Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas with the Loeschers.

Being away from home was difficult this Christmas. It was made easier by an invitation to join the lovely Loescher family for their Christmas day dinner up on Boar's hill in Oxford. Conversation was abundent around the cozy table and I was excited to see the usual Christmas fixings upon arrival. We were all so full after Gil's stuffing, Ann's oh so yummy turkey (as well as many other dishes) and italian scroppino made by Maggie after dinner. They had family friends who just came from Australia and Italy so we had a bit of a cultural Christmas especially as American's since we participated in the native British traditions such as Christmas crackers (see the photo with crowns) and figgy pudding. The above photos are of the candles above the hearth and Maggie, Claire (The beautiful Loescher daughters), and Ann whipping up the goodies in the kitchen. It was such a treat!

Invierno en Oxford

I couldn't resist putting up these black and white photos that my mate Nadia took of Oxford. Photography is one of her many passions and in my opinion, she does it well. It is very cold this winter, frost licks at the doorframes and my feet never seem to stay warm (I think I have permanent frost bite on my pinky toe)! There is something romantic in the darkness of the day and the sunsets have actually been fantastically colorful.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Short Story: The 12th.

She had wanted the first. They came in a pair the first time. When the couple swam in her belly and she knew there were two hearts beating under hers she desperately wanted the two and felt blessed.

The twins were born on a sunny day. As she felt the first pains of labor she continued on with her daily chores. On the farm that same day the chickens produced the most eggs of the year. The milk of her ladies was unusually plentiful and with all the signs, all this she couldn't have seen the hints of what was to come. With the movements in her belly, she picked wild flowers and placed them in her purse so she could have the fragrance with her, so the babies could smell home right from the start.

At the hospital, the doctor did not know of the two and she did not offer the knowledge. It was a secret, for a fleeting moment, between her and her husband. The first came out quickly while the second lingered waiting to be asked for an invitation. When the two had finally been placed in her arms she cried from joy and of course the experience and thought a silent prayer. She felt complete kissing ones soft newborn brow and the others thin sliced lips.

She would not know what was to come. She couldn't have imagined how fertile she was or how she would be blessed in some sense of the word. She had not expected to be a breeder, a baby maker like the animals she owned in the fields. The second came after, tore her up, but was a boy which made her husband smile. After him, four girls in a row. She could not remember when she was not pregnant. She hoped each time to be pregnant in winter, hating hot summers, big and heavy with a baby inside her and another attached to her hip. At times in a glimmer of thought when she was stirring something on the stove she hoped there would be no more. She could not take it anymore, life was too full and her house too crowded. But with each pregnancy she approached her husband happily with the good news and exhaled when he smiled as if the sun was filling up the sky. He silently hoped with each that it would be a boy, eager to teach his earthly working ways, for them to lend a helping hand, but he loved them all.

After a boy and six girls there came a pause, a break in the ever going stream of her baby world when she thought that they were finished. But it was too soon to hope and after a year and a half she became pregnant with a boy. She knew now the dips and turns of her girls and knew this was not the female species. He was a wrestler inside her stomach. He came and then his father got his wish, three more boys after. All moving and living, turning and fighting with their mother before they came to be. She only hoped and never thought of how to stop the endless stream of babies and then she would catch herself and wonder where she would be without this one or that one, not laughing about them or learning from them.

After fifteen years past her twins, when she had first held the two so securely to her bosom she became pregnant with her twelfth. A dozen, a dozen, she thought. On this day when she went to tell her husband she paused. She could not bring herself to say anything. She could not tell him her usual, well it is that time again or guess the stork is going to come around our way. Her husband looked at her puzzled waiting for the reason why she had walked all the way out to the fields to talk. “It is the last time, I feel it honey, she told him. He wrapped his arms around her so as not to show her his face, puzzled as to why he couldn't bring himself to smile. I think it is great, he told her, our family will now be complete.
With baby one two she couldn't tell, couldn't feel the kicks and swore it was a girl. As time progressed her mind filled with worries for she felt little. The nurse and the doctor both said they heard the heart. “She is just waiting it out, she is the baby and is trying to get all of the attention, her husband joked. She couldn't sleep, waiting for glimmers of movement from her roundness. She felt in her heart she would know, know if this baby was not right or would not come out healthy and strong like all the others had. She put that aside, made sure she thought good thoughts about this child.

