Friday, March 31, 2006


COMFORT LEVEL: 7.8 (Applying ones tongue to a hotplate while passing a kidney-stone)

Hey folks!

Okay, okay... it's not QUITE that uncomfortable. But flippin' heck, giving up the Pernicious Poison Puff, the Brain-Tickling Boredom Balm, the Totally Psychological Cylindrical Salvation, the Blight Of My Lifespan, the Alveolic Taxman, the Little White Life-Terminating Service, or as I like to call it "tobacco", is a rotten old business. In fact, it very much sucks not to suck right now.

There are many health risks associated with quitting smoking. I feel it is my job to enlighten the masses, who I can only imagine are too monged on Marlboros to think straight. The primary risks are:

  • Crying oneself 'spongelike'
  • Lack of concentration (e.g.: forgetting to
  • Eating enough Butterscotch Pudding and Pie Filling Mix to become a major shareholder of the Jello Company, or, in the final stages when all sense is lost, a knob of scotch butter.
  • Antisocial tendencies (examples include - but are not limited to - throwing darts at a picture of Ghandhi, taunting trees for being quiet, or dipping a kitten's tail in chicken stock and watching as it spins itself to pieces)
  • Looking like Pete Doherty. On an atomic-powered roundabout.
  • Increased aggression (Gouging a seven-foot deep trench in the kitchen floor with a soup ladle.)
  • Indigestion, flatulence, carpet-breath, nausea, sweatiness, worsened cough (otherwise known as Couldn't Get A Date In A Tunisian Fruit Market Syndrome)
Never mind. I'm sure it gets easier. I mean, please. Please - does it get easier? PLEASE??????

Well, now. Hope you're all okay there. Things ticking on here. The weather has warmed up a bit. I ended up cycling about 18 miles yesterday which was excellent and foolhardy in a good way (I'm a tad achey today...) Weird thing has happened over the last week-or-so - the people in my dreams now have American accents! Isn't that a weird thing? I wonder if an English person or American person were to move to - say - Poland, how long it would take for the people in their dreams to speak Polish, and whether BEFORE they learned the language everyone in their dreams just went: "Blrlr brbryum blurrrbbylum"? In my dreams also was a hearse with commercials all over it for a concert by the rock band KISS. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Also, just for interest's sake, I made a mental list of current, or recent TV shows over here which began as British TV shows and though I'd blog it. Seriously, in TV terms there's a bit of a British invasion going on at the moment, except the first British invasion was the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and this is a lot more sh*t. Hehe. Anyway:

Pop Idol (American Idol), Deal Or No Deal, The Office, Wife Swap (Trading Spouses), Supernanny, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, What Not To Wear, Antiques Roadshow, Cash In The Attic, Faking It, Hell's Kitchen, Brat Camp, I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here,
Masterchef, Scrapheap Challenge (Junkyard Wars), The 1900 House (Frontier House)

Wow, eh? Making pointless lists is also a sign of quitting smoking btw. Okay - I've gotta go, but I'll call in again soon. Take care everyone!


Thursday, March 30, 2006



Well, that's it. I am definitely, for sure, 100 p/c quitting smoking. I am writing it here so that if I was to wimp out and smoke one anytime soon I will feel like such a complete swazz-bouquet I simply HAVE to keep quitting to avoid such a gross ignominy. I am currently at about 11 hours, and I don't feel too bad! I've got some nicotine gum to help and it's a nice day today, so the timing seems right. Oh, and the house is LOVELY. We had a major clean up last night, and I think that makes a difference too. :)

OH! And I did a 12 mile cycle ride yesterday, and am going to do a 10 mile-r today I think! Amy and I came up with a really good plan - when she goes back to work after her break she drives me and my 'aluminum pedal-horse' to Tremont (or halfway, as is the case today) and I cycle back to Hopedale. It made me feel SO GOOD to be cycling again yesterday, although the wind was a little bit of an added challenge. Not a lot of hedges in Illinois, y'see. And, being a glacially formed part of the world, it's very flat, which is another way of saying it's a bit like a runway for the wind, which is another way of saying it's not easy to keep a new hairstyle looking salon-fresh.

