Mad Mission

A year ago you came to me, like you knew that my patience for this mad mission had run out. And I have had a year to prepare for this ‘goodbye’ – which really is a ‘see you later’ – but knowing that something is coming does not make it painless.
cc and lc arriving
cc and lc

The tide has a way of advancing and receding. And circumstance has a way of shaping perspective…
cc and lc masks

You tethered me in critical moments to solid ground; you taught me to see possibilities I had not considered before. I can’t thank you enough for that.
cc and lc winchester

On days like yesterday—when feelings are far too complex for words, what I have to say comes out in cupcakes. And, well, sometimes guacamole.
guacamole fixings

cupcake mess

It’s easier to let actions speak.
red velvet cupcakes

(Or cupcakes, rather.)

Then on days like today, when I am through being strong for you—I retreat to my corner a bit broken or bruised and wrestle my thoughts onto paper.

It is hard to separate the feelings I have on your behalf and those I have for me.
cc and lc marksman

London feels lonely this morning.

I am sad to see you leave, but so thankful for what is waiting for you. While I ache with envy over your return, I guess you might feel the same about my extended stay, each of us knowing we are exactly where we ought to be… I hurt for you, understanding what ‘goodbye’ might be like. Most of all though, I do have a great peace in my heart. You are taking ‘home’ with you (and take it everywhere you go). I cannot imagine an adventure that you could not face together.

Though it has certainly been painful watching you go, it has been well worth the time (and love and laughs and lack of sleep) we had. Every star has ‘to burn itself up just to make itself alive.’ (Emily Saliers) And I think we have lots of light left.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

The Water is Wide

Suddenly the words were just–gone. It was as if The Nothing was holding my tongue…

Without intending to or understanding how, I had internalized all of the scraps of love and loss dropped by people I love. I gathered the fear of not knowing and held onto it, too. Carrying these things like weights in every pocket, and in each fist, kept me from feeling the weight of my own heart. I was full, and scared, and overwhelmed–incapacitated to draw anything from the well. I just shuffled along letting the pace of the London pavements sand my journey off the soles of my shoes.

Any mundane thing I might say seemed empty when I measured them against all of these scraps I was carrying. So I continued with silence and gathering up worry. The true stories of others are not mine to tell (and talking about it seems cheap), so I rented out my head and my heart to the project of tinkering with these bits and pieces as if there was something I could do for the people to whom they belonged. Being 4000 miles away from some, I can’t wash their dishes or take them dinner. I can’t give them my shoulder or ask for theirs in return. Being completely powerless in all cases, I cannot even offer to help them weather the storm.

So I have relegated myself to asking for blessings upon them. I have filled every space with hoping. I have asked for health, for healing, for wholeness, and for peace. And my own words have slowly seeped back in. It was music that broke the spell–and I have shaken off the shadow of guilt. I was never meant to fix things. And neither am I the judge of what is broken.

flower through pavement

‘The greatest gift of life is to know love’ and ‘we’ll make it fine if the weather holds, but if the weather holds, we’ll have missed the point.’ (All That We Let In; The Wood Song; Saliers)

‘Sometimes everything is wrong/now it’s time to sing along… Everybody hurts/You are not alone.’ (Everybody Hurts; Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipes)

‘I won’t be afraid/as long as you stand by me… whenever you’re in trouble/won’t you stand by me?’ (Stand By Me; King)

Where ever I am my heart belongs to those I love, even when it is all I have to give. Whatever I say or don’t say, whatever sits on the surface, the well is deep enough for whatever troubles you.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

The Perfect Pancake

We were in search of the perfect pancakes so we decided to inspect The Diner in Angel, Islington.
The Diner

I like the atmosphere. It’s busy, but not crowded. The staff are friendly but cool…
diner inside

The filter coffee is just what my doctor ordered. If you come early, and stay long enough, you can start with breakfast, end with lunch, and have dinner for dessert. They’ve got locally brewed beer on draught (I recommend the Camden Town Hells).

Unfortunately, we should have ordered something other than the pancakes.
pancakes at the diner
They just aren’t right. I wish they would let me come in and fix them. In no time there would be a line down the street to get in every weekend.

Next time I think I’ll have vegetarian huevos rancheros or a veggie burrito, but I haven’t given up on The Diner completely.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Presents!