On the delivery day as she did with all the babes, now a ritual, she collected the flowers for her journey. This time she picked them quickly because she felt more urgency. When she got to the hospital the doctor looked concerned. She felt coldness from the room where she had once felt warmth. She brought out her flowers and realized there were more weeds than not. Picking out the flowers from the weeds and holding them tightly she started to push and with such ferociousness a tiny angelic baby girl flew into the nurse's arms.

With one whimper of a sound the baby girl made her mother's life fulfilled, and happy and with that same sound made it quietly commence to nothing.

As the doctor and nurses had been preoccupied with the newborn that they thought to have come so rapidly and to be presumed to be dead,they missed the crimson river flowing from her mother. No one knew she had taken her last breath and had slowly slipped past consciousness while they were looking at her tiny beauty, her twelfth, her last.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Read Worthy: Human Cargo.

The IR student in me continues to crave non fictional books about life's truths, however horrific they may be. Caroline Moorehead gives us stunning accounts of refugees and asylum seekers and their paths to life and security in "Human Cargo". Not only does she describe the reasons and circumstance people are forced to flee their respective countries through short histories of the regions and first hand accounts, she shows the challenges people face in their journeys as well, their settlements, and sometimes their eventual return. Moorehead also writes of the factual regulations, laws, and prejudices towards asylum seekers in various countries such as Australia, the United States, and Italy which although I knew about the United States, others were shocking revelations. I recommend this book not only because Moorehead is a brilliant writer, but the number of refugees are ever growing in our world and their plight is one we must be aware of.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Yes Please! Ornaments from Kath Kidston

The holiday season is upon us and what better way to give a little joy than to give these hand painted ornaments from Kath Kidston. The oh so girly retailer is a favorite of mine and I think these little goodies would be a nice treat for the hostess with the mostest or friends who have a new home. They are so sweet I am thinking of having them as decorations year round (one hanging from a doorknob would be nice)!

To purchase and find other gifts, check out Kath Kidston's website:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Filing in Limbo

After another fun filled weekend (thanksgiving fetes all around), I started a new temp job in a private medical office.

Having to get on the tube to go to work everyday fills me with mixed emotions. At times I like the human contact and the eye candy; the men dressed up in lovely suits and the various handbag observations. On the other hand, it is so hot, so slow, and sometimes the mixture of ladies perfume is just too much for one to handle.
When I arrive at the practice, my time is spent in a small room full of files. I have two supposed equals (my colleagues) that lack the spunk, having been at the practice for too long (or are lazy, sorry but true) that I try to avoid.
The offices are spread over four floors and I get my exercise running up and down the stairs, retrieving files, searching for files, and returning files. There are over 20,000 patients and it is pure file pandemonium. Being the overambitious employee (I was trying to make the time pass at rapid speed) I decided to go through all the files to make sure they were in proper order. As I did this I imagined the lives of the people whose files I held. I thought of them hugging each other in the real world as their files hugged each other, so close next to each other my fingers bled from securing the arrangement. I wondered if Brown and Browne would ever meet and how easy it would be if she took his name. I gave life to the drabness of those thin slices of manila and of the filing process. Between filing I skipped up and down the stairs and made faces at the CTV cameras that watched the buildings inside and out (the Brits love to spy). If this is how I am as a meager filer, just imagine how I will be when I actually like arriving to work I love! Ohh please let that day come soon so I can leave these files behind.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

London Living: I need a weekend to recuperate from my weekend!

It was a full weekend here in London and I would have loved to have shown you photos of it, but unfortunately I lost my camera. To be fair, it was on its last leg, but I had some great photos of my friends and I around about town. It started on Thursday when I went to a charity event to watch my house mate's band and Friday I met my London girls for the first time being back, in Holborn/Convent Garden area. It was great catching up!

Two mates on Friday came from the States. They were passing through on a backpacking trip and as my bed is so big, I had enough room to put them up and my other mates who came down from Oxford. I took the American gals to Oxford Street on Saturday for some shopping. The crowds were crazy! Later we met up with my Oxford friends who came down to party in Camden. We ended up at this random Kebab shop (great for the late night munchies. It had loads of people eating the fast food in the front and live jazz in the back. Most places close after 12 here in London unless you pay, but entrance into this place meant purchasing a can of beer. It was a blast. I finally gathered up the girls when I noticed it was three in the morning! We had a long bus ride home (not so cool when you're tired and cold). I realized upon arriving home, not only was my camera not in my friends bag, but my friend's phone was gone and so was another friend's gloves. I have lost many a pair here already!

