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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Heh, this reminds me of a small furry someone

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No big whoop

In our continuing story of "I don't do anything at any time ever" I offer the following: on Friday we were supposed to go to the local multicultural festival but after a work lunch at the chicken palace, my guts were in no state to be going anywhere. I even had to ask where the bathroom was at Best Buy, when we went to purchase a new cordless phone to replace the phone that shall no longer be named or even thought of. The good news - the bathrooms at Best Buy are quite clean, at least at the one I was in. Saturday I woke up with the worst hayfever ever and spent the rest of the day blowing my nose & trying not to sneeze. We did manage to get out to buy a couple more bottles of the Dowie Doole cab sav that we love (before it disappears forever), and to buy some nice food for dinner (green chicken tikka - my recipe, it was okay but not perfect - and grilled lobster tails - garlic & lime with cilantro lime butter). Sunday we went to see Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen (loved it!), watched the NASCAR race & made steak with chimichurri sauce for dinner. We've also been plowing through a quart of Ontario strawberries since Saturday (sooooooo yummy). As of Monday I still had the hayfever but it seems to be gone for now. Stupid pollen.

No adoption news. I assume the next bit of news will be when we receive the clearance for the first part of the immigration paperwork for our daughter. Until then, I guess no news is good news. Besides, if people are waiting upwards of 20 months (although, not with our agency), there is no way we're getting our referral until at least this time next year, and perhaps not even then. I need to use this baby free time to prepare my body for baby. Because while I am well aware that I need to lose weight for my health & so that I can be a better, faster mom (6 million dollar mom! Nenenenenenene), I'll be darned if I can get motivated to do so. I eat pretty well (usually), I just can't seem to get me of my arse to get fit. We even have a spiffy recumbant exercycle in the basement & I can't motivate myself to use that. I'm such an idiot that way. I did so well with all the walking in England, why can't I make myself walk here at home? Maybe I need a buddy, someone other than Andrew, to motivate me. What I need, what I'm sure every fat person needs, is a magic pill that removes the fat from where you don't want it, with little effort. That is never going to happen. Ever ever ever. I can only blame my genes for this so much, the rest (the majority) of the blame rests squarely on my shoulders. The last thing I want is for my weight to jeopardize our adoption. By the way, mega congrats to my best friend for her continued weight loss over the past few months - you are an inspiration to me. Don't give up on your dreams.

On a lighter(? - he he he, considering the last topic) note, I'll be glad when all this thunderstormy/rainy weather moves out of town, cuz it's literally giving me a headache.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Watch out! Don't ever turn your back on.....

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Caveat emptor

I think that means may the buyer beware. Looks like Team Alpha Super Awesome Cool Dynamite Wolf Squadron (that would be Andrew & I, plus the kittehs) need to buy yet another cordless phone. Well, technically that's not entirely true, we do have the 10+ year old cordless phone that my folks gave us, that holds a charge for 60 minutes or so. The brand new phone we bought about a year ago (5.8 Ghz! LCD display! awesome silver & white trim!) for $30 decided tonight that it was retiring. We know this because it steadfastly refused to aceept any of our button-pushing, which is frustrating when you're trying to order in a pizza. Like "they" say, you get what you pay for. So don't pay for a silver & white GE 5.8 Ghz phone, no matter how cheap it is, because that's what it is - cheap. So I guess I'll be checking out the cordless phone deals on my way home from work tomorrow! Ah, retail therapy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Doro What?