Drew brought me presents from Helsinki, Finland! Yes, it does seem a little childish to be excited about coloring books, but I can’t think of a better thing to do than color after a Sunday lunch at the pub. (I was never one to be wild.)

muumiem coloring book

And don’t they go nicely with these lovelies from Jane?
crayola crayons

Apparently Drew took a walk on the frozen Baltic sea…
frozen baltic sea

It really is breathtaking.
snowy frozen baltic sea

And he is a way better photographer than me to start with!

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Nice to Meet You, Harrogate!

I arrived to Harrogate late on Wednesday night because I had a meeting out of the office that morning. When I got to the The Balmoral hotel I decided that I needed to stay in Harrogate for a long time.
The Balmoral

The Balmoral Harrogate Grille

The Balmoral Superior Room

It took a lot of effort to leave this room for dinner (and even more effort to climb out of bed for breakfast the next morning). But because I did venture out with my colleagues, I got to enjoy some of Harrogate’s charm. Chinese restaurant in a bath house?! Why not?
Chinese restaurant in a bath house

A pint of local ale at Hales Bar, the oldest pub in Harrogate? Yes, indeed.
Hales Bar Harrogate

A short pause at Bettys Tea Room… Maybe next time.
bettys tea room harrogate

We had a lovely dinner at Le Jardin. The food and the staff were absolutely lovely. It couldn’t have been better.

I also found Harrogate’s sense of humor.
wine rack

Unfortunately, there was no time for the spa. Don’t worry Harrogate, I’m coming back for you.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Titbits and Rambling

I can remember the last time I had a really good time at work…
titbits shop in singapore

…but I can’t remember the last time my day job was satisfying. Until now.

Maybe it is just part of being in the honeymoon stage when everything seems nice. Maybe I am relieved by simply having made a change. Is it so wrong to hope that I’ve actually found a breath of air that is just the right temperature for this moment in my life?

Steady on.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

I’ll Be There Now In a Minute

I was in Cardiff (Wales) all last week; I saw green. And hills. Now I am thinking I should go back–on a non-business adventure.

While I wasn’t working, I was here.
park plaza

Unfortunately, I didn’t see George’s Marvelous Medicine.
georges marvelous medicine

I didn’t see it at The New Theatre two doors down from my hotel.
new theatre

I’ll be honest; I am disappointed about that. However, the trip was a big success. I squeezed four different types of on-site training into my schedule. Soon, they are going to let me loose on my own. Scary.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Times Like These

I am so glad to be home, even after a wonderful experience in Cardiff.

travel bags

It was especially nice to come home for a big date with my hero (that would be Drew). From Dave Grohl to me, to you:

‘It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again’

I am thankful, I am grateful, and I am full. More on that story tomorrow.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Dinner in Wales

I haven’t yet been to Torchwood headquarters, but I did find the Carousel in Cardiff.
Carousel in Cardiff

It has been grey, with the constant threat of rain, but the green of the hills is such a welcome sight. I really look forward to coming back to Cardiff on my own time. And have dinner with The Dales–I know they are here somewhere… (I am so tired that I am making up a song in my head about dinner with The Dales somewhere else in Wales.) Now that you are singing a song, too, “goodnight John Boy”.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Dr Who, Where Are You?

Taylor is going to be disappointed to hear that I’ll be in Cardiff all week for business–and that my business is not co-starring in an episode of Dr Who. I’ve only stood outside the Tardis, I’m afraid.

dr who polica call box

I’ll do what I can to get noticed while I am there. You never know when The Doctor might need my help–or when Captain Jack might know a smart girl when he sees her… After all, I am pretty important these days–being a Clinical Research Scientist and all.

So, um… Leave your message at the beep.

Beep.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Other People’s Children

Girls in wacky tights look good in photos with babies.
kassi maggie jen

See, what did I tell you?

Some day, I won’t have to borrow other people‘s gorgeous children. For now though, it is a pretty sweet deal. That’s my girl Kassi on the left and baby Maggie on the right. Maggie’s mom and dad were on a date, but my other Thomas family members are there. (You might have to squint.)

