Friday, 24 January 2014

Still close to home but in transition too

Back in the UK, I set up a Facebook group called Local to Martlesham as a place to put up things of interest, news and notices of what is going on.  It is an open group which means that anyone can join and invite others to join to.  I'm still very connected with this group even though I am lots of miles away which is super - I'd not like to feel I'm missing out on what's happening! 

With this in mind, I decided to give a Local to Westford group a go along the same lines- wish me luck! 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Oh bother - dental work and it's not going to be on the NHS this time

To be fair, I've always been very good about keeping regular dental and hygienist appointments and it was with regret that I had my last appointment with Mrs Pattison before we moved to the USA.  She is super and held no grudge against me for the time I bit her (accident, promise!) after having wisdom teeth removed.  I blame the drugs.

Once here, I admit I did rather put a checkup on the back burner but after Paul had blazed a trail and found a practice I did go along.  After some minor work I was very concerned by the pain I was feeling in one tooth to the extent that I rebooked to go back and have it looked at.  To say I was shocked when I heard I was going to need a 'root canal' is a total understatement and my stiff upper lip was nowhere to be found.  Very surprisingly to me, and the dentist and nurse, I burst into tears and loud sobs (I fear a bit of wailing too).  The dentist was fabulous; she gave me a hug and assured me it would be fine, wouldn't hurt and could be dealt with quick smart.  Lots of tissues, patting of arms and reassurance followed along with an appointment for a couple of days hence for the dreaded procedure.

Miracle of miracles.  On the day of the procedure I woke up pain free.  Honestly.  Not a scrap.  As you would expect I was on the phone immediately to cancel my appointment and the endodontic specialist - hurrah!  They were very understanding and said this did indeed sometimes happen but if the pain came back I'd be welcome to rebook.

The joy of the hours without brain numbing pain were great.  Sadly and annoyingly they didn't last long and so back on the phone to rebook - bother.

Well the appointed hour and appointed time arrived and with no joy in my heart I went to see the Endodontic specialists.  Great offices.  Lots of calming colours, lovely flowers, nice staff.  Still not happy to be there by any means.

After some prep work including an explanation of why the pain had probably stopped (the nerve had died) I was in the chair and ready to begin.  I think the Dr quickly knew he had a wimp around.  He wanted to confirm which tooth was to be worked on and tapped on ones further way, then closer and closer.

When he tapped the 'one' my left hand involuntarily (honest!) flung out from its resting place and grasped him rather firmly on his left thigh.  He promised not to tap any more teeth!

At this point I would love to say it was all fabulous but that would be not quite accurate.  It was all carried out very calmly, efficiently and professionally.  It was my first experience of a dental dam which was peculiar in the extreme but medically very important.  It you are able to stop your sense of smell, however shortly, I would strongly advise that too.

So little over an hour later I was out the door having had a root canal done and a temporary filling in place.  That was the start of November and it took me until this week to have the crown done.  I know it should have been done sooner and it has been tedious chewing on just one side of my mouth.  I just could not face any more 'messing about' with my teeth - it's a bit of a team effort after all as you have to pay attention and be very involved.

So, at the end of the day, one small lower tooth now crowned.  Thank goodness for our insurance but it still cost a lot of money ... haven't been brave enough to add it all up but I think it will cost us personally over $1500.  Look after your teeth people and keep your fingers crossed!

I did consider putting up a picture of 'root canal dental dam' from Google but was so horrified that I couldn't.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

My latest crush - Pure Barre

We went to Florida for two weeks at the start of September with great friends from the UK and had a fantastic time.  Can honestly say we enjoyed every moment and really did 'vacation like you mean it' to quote the advert.

So no surprise really that the scales registered this and clothing was a bit tighter than I'd like on our return.  Time for action!

Before we left for our holiday/vacation, I'd noticed something under construction at the new Cornerstone development in Westford and thought I look into it a bit further. 

Pure Barre - a full body workout, low impact and focusing on areas girls may struggle with

So I signed up for a one month trial and started my first class on 23 September 2013.  The team who work there are lovely and were so patient with me and all new recruits, gently correcting and guiding us into the right moves for the best workout ever.

