Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bored yet?

Clearly, the post about BlogHer was a big sleeper... yawn... expateek knows! She got it!

It's late, and she's still packing for her big pirate adventure which begins tomorrow. She gave Mr D the lecture on how to do the banking and what about the utility bills and here's the cord for the yadda yadda and don't forget to iron my bedsheets while I'm gone.

And then suddenly, he was asleep.

Poor thing. He's all broken up that expateek will be gone for a week. Or something. Clearly, expateek's not as fascinating as she thinks she is.

Anyway, expateek will have very limited internet access, because you know you uncivilised the British Virgin Islands are, and so... yeah. Plus there's no DSL/wireless connection on a sailboat at sea, and expateek is already feeling a little bit sea-sick at the thought.

There's just a little bit of flurrying and worrying left before expateek wakes up tomorrow at o'dark thirty. She's got to charge her phone and camera, and then she has to lie awake worrying about things for another four hours, until she gets to "wake up" again.

And what is she worrying about? Oh, in fact, she's so over pirates.

No, now it's swine flu. What if expateek and her BFF's go out to sea for a day or so, and when they come back, everyone is just an oozing puddle of protoplasm on the pavement, and expateek and her girlfriends are the only ones still alive on the planet? Because that would be just expateek's luck. Like The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but with a more lovely cast.

Just speculating. Could be a problem. expateek thinks that pirates sound like a walk in the park by comparison.

And with that, nite nite. See you in a week's time...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BlogHer 2009 -- Chicago //Update

Hey y'all! I've just gone mad and submitted a proposal to host a panel on expat blogging. I'm trying to tempt the lovely Belgian Waffle to come over stateside to assist. Come vote for us so that we can regale you with tales of Belgian tortoises and Polish pick-up lines!

You'll need to sign-in and create a userid to vote, here. (This is FREE, and only takes a moment. And you don't necessarily need to be attending, in order to vote.)

Then go here to vote. You can choose either I would attend this session or I would be interested in presenting on this topic. Or you can choose both! Vote! Please! We would love to have the opportunity to obsess about what to say for the next four months.

Also, if you'd be interested in speaking, please do give us a shout.

Update: New speaker/participant on board -- ExpatMum (published author and expat expert!)


Ben Bernanke! Call me!

Why, oh why, don't people call expateek and ask for financial advice? Why?

Okay, we all know why, but still.

Here's something Mr D received in the mail two days ago.

IMG_6893 pontiac letter, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Note the date. April 17, 2009.

Also, note that expateek and Mr D sold that 1989 Pontiac Bonneville seven years ago.

And they've been out of the country ever since.

And they have never lived anywhere near Jackson, CA.

Is it any wonder that Pontiac's gone down the drain if they're sending out service letters using inaccurate data that is, perhaps, TWENTY FLIPPIN' YEARS OLD?

But you do have to admire their persistence.

Strangely, just 10 days after this letter was printed, GM announced that they were pulling the plug on the Pontiac brand. Your taxpayer bailout money at work, folks.

expateek is going to write to Ben Bernanke, send him a copy of the letter, and ask for her tax monies back. So, 42 cents for a stamp, probably 50 cents for the envelope and letterhead paper, and oh, say, $9,503.67 for pain and suffering. After all, expateek's back in America.

So maybe she should sue?


Monday, April 27, 2009

Brazilian expedition

Any of expateek's children reading this, please go straight to paragraph 5 paragraph 6. In fact, mommy's got some great microwaved popcorn for you out in the kitchen, so why don't you run along there and you can come back later tomorrow, when the grown-ups are done talking?

Well, expateek spent all day yesterday doing on-line research for her Museum Studies dissertation, what with it being due only 133 days from now procrastinating by reading other people's blogs and laughing herself silly. And she noticed that she hasn't been doing enough over-sharing lately, compared to many of her much younger [damn you all!] blogging colleagues. It's way too late to talk about beating her children with the spanky spoon, and also much too late to take tiresome weekly photos of her pregnant belly. Which would have amounted to a massive 160 weeks of belly photos over a period of 6 years, and who the hell needs that? [Actually, 162.5, because Peregrine/Kid 1 was 2.5 weeks late, and completely threw off the office Baby Birthday Pool, so expateek got to keep all the pool money! Just compensation for pain and suffering, she maintains.]