Now that I'm done recounting my riveting UK holiday, I can now get back to the minutiae of my everyday life. It's not all champagne wishes & caviar dreams, you know. While we haven't really done much since we returned (this is especially true for my more-than-lardy arse), this weekend was actually eventful. Friday was quiet, but the early hours of Saturday brought us that most precious of gifts - the hairball. We don't even get up to try to get Pippin onto a tile floor anymore, we just let her let it rip & do the damage control when she's done. She's now on hairball control food, so hopefully that will help her pass them in a less spectacular fashion. After that fairly rude awakening we were off to Ethiopian cooking class with our fellow Milton adopting couples (at least, the ones that are with our social worker). This class was organized by Alicia, with one of the presenters of our agency's class presenters, Mibrak (I seem to recall her hosting the Ethiopian culture class, part 1). We all met up in a church in a nearby bustling metropolis, to learn how to cook doro wat, a beef stew (the name of which escapes me), a lentil stew & a vegetable dish. We didn't do much of the cooking ourselves, but we were given recipes & were able to see what the food should look like at various stages of preparation. The lentil dish used the same base (onions, garlic, ginger & berbere) as the doro wat. The beef dish wasn't spicy, except for the large chunks of chili added at the end. The veggie dish was onions, carrots & cabbage, stir-fried with ginger & garlic added later. Then we learned how to make injera (on a big circular griddle). It was sooooo yummy, especially the injera, which was made properly, with a starter (something I haven't done yet). We each got some starter to take with us, so we can try making injera at home (once Andrew & I get a flat griddle with a lid). We always have fun with those 2 couples, so it was great to see them again. We're getting together this week for coffee/ chicken wings, and the next day for the local multicultural festival.

After our class we headed down to my parents place, to take my dad out for Father's Day. He picked the restaurant - one of the local steak places - and we had a great time. I think it's the first time he's been out for dinner since his surgery (though he's been out to breakfast a few times). He's doing really well, but he still tires very easily. For his gift, we got him an apron for barbequing (emblazoned with Big Green Egg - that's his fancy BBQ/smoker) and some BBQ rub. He was really impressed with the apron, it had the funniest/weirdest sticker on it - see operators manual for applications. Like you couldn't figure out how to operate an apron? Heh. Good times. I think he was really pleased that we came down. I'm sure he would have also liked to have seen my brother & his family - Evie (the first grandchild) is only 2.5 months old, and Mom & Dad haven't seen her in 3 weeks, which is a lifetime when they're that young. Hopefully they (my brother & his family) will motivate themselves to go see Dad soon. I know it's tough when you've got a little one, but your father also just had major, life-savng surgery & can't travel yet. Not that he visited that often before Dad was diagnosed. Rant over.

That's about it for today. Be well!

Monday, June 15, 2009

UK Trip, Days 8-10

Here we are, in the home stretch! I'm sure you're about as happy to stop reading about this as I am to stop writing about it. I'm still finding my writing groove….

Day 8 - This was a DRIVING DAY. I hate being in the car for longer than a couple of hours at a time, so this day was not good, mostly. We had an early breakfast at the guesthouse, after another mediocre night of sleep, then we hit the road! We took a different route south than we had on our way north, driving through the Cairngorms towards Perth. All went pretty well, except for the odd bathroom break, until our GPS tried to direct us off our beaten path onto a route which appeared to lead northwards again. Well, we were having none of that! We decided we knew better and turned back around so we were heading toward Perth again. What we didn't notice until a fair bit later was that the time to destination on the GPS jumped 2 hours when we did that. Yeah, that's how we roll. We stopped for lunch somewhere in the Lowlands, close to the border. Andrew ordered scampi (I think) & I ordered a burger. Turns out the burger takes 30 min to cook, which they bloody well could have warned patrons about on the menu. If I'd known it would take that long I'd have ordered something else, as we were anxious to get back on the road. We asked some fellow patrons in the pub for directions as to how to get going towards the west coast again (our self-imposed detour had us heading towards the east coast) and hit the road yet again, our GPS taunting us all the way (telling us to head the way she wanted us to go). We finally turned the GPS off until we hit the motorway. After leaving Inverness at 8am, we finally arrived in Hereford at 7pm. Blech. Anyway, as luck would have it, I had booked the best accommodation for that night, a small boutique hotel (Castle House) that I believe was made from 2 or 3 18th century townhouses. It was an oasis to us. They showed us to our room, carrying our suitcases for us. In the luxurious room there was a bowl of fresh fruit, a decanter of sherry, sparkling mineral water & a toiletry bag full of luxury toiletries (body butter, liquid soap & shampoo) - all on the house. We quickly freshened up & headed downstairs for dinner. We sat outside on the edge of the water (the only remaining part of the castle that was destroyed in the mid-1600s) for drinks & nibbles, and the waiter even took our order down by the water. Once our meal was ready he called us inside. The dinner was very yummy, most of the meat & produce was from the hotel owner's farm. After that it was an early night - Andrew was exhausted from driving and I was tired from having slept in the car most of the day. My life is so hard.

