Monday, June 21, 2004

Blueberries & Blackberries & Parents, Oh My

My 15-year-old and I visited my parents this weekend. Dad's 83, Mom's 80. They're doing very well, very healthy and active, although Dad takes a lot more naps than he used to. As always, they were excited to see us.

The drive is 2-1/2 hours from here. Not long, but always tiring if I leave after work (which I usually try to do so that I can get back Saturday night and have Sunday at home). Surprisingly, though, Gavin actually talked the entire way there -- he's usually the silent type but lately seems to be more and more talkative. I think the divorce and then the many moves were really hard on him, maybe even harder than I knew; but he seems much more open and happy than before.

On Saturday, Mom and Gavin and I picked blueberries at an organic farm. It was a lovely day for it; overcast and cool, but no rain (I think every other time we've gone it's been 100+ degrees F). And the bushes were loaded with berries. Since it's organic, and there is no insect spray, the berries can be eaten right off the bushes (I think they should weigh us before and after and charge us accordingly...). We've been going there for the past 10 years; Gavin and I passed it on the way home from taking his sister to summer camp, and decided to stop. I'm glad we did.

It's a lovely place. The blueberry man has been steadily making improvements over the years so that now there is a huge koi pond, a small waterfall, lovely trellises, and a huge terraced flower garden, planted with butterflies in mind. There were clouds of them, in all colors, from the little blue-violet ones I haven't seen for years to the swallowtails. Plenty of caterpillars, too. And the flowers were blooming profusely; even my mom couldn't identify them all. Masses of blooms in gold and orange and pink and white in all shades and sizes and colors.

Picking blueberries is a wonderful experience. The orchard is big enough to lose yourself in it. The ripest blueberries often hide under the leaves, so I often wind up halfway into the bush, looking for the biggest and bluest berries. It's quiet there; you can hear the meadowlarks and quail off in the distance. Even when there's a stiff wind there, there are so many bushes that all you feel is a mild breeze. And there are lizards hiding in and around the bushes. Not many bugs, though; a few spiders, that's it. Gavin's limit is half a bucket; my mom gets tired after a full bucket. I picked two, and could have gone for another, but they were tired and wanted to go home.

The blueberry man is married now; when my son and I first found his farm, he asked me if I was single, and then said, "Keep your options open." Guess he figured if my husband couldn't be bothered to spend a Saturday with his wife and kids, he wasn't worth much (he got that right). Later, after the divorce, we talked several times on the phone; but my hurt was so fresh and he was so bitter about so many things at that time (he's a Vietnam vet) that nothing came of it. Nice to see, though, that he's found someone so lovely; she's softspoken, queiet, about my age, tall, slender, with long, long brown hair (graying just a little). They seem to be a nice fit, and he seems very happy. Me, my options are WIDE open at this point. :)

Mom and Dad and I picked blackberries at another place later that same day. The bushes were loaded with berries; a good thing, because I didn't want to have to reach into the bushes very far because of the prickly thorns. Blackberry thorns are those little skinny spines that you can barely see that bother you for hours afterwards. The berries were really BIG, though; the largest was a good inch and a half long. And juicy and sweet. YUM!

IVs & Me

The IV didn't go well Friday, but it wasn't horrible, either. Although I didn't get my optimum patient -- other than not being female, he was great -- he wasn't a little kid and he DID have hose-like veins. His best one was ante-cubital (bend of the arm) but he didn't want it there (can't blame him, really; having to keep your arm straight for 2 hours is the pits). So I tried for the wrist and missed. At that point Bev (the ex-surgery nurse) showed up unexpectedly and put it in the hand for me. So I got to practice but didn't have to stick him too many times. :) Plus he was sweet about it -- nice, because he's 19 and has that semi-sarcastic attitude that I think some boys adopt so they look tough. The test went well, all the equipment worked -- and -- another diabetic. But no trauma about it; he'd been testing blood sugars for awhile, so he already pretty much knew.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


Tomorrow I have to put in an IV -- with NO backup! I just hope it's not a little kid (I never get to know the age in advance). And I hope the person has good veins. And it's probably better if the person is female since they're less likely to faint...

OK, so optimum is hose-like veins, female, older than 18...