So, really, expateek only has one thing to talk about today that could possibly be considered over-sharing, and that would be her little expedition to the local spa for a dreaded Brazilian, in preparation for the pirate encounters she may or may not be having later this week. And it was painfully pleasant, in the way that going to the dentist is painfully pleasant, and did expateek tell you she loved her Polish dentist too?

Well, Julianna the waxist did an excellent job of hacking her way through expateek's vajungle, so that by the time she was done, things had gone from this...

Jungle, originally uploaded by gg smith.

to this...

Topiary, originally uploaded by Taz etc..

Or perhaps this....

Burned jungle, originally uploaded by Jami Dwyer.

Which got expateek all happy and excited because she knew that Mr D would be so interested in expateek's mad writing skillz! Most especially in how she could start out a post about Brazilian waxing, and finish off with a tirade against global warming and Amazonian deforestation.

Interestingly enough, though, once expateek got home, the last thing Mr D wanted to talk about was the electrical business and global warming. Can you beat that? You try to come up with a talking point, you act all interested in their jobs and everything, and then they go completely off in a different direction.

Sometimes men are just so unpredictable.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Pass the ethnic water, please

Yes, yes, pass the ethnic water, would you please?

The ethnic water.

What's wrong with you, you never heard of ethnic water? Why, expateek is shocked! Where have you been, under a rock?

It's in the aisle with the regular water and the Polish candy. You know, here:

IMG_6864 ethnic water, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Two aisles over from the Bulgarian food and the Polish food.

IMG_6783 bulgarian/polish, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Three aisles from Hispanic.

IMG_6781 hispanic aisle, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

There's more in the Hispanic aisle than spices and candles, believe expateek when she tells you so. But even looking at pictures of refried beans makes Mr D's tummy rumble, so in the interests of global planetary health and reducing gaseous emissions, expateek will spare us all that unnecessary pain.

You're looking for this:

IMG_6766 nalechowianka water, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Yes, ethnic water. Polish water. Shipped straight from Poland. Lovely green bottle, slightly peppery "nose" to it. Light carbonation. Fizzy, a bit. Just like expateek.

And then you can help expateek design a terrific dinner using these very important ingredients that she just had to buy the last time she went grocery shopping. Because life's just not worth living without marmalade and wasabi beans. And South African Mrs. Ball's chutney.

IMG_6777 world food, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

And while you're at it, what in the world is expateek supposed to do with these? They look kind of tasty in a prickly sort of way. Ideas, my friends?

IMG_6780 cactus food product, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

And oh, since expateek's already spilled the beans about Mr D's delicate tummy, this post wouldn't be complete without a potty joke.

Here, come with expateek down the produce aisle, and tell her what you think of these.

IMG_6862 yams, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Personally, expateek just loves yams.

But maybe not so much when they've got the word flush on the label. Ewwwww.

IMG_6863 yams sign, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Terror in Schaumburg

You fourteen fifteen! fifteen! fans already know that expateek's very security conscious. After all, she lived in Johannesburg, South Africa for awhile, which would put anyone on heightened alert.

At her house in Jozi, she had walls. Nine foot high walls, like these.

South Africa - Security 2, originally uploaded by lemoncat1.

She had electric fencing on top of her walls. There was a generator on the property, to keep the electric fence going, even during rolling power black-outs.

F1000008 fence, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

She didn't have the spear-like pointy bits on her walls, but she often wished she did.

She had an automatic gate, that rolled open and quickly rolled shut. She always checked up and down the road, and in her rearview mirrors, to make sure she wasn't being followed. If another car was too close behind her, she'd go around the block and try another approach. She wasn't being paranoid -- she knew friends of friends who'd been shot and killed in their own driveways in hijackings gone wrong.

She had security cameras trained over the garden and gate. She had motion sensor lighting. She had an alarm system directly linked to a local listening station/armed response service.

After the robbery, security companies came and installed trellis slam-doors at the entrance to the master bedroom, so she and Mr D could lock themselves in at night. All the windows were treated with shatterproofing, so that attackers couldn't break the glass. expateek bought pepper spray and expandable batons for conking people on the head.

