Sunday, May 12, 2013

Burying my head in the pillow

Feeling tired in the middle of the day? Never fear because the Ostrich Pillow is here!  Its a "revolutionary idea that enables easy power naps anytime, anywhere."

This design may offer "a micro environment in which to take a cozy and comfortable power nap at ease" but I think I would rather let my head visibly loll to the side with dribble emerging from my mouth than be seen with a large grey cushion enveloping my head. 

Smile please!

A nice picture of the kids taken in our garden.

Mothers Day 2013

Its Mother's Day today in the US. Received some very nice flowers, chocolates and a beautiful framed picture of the kids. Started the day with a full English cooked by my lovely hubbie, ended the day with dinner at a local restaurant. Very relaxing.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Worth every penny

Back in 2001 we decided to finish our basement. The idea was that the kids would have somewhere to play and a place to store their toys, without having to clutter up the house. We also installed a gym and a pool table. Over the years it has not been used much; when they were young the kids didn't like being down there on their own; they wanted to be in the thick of things in the family room. The novelty of a pool table wore off and it has sat there gathering dust for the past 10 years. And even the gym only gets used once in a blue moon, usually at the start of the latest keep fit resolution.

But finally it has paid off. Increasingly on the weekends one of the kids will have a movie night with a group of their friends. They don't want to be with us and frankly, we don't want them with us, so the basement is perfect. It has a 46 inch wall mounted TV with a Wii and Xbox. All the furniture that we have gradually replaced from the family room over the years is now in the basement. There is even a small fridge for their drinks. Its a perfect solution. Shame we had to wait so long before it showed its worth but on the nights when I sit in my family room and can hear the distant sound of seven 16 year olds talking and shouting from below, I thank my lucky stars there is a floor between us and that they are not in the next room.

A milestone birthday

I am now officially the mother of two teenagers (hence the stressed appearance and overnight aging). Happy 13th Birthday to my beautiful daughter Emma! Its all downhill from here

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Congrats both!

Congratulations to our cousin Helen on her wedding to Mark. Sorry we could not be there but I have been told that lots of photos are forthcoming!

Just doing my duty

I had to attend Jury Duty today, that was a barrel of laughs I can tell you. You need a degree in waiting.

I turned up at 7:30AM,  then waited in a room for an hour with 99 other suitably bored and tired members of the public, until 70 of us were shuffled into a court room. Then I waited while each potential juror was interviewed individually by the judge to determine whether they were to be selected as a member of the 12 person Jury. I had 60 people in front of me. It took hours. Sitting on a hard wooden bench that made me realize that my bum was not fat enough (this is a first), breathing in the rancid morning breath from the young guy sitting next to me who looked as if he'd rolled out of bed right into the was not a fun experience. And at the end of all that I was not selected.

I guess I have to take comfort in the quote from Norm Crosby (wasn't he on Cheers?) "When you go into court, you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty".

Monday, April 22, 2013

Told you so

In March I blogged about the series Broadchurch, and said that Ellie's husband was involved somehow. What powers of deduction! He turned out to be the murderer. Told you so...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A cause for celebration?

However horrific and tense the events of the past week have been for those of us who live in the Boston area, were the mass scenes of celebration on Friday night really appropriate? Frankly I felt uncomfortable when I saw the pictures on on Saturday morning.  People have died, families are grieving, many of the injured are in hospital in a critical condition, some have to face the rest of their lives with missing limbs. Feel relieved that the suspected bombers have been caught/killed, but have some humility; whichever way you look at it, this is not a cause for celebration.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Are you pulling my leg?

Just reading an article about the aftermath of theBoston Marathon bombings and the struggles that will be faced by the 14 people who lost their legs or arms. The article "Challenges lie ahead for Marathon Bombing amputees", states that the recovery can take a long time. I quote....

The wound where a limb has been amputated usually heals within 10 to 14 days, if there are no complications. The end of the limb is then wrapped tightly with an elastic bandage or sock for several weeks, to compress it into a cylindrical or cone shape that better fits the socket of a prosthesis.
“Sometimes they can be ready for a