Archive of ‘Entries With Photos’ category
I know it’s not actually Halloween until tomorrow, but my mum just emailed me this photo of Rubin (he stayed with my parents’ last night while we were out partying: we’re heading off to pick him up soon!), and it was too good not to share:
Hope everyone’s having a great weekend!
p.s. One more…
(Note: Rubin wore this mask for approximately 2 seconds each time. No bichons were harmed in the making of these photos.)
As those of you who follow me on Twitter already know, yesterday afternoon I was on my way to the kitchen when I happened to glance out of the front window just in time to see this guy wandering across the road:
Luckily, there was only one car trying to drive down the aforementioned road at the time, and its driver had spotted our little spiky friend and was patiently waiting for him to get out of his path. The hedgehog didn’t seem to want to do that, though, so I called for Terry, and the two of us headed out to help.
Cute, isn’t he? (The hedgehog, I mean, not Terry. Although Terry, if you’re reading this, you are ALSO cute.)
He had been headed straight for our house, but given that we’re not running a Hedgehog Hostel – or a Hogstal, as it shall henceforth be known – we figured he was lost, and, well, we didn’t really know what to do about that. We couldn’t just leave him in the middle of the road, though, so Terry ran and got an old towel (which, yes, was binned afterwards) and carefully picked him up:
And then I totally DIED of the cute, because OMG, lookit his little hands!
(The whole time we were outside the house, by the way, we could hear Rubin barking his head off inside. It was as if he somehow KNEW we were entertaining a rival animal on the property…)
“Can we keep him, Terry, can we keep him, please can we keep him?” I said. But Terry is a big ol’ meanie, so he carried the hedgehog into the woods and deposited him in a safe place.
“But how did you KNOW it was safe?” I said, later that night, when even I had got bored with repeatedly asking “Do you think the hedgehog will be OK? Are you sure? How about now?” But I was worried. I mean, he’d been headed right for the house. Maybe he… KNEW something? Or was supposed to be meeting someone there? Or… yeah, I have no idea what business a hedgehog could have with my house, to be honest, but you never know, people, you never know.
Terry pooh-poohed these ideas of mine, though, so we settled down to enjoy our Friday evening. Later that night, however, we heard Rubin barking frantically in the garden. It was his special, “Timmy’s down the well,” bark, so we headed out to see what he’d found, and…
Mama hedehog had come looking for her baby. Or perhaps had come to be revenged on us for taking her baby into the woods. Are you scared? Because I am.
(That’s not a white stripe on its back, by the way. I thought it was too when I took the photo and looked back at it on the camera, but it was actually just some weird effect of the flash…)
(When Terry got outside, he caught Rubin just about to pee on this poor hedgehog. I mean, SERIOUSLY….)
(He managed to stop him just in time.)
(I’ll stop with the parentheses now.)
(Or maybe I’ll just keep doing it, to annoy you? No? OK…)
So, of course, now I’m worried that the Big Hedehog had come looking for the Little Hedgehog. And that, having failed to find it – BECAUSE WE CARRIED IT OFF TO THE WOODS – it will, I don’t know, pine to death? And that our names will be MUD now amongst the hedgehog fraternity. For this reason, I hung around in the dark garden for much longer than was really necessary, until the hedgehog crossed into our neighbour’s garden and disappeared into a flower bed. It didn’t SEEM to be annoyed with us, but as I said: you never know, do you?
I hope they’re both OK. And that they haven’t put some powerful curse upon us for our actions that day. Because hedgehog curses are THE WORST, seriously.
(I really hope they come back for another visit, though…)
In other news:
I learned how to use a hair donut to create a variation on my Messy Bunhead. And it only took me my entire life!
I know, I know: for someone who professes not to be a Hair Person, I’m certainly managing to crank out the ol’ hair posts recently hmm? This is quite a big deal for me, though, because it brings the total number of hairstyles I can do up to three. Actually, I tell a lie: it brings it up to four:
Five if you count the fishtail braid, which I ALSO learned to do, but didn’t take a photo of.
FIVE HAIRSTYLES, people! This time last year, I only had ONE!
I hope you’ll all buy my new book, by the way: Amber’s Adventures in Messy Bunland. It’s like Alice in Wonderland, except the rabbit hole is the Internet, and the bottle with the “drink me” label turns out to be WINE…
Some other stuff I did when I wasn’t busy fighting bad guys:
I wore things that are stripey and things that have bows on them. Sometimes I wore them at the same time. It’s an exciting life, and no mistake.
I drank a lot of coffee from my new mug:
(I have a Shoeperwoman one too. They are ace.)
I watched Terry juggle:
I was going to make a crude joke about balls here, but I’ll leave that up to you, OK?