The point is that I’ve been thinking about this whole baby thing. I am not thrilled with the wait or the struggles of late, but I am also scared stiff that I might find myself in fast forward. Maybe the best thing to do is figure out what lesson I am supposed to have learned and just get in the flow. That seems to be where all the cool cats are hanging these days… In the flow.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

In the Bag

It’s not my birthday yet this year and Christmas has gone. Valentine’s Day is overrated, Easter is several rainy weeks away, and Mother’s Day isn’t my day this year. Besides, we don’t exchange gifts for holidays…

So what is in the box?
tissot watch present

This is what. A Tissot. Just because.
tissot watch present pr 100

Suddenly I feel like a grown-up. A grown-up who is loved by another grown-up. Isn’t it lovely?

Thank you, sweetheart. You are spoiling me. (But please don’t stop.)

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Everybody Hurts

Without perspective, it is so easy to become disenchanted with my circumstances. On certain gray and rainy days I want to blame various entities, corporate and otherwise, for all the misery in my life.
stormy sky
That is usually when lightening strikes. Unmissable signs.

I forget how incredibly lucky I am. I am not smarter, better bred, or exceptionally educated, yet I have been afforded the opportunity to own a home, drive a brand new car, live abroad, work abroad… Yes, we’ve experienced some really rotten things. But we are not special in that way. Everybody hurts.

‘If you suffer, thank God! It is a sure sign that you are alive.’ Elbert Hubbard

We’ll never know what could have been different had we never sold our house and crossed the ocean.
broken fence

But if I just open my eyes, there are signs everywhere that I am supremely fortunate.
canal in summer

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Tongue Tied and Tired

There are days when my own words won’t take shape. On those days I find myself clinging to the words of others… Today it is Chris Rice’s turn.

‘Every day is a journal page;
every man holds a quill and ink.
There’s plenty of room for writing in
all we do and believe and think…
So will you compose a curse,
or will today bring the blessings?
Fill the page with rhyming verse?
Or some random sketchings?

Teach us to count the days;
teach us to make the days count–
Lead us in better ways
that somehow our souls forgot.

…Every day is a gift you’ve been given; make most of life–every minute you’re living.’

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Lollipop People

You are going think I am making this up, but local communities in Britain are outraged by budget cuts which may eradicate Lollipop people. It’s not a joke; it just sounds like one.

You see, Lollipop people are legitimate contributors to our society. Because they are actually crossing guards.

Dorset County community members have started a blog to raise awareness.

The BBC is reporting on action taken in Lowestoft.
lollipop people protest
photo credit: BBC news website

The Independent is ringing this bell, too.

I could take this issue seriously if they would stop bloody saying ‘Lollipop people!’

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Yield

As hard as we may try to stop it, the seeds will sprout. Doubt, fear, frustration, joy, hope, love… Whatever your heart sings deserves to be heard.

‘It takes a lot to keep it going/
It takes a lot to keep it real/
Take some time for yourself and learn to yield’
– Amy Ray

grass through pavement

Let it speak; listen in earnest. And then let it go.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Happy Birfday to Me

One time, last March, I turned 30. (Sorry, it is less exciting than what happens at band camp, but I can tell you those stories later.)
jen turns thirty
That’s me. I was 30. I am still 30 for a little while.

Well, last March Drew got me a limited edition screen print from a very secret store, Secret Agent Sarah Kramer’s mastermind idea.
secret society store

It’s where the good work of saving unicorns is being done.
unicorn t shirt for vegans

Well, the point is that we have finally had this beauty framed. I think she is trying to tell me something.
secret society of vegans

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

365

Drew has begun a photography project – a partner in crime to our dear friend Elsa. He plans to post a new photo every day for 365 days. In itself, that is quite a commitment.

I am not sure that either one of us knew that I would feel like each image is speaking to me.
ivy through fence

I am sure it wasn’t his intention.
moss of rooftop

But somehow I do feel so personally affected…
purple flowers

It’s kind of like those movie posters where the eyes follow you everywhere… only, being slightly less creepy than all that.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Much Ado

It’s nice to have people in town to remind us how much there is do to and see in this big, wide city. Having a snuggle bunny at home can cloud the mind. Did you just throw up in your mouth a little? Yeah, I know where it hurts.

