we have deer and groundhog and skunk and racoons, turtles, toads and snakes and  bullfrogs who croak their glorious bass choral mass through the night in mating season beating out their territorial warnings beginning with a loan booming bellow and rapidly escalating as not to be outdone they all join in their admonition of none shall pass here; there are mice aplenty which we discourage from the house and there are opossum.  for me, I am ever hopeful that the black bear spotted in our neighbourhood will take up residence in our backyard but so far it has resisted my open invitation to join my Teddy Bears Picnic.  And there are birds.  If pressed I will admit to previously being phobic of birds and yet the birds captivated me when I was incapacitated by my leg injury and I turned into something of a latterday Snow White.  I counted over 30 species from the rudely red Cardinals to the tiny gutsy Chickadee (state bird of Massachusetts) and graceful bluebirds which had me whistling Zipadeedoodah zipadeeay tunelessly; little Titmice with big startled eyes and mourning doves with their soft gill-of-field-mushroom-pink plumage. And occasional visitors including brown headed cow birds, grackles and starlings who fly in lairy gangs and face off like avian Sharks and Jets in a backyard West Side Story.  Raptors too flying in on spec and emptying the yard in a fraction of a flash as their threatening sillouette looms stealthily overhead.  The chipmunks were keen to nibble up the cast offs of the messier birds, sitting sweetly under the feeders and gratefully gobbling the nuts and seeds that hit the deck, their cheeks swelling comically like a child with mumps.  The squirrels were less polite and we eventually conceded that the only thing to do was to give them their own food which they took an eternity to find (squirrel brains are quite tiny I imagine) but once found were bluntly offended if I forgot to replenish them regularly.  And Yard sales.  How I love Yard Sales.  Sometimes they are efficiently advertised for weeks ahead both on a special website and by hanging signs on lamposts and trees and other times  you are driving along and just like that, there it is …. the contents of attic, bedrooms, garage, shed, barn or any combination of the above and more spewed onto lawns sometimes neatly laid out and priced, other times just there and ask me.  You can pick up fantastic bargains or you can find the owners a little over-confident of the value of their legless dining table – it’s all part of the fun.  And finally I must give a nod to one of our neighbours who I am convinced sat with a pair of powerful binoculars trained on his lawn and ran out with nail scissors when a blade of grass was audacious enough to grow taller than his compulsory short back and sides – or possibly he used hair clippers to keep it so epically uniformed but I’m sure he remains appalled at our un-American approach to grass as a status symbol …. for me I’m happy to let it grow awhile because those dandelions are so damn pretty!

Z.  Z  is for Zucchine which ranks high amongst the vegetables that I had to remind myself are named differently than I’m used to.  A zucchine is a courgette, an eggplant is an aubergine, a ruderbager is a swede and so on.  This is not leading anywhere except that I haven’t forgotten my promise that I will write a piece devoted to the tangle you can get in when speaking English in America and vice versa.  Z should also be for Zamboni.  My first Ice-hockey (or more correctly, if I’m in the vernacular, just plain hockey) game was in Cambridge between Harvard and Cornell.  I have been to a couple of games in England where it is a low-key sport but this was much more serious and although I must report that it was not the gmost exciting of contests – end of the Varsity Season and all played out, I imagine, I got the flavour and mostly I got to dream of driving a Zamboni in the break between each period.  I too could sit like a casual cowboy on his non-bucking bronco, ironing that ice to sleek perfection and effecting effortless turns as I float on my grandiose and frankly heroic beast  to the unfettered admiration of the packed stadium.  Or at least that’s how I imagine it would feel.  In fact it’s probably rather a self-conscious exercise and as thankless as the groundsmans task on a cricket pitch …. we see it, we admire it but we never really acknowledge it ….  And finally Z is for Zzzzzz which is probably what you are doing now that you have endured the whole of my saunter through my sojourn in the States.  I thank you for staying with me and I’ll see you on the other side ….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

PS:  If you want to read the other nonsense in this series simply type ‘The Question is’ into the search box – I shan’t be offended if you don’t.  And as your long-service medal, here are  my favourite moments from The Bridges of Madison County.   I am you see, hooked on the memory of you, USA.

100 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love the photos, love the bridges – and the film – loved accompanying you on your walk through your year across the pond. How are you finding settling back into European life?