I discovered that my dad is Made of Magic:
And so are these shoes:
(Disclosure: Shoes c/o Sarenza. SELLOUT.)
I became dangerously addicted to Sims Social on Facebook:
(Yes, my Sim is wearing the same top I’m wearing in photo #3. I like to be coordinated.)
I can give it up any time, though. I have to finish building my new extension first, though.
We had some friends round for a little get-together:
This photo wasn’t actually taken that day, though, so it’s purely here for illustrative purposes. I don’t put photos of my friends on my blog, or even talk about them much, because
they are imaginary I don’t want to infringe on their privacy or anything, but they do exist, and it was good to see them, and be able to talk about something other than people ripping me off on the internet. Although, obviously I DID talk quite a lot about people trying to rip me off on the internet. Sorry, guys.
As for Rubin, here is how he has been dealing with recent events:
I wish I was him sometimes, I really do.
(I know: the headline of this post made you think it was going to be something interesting, and it just turned out to be another one of those Instagram posts. Sorry, chickpeas. And sorry for calling you “chickpeas”, too.)
P.S. I also begged people to vote for me in the River Island Style Competition, which was supposed to end yesterday, but which is apparently still going on, and I have no idea why. I’m currently in second place, but there’s only three votes in it, and if you don’t go and vote for me rightthisverysecond, I will probably drop to third, the world will instantly end, and it will ALL BE YOUR FAULT. And all you had to do to stop it was to click here and then like the photo.
P.P.S. And I re-opened my Formspring account, for as long as it takes for the shop-related questions to start rolling in. Probably a couple of hours, then.
LETTIS!!!! OMGLETTIS!!!!!!!!! BRING IT!!!!!!
OK, then, DON’T bring it. I’ll just bring ME to IT instead. If the lettis won’t come to the Rubinman, why, the Rubinman must go to the lettis. LETTTIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I pray to the Mighty Lettis God. What do you ask of your humble servant, oh Lettis God?
OMG LETTIS FROM HEAVEN! Prayers WURKED!
COME to Rubin…
Lettis is mine. Now it will do my bidding. Like… I will make lettis levitate!
[Photos by Terry. Thanks, Terry!]
(Amber’s note: Rubin likes lettuce. And almost all vegetables, to be honest. And also all other forms of food. And sometimes things that aren’t actually food. Like that spider he ate that one time. But lettuce! Is not harmful to dogs, as long as they’re not eating too much of it, which he isn’t. Spiders, on the other hand…)
Way back in the day, when this was all still fields and I used to “blog” over at Livejournal (only we didn’t call it “blogging” then – at least, not without the inverted commas – we just called it “journalling”. Ah, t’was a more innocent age!), I used to follow the A Day of My Life in Pictures community, where people would basically, well, document a day of their lives in pictures, d’uh. I found it really fascinating to get these little insights into the minutiae of other people’s lives, right down to the seeing what type of shampoo they used, and what they ate for lunch. In fact, those little insights are what made me get interested in blogs in general: I just loved the fact that I could be sitting there, at my desk in central Scotland, and get a glimpse of what it might be like to be a mother of five in the Midwest, or an 18-year-old in Japan, or whatever. And so my love of blogging was born.
As it happens, not much has been happening in my life of late, which is why there haven’t been too many posts here lately. Or, you know, none at all. Last week, though, I thought it would be fun to document this not-very-much that happens, in a tribute to the ADIML community, and I decided to do it using the blogger’s favourite medium: the Instagram photo. (Yeah, yeah, I know it’s fashionable to sneer at Instagram users, but I like it, and it’s easier than lugging around a DSLR all day. And I promise there are no photos of cupcakes or macarons. I’m not THAT much of a blogging cliche. Yet.) “Because people will TOTALLY want to see photos of not-very-much happening!” I thought, excitedly. “In fact, I will wait for a day on which absolutely nothing happens and I am basically just stuck in the house all day with the dog, and then I will do it!”
That day was Sunday. Here’s what it looked like.
* * *
Sunday, August 7th, in the year of our Lord, 2011. I’m woken early, by the sound of Terry swearing and muttering to himself in the hall. And also by the scent of Indian food cooking, for some reason.
Terry enters the room, and informs me that Rubin has peed on his bed in the night (Rubin’s bed, that is. Not Terry’s bed. Because that would mean Rubin had peed on MY bed in the night, and that would mean he had peed on US. And this would be a very different post, let me tell you.), and then leaves. Awesome! Welcome to Sunday morning! Welcome to… MY LIFE.
(Actually, Rubin peeing the bed in the night ceased to be A Thing some years ago, so I can only assume he decided to reprise the trick on this particular morning because he knew this was the day I was going to be documenting, and he wanted it to be as awkward as possible. The little git.)