And all of that helped expateek feel a little bit safer, but not much.

So yesterday, expateek was horrified to discover that the new security system here, in Schaumburg, was malfunctioning.

The first part of the system worked.

IMG_6865 latch, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

But the second, more technical layer of security, was suddenly all gone wrong.

IMG_6866 hole, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Because expateek had set down the security key, and it had disappeared!

IMG_6868 post, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Fortunately, the thing had just dropped down between the chair cushions.

Breathing a sigh of relief, expateek put the post in the hole.

IMG_6870 post and hole, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

And voilà, she could relax again.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Put that python DOWN!

Any children of expateek's reading this post, don't read the next paragraph. Please go directly to Paragraph 3.

Oh, I know, you thought this was going to be a post about expateek's wild sex life with the amazing Mr D, but of course expateek never writes about that kind of thing, because that would be oversharing which is something that expateek never does, because she values her privacy ever so much, which is why she writes a blog that is read by millions hundreds fourteen souls. Sorry to disappoint, loyal readers, maybe expateek will overshare tomorrow never.

Anyhoo, expateek was reading The New Yorker a few days ago, and was terrified and appalled to realize she must now cross a whole state off her list of places to travel to in the future.

That state would be Florida. Click here to learn why. In short, years of exotic pets escaping into the Florida everglades have created an uncontrollable population surge of highly adaptable Burmese pythons. And they're coming soon to a mall near you, Floridians! As the article points out,
The biologists I spoke to seemed a little surprised at the lack of human fatalities thus far. "If a thirteen-footer can consume a six-foot alligator, it's only a matter of time," Kenneth Krysko, at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told me. "Come on! Kids aren't six feet tall." A child in a secluded park, or along a canal, would be easiest to snatch...

Brrrr. Yet another reason NOT to visit Florida. Along with the cockroaches which are the size of dessert plates, capybaras running wild in the streets, and monitor lizards strolling over suburban lawns.

Alarmed? Frightened? Well, fortunately, expateek is not going to Florida anytime soon, so you readers can breathe a sigh of relief.

However, expateek is going to the Caribbean late next week (flying through Atlanta, where she can get shot, instead of eaten by reptiles), and right after worries about how her dimply butt is going to look in a swimsuit, is the worry about .... pirates.

Yes, pesky pirates have resurfaced as a prime worry concern once again. Because even though expateek is pretty sure that the waters off Tortola are not the waters of the Gulf of Aden, she is still a little bit nervous. Because it would be just expateek's luck to get nabbed by pirates. The only way it might be tolerable is if her pirate looked like this.

Johnny Depp, originally uploaded by smenzel.

And even then, she'd have to think about it.

Maybe she should just do up Mr D's hair in dreads and go with that.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

New threat to American theatres

As millions hundreds all fourteen of expateek's readers know, expateek loves the movies.

She's been going to her favorite the only art movie theatre in her old town to catch up on what she's been missing. She saw The Reader, which was great. She saw Slumdog Millionaire, which was fabulous. And then she saw Two Lovers, which was dreadful.

And Two Lovers wasn't just awful because it was depressing and dark, and entirely too full of the excessively gorgeous and blonde Gwyneth Paltrow. No, Two Lovers was extra awful because the sound track was ragged and mumbly and expateek couldn't understand a word.

So even though expateek almost never complains (only when she's breathing, according to Mr D), she decided to have a word with the cinema manager.

Excuse me, said expateek to the guy in the ticket booth.


Are you ever gonna fix the speakers in Theatre 3? Because the speakers sound like they're totally blown. I know I'm kind of old, and wear reading glasses, but honestly, I'm not deaf as well! I couldn't make out a word of the dialogue, said expateek in her polite complainey voice.

Oh, yeah, we know. Actually, the speaker repair guy is coming tomorrow. Here.

And the boy in the booth started writing out two free passes to the theatre. Thanks for telling us. And here, take these, and come again.

Not entirely willing to let the point die, expateek continued. Yeah, I saw Slumdog Millionaire here two weeks ago and the sound was awful then too.

Ha! said the kid in the booth. We think that's what caused the problem. You know those Indian movies? They just don't know anything about how to do a sound track.