    Liked by 4 people

    January 19, 2017
    • Thank you – you are very kind and I am glad you enjoyed it …. I’m doing well back in France thought the last 6 weeks has been spent in a very fractured manner for a variety of reasons and I am only now beginning to feel I can root again (which rather explains my radio silence since Christmas!)

      Liked by 1 person

      January 20, 2017
  2. Beautiful read Osyth!! Really enjoyed it and the photography is just amazing!!

    Liked by 2 people

    January 19, 2017
  3. The question is, will you be writing more regularly? I miss you. Oh, by the way, I am still smiling after reading this post. Don’t you just love the word Zamboni?

    Liked by 3 people

    January 19, 2017
    • Bernadette it means much to be missed! And yes, I will be plaguing you all with more posts – its been a very bitty few weeks (seeing family in England and then settling back into France but not my usual place because we are in Grenoble for 6 months whilst my husband does a piece of work for his old Institute) …. but my excusomometre tells me I have run out of procrastination so I will be back in the saddle properly from next week. I’ll be thinking of you all today. Just remember as I say to my children often – everything changes, nothing stays the same and in this case we can quietly get the change that is needed in this world if we hold hands and don’t let go of what is good. Much love xx

      Liked by 1 person

      January 20, 2017
  4. Osyth, do you live in New England now? That’s the dream, girl! At least it’s a dream for someone living in dry streets of New York paying lots of lots of taxes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    January 19, 2017
    • I was in New England a year and will probably be back for a couple of years from summer. I count my blessings 😊 xx

      Like

      January 20, 2017
  5. The series is now complete. Lovely set of covered bridges here. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    January 19, 2017
    • Quite honestly my life would be complete if I had my own covered bridge to look wistful beside and gallop my horse over!

      Like

      January 20, 2017
  6. An artist, and even maybe a writer . Bravo and thank you sweet lady .

    A word about travels : the by far essential utility of travels for me was the discovery of totally different visions of the world, in every unimaginable aspects . And as a world member I see that in the whole USA the dominant beliefs are the same . Beside anecdotic regional trends and of course very different natural aspects, Americans are in the same mental “trip” . So moving inside the States teaches you very little compared to real trips .
    About Clint and Meryl I’m with you : This movie was a deep splendid revelation for me (and a surprise too : I didn’t know before that Eastwood was capable of this refinement ) .

    Liked by 3 people

    January 19, 2017
    • I had the absolute pleasure of knowing Clint Eastwood some 30 years ago. A decent, sensitive soul that belies his screen persona of the hard macho-man, he taught me much. That movie is amongst my favourites – tender, bittersweet …. it echoes the way I feel about life – carpe diem for the harsh reality of missed opportunity is that you can’t (generally) go back. Second chances are fewer and further between than most care to admit. I am flattered by your remarks at the top of your comment and I thank you though it is possible you are deluded …. I must, however, disagree with your hypothesis that all Americans have a dominant belief. They do not. They have shared a dream, it is true but for most, over generations that dream has been tarnished and ripped assunder. Talk to the couple in West Texas who prefer not to ask for help to roof their house so rely on a sheet of plastic that I would use as garbage bag. Or those that came in the hard way to Massachusetts (the most entitled State in the Union and full of couch liberals) those that travelled from central and south Amercia and for whom teaching English as a second language is futile because their grasp of Spanish is tenuous enough and the girl of 20 in jail for sex and drugs offenses leaving her three kids with granny who herself is not yet 40 years old and the woman who is afraid to take a pee in a field whilst she is working for peanut dust for a farmer who is willing to turn a blind eye to her lack of status, lest he turn her in and she gets sent back. There is no similarity in attitude between Maine and Massachusetts even and certainly not between Massachusetts and Montana or rather the links are slender and therein lies the problem not just for the newly inaugurated Trump but for his predecessor and any President yet to take office – the place is mahusive and has multiple attitudes and nuances – to call it one country is foolhardy. When one accepts that, one can begin to try and understand it. I speak as one whose husband has worked on every continent on the globe, including the Arctic and Antarctic, one who has a brother in Western Australia and another in Thailand (married to a Chinese Girl raised there and more recently living in Bahrain), one whose daughter lives in Malaysia and who has daughters who have travelled extensively in India and South East Asia, one who has an uncle who lived in Papua New Guinea for many years growing coffee and before that in what is now Bangladesh growing tea and who fled with his Pakistani wife and two small children in the seventies for fear that they would be literally cut to pieces. One who has maybe only travelled widely in her own country and France but who has lived also in Italy and travelled a little in other parts of Europe including livinng for a spell in the far South West of Ireland before the Celtic Tiger rose up and then curled up to die on the cross of eagerness and greed. Travel does not have to be obvious. Being a tourist is something for me to avoid – I prefer to get down and dirty with the population and to understand the myths and explode them if they are unfair.