Funny. I can get blood out of people when I can't even see the veins, don't have any problem sticking any age, but IVs make me crazy. And I don't do them enough to be good at them...and someone really has to like you a lot to let you practice THAT on them.

This is for a cystic fibrosis study, which means it is most likely a child because so many die young. Most of them have been in and out of the hospital, too, and some have even had ports...

SIGH. It's such an awful disorder and so many have diabetes in addition (that's what the study is examining; this is an oral glucose tolerance test). Usually the kids are OK with a diabetes diagnosis, but sometimes the parents cry. Makes me sad.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Zen and the Still, Sparkling Pool

Last night Bev and I got to go to the Zen class, finally. I must say, I really felt good when I left.

We began by taking our shoes off and acknowledging Buddha with a small bow. Then we sat in two lines, facing each other (9 of us) and chanted. There's a rhythm that you chant to; our leader had a CD because he has no one trained yet to use the instrument that beats out the rhythm. The chanting was in English and we had a paper to follow. There are particular ways to hold your hands; it was actually pretty comfortable. Those that can sit on the floor, do. Those that can't use a folding chair.

After the chanting, we meditated for 20 minutes. We turned to face the opposite way, and our session started and ended with a clap. I did not think I'd be able to meditate for 20 minutes. We were to meditate on "What are you?", "What is your purpose?" or "What was your face before you were born? What will your face be after you die?". In other words, we were to meditate on our inner essence, unimpeded by our physical envelopes.

Throughout the medication, my mind surprisingly didn't wander. I cleared my mind (amazing how becoming a hypnotherapist has helped me to do that; then an imagine came to me of myself as a pool of clear, still, shallow water in a forest clearing, fed by a tiny rivulet. A few amusing little crawdads lurked under the smooth pebbles at the bottom; a surrounding of green grass and dappled sunshine and shadow. Sometimes the water sparkled.

During the meditation I came to the realization that no matter what else I do, the thing I am best at is spreading cheer.

Funny, at the end of the meditation, when the leader clapped, I jumped about a foot. I was miles away from the room.

Afterwards, he gave us a koan -- that is the question which sometimes may not appear to have an answer; but requires deep thinking. Ours was "Jesus said, I am the truth and the way." But what is the truth and the way? Are they the same? Are they the same for everyone?" So that is my question to ponder until next week.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Are Men Really Children in Big Hairy Bodies?

90% of them MUST be. So many men my age have SUCH a sense of entitlement. Well, I have finally come to a point where it's JUST TOO MUCH. I do not work two jobs in order to support some guy who is too lazy or too selfish to pay his own way.

I used to wonder why most all of the lovely older women I knew had given up on dating or remarriage. I just kept hearing, "It's too much trouble."

And it IS too much trouble.

Not that this is connected with the above rant (maybe I'll write the circumstances for that one when I am less angry) but the "perfect guy for Jodie" that Bev knows? Well, he's gay.


Hyperinsulinemia & Phototherapy Acupuncture

Got the results of my oral glucose tolerance test back. It all looks good except...I had high fasting insulin, a possible precursor to diabetes. So, looks like the test was valuable after all.

My goals NOW are to decrease sugar and carbs which create heightened glucose (goodbye potatoes...the Irish in me must crave them...hello whole wheat). Good thing I'm going to go pick blueberries this weekend; that's one of the better ones.

More protein, fewer carbs, less fat, more fiber, more leafy green vegetables, and MORE EXERCISE!

The last thing I want (ok, the next-to-last thing I want -- the last thing would be my exhusband) is diabetes.

I got to see my friend Bev this weekend (I have two Bevs in my life; work Bev and play Bev -- this one is play Bev). She has a herniated disk and is trying to avoid back surgery. So she has taken up light therapy acupuncture. She has a book which delineates all the acupuncture/acupressure points, and she has an infrared light that she uses instead of needles (apparently this is used on racehorses and is now being used on people). Weird science? Maybe. I try to keep an open mind. Anyway, she did a therapy session with me since I have one arthritic knee and sometimes my hands ache when the weather changes (possible arthritis but tests were inconclusive so who knows). Bev tells me it takes several weeks to know if it's going to work. Heck, why not? Noninvasive and gives us something else to talk about.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Endless Days of Summer

My son is out of school for the summer. He's 15. He and his friends have decided this is their last summer to goof off totally and all have decided to avoid getting jobs this year (fine by me. I'd do it if I could!).