Hmmm. All the Oscars and Baftas and Critic's Choice Awards and Golden Globes notwithstanding, those Indian films are just... well... wrong. And you heard it here in Chicagoland first.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Secret Ingredient, Revealed!

If you were wondering, like expateek often does, about why it is that your homemade Chinese dishes are never as fabulous as take-away, then today's your lucky day! Because during her back alley ramblings in Peoria, Illinois, she came across this behind the local Chinese joint.

IMG_6848 grease only, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Awesomeness, times twelve! Because not only is the secret ingredient grease, it is recycled grease, people! Obviously these guys are taking the whole greener planet thing very very seriously.

expateek was simply thrilled to learn about this amazing new development in Chinese cooking, and can hardly wait to incorporate recycled grease into her own home cookin'. It won't even matter that there's no Cock Sauce!

The only worry that expateek has is that she might not be able to gain access to the restaurant-type quantities of grease necessary for proper Chinese cuisine.

IMG_6849 grease mobile, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.


expateek's going green, but not in that good, planet-y way.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Scullery maid

expateek doesn't like to complain, but she was pretty irritated when she realized that Mr D had skipped town for three days, leaving her to clean the roasting pan. Unfortunately, though expateek is a slattern, even she cannot leave a pan with lamb drippings to "soak" for the better part of a week. Never mind that Mr D cooked the Easter dinner all by himself, with roasted lamb, baked sweet potato, sautéed broccoli rabé, salad, and a good bottle of red wine.

Since you ask, of course expateek helped out. She did this by:

  1. setting the table
  2. pouring the wine
  3. playing Word Twist on her laptop.

No, Mr D did everything.

It's a wonder expateek puts up with him.

But now that Mr D is flying off to do electrical things in the sparkley global world of circuit breakers and industrial power supplies, expateek is free to blog, and sulk, and do the dishes.

In other exciting news from last week, expateek and Mr D attended a repatriation workshop. Frankly, expateek was skeptical. She figured most of the time would be spent learning how to blend back into American life. Topics might include...

How to gain weight.

A Fat Cat, originally uploaded by *phototristan.

How to wear track suits and trainers 24/7.

How to talk really really loud ALL THE TIME.

Courtesy, originally uploaded by stirwise.

(Apparently, expateek has turned into a phone shouter as well. That's according to Mr D, but who's gonna believe him?)

The repatriation workshop was helpful, and considered things like amending your expectations, setting new goals, and looking at the positives.

Fine. But today, expateek is using the patented Annette Taylor method of coping with an intercontinental relocation, which involves staying in bed with a cuppa tea, Amaretti biscuits, and a good book.

Ta ta!

Or just ta. expateek's too tired for exclamation points and suchlike.


Re-branding will be critical

IMG_5496 fish sauce 1

expateek, as much as she likes fish sauce, won't be putting this one in her pad thai!

And what's up, anyway, with this crazy Cock Brand? expateek is profoundly disappointed, because not only is there no picture of a cock on this thing, there's not even a picture of a rooster. What's the deal? It sounds a lot like false advertising to expateek.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Call a Polish plumber, please

IMG_5269 fartex

If this guy* can't get the air out of your pipes, then expateek has no idea who to phone.

* N.B. Not a company of Polish plumbers, in fact. Check them out here for some very interesting "English language" text about what these guys do. Also ogle the hot Polish girl in bikini and tool-belt.

Because it's just not industrial without some hard-core drillin' goin' on.


Easter Egg... just one

Because expateek's children are all over the planet,

and because Mr D absolutely refuses to eat hard-boiled eggs,

and because expateek is kind of on a diet,

there won't be an Easter egg hunt chez expateek this morning.

The eggs are thus extremely pleased to be allowed a lie-in this morning,

and are still resting comfortably abed, in the fridge.

IMG_6850 egg, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it!

And enjoy a beautiful Sunday morning...


Saturday, April 11, 2009

No translation possible...

IMG_6680 kaak logistics, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

They'll definitely have to change their name if they decide to expand to South Africa.

"Hey, our logistics are kak.* Can we interest you in a taster?"

*kak = sh*t, in Afrikaans.
Okay, fine....
But expateek thinks it's pretty funny.