Anyway, gotta go - do call in soon. BTW - if anyone knows of any nausea-dodging tips for pregnant women please pass them on. We'll even pay for them. :) Amy is having quite a hard time here yak-wise. All the best, guys. Wish me luck, and Amy too, double.

Eight days until we are married!


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

We haven't updated in forever and ever . . .sorry for that, but with the news of our little one, it's been a bit earthshatteringly busy/strange/sicky around here. Yes, that's right . . .every waking moment of every day has been filled with a wonderful nausea for me. Brilliant! I'm really not enjoying this at the moment, but Jim keeps me sane by reminding me that it is temporary. I think it will be easier to handle when I can feel and see the baby. Right now I don't feel like there's anything growing inside of me except for possibly aliens that make you barf a lot.

Anyhoo . . .we had a good day at the lake last weekend, so I am going to update or photo site so you can see what our world is looking like. More soon!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Well, we got snow! Not quite a blizzard, but a pretty good showing nonetheless. Check out the pics - it was up to four/five inhes deep on the yard! Not bad for late March!

The dog in the left picture is our neighbor's - she's called Taffy, and lives out all day and all night.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Wow! Two posts in one day! THAT'S more blog for your buck.

Anyway, just had to be excited; we are forecast heavy snow here tonight! Central Illinois is under a Winter Storm Warning -

On the 20th of March though??? Whaaa?!
Hey yoo guys!

How are you all? Hope things are still kickin' on, but not too hard. Or something.

It was a good weekend! Amy's Reader's Theater team had their sectional tournament where they performed an adaptation of James and the Giant Peach. We arrived at 8 A.M., and the performance was at 1:45P.M. (and the final presentation of awards was not until 6:30P.M.!) so we all filled a long day of waiting with DVDs (Amy and I brought our TV) a final rehearsal, and gossip, which I did not participate in, but throughly enjoyed listening to. After witnessing practices every day since I got here it was extremely nervewracking to watch them finally perform it, and I thought they did exceptionally well. They're a great bunch of kids and getting to know them was definitely a privilege.

Being such a small school Tremont lacks many of the advantages of the schools we were competing against. For instance, our 'crew' comprised of Amy, and Jim, plus the kids, while the school before us had a crew of sixteen people - PLUS the cast. We transported our set using the school bus, and our van, while the school after us had three U-HAUL trucks. As four of our cast were singled out by judges for special mention during the awards, it was clearly these inequalities, rather than the kids performances, that resulted in our fifth-place overall placing. So, an international round of applause, please, for Coach Amy, and cast Ben, Marshall, Lisa, Kerri, Melanie, Ashley, Meaghan, Katie, and Breanna. (Special mention also to the peach-colored set, painted using erratically-shaped sponges custom-made by Jim. :) )

Things are going good here. After a bit of a slow past week (with the exception of Saturday) we have resolved to achieve a few things this week. I am going to brush up on my rules of the road and hopefully take my written test next Saturday. We are also looking into getting health insurance and (ugh!) quitting smoking. Like Jeremy Paxman it's important, and bloody difficult. :) Today though is a house-cleaning day. I have already steam-cleaned (or 'Bissel-ed' for trademark-become-adjective fans) the carpets, and after Amy naps we are to tackle the extraordinary and tear-inducing mountain of dishes and glasses that are beyond begging, but rather now silently appealing for a wash. Seriously, if a roasting pan had eyes, ours would have those of a Brazilian street-urchin. Oh, and while we scrub (and blub) we are going to listen to The Flews - I got the CD today from Mike, and am excited to share it with Amy. Thanks dude!

Anyway, gotta go - drop in again later with more news.

Jim and Amy x

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hey everyone!

Phew! Not written for a few days, but we have good excuses. First, Amy and I have been sick for the last four days with a horrid throaty/nosey/achey/shaky devil-cold, from which we have thankfully recovered. By which I mean we can now approach daylight without making crosses with our fingers, and food no longer seems to be the wrong thing to put in your mouth. Secondly, a medium-sized unmanned space probe fell on our house on Saturday. While this was shocking n'all, I must admit that the first reason is probably the main reason for the lack of updates. Also, the second one might be a lie.