      Liked by 1 person

      January 25, 2017
      • Allright . I know of course that all Americans don’t believe the same thing, There are differences, sometimes huge, between individuals . I only meant that by traveling inside the borders people don’t meet a completely different mental world like what happens in other continents and cultures .
        But YOU are not exactly representative of the average Joe (and it’s a .good part of your charm,or am I deluded again?).

        Liked by 2 people

        January 25, 2017
      • I’m relieved not to be average, thrilled to have some charm and delighted to by any delusion you may be harbouring 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        January 26, 2017
  7. Love all the pics of the covered bridges (I’m such a sucker for that film!!), the cute birds (sometimes it looks like popcorn in those feeders but I’m sure it’s not, or is it??), and of you ( you look tremendously happy hiking through the wild!)!!!
    And I enjoyed reading every bit of your insights very much indeed 😄 Would love for this series to continue… xxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 2 people

    January 19, 2017
    • I’m toying with extending it and writing a book (I’m a sucker for peoples compliments and several have said I should) …. the stuff in the feeders varies but the squirrels do get corn either dried cobs or compressed into a block which their bungee screws into giving me, at least, hours of endless fun! That film is so beautiful and the bridges just gave me the excuse to pretend I was the ephemerally intriguing Francesca for a while (even if the clothes taken for the trip were wholly out of her character) … fun times! Xxx

      Liked by 2 people

      January 19, 2017
      • Oohh! A book! That sounds like an awesome idea! You should definitely consider writing it, people just love reading stuff like that (me included 😉 I’m for example a devoted reader of Bill Bryson’s books which your posts reminded me of). And given that you’re planning on staying there again you could make two books! With hindsight reports, comparisons etc.
        So I was right about the corn! It’s a good idea, will see if I can convince our local wildlife to give it a try. So far I’m feeding the birds with peanuts and walnut bits if the squirrels left some of the latter (higher fat value than sunflowers which is so important now we have sub zero temperatures ).
        Oh, and next time you’re in the US you could bring a Francesca like dress with you and do more pictures 😉 xxxxxxx

        Liked by 2 people

        January 20, 2017
      • I am definitely taking the Francesca dress next time have no fear! Thank you for the high praise of comparing my post to Bryson …. I, too am a devotee – have I told you that we plan to walk the Appalachian Trail from North to South (it will take about 6 months) as a last hurrah when my husband retires. We hope to take The Bean with us for most of it (there are bits that she is not allowed to do). Nuts are great for the birds …. they need all the energy they can get and no worries about getting chubby! HOpe you are enjoying a lovely week xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        January 25, 2017
      • Woo-hoo! Another Bryson devotee! 🙂 And no, I didn’t´t know yet that you plan on wandering the Appalachian Trail but I think it sounds amazing! When I read his book I had to laugh sooo much (well, I do it on every of his books, but this one was particularly funny, wasn’t´t it? No wonder they made it into a movie (which I haven´t seen yet). But it´s so sad that the Bean isn´t allowed on the whole Trail 😦 Though maybe she will enjoy a weekend in the Spa while you´re getting blisters on your feet 😉 I have to say, the Blister part he wrote didn’t make me envy him one bit 😉 And it´s awesome that you´ll take as much time as that, I´m still thinking of doing the Camino de Santiago some day but would also plan about 2 months so…
        Just came back from a wonderful one day photo trip on one of our oldest cemeteries in Berlin and it was just great! The sun was shining, the ice on the pavements glintered away (though was not so nice walking on 😉 ) and I made over 200 pictures! I´m now going to see through them and can be happy when I´ll get 10 or so really good ones 😉
        Wish you a very lovely evening and a perfect weekend! 🙂 xxxxxxxx ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        January 26, 2017
      • The movie is really good … I watched it twice on a transatlantic crossing and ached with laughter all the way! As you know I am a great walker and fortunately so is my husband (and The Bean) so we intend to do le route de St Jacques some day too. Also some of les Grandes Randanees Français … there are many to chose from. Walking clears my head but it is so much more than that …. I see things, things I would never see in a car or even on a bike. I look forward to your cemetery shots greatly and wish you a sparkling day! Xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        January 27, 2017
      • Maybe we´ll meet on route then 😉 That would be really wonderful! 🙂
        And I also love walking, it has such a wonderful effect on the mind and body to just walk without a real goal, to enjoy the moment and not to hurry somewhere in order to do something… But I also love to bike, especially in rough terrain (got a sturdy little mountain bike).
        Happy weekend, my friend! 🙂 xxxxxx ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        January 27, 2017
  8. Super photographs and a super roundup of (some) of your impressions of your New World.