On Sunday we went to Spitalfields market (see photo). Near the Liverpool street station, this covered market is the one I most enjoy and recommend in London. They have up and coming artists selling their prints, bags, jackets, and jewelry. They have vintage and retro wares for sale as well as flowers and food. I had the best organic African food and shared a massive french pastry with my friend, Nadia. Nadia scored a few rings for Christmas gifts and some handmade gloves (to replace the ones she lost). There are great pubs surrounding the market too and we warmed up in one after we shopped to our hearts content. Here is the website for future reference:

Still no job yet, but I am on the hunt and I did some temp work yesterday.

We are having thanksgiving here at my house! You Yanks know we don't have it here in Jolly Ol, but my housemate was excited about the possibility of pumpkin pie!

photo credit: No photos sign, Spitalfields Market, London,

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bounds Green

Luckily for me I have sweet friends. My friends Maggie and Joel who live in Oxford connected me with Gabrielle and Richard Lobb of Bounds Green who had a spare room needing an occupant. As I was looking for something temporary until I get my feet off the ground, it worked out splendidly for both of us. They have a three bedroom house in North London which they are fixing up....although the bathroom, (my favorite part) modern and plush, is finished....see the last photo. The first photo is Gabrielle in front of her red door (Great luck!) and the second one is of our street. The third photo is the fireplace in my is very pretty as is the view from my large windows. There is also a baby grand in the living room as Richard is a professional musician. It's so sad I've forgotten how to play, but no matter~ there is no shortage of music in this house!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New York Magazine: The Look Book

In ode to my fashionista friend Fabsugar (Sammy D), I decided to share with you one of my favorite places to view snippits of style on the streets of New York. As a person who always enjoys eyeing what other people are wearing, the Fashion Look Book by Amy Lorocca satisfies my cravings.
The people featured are real (and beautiful) and anything goes. Old 5th Ave women with Chanel bags, children on their way to school, and even the unemployed are photographed and interviewed. The fashion is personal and the questions asked show how individuals can be unique and Lorocca portrays them as if their life matters (Isn't that what we all want?). For instance this little boy is named Numa, from Switzerland, and he wants to be a baseball player. While Caroline (left) just graduated from St Andrews and she comments that if her style fails her, at the least she's got her locks. To view more: nymag and for the ever ambitious there is the Video Look Book at

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cousins are the best consolation for an only child.

And my cousins make the most beautiful babies!
Sophia Karras and my cousin Jen (Detroit).

Jessica Place and I in London, two weeks ago. This one knows how to have fun in the City!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Two weeks in Oxford.

Haiku for YOU:
Branch refresh.
Into the Light we go.
Hold on tight.

While passionately surfing the net and making connections for London jobs, I awaited the completion of my newly refurbished room in London at the expense of my fantastic friends in Oxford...they housed and fed me in my hour of need. Bless them! The weather, although cold has been are a few pictures at my friend Nadia's home.... so ok I admit I lounged a bit...taking siestas when the light came through her window.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

3 of my favorite places in Oxford.

If you ever get to Oxford I would recommend three places guaranteed to give you the best of what Oxford has to offer. For classic tea, head to The Rose on High Street. The food is fresh and homemade and the tea hits the spot.
For a new boutique with gifts and British style clothing (Orla Kiely is a favorite), carry on down the street to Aspire Style.
And one of my favorite pubs in all of Oxford is the Turf Tavern. Pubs are plentiful in this college town, but the Turf stands out (in reality it is hidden away and newbies have to be shown by a seasoned veteran where to go). The turf is famous for the place where Clinton "did not inhale", back in his Harvard days. Inside the Turf it is cozy and ceilings are low, keeping warm a mixed crowd of young and old. Outside everyone congregates, circling fires or heat lamps, telling tales of whimsical proportions.

Ode to Nadia's Italy

My good friend Nadia is from a little village outside of Venice. Her family lives up on the hill in a big bright orange house surrounded by her mother's vast vegetable gardens. She went there a month or two ago to visit her family. I hope to go there with her one day.

Sunday, October 28, 2007 Big on Treats!