Anyway, I know you're all waiting for the news, so here's an extra special mega-update, forthwith, and without further unnecessary preamble. Much.

The cold situation has made it a funny few days but we've still managed to be pretty busy. The funeral went really well - it was a lovely service, and - though it seems funny to say for a funeral - a lovely atmosphere.Amy's song went really well and her and Keith both were congratulated afterwards for a really excellent job. The service ended with the playing of the Johnny Cash version of 'Danny Boy', a more perfect song in a more perfect place I couldn't imagine.

That afternoon Amy and I visited, in a roundabout way (long story), Illinois Cycle and Fitness in Peoria. (Both already suffering with hacking coughs and runny noses - spot the irony. I've underlined it for ya.) We bought some stuff to fix up our bikes. Mine especially was in a slightly needy state, but they are now gleaming and speedy and ready to ride as you can see. Mine has brand new Bontrager semi-slick tires, and super-light bar-ends.

While we're here, here's Amy's bike too. It called the Next 'Plush', which is cute.

On Saturday we tested them for the first time when rode to Froggy's, bought a burger and some sweet potato fries each, and rode out to Robison Lake and had a windy, but fun picnic. On the way home I even found the strength - and inspiration - to dazzle Amy with a bunny hop, which she said made her feel happy all over. Well, okay, but she DID say it was cool. :)

The next couple of days were a bit blurry. I remember Kleenex. I recall Day-Quil, and Ni-Quil, and Vicks. I fancy I heard the angels a-calling... we did manage to go to church on Sunday though which was really good.

We had some major weather problems here over the last week too. After some icy/snow stuff early on, then a big time rainy patch, at the weekend we were under tornado watch for two days and, by the end of it, nine people had died in Missouri (adjacent state) while Springfield, Illinois and other parts too near for comfort were ravaged by some pretty nasty storms. Luckily we suffered only 24 hours of big old thunderstorms and wildly fluctuating temperatures. Which brings us somehow to yesterday, when I checked the mail and found to my delight that my Social Security card had arrived! (Have to cover up the number though - over here that's like putting your credit card details online...)

Wahoo! I can now open a bank account, and learn to drive, and enrol in my GED classes when I want! I am going to go full-throttle on reading the Rules of the Road, and hopefully take my written test in a week or two. I can't wait to get started!! Then, to top off a really excellent day, we went out to eat at Applebee's with Joel and Sarah, and on the way back stopped at their house where I got to see Joel feed his giant fish with little ones. We also bought the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line which we are going to watch tonight.

Oh, and Maddie and Sammy say hi. As you can see, they recently became joined at the butt.

So, dat's dat. Hope you are all doing well. I understand there's been a few cold/flu's over there too. Hope you're all getting better. Oh, and Ali - hope your computer gets back to you sooner rather than later. Drop us an email when it does, ok? Take care everyone!

Jim and Amy

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hey--feel free to leave us comments here! You don't have to comment about what we've written. Just use this as a place you can leave us notes about your days, plans, thoughts, etc. We'd love to hear from you more!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Hello there!

Well, Amy's bloodwork was just fine - and she was very brave indeed. Not a faint, a dribble, or a 'God save me!' in sight. And there was no arm-jerk, or ten-minute chase around the office either, which is always a good thing. Thanks mom for the email - you're right. We both agreed that when it comes to blood we would rather be jabbed than be jabbing. :)

We spent a great day yesterday with Keith and Ashleigh, first at the movies where we saw "When A Stranger Calls" and then shopping in Peoria where Jim could have spent the gross national product of Spain, but managed to hold himself back with the help of an armlock. The movie was... well, it had promise. We all agreed that the while the omission of important details is one thing the liberal inclusion of unecessary - indeed baffling - ones is another, but that a movie with only two things wrong with it isn't a waste of six bucks. Which is probably what they should have paid the lead...

And that ends Jim's movie review section for this week.