    Having previously lost all interest in the U.S.A. post Yorktown, blogging – particularly the blog of the Cotton Boll Conspiracy – has shown me that I was mistaken.

    Unfortunately nothing on this earth will persuade me to enter an American airport ever again so I have to depend on what I read and see…so thank you for adding to my stock!

    Liked by 3 people

    January 19, 2017
    • Glad you enjoyed it, pictures and all. I have a friend (German) who spent 12 hours chained to a radiator by the police at Logan …. she won’t ever be induced to go back either!

      Liked by 2 people

      January 19, 2017
  9. A fine finale with wonderful photographs. I like the comparison of USA with Europe; I wonder how a woman would cope with a four hour erection (don’t answer that); and I like the explanation of yard.

    Liked by 3 people

    January 19, 2017
  10. Stunning photos, great writing; and, incidentally, I now have a near-matching ankle-foot support.

    Liked by 3 people

    January 19, 2017
    • Allard the wonder-brace … it’s kept me sane since September! What on earth has happened to you? I hope you are OK xx

      Liked by 2 people

      January 19, 2017
      • It’s a mystery. Started with pain in my ankle end of November, then last month foot and ankle swelled up and hurt like hell. Nothing broken apparently, a sprain is assumed, but it’s not improving. So, currently strapped into part-neoprene foot-ankle support .
        Apparently I am allergic to neoprene.. HA!
        I can’t date this from any incident I recollect, I did tread oddly on the garden steps back in the summer and i hurt, but why would it take three months to swell up and be a pain?

        Liked by 2 people

        January 19, 2017
      • Ankles are the very devil so I discovered from the plethora of commentary I had when I did mine. It sounds like it could be a fracture … have the X-Rayed (because the Edinburgh A&E didn’t and it was only two months later when my US Doctor did an MRI that the truth was discovered). Although both bones are now healed and the nerve that was damaged in the fibular explosion is mending meaning that the foot drop is massively improved, it is the ankle that still gives me pain. Make sure you are fully certain that they are right, please …. my tale of woe came from believing the first diagnosis. Take care and I hope the brace is helping x

        Like

        January 20, 2017
  11. Laughed out loud reading this. They are like two seperate languages sometimes, try asking someone if you can put some rubbish in the bin, where’s the loo and can I have a bath. I’ve tried them all with friends of the children only to be met with completely blank stares!! But most of all the viagra advert, yes, we were the same, I remember we were watching it with Jack who was about 11 at the time, the age when any talk of anything to do with sex is met with lots of giggles! Four hours, four hours I ask you!!! Perhaps it is just us Brits that find this quite incredible, but still four hours!!!!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    January 19, 2017
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this …. those that have lived as expats in the USA are particularly interesting in their responses. The language will be a post of its own some time and I can’t imagine watching the Viagra with the girls now let alone when they were 11! Four hours is eye-watering. I feel my legs bowing John Wayne stylée at the very thought …. 😂 xxx

      Like

      January 20, 2017
  12. That is a marvelous blog and I am so glad that you have ‘got’ it. We have many Brits in Texas who never really understand the differences between Europe and America. You look wonderful in your photos, especially with your sweetie. I have yet to see a covered bridge – our weather would sweep them away. Ped-Xings got me too and I thought it was something Asiatic. Love to see a Moose-Xing! As for the erectile dysfunction meds – why are they always on when you are eating your dinner. We have started to laugh about the variety of whores. None of them are too young, all ethnicities are represented and what the heck are the two baths about?? Bravo my friend and excellent photographs.