After the first class I thought it could be something I'd really commit to but wanted to make sure it wasn't a one hit wonder.  After the first month I was ready to renew and keep going.  In the class, we use weights (2lb ones for me planning to move up to the 3lb ones), a small ball for resistance, a tube for stretching and a mat .  That along with the barre is all the equipment needed to get a full body workout.

The amazing news is that it is now nearly the end of January and I've kept going to a minimum of three classes a week and sometimes four (apart from the Christmas/New Year break).  I've taken a technique class to polish up on my skills which was great fun and this week my husband gets to come along too for a couples class in Westford.  I cannot say he is champing at the bit for this but he is certainly up for a challenge.

I've certainly seen changes in my arms, legs and stomach area and can honestly say I am feeling stronger and fitter than I've done in a long time.  For me, this is not just about losing inches but that happened too due to this great exercise with a good diet and I couldn't be happier.

Lift, tone and burn!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Life as a Cloud ...

It was rather fun to have a go at this and make a cloud from our time so far in the USA - if you want to have a go, checkout Tagul!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Trends from Brimfield for home decorating

There were some things at Brimfield which I've seen already in magazines and are what you could say are on trend at the moment.

I saw lots and lots of large letters in metal and plastic in a wide variety of colours and sizes.  There was a seller who actually had new ones pre-made into words and painted but it was the old ones which I think are more popular.  They've been cropping up in magazines for ages starting with the oversize letters which appeared on mantelpieces but now they are from store fronts.

Fisherman floats were around a plenty - lobsters ones and the large green glass globes were the ones I saw most of.  Not entirely convinced they had all seen the sea but perhaps they just clean up well!

Oddly, I did see at least three huge industrial bellows.  In one case it was just one side of the bellow which had been turned into a table.

The item I saw most of at the show was industrial carts with wheels - there were hundreds of them!  Some had been varnished and some where much rougher looking.  I've seen similar in the Restoration Hardware catalogue so perhaps that has helped with their popularity.

Brimfield Antiques Show - an amazing experience

Yesterday I was up at 6am and out of the door quick smart to get to the Brimfield Antiques Show.  Those who know me will be stunned at this as I am not a morning person at all.  I didn't even have my normal cup of tea to get me going.

To back-track slightly; we went to the Brimfield show in the Autumn/Fall last year and were blown away but the size, scale and variety of what was on sale.  We went on a Saturday and even though we arrived around 10am, the length of time we spent in traffic was not good.  So lesson learnt for this year hence the early start.

Paul was working and took care of getting the dogs to the Ruff House for the day so we were all set in case I was late getting back.

Once again TomTom worked its magic with its directions and I was parked up by 7.35am and ready to start the show.  Another lesson from last year was that it was no fun carrying heavy and awkward things so I had bought a shopper trolley for the occasion from HomeGoods - a bit like T.J.Maxx/T.J.Maxx but for home items. 

The Brimfield Antique Show totally takes over the town of Brimfield on either side of the main road which runs through it.  To get an idea of the size have a look at this map.  From the website:-

SO WHAT IS THE BRIMFIELD SHOW???   Only the largest outdoor antique show in the world, held since 1959 in Brimfield, Massachusetts, three times each year, with thousands of dealers attending!  Brimfield is an easy 1-hour ride west of Boston.

I was able to park by the Church (show by the cross on the map next to the common) for $8.  There was quite a bit of parking and enterprising local organisations and people open up their gardens/yards.

First thing was a steaming hot cup of coffee as it was rather cold.  Very glad I had packed some gloves and a scarf in my trolley but before long the sun started to warm the air and it turned out to be a great weather day for shopping. 

The stalls open very early; lots of them start at daybreak which I think is amazing.  The fields are huge and go way back.  It is almost impossible to say what's at Brimfield but if you cannot find what you want there, you've probably not looked close enough.  It's not a car boot or yard sale.  Most items are genuine but there are reproductions in some places but they are easy enough to see and in plain sight.  There are a few sellers of new items as well as recycled and repurposed items. 

I saw everything from pulpits to airplane parts, petrol pumps to mannequins, cola coolers to puffa fish and more.  So what did I buy?  An enamel garage light shade for $10 (the cheapest I could find and a total bargain) to sort of match one we have already, an art glass scarab  for $75, three old wooden coat hangers from USA hotels to hang our visitors coats on $10 and a green Lucite cast from by Norman Mercer for $10. 