Dan's visitation is tomorrow at 4:00pm, and the funeral is on Wednesday. Keith offered to sing with Amy which will be really helpful. We also bought a G.E.D. book at Borders yesterday which I have already been studying and finding mercifully manageable. The G.E.D. is a test you can take here which upon passing gives you the equivalent of a high school diploma, and thus opens your way into further education, certain jobs etc. I was a little worried about the science section, but was amazed how much I knew somehow. It's incredible what how much you learn through life just from being interested in 'stuff', you know? And credit also to Johnny Ball.

Anyway - gotta fly. Love to everyone, and speak soon.


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Getting ready to go get some of my blood removed from my body . . .so unnatural, so wrong . . .I am terrified, of course, but Jim's coming with me so I will be okay. After "blood removal," we plan to go get a quick breakfast and then on to Reader's Theatre practice. We're doing "James and the Giant Peach," and my own James is doing a very nice job as general all-round director's lackey. :) He paints and carries and whatever else I need. It really does help, but mostly I just like having him there so I can see him and remember yet again that he's HERE! I told him today he's not going anywhere ever again . . .well, at least not without me. He thought that sounded do-able, so I guess we'll be ok. :) More later . . .pray for those of us missing Dan Sage . . . especially Bettie.
Amy xxx

Friday, March 03, 2006


Well, the griddle news was good, but I think this tops it...

Amy and I went to the Pekin county courthouse today to get a marriage license which (after some swooning by the lady on duty over my British accent, which ended quickly after I reminded her I was there, with my fiancee, to get a MARRIAGE LICENSE) we got!

While we were there we asked how we would go about arranging a date for the wedding itself, and she directed us to the county clerk's office in the building next door. We thought about it for, lemme see, about a second, wondering if we needed more time to decide on a date, then decided quite quickly that we didn't. And so our wedding day is on Friday the 7th April, 2006, at 3:15PM. So, three of these - :) :) :) - and a bunch of these - !!!!!! - and a speckling of these - wahooo! wahooo! It feels SO GOOD to have a firm date at last, and a nice side-benefit is that we can now tell people a 'when' when they ask 'When????' 'Then', we can reply... um... then.

Aaaaaaand... after that we went to the Social Security Office where all went very smoothly; I handed in my forms, and I.D.s and after a short (confusion-type) delay over my Britishness - "We just don't do many of these" said the lady - my application was deemed successful and I was told to expect my Social Security Number (SSN) within seven-to-fourteen days, which definitely deserves another one of these - :) Oh, okay. And one of these - ! Oh, and we stopped at the DMV to get a copy of the 'Rules of the Road', which I will peruse and ponder over the next few days or so.

In other news a close friend of Amy's parents (and Amy too) named Dan Sage passed away this morning after a really long and gutsy fight against cancer, and other illnesses on top. Betty, Dan's wife has asked Amy to sing a song she wrote for her church praise group at the funeral planned for this Wednesday, which is an honor, to say the least. Amy is quite nervous at the prospect, and afraid she might cry the song rather than sing it, but I know she will do just wonderfully. Anyway, crying is allowed at a funeral.

Hope you are all doing really well. Amy has her bloodwork tomorrow to make sure she's un-diabetic, and so must fast for twelve hours beginning tonight. We're probably heading over to Joel and Sarah's to watch a movie later, and I just hope they don't have chips - it's gonna be really hard sitting there enjoying them while Amy can't. I might even have to turn my back while I fill my face with their deliciousness. Like the prophet said: "It's hard to consider people's feelings when your tummy is empty."

Anyway, speak soon, and our love to you all.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Just to let you know we now have photo hosting - click on the Photos link to the right to see pics! More will be added as and when we take 'em and bake 'em.


The state of the griddle is good.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hiya, it's Jim! Well, it's been two weeks since I arrived, and we've decided that it's time, that we've waited long enough, that the hour is upon us, that we simply must do it:

We're getting a griddle.

That's right: no more SIX PANS to wash after a meal. No more FIVE SLICES OF BACON cooking at once. No more keeping the eggs warm while we cook the pancakes - oh no. If to griddle is not the future of civilization, then it will certainly occur in ours. We're off to Wal-Mart in a minute, then, as the famous 17th century Irish folk song says: "my One True Love and Me, a-griddling shall we be..."