I have some adventurous friends, but Candace gets major brownie points after this weekend’s big art event. It remains her story to tell, but I am so glad to have been at the front lines.
jen and candace

And Lee has trip planning mojo. Besides, he understands my sickness.
lee and paper

It is pretty inspiring to spend time with people who are so energetic about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. They aren’t just dreaming it; they are feet first! May it rub off on me…

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Songs About Jane

When that big truck left a bump on my head, Jane got a very bright idea.  A very bright idea, indeed.

120 crayons

Just look at them…
close up crayons

They are absolutely lovely.  I spent an hour arranging them by color.  Ok, I was sniffing them.  It is almost the exact same thing.

In contrast, there was this apron; you might see how these things compliment each other.

apron

And then this…  Oh, how I love them.
book

See Jane outdo herself.  Why should I be so loved?

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Like Rabbits

The Chinese New Year celebration in London is the second largest in the world. Renowned for the magnificent Lion and Dragon performance in Trafalgar Square and the street market atmosphere in China Town, London is the place to celebrate this occasion, if you can’t be in China that is.

Just look at this amazing dragon at Trafalgar Square!
trafalgar square chinese new year

[Ahem.] Or look at the crowd of people looking at a crowd of people looking at the dragon… It’s almost the same as seeing the dragon. Better, probably. Health and safety and all that.

In China Town the lanterns were most certainly hung and the crowd was festive!
chinese new year 2011

[Cough.] Or they weren’t. Maybe they were being herded like cattle in circles. That sounds right.

But there was a cool Christmas tree.
tao tree

[Snicker.] It’s totally not a Christmas tree. But I got closer to it than the dragon.

With this attitude, you can imagine why I wasn’t allowed to have a balloon.
ballon rabbit

Hmmph. Happy New Year, anyway.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Yes Please

A few blocks North of the Camden Passage tourist’s check-box hot spot eatery, Angel has hidden a fab new pub in plain sight.
wenlock and essex pub

The Wenlock and Essex serves a selection of Camden Town’s finest brews, but they don’t stop there. One of your top five favorite frosty beverages is sure to be on offer.
drinks at wenlock and essex

And we would be remiss not to mention the Sunday Roast menu… Love.ly.
winter veg pie

Are you busy next weekend?
thrills

We have an idea…

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Jane’s Balls

There doesn’t need to be a reason, but Drew’s awesomeness is as good a reason as any I can think of to make Jane’s Balls.
janes balls

I don’t know what kind of crack she puts in hers that makes them so much better than mine, but they are and always will be. This run has been fairly successful, though. With constant practice, one day she might hire me to work as one of her pastry chefs…

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

The Cycle

We are all subject to the cycles of light and life. The greats all say pretty much the same thing about this… ‘It has to hurt if it’s to heal’, ‘It’ll get darker before it gets lighter’, ‘To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…’

With every fiber of my being, I get it. I feel next to normal these days, but that isn’t to say it came easy.

So many broken things are so beautiful…
glastonbury abbey

I can only hope that applies to us as well.
jen and drew winchester

Broken bent tired confused
Listless and gutless and buried and bruised;
I ache and I cry but I haven’t confessed
that I’ve married my pain – that my heart is undressed…

You’re gone, but I’m standing here waiting to see
if some odd miracle will bring you to me-
for a moment,
for a second,
on a breeze.

My heads swims, my heart heart swells;
I am soaked by the waves
of the life that you’ve left moving
through what’s left of my days.

On the edge of this ocean,
feet buried in sand,
I will listen to hear you-
my heart in my hand.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Signs

For more than a week I have wallowed in my own wondering and self-pity. In certain circumstances, we deserve that at the very least. But only for a moment. There have been signs that my moment has passed. All signs say, ‘reach out, give love, take care of others, find yourself’.

I used to think that finding meaning in signs was like making fun of God – ‘God’ being the one proper noun in the English language for which I haven’t found an appropriate pronoun, but I digress…
sign

When we have opened our eyes to it, meaning surrounds us. The question is not really about whether or not the tree falls in a forest–it does or it does not; that is truth. The question is really about what the event would mean to a witness. The ‘sign’ is either present or it is not.
just falafs

We have an innate desire to derive meaning from experience. So, again, the question is whether what we experience has meaning for us.
drunk phone calls

We came to London to be immersed in a multicultural environment that might challenge us. Never did I truly understand that I would learn so much about myself.  Being outside my habits. Without my comforts. Beyond the boundaries of my paradigm.