Luckily for me, Terry has cleaned Rubin, and cleaned the bed, and now he’s off to Perth, to go white water rafting. I’m not going because I hate cold water, rafts, danger, DEATH, getting up early on a Sunday morning, and any activity which forces me to wear a wetsuit. Instead, I am anticipating a nice, long lie, and a relaxing Sunday at home. But it is not to be, because right after Terry leaves, I take the photo at the top of the page, to document my “waking up”, and instantly notice that weird, red mark on the side of my jaw.
What IS that weird red mark on the side of my jaw, I wonder? Why is it there? Am I dying?
I get out of bed and head to the bathroom, to examine what I can only describe as … a weird, red mark on my jaw. I am dying, obviously. It is some bizarre kind of skin condition, a signifier of Certain Death. This day I have chosen to document in pictures… it will be my LAST DAY ON EARTH.
Oh, hai, hypochondria! Long time no see!
I walk dispiritedly back to the bedroom, a condemned woman. When I open the door, I discover that someone has made himself right at home in my absence:
(This picture was not posed. That’s actually how I found him.)
“Rubin,” I tell him, “I am dying. I have a weird red mark on the side of my jaw. I have Weird Red Mark On Side of Jaw Disease, and even if I survive today, I will have to abandon my Day in Pictures thing, because as soon as I post that first one, people will comment and say that, OMG, their Great Aunt Ethel woke up with a weird red mark on her jaw this one time, and she totally died.”
“That’s really interesting, Amber,” says Rubin, but I’d like some of that Indian food I can smell, do you think we could do something about that?”
And you know, Rubin is right. The house DOES smell strongly of Indian food, which is weird, because that’s not normally what we eat for breakfast. I follow the smell downstairs, to solve the mystery. I discover a couple of clues in the kitchen:
Exhibit A: dirty dishes, sink full of. Exhibit B: onion bhajis, six of.
There is no sign of the food itself, so I assume it is either inside Terry’s belly, or en-route to Perth. Strange.
(Note: in fairness to Terry, I should point out that he wouldn’t normally go out and leave dishes in the sink or rubbish on the counter. He just didn’t have time to clean because of the whole “Rubin peeing on his bed” fiasco. On balance, I’d much rather clean a couple of not-very-dirty plates than Rubin’s backside and bed. Thanks, Terry.)
So I let Rubin out into the garden, where it has been raining now for forty days and forty nights, as prophesied by all of that rain we got on St. Swithin’s Day.
“Er, no thanks,” says Rubin. “YOU can go and pee in the rain if you want: I’ll just stick to peeing on my bed, if it’s all the same to you.” He doesn’t like the rain.
I make coffee.
And I have a look in the fridge to see what there is to eat. Here is the only thing that was in the fridge:
Those are two melons propping it up, just to give you an idea of scale. My in-laws brought it back from their visit to the Cadbury factory in Birmingham last week. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when Terry walked in with it.
OK, it wasn’t the ONLY thing in the fridge. There was also wine. But I figured it was a little early for wine, considering. I mean, here is the time on the oven as I was making my coffee:
OMFG! It is ten o’clock AT NIGHT! I have missed the whole day! I have either slept through it, or… or ALIENS HAVE KIDNAPPED ME AND BROUGHT ME BACK, AND NOW I WILL BE LIKE FALLON IN DYNASTY THAT TIME AND NO ONE WILL EVER BELIEVE ME OMG. ALSO, THAT WILL EXPLAIN THE WEIRD MARK ON MY FACE.
Oh no, wait: the clock is just at the wrong time. It’s not 22:40. Actually, it’s not even 10:40. I think it may have been around 10am? Maybe? Possibly? But hey, it’s Sunday, who cares, right?
I take my coffee and chocolate upstairs and settle down to check my email, comments, etc, and also to frantically Google the phrase “Weird red mark on jaw, totally nothing to worry about, really common”.
I’ve only been doing this for a couple of minutes (which is all it takes, incidentally, to establish that yes, I AM DYING), when I am disturbed by Rubin barking. His bark has that particular tone to it which I, being able to speak fluent Rubinman, am able to translate as, “Hello, I am barking because I want to sit in the window. Please place me there immediately, so that I may sit there, king of all I survey, and totally freak the hell out if I see so much as a BIRD land in the street.”
I have no choice but to obey. I am, after all, but a helpless minion, he, my furry overlord:
Yes, he is badly needing to be groomed. He’s looking particularly scruffy in these because he did eventually go out in the rain, albeit grudgingly. Also because he’d PEED HIS OWN BED, and probably his own self, too. GOD.
