Tuesday, 2 September 2014

TRAVEL: Lily Pads and Sunsets

Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset

Sometimes fresh air can heal you more then pills and sleep. That was the case on a Thursday evening we were in Bay City when after spending most of the afternoon feeling under the weather, Joe drove us out to the Quanicassee Wildlife Area just outside of Bay City. With spaced out houses, field upon field of crops, it took this Yorkshire lass back to her rural days. 

The wildlife area has a small boat landing in a pond filled with lily pads surrounded by wild flowers, a couple were fishing, some teenagers on bike rides but it was ever so peaceful. A canal stretches out with a footpath running alongside takes you down to Lake Huron. On a late summers eve the walk was the perfect time to catch the slowly setting sun with the echoes of frogs and crickets bouncing off the marsh grasses surrounding the bay.

When you live in the burbs, you forget just how quiet rural life can be.


Quanicassee Wildlife Area
Essexville, MI


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Monday, 1 September 2014

LIFE: I Am Blank Because

Book

Remember when I stumbled across that things I am, things i'm not post, well after stumbling in a similar manner over I'm blank over on Little Miss Momma, I thought why the hell not. I'll do this one too. I always find these types of posts a great way of seeing a seek peek into the person behind the blog, so hopefully you might find it a helpful insight into what i'm like outside of the blogging world. 

I'm weird because
  • i've never read/watched anything harry potter related, nor do I intend do, same for twlight
  • i don't have dreams to visit NYC or disney 
  • while i'm britsh, I hate roast dinners ... especially yorkshire puddings ... urgh
  • i hate talking on phones, i'll never answer and I never check my voice mails, so my phone is nearly always on silent
  • apple sarnies are the best, as are cheese and celery sandwiches
  • at a month short of 28, i've never tried or learnt to drive a car
  • i can write backwards - like mirror write, it's hard to explain
  • i grew up being called weird because I could and would cross stitch, but apparently that's super cool these days. funny how things change

I'm a bad friend because
  • i take forever to reply to emails
  • i'm probably too honest and just say what I mean without really thinking
  • i'm a bit ranty

flower

I'm a good friend because
  • whenever I do get around to replying to emails, it'll probably be a pretty long one
  • if you're having a bad day/need advice, i'll just say it how I find it
  • stay true and i'll stick by you - i know only too well about friends dumping me
  • to be honest, i probably could do with working on this ...

I'm sad because
  • you can't get bakewell tarts or fish fingers in america and i've been craving them both all week 
  • bills ... enough said
  • sometimes stock just vanishes aka i loose things too often
  • i've just finished the last bit of chocolate in the house
  • tonight's take out was on the bland side
  • stress and my worry head stop me from doing things
  • i can't go into my garden without being bitten alive
  • neighbours like weed killing through the fence onto my garden
  • sometimes i feel the urge to blog when i have nothing to blog about and i can't remember the idea i had for a blog post while falling asleep last night
  • i had to take down a bird feeder because squirrels literally gnawed it apart

tree

I'm happy because
  • will and grace marathons
  • long weekends with the husband
  • sarah water's new book the paying guests is pretty darn awesome so far
  • people still follow, read and comment on my blog after five years - it still amazes me

I'm excited for
  • hockey season (roll on october)
  • digging my scarves out
  • fall tv seasons restarting (agents of shield i'm looking at you)
  • painting the deck blue 
  • fall leaf colours - we get spoiled in Michigan (you can see some snaps from last year here)
  • planting spring bulbs
  • making the move to more organic/green body and beauty products
  • hanging a christmas wreath on my front door, oh no i mentioned the "c" word ... oops

Why are you blank? I'd love to hear how you'd answer these statements.

Friday, 29 August 2014

TRAVEL: Bay City

BayCity
Friendship Shell, Wenonah Park

Last week we popped oop north to visit Bay City (the one here in Michigan, not Wisconsin) - Joe had a work conference up there so I tagged along, it's a place we visited before so I was more than happy to entertain myself wandering around. Because I was pleasing myself for eight hours I have many a photograph to break down and share but I thought I'd start with the main downtown area and as ever all the little things. 

If you know anything about my adventures while living here in the US I love exploring and finding the side of America that might get a little overlooked if you're just visiting. For me it's all about the faded painted advertisements on walls, the outside stairwells, the old buildings and street names. I love the architecture of 1800's America when all these small towns and cities were being founded and finding their fortunes be it home or business, and with Bay City being founded in 1837 it's my kind of place.

BayCity BayCity
Purple building at N. Water St & 3rd, view towards City Hall and museum 

Bay City is located along the base of the Saginaw Bay just before Lake Huron. Originally known as Lower Saginaw it prosperity was founded upon the deep river waters , much deeper than in Saginaw itself, perfect for all the industries that rely on shipping. By the mid 1860's the city was dooming with the sound and life of shipbuilding, saw mills and lumber - the industrialists in charge made their fortunes and built their mansions many of which are now historical landmarks (more of this homes to come in following posts). But like many a city in the Midwest's Rust Belt and just like here in Detroit, by the 1950's onwards such areas struggled to adapt to the changes both economically and socially, the area lost nearly half it's manufacturing jobs and incomes further decreased.

BayCity DSCF8347Bay City
Garden at 6th St & N. Van Buren St, Trinity Episcopal Church, alleyway along 3rd st. 

Birthplace of singer Madonna, local folklore declares the infamous fictional lumberjack Paul Bunyan was based on Fabian "Joe" Fournier - a fearsome brawler standing 6 foot tall, with the strength of three men and a double row of teeth. You wouldn't want to mess with him on a Friday night would you?! After his murder in 1875 tales and stories began. There are arguments over the origins, of who Paul Bunyan was or may have been, but in 1906 Michigan Oscoda/AuSable Press printed a story about a lumberjack with two sets of teeth - a man echoing the description of Joe Fournier. But who was he really, well who knows but Bay City would like to lay down their claim.

Now Bay City celebrates it's river heritage, street upon street is home to antique malls and it's old buildings still stand proud as their fortunes continue to change.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

LIFE: Biggest Fear(s) as an Expat

FEAR

I'll be the first to admit that I have a fair new fears, anxiety filled moments when it comes to being an expat. Even more so that this for me, is a hard topic to speak about, it reveals what I find to be my weakness, that being an expat isn't always a rosy experience. It's hard for to pin point one fear that troubles me more than other and the fears have certainly changed and no doubt will continue to do so.  So I thought I'd share some of the main worries for the last in the Expat Revelations with Holly - past, every day ones and possible future issues.

Healthcare
Moving from the UK with it's free NHS (well paid with taxes) to the US without any medical coverage was a big fear. Until I was granted my greencard I couldn't be added onto Joe's health insurance coverage. So for the first six months I was running uninsured and wild and dangerous and probably should have wrapped myself up in bubble wrap. That was until I got strep 3 months into uncovered period and I had to go to the urgent care. Without insurance seeing a Dr cost $100 - any treatment and tests just added up that total. Now fast forward and having that health insurance is a big relief, it's still not cheap to visit a Dr or get medication, but it makes it cheaper and something to stress about a little less.

The homeland
Honestly I worry about returning to the UK, even to visit. I haven't returned since I left, I worry, and well know that the UK isn't the same country - politically and socially and I'm not that unworldly girl that left in 2011. People have changed - friends have had babies, got married, people have died and again I'm not that person they use to know (I talk about immigration guilt which somewhat relates to this point more here). Absence changes everyone - yourself and the ones you left behind. Being so use to an American way of life - a life of American pancakes, of having money notes all the same size, American gas prices, of Target and mom n pop diners, being "British" again for whatever crazy reason, even if it's just for a week, is scary.

Of Being The Foreigner 
Being that British girl, that foreigner, of still being an outsider is always a constant fear. It's an insecurity that blankets my life, a fear of never fully belonging in either the US or the UK, like which country is really home. Everyday fears of my accent making me stick out but I also fear completely loosing my East Yorkshire twang, of meeting people, of being misunderstood, humour falling flat, saying, doing the wrong thing.

Paperwork
Visa, greencard paper has been a fear since 2011 but it's one that still comes into play when I have to apply for something new. Go back to April/May of this year and my fear of having to prove my marriage was real. Granted my greencard entitles me to live in the US for ten years, by then I want to have applied and being granted citizenship. But I fear not being able to remember all of the key constitutional points and it's amendments of all the government roles and things. I need to the battle the fear of applying for citizenship (and also what that means on a personal level as no longer being just a British citizenship - although being a Brit I'm granted dual citizenship but still) to stop the constant green card renewal fear.

Fears are something I don't think people speak about on blogs enough and certainly not enough on expat based blogs. It's not wrong to admit any of us has a fear whether big or small, but for some reason admitting you have a fear while being an expat is too real, it's too open about admitting that the expat dream isn't as amazing or as grand as you want everyone to believe.