    Liked by 3 people

    January 19, 2017
    • Oh dearest Kerry you have made me grin from ear to ear! I felt a little narcissistic posting all those pictures of me, me, me but I wanted to represent how happy I am there and given the struggle I had to settle initially how lovely that feeling is for me. I think many ex-pats just paddle along in a bubble … and I do think that Brits can be awfully self-righteous and condescending (its all to do with the Empire and I remind from time to time that it disintegrated a Century ago and really is no more relevant today than an old lady reminiscing about flat irons!) Perhaps you and I should both apply to be Viagra bunnies … I’m sure we could give the ads a comic edge that might rocket sales and make us the superstars we are clearly intended to be (I think I need to lie down in a darkened room – my imaginings are getting the better of me!) xx

      Liked by 1 person

      January 20, 2017
      • I can just see you and I as Scottish/Irish and English/Welsh whores, respectively. Who needs Viagra when we can laugh them all the way to an erection? 😸

        Liked by 1 person

        January 20, 2017
      • Exactement ma belle amie xx

        Liked by 1 person

        January 20, 2017
  13. I enjoy your beautiful pictures and your perspectives. I can’t speak for the great nation of New England, but we Americans from the great nation of Missouri also find drug commercials in general and Viagara commercials in particular, laugh out loud ridiculous. Perhaps we have a more refined sense of humor here in flyover country.

    Liked by 2 people

    January 19, 2017
    • I clearly need to visit Missouri next time where it sounds like I’ll find some dancers to the same tune … I do like a sense of the ridiculous! Thank you so much for taking time to read and comment … I really appreciate it 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      January 20, 2017
  14. Hiw fitting to be choking on passion fruit! Too funny! Im now laughing like a fool at a rest area with onlookers wondering if I missed my meds!

    Liked by 2 people

    January 20, 2017
  15. lindywhitton #

    Wonderful round up of impressions from your USA days. Enjoyed it all!

    Liked by 2 people

    January 20, 2017
    • Job done! This makes me happy as does your comment for which I thank you heartily!

      Like

      January 20, 2017
  16. I saw you there waving at Canada and I waved back! I’m not sure which I like better – your hilarious narrative or the accompanying photos which so wonderfully capture you and your spirit. Favourite is of you standing by the no standing sign. Naughty! Hadn’t ever thought about the “xing” signs which we all know and understand so clearly. Ah the clash of cultures. So enriching!

    Liked by 2 people

    January 20, 2017
    • I’m hoping I’ll be not only xing the Atlantic for another round of fun and laughter and accidental culture clashes but also xing the border to Canada later this year …. thank you for your delightful comment – it means a lot to me and I’m relieved that I came across as vaguely amusing because that was really the point of the exercise (and a bit of wistfulness but I never do anything, not even the dishes, without a whiff of wistfulness!)

      Like

      January 20, 2017
      • And just what does wisfulness smell like?

        Like

        January 20, 2017
      • Read “wistfulness”, please. I’m sure it smells quite different than wisfulness.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 20, 2017
  17. Wisful is to be avoided for its renowned stench but whistfulness is sweetness incarnate and perfumiers have tried in vain to bottle it for centuries 😉

    Like

    January 20, 2017
  18. Fabulous – I finally got around to diving into this post in between assignments (4 down 2 to go, so I should be emerging out the other side soon…….plus I have my new surgery planned for the 9th March……)
    No surprise in the fact that I have a serious bridge fetish (and now live in Joinville le ‘Pont’, when I’m not on my great escape to Liverpool…..) Covered or otherwise – and I was entranced by the Book ‘The Bridges of Maddison County’. In fact Mr le Frog and I have a ‘thing’ where we have to kiss every time we are on a bridge (It used to be every time we stopped at a pedestrian crossing on red, but that has fizzled out a bit – maybe I should revive it!)
    LOVE the animal pics – it sounds like an exert from ‘Enchanted’ with you in the Amy Adams role.
    Xing – of course! It is SO obvious (when you know, as with everything)
    I’m going to try and bash a post out today after quite a long absence, but nothing so informative and inspirational as this.
    Much love Lindy x

    Liked by 2 people

    January 21, 2017
    • I love your ritual of kissing M. Frog whenever you cross a bridge (or should I say X a bridge!) – just lovely! I’m most of all delighted to hear from you. You are clearly cracking on with the course which is brilliant and you will be at the finish line in no time. As for your op – somewhere along the line I have missed something crucial. I will drop you an email to find out what gives. I am in Grenoble for 6 months – not sure which side of la Manche you are but I think it might be Liverpool? I will be there in May and again in July for youngest piglet’s final exhibition (May) and Graduation (July – Ceremony in the Cathedral which will make me sob). Much love to you and more by email later today or tomorrow xxx

      Like

      January 25, 2017
  19. I’m always struck by people asking me what the US “is like,” and have never come up with a better answer than “it’s a big country–it’s different everywhere.” Thanks for noticing the impossibility of describing it as a single place. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    January 22, 2017
    • I actually began to feel quite protective of that enormous multi-faceted place with it’s wealth of different cultures and styles.