I think of what I could do (or not do) with weeks and weeks of free time in which nothing is required except the occasional room cleaning or lawn mowing; nothing is planned except a trip to the beach; the cupboards are full of food, there are books that are unread and games that have yet to be played. Ahhhh. Just thinking about someone else getting to do all that is soothing.

Bev has decided she knows "the perfect man" for me and wants to fix me up. We'll see. That's how I met "Disco Man" the last time I was dating...someone thought he was "perfect" for me.

Disco Man was sweet in his own way...but 4 inches shorter than me (and I'm pretty short), quite a bit thinner than me (think: famine victim) and wearing a red silk shirt with belled sleeves, opened to his navel and at least 5 gold chains around his neck. And white bell bottoms. Where, in this brave new millenium, do you find white bell bottoms? Plus he really, really wanted to believe he could dance like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (and really, who was I to disabuse him? So I didn't). It was an interesting evening, to say the least, but not one I think I ever want to repeat.

If this guy was perfect for me, then who do my friends think I am? Oh well. They must not think I'm boring at any rate.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Whistle While You Work

A pleasant attitude sure makes the day go fast. Of course it helps when you work with pleasant people, and the other nurses here are the best. Amy and Mai are frighteningly competent with their skills. And Bev has forgotten more about nursing than I'll ever know. And Melissa is a tremendous manager -- she's a macro (as opposed to micro) manager, perfect for us.

And then, when the patients are fun, it's even better.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Aftermath of Night Shift

It always feels so strange to sleep until noon or one...I really am a morning person. But after I've stayed up all night, I'm so tired I can't stay up any more. :) Luckily I can get lots of reading done on psych ward nights...and I'd probably get in about 6-7 hours of reading ANYWAY on the weekend, so why not get paid an exorbitant wage to do it?

So, I finally got up. Still haven't cleaned, but I did get to Walmart (or Wal-fart, as my brother says) so that Gavin and his friends can have plenty of food for the first week off school.

They love to come to my house because I usually have lots in the fridge and cupboards (Dan has 4 brothers -- all older -- and I understand it is just like having a plague of locusts in the house all the time...having watched my 5'1" 100 lb daughter put away immense quantities of food, it is a little scary to think about how much 5 6"+ guys can eat). Plus Brian's mom is not working and is digging out from under a divorce...and Brian is awfully skinny. But that could just be part of being a 15-year-old post-growth spurt.

It is very odd having these formerly shorter-than-me guys be suddenly towering over me with deep voices and facial hair.

The Queen of Dogs -- painted by me! Posted by Hello

Ultimate Tiredness

Worked 11-7 last night, children's inpatient psych, long-term resident children. It's not ALWAYS the fault of parent/s, but all too often that seems to be how it gets started. It's drearily the same story for almost all of them -- sexually abused, neglected, beaten; drugs or alcohol during the pregnancy; unloved and unwanted, they either are out of control or they try suicide. Sometimes they are prostituted by their parents. I can't imagine spending my childhood on a psych ward, but that's what is happening to these children (average age for this unit is 13). And what's sadder yet is that most of them LIKE being on the unit because it's the only place they've ever felt safe.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Morning Headache

Last night after work, all of us nurses went out for dinner and's been YEARS (really) since I've had a drink -- my companion for a long time was a recovering alcoholic so I gave up what little I drank because that made it easier for him. And then just never starting drinking again when that ended.

But this place had frozen mango margaritas. So I had to try one -- and it wasn't a big one, either -- and this morning, I have a headache! Amazing. I had been thinking about a glass of red wine a day, as that's been proven to be healthful; but now I think I'll just stick with my aspirin a day (latest on that -- may help prevent diabetes and Alzheimer's in addition to stroke and heart attack). I love mangos, though. If we go out again, I'll have to get a virgin one.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Good News!

The TB test was negative. Woo Hoo!

Other things I'm thankful for right now:

My physical and mental health (nothing like nursing to show you how important that is).
Making enough money for all of my needs and some of my wants.
The incredibly blue sky I can see through the window across the hall from my desk.

