Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Sunday we attempted to do laundry for the first time in our "new" house.  The washing machine controls were a little easier to understand than the one in our apartment (although we were still glad to have the manual), but it was still so tiny we had to divide our week's worth of laundry into about 10 loads.  At least it's really easy to sort your laundry by color and water temperature when you can only wash a dozen items of clothing at a time.

I was glad I remembered to buy some clothespins (or clothespegs, as they say here), since the only way to dry our clothes was to hang them on the clothesline in the back yard. 
Josh searches for a stray clothespeg
I did draw the line at hanging underwear outside for all the neighbors to see, but fortunately we have a drying rack we can use indoors.  When it's sunny and windy, clothes actually dry pretty quickly on the clothesline, but I'm not sure what people do when it rains.  In the winter, people drape their wet laundry on the radiators, but when it's warm and rainy, I guess you just have to use the clothes rack and give it a couple days.

Sunday afternoon we walked into the town center to pick up some groceries.  We also stopped at Robert Dyas to buy a waffle iron and some screws and picture hooks so we could hang our pot rack in the kitchen and the few pieces of wall decor and mirrors that we brought with us.  It was nice to have a grocery sherpa with me -- I'm usually limited in what I can buy since I have to carry it home myself.

We received two pieces of bad news via email -- both originating from a specific point in Arlington, VA.  Our tenant emailed me to let me know that I had received a summons to jury duty in the mail.  I lived in Arlington County for 15 years, and this is the first time I've been called for jury duty!  She was nice enough to send me my juror number and the relevant contact information so I could go online and submit a request to be disqualified (which was accepted on Monday morning).  That wasn't so bad, but then our friend Rob Lucas, who we hired to be the property manager for our house, informed us that the sewer line to our house had backed up and flooded our basement.  This was horrifying for a number of reasons, not the least of which that we had stored everything we didn't bring with us -- including some expensive furniture -- in the basement.  But there's a good reason we chose Rob for this job, and he rose to the occasion by calling Roto-Rooter to unclog the sewer line, cleaning and disinfecting the basement, and checking our things to see if anything was damaged.  He sent us an email the next day reassuring us that everything appeared to be OK, and there were no lingering odors.  Still, this ended up costing us $1,000 that we hadn't planned for, at a time when we are already spending a lot on furniture, small appliances, and other moving expenses.  Let's hope there are no more big surprises -- especially expensive ones like that!

Monday morning I got up early and took the tube in to the Monument station to attend a career transition workshop at Penna.  It's designed to help people whose jobs have been "made redundant" well into their careers prepare themselves to re-enter the job market.  I was offered this service at an American company through Discovery when I was let go back in December, but they have a partnership with Penna, so they let me defer until I got settled here.  There were 6 other people in the workshop, two of whom were from Bank of America -- so half of us had been laid off by U.S. companies.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but since I am at a bit of a disadvantage trying to find a new job in another country, I figured I could use all the help I could get.  The workshop was actually quite helpful -- especially in explaining how to construct an effective CV.  I had just struggled with trying to update my resume and keep everything to one page, and now I find out that the convention here is a 2-page CV!  Whatever shall I fill all that extra space with?  I guess I'll have to start with the 6 years of employment that dropped off the bottom of my resume, since they expect you to include your ENTIRE employment history, going back to when you finished your highest level of education.  I hope I can remember that far back!  I was a little concerned when the workshop facilitator said the margins should be no smaller than 1.5 at the top and bottom, and 2 on the sides, so I finally asked, "two what?"  Centimeters!   Ah, that makes more sense.  Although with 2-inch margins, you'd definitely need at least two pages.

When we broke for lunch, we learned that there was a bomb threat in central London -- not from al-qaeda, but from the IRA.  I've never thought about how strange it is that this is STILL going on.  Why?  Clearly I need to read up on the history of "The Troubles" so I can try to understand the motivation behind these bomb threats, which are apparently timed to coincide with the Queen's visit to Ireland -- the first time British royalty has set foot in the country since 1911!  Since I was currently IN central London, I was hoping it wouldn't prevent me from getting home.  Sure enough, when we ended for the day and I made my way back to the tube station, I discovered the District line had been shut down due to a "signal failure."  After waiting around for a while to see if the situation might be resolved, I noticed a sign directing riders to the Northern line.  Duh!  I followed the tunnel to the southbound platform and hopped on a train to the South Wimbledon station.  It got me home much faster than my ride in on the District line -- I'll have to remember to take that route when I go back for day 2 of the workshop tomorrow.  I'm so used to going to the Wimbledon station, I forget that I have another option now.

After I got home, I retrieved the first spoils of my online shopping spree from my neighbors: an electric kettle and a canister vacuum cleaner ("hoover").  Now I can make tea again -- and more importantly, iced tea!  And I can clean the house.  yippee.

Today I'm home doing the rest of the laundry and waiting on a number of other deliveries.  So far I've received my new multifunction printer and a garment rack for hanging clothes in our closetless bedroom.  The two most anticipated items -- a microwave and toaster -- are still in transit, but I'm hoping they'll both arrive by the end of the week.  It would be nice to have a piece of toast to go with my cup of tea, and be able to quickly reheat leftovers or bake a potato.  We're getting there...

.  I imagine they are required to ask everyone the same questions, but it was all I could do to hold back the sarcasm.  

I'll let you know how the second half of the workshop goes.  Now I need to hang up the rest of the laundry and start working on my CV.  Looking forward to having a desk...

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