      Like

      January 25, 2017
  20. Yes… Yes I am still laughing about your thoughts on the commercials warning the viewers of the possible side effects from Viagra.
    OK, the photos and your shared experiences in the U.S. are vivid and so bright. Always a read and a gallery I look forward to.
    The ‘Patriots’, hmm… Have they become your ‘forever TEAM’? They play today against my forever.team (since childhood), ‘The’ Pittsburg Steelers. I wish for no injuries on your team, but not the Win. 😊 Have a good day.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 22, 2017
    • I have not pinned my colours to a football team’s mast yet though I guess living in New England when I am there it is likely to be the Patriots (and the Boston Bruins and the Red Sox) but then again, I like to be contrary so I might just go my own sweet way! Glad you enjoyed the ride … now I have to turn my mind to things French for a while. My head is in shock!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      January 25, 2017
  21. I was holding my breath for awhile…but I just couldn’t keep at it…..I knew you would get to this post when you were ready….after all, we had the holidays, kids, enjoyment of you being home…all in due time…..I love your writing….A garden to me is a vegetable garden, I have a yard and no garden…LOL however I have had a rose garden….LOL aren’t word comparison fun….enjoyed the end of the alphabet with you…..always love your pictures….and I say leave the property natural, maybe a little path around here and there….did you get to see Cameron while you were in Oxford??? he is sure computer quiet….hope that’s all a good thing….xxxxkat

    Liked by 1 person

    January 23, 2017
    • I have emailed Cameron to see if I can raise him – I didn’t see him about in the town when I was there and I don’t have his address to go and root him out! I hope he is just busy with his business which I know was taking off when I was last in touch with him. I’m glad you agree with us over the Yard in Massachusetts … we will be leaving the back woods as they are and just tarting up the front a bit (including a veggie patch and some roses around the door) …. just have to hope those pesky USCIS bods let me back in 😉 xx

      Like

      January 25, 2017
      • you just have them call me if you have any issues!!! LOL bastards!!!! don’t forget to plant some rosemary….suppose help protect you from whack-o’s …yes I hope Cameron is doing well…I miss him …. 😦

        Liked by 2 people

        January 26, 2017
      • He replied to my email and said nothing to worry about just super busy with his business which leaves him no time for writing. Still single but sounded happy to me which makes me happy 😊 xx

        Like

        January 26, 2017
      • thanks for sharing….glad he responded…and really happy hes busy with his business…Cameron is one of the good ones!!!! kat

        Liked by 1 person

        January 26, 2017
      • That advice about Rosemary is very interesting … I always had some in every garden I had and grew it on the balcony of the apartment in Cantal and then planted some in Mass. We have none in Marcolès – I think Id better rectify that … don’t want any more whacko’s than I already attract!!!! X

        Like

        January 26, 2017
      • LOL I knew you were a hedge witch…LOL

        Liked by 1 person

        January 26, 2017
      • 😉

        Like

        January 26, 2017
  22. Wonderful Osyth! Worth waiting for. Loved every word and photo, and any alphabet that has Viagra and Wankum together is one to be celebrated. Clearly we need a triple X version that starts with the letter A and is posted in a plain brown envelope. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    January 25, 2017
    • Thank you thank you thank you for picking up on the V and W of it … an X rated version might make our fortune given that the last book phenomenon was the ghastly 50 Shades which I actually refused to even open. Ours of course would be done with class and style and panache 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      January 25, 2017
  23. aaah, so that’s what a ruderbager is!! I never figured out that one! This takes me back to reading Judy Blume and glossing over ‘turtle necks’ and ‘s’mores’ because I didn’t have a clue what they were. ‘Murica (as Teenage Son likes to call it) really is another world…I’ve so enjoyed this peek inside with handy translation!
    PS. I want a bridge.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 25, 2017
  24. Lovely photos dear! You are gorgeous! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    January 25, 2017
  25. Oh Osyth – You’ve ‘gone out’ in style with this post and it was definitely worth the wait… I’m laughing out loudly at V – Viagra.. that probably shows just how my mind works – small things … or in this case with the aid of Viagra rather ‘larger’ things, amuse small minds – haha. Your photo’s are spectacular – what a beautiful insight into the World of New England and then you took me on a trip down memory lane with the ‘bridges of Maddison County’ – I love that film and of course ‘John Boy’ Walton featured regularly throughout my childhood..
    However Osyth… I’m gonna have ‘words’ … poor Bean.. left to ‘freeze’ in the snow.. haha – don’t tell him I laughed or he may set Dolly on me!