That’s the answer. I have to invest in another human being to learn more about me. I have to seek others to be found. I have to question my ideas and listen to the big wide world to know myself. How else will I realize where the whole ends and I, as just a tiny part, begin (and vice versa)?  It’s so important that there is darkness and there is light.

Even the big, wide sky is a sign. The Pioneer Woman said so, too.

You have to love the grey skies. You have to appreciate the fog, the mist, and the rain…’ Jamie Cullum.
rootmaster fish sign

There she was in my doctor’s office – a beautiful young woman who could not read the English questionnaire she had been given. For some reason she sat next to me.
bung hole quiz

And then there were the two people who stopped me needing directions as I hobbled home from the hospital lab.
stop sign

I could have thought nothing more of it. But my eyes are open. I am not to give up or give in. There is still much more in me left to give – more than I am aware I have left in reserve. We are going to be ok.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

The Only Thing Constant is Change

It’s natural at the turn of a new year to contemplate change. Hordes of people are 10 days into fulfilling a New Year’s Resolution. In these early hours of 2011 I can only hope to adapt to the waves of change that have found me – found us. Somehow I have been blindsided. All I can do is open my eyes, gather my wits, and walk into the fire.

I sound like and angsty teenager, but that’s how I feel too. At least it’s consistent.

I’d like to know what your New Year’s Resolution is. I am going to give myself more love and more credit.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Run Over by a Truck

I feel like I have been run over by a truck. It might have been a garbage truck, but I didn’t catch the plate number. (Please enjoy the music while you [finish this post].)

Life is full of things we’ve and done and things we haven’t. I hadn’t driven a car until I did. And then I hadn’t had a Yorkshire Pudding until I did. And I hadn’t ever been to the A&E (Emergency Room in the UK) until I went yesterday. In the commotion and embarrassment it suddenly occurred to me how relieved I was that I had shaved my legs. Don’t you worry though; I am on the mend. They let me come home because Drew promised to feed me, give me the medication they prescribed, and monitor my symptoms. I am so thankful for that – who can get any rest in a hospital?

I know you Americans want to know what’s different about the A&E. It’s your lucky day.
– Admission paperwork: I wrote my name, birthdate, and post code on a scrap of paper. For real.
– Waiting Room: I waited less than three minutes to be seen by an intake nurse.
– Staff Allocation: I saw three nurses, one student nurse, one @$*h^£3, one ER doctor, and one specialist.
– Quality of Care: Acceptable. Not stellar, not a failure, but I could make some suggestions.
– Overall Assessment: The NHS is low on frills but I do appreciate the time I was given with the doctor and the specialist. I would like to advocate for the increased usage of the alcohol swab, aseptic technique, and the butterfly device for drawing blood. It would also behoove the staff and patients for antiseptic cleaners to be available in all patient areas and for all staff to have sensitivity training. The sensitivity training comment is really directed to the one @$*h^£3, but in my crotchety old age I did find myself wishing to be looked after by older people. When did I turn 73?!

So, if you’ve been a good girl a friend brings you flowers when you are sent home from A&E.
flowers

And cakes.
cakes

With a side of crayons, a coloring book, and hard to find medical supplies.

If you are a really good girl, your friends and family send you an outpouring of the sweetest messages on the planet. You people are the bestest.

I know that my turning tragedy into comedy makes some people nervous; it does seem irreverent even to me. But my sister gave me permission this morning saying, ‘Consider it pure joy…when you face trials of many kinds’ (James 1:2). It is all we can do to look forward, look after others, and reach out. Drew and I feel very loved.

This post is brought to you by Tylenol with Codeine. And Nurse Drew.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Baby It’s Cold Outside

We should have been on a 12:05pm flight from London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare, but we were not.
snow on balcony

Instead, we’ll be flying home on Wednesday via Dusseldorf. It’s the wrong direction, but it will do. Crazy weather has disrupted travel well beyond our own doorstep, but it’s cute watching the birds walk on water.

