A blog for her friends to check that she's still alive, when she's been missing for a while, and what she's whinging about now.

My Profile.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Vegas October 14th 2004

My last full day in Vegas. *meep* Though I knew that on some level, it didn't permeate my thoughts all day. I mean that in the sense that it didn't ruin the day, as I was able to forget that little fact. It did seem like I'd only been there five minutes though.

Stephane had sorted out what was needful to scan his photos in. We don't know how the scanner had suddenly stopped working beforehand, though I suspect it was with me tatting the day before, pressing the icon on any likely thing which would start the scanner up. But it was sorted now and I set about scanning in the 60-odd pics that he had taken, mainly of the Wiccaning, and adding those to the shared folders.

He asked if there was anything that I'd really like to do before leaving Vegas (you mean other than work out how to stay?), and there were only two things - one was go to Albertsons to stock up on cheap things; the other was more vague - Pixie and Corey had both mentioned Mt Charleston as a good place to see, both saying that they hoped I would be able to see it while I was here. Stephane said that both of these things could be done.

So off we meandered to Albertson's, where I first bought a couple of all the contact lense solutions, to stock me up for home. In sterling, one of the solutions costs £20 here, but cost £3 there. See my point? Then we perused the alcohol section. I was going to get some Jameson's, as even that is cheaper. How come it's made in Dublin and ends up cheaper halfway across the world than it does in either Eire or Britain, I haven't a clue, but there you go. However, once confronted with several shelves of whisky, I decided it would be nicer to try whisky that you can't get back home. Unfortunately, Stephane is tee-total (or doesn't drink whisky, one of the two), while I hadn't tried any of them. Therefore it was a bit pot-luck. I ended up with a Kentucky whisky and one called Canadian Mist. They were in plastic bottles, which I thought would be better for transporting home.

(Since then, I took the Kentucky whisky up FT Kate's at Samhain. I can't remember much about it, which either means that I was too bladdered to remember, or it's unopened at Kate's house. The Canadian Mist is half-full here. It's 80% proof and both Dad and I like it. Maggie tried it yesterday and found it very strong. This is a Scottish woman with a very discerning taste in whisky. All told though, it gets the thumbs up.)

After that, it should have been a simple thing to get 200 cigarettes (my legal allocation) to take home. I'd decided (after experimenting with various types of fags all week) to either get the B&H superkings, as Brianne had bought me, as they aren't like B&H at home - there isn't that strong chemical taste with American B&H - or the Winston, which Brian had crashed me on the Tuesday. I went up to the counter and was peering over to see what they had, with the bloke next to me giving me weird looks. I just ignored him, vaguely wondering whether he was a bit weird himself. Then the lady behind the counter told me off.

Ok... found another cultural difference! :-D In America, you don't save time by looking to see what you are going to buy, while someone else is being served. They prefer you to step right back from the counter and just know what you're going to buy. I did step back and then the lady gave me a withering look, 'Please can you move THIS side of the counter?' pointing. Ok... another one. In Britain, it's either blatantly obvious where to queue or else you just queue. There it's definitely on the left-hand side. So I moved, by now thinking 'ground just swallow me, please!' Yet another look, 'behind the line!' Only then did I notice, right behind the wall a line drawn on the floor. So THIS is where they like you to stand.

By now, Stephane had finished paying for his shopping and he and William were standing there watching. He gave me a big grin, which stopped me feeling like I'd just committed a federal crime and I felt the blush dying down. Then he pointed out a sign, which was only visible if you'd been on the left-hand side of the counter in the first place, 'please queue here'. Now that would have been quite useful on the right-hand side, with an arrow. By now, it was only embarrassment at keeping Stephane waiting as long as I had that stopped me saying, 'fuck this for a game of soldiers' and going somewhere else. There was also another sign, something about 'canelling your cheques', which Stephane pointed out to make me laugh.

The REALLY daft thing was when I finally got to be served (literally about five or ten minutes later), the shop assistant acted as if she was my best friend. 'Hello, how are you?' (Me? I'm feeling extremely embarrassed, because my friend there with the baby has been kept waiting for ages; and I'm a Virgo, so telling me off three times over being in the wrong place - even though I know it's a culture thing that I couldn't possibly have known about in advance - is still enough to make me want to curl in a corner and die. We're the star-sign that has to have the right change on buses or else we feel like everyone is glaring at us. Also, I'm really thirsty and dying for a fag, but not sure if I can sneak one between now and the minivan, and I don't want to ask my friend to wait any longer over my nicotine addiction, and I don't want to smoke in the minivan where there's a small baby in the back. I know as well that if my friend Kate was here, she'd be doing the 'get a job you like' line around about now, but I'm just standing here thinking, 'how bloody false can you get? Making me feel like that and now acting like you're so glad I came to buy off you. Have you got any depths? What is it with this 'oh I love you' bloody attitude anyway, when a few minutes ago, you were making me feel like shite?!) Naturally I replied, 'fine, how are you?' Then bought the fags and left. Which probably makes me as false as she was.

I did have a fag, btw, I smoke very fast and I took the trolley back, which meant I finished it. I would have taken the trolley back anyway, just in case you're thinking, 'you devious cow', as Stephane had to strap William in, so it's just teamwork, innit?

After that, Stephane, William and I drove up to Mount Charleston. As we first left the desert (yes, I know it's probably ALL desert, but I mean the bit that looks like one), we went around a bend and I got a sudden clairsentient 'Help me!' I got a real sense of someone in extreme danger right there, then it was gone. I mentioned this to Stephane and switched 'it' on full. The feeling I got was that it was a past 'help me', a little piece of residual energy. I noted it as somewhere to send Vegas Grovers to experience that, if they weren't sure of what residual energy was actually like, or if they were developing their psychic skills. If it had been something that I wasn't sure on, or had felt current, I would have asked Stephane to stop the minivan while I investigated. I've had enough of these over the years to trust in it.

I mentioned it later on to Shonna, Chelle and Brianne, and was informed that that area (we couldn't be sure on the specific bend) was an accident hot-spot.

A strange phenomenon occurred with the landscape as we drove higher and higher into the mountain - desert turned slowly but surely into greenery. By the time we were halfway up, it was starting to look like Britain. We passed by a half-built hotel, which the locals had managed to get the building of stopped, and thereon we were in forest. :-D

I love forest. I love mountains. Get forest and mountains in the same place and I'm in paradise. :-D I hadn't any expectations about what it was going to be like up there, but I don't think I expected what was there. The smell of pine was so dense, which is great from my perspective! :-D :-D :-D It looked like I would imagine Sweden to look. Naturally, I've never been to Sweden and so that's not based on anything in reality. Maybe Austria. I've never been there either. It definitely didn't look like anything I'd come to expect in Vegas or the Nevada desert.

There were little chalets, which Stephane informed me you could stay in as a weekend get-away from Vegas. We had already driven past 10-15 really big and posh houses, within view of where we parked. It's quite expensive to live up there and though it looked very beautiful, Stephane said he'd worry about having his family up there, because it's so far from the hospitals in case something went wrong. That got us onto a conversation about herbs and knowing your first aid. I bet that someone up there knew their stuff, particularly with so much greenery to hunt down your herbs and roots. He did have a friend who had lived up there and worked at the Bellagio, which was quite a trek to work and back.

Mount Charleston
There was food on offer at the large chalet, which was a restaurant/bar/shop/estate agents, but neither of us were hungry. Instead, we bought drinks (well, Stephane bought me a drink) and we sat outside. He'd warned me that it would be cold up there, so I'd put my jeans on and had a jacket in the minivan. It was quite the opposite. My thigh actually burnt THROUGH the jeans! LOL But heat is weird in the Nevada desert. You can be equally ok wearing shorts or jeans, because it's dry heat. I didn't understand what dry heat was before I went there. I do now and I prefer it to normal heat. I now have a much better idea of what to pack for next time.

Stephane and I sat there putting the world to rights... well, the historical world mainly. He's a really interesting bloke, who taught me the history of the French in Canada, while we sat there sipping our drinks, with the smell of pine and that gorgeous scenery all about us. I learned how the Arcadians had been superceded in Arcadia by the Gaelic immigrants, who'd turned it into Nova Scotia. Some of the Arcadians had travelled south, into America, and their accent turned them into the Cajuns. I know a lot about how the Irish and Scottish ended up in Canada and he knew a lot about how the French had ended up there, though he wasn't entirely ignorant of the rest. I really enjoyed that cant. I didn't realize how much I knew about the Celtic dispora into Canada for a start!

Folk are so friendly up there. Us poor reserved Brits have to really re-arrange our cultural upbringing to cope! First there was a lady who was having a sit-down while her family went for a hike. She was from Florida and had stayed home during the hurricanes. A house ten miles away was totalled, and houses in the opposite direction were totalled too, but she had nothing happen to her home at all. She usually went travelling with a friend. Originally she and her husband had travelled, but when he was dying, he made her promise to go and see all the places that they hadn't yet seen. She had done so alone, but on one of the trips had met and befriended another widow doing the same thing. The pair of them decided to carry on all future trips together, but right now the friend was ill.

Secondly, there was a couple who walked by. The woman, seeing the carry-cot turned away from the sun, came peering in. 'Ooooooh! Isn't he just adorable?!' She exclaimed to me, Stephane and the entire of Mount Charleston, before reaching in and giving him his bottle. Now, had this been Britain, I'd have decked her. All the bristles went up and I was thinking, 'Get the fuck away from my nephew!', which is a fault of mine, I know. If I step back and look, the wench was holding a bottle in William's mouth and saying nice things. Ok, she was addressing them to me (on the assumption that I'm Mummy), while Stephane was responding, but she was actually being nice. I think there's a whole personal space issue with me going on there, particularly when it comes to the little ones. When I asked Stephane on it, after she'd gone, he was of the opinion that that wasn't unusual, though she was a little more overwhelming than most. I wonder what was going on in my stars that day, thinking on it, that was the second time I'd gone all uppity over someone's attitude, though the second was a little less deserved than the first.

