Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Update: Welcome to Cacophony Close

 Update: The demolition up the road has continued apace. At one point it was like being in the vicinty of an earthquake. Our house was literally shaking. So much so that I stormed off to give them a piece of my mind. "We're demolishing a house lady", was the gruff reply.  Well yes but could you do it a bit more gently? This is what the poor house looks like now.

It turns out there was so much noise because they were also demolishing a (presumably perfectly good) swimming pool. That is apparently even harder to demolish than a house. And then the new house will surely also want to a pool so they'll have to start digging all over again.


  Our  short cul-de-sac, or dead end street, as they call it here is in chaos. The house on the corner is being renovated, the people opposite are having a swimming pool put in and two doors down they turned up this morning and are in the process of demolishing the poor little place completely. This is happening everywhere at the moment. On our walk the other morning we met a wild-eyed man shaking his head, "Every time I come by here, another house has disappeared. I'm scared to leave my house in case it's not there when I get back!" I know how he feels.

  The result is trucks, lorries, backhoes and bulldozers waltzing back and forth all over the street with their incessant beeping. You take your life in your hands trying to weave your way through them. Every so often there's a crash and a bang and a crunch and then the infernal beeping starts again. Oh for some peace and quiet. 

(And that's not counting the usual leaf-blowers, strimmers, chainsaws and lawn mowers from all the different gardening firms. Plus the chap behind us who has some kind of hobby involving a nerve-grating electric saw which he always brings out at lunchtime. At least the gardening part is usually over quickly here, unlike the lawnmowing fanatics with their rolling acres up north.)

I hope the results will be worth it. Everyone is happy with the house on the corner, which is of the mid-century "Sarasota school". 

Encouragingly they are bringing it back to its original design,  after it had spent years suffering under ill-advised alterations with the wrong sort of roof completely.  Sadly the house being pulled down wasn't considered worthy of the same treatment. I just hope they don't replace it with  some giant monstrosity squeezed into a small space, which seems to be the trend, so they can show off to the neighbours. These neighbours won't be impressed. 

By the way hubby has just come in with an anecdote from his barber. Apparently a chap on Casey Key, the local billionaires' row, didn't like looking at the yellow house next door, "I'll give you five million for it." he said to the owner. "Not for sale", said the owner. So the original chap moved so he wouldn't have to look at a yellow house. The problems some people have.

Sunday, March 21, 2021


 A forlorn traffic sign on Harbor (sic) Drive. Evidently someone ran over it with a steamroller. That's what looks like a bit of their car next to it.

Funny thing is that it's been there for weeks and no one has repaired it.

This is possibly because we are in the midst of battlefield season. The powers that be can't possibly keep up with all the fender benders, fatal and near fatal crashes, mangled motorbikes (and you don't have to wear a helmet here) and all the other detritus scattered over the roads of south-west Florida.

The other day a cement truck careered into five cars on the motorway - they'd slowed down because of an earlier accident, apparently a turned-over truck carrying sewage.

It is carnage every day for many reasons - listed by one of my neighbours as a catastrophic combination of too much traffic in holiday season, too many visiting drivers who don't know where they're going, plus too many people who shouldn't be on the roads at all, resulting in people swerving across six lanes to make a left turn ("Oops - nearly missed my turning - sorry!") flinging themselves into wild U-turns or dithering till just before the next car comes along to scoot across the road. Throw teetering holiday cyclists into the mix and - yikes.  They say it will get calmer after Easter. If there's anyone left.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Two Nations Divided Part 2

   I have resisted for a while weighing into the subject de jour (oh for the good old days when "H and M" was just a Swedish fashion chain) but since it in some way concerns transatlantic differences it's not entirely irrelevant. Full disclosure - I am with the majority of older British people on this, if recent polls are correct, so, having exhausted throwing cushions at the television with steam coming out of my ears,  I was a little reluctant to discuss it with my American friends, opening my words with, "Don't get me wrong, I love your country, I love Americans but...." Imagine my surprise when they were sympathetic,  the words, "dirty", "linen" and "public" featuring prominently. But then they are eminently sensible people.

Having said that, Americans and Brits do often misunderstand each other. There are differences in the language and there are differences in culture, attitudes, manners, what's acceptable and a lot of other things. There are whole books on the subject. Self-promotion for example, is a vice in Britain, a virtue in America ("Not with everyone!" I hear hubby call out. All right, with a lot of people then.)

Now when I came to America there were times when I misunderstood what hubby and his family were saying to me. I misunderstood when I threw a drinks party and all the guests inexplicably turned up with  mountains of food,  "What - isn't what I'm giving you good enough?"  I misunderstood American wedding etiquette and found myself the only one wearing a hat and feeling stupid, "Why didn't anyone tell me!"  I misunderstood when hubby described a dinner I prepared as "quite good." I was devastated. "But it was meant as a compliment!" he said. Because "quite good" has a slightly different meaning here.

I immediately called Oprah but she wasn't interested in an interview. Oh well, I will just have to accept my lot and blend in politely. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Two Nations Divided .....

 I came across this in the ethnic foods section of Publix Supermarket:

Note that they had to explain about the dates. Here in the US, they do the month first and I'm always getting it mixed up. I nearly got hubby's date of birth wrong on some very important document. I have, I hope, mastered driving on the right but there's always something else to get used to.

Meanwhile it's interesting that they have Jammie Dodgers in the ethnic foods section. I never even tried them in the UK but here I couldn't resist buying them as a Valentine's gift for hubby as I noticed they had little red hearts. Nostalgia I suppose for a Britain that I didn't actually experience. As well as the JDs they have McVities digestives, jelly babies- American kids miss out, only having beans -  and speaking of which, Heinz baked beans - the nasty kind in lurid tomato sauce in a turquoise tin you only get in Britain even though it's an American company. After my first unpleasant experience of baked beans on toast at a schoolfriend's house back in the day, (we had central European cuisine at home) I swore I would never eat them again but at hubby's insistence I'm gradually recovering and coming round to the American version, which can be passably good in a stew.  They wouldn't dream of eating them with orange tomato sauce here.

I once met a very pleasant British lady at the ethnic section. She was looking for Branston pickle, which they didn't have that day. I suppose you never know what's going to be in the shipment from Blighty. We chatted in a polite British way about the weather and such but neither of us felt pushy enough to ask for the other's phone number and I suppose we both regretted it afterwards. Americans would have known each other's medical details, family scandals,  phone number and email in 10 seconds flat.

But one good thing about the ethnic section is that, unlike the supermarket in rural western New York,  you can always depend on it stocking Marmite. So the world has not yet come to an end.