I tool around on the internet for a while and start writing this post. I would have taken a photo of me writing this post, but I think that would be taking “self-referential” to a new low, don’t you? Anyway, I’m sure you can all imagine what I looked like writing this post, can’t you? (When you do, please imagine me looking a bit like Angelina Jolie, thanks. On no account imagine me wearing a ratty old dressing gown, with uncombed hair, and a weird red mark on my jaw.)
I also did this:
Eyelash dye. Best thing ever for the fair of lash. (Also, 45 days MY ASS. I mean, maybe if your lashes don’t ever grow? I have to do mine every couple of weeks, though, or I end up with blonde roots. On my eyelashes.)
After that, I think, “Screw it, I’m going back to bed.” Shut up, it was Sunday. And I am dying, according to Dr Google (SHOULDBESTRUCKOFF). But first: MOAR COFFEE. And then, some relaxin’:
I’m reading The Secret Garden. I like to read children’s books when I’m dying, they help calm me down. That particular chapter was called “THA MUNNOT WASTE NO TIME.” Seriously.
At this point, I kind of gave up on the photos for a while. “Hate the stupid Day of My Life in Pictures,” I thought. “Who will read it, anyway? NO ONE, that’s who will read it. Giving up now.” I also did that thing where I lost my phone, and had to call myself to find out where it was. It was in the bathroom, naturally.
Anyway, I did some cleaning up around the house, fed the dog, and fed myself, cleverly creating a small meal out of Things I Found in the Fridge or Thereabouts. Turns out you can make a pretty good lunch out of two melons, a huge bar of chocolate, WINE and half a tub of spreadable cheese. WHO KNEW? Then I worked for a while, and honestly, I bet you’re glad I’d decided to stop taking photos at this point because it would just have been dozens of photos of me either sitting at my desk or cleaning the floors, and that would be even MORE boring than the kind of rubbish that usually passes for “a blog post” around here. Oh, and I brushed the dog. I really wasn’t joking about The Boring, was I?
Then I decided I should at least try to finish what I’d started. “Follow through, Amber,” I told myself. “Complete the project! Or people will think you didn’t even get dressed all day!”
(Top prize for “Least Flattering Camera Angle Ever”, huh?)
Let the record show that I was, in fact, dressed by this point, and had been for quite some time. On with the show…
At this point, I had planned to take Rubin for a nice, long walk. But it was pouring, and both Rubin and I HATE THAT, so I thew a ball around the house for him instead, to give him some exercise, and he looked at me as if I was mad and asked to be put back up in the window. It was around about then that the day pretty much turned from Not-Very-Funday-Sunday into Bleak, Rained-In, Kinda Depressing Sunday. I felt about as happy as… well, as a wet weekend, basically. And with nothing left to do but stare desolately out of the window at the rain, my thoughts turned to Terry, careering wildly down a waterfall in a rubber dinghy, on a day on which the MET Office had put part of Scotland under a severe weather warning.
I decided to start a Vigil.
I laid out my guidelines on How To Hold A Vigil way back in the mists of time here. For today’s vigil, I decide to add an extra step, which I call “taking a shower”.
I know what you’re thinking: AT LAST. Who waits until mid-afternoon before showering? Well, not me, normally, but in my defence, the dog was the only living being who’d seen me at this point, and Terry and I were planning on going out to dinner, so I figured showering later would mean my hair wouldn’t turn limp and greasy until halfway through the main course, as opposed to a few hours before we even left the house.
Obviously I couldn’t document the ACTUAL shower, so these photos are intended to represent The Shower and Its Immediate Aftermath.
I’ve got all my ducks in a row, boom boom! I’m here all week, folks…
(Aside: it’s totally weird to me that I had to watermark a photo of a contact lens case. But I just know that if I don’t, someone will steal it and claim that it’s THEIR contact lens case, or that they ARE the contact lens case or something. And that… well, it wouldn’t really make much difference to me, to be honest, but I’ve become completely bloody-minded about this now, so if you steal my prechus contact lens photo I WILL CUT YOU. I forgot to watermark some of the other photos, though, so take the one of the dirty dishes if you want.)
Anyway. I’m barely out of the shower, when:
Terry’s home, Terry’s home! And is ALIVE! He is NOT floating face-down in a river, his limp body battered by the rocks! Encouraged by this news, I prepare myself to face the outside world:
I discover that I am able to cover up the weird jaw mark with makeup. This doesn’t make me feel any less like I’m going to die.
(I also discover that Instagram has a self-portrait setting. It makes my face look weird, but my skin look remarkably free of strange jaw marks. )
“It just looks like a bruise,” Says Terry, as if there’s nothing AT ALL strange about waking up with a bruise on your jaw that you don’t remember acquiring. I am not reassured.
It’s time for me to get changed. What would you wear to walk the cobbled streets of Edinburgh in the rain, readers? Because I would wear suede, stiletto-heeled sandals:
(Carvela, c/o Sarenza)
I’d also wear a green dress, but then, that goes without saying.