Pesky TB Testing

Hmmm. Looks like the TB test might be positive this time. Either that, or the nurse stabbed me so badly that I have a little bump (there is a quarter-size bruise in addition to the bump). Euww. The likelihood is that if it IS positive, it's due to having had so many TB tests. So, I won't worry about it now (easy to write, harder to actually DO!).

Work's been pretty busy for a Friday. Two claudication pain exercisers; one final visit for the leg pain study; and one IVGTT (IV glucose tolerance test) which luckily I am not doing since putting in IVs is NOT one of my talents. Lucky girl got Amy and Mai instead, both of whom are superb nurses with excellent skills. Me, I can talk. :)

Worked on my dryad picture last night. Got three of the birds in the branches then decided I'd smear what I'd painted if I tried for any more -- it's tricky figuring out where to put them in the branches. Maybe I should have done the birds before I did the leaves. So will continue this evening. So far it's good -- I like it. I dreamed I put a snake in the branches as well, so now I think I will probably also add that...tree, birds, woman, snake...yeah, I like it.

Since I still needed to put brush to canvas after I was done with the birds, I started another picture: "Liz Loves Butterflies". It's a painting of my beautiful niece with a butterfly on one shoulder and another in her hair. I got her face done, will work on hair and butterflies after I've done a few more birds. I bought some metallic gold acrylic paint and want to highlight her hair (and maybe the butterfly wings) with that.

I bought some gesso and also some additive for texture. Gave up on the art lessons as Mr. Famous Painter was teaching us NOTHING. So I'm experimenting instead, which is probably better for me at this stage of my life anyway (never went through that teenage thing where I didn't listen to adults, so maybe I'm having it now).

Bev and I are going to take a class in Zen Buddhism at one of the churches here, since our time together with the idiot painter didn't work out very well.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

The Perfect Guy

Well, since I seem to be on the subject of my special guy...what makes this so-far-not-in-my-life person THE special guy?

There's that sense of humor thing; he has to be able to laugh. And that doesn't include those jokes that you can't repeat to certain groups because those just make me so uncomfortable (with the exception of a few naughty but funny ones that you can't repeat to kids or your parents but are OK for other adults).

Gentleness is good. I can't bring myself to criticize or berate others and can barely tolerate a raised voice. So easily angered and/or dominant are both out.

Kindness is a must; once I was 2 hours late to work because some ducklings had fallen into the sewer and I had to get them out (animals in need sure seem to know how to find me). My guy needs to understand that I can't walk by a person or animal who needs help. I even rescue the spiders that get into the house (although I do squish wasps -- mostly while shrieking loudly -- they are soo scary).

Creativity or intelligence are qualities I need. I'm pretty quick on the uptake and a good problem solver, and I like those qualities in the people around me. And I believe most problems have SOME kind of a solution. I get frustrated with people who are convinced there is no solution to their minor problems, so they just whine and moan (yes, I whine and moan too, but then I DO something).

He has to be able to accept the fact that I'm a reader; I read A LOT. Some guys can't stand it if you're not paying attention to them ALL THE TIME. An interruption is okay, and sometimes really nice, but I shouldn't have to jump up to appease someone. That's for hungry 2-year-olds.

And he needs to have a passion of some sort in his life, something he likes to do, or maybe a lot of different things he likes to do (other women and pornography don't count). Or maybe it changes. But he has to be interested in and curious about things. Those things keep you lively and happy.

Honesty is a must. I need to be able to trust my guy to tell me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, except where it concerns the "does it make my butt look big" question. That question must always be answered either "no" or better yet, "I love the way your butt looks!"

He MUST like children and animals, since they seem to gravitate toward me...right now I have 3 dogs, a cat, a lizard and two teenagers. That's a lot. So he has to have his serenity within and not from the environment.

About my age (48) is nice. More than 5-6 years either way probably isn't a good fit for me.

Then there's that dichotomy I have -- I love to be at home but I also love to travel (my last trip was a backpack to Venice and Rome trip last December). So he has to be a homebody who likes adventure.

A little laziness is good (I'm a little lazy too). My philosophy towards housework is "if it's not a fire hazard and we don't have bugs, it's probably OK". And I have a nice crop of weeds in my yard because I'm afraid if I put poison down, I'll kill the toads.