Day 9 - After a nice, but quick breakfast, we walked just down the street to Hereford Cathedral ( This is my favourite cathedral I've visited. It was fairly quiet, being a weekday & fairly early in the morning. I mean quite people-wise, not noise-wise. Almost the whole time we were there someone was playing the enormous pipe-organ, which was really spooky, kind of. It's hard to describe, but it really produces an emotional response in me, walking through a place that has been a house of worship for almost a thousand years, listening to music that sends chills up your spine. While we were there I lit another candle for my father (I had lit one at Westminster Abbey as well). Then we went to see the special chained library & Mappa Mundi exhibit. I just find it amazing to look at books & maps that people wrote & drew so long ago, to see the world how they saw the world. After that it was back in the car, on our way to Dorset, to see the attraction that was the whole reason Andrew brought me on this trip - Monkey World. To give you a little background, ever since we moved back to Canada I've been watching a show called Monkey Business, whenever it was on. This show is about the inhabitants of Monkey World - rescued chimpanzees, orangutans, gibbons, macaques, capuchin monkeys & other primates. They've been rescued from lives as photographers props (drugged, sometimes with their teeth pulled), pets, laboratory subjects, etc, and brought to a place where they can live out the rest of their lives in peace. We only got to spend 1.5 hours there but it was great to see the monkeys in person. They're so cute you can see why people would want them as pets, but it's just not the right thing for these wild animals. Then we checked into our B&B, headed out for some dinner, came back & watched a special Time Team episode about Stonehenge, and crashed.

Day 10 - Had a great home-cooked breakfast (for me - porridge - I love it, it doesn't love me back, not sure why I had it that day - fresh fruit & a freshly made croissant; for Andrew - poached egg, farm sausage, toast, mushrooms & tomato) and loaded our bags into the car for the last time. Managed to get to Gatwick in record time (well, less than the GPS said), offloaded the car, checked out bags in & had some lunch. After lunch we hit the duty-free shops (Andrew got some scotch & some cologne, I got a little something for myself) and then waited for our flight to be called. Then it was on to our not-so-nice flight (which I mentioned in a previous post, no need to revisit it here).

We picked up the kittehs the next day - Pippin was happy to see us & went straight into her carrier for the ride home (she loves her carrier, that one). Willow was a different story. She sat at the very back of her kennel & howled the riot act at us. Eventually Andrew had to crouch down & go in to get her. She's used to spending our vacations at my parent's place, but that wasn't possible this time, with my dad's surgery & all.

Now you're up to date!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

UK Trip Days 8-10 pics

Again, it's come up in reverse. You'd think I'd learn! First pic is part of the gardens & the shed of the B&B we stayed in (Honeycombe Cottage in Shitterton - no, I'm not joking), second is the B&B itself (it's a 550 year old cottage), third is a Capuchin monkey at Monkey World - they are such characters!, fourth is the ruins of Tintern Abbey, and the last picture is of the freebies (sorry - amenities!) at Castle House in Hereford.

UK Trip Days 5-7 pics

These are coming up in reverse order, but whatev. The first pic is Eilean Donan, second one is a graveyard on the Isle of Skye, third one is the Culloden battlefield (mainly the memorial cairn & some of the clan marker stones), fourth is the CUTE Highland cattle, and the other 2 are mountain/ waterfall shots.

UK Trip Days 1-4 pics

I'm too afraid to edit the actual post, so I'm posting a new post. The first pic is Stonehenge (uh, duh), second one is the Roman Baths, third one is Windsor Castle.

Friday, June 12, 2009

UK Trip, days 5-7

Day 5 - This was mostly a driving day. We headed out to Heathrow fairly early to pick up the rental car. After lengthy negotiations, Andrew manages to secure an upgraded car (Saab Aero) for some extra bucks. The extra bucks buy us more legroom and, more importantly, a GPS. We were off to Scotland! The GPS paid for itself by getting out of the area surrounding the airport with no wrong turns. With the amount of round-abouts in the UK, I'm sure we would have gotten completely lost without the GPS. Thankfully, Andrew has lots of experience with round-abouts from growing up in Australia. We got to Edinburgh at about 6.30pm, though it took us an extra 30 min to find our "guest house" as the GPS did not take us all the way there. After a bit of griping at each other we decided to stop at a pizza joint & ask for directions, because if anyone knows the neighbourhood, it'll be a pizza delivery guy. Anyway, we finally arrived, too late to do any sightseeing in Edinburgh itself. We had a little dinner and then headed up to chill out in the room. Well, it wasn't actually chilly, as it never really got too cool in Scotland when we were there, which hampered our sleeping efforts. Also, our room happened to be above the hotel bar, so if we opened the windows too much we got a room full of smoke & noisy patrons. Awesome.