So nothing too huge or major but I had a really super time.  I was there just over 5 hours when I knew I had to go - I was shattered!  Even though I had my trolley, kept up with fluid intake and eat a egg, bacon and cheese sandwich (hot) my legs did not want to go any further.  So I left before 2pm and beat all the traffic on the way back which was great.

Not sure if I will go to the July show as it will undoubtedly be silly hot but I will aim to go to the September show and another early start will be in order!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Certain signs that it's Spring ...

So much has happened over the last couple of weeks in the great outdoors.  The daffodils are out and the tulips too.  Grass is growing so quickly that it will soon have to be cut twice a week!

The storm door has been replaced with the screen door to keep out the flies.  There are butterflies and bees aplenty and some different birds are visiting the gardens.

New mulch is being put down at the commercial buildings by contractors and we will be doing our share at home this week.

The trees are full of blossom and the new leaves are on the way.  The air conditioning units are having their covers taken off and servicing is needed on ours as well. 

Weeding and feeding the lawns is in full swing and I am wondering how long it will be before we have to put on the irrigation systems.

The garden centers have got a wonderful display of tempting plants ... still having to be aware that there may still be a frost but hopefully we are more or less past that now.  We are no longer able to burn any garden rubbish so we are really pleased to have got our rubbish burnt before the deadline.

We had been told that the Spring here is quite short and it will be summer in no time at all and with these temperatures and lovely long light days we can quite believe it!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Here comes the sun ... time to sort out the garden!

Well here we go into Spring and it's not a moment too soon!

Buds are beginning to sprout, the birds are out and about and there's even life coming along in the daffodils.  Wonderful.

One thing that is a challenge however is that we are only able to burn rubbish such as branches and trimmings before 1 May so we have to get a move on.  In our town, Westford MA, you have to apply either in person or online for a 'brush burn permit' and then you have to activate it on the day you want to have the fire which is only possible if the weather conditions permit.  Due to the amount of wooded areas and the construction of the homes being from wood, fire is not a friend if not managed well.

We've wimped out a bit and have bought a bin to burn in rather than have it on open ground which is much more normal.  If all else fails there is a collection day on the Saturday before 1 May when you can take any brush to the town for disposal for $10 a load.  Hopefully we'll not need to do that this year if all goes well.

Monday, 11 February 2013

New England Blizzard 2013

We know we'd been very lucky so far with the weather we'd experienced since we arrived in December 2011.  Looks like that has now changed.

There had been a bad winter the year before we arrived which had drifts of snow so high that neighbours had effectively had a tunnel of snow to drive out of to get to the road as the blown snow and drifts were so high.

There had already been snow before and after Christmas and it's impressive how efficiently it is handled and things get back to normal so quickly, particularly the transport aspects.

There are fleets of gritters and plows as you might expect but here are some things I hadn't come across before:-

Snow farms - as I understand it, these are vacant lots around the cities where snow collected from the roads is taken and dumped to keep the roads and sidewalks clear.

Roof rakes - long and lightweight, used to pull the snow off the roof.  Necessary as if it rains after the snow, the weight of the snow increases.  Snow weighs 3 pounds per cubic foot. Rain soaked snow weighs 21 pounds per cubic foot.  Our roof rake is a 21 foot one made by Garelick and it worked really well.

Snow blowers - for domestic use.  There are many different sorts but the key thing is that they cut the snow up in the front and blow it out of a movable funnel.  You want to keep well out of the way when they are being used and never Never NEVER get tempted to clear any obstructions with anything other than the metal pole that comes with it after turning it off.  There seem to be stories aplenty of nasty injuries caused by these but they are a great and necessary item to have and find space for in the garage. 

Warming centres.  In the summer the city of Boston and most of the surrounding towns have cooling centres for people to go to if their homes get too warm and in the winter they have warming centres for the reverse.  These are in addition to the homeless shelters operated by the city and during this recent weather, it was considered an acceptable 911 call if someone appeared to be homeless and in need of help.

Additionally there was a high level of co-ordination at the Massachusetts level led by MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency) which we thought was really impressive. The news and weather services really played their part too and to see the weather teams out at various locations throughout the blizzard being bashed and battered in order to get the latest information to us was great.