Wanting something new or different to give to friends this holiday season? Or are you an aspiring artist trying to get your work out there? Try This site showcases various crafts and art work that are ready for purchasing. The goods range from jewelry, collages, print posters (my favorite) and authentic t shirts and all have an original, one of a kind feel to them. An awesome feature of the site is the color wheel, useful when trying to find something to hang in a room or wear, while having a particular color in mind. There is a little something for everyone! Check it out:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lovely Oxford

After spending a night in London with my cousin Jessica (pictures to follow) at the Intercontinental Hotel near Hyde Park (highly recommended), I arrived in Oxford on Saturday. It felt like a dream, like I was going back in time. My friend's and I jumped jubilantly around for an hour or two when first meeting and then they whisked me off to the city centre to watch an important rugby match with a group of friends. It was a proper Oxford welcoming as we stayed up late into the night with pints, laughter, and stories. On Sunday I ran into a nurse that I used to work with (she was shocked to see me!) and had her swear not to tell a soul I was making a surprise visit the next day to the practice. When I arrived there Monday, although everyone was excited, most already knew of my return, except for our two Doctors. I brought coffee to them like it was a regular old work day and I had never left. They were flabbergasted and both did double takes which my mate (and coworker) and I found to be so hilarious. Her and I were termed by the practice as Batman and Robin (I'm Batman). It is good to be here. Though mama, please send me more WARM coats and scarves!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Packard Jennings. Defying the Norm.

I met this cool cat at a party last week in the country. Not only did I assess that he was a nice guy, he is also a fresh artist. He previewed a film at the party entitled "Mussolini Action Figure at Wal-Mart" which I thought was very witty. His art, which some may consider radical, takes commercialism and branding to a whole new level and I support his quest in defying the norm. My favorite is his Walgreen's coupons and the bible stickers he encourages everyone to place on those lovely books one might find in most hotel rooms (see picture).

To view his work (and even purchase something!)
Or to view his film check out "Mussolini Action Figure at Wal-mart" on youtube:

To London, to London to buy a fat pig.

Tower Bridge, London
Originally uploaded by bridgepix
I dream of furniture and house fixtures, hope for a picture on a wall which acknowledges my style or presence. I covet magazines like House Beautiful and Elle Decor. A place of my own (where I can actually have my books on a bookshelf) is left on the back burner. I now have the sea to cross.
I am leaving to London this afternoon to embark on another great adventure or to finish the one I started. I will visit with my cousin and stay with my wonderfully generous friends in Oxford while I look for a flat in London. I will post pictures soon of those cheeky Brits and hopefully report I scored a proper job. Fingers crossed.

So long for now San Fran.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thank you for ruining my breakfast, Mr President.

I sat down with my coffee this morning to enjoy a quick view of the morning news and found George W on every channel. I hate it when this happens. I caught him at the point where he was explaining we have more people than we have houses and I don't want to take patients or money from the private (meaning the big HMO companies). I believe his news conference was his attempt at explaining why he vetoed a bill to allow the "poor kids" medical aid. When I see him now I think about when his daughter was asked by Ann Curry last week on the Today Show, "What is it you would like the country to know about your father?" and she replied, "that he is incredibly open and he is actually really smart." If the president's daughter has to defend her father's intelligence, I believe we have a problem.

One can only hope congress will pass the bill to double the amount of children eligible for health care. Under the Children's Health Insurance Program it will cost 35 billion over a ten year period to provide care for 10 million children. The program aids those who are over the medicaid bracket and are unable to afford private insurance. European countries support all of their children medically, why can't we?

I cannot wait till next year when Bush will be a memory, an unfortunate stain on our presidential past.

Mana Concert. "Baila y Canta"

My next door neighbor and good friend Deb (see photo on the right) is obsessed with the group Mana (with an accent on the last a). The Spanish rock group who has withstood the test of time, they are equivalent the Rolling Stones for the Latino population, came into town two weeks ago and I had the great fortune of scoring a large number of tickets to the concert. Although I wasn't thoroughly familiar with their music, they put on a great show with fire and waterfalls! Que Fantastico!
Here are a few pictures of my friends and I rocking out.


Some of you might already be familiar with the singer Feist, but I recently discovered her by way of my friend, Jessica. I am totally smitten with this lovely sultry singer. She is a bit out there (see her videos) and of course that is why I love her so. A Canadian native, to me she is a mix between Mirah, Nina Simone, and Jem. She will be touring Europe this month and the U.S. next month. She recently did a commercial for IPOD so some of you might recognize her from the song '1 2 3 4'. To check out her videos, see below.

I am all for dancing on the escalators in airports! My Moon My Man video Mushaboom video

Snow and Graham

Although email is a preferred favorite by most to get in touch with those we love, I am a bit old school in that I enjoy sending and receiving letters by post. My new favorite stationery is from a company called Snow and Graham. The simplistic, but whimsical designs on beautifully thick paper have got me itching to write a note to friends or to say a quick thank you. What better way to do this than with a curtsy?

The stationary may be found on: or on their own site:
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