Day 6 - Had a hot breakfast, including haggis (we went all the way to Scotland, we had to say we'd tried haggis). We only tried a little bit each, but it stayed with us for quite a while. It wasn't awful, it just had an odd taste & texture. Then it was off to Inverness, by way of Fort William. You could really tell when you'd reached the Highlands, the mountains were just spectacular. I've never really been around mountains like that before so it was quite a treat. Sure, they're not the highest mountains in the world, but they just go on forever. I took lots of pictures from the car, and they actually turned out - all hail the sports setting! All over the place there was this small yellow shrub that I can't identify & it's driving me nuts. Anyhoo, we stopped in Fort William for lunch and a little shopping. We bought my dad a quaich & a little bottle of scotch (which he doesn't really drink, and won't be able to drink for a while - until he recovers) from the local distillery (Ben Nevis - which is also the name of the nearby mountain, the highest peak in the UK). We also scored a nodding/bobble-head Nessie for the car! We do love our odd bobble-heads. We still miss Louis, the bobble-head lobster that was stolen with the first Jetta. Sigh. Moving on, we got back on the road to Inverness, passing by Loch Ness in the process. No monsters were spotted. That is one big loch. Part of the reason I wanted to go up to Inverness is because of the Outlander series of books by Diana Gabaldon, so it was great to see the scenery in that area. It's going to add a new element to the books, which I plan to re-read (again) in anticipation of the new book, which will hopefully be out this fall. We passed a small herd of hairy Highland cattle on the way into Inverness - so cool! They are just about the cutest cows you'll ever see (but then I kind of have a thing for horses & cows & sheep etc). We finally reached Inverness about 5pm. We checked into the B&B/guesthouse & headed out for dinner. Then it was back to the guesthouse for a little TV, then sleep. Well, we tried to sleep. The bed was VERY firm, and of course it was pretty warm with the window closed, so we opened it to let in some breeze (and traffic noise, and bird noise). Of course, no one thought to mention that because Inverness is so far north, the sun doesn't set in the late spring/summer. So it's like dusk from 11pm-6am. That didn't bother me so much, but it did get to Andrew. My issues were with the hard bed & the thin pillows - too thin for just 1, too thick for 2. Gah!

Day 7 - Had a good breakfast (a nice mix of cold & hot foods), then headed out to the Culloden Battlefield Interpretive Centre, which is near to Inverness. Again, it was awesome to be somewhere I'd read so much about in Diana's books (even though they are fiction, they have elements of actual historical events). It was sad and a little chilling to see the artifacts of the battle - all the musket balls & broken swords, as well as mementos & items that actually belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie. One highlight of the centre is the 360 degree theatre, which shows a film based on the battle (no narration, just the battle). As you're standing in the middle of the room you hear the wind around you & see the grass & the heather moving with the wind. Then you start hearing bagpipes & the sounds of marching. Slowly the men come into view - the English army or the Highlanders, depending on which direction you are facing. They get closer & closer, facing each other. Then the English cannons start firing, and the muskets (with bayonets), and the Highlanders start yelling & advancing with their swords & shields. They never stood a chance. Like I said, it was chilling. Then the figures fade away and you hear the wind again. By this time you've reached the place where you exit the building onto the battlefield itself. Obviously it's just a field now. You get an audiophone & you walk the path. The audiophone activates at certain places on the path and you hear an account of the battle, often based on writings of people who were there. You pass by the Well of the Dead, where one of the big chieftains fell, the stones placed where the members of each clan were buried, and the big stone cairn commemorating the battle, which was put there over 100 years later (the battle was April 16, 1746). By that time it was almost 11am, so we hit the road to Skye, which was the other thing we had been planning to do that day. Turns out we should have allowed a whole day for Skye to do everything we wanted to do, but we didn't know that at the time. The GPS took us the long way around, through multiple one lane roads, but we finally made it. One of our destinations was Duncan House, which is an artisan studio about 30min inland from Broadford. It was well worth the trip, the Celtic knot jewelry there is made by the artisan on site. I bought a silver ring with thistles & Celtic knots (it's hard to describe) as my "souvenir of our trip" from the artisan himself. It was very cool. Then we went & had some lunch & headed up to Portree, to shop at Skye Batiks. We had also intended to visit Talisker Distillery but as it was already 3.45pm we thought it was too late, as it would take about 45 mins to get there & it closes at 5pm. So we headed back to Inverness the quick way. On the way we rounded the bend and all of a sudden in front of us was a castle (Eileen Donan), right on the shores of a loch! It was stunning. Another un-eventful evening, except for the finale of Britain's got Talent, and a Top Gear episode that we hadn't seen yet (but that happened to also be the first episode we saw when we got home).