    Sorry I’ve not been across for a while – as you read, ‘technology’ issues.. I’m just about getting to grips with my new laptop so I’m hoping that by next week I’ll be properly ‘back on track’.. I hope you’re enjoying life post the excitement of Xmas with your girls? I’ve been a bit full on with my ‘life changing’ decisions for work.. still ongoing but hopefully one way or another, I’ll be out of ‘limbo land’ very soon!

    Great to catch up and I’ll speak again soon! xx

    Liked by 2 people

    January 25, 2017
    • You are the one and only that picked up on John Boy … this makes me happy – how I LOVED that show. The Bridges is a favourite film … and I am going to take my best Francesca Frock next time and be properly photographed a la Meryl giving it my best wistful looks and that Eclat de rire that she does so elegantly and so contagiously. Which is why she is a megastar and I’m not, I imagine 😉 The Bean does not need any encouragement … here in Grenoble she is shivering her best (she shivers with excitement, rage, cold, heat, hunger, you name it) and getting far too much attention from elderly ladies on their daily sojourn to the coiffeuse. bon courage with the IT … I’m a total luddite and have only two settings – calm and hysterical which makes it irksome for my husband who is my only technical support these days. Always good to hear from you and my intention is to be back in good blogging form next week (after we move into our temporary permanent for 6 months appartement which I am uber-excited about to be frank) xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      January 25, 2017
      • Oh how fabulous Osyth – I can see you now in that Francesca Frock – I look forward to seeing those pictures… I have a feeling you’ll act the part nearly as well as Meryl… she is hard to beat! Thank goodness I’m not the only Ludite.. It took me about 2 hours to work out how to establish a connection with the printer yesterday… but I got there in the end. Unfortunately hubby is even worse than me! I hope your move into the new apartment goes well – it sounds fab and no wonder yor excited.. another adventure begins….
        Bless Bean – and I gave her a sex change too – sorry Bean…. I’m looking forward to the tales from France xxx

        Like

        January 25, 2017
  26. I love the photos as much as I love your stories 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    January 25, 2017
  27. Osyth, I truly enjoyed this series, they all delighted me, brought a chuckle and some educated me. So it was well worth the wait and read for this the final one. I hope you are doing well and enjoying life and making many wonderful memories. Have a happy week my dearest friend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2017
    • Thank you my dear, dear friend. That you enjoyed the series means a lot to me …. I have been moving to the flat that we will be living in for the next 6 months so I’m afraid i have not had the time for any internet and n any event they only connected it this morning so I have much catching up to do but as soon as I’ve unpacked all the pesky boxes that are shouting at me all over the place that I am skulking off and writing notes, I will be catching up on your blog and finding out how things are. So I send you all the energy I can spare and a little besides and hope that things are going OK in your world. You are much in my thoughts. 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

      February 3, 2017
      • Take your time, I understand – so glad to see you again. Have fun with the unpacking, I know that can be exciting at times. 🙂

        Like

        February 3, 2017
  28. For some reason, I’ve only just come across this post, and then I realised you haven’t posted for a while, so I hope all is well with you. Lovely photos and, as always, a very thought-provoking post. I love those covered bridges. They showed the film again recently on French TV and I just had to watch for the nth time!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 4, 2017
    • I’m absolutely fine and thank you so much for asking – it’s nice to be noticed if only by one’s absence! We are now installed in our proper home for the next five months in Grenoble having spent 3 weeks in an appart-hotel which was fine but extremely snug! I feel as though I have been perpetually moving from place to place since I left the US on December 1st but once all my things are unpacked I will get to grips with posting some. I hope you kept warm in the recent cold snap … I was confidently told by husband who lived here throughout the 80s that it never snows in Grenoble itself – we have just seen the last of it thaw!!! Have a lovely weekend and I hope to be making plans for this legendary meet-up very soon 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      February 4, 2017
      • I’m glad all is okay, and apologies for being so tardy at getting to your posts. I am blaming novel no.2, which seems to take up every waking minute. It must be a relief to be in a stable environment for the next few months, having gone from pillar to post. Down here, it was cold at times (-12C one morning), but no snow. And we battle-hardened folk have seen worse – minus 18C five years ago! Eastern France had it much worse this year. Bon week-end à vous aussi, et à bientôt!