Being able to give and receive affection is a necessity; I am one of those people who has to touch other people. And I love hugs. Plus all that intimate stuff. :)

Tool using is a plus because I am afraid I'd cut all my fingers off if I used power tools, and it's nice if SOMEONE can cut boards and things when working on the house. But it's a plus, not a requirement.

Wow. What a paragon! And of course, he'd think I'm a paragon, too. :)

Where Did He Go?

I want to know RIGHT NOW...whatever happened to MY knight in shining armor? Lots of other women got one or a reasonable facsimile thereof...

Maybe he missed the bus. Or got delayed. Hasn't been born yet. Died at birth. Lives in India. Is in prison. Had a sex change. Is gay. Married someone else.

Whatever. I've been looking, so what the heck has HE been doing?

Speed it up, guy!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

TB Testing

Every year, if you are in healthcare, you have to have a TB test. Just a little blub of stuff shot right under the skin, and then someone has to look at it in two days (if you're really busy on the day you're due to have it read, another nurse or doctor where you work can't read it -- only an Employee Health employee, even though we ALL know what to look for). If you work at more than one place, you'll probably have to a test for each place (at least that's been my experience). Plus if you take enough of these tests, at some point, you'll probably test positive, just from the test itself.

While I wouldn't want to get TB, and I'm glad there are some safeguards in place, it seems like there ought to be a better way.

Yes, I had to take an hour out of my day today to go get the silly test.

Love Over 40? 50?

It would be soooo nice to feel attractive and desired. It's much harder at this age; sometimes I just feel invisible (maybe that's why I wear psychedelic scrubs at work). The only folks who look at us almost-grandmotherly types are little bitty kids.

Maybe I stayed in this relationship too long because I want a companion so badly. I even allowed myself to be talked into living together as opposed to getting married -- and I am the marrying type (although I can say that the awfulness of my first marriage contributed to fear of marriage).

I know there are a lot of women like me. I think perhaps there are a lot of men like my ex, who wind up with very young women the second time around, although probably the motives aren't the same as in my ex's case.

God Thirty

In college I had a friend who referred to early morning as "God thirty", because "it was so early only God was up". I'm the only early riser here, so it often feels like God thirty. Even my neighbors don't get up as early as I do. I wake up between 5 and 5:30 every morning, alarm or no (even the dogs aren't awake when I get up).

What's really bad, though, is that even though I get up early, I don't get to work on time (bad, bad Jodie!). If I have a patient at 8, I MIGHT get there. Otherwise, you can bet on 8:30 or later if it's tense...although I've never been late to my hospital job (maybe because I'm relieving someone else?).

I FINALLY had Pyxis access this weekend (a good thing since I was the only nurse one night and med nurse the second night). I've been working there since October and they could not get it together so I could do a major part of my job. It's nice to get the experience, especially since I want to do travel nursing in 3 years when my son graduates...and research isn't an option for travel nurses. Other nurses find it a little weird that this is my ONLY hospital experience other than nursing school clinicals.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Children Make You Crazy

It doesn't even matter how old they are. My daughter is 19, wants to be a nurse. She can't get things together but doesn't want me to help. She's missed the deadline now for applying for nursing school for next now she'll be shooting for the spring semester. She will probably lose her scholarship. ARGHH! For 19, she's mostly pretty responsible -- and she's VERY independent -- but it makes me crazy when she does stuff like this.

I keep telling myself, though, that this too will pass.

It does help -- actually helps a lot -- that I worked child inpatient behavioral 2 nights over the long weekend. No matter how stressed, angry, or sullen my kids get -- they don't use drugs, I don't have to take "violence precautions" or "special precautions" (the new euphemism for sexual perpetrators) with them, and they are resilient. And content most of the time.

I will probably never again work 2 nights in a row, though...too tiring, all those sleeping changes. But the extra money will be helpful. I am about to dig my way out of the horrible divorce debacle in 1997, when the ex stuck me with all kinds of yucky debt (3 months of house payments, bill payments, plus credit cards he'd taken out in my name and charged the tune of $18,000). It's been horrible, but I am almost there. $5,000 and dropping bit by bit. I pay off my daughter's orthodontia bill this month.

Perhaps I should have blogged this weekend -- it seems like I have a lot to say today. :)

Dad tells me he went out to the cemetary yesterday to participate in the Memorial Day functions. He's a vet, was on the Enterprise during WWII. He could never talk about it while we were young, and when we were older and would ask questions, he'd often tear up while telling us stories. Of course, he never told us the horrible the guy who walked into a propeller by mistake, or the time the Japanese pilot crashed into the #2 elevator, or the time he had to hide under a desk while bullets slammed into it. Two years ago, he asked me about post traumatic stress disorder -- apparently someone at the VFW was getting disability for that, and he wanted to know all about it. When we talked, it turned out Dad had all the symptoms, but had never told anyone. So I suggested he talk to the psychologist at the VA...and what do you know, they put him on disability even though he is retired. He's been to some groups where they all talk about it; he says most of the guys are younger and from 'Nam so he doesn't really feel like he fits. But he talks about it more to ME -- which seems to be helping. Plus the disability money makes him feel like maybe the government really does care about what he went through during the war.

Ten years ago, his house was broken into, and (among other things) all his medals were stolen. I contacted Don Nickles, our representative at the time, and he said he couldn't help me, that Dad was just out of luck. What a jerk -- obviously, he's not there to help his constituents. I wrote to the Pentagon (not knowing what else to do) and some lovely person there (whose name was unreadable on the letter, maybe on purpose because I bet they're not supposed to do that kind of thing) sent a set of replacements. Turns out, though, that all I had to do was go through the VA. Duh. They even have a form for it and you get the first replacement set free. But he was thrilled to have them replaced -- I didn't tell him I was doing it, just surprised him (and if you knew how much trouble I have keeping secrets, you'd be impressed). In going through the Navy, though, it turns out you can ALSO get mini medals -- so he has those pinned to his VFW hat. Of course, all his cronies there had to get them, too.

Keep That Positive Attitude

"A positive attitude may not solve any problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."

One of my coworkers just got this as her "inspiration for the day" and oooh, does it ever fit our job here!

Back in the Saddle Again

At least my attitude is back in the saddle. I interviewed for the PACT nurse position. While I know I'd like the work and the people, the benefits are lousy and I'd have to take a pay cut. Makes this job look amazingly better all of a sudden. So life is good. Dean is definitely moving out. Don't know what that will mean in the long run. But in the short run it means I'll have to buy a bed, a TV, a computer, and maybe a clothes washer. But I can cancel everything but local channels on cable. And I guess he will take over paying for his cell phone. I know that I will feel more at ease. The tension has been awful.

We had a brief argument this weekend because he was unkind to my child in front of my child's friends. When I objected, he said he would get an apartment today. I've never been good at arguing. It's too scary -- and I always lose. I think we exchanged maybe 4 sentences. I didn't raise my voice or really say anything other than I wanted the children to be treated with kindness.

It's probably a good thing that he's moving out, but that doesn't make it any less difficult.

Maybe I am not meant to have a life companion. But it sure would be nice if I did.

I've almost finished the dryad painting. Just have to put the birds in the branches and figure out what I'm going to do with the grass. It's looking good, I think.

I've also decided it's about time for another year will be the last big tax return I get, so we might as well. Alex and Gavin and I will all go to Scotland and maybe London as well, if I can make it work. I think we'd enjoy that, just the 3 of us. That's the first time we will have gone on a trip by ourselves.

Now, why Scotland, you may ask? Well, that's where Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed. Gavin doesn't really LIKE travelling all that much, so we might as well do something he could really enjoy...maybe stay in a castle one night, see Loch Ness, avoid the killer rabbit...I'm even considering renting a car while we're there. Don't know if I'm up to driving on the wrong side of the road. It'll take some concentration if so. Plus if we go to London, I don't REALLY want to drive in the traffic, so we'd only have the car a few days. I'll have to see how all that works out. :) But, plenty of time to plan. And we'll do the backpack thing again this time; it worked SO well when Alex and I went to Italy. And considering what Gavin hauls around in his backpack to school, I know he can haul his clothes (although he'd probably wear the same thing day and night if I let him, forget taking any clean clothes). And I will pack half as much this time...and I think jeans are more acceptable in the UK, so I won't even have to buy any clothes this time (if we go in March as planned, we'll be living in our coats anyway).