We're in the home stretch now. Only 2.5 more days to go!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

UK Trip, Days 1-4

Here is the long-awaited (heh - who am I kidding?) UK trip diary. I didn't actually keep a diary while this was all happening, so I'm dragging it out of the dark recesses of my noggin. Come along, enjoy the ride! Beware of an overload of information! I'll add pictures later.

Day 1 - Left Toronto at 12midnight precisely, the flight was surprisingly good for a "budget flight". Lots of legroom & my arse even fit in the seat! Huzzah! I heart Air Tr@nsat. Food was not bad, but not great either. I tried to sleep but the fool in the seat in front of me kept opening her window blind (every 10 minutes) so I kept getting a face full of sunshine. Grrrrrr. Touched down at 11.30am local time, got a taxi to the hotel & were in our room by 12.30pm. That's got to be some kind of miracle. Didn't do much that day, except book a tour for the next day & go out to dinner at an Argentinian steak restaurant. Food was really good, especially the cheese bread & chimichurri sauce. Slept surprisingly well.

Day 2 - We (Andrew, Andrew's boss & I) did a day tour of Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath (well, the Roman Baths). We had to be at the pick up hotel (10 minutes walk away) by 8am so we got up too early for a vacation, had a quick breakfast of yoghurt (that we'd bought the day before) and hit the road. The bus actually picked us up at 8.20am & took us to the bus terminal, where we lined up to get on our actual bus. Arrived at Windsor Castle at approx 10am, when it promptly started raining. Didn't take too long to get inside & get our audiophone tour guide thingy. Why they think people are co-ordinated enough to walk & listen to an audiophone at the same time is beyond me. Or maybe I'm underestimating other people. Anyway, the castle was very cool but the audio tour was too slow, we were constantly getting ahead of it. We had to be back at the bus by 11.45am, but of course you get held up by the changing of the guard (the police won't allow you to leave the castle grounds until it's over at 11.30am). Then we quickly grabbed some lunch, as previously instructed, and hoofed it back to the bus. Drove through the beautiful countryside (it had stopped raining by then) to Bath. I love Bath, it's one of my favourite places I've been, it's too bad we only had enough time to see the Roman Baths, which were actually the one part of Bath I didn't see the first time I was there. That was also neato. Had just enough time for an iced mocha & some yummy chocolates. Then back on the bus & off to Stonehenge! Stonehenge looks pretty much like it does when you see it on TV or in pictures, but it's smaller than you expect. That might disappoint some, but I thought it was great! Amazing that it's been standing for so long. It's also really cool to think about all the people in history who've seen it. Then it was back on the bus & back to the hotel. My feet were KILLING ME by this point. We did a little refreshing, then headed out to dinner at this great Italian place called Alloro. I had the best fried goats cheese on a bed of spinach salad, and for dessert I had a chocolate fondant cake. Yummmmmmm. Andrew wanted to check out the hotel he used to work at (Brown's) so we headed there after dinner, and he had a good chat with the doorman. Then it was back to the hotel. Man, I slept like the dead that night.