Here are some things you need to know when your United flight is cancelled:
– There is a domestic and an international customer service center. Both are in the US. Both have 800 numbers. 95% percent of the agents at both centers hate you.
– Agents are not all aware that there is a time difference between Itching, Alaska and Paris, France.
– Using Skype to navigate an automated system is nails on a chalkboard.
– Reservations mean diddly squat.
– There is one kind soul who gave me her time and found us a flight home before Christmas Eve. I wish I could remember and pronounce her name. (I will try to find out.)

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Location, Location, Location

Once there was a girl named Sian. She taught me the slang meaning of ‘greedy gannets’ and other valuable phrases. She mentored me, trained me, and witnessed me singing Ice Ice Baby at an inappropriate hour of the day in what could be construed as an unprofessional move on my part… She was my travel buddy.

There is still a girl named Sian, in love with a boy named Mark, as I hear it told. These two best friends have taken off on vacation to the land of Oz where surfing is much more popular than in land locked London. And they might be on vacation for a long, long time.

I ache for them at the same time that my heart leaps for joy in my chest. With sincerest hope, I wish them both all the very best.
friends at thanksgiving


www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Fat and Happy

We three chefs of London, N1, have forged new Thanksgiving traditions…
thanksgiving chefs

Wine is a relatively new addition for me; and you can see that we really don’t need it. We are quite silly already.
elsa opens wine

First, we start with a big mess. Then we make it an organised mess with too much cream and/or butter while we pretend to look at recipes.
thankgiving prep

Eventually, it looks like this.
broccoli casserole

dressing

mash potato

green bean casserole

Jen with dinner

And we are happy.
helene approves thanksgiving

And then there is pie.
pecan pie

I am not eating ever again until next year.
pumpkin pie

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Missing: One Pumpkin

The days are growing shorter all the time, there are rumors of snow (did I just type that out loud?), and I think the hay-fever has cleared. This can only mean that winter is really here to stay its course this time. And here I am again making the grocery list that has too much butter… Finding the strength to celebrate, despite my mother’s leaving, has not come to me all at once. It has come in waves of responsibility and true thankfulness.

2010 has not been without challenge, but I think it has firmly sunk in how truly rich I am. What I have is miles more than I deserve; it would be nice to know that everyone wakes up to the smile of their best friend (I hope your best friend doesn’t tickle you before you are very awake). I’d like to know that everyone has the means to have big-family-gathering, Thanksgiving-style feasts. It would be great to have Dr Who style transport to all the places I’d like to be, but I’ve got a stable job — these days they both seem equally hard to come by. I have beautiful friends –- here, there, soon-to-be-elsewhere… Just sharing with each one a walk on the same stretch of road in the journey of life is an incredible gift I get to keep opening every day.

That family of mine… Dang, Gina. We cause each other a lot of worry; Drew and I both get that sensitivity honestly. But I do not have a doubt that I am always loved, completely unconditionally. If there is any one of us that doesn’t know that yet, he or she just isn’t ready to hear it, but it is always true.

There is nothing else I need. I’d like some of the green bean casserole that my dad is making, but I will have to wait for Christmas. But there is nothing else I need.

May you have everything you need, too…

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

So Much to Say

The more there is to say the more trouble I have saying it. All the words about all the meaningful moments, those that are beautiful and those that break our hearts, get tangled together. I have wanted to tell you everything–-it just seemed so disrespectful to recount to you all the sunny days in October as if the sun shines everywhere at once…

Drew’s Granny Young is very ill. My sister was in London visiting when we got a call to let us know that Granny had been admitted to the hospital and another call to say that she was being discharged, weak and tired. It was a bit like waking suddenly from a deep sleep in which I was dreaming a lovely dream.

We all flew home–Drew, Donna, and me. And then Drew and I came tearfully back to a colder London. (That part you know.) While we carry on here, Granny is hanging in there. Some of her days are better than others, but she has some stories still to tell… She is looking forward to Christmas and so are we.

Granny isn’t the only one holding my heart for ransom. My heart is traipsing around the US, sitting in turns with the people I love; sometimes I even suspect it is in more place than one at any given moment. She’s tricksy like that.