(Dorothy Perkins, c/o yours truly.)
OK, ya got me: that one wasn’t an Instagram photo. Let’s just pretend it was.
Let’s also pretend that bit of my fringe isn’t sticking out awkwardly, m’kay?
We get into the car and head for the city:
It was just after taking this photo that the migraine hit. Terry was telling me about his white water rafting, I turned to look at him, and.., his head had been replaced by a huge, jagged circle. Awesome! I completed the rest of the journey with only about 50% of my vision. It’s a good job I wasn’t driving, hey?
I could’ve taken better photos of Edinburgh. If I had actually been able to see it, that is.
Now, I’m fairly lucky when it comes to migraines. I get the aura, but I don’t normally get the killer headache after it, so while there have been exceptions to that rule, most of the time I can start functioning normally again once the aura disappears. Or as normally as I ever function, anyway.
(NOTE: Yes, I have seen a doctor about my migraines. They’ve been the same since I was 18, and they are 100%, ordinary migraines. They are not the sign of a brain tumour. Yes, I have asked. No, I don’t want to hear about Great Aunt Ethel, and how she had migraines JUSTLIKETHAT, but it turned out to be a brain tumour, and she’s dead now.)
Happily, this was one of those times, and by the time we reached our restaurant, I was feeling about 90% normal. And then, a short while later, I felt 95% normal, AND with a belly full of Chinese food.
And this, my friends, is where I will leave you (“THANK GOD!” I hear you say. “I thought she was going to go on all night, and document brushing her teeth and taking her makeup off!”), because I don’t like taking photos in restuarants, and also because, well, I totally forgot about it after that. Suffice to say that we had a great meal, we made it home, and I am still alive today, although I’m no further forward in working out what the weird mark is. (It has almost disappeared now. That has to be a good sign, surely?)
This weekend, I caught two separate people doing a McNaughty.
I also had a really lovely day out with my family, so I’m going to show you the photos from that first, and then those of you who feel like listening to me rant for a few thousand words can come back a bit later in the week for that one: sound fair?
So, when Terry and I were on our honeymoon, we were driving around aimlessly one day, when we discovered a stretch of beach which was right next to the airport runway, and I mean RIGHT NEXT TO IT. As in, the planes would fly over your head, and then two seconds later, they’d have landed. As in, you could see the whites of the pilot’s eyes as they flew overhead. It. Was. Terrifying.
Well, Terry and I have always wanted to scare the crap out of ourselves in the same way again, so on Sunday we drove to our local airport to try to recreate the experience, and we took my parents with us so they could be scared silly by giant aircraft flying over their heads, too.
Yes, I am wearing a crop top. I’ve actually had this top for about ten years now, and have considered getting rid of it numerous times, but something held me back: something that perhaps knew that one day I would buy this red skirt in the River Island sale and suddenly want to wear a crop top with it.
We actually couldn’t quite recreate the experience we’d had on holiday. Where we were standing was probably a good half mile from the end of the runway, so although the planes were pretty low, they weren’t quite as close as they had been in Spain. It was still pretty amazing, though. If you like really loud noises and feeling like you’re about to die, I recommend it.
Once we’d had our fill of scary aircraft, we headed into the countryside nearby for a walk:
We, er, took quite a few photos. Also, Terry wore a red shirt to match my skirt. We’re very matchy-matchy that way*.
(*He didn’t. My dad did, though.)
Then we made the short drive to Crammond, and had lunch sitting outside in the sun, next to the river.
We had lashings and lashings of ginger beer. OK, we had one can of ginger beer between four of us. And my dad drunk most of it. The Famous Five would have totally approved, though. Just before we started eating, my mum reached into her bag and produced a bottle of handwash and some wipes. “I brought these,” she said, “Because I knew Amber would try to touch any furry animal that happened to cross her path.”
And she was right:
(The furry animal in the second picture is mine, of course.) It’s funny: over the course of the day, we must’ve seen a few dozen dogs, at least. Rubin didn’t show the slightest interest in any of them… until we met these two Bichons at Crammond. And it’s almost like they KNEW they’d met one of their own. We actually had to drag Rubin away from them, and the other two dogs stood looking longingly after him as we went. Maybe we should get him a friend?
(No! We are NOT getting Rubin a “friend”. No matter how much I might secretly want one. Every time that thought comes into my head I will just think about that one time Rubin ate my favourite pair of shoes when he was a puppy. And that other time he ate my SECOND favourite pair of shoes. Also that time he dug up a shrub and brought it into the house. Oh, and let’s not forget the time he escaped from the car IN A PETROL STATION, and had to be rounded up by a team of truckers. NO. PUPPIES.)