Day 3 - Andrew went to work that day, but first he got us a yummy breakfast from the café nearby. I had a chocolate pastry twist & a glass of milk - mmmmm. Actually, I had that the next 2 mornings too. Soooo yummy. Andrew & his boss headed out, & I went back to sleep. I woke up at 11.00am & decided that if I was going to do anything that day I should get a move on. I decided to walk up to the restaurant I used to work at (Café Creperie). Why I decided to walk, when my feet felt like pieces of tenderized meat, I don't know. It was pretty cool checking out all the high-end jewelry stores (Bulgari, Tiffany's, Chopard, etc) on my way. I also got told by a lovely African man that I was "his kind of woman". Thanks! This baby do got a fair bit of back. Made it to the restaurant in about 30 min, which I was pretty proud of. Had the same crepe I used to love when I worked there - stuffed with bacon, cheese & sour cream. These are big crepes, about the size of a platter. They put the stuffing in the middle of the big circle, then fold it up into a square. Then they cook it on both sides. It was sooooooooooo good. The place hasn't changed a bit, but the area is a lot more built up than I remember. Then I headed to Selfridges, which is right next door. Selfridges was one of the first purpose-built department stores in London, and it's celebrating 100 years in business this year. Everything was yellow - they had yellow Coke bottles, yellow carry bags designed by different designers (the one I got is designed by Stella McCartney), yellow rock candy. There's lots of designer stuff there, but since there was no chance any of it was going to fit me, I headed next door to Marks & Spencer. I got a very nice grey cardigan there. By this time my feet were saying NO MORE! So I hopped in a cab & headed back to the hotel. The boys had dinner with work colleagues that night, so I got room service.

Day 4 - Andrew was working again, so I headed out early (10am) to catch a hop-on, hop-off tour. It was rainy & cool that day, so I stayed inside the bus. I hopped off at Westminster Abbey, another place that I missed on my previous trip to the UK. Loved it - I lit a candle for my dad. I grabbed a snack there (at 2pm, I hadn't eaten since 8am that morning). I hopped back on the bus for what I hoped was a quick trip back to my hotel. After another 2 hrs on the bus I was finally home. I didn't pee all day - gah! That night we went to a seafood restaurant (I hate seafood but the boys really wanted some fish). I had a great steak there, though, and a yummy chocolate pot. Andrew had oyster rarebit for dessert (it doesn't actually contain oysters, just oyster stout & cheese). That was yummy. That was our last night in London, but we were getting anxious to move on by then.

This is wordier that I thought (but it's a good way to remember my trip). I'll pick up the story in another post.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The jet lag - she sucks

Probably the worst thing about overseas travel is the jet lag. In the past I've suffered pretty badly with it, especially when we came back from Australia last spring - I couldn't sleep at night for 3 days, I was a complete mess. This time, we had a great sleep the night we returned from the UK, but since then I've been waking up multiple times every night. I hate broken sleep, it always throws me for a loop because I'm usually a good sleeper - heck, I started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks old! I don't suppose my daughter will also do that? Probably not. I can't imagine what the plane ride home from Ethiopia will be like, all that time with an infant I hardly know, who doesn't know us, who I won't have a clue how to comfort. I freak out a little just thinking about it. Hopefully I can lose a heap of weight before then so I can be more comfortable in economy class, cuz there's no way we can afford business class!
All that to say I'm not up to blogging about the trip yet. Maybe on Sunday when I get home from visiting my folks. About that - GOOD NEWS! Dad is finally home from the hospital! They discharged him Thursday afternoon.
That's all from here, have a great weekend everyone (all 2 of you!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Yeah, I'm back

We arrived home on Tuesday evening, after a flight that included: a 1 year old child in the row behind us that screamed at the top of his lungs for half the flight (no exageration - poor guy, his ears probably didn't pop properly); a drunk old couple sitting in front of us, chatting & repeating themselves incessantly; and a medical emergency once we arrived (she didn't look all that sick to me, she walked off the flight under her own power - but who am I to judge?). All in all, not the best flight. The trip was awesome, though. I'll post pictures in the next week or so.

In Dad news, he's still in hospital but doing better. First he developed pneumonia but that's been resolved. Now his incision isn't healing properly, so they had to remove the staples & suture it up (30 big stitches & 10 smaller ones). The incision is 10 inches long. Wowsers.

Well, that's about all I feel up to posting now. Perhaps I will have more energy tomorrow. It's good to be back, but I sure miss the UK.