        Like

        February 4, 2017
  29. This is a wonderful post, and I loved the beautiful photos. Hope you are well! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    February 6, 2017
  30. glad to discover your awesome post and splendid pix… ❤
    * * *
    I loved that movie, of course… la preuve concrète: 🙂
    https://myvirtualplayground.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/seul-lephemere-dure-ephemerality-alone-lasts-eugene-ionesco/

    Liked by 2 people

    February 8, 2017
    • There could never be an ounce of doubt that you love that movie in my mind, Melanie ❤️… thank you for the kind comments and for taking time to read the post – you are always so welcome in my little corner both virtual and real 💐

      Liked by 1 person

      February 8, 2017
      • love you, Virgo babe, like Joan Jett(…)… ❤ stay HHH = healthy, heart-warming and happy!!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 12, 2017
  31. Oh dear! It is February and I absolutely love, love and love ❤ this post!
    Fiona, the covered bridges portion of the was stupendous! I will always like the fact Clint Eastwood said the female character HAS to wear a dress in her kitchen, with an apron.
    (It was set in a period where women didn't wear pants out in public.) Despite the fact the author has her wearing jeans. He said that while filming the movie, he thought a lot about his own mother and how women were such dedicated mothers and wives. I saw him do an interview and decided he was a good man.
    I enjoyed how you embraced and posed in the snow! You are so pretty! I love your enthusiasm. 🙂
    I lastly saw you holding your sweet Bean. hugs to you, your girls, the Brain (2 brains?) and love to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 10, 2017
    • Thank you so much Robin! It is always a joy to hear from you and I am indebted to you for your back door view of that movie which is so close to my heart …. I had the privilege of knowing Clint Eastwood for a while many years ago and found him to be a decent, thoughtful and good man. I’m glad that came over in the interview. I don’t think I’m pretty at all but my husband insists on taking pictures of me and I find them to be not TOO un-pretty. I send much love to you and your whole beautiful family from here. I am reminded that I have a card for my cousin in Ohio. Next time I get to the USA I am certainly tracking your way!! Xx

      Like

      February 10, 2017
  32. I told you I’d get here in the end! I’ve loved this series, the words and the pictures, which has given me so much knowledge of places I’ve never visited. I really hope you develop this further as I’m sure there’s loads more that you could have covered.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 10, 2017
    • Hurrah and sshhh don’t tell …. but I am mapping out that book!

      Liked by 1 person

      February 12, 2017
      • Fabulous! Your secret is safe with me 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        February 12, 2017
  33. Phew… quite a read! From Viagra to weathermen… and a lot of fun in between! The poor Bean… having to traipse around in all that white stuff!!
    What a tale… you tell it well!! Thanks!! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    February 13, 2017
    • It exhausted me so much I haven’t written a bloggy word since but I am gathering strength for a new assault …. should be fun 😉

      Like

      February 13, 2017
  34. Your covered bridge ramblings and pix brought back many happy memories of my ‘covered bridging days’ back in the 1960s & 70s when there were many more left than there are now. I myself have seen over 500 in practically every state which still had one or more, including every one in New England, my own state of Ohio (over 200 then, less than 100 left now), and of course, every one of The Bridges of Madison County (Iowa)….not to mention many in Canada and Europe.

    Those were ‘the good old days’ indeed, impossible to return to now except in fond recollection. Thanks for evoking the memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 22, 2017
    • Oh Mister Muse, I am a teeny (actually a lot) jealous …. but I am so glad to find a kindred who WAS able to see so many. I am hopeful that I will be back in the US for 2-3 years and then I will be hoovering up as many as I possibly can before even more are lost. My cousin lives in Ohio though she was raised in New England. Thank you so much for your comment which has made my morning before the sun is even risen in the sky 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      February 22, 2017
  35. Wonderful set of beautiful photos. I love them. Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 23, 2017
    • Thank you …. I’m very pleased that you enjoyed them.

      Like

      March 23, 2017

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: