Shenanigans. Of the Nighttime & Birthday Varieties

Based on the date of my last posting, it appears that I’ve been slipshod in my approach to blogging recently.  Which has (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how I choose to view it) left me with enough fodder for twelve blogs.  But I’ve been re-inspired, so to speak, by my newly-blogging fashionista cousin, Veronica (you’ll remember her from earlier posts).  If you are at all interested in fashion, her musings at are a must read.

Now.  Back to the rather unfashionable life of a California girl living in London.  As I write this, I’m sitting here with a bruise on my left calf the size of … well … my left calf.  It covers the front of said calf from ankle to knee.  It’s a real beauty.  While faded considerably from its earlier incarnation as a black and blue monstrosity, it still retains the hue of dulled steel.  Like I said, it’s a beauty.  Oh, and did I mention that I obtained this bruise approximately two months ago?  Yes, you read me right.  Two months past.  But don’t fret.  It’s healing.  Oh, it’s healing.  However, the healing that is occurring is happening at a pace that would make glacial look speedy.  This is most likely because of the magnitude of the injury that caused the bruise in the first place.

I hesitate slightly to tell this story.  Mostly because it makes me look like an idiot.  Ahem.

I believe I’ve mentioned previously that we have a fox in our neighborhood.  More specifically, and more often than not, we have a fox in our yard.  We also have Poppy, the neighbors’ cat.  Throughout our time here I have heard odd yowlings and growlings and sometimes screechings in the middle of the night.  At moments like these I’ve had concern about animals dying at the paws of that fox.  But I’ve never seen anything to back that up and, for all I know, Mr. Fox is a charming fellow who would make a lovely friend.  I have never, though, worried about Poppy.  I know she goes inside at night and I know her owners keep her safe and warm (and well fed – you should see the tummy on that one).  One weekend, however, our lovely neighbors went out of town and left Poppy home alone.  This is normally a fine thing to do with a cat, but did I mention the fox?  At approximately 3 o’clock in the morning the screeching began.  Not just screeching.  Brilliantly, painfully loud screamingly terrifying yowls, screeches, growls and squeals.  It was like clash of the furry titans.  In our backyard.  It should be noted that I was awoken by this mayhem from a very, very deep sleep.  In my foggy state I had one distinct thought:  I must save Poppy.

I leapt from the bed shrieking “Poppy!  Poppy!  I have to get to Poppy!”  Meanwhile Byron, still half-asleep, could be heard mumbling, “Honey?  Honey?  Poppy’s fine ….”  I paid him no mind and flung myself towards the windows that overlook the yard.  (completely oblivious to the fact that (a) our heavy wooden bed was between me and the windows, (b) it was pitch black outside and I couldn’t have seen anything down below even if I’d made it to the windows and (c) there is no way to get from our flat down to the backyard – no way.  So my attempt to get to the windows was … well, it was silly.)  And when I say that I flung myself towards the windows, I truly mean that I flung myself.  In the process of all this flinging two things were happening.  The first was that Byron was still in bed saying in rapidly escalating tones, “Em, Em, Emily, oh Jesus Christ, EMILY!”  The second was that I, in violently dramatic fashion, slammed myself into the solid wooden leg at the foot of our bed so hard that it catapulted me into the air and I literally flew over the foot of the bed and landed in a loud and inelegant heap somewhere in the vicinity of the closet.  That is approximately when the yowling, screeching, growling, squealing screaming started in earnest.  In our bedroom.  From me.  I’m not sure I’ve ever felt pain like that.  (Byron points out that I say that every time I get hurt.  Touché.)  So.  The moral of this particular story is simple:  Don’t try to save Poppy.  And wear shin guards at night.

A little postscript might be in order here regarding Mr. Fox.  Poppy now has a younger sibling named Tallulah (also mentioned in previous posts).  Tallulah, although much smaller and younger than Poppy, is no shrinking violet.  She is, in fact, an Amazonian fighter amongst the neighborhood wildlife.  Tallulah recently had a little face-to-face with our Mr. Fox.  She came upon him on the roof of the neighbors’ shed.  She eyed him.  He watched her.  She sat down calmly, not two feet away from him.  He stared, struck dumb at her boldness.  She slowly licked one paw, then resumed her steely gaze on Mr. Fox.  Pause.  (No pun intended).  Then … victory.  Mr. Fox turned tail and ran.  Well, mostly he shambled nonchalantly, as if Tallulah had nothing to do with him leaving.  We all know better.  I haven’t seen Mr. Fox since.

We just recently celebrated Byron’s birthday, which in or house is not just a day.  It is, in fact, a weekend.  A birthday weekend.   For the entirety of the weekend, it was all Byron, all the time.  Whatever Byron wanted to do, we did.  Which should provide the explanation for why we went bike-riding in the park while there was still ice on the ground.  It was Byron’s birthday.  I had no choice.  So we biked to the park, hauled our bikes in through the gates, and were immediately faced with the icy, muddy, slushy wonderland that is the park after the snow.  Adventure!  Because it was my Love’s birthday, I simply pasted a smile on my face and set boldly forth on my entirely inappropriate Beach Cruiser, shipped over from Los Angeles.  I kid you not.  We made it halfway down the bike path with Byron skidding hither and thither in front of me (on his own Beach Cruiser) and me trying to avoid the ice – a near impossibility since it covered the entire path.  At one point Byron turned around on his bike (as it skidded precariously sideways) and tossed a casual, “hey, babe, just make sure you go straight and don’t break and, well, try not to turn too much” over his shoulder.  When I finally stopped in the middle of the path with a, “I don’t care that it’s your birthday, this sucks,” he told me that I should just stay to the side of the path where there wasn’t any ice.  He chose to ignore the fact that the reason there wasn’t any ice was because the side of the path is composed of muddy bushes, muddy brambles, muddy sticks, muddy branches, mud and enormous puddles of mud.  Did I mention the mud?  So, for all my attempts at chipper can-do spirit for the sake of Byron’s birthday, the “adventurous” bike ride ended up involving a lot of mud splatters, ice skidding and “why are we doing this again?” whining from moi.  But we did see some amazing stags (came within 5 feet of about ten of them) so that was nice.  And that night we had an amazing steak dinner at a beautiful and romantic Argentinean steakhouse.  Because we have found that the beef here in England is questionable, at best, the fact that we found melt-in-your-mouth steaks so near to home nearly gave us palpitations.  The happy kind.

The next day (still birthday weekend, mind you) involved a trek towards Swiss Cottage and St. John’s Wood.  We decided to walk through both and opted (thank you Birthday Boy) to take the train to South Hampstead and walk from there.  Now, I’m sure South Hampstead has some amazing and charming areas.  We did not, unfortunately, experience these particular areas.  So.  Not.  Charming.  The other thing that was so not charming was that, immediately upon exiting the train the skies opened and began drenching us in a downpour of epic proportions.  We did not have our umbrella.  Why, you ask?  Because Birthday Boy thought it wise to go without one.  I quote, “why do we need an umbrella?  It’s not raining now!”  Um hmm.  But it IS London.  Ten sopping wet minutes later we finally found a Boots that sold umbrellas.  £16 (that’s $26 to you Americans) later and we had ourselves the cheapest drugstore umbrella we could find.  (And they say England is expensive!  Pshaw!)  Of course, by then we were so drenched and cold that the benefits of having an umbrella were unfortunately lost on us.  Picture, if you will, hair wet like we’d just got out of a shower (because we did), water dripping down our faces,  mascara running (mine), and our clothes at least three shades darker than their natural color because they were soaked through.

But with our trusty new umbrella in use, we finally ended up visiting Abbey Road.  Which was slightly anticlimactic, although the lack of enthusiasm on our parts may have been partially due to the fact that we were still sopping wet, even under the umbrella.  Additionally, this may have been the coldest, most miserable day I’ve spent in London (again, Byron points out that I always say that) – pouring, sheeting, freezing rain and a bitingly fierce wind.  I kept a running whining commentary for Byron on the ice cold saturation of my jeans and its effect on my legs.  “They’re hurting … now they’re burning … Byron … now they’re numb!”  Clearly the sheen of Byron’s birthday weekend was wearing thin.  His muttered response to my last comment was not quite lost in the traffic:  “Good.  Then you can’t feel them anyway and you can stop talking about them.”  I smacked him.  Then we got lost.  Then we found the scariest tube station in London and even Byron started saying things like, “just keep walking, no don’t pause, just keep walking – oh good.  Here’s the exit.”  Then the tube we needed was shut down so we had to take an hour long bus ride to get to another tube station.  And my pants were still wet.  And not in a good way.

But at the end of the day we made it home in time for a rousing game of Scrabble, which I won, which then made Byron bitch because it was his birthday weekend and apparently I should have let him win.  It’s Scrabble, people.  I do not let anyone else win.  And then I finally got warm, whether from the crackling fire or the Scrabble win I’ll never be quite sure.


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