Anyway. I was sad to come home at the end of the day. I really love these summer days we occasionally (very occasionally) get here. It makes me feel like I’m on holiday again, and I don’t want it to end.
Roll on next weekend. And please, please be sunny…
OK, I’m taking pity on you all. I realise I’ve tresspassed on your patience long enough now with all of my “lookit my holiday snaps!” posts, so I’ve pulled all of the remaining photos into one, giant, easily-ignored post, and I’ll publish it, then I can get back to talking about… whatever it is I normally talk about here. Which, actually, what WAS that? If you have any requests, I’d love to hear them…
While I’m waiting for your suggestions to come pouring in, however, here’s LA in photos:
The Disney Studios
My friend Erik works for Disney, and gave us a tour of the Disney lot on his lunch hour one day. It. Was. Amazing. We visited the sound stage Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed on, met some Disney staff (who were all so lovely and friendly) and just generally walked around with our mouths hanging open. It was also amazing to finally get to meet Erik, who I’ve known since my days on Livejournal, and who very generously spent a lot of time giving us advice on what to do and see. Thanks, Erik!
The first place to visit if you’re in L.A.: amazing views of the city AND the setting of one of my favourite movies, Rebel Without a Cause.
Just, you know, hangin’ out at the Chateau…
They have me on tap.
I wish I was there RIGHTTHISVERYSECOND.
The Queen Mary at Long Beach
Now we know what the phrase “like a foghorn” actually means.
Whale watching off Dana Point.
We didn’t see any whales, but we did get photo-bombed by that bird. Also: yay for matching sweaters!
Malibu and Santa Monica
Disneyland and California Adventure
(Don’t worry, I’m almost done…)
Union Station and Downtown LA
(Pay particular attention to the background in the last one…)
Typical LA scene.
Terry lost quite a bit of weight on holiday. Quite a bit.
Aaaaaand we’re done. Normal scheduling will now resume. Whatever that may be.
You see this swimsuit, folks? This is my New Favourite Swimsuit. And I almost didn’t get it. Allow me to explain…
You see, the swimsuit in question is by a company called Esther Williams. (Yes, named after THAT Esther Williams.) They make these gorgeous, retro-inspired swimsuits, and I’ve been coveting one for a long, long time. Specifically an emerald green one. Because if I can’t be wearing a 50s-style green dress, I want to be wearing a 50s-style green swimsuit.
But the swimsuits aren’t cheap, and although the brand is stocked by a handful of UK retailers, I had my heart set on an emerald green one, which was only in stock at the time on the company’s own, US-based website, meaning that international shipping and import duties would make an already Not Cheap swimsuit a Very Not Cheap swimsuit. I, however, was going to be in America myself at the very time I’d be needing the suit, and so it was that I hatched a cunning plan. I would wait until I reached San Francisco (where I wouldn’t be doing any swimming, and therefore wouldn’t be needing any retro swimwear) and once I was there I would order my suit, and I would have it sent to the house we were renting in LA, planning the purchase carefully so that the swimsuit would arrive at roughly the same time I did.
But things didn’t go according to plan. Because I’m an idiot, basically.
You see, these suits are made to order, and go through a meticulous quality control process, which means that it generally takes around 6 weeks from you placing the order to you actually receiving your swimsuit: a fact which is mentioned on the company’s website.
I realised this fact approximately five seconds after placing my order.
Realising that the swimsuit would, therefore, not arrive at the house until long after I was back home in freezing old Scotland, I did a bit of whining, and then I emailed the company, apologised, and asked them to cancel the order.
But they didn’t.
No, the next day I got an email from the lovely Marq at Esther Williams, who offered to have the suit sent to me in the UK, at no extra cost.
Now, even if that had been the end of the saga, I’d have considered it the best customer service I’d ever had, because this company was basically offering to absorb the cost of the international shipping, just because of MY stupid mistake. Which was pretty damn nice of them, I thought.
Of course, the problem with that was that swimsuits aren’t much use to me in the UK, and it seemed like a lot of money for something I wouldn’t get to wear until God knows when, so I apologised again and said that as much as I’d love to prance around my hometown in an emerald green swimsuit, people look at me funny as it is, so I’d better resist. And then I hung my head in shame, because honestly, they were being so nice, and I felt like a total heel for messing them around like that.
Anyway, I figured that would be the end of my Esther Williams swimsuit plan, but I had figured without Marq, who, it turned out, wanted me to have that swimsuit almost as much as I wanted it myself. So he called the company’s manufacturer, managed to track down a suit in the right size and colour, and had it overnighted to the company’s HQ, so he could send it on to me.
SERIOUSLY, IS THAT NOT AMAZING SERVICE?
(Um, these photos kind of give away the ending of this story, don’t they? I should really have thought this through more…)
Well, I was all a-tremble at the thought of the imminent arrival of my new swimsuit. Every day we would come home from wherever we’d been, and I’d rush to check the mailbox.
It didn’t arrive.
Like, AT ALL.
I was devastated.
So, I emailed Marq and asked if it had been sent yet. “Er, yes,” replied Marq. “In fact, according to the tracking, it was delivered last week…”
I typed the tracking number Marq had given me into the USPS website, and sure enough, according to them, they’d delivered the suit to me the previous week.
Except they hadn’t. I’d checked the mailbox faithfully, and nothing had arrived. So I double-checked to make sure the address they said they’d delivered to was correct, then I went out and searched the perimeter of the property, to see if the mailman had simply thrown the package over the fence. (That had happened the previous week, with another package, which landed under the sprinkler and got a good soaking. Mailmen: they hate me.) Nothing.
Now, the house we were staying in was at the top of a hill, so we didn’t really get people just passing by. There were only two houses nearby, and they both happened to be empty at the time. The house was also surrounded by a high wall and gate, so no one could get into it without being buzzed in. The mailbox was on our side of the fence: people could put packages into it from the roadside, but you could only get them out from our side. All of these factors made it highly unlikely that the package had been stolen – and for that to have happened, USPS would’ve had to have left it outside the property, which would’ve been an odd decision given that there was a mailbox RIGHT THERE for them. So, basically, the only way USPS could possibly have delivered this package without us knowing about it was if they’d thrown it over the wall, which they hadn’t. My extensive search of the grounds proved this, and I also may have drafted in reinforcements to allow me to extend the search. I’m sure my dad really enjoyed those five hours spent searching the undergrowth for a swimsuit, too.
The upshot was that if USPS had delivered the package, I had never received it. At this realisation, a cold chill went down my spine. You all know about the lack of luck I have with mail. I’d assumed those issues were restricted only to Royal Fail, here in the UK. Now it seemed my luck had followed me to America: and had claimed my prechus swimsuit into the bargain.
Well, we called USPS. “Meh, we’ll look into it,” they said, in a tone which clearly told me that they would do no such thing.
So Terry and I jumped into the car and drove down to the local post office, which was where the package had last been tracked to. We stood in line for 30 minutes, before being granted an audience with The Grumpiest Man Who Ever Did Live. “Reeeallly?” he said, sarcastically, after hearing our sorry story. Then he rolled his eyes dramatically (“Hey!” I wanted to say. “Enough with the drama, old dude. I’LL be bringing the drama here, thanks very much.” But I didn’t, because I think he would’ve killed me with his eyes.) and went to get the manager.
The manager came shuffling out apologetically, refusing to look us in the eye.
“Yeeeaaaah,” he said nervously. “See, there’s not much point in me asking the delivery driver what happened to your package. Because he’ll just say he delivered it?”
There was a short silence as we all digested this piece of information.
“Soooo,” said the manager. “I dunno, really. Maybe just ask the company for your money back? And, like, hope they say yes? Otherwise you’re basically screwed?”
OK, he didn’t say that last bit. But it was what he meant.
I was really upset by all of this. I didn’t think it was fair for Esther Williams to have to bear the cost of the lost swimsuit, but at the same time, I didn’t really know what else to do other than to contact them again and tell them what USPS had said. So I emailed Marq, hoping that perhaps the ground would open up and swallow me before he got to read his mail.
THIS time would surely be the end of the matter, I thought, as I guiltily pressed “send” on my email. But I had seriously underestimated the lengths that Esther Williams Swimwear were prepared to go to to help out a Scottish girl in need of a retro swimsuit. You see, Ether Williams are based in California. Marq, as it turned out, was going to be at a bar not far from where we were staying, that very night. And that blessed man had managed to track down another swimsuit in my size. I could collect it from him at the bar, he suggested, and cut out USPS altogether?
That’s how I came to find myself collecting a mysterious package from a strange man in Canoga Park late one summer night. And that, my friends, is how the world was saved.
Oh no, wait, it isn’t: it’s how I came to have a green, retro style swimsuit. Ah well, same thing.
In conclusion: Esther Williams Swimwear = best customer service EVER.
Marq = MY HERO.
USPS = Don’t even get me started.
(As an addendum to this story, Marq tells me that the original suit was returned to them a couple of weeks later. My guess is that there’s a mailman somewhere in California who just really liked the colour green…)
While we were in LA, we found ourselves inadvertently walking in the footsteps of one of my biggest icons, Marilyn Monroe. I mean that literally:
(I was all, “I’M Marilyn. No, I am! You be Jane Russell, mum…”)
Hollywood Boulevard was a bit of an odd experience to start with. As we pulled up, and saw hoardes of tourists all jostling to have their photos taken next to the stars on the sidewalk, I couldn’t really see the point . “Why would you want to take a photo of someone’s NAME?” I wondered aloud. “That’s just silly. I would never do that!”