The point is that we will resume normal programming here on the blog, but I’d like to be clear: real life continues with the serious things mixed in, even when I don’t mention it. And we couldn’t make it without you.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

A Song For You

‘You taught me precious secrets / of a true love withholding nothing…
If my words don’t come together, please listen to the melody /
[be]cause my love is in there somewhere hiding’

I have not said ‘thank you’ as many times or to as many people as I should. In the aftermath of 2009, I felt loved at the least – if not carried.

Angels walk among us; I know because one of them sent me spoons.
spoons

spoon up close

There was also a sweet personal story, a recipe box, recipes, vegan chocolate chips, beautiful cupcake cups, and an exquisite apron.
apron and stuff

The first thing these spoons made was Vegan Pistachio Rosewater cupcakes.
vegan pistachio rosewater

Maybe they weren’t as pretty as the photo in the cookbook, but making them was music to my soul. Who knew a girl could find so much joy in spoons and corn meal?

Thank you, Thomas family, for this and your many beautiful gifts.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

The Sun Will Come Out

Tomorrow. Or the next day. I think.

With heavy eyes and our hearts soaking wet, our plane circled London in a morning sky that looked more like a sunset – a large stroke of hot pink sat squarely on the horizon. The grass and the grey both might have been colored in on black and white film; the light was the kind that photographers dream about… Through the tiny window on the plane I watched London rise as I fell that familiar, steady, controlled-fall into the maze of pavement.

London has a strange new smell since we’ve been gone. It smells like dark and winter chill. It’s perfect. It’s exactly what I needed. London’s cold shoulder is like music to my ears.

While I was having a smashing time showing my sister the inner-workings of my day-to-day life in the big wide London-town, we got news that Granny Young was ill. She’s doing fine now, thanks for asking, but the news of Granny’s illness was enough to get us on a flight home. Like I said, Granny is a trooper and we’ve returned to the daily grind, but somehow returning gave me an unexpected feeling. When I can put my finger on exactly what feeling that was I will let you know.

Until then, I would just like to say ‘Thank God for babies’. Just look at them. Gorgeous. Yummy. Snuggle-able.
baby cousins

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Going the Distance

Maybe we weren’t adventurous enough to climb the lions at Trafalgar Square, but the moment I finished telling Donna that human contact of any kind is highly discouraged on the bus, we chatted about the validity of art with some hipsters from the East side – one fine artist, one fashion designer. I think that was more interesting really.

Now. Where were we? Ah, yes. Donna in London…

Saturday mornings=Borough Market + Cinnamon Tree Bakery
Cinnamon Tree Bakery brownie purchase

Apparently, taste testing was encouraged for anyone in a leopard print scarf. Lucky us.
sangria tasting

We found the sauce, the spice, and the delight.
sauces borough market

spice mountain borough market

turkish delight borough market

And we found the silly. Thank goodness for the silly.
silly face donna

A stop at Cafe Nero chased away the grey fog on the south bank of the Thames. Ok no. It didn’t.
donna jen river thames

But we carried on to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – because Saturday afternoon = wandering + beverage.
shakespeares globe

A wander through Tate Modern sparked some interesting conversation (see introduction re: hipsters + bus above).
tate modern london

We toured St Paul’s Cathedral.
st pauls donna drew

We chased that tour with a visit to the Museum of London and a visit to Liverpool Street. Then we crawled home. For some unknown reason, we dragged ourselves out to Leicester Square to see Drew Barrymore in Going the Distance. Oh wait, I remember: Drew Barrymore (that Justin Long has won my heart, too). I can only speak for myself when I say that I may have peed in the seat.

The End.

Well, what more do you want from Saturday?!

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Just Do It

Coffee.  Breakfast.  Russell Square. Big Bus Tour!  First stop, Trafalgar Square.
trafalgar square gina sassy

We almost climbed the lions. And then we didn’t.

We said hi to Ben. Big Ben, that is.
big ben

We waved at the London Eye.
london eye

We giggled our way around the city.

The Queen was not home when we stopped by Buckingham Palace so we piddled around outside for a bit.
gate at buckingham palace

buckingham palace fountain

Then we went home for a break!

Drew took us to dinner at The Driver.
drew at the driver

They have a swanky new restaurant on the first floor. The ground floor is still a cozy pub…
the driver pub

Sassy and Gina seemed to have a good time.
gina and sassy the driver

www.drewandjengotolondon.com