I saw a troll! Stephane wasn't quite so convinced.Troll in Mount Charleston I think he thought it was just a rock poking out from the trees further up the mountain, but it looked like a troll to me. ;-) Look, here's the picture, what do you think?

It was so beautiful that I didn't want to move, but when Stephane suggested we leave to see more pretties, I've learned to trust his judgement of what's beautiful (let's face it, he married Cerr, so I should have known this before) and off we went. It was beautiful, it has to be said. We drove further on up and east into the mountains, though the most gorgeous forest landscape. We stopped once for pictures, then carried on to a place which overlooked the desert for miles.

Stephane waited with William while I went to look. There was a miniature holly growing halfway up, with three ladies oooing and arring over it. One had seen holly in a book, but the others hadn't seen it at all. I confirmed that it was holly as I passed them, to put them out of their misery, and hoped that I didn't sound blase about it. In reality, I was thrilled to hear them so excited. I love hearing and seeing excitement like that in anyone, including strangers.

I reached the end and was looking over the desert, trying to work out if I could see the Sekhmet Temple, when a couple joined me. The bloke had been here a couple of days ago and had met a military bloke there, who had pointed out things on the landscape; so this bloke had now brought his girlfriend back to show her. Of course, there was no way I couldn't eavesdrop, so I was soon included in the conversation. The Nevada Test Site wasn't where the information board said it was, it was... and he pointed out the area for us. Beyond that was Area 51. He told us so many stories of both, things which didn't sound fantastical and things which made me WANT the Nevada Test Site book NOW! I should have listened to myself, I swear it.

What really shocked me was just how close the test was to Vegas. I thought on how they are finding traces of Chernobyl in Gwynedd (Wales) and the distance that had travelled; then looked at Vegas. I could see both Vegas and the test site from this vantage point, and it made me feel slightly ill at the thought. The bloke with me said, 'It's ok, it was all underground, by the 1990s'. But underground is what caused those babies to look like that in Iraq; and they were underground in the 1950s. I developed my theory that Area 51 is nothing to do with aliens, it's to do with mutants caused by the radiation from the test site, which is only about 25 miles away.

He was fascinating to listen to, but I'd been gone a while, so when he started repeating himself, I started heading back to Stephane and William. Another thing, I lit me a fag, took about four drags on the way back and suddenly was gasping for breath. I had to sit down on a rocky wall part-way back and put the fag out. Presumably, that is what an asthma attack feels like. I was struggling so much to breathe, but sitting there, it came back. The whole episode probably didn't last a minute. We got that one sussed though - the altitude. We were over 8,000ft above sea-level by then.

Stephane drove us the rest of the scenic route back into Vegas. I loved Mount Charleston and the surrounds. It's a definite place to visit again. :-D We picked up Elen and drove through rush-hour traffic to get Shonna. Stephane was working, so they needed to swop the cars and hand over the children, then off Stephane went around the corner to the Bellagio, while Shonna drove us home. It was strange, we'd done that routine the week before, but so much had happened, that it felt like a month or more since we'd last picked Shonna up from work like that. *sigh* I wish I was doing it now.

The journey back was a strange one, in a funny way, for me. I've always said that I only get lost in the wider Black Country, because I half know the way; everywhere else, I don't know it, so follow signs and maps, or I know it like the back of my hand. I'd travelled around Vegas so much, that I was starting to half know it. At one point, Shonna phoned Chelle and I looked up and decided that we were only around the corner and hadn't that been a quick journey. Er... nope, we were still halfway across Vegas! LOL It happened again when I thought we were on the right road to be getting a cafe latte with cinnamon syrup. Nope, we were a good 20 minutes away. LOL Because I kept thinking I knew where we were, that journey took forever, but there was cool, because I was enjoying the journey. We spotted a car with a back-window full of pentagrams and the like, but couldn't see the driver to see if it was a Vegas driver. Another idiot cut Shonna up pretty badly and was lucky that he didn't end up as a frog.

Eventually we had both cafe latte and were in Chelle's 'hood, because luckily Shonna did know the place like the back of her hand. Chelle came back with us for my last night there. She'd made up the soaps and such that I'd asked for, including a sandalwood and patchouli body lotion (which I put on last night after my bath, and wow, it smells beautiful!), and a lavendar soap that she was just developing. Everything was gorgeous! I tried to pay for them and she wasn't having it. She said that it's the least she could give me for all I give her. Give her? I'd only opened her beer for her!

A little while on, Brianne came over too, with more presents! I had a copy of her CD, 'Forever', with more to give away back home. Of course, the first thing I did was open it and have her sign it. :-D

The three of us just chilled out for a couple of hours, canting, trying not to already miss each other while we were still in the same room. We ate pumpkin pie, which I didn't realize was sweet. I thought it was something you had with a meal with gravy. I wished more than anything that I'd come for the two weeks, instead of 10 days (two of which were spent travelling). Eight days just simply wasn't long enough. With cuddles and hugs (and me determined that I wasn't going to cry), Brianne went home again.

The air was getting dense, as if every ghost in Vegas had decided to hang around. Chelle, Shonna and I were all getting it. You could see it dancing in the air, and none of us were drunk. At one point, Chelle and I went outside for a fag, doing our last minute catch-up and goodbye thing, when I needed to ask Shonna something. I got to the door, and just stopped dead. That room was alive! Shonna just looked at me and said something like, 'are you getting it too?' I could just nod. It was a little like when the electricity had gone out on me, Pixie, Corey and Dirk, the air just prickled. Every psychic alarm bell was going off.

I learned that night that I could be a medium, though if television mediums experiences are like that, then I don't know how they survive. I literally threw up afterwards and I was ill for a good hour, before it all passed. It came from nowhere, stunned us all, then went again. Maybe with practice I could do it more easily, but the way it was, I think I'd better wait a while before trying again and only then in the presense of as competent witches as Shonna and Chelle.

Shonna drove Chelle home and I nipped upstairs and quickly did most of my packing, though it was obvious that it all wasn't going to fit into the suitcase. I'd left a lot there, mainly because the bulk of what I'd bought with me was presents, but I was also taking a lot of presents back. I was on edge, feeling as though if I turned too suddenly, I would find several ghosts around the room just looking at me. I battened down the hatches inside me, but still had to check on Elen and William, just to make sure. It isn't that ghosts will hurt you, they just kick off the flight, fight or fear thing inside me, so I go on red alert. I'd already tidied Shonna's living room, full of nervous energy in the immediate aftermath.

By the time Shonna was home though, I had found that quiet place inside me and was calmly finishing off the packing. It was never going all in, so Shonna suggested I get a bigger hand-luggage. She was going to lend me a bag, but I got it all fitted in a carrier-bag well enough and hoped that would get me in. She sorted out the labels to stick on them all.

I don't think either one of us wanted to go to bed that night. Stephane came home from work and we were still up, canting. We were up until very late, but in the end it couldn't be put off any longer and we went abed.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Vegas October 13th 2004

I slept in today. It was only until about half 8, but it was the first time my body had let me sleep in beyond half 7, and I felt much fresher for it. Stephane had a dentist's appointment, so I volunteered to watch William for him.

I loved that morning! William is such a delightful baby. He cries just long enough to let you know he needs something, then shuts up while you discover what it is. He was on the settee in his wrap-around pillow thingie, while I attempted to catch up on a few e-mails, when he started crying. Up I got, tried the bottle - stops crying, starts crying; tried picking him up - stops crying, starts crying; felt his back, he's not too hot, but he stops crying while I'm investigating and grins at me. Soon as I stop, he's off again, so I had a smell - didn't smell like anything was amiss, so I had a look instead. He wasn't even wet, but neither is he crying anymore. Ok. 'Is it just a cuddle and a play you wanted then?' I ask the beautiful boy in my arms. Cry. Ok.

I am determined NOT to call his Mama to say, 'You know that incompetent Auntie Johnny you left your son with...?' So I get the bottle while I'm thinking on what else it could possibly be. He's been sucking on that for a few minutes before I realized that it was the bottle all along! Git! I started with that!

After he's finished with the bottle, he's falling asleep. I burp him and he gives a good one, before sleeping on my shoulder. Cool. So down he goes again, while I read another e-mail. Within five minutes there's that 'are you still there?' cry again. And we go through the possibilities again. This time he wanted to play.

Shonna informs me that those around a baby all the time get to know precisely what each cry means. Actually, I think she said a mother knows, and it was Laura who said anyone. I used the example of this day as not knowing instinctively as an auntie there for only a few days. Even though I had to go through the spectrum of possibilities, I loved it. He is one of the cutest babies I've ever met. It's not like Jordan, who'd cry incessantly for hours until you were afretting that he was seriously ill or something.

So William wanted to play. There's only so much you can do with a three month old baby and I hadn't seen a football since I got to America. So I did what I did with Jordan at that age, walked up and down singing to him. Mainly Judy Garland songs, with the old favourite 'Hello Dolly' with the name changed to whichever small child you have with you at the time. I remember the shock on Jordan's face the first time he heard the real 'Hello Dolly', first that someone had recorded his song and then that they'd changed the name to Dolly. Jordan's 8 on Dec 11th... 'kin Hell!

William was loving it too. He kept making little noises that I assume are his version of giggling, with the biggest gummy grin on his little face. We were like that for ages! Until the towel I've got over the buckles in my skirt starts to slip and I realize that I really need a fag. So I eyed the swing thingie and buckled him in. He looks at this with intense interest and everytime I whizz something or press something, he stares at it. I investigated the controls and found the one to make it swing; William just looks at me. Ok, that seems ok so far. So I find a button which looks musical. I press that and we get tunes! William grins at me the most beautiful grin! We like this!

And I get to have a fag outside, after turning the swing so he could see me out there.

All in all, I think I only got to look at a couple of e-mails, which explains a lot when Shonna is saying, 'Sorry, I didn't get to look at that just yet...' ;-) Not that I ever doubted her, but I've had it firsthand now. Whenever she says, 'I was dealing with the kids', I think back to that morning and think, you lucky git!

I also started uploading photos into the shared LV Wiccaning photo album, which I was to fill up with my own pics by the end of this, so I had to create another one, LV Wiccaning2. Only Bella and Frenchie got pics in there before it was full again, so everyone else ended up creating their own folders, which are in the process of being transferred to the new Witchgrove website, all in one place. :-D

Stephane was soon back, not looking too scathed for having been to a dentist and asking me if I'd like to see the Hoover Dam. I'd never heard of this before coming to Vegas, but apparently it's one of the landmarks of America and is just up the road. Pixie had mentioned it and Mt Charleston as being places she'd love for me to see, so I was well up for it. Stephane afretted a little over the fact I'd had no dinner, but, at home, that's quite usual for me to miss one or two meals, because I'm so busy have fun doing something else. To me, food is functional; I eat it so I don't die, but if I'm not hungry, I don't afret on having to eat.

We drove to Hoover Dam, which was interesting in itself, as I saw the south side of Vegas, as I hadn't seen before. He pointed out Henderson, under the flight paths, where he and Shonna used to live before moving to the north of Vegas. We drove through a very Spanish area as well, where all the bill-boards were in Spanish. I thought on Caroline. She'd be loving this, trying to disipher what it all said.

Up then towards a dark mountain, which looked like the slag heaps back home (though a bigger version), and Stephane told me how unethical the construction companies could be. Folk buying their homes under assurances that this would be their view forever, only to wake up one morning to find a casino or more houses going up outside their window. This was really the model of what was being threatened up the north side, towards Red Rock Canyon. The outlying houses were already heading up into the mountains. Here the scenery was closest, in colour, to my beloved Wales. The darkness reminded me of home, but not in a hiraeth way. I didn't get hiraeth the entire time I was there. It was only as I was being driven through the Black Country on the way there that I got hiraeth.

Through the mountain pass and we're seeing signs to California. That was surreal. Further along, we drove through a totally different built up area to that which I was getting used to - Boulder City. There were some interesting looking shops up there and next time I go to Vegas (there will be a next time, I promised myself on the plane home), I'd like to have a gander at Boulder City. But we didn't have a lot of time before Shonna was home, which was cool, so off we went through the mountains again.

There was a fascinating landscape. In some ways it was unlike anything I'd ever seen before, but I've learned that the mind will always throw up any data it can, hence the tendency for any foreigner anywhere to be constantly comparing things to home. I came up with my childhood, climbing over the open-casting pretending it was Tattooine with a stick as a lightsabre, until the security guards came chasing us out. I think it was only the fact that here's a landscape with trucks around, with the gentle slag heaps looking all Tattooine on me. Nothing else about it looked like the open-casting of my childhood! I did enjoy the bit where we drove along the side of a mountain, though the sides didn't fall away as they do in Llanberis. I think we'd have survived leaving the road...

Stephane explained that there is a checkpoint around the corner, as there is the fear that terrorists will blow up the Hoover Dam, which would be disastrous for not only Vegas but several other states too. It's a new thing. There was the standing joke throughout this trip of 'don't joke about terrorism' - which folk had been warning me before I left home. The emphasis there was really with immigration officials at the airport, but it became the standard line throughout. While we went through the checkpoint, neither Stephane, William nor I were allowed to joke about terrorism.

I ended up thinking the checkpoint was like the security at the hotels - there for show, because there's no way they can be assertaining you're not a terrorist with the cursory glance they give you. But Stephane pointed out that the car behind us had been pulled over. It was for real. How me and Stephane looked safe, I'll never know. For a start, we're both foreign (he's French-Canadian and I'm British); then I had a 'Make Trade Fair' vest-top on; and I've got dreadlocks; and he's got a goatie. In hindsight, I'm a bit put out that I didn't look like a terrorist. ;-)

Ok, don't joke about terrorism. Got it.

We reached the Hoover Dam on the hottest day in the world ever. I had white straps in my tan from the days before, which is why you'll see in all the pics of me that I've got my straps over my shoulders, trying to tan the white bits.

I didn't realize how close to the border of Arizona we were. Halfway over the dam, we crossed a state line, so there was one bit where I had one leg in one state and another in another. There was also a moment when I was in Arizona and I'd left Stephane and William in Nevada! Yes, you can have as many fun thoughts on the Hoover Dam bridge as you can in Hay-on-Wye High Street, where you are half in England and half in Wales. I did think of Morganna Skye though. I wondered how far she was from Hoover Dam, seeing as I was in her state now.

There was one bit as cracked us up laughing. The sun was fierce,Stephane pulled the towel back for this picture, to reveal a sleeping William underneath.  I don't know why the picture went so weird... so Stephane had a white towel draped over William's head, as he dangled from his chest. I suppose that if you didn't know, you would wonder what was underneath it, as a small boy walking by did. 'What's that?!' he asked his Mum, who looked up and couldn't keep her face straight. 'It's ET.' Stephane informed him, as we'd already had this conversation. 'It's a baby!' gushed out the mother, who looked as though she didn't know whether to laugh or blush with embarrassment. I guess you had to be there. It was hilarious right then!

The dam was fascinating. Brian had said a few days before that the thing which got him was the vision of the dude who looked up the canyon and thought, 'I know, I want to build a dam right across there...' Once there, I got that. Stephane pointed out the white silt mark around the edges of the canyon and told me that that was how high the river should be, but it was sinking. He asked me to try and get it to snow in Colorado to raise the levels again. I said I'd get Pixie on the case. It was an amazing thought to think of those people, in the 1930s, building such a thing. They wouldn't have had the equipment we have now to pull it off, but with the Depression going on, neither would they have had much choice for jobs. Yes, I bought a history of the Dam and I've read it since, but I picked up enough of it then to know what I was looking at.

It was amazing enough the first time I looked over the wall of the dam, with the other side's level in my head, to realize just how much water was being held back; but then I realized that I hadn't yet seen the bottom. I had several moments like that until Stephane assured me that I was now seeing the bottom. It was creating water and/or electricity for several states, not just Vegas.

After looking at the dam, we investigated the cafe and tourist shop. There again I picked up the Nevada Test Site book and came so close to buying it. Instead I bought the history of the dam and a key-ring for Roxanne with her name on it. I also found a Mormon Cooking Book for Shonna. *grin* I thought that would make up for not coming. (When Brianne saw that the next day, she picked it up, 'Shonna! Why?! This is wrong on so many different levels!' (or words to that effect)) Me and the dude behind the counter didn't have a common language (though we were both technically speaking English and I was doing my best cut-crystal Queen's English accent), but we got it sorted out with gestures and the help of a lady next to me, who seemed to be coping better with my language. Then I was able to grab a much needed drink and a couple of bags of crisps (there was proper food there, but I still wasn't that hungry. I did see some pastry pretzels, but as I was alone at the time, I couldn't ask on them. Given the experience of the shopkeeper, I figured that no-one in the Hoover Dam 'hood would be able to understand me. I wasn't hungry enough for them, just didn't know what they were), before joining Stephane and William in the cafe itself.

We needed to be gone though, if we were going to look at Lake Mead and take the scenic route back. So we walked back to the minivan over a very interesting floor. It had a map of the stars on it and all the zodiac around a statue. Virgo looked very nice and goddess-y. Driving out of Hoover Dam, we passed a convoy of cars going in the opposite direction which caught my attention. Eversince I'd found out that all the cars showed their state of origin, I looked out for them and thought of who I knew in that state. About eight cars went by with no number plates at all, front or back, while the ninth one had a governmental plate. They didn't look any posher than the other American cars I'd seen on my travels. Stephane confirmed that was unusual. They might have been terrorists. I don't know.

We drove around to the overlook of Lake Mead. The information board showed us what the original landscape had looked like and comparing that with the scene in front of us was cool. You could see that that island over there had once been the top of a hill, while the line there was one the original Colorado River, before it was flooded out.

See the white island? That was once a hill, with its slopes going down to the river bank on the right hand side; it's about three quarters of its size again. Use that to get the left bank of the river and you start to see what's flooded out. But the white marks also show how high the lake should be. Multiply this by the 180 miles length of the two lakes...

You can see in the pics below how much the water level is going down too. The marina has had to be moved forward quite considerably. It's original position is now desert again, and that's happened within the past couple of years.

There was a bloke flying a remote control plane over our heads. It was slightly annoying but not enough to really have a word. I'm generally of the live and let live variety anyway. However, there was a moment when Stephane heard a baby crying (we were only a few feet away, but I couldn't hear that well), so went back to the minivan just in time to watch the plane crash into a dune over the wall. *grin*

We drove then the scenic route along Lake Mead and through the mountains to the south and east of Vegas. We passed by the millionaires area, where the like of Celine Dion lives, which was the biggest area of greenery I'd seen since arriving in Vegas. They used irrigation from the lake to do that. Not a great deal was said then, as I stared out over this amazing mountaineous desert landscape, until we were suddenly back amongst buildings.

The strangest thing about Vegas is that there are definite 'areas'. We drove through the Ellis military area, into a distinctly Spanish area, where all of the billboards and road-signs were in Spanish and all of the people looked very Hispanic. Then as if someone had drawn an invisible line, everyone outside was coloured. This was Martin Luther King Boulevard (or something like that). Stephane described this area to me and it sounded like he was describing Wolverhampton! So, this is the American equivalent of my 'hood then. I asked on it, wondering if there were actual ghettos here, but the way he explained it's more economically based than racially. If a dude has the money, they move to an area like Summerlin; it wasn't a case of a Spanish dude moves to Vegas and has to live in the Spanish area, or a white dude moves and has to live in Summerlin. The fact was that most of the scutty jobs went to the Spanish or coloured people, hence they lived in these areas, which were cheaper to live in. It still doesn't explain why they have distinct areas of their own, as in the Spanish and coloured people aren't mixed together; nor why I didn't see any white faces there. Aren't there any white people at all in the scutty jobs? However, these are questions as I've thought on since, so didn't get to ask Stephane at the time.

We'd been asked to one of Stephane's friend's house to watch the Presidental Debate, and he was hoping to get back in time. However, traffic piled up and by the time we were back, it just wasn't going to happen. We picked up Elen and went back to the house. I got on with uploading more pics, while Stephane sorted William. He'd been fine until the traffic back, then after he'd polished the last bit of bottle, there was only the magic finger calming him down. This is when you lean back and give him your finger to hold, while you stroke the rest of his hand with another finger. For some reason, he forgets he's hungry/filled his nappy/hot etc and either stops crying or goes to sleep for as long as you're doing that. That's William, by the way, not Stephane. It might work with Stephane too, but he didn't cry, so I didn't try it.

Shonna came home from work, looking exhausted, poor cariad. We watched the Presidential Debates together. I have a strong memory of coming in, wrapped in a blanket against the night-time desert cold, after having a fag and sitting down on the settee. Why that sticks out, I don't know! The Debates were something to watch. Before I'd come over, FT Kate had said, 'Wow! You'll be in America during all that!' and, though I didn't know it then, she had stayed up and was watching it live too. I was genuinely shocked at just how bumbling George W Bush seemed. I mean, I don't like him; I don't like his politics; I was in a house which was distinctly for Kerry as well, but I ended up actually feeling sorry for Bush. He just couldn't debate or even talk very well. He told a joke, messed it up halfway through and just blushed. That's something I'd do, but not in front of half the world and the whole of America. He stumbled over his words; he was non-sensical at times. Worse, he looked to know it. By contrast, Kerry seemed very competent, polished in his presentation, and knowing of the facts. I didn't expect to be wishing it was over for Bush's sake, because I'm not used to looking at him like a human being. It was painful. After that, I didn't expect for one second that he would end up winning the election. Stephane informed me that all three of the debates had been just like that.

Once it was over, we drove to a restaurant. I can't remember what it was called, but it was over the way from Sweet Tomato, if any of the Vegas lot could fill in the blank. The place itself was lovely - what song was on when I got in? It was one of my favourites whatever it was, followed by another of my favourites. I was able to hear well and there were lots of interesting things going on along the walls. Only one slight technical hitches - there was nothing vegetarian on the menu except salad. *screws up nose* Salad...

Stephane offered to take us somewhere else, but they'd only just got William set up in his high-chair and Elen had already got her macaroni cheese coming. I said not to afret on, as I'll just ask what the vegetarian option is. This is me with my British thinking going on, as it's illegal not to have a vegetarian option in a British restaurant. However, it's not illegal in America. Pity, because I'd have loved to have watched Shonna do that American Complaining In Restaurants Thing first-hand, as Ian has told me on it a couple of times.

I asked the waitress who seemed not to know what to do. She said, 'Well, I could do you some grilled cheese... on bread...' Cheese-on-toast sounds perfect, thank you. *grin* I ordered something Mexican with dips as well, when that was suggested. I did try to say that the macaroni cheese that Elen had is vegetarian, but that was on the child's menu, so adults can't have it. To be honest, I found it mostly amusing, though I think that Stephane and Shonna were embarrassed.

Afterwards, I really needed to get some presents for home. We'd been going to get those on the Tuesday, but ran out of time. Shonna knew just the place... *grin* We all went back to their house and Stephane stayed with the kids, while Shonna drove me, via Starbucks for cafe latte and cinnamon syrup, to this massive gift shop. It had so many weird and wonderful things in there. Like a shop in Blackpool, but on a gigantic scale. I found a paperweight with a scorpion inside it. After Shonna assured me that it would have been found dead before being put into the paperweight (rather than killed specificially), it went into my basket for Jim. Around the corner were all sorts of nuns and Virgin Mary merchandise. I bought a glow in the dark St Clare, Patron Saint of Television, for Jim; and some Mary things for Ian, including a nodding Mary for his dashboard, for when he learns to drive and gets a car. Then there were the action figures - I got a librarian for Ian; an Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Moses and William Shakespeare, for Dad, Mum, Paul and Lynsey. The 'wash away your sins' cosmetic range gave me some moisturizer and lippy for Maggie. There was also a 'Dumb and Dumber' fridge magnet for Kate, with both president Bushes on it. For the kids, I was a little more sensible and bought them baseball caps, though I did get some fridge magnet car reg. plates with their names on it. (They weren't impressed.)

Shonna got a Jesus action figure for me to take back for Froggie, and various other things too. We left there with it nearly midnight (or gone midnight), having spent millions of dollars on funny tat, which it hadn't occurred to me that I'd have to fit into my suitcase... both of us absolutely knackered. Poor Shonna, at least I'd had about an hour's more sleep than she had, and she'd been at work all day. :-(

We had a quick drink and chat, then off to bed.

Friday, November 26, 2004

It's No Good Trying

I am my own worst enemy. Worse, the rest of the world have me to contend with when it comes to sorting out my shite. A series of daily panic attacks, vision going blurry, leg's going and my sudden tendency to burst into tears at the drop of a hat mean that just about everyone around me is on Operation Calm Johnny Down. The least I can do is bloody co-operate.

Today was a good day really. It's not so much that things calmed down at work, but that everyone was out except me and Caroline. Caroline isn't so stressed, so talked incessantly at me until I just gave up and slowed down. I only managed one moment of absolute plot losing - I was thirsty so I went down to the refectory and bought a hot chocomilk. I got canting with Jill about what she was wearing to her party tonight, paid her for the drink and forgot to take it with me. It was an hour and half later when I thought, 'Why am I so thirsty?', when it occurred to me that there wasn't an empty cup on my desk.

I can only concentrate on one thing at a time right now. My life has condensed down into work and dissertation, maybe Grove but as a member only until this is past. I went to pieces in the early hours of last Saturday morning, in the Mods room, so everyone there has been very slowly and carefully finding out what it is that I do and re-allocating it. If I was them, I'd be looking for their David Gilmour around about now.

FT Kate came over soon as she heard the words 'thousand yard stare' and the tone of my voice, and she tidied my room - which was a big job. People talk to me in simple lines, 'Jo, did you get the post?' 'When?' 'Just now, when you took the keys with you. Can you remember where you went?' 'I had a fag.' 'Have you still got the keys?' 'Ermmm... *rumage rumage* Yes.' 'But there was no post?' And I honestly can't remember. This is what folk are up against right now. As I left work, I've never had so many people tell me to get some rest this weekend. 'What are you up to the weekend?' 'Dissertation.' 'Right... anything else?' 'Nope.' 'Maybe you should... oh! And get some sleep.' 'Ok.'

I feel like one of those spiders who, having been given some intoxicating or hallucinogenic substance, starts weaving strange or broken webs.

I am co-operating, after a fashion, though my mind is more 'It's No Good Trying' (see link in title) than really losing it. I understand what I don't understand. I still have the check-list there but, whereas it used to make sense, now I argue against it. Take this evening - I'd just done some work on my dissertation, after a good day at work, and I'm sitting here in this beautifully tidy room, when my phone goes in the other room. It's Rob. He's seen the full moon and he's thinking on me. He hopes I'm alright. I sat on my bed and let the moonlight drift over me. I got up smiling, feeling full, but when I looked at my work again, I couldn't remember what I'd been working on.

So I thought I'd go and see what's been added to the photo gallery - no brain stuff, just delight, while I find where I was again. But I couldn't see any additions, so the panic started coming. How come no-one's asked for the photos in my folder? What if no-one is adding stuff, because they don't know how and it's just all waiting there for when I finish this? Right, can I do both? So I starting adding pics, when the connection went on my dial-up and I lost all of the upload. Simultaneously, I'm trying to up-load the pics in my folder from the Wolves Moot lot and that connection breaks. Is this the Goddess trying to reinforce what the others have said regarding anything remotely mod-like? I should e-mail Mods... I should ask what's happening... no, I shouldn't, it'll look like I'm pressuring them, doubting them, like I'm modding when I shouldn't be... then the descent really starts and I'm in tears again.

That's what it's like here. I have to constantly stop, catch myself and breathe. The slightest thing sets me off and it either ends in tears, despair, anxiety or, at the other end of the spectrum, calm, laughter, love. It's not predictable. Someone writes with a problem and I can either be grateful for the chance to do something useful/come out of myself, or I can panic. It depends on the hour or even the minute. I have an inbox which was full of people trying to reach me, tell me it's ok, letting me off the hook with things I promised to do. Georgia wrote to the Grove telling folk to e-mail her instead of me for things they would ordinarily e-mail me for. Caroline intercepts my calls at work and deals with whatever is there instead. Cerr has told me to stop thinking on the website - she is speaking to Nimue, Dani and Draig and it will all be sorted. My text-memory on my phone keeps filling up and folk 'phone. I know for certain that there is a protective wall around me, sheltering me from everything but myself.

And myself. That's a weird one. There's a vast difference between being ok and fighting your inner demons, and not being ok and fighting your inner demons. When this is sorted, I'll try to explain that a little better. I can actually step out of myself 99% of the time and assess the situation. At those moments, I can even see what I should do to clear just a little bit more murk to find my way back. I just did it. And the response was to actually write a blog so folk aren't guessing and not to try to second guess them.

Ocean wrote me the most amazing e-mail earlier. It's the first thing I've printed out for ages, because I wanted to read it over and over again. It's strange, because she's saying only a bit more than FT Kate, Cerr, Georgia or the others have said, but as I read it I felt it go in. Bloody Virgo knew how to argue in terms that a Virgo would understand. Four A4 pages worth of it. It was as if she had stepped right in here with me and had a good long look at the view, before stepping out of my head and interpreting it all her own way. How the fuck she did that, I'll never know! I'm a bit stunned after reading it, to be honest, but it's slotted a lot of things into place. It made me let go enough to write this blog anyway, instead of afretting that I haven't finished the Vegas blogs. I've just sat and re-read it another twice and half wish she'd posted it to the Grove or an open letter in her blog or something, so I could show people and say, look, it's like this.

I'm extraordinarily grateful for those who deliberately or intuitively know how to react to my strangeness right now. When it's just a case of, 'It's ok, cariad', and then it's gone. There's still a lightning brain underneath all of this going at top speed, but it's writing this dissertation. I have to get into the slipstream of it, because if I'm pulled out, there's just this very confusing, slightly hostile world that I don't know how to be with, while knowing that it's actually the extreme opposite of hostile. It's actually the biggest ever demonstration of my friends closing ranks to protect me throughout history; I keep glimpsing it, but it's so hard to actually see it from where my brain is.

Then Ocean went and told me academically.

Clever girl.

The me outside of me is nodding with a respectful smirk on my face; the me inside of me doesn't quite know what just hit her. She's just working it out.

I'm ok again now. Between Ocean and this blog, the world is quiet again.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Can I not save one?

A Dream Within A Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
Poem: A Dream Within A Dream
Author: Edgar Allan Poe
Free poetry found at: http://www.able2know.com

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow --
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if Hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand --
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep -- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Vegas October 12th 2004

I don't think that Shonna thought for one moment I'd be up in the morning, given how knackered I was the night before (that's the British knackered btw, ie exhausted, rather than the American knackered, which I've learned means drunk). But I was up and out having a fag before she was up. I was just considering whether to put the kettle on or go to the loo first, when she came down the stairs. I stood at the bottom and sang 'Good morning, good morning...' to her soon as she was close enough for me to do it without waking the house.

We needed to be gone, so Shonna suggested we stop for coffee rather than brewing it. Leave the house without caffeine?!:-o!! Is that legal? Apparently so. So we did that. It worked. The world didn't implode or anything. Then we went to Starbucks. I asked on Fair Trade (Shonna says that it's now there on drip. :-D), but they didn't have any. Instead, I tried a Cafe Latte with cinnamon syrup.

OMG! CAFE LATTE WITH CINNAMON SYRUP!! My mouth orgasmed at the first taste! :-o Where has it been all my life? (Since coming back, I've gone on about it so much. One day, Viv went over to Costa's and came back with the box of drinks and a grin on her face. She handed me a Cafe Latte with Cinnamon Syrup and I screamed! It's sold at Costa's in the Wolverhampton Science Park! I said, 'Is that Cafe Latte with Cinnamon Syrup?' 'YES!' 'Is it Fair Trade?' 'Yes...' It turned out that it wasn't Fair Trade at all, but she didn't want to ruin the moment. ;-) I now have this every other day at work. I walk into Costa's and the wench just starts making it.)

Shonna drove us to her work, past the Cardboard City. This is a makeshift village where the homeless live, all corrogated iron and cardboard boxes. (A few weeks after leaving Vegas, Shonna sent an urgent call for energy from the Witchgrove people for the Cardboard City people. There were flash floods and the water was crashing towards this. I went cold, because I could picture it.) I had a shock when I saw her workplace - I've seen it before, though I've never seen a picture. She must have projected the image so hard, when she described it, that I'd seen it without ever being there.

Shonna at work

I had brought my book and my personal stereo, in case Shonna got so busy at work that we couldn't chat. In the event, she was rushed off her feet! We hardly got any time to chat at all and when we did, something or someone would interupt. As it was, I didn't get near 'The Onion Girl' because I got so fascinated by the American version of Time magazine. Now, I always thought that Time was the same the world over, different languages maybe, but the content fundamentally the same. I had my eyes opened that day! LOL

The American version is just about America. Full-stop. There was one page at the back which was the rest of the world. One single page. I couldn't get my head around it. The rest of the world version (which is what I'm assuming I buy back in Britain) is an international magazine. IT'S TIME magazine, that's what it does. It gives you indepth articles from all over the world. I mentioned this to Shonna, because it was just so shocking, it really was like being in an alternative universe where America IS the world. Shonna replied, 'See what we're up against?' That, more than anything I'd seen while over there, brought it home to me just how isolated Americans are from the rest of the world. It can literally not exist. And they get that from cradle to grave? No wonder they can't understand the rest of the world's exasperation at times. I spent a long time pondering it and re-evaluating how I should reword Kindly Ones posts. I somehow expected that from the tabloid media or even the television media, as we can get Fox News and CNN in Britain, but that Time would stoop to that really shocked me.

Having said all that, once I'd accepted that this was downright weird, I got reading the magazines there. They were covering the election campaign in depth in most of them and that was fascinating too, because elections are quite different in America. I was reading how databases are kept on people and how ugly it can all get; many things which would be illegal in Britain are legal in America as regards democracy. For example, they are allowed to have challengers at voting booths, whose job is to stop you voting, if you look the sort to not vote for their candidate. The magazine was going into all this, so it was Time's usual style, it's just that the content was all America.

Poor Shonna was up to her neck in work. Shonna at workShe went to show me around once and we'd got as far as through the door into the warehouse before she was called by her boss. I amused myself (I'm easy to entertain, I'm just fascinated by everything!), by reading the Health and Safety Laws on the wall. I noticed two things - there's no box to write in the Shop Steward and it's half in Spanish. I've seen these half in English and half in Welsh, but not Spanish before. That interested me. Then I noticed Damien looking at me and wondered if he thought I was being a cheeky bint, as Shonna wasn't with me, so I went back through and sat down. Shonna didn't reappear again for ages! Poor cariad.

I got to meet Max and Damien, who she works with and whom I've heard so much about. That was cool, as I got to put faces to names. I also got to see the world's longest freight train going by. I was out having a fag when it started and, at first, I was thinking, 'WOW! It's like the old days, when the coal went past!', then after the 1000th carriage, the novelty wore off. After the 2000th carriage, it was actually starting to irritate me, but I don't know why. I think it's because I couldn't believe it hadn't yet ended, though I don't know why that would irritate me. Given that I live next to a railway track, it can't be the sound of it passing. By the 3000th carriage I was going to give up and go indoors, but something wouldn't let me leave until I'd seen it out. When it finally stopped, it was like the mini relief you get when you've gone back to cross a 't' properly or something. Yes, I know that sounds like a minor OCD, but it's not. ;-)

It seemed like I blinked and we'd gone from half 8 in the morning to noon. I was sure that Shonna had said she was finishing at noon, so at about 10 to, I asked if she wanted me to help her move the furniture as needed moving before we could leave. She said something about there being time yet. That's when I learned we were leaving at one, not noon. There's cool. I sat and made the notes as I'm using now to write these blogs. For example, Sunday's read: 'Memorial; scones; house; Macaroni Grill; Canadian comedy; tired; Borders; storm.' Yesterday's had: '5 & Diner with Stephane, kids, Elen and William; Red Rocks; burro; Mike's; airport; Strip and volcano; 'Law and Order'; and 'Mists of Avalon'.' I think I meant 'Stephane, kids, Anna and Georgia' there...

OH! I forgot about the volcano in yesterday's blog - that's why Shonna and I came home via the Strip, instead of the bypass, after dropping Anna and Georgia off. I'd told her that I wanted to see the volcano outside the Mirage. We drove up and it went off just as we pulled level. We were stuck in traffic for so long that we got to see it all without having to park the car up! 'Law and Order'... what's that then? I think it was a television programme. I'd obviously thought it noteworthy at the time, but it's gone now. I am now, of course, completely buggered, because from this moment on, I have no little notes like that for my blog. It's pure memory from hereon in.

There's some speculation about whether I did or did not get jetlag. Stephane says that 90% of people do, so if I didn't then I'm in 10% of the world's population of jammy gits. There were certainly times I was tired, like the Sunday night, but that can be explained away in the zilch hours sleep. But sitting there, particularly after one o'clock came and went with Shonna's work not abating, I had a wave of absolute exhaustion come over me. I literally couldn't keep my eyes open. There was a clock right next to me, which gave the time in Britain, but it was evening - about 8-9pm around that time - so it couldn't have been that. The inactivity? I don't know. I do know that one minute I'm reading Time and the next Max shouted through and I awoke with a start. Without standing up, Shonna wouldn't have been able to see me, so I don't know how long I was asleep. If that was jetlag, then there's cool! It only last an hour or two.

After waking up though, I was determined to stay awake. I had me a fag, with really bleary eyes, and me walking up and down to wake up properly, then came back and volunteered to move the furniture. Shonna asked for a few minutes. That furniture was funny! As we headed to 2pm, Shonna said, 'Right furniture', so I stood up and then something else would happen. I'd sit back down again. That happened a few times. :-D It still wasn't moved when we were going.

The hour's delay though meant that we didn't have time to look around the Strip, as planned, before meeting the others, so it was straight there, to New York, New York, and into 'Nine Fine Irishmen' - an Irish theme pub based on the Fenians - to meet up with Stephane, Bella, Brian, Caleb, Aaron, Elen and William. I was wide awake by then! *grin* This was the first time since getting to America where I new more about what was on the menu than those I was with. However there was very little that was vegetarian, so I went for that very Irish meal... PIZZA! LOL I also ordered a round of soda bread for them to try. It was nice, but didn't taste as good as the soda bread you get in Dublin.

I moved in my seat and got scratched by a protruding nail. Oh well, I just avoided where the nail was sticking out; until afterwards, when I was smoking one of Brian's fags (I'd left mine in the car and Brian, bless his cotton socks, lent me three fags after that as well. I'm going to have to go to Colorado and repay him now), Elen went to sit on my chair. I called to Shonna to tell her to beware of the nail and Shonna and Bella were all, 'has it cut you? Get the chair replaced!' So I alerted the waiter and he changed it. That's something else different there. It just wouldn't have occurred to me to get the chair changed. I might have told the waiter on the way out, so the next person didn't get caught, but I think the majority of Britons would have kept the chair and just avoided the nail once they'd found it.

Me at Nine Fine IrishmenShonna at Nine Fine Irishmen

We aren't Billy No Mates, by the way, Elen was in that seat between us, just not when Bella was taking those pictures. I canted with Brian most of all because he was right next to me and he's loud enough (in a lovely way) that I could hear him without any difficulty at all. He was interested in how the National Health Service worked and we were comparing and contrasting between how medical help work in America and in Britain, and how it all gets paid for. As this is a conversation that I'm always in with other Britons, speculating, I'll outline it here, as told me by Brian:

* If one of us was to have walked out into the Strip and got knocked down unconscious, an ambulance would come and paramedics would deal. Everything would be done to keep the dude alive, even though they didn't know if they could afford it or if they were foreign. That side would be dealt with later. If there were credit cards on the dude, then they would be taken and the details noted.

* Americans can buy insurance to cover medical expenses, but it does seem very different to National Insurance. We compared what would happen if one of us got a very serious condition. For me, there might be a queue the size of Bournemouth to get seen, but once I was in the system, I wouldn't have to pay for anything. I'd be treated until I was cured or dead. If it was Brian, he might have to end up mortgaging his house and/or business to pay for it. Times that by the fact there's four members of his family, that's scary.

* They have to pay for everything! From a broken tooth to a broken leg, everything comes with a bill attached. This is why you'll often hear through the grapevine that such and such is sitting in their American home in pain, when the British person would be up New Cross already in the waiting room. They first have to decide if they can afford to be treated.

Once Brian and I had weighed up the pros and cons, we decided that the British system was better, though we needed me to go home and check what proportion of my wages goes in tax and insurance first (if my NI stamps are cheaper than their insurance, then their's would be better). I've since e-mailed Bella with the info and Brian wrote back to say we were right, the British system is better.

After dinner (with Stephane teaching us the French for idiot - cretin, which is a word we use in Britain meaning... idiot!), Stephane took Elen and William home, while Shonna, Bella, Brian, Caleb, Aaron and I took hours over saying goodbye. :-( The simple fact was we didn't want to part ways, so we weren't going to hurry the goodbye! Instead, we took a few million photos; we looked in the shop and Bella bought Osran a 'I've done 9 fine Irishmen' t-shirt and I bought a lighter; me and the lads had an impromptu Irish jigging lesson (with a passer-by stopping to ask what dance that was); and I had my one and only Vegas gambling session - I put 25c in a slot machine (Bella and Shonna had to find the 25c in my purse and show me how to use the slot machine...). I made a light flash and the thing go round. :-D It was well worth 25c. Then I put another one in and nothing happened at all. :-( I stopped then.

Bella and Shonna ran away somewhere and while they were gone, me and Brian got told off by a member of staff for having the kids in a gambling area. (That's something else, it's illegal for kids to be in arcades there! There'd be riots on the streets of Blackpool if that was the case here! LOL) So Brian went off with them and I found Shonna and Bella (Oh! That's when they were in the shop getting Osran's t-shirt).

It was hilarious (but sad as well) after that, because we did the final big goodbye with Bella determined not to cry even as her eyes were filling up. The hugs and kisses were done and off she, Brian and the boys went, but me and Shonna stalked them. She turned around to wave and found us right behind her, so there was another round of hugging and kissing.

After that, she told us not to follow her and off they went up the escalator. But Shonna remembered Bella saying that when she was leaving me in Glastonbury, she kept looking back trying to see me. So we waited by a slot machine and Shonna went, '10... 9... 8...' Bella turned and we waved like mad. She was all grins and waved like mad back. '10... 9... 8...' Again! Dead on the eight, she'd turn and we'd wave, right up until she was out of view. Only once did she lean back and we were still there, waving insanely. We'd only start waving on the 8, but it must have looked to her like we were constantly waving. We could see her up there killing herself laughing, but eventually she didn't come back. The exact time that Shonna said that that was the last time she'd check. We waited on, but she didn't. That Shonna's good!

We had a look around New York, New York then. There's a part in there made up to look like the streets of New York, complete with steam coming out of the thingies that Marilyn Monroe stood on. We passed a ticket office, which was showing an advert for 'O'. Shonna said, "You do realize that's Stephane playing there, don't you?' As in those distinctive notes right there, that was OUR Stephane playing them. I was so proud!

We walked back to the car through an amusement arcade area, where there was an electric chair. 'NOOOOOO!' I said. We looked at it for a while, trying to work out what the ride was. I mean, if you put your money in and sit in the chair, are you electrocuted? I tried to talk Shonna into finding out, but she was having none of it and I wasn't going to sit in the chair. So we still don't know. If anyone reading this wants to go to New York, New York, in Las Vegas, and find out for us... well you'd need to get your friend to report back, just in case it's real. But we are curious.

Shonna drove us to another hotel, via parts off Vegas just off the Strip, so I could see some sights. *insert conversation about why valets don't nick cars* Then we went up to the Star Trek Experience. I don't actually watch Star Trek, but that didn't matter. I actually knew more about it than I thought I did and I think it would be a lot of fun even if you'd never heard of Star Trek.

I won't go into details about the first ride itself, because it'll ruin it for those thinking of going on it in the future, but it was brilliant. We went on that one twice. The second one had me so nervous! You know that state of fright when you're both laughing and terrified at the same time? Yes, that one! It was fine until the last part, then I realized that someone could sneak up behind me. I hate that. If you notice, if I have a choice, I will always sit with my back against a wall or where I have full view of the entrances. It might be the Vicarage's fault, when I turned and Maud was standing there right behind me; but I've also been attacked from behind before; and sitting like that is just downright sensible in half the pubs as I've been in Wolverhampton. One of the most frightening things out for me is fire... but the second most frightening is someone grabbing me from behind. I'll either flee or hurt them as my first, natural reaction.

In this ride, we were sitting in front of a wide aisle and Borgs had already been appearing from all over. I was nervous, but still enjoying it, until I felt something press into my back. I already had my legs off the ground and under me, in case something grabbed my legs, but when that happened, it was sod the looking ahead, what's happening behind me. I was half turned in the seat, trying to watch both entrances AND the aisle behind me; fully into fight, flight or fright mode, and holding onto Shonna! I didn't realize until we came out that the thing in my back had been in the seat! We'd all had it. I thought a Borg was going to grab me from behind. *rolls eyes* In my head, I was telling myself, 'It's only a ride... It's only a ride... no-one's going to hurt you or Shonna', while all my instincts were on red alert. I was still giggling my head off though. We're strange creatures, us humans, aren't we?

It was out there and back on the first ride (after a fag break), canting about how the Star Trek fanatics as we know would kill to be here. I loved the place and I don't even watch the show! LOL We popped into the shop too, looking at the key-rings after Elen's name (because it's so rare. I said I'd look in Wales for her, as it's the Welsh spelling), and so I could pick up a thank you present for Stephane. Shonna bought Ian a Captn Kirk teddy and some other stuff, as he's the Captn of Space Cadets.

Then Shonna was looking at her watch in shock, because Stephane was cooking tea and we were overdue back. We got our arses back to the car and I was trying to find her the three REM tunes as I wanted her to hear, but I couldn't find them. We got onto 'So Fast, So Numb', which is a soundtrack of sorts in my life, but not the one I wanted her to hear right then. 'Walk Unafraid' was top favourite; then 'Country Feedback'; followed by 'Leave'; but we got canting and reached home so quickly that she'd didn't hear them at all. They didn't have a tape player in the house and I forgot to give her the tape for the car next day. :-( I really want her to hear them, so I have to buy some tapes and go up Kate's as my tape-to-tape is broken. *sigh* I think that was the closest to stressed I got the entire trip (minus the planes), and that was nothing! LOL If that was me stressed normally, no-one would ever have to worry on me. ;-)

Stephane had cooked us spaghetti, which was gorgeous. Have I mentioned yet that Italian food is my favourite? I tend to eat pasta of some variety most nights here. I gave him his model with instructions that he had to find time to work on them. It chills him out. Stephane, if you're reading this find time to work on your models, that's an order. ;-)

Now, here's where I'm seriously struggling on chronology, because I have no notes. It's only the difference between Tuesday night and Wednesday that I'm struggling with. Shonna and Stephane, will you help me out if your memory is better and I've got this wrong please?

I think that this is the night we watched 'Saved'. It was a funny film and I was well into it, but I was sitting down again in a comfy seat. Apart halfway through, I nodded off, though it could only have been a short while, because I only knew as the plot had moved on. :-( I hate falling asleep. I was able to pick it up again and still enjoyed it. We watched the out-takes as well, which filled in some blanks.

Afterwards, I remember sitting out in the back garden, smoking a fag, and looking at strange lights in the sky. We were close to an airport, so they were probably planes, but they weren't flashing green and red as I'm used to. They were orange-y-yellow and streaming across the sky. Before I could call Stephane and Shonna to see, they'd gone. It's not worth mentioning then, was it? Though I thought on Chelle's stories about when she was younger, watching weird lights around the mountains.

Sometimes, now, when I'm stressed at work or something, I'll imagine myself back in their yard, looking up at the sky. It's easy to do, because it gets cold in the desert at night, and it's cold here now. Eyes closed and a fag on, and I'm back there looking at those clear stars, raising my hand to block out the street-lamp. A couple of weeks back, Shonna wrote me that she wishes I was still there, I told her that I am. I'm in her backyard having a fag. I wasn't lying.


I go back there a lot, in the garden, where I'm not intruding, just finding that peace there.

I guess that we canted some more and went abed.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Vegas October 11th 2004

This morning, Frenchie took me, Anna, Georgia and the kids to the 5 and Diner. Now THAT looked American! There's one, smaller, but the same otherwise in Cannock, which is called the American Diner. It's in a silver trailer (like a very, very big caravan) and looks very 1950s. The one in Vegas is a lot bigger, but in all other respects the same.

Georgia and I have an on-going thing about what Americans biscuits are. It's easy to translate British biscuits, they are what Americans call cookies, but American biscuits? When Georgia was here, she, me and Mum went through our freezer and decided that they were Yorkshire puddings. Now, at the 5 and Diner, Georgia ordered biscuits to show me. I looked when they arrived on her plate and they look like dumplings rather than Yorkshire pud, but they are smaller than dumplings and you don't eat them in stew. She had them for breakfast, covered in gravy. I had me a cheese omelette, because that's what I was craving, but I wish I had tried biscuits while I was over there. Next time.

Afterwards, Frenchie drove us into Red Rock Canyon. WOW! WOW! I'd been eyeing those mountains for days and here I was, not only in them, but with Frenchie, Anna and Georgia (and the kids) too. (I'd felt sorry for Shonna having to work before, but this day, I could have cried for her, because she had all three of us there but had to go off and sell truss. I remembered how frustrating that was when Georgia was in Wolverhampton and this would be triple that.)

The canyon was beautiful enough from inside the car, with Frenchie telling us that all this had once been at the bottom of an ocean, hence the sand, but when he pulled up and let us go out to play! WOW! I've never seen a sky so huge, not even in Somerset, then far out on the horizon, there's the most amazing mountains ever. The highest mountains I've seen before were either Snowdonia or the Highlands up by Fort William. I've been meaning to check on those heights, so, let's see:

Mt Wilson (Red Rocks) = Ranging to 7000ft above sea level
Y Wyddfa (Snowdonia) = 3,550ft above sea level
Ben Nevis (Highlands) = 4,418ft above sea level

I KNEW they were taller! I looked at them and tried to imagine myself in Llanberis, then looked again. I hadn't realized that they were half again taller, but you can imagine how this little earth sign felt looking up at those mountains. I did briefly think that Shonna's going to be so disappointed when she finally ends up in Gwynydd, having this to compare and contrast too. Though my Welsh mountains feel different. Red Rocks were... red... the Welsh ones are much, much darker.

Stephane drove us to the Visitor's Centre and sent us ahead with Elen. I'd started to get William out for him, but he decided to stay with the minivan (Stephane, not William. William didn't have much choice in the matter!). Inside, there was an area to walk through and get the history of the desert and a shop. I immediately made for the history, while Georgia and Anna made for the shop. Elen came running after me, so I lifted her up so she could see the exhibits, read very, very fast and then told her the stories.

Someone asked me something and I couldn't tell a word they were saying. I apologized, telling them that I only spoke English and they looked very hurt. I'm assuming then that they asked me in English, but, in truth, it did sound like another language and the accoustics made it hard to hear properly. I muttered something about having Americans in the shop who might be able to help, then noticed I was missing one Elen. I went legging it around the corner, without a bye or leave, after saying, 'Wee-ar's me babby!?' Just to convince them that I didn't speak English either.

But Elen was at an exhibit just out of view. We had a discussion about not running off where Auntie Jo can't see you, then a discussion about it being boring talking to people, then another about finding Daddy, Auntie Georgia and Auntie Anna. Actually that bit was funny. She started saying she didn't want to talk to those people (as in the ones who'd asked me something), then her eyes opened wide and she said, 'Where's Anna?' with a big gasp, like it was really important that we find them NOW. She's looking around in a fake panic and I'm trying not to laugh at her. Still I got her hand and we went to find the others.

Once in the shop, she charged off to stand next to Georgia. I waited until Georgia had seen her and was canting at her, then started looking through the books. I had my eye on one about the Nevada Test Site. I picked it up and flicked through in a want and covet state of mind, then decided to be sensible after the million books I'd bought the night before. Plus when was I going to have time to read it? I put it back. (A few days later, I picked up the same book at Hoover Dam and came so close to buying it. Then, on the last day, I was up in the mountains when a bloke pointed out the spot of the test site to me and there I was staring at it, while he gave me the history. I REALLY wanted that book then. I'm either going to have to find it on the internet or beg and bribe one of the Vegas Grovers to get it for me. I should have just bought the thing first time I saw it.)

I was engrossed in the book when I heard a woman with an 'I do declay-yar' accent saying 'come on now'. So I put the book down and went to leave, until I realized it wasn't Georgia telling me to come on. It was someone with her accent. Georgia was still in the back of the shop. So I went back there and looked around with them for a bit. Elen wanted some totem stones. She picked up about half a dozen, and, when I looked at them, they were really expensive. I got them out of her hands and put them back. If I remember rightly, she also wanted a scorpion teddy bear, which I was about to say, 'Ok, you can have that', when Auntie Georgia told her to calm down and stop grabbing things off shelves (nicely! That the essense anyway, though Georgia did it so well that even I stopped messing with things on shelves). I think she did end up with a book.

Anna was two steps ahead of us, so I don't know what she treated herself to. I bought a history of Red Rock Canyon and a history of Las Vegas, plus a map of the Indian nations for FT Kate, and what I thought was a postcard of a desert fox. (I collect foxes.) Georgia bought some coyote things. Later on, I discovered that my fox was really a coyote, but Georgia had gone back home without her stuff, so I gave her my coyote postcard. Shonna was going to post it on for her.

Outside, I started in the direction of the minivan,Elen at Red Rocks Canyon but Anna said that Stephane had told us to look around. There's cool! :-D We did. There was a little walled off bit, which had an example in it off all the desert foliage and with little plaques telling us about them, plus descriptions of all the desert wildlife. I remember more Georgia reading them aloud, than me reading them myself. I could listen to her accent all day.

I did a lot of staring at Anna and Georgia to check they were real, then staring at the mountains to check that they were still there, then looking across the canyon to the far mountains. It was all so beautiful. You know that scene in 'American Beauty' where he says that there's so much beauty in the world that it's hard to take it all in? That's what it felt like. So uncommonly stunning.

Hold on, I've found the quote:

And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in...

...there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday.

I kept getting lost in the beauty and the fact that I was there, not only that moment, but the entire of the weekend catching up with me. Like I'd finally breathed out, having been scared to do so in case it was all a dream, only to find myself still in it. Goddess only knows what Anna made of me. Georgia at least had seen me on Wulfruna's patch, so could smile at me in the full knowledge of what I was used to and where I was now; while Shonna and the others had longer to work out that I wasn't always this floaty and gobsmacked. Poor Anna just got me walking around in a daze a lot!

Georgia, Elen and Anna at Red Rocks Canyon

I do have to remember to be sociable. Somewhere in between the fact that I live most of my life inside my own head, coupled with the deafness, I tend to lose my surroundings and/or the people there. Red Rocks was one of the times when I became so ungrounded, insofar as I wanted to capture it, hold it, be there, so much that it was like a quiet, enjoyable desperation. Later on, Anna said to me that she hadn't brought her camera, because she knew so many others would be taking pictures that she didn't need to. It gave her an opportunity to just be there, looking at it. I realized then that I was doing exactly what I sometimes smile at others doing - so desperately trying to picture it all that I'm not actually living it. I put my camera down and just looked, and looked, and looked. I came down a level, quietened inside and had a smile in my soul which must have been plastered all over my face.

I didn't realize how hot it was until we reached a temperature thingie. I know the exact temperatures, because I took a picture of the gage:

188.8 F in the tortoise thing (unless that one's broken)
72.8 F in the shade of the Yucca tree
109.1 F on the ground

I read that and Pixie's voice in my head told me to put on some suntan cream, but I ignored her. I didn't burn though. In fact, I went brown rather than red throughout this trip, which is surprising for me. No-one's seen it since I got back though, as it's been autumn in Britain and very cold, so I've been well covered up.

We paused at a track leading down, with the most unobscured view yet of the mountains and desert. We all stopped dead and looked at it. I looked across at Anna and she was just staring and I thought 'remember this moment'. And I have. Not so much the beauty, though that was there in spades, but the moment, how it felt. I looked to Georgia to find her looking at me with a strange smile on her face. I smiled back and she smiled harder, then looked away. First Elen and I went a little way down the track, so our photo could be taken with all that behind us, then came back picking up stones for everyone, and putting them in the fold of her dress. Then Anna went down for a picture, with Elen going halfway with her for more stones. She ended up dropping the stones and Auntie Anna bent with her to pick them all up again. Did all of those stones make it back home? Or are they still in the minivan? From the photo evidence, I think Auntie Anna made her choose her favourites:

Elen and Anna at Red Rocks CanyonElen and Anna at Red Rocks Canyon

We found a Joshua Tree, so I ran to be photographed with it, as I had the album. I didn't realize how spiky they are! Poor Elen came running to join me and got scratched to buggery. There were tears and Auntie Georgia's pocketbook (that's handbag to the uninitiated) was rumaged in for medical supplies. In the end, I think it was sympathy and the magical kissing better that sorted that.

We had done a curcuit around the visitor's centre and were heading towards the minivan, when we saw Stephane coming towards us. Poor bloke, it must have been a boring visit for him, sitting there waiting on us. We drove then on a curcuit of Red Rocks Canyon itself, which was well cool, because I hadn't known we were going to be doing that!

We stopped at many of the viewpoints along the way, all stunning in different ways. Red Rocks CanyonThe first showed a long deep cwm (I can't think of the English word for it, let alone the American!), with tracks running down and long the bottom. Looking up, I could see a massive profile of a native American man's face and couldn't work out if it had been carved as such (ala Mount Rushmore) or if I was just seeing things. What do you think?

Georgia came and showed me an eagle, carved from rock, that she could make out on top of a mountain. I could see it too, then Anna came over and had it pointed out to her. After that, Anna and I stood looking out over the cwm together. She said something about it being beautiful and I agreed.

At the next stop, the car beside us was playing classical music. I recognized it at the time, but I've forgotten what it was now. Was it Mozart or Strauss? Stephane said that he was tempted to put on his marching music to drown it out! LOL To me, it added to it. The whole place looked like a scene from a film anyway, so having classical music gave it a soundtrack. The rocks here were white and red, just stratas of them, not fading into one another, just white stopped, red started, like some giant had levelled mountain halfway up and plonked another on top of it.

We drove a bit around then, until reaching the next stop. From there we were looking back towards Vegas in the distance, which really gave us perspective on how close we were. There was also a tree which just screamed photo opportunity, so we did.

Anna at Red Rocks CanyonGeorgia at Red Rocks Canyon
Frenchie at Red Rocks CanyonMab at Red Rocks Canyon

The kids were still strapped into the minivan though, and getting antsy, so I had to run up and sit with them, sending Frenchie down for his photo opportunity.

The next stop took us into another valley, up the top of Red Rock Canyon. There the mountains were very different, more like billions of monoliths stacked together, going up for miles. This is where Anna spoke her words of wisdom to me about living the moment, not trying to capture it; and so I did, looking around me and just drinking it all in. This is where I quietened again after the sheer amazingness of the past few days. Wise wench is our Anna.

It helped that we were there for a little while, as there was a toilet, so Georgia and Elen went visiting it. Someone had dropped fag butts, so I collected them up and took them to the bin, which was beside the loo. Georgia made me jump ten miles when she suddenly appeared from nowhere beside me there! LOL

There were no more scheduled stops after that until we were back to the bottom of the canyon, but such scenery to drive though. I finally sussed how Americans can drive for miles, as Stephane showed me the cruise control. All he had to do was steer the car, because there's only a brake pedal-wise, all else is automatic, plus there's those wide open roads, with no-one on it (except for the idjut who Stephane pulled over to let by. They were going so fast that there was no way they could be taking in the scenery. I assumed they were going home, until Stephane pointed out that this was purely a scenic route - it led to where we started and therefore didn't take anyone home.) Driving in America isn't the feat of concentration and stamina that it is in Britain.

We turned into the road which led back to the visitor's Centre and then to Vegas, when suddenly we saw the burro. Thanks to Caroline, I knew that a burro was a donkey (I only have two sentences in Spanish memorized: El burro est rapdio and quieres talmo algo). In Red Rocks, the burro are wild, which I loved to see. You just don't think of donkeys running wild and so the barest thought got me grinning. Stephane had hoped earlier that we'd see them and here they were. He ended up turning the minivan around so we could get pictures. He also stopped us at a carpark with a view over the canyon as we'd just toured. That was amazing, seeing it all together.

Georgia, Anna and Mab at Red Rocks Canyon

It really was time to go back now. We were all thirsty, the kids were antsy (especially Elen, who seemed determined to unstrap herself from her seat) and Shonna was due back soon. I think that Shonna was already back by the time we got in, though not long on it. I seem to have a vision of her getting up from by her computer with a huge grin on her face of welcome. Hugs all round and drinks!

We got ourselves changed and Anna and Georgia kept disappearing. I must have missed the bit where they said that they were going to pack, because the first it hit me that they were going was when suitcases starting appearing downstairs. I went upstairs to find Georgia trying to force her case shut. I'd always known that they were leaving this day, but I was doing so much living in the moment that it hadn't entirely occurred to me that they really were going. :-(

We set off then in two cars, me, Shonna, Anna, Georgia, Frenchie, Elen and William, to eat at Mike's on the North-west of Vegas. It was like a pub but very big, more the like of a Wetherspoons, but twice the size. I spotted some Newcy Brown behind the bar and told Shonna on it, so she could tell Brianne if I didn't see her. Brianne had said that the thing she missed most about Britain was the Newcy Brown, so I'd brought her a bottle with me. Shonna explained that Brianne's specific complaint was that Vegas Newcy Brown didn't taste the same as British Newcy Brown, so that was still a kindness me bringing it.

I nipped for a fag up the bar and found that the Atlanta Braves were losing. I went up to Georgia and told her I had distressing news, then held her hand and hugged her as I delivered it. She survived. I also got canting with a bloke up the bar from Haight-Astbury, which is where Shonna was born. He just started canting at me! LOL I loved the meal, but it was also sad, because Anna and Georgia were going. :-(

Stephane took the children back, while the rest of us climbed into the minivan and drove to the airport. Shonna produced a tape with some brilliant music on, which I must have sent her ages ago. We had it on high, singing away, but it must have been very loud in the back, because Anna asked us to turn it down. Unfortunately, low enough to stand in the back was too low for me to hear in the front. I think Shonna turned it off.

We drove via the Strip, for one last look for the two leaving, and picked on the very macho blokes in their souped up cars. So low they were practically on the floor, and reeving like maniacs to move the two inches in traffic. We were all, 'Oh! What men they are! Oh! My heart! Get them for me! Please!' LOL We were also stuck fast in traffic and needed to be at the airport. I had a word with Elen of the Ways and visualized someone letting us out, as no bugger had for ages. Within a minute, we were let out and en route again.

Georgia's plane was something like two hours after Anna's, but as they had to check in an hour or so early, that meant a lot of time for Anna to be sitting on her own crying. It was one of those awful moments for Shonna and I where we were having to say goodbye to Anna, then having to say goodbye to Georgia knowing that we could have kept the latter for another hour more. But all of us not wanting Anna to be sitting on her own when she could have company. It was up to Georgia, as she would have to be the one sitting alone in the end. She opted to go with Anna.

I managed not to cry hugging them both goodbye, though Anna sobbed on me and Georgia was very close. I think that I only didn't cry because I was trying to be strong for them, though that hadn't stopped me at the last minute when I'd said goodbye to Georgia in Birmingham (knowing I'd see her again in 3 months) or saying goodbye to Kate (knowing I'd see her in ten days). Shonna and I hugged them to bits, then drove away in the minivan.

It was a subdued atmosphere in there, until Shonna reached down, put the music full blast and we both screamed along to 'Ol' Welsh Soul' all the way down the Strip. :-D Now THAT was surreal! Rev Hammer... singing about the old Dolgellau Road... and here's me, Welsh blood, Welsh soul, singing along whilst driving down the Las Vegas Strip! Talk about juxtaposition of scenery! Straight after that, Shonna put on 'Vegas Two Times' by the Stereophonics, and by the time she was showing me Crazy Horse, I'm like Anna and Georgia who?? :-D THAT WAS FUCKING AMAZING! 'Vegas Two Times' while actually IN Vegas. Bear in mind that the last time I heard that song, I was driving into Hay on bloody Wye! LOL This was followed by 'Is Yesterday, Tomorrow, Today?' and I thought my heart would burst. :-D

Stephane must have expected two upset wenches coming home to him, instead he got us on a right high, rescued by Rev Hammer and the Stereophonics, though it was still sad to let them go. I still wish I'd been more awake on the Sunday night.

After that, the kids abed, Stephane, Shonna and I watched the film version of 'Mists of Avalon'. I was expecting something really tacky, as that's how it had been described to me. I was looking out for 'Goddess bless', but it wasn't there. Because I was expecting utter tat (but I've never minded that), I was pleasantly surprised by a good film! Juliana Margulies was perfect as Morgaine. It was based on Marion Zimmer Bradley's book (and therefore indirectly Mallory), so the history was out, but the story itself was great.

It also stirred up that thing that's always below the surface. That thing which I pushed deep inside after Jenni tried to push me off a cliff because of the whole Morgana/Gwenhwyfar thing, then the Y Gwir Erbyn Ar Y Byd. I went outside for a fag, while Stephane went abed and Shonna made a brew. I got thinking... well... more I got feeling, and nearly accepted it. Once inside, looking at Shonna as the HPS I should have had instead of Karen (lucky the newbies now who have got Shonna), I half asked questions and she half answered them. Unspoken a lot got said about Gwyar and me.

We canted again until relatively late and went to bed knackered. The idea being that if I was up early enough we'd go on plan A, which was me going to work with Shonna in the morning; but she took one look at me and said that it's ok, I could lie in. I think I decided there and then that I'd be up. I set my bodyclock and went abed.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?