So, yeah, we just totally played it cool, you know?
Asolutely no “posing with the stars” for us!
But I was talking about Marilyn Monroe. And on one of our first days in the city, we got to see this:
Yes, it’s THAT dress. THE white dress. The ‘Seven Year Itch’, subway grating dress. And as you can see, it’s no longer white, unfortunately, but I was still absolutely blown away to be standing in front of it.
The dress was on display at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills, as part of the Debbie Reynolds auction collection, which consisted of more movie memorabilia and costumes than they could put on display. The Marilyn dress sold for $5.6 million just a few days after we saw it, and I still can’t quite get over the fact that we were able to be there. As far as I know, the dress has never been exhibited in public before, and it probably never will be again. There was a 2-week window of opportunity during which it was possible to see it, and it just so happened to coincide with the time we were in LA, which was a huge stroke of luck. I’m a huge Marilyn fan, and I couldn’t quite get over the fact that I was standing so close to THAT dress. (They had a few other dresses she’d worn too, including the red sequined one from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Wow.)
Alongside it, we also saw Audrey Hepburn’s dress from My Fair Lady:
Most of the clothes weren’t behind glass, they were just out on display like this one, close enough to touch if you dared. (We didn’t. They’re worth a fortune, and there were plenty of staff circulating, politely reminding people that pawing these items could damage or destroy them. One of the members of staff, in fact, had been an extra on Lost, and that made the trip for Terry, who instantly befriended the guy and talked to him for ages.)
There was also a ton of other amazing stuff. Oh, including this:
I would totally have bid for it if the guide price hadn’t been $200 – $500.
Having thus commenced our stalking of Marilyn Monroe, we figured we may as well continue with it, because, hey, why NOT be a crazy stalker if you get the chance? Here I am standing in front of the house she was living in when she died:
And, well, here I am visiting her final resting place:
That’s actually Dean Martin’s grave I’m standing in front of in the photo on the right. The cemetery has its fair share of famous names, and it was a really moving experience. Apparently Joe DiMaggio had roses sent to Marilyn’s grave twice a week for years. I’ve no idea who the flowers were from when we were there, but the tomb was also covered in lipstick prints, presumably from visiting fans. Although there were a few people visiting while we were there, it was still very peaceful and quiet.
I overdressed slightly for this particular day out. I was tired of being stripey all the time. (Yes, even I get tired of being stripey all the time…) I like to think Marilyn would have approved, though.
Finally, to wind up our Marilyn Monroe tour of Hollywood, here I am in Marilyn’s favourite booth at The Formosa:
We had drinks there one night with my friend Erik, who lives in LA, and while we were there we asked the waitress which booth was Marilyn’s. The restaurant was starting to empty out by the time we left, and the booth was empty, so we all popped in and took some quick photos. I’d imagine that seat has probably been recovered since Marilyn sat in it, but still, people. STILL.
Goodbye, Norma Jean
Although I never knew you at all, I know you had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled
They crawled out of the woodwork
And they whispered into your brain
They set you on a treadmill
And they made you change your name.
And it seems to me, you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would’ve liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did
~Elton John, Candle in the Wind
Sunday was probably the hottest day of the year, so, with the exception of this quick walk with the dog, we spent it inside, painting the office. Well, who wouldn’t want to spend a sunny day breathing paint fumes?
Rubin in his favourite spot, by the window. I took this from my own position, on the couch, where I was coughing and wheezing my way through my SECOND cold since I got back from holiday. Gah.
Buoyed by his success with the shoe shelves, Terry added an extra hanging rail to my closet. I took a great deal of pleasure in colour-coding my clothes.
Terry took a photo of me which, he says, makes me look “exactly like a demon!” So that’s another dream realised, then. I think I’m going to use it as the cover of my first album.
Good to see that the people in the ‘hood are really taking this sign to heart: that’s a set of kitchen chairs you can see right behind it…
This is what optimism looks like. (It’s also what a really crappy excuse for a garden looks like, but whatevs.) We were given this garden set as a wedding present. We have NEVER been able to use it. Ever. We got married in 2007. It has rained ever since. Yesterday, though, in a fit of unbridled optimism, Terry dragged the set out of the shed, where it has been sleeping peacefully for years, oiled it all down, and set it up in the garden. Will this summer be the one in which the garden table will finally be able to fulfill its destiny? Or did Terry just do all that work for nothing? It’s like the radiator saga all over again, although, well, not even as interesting as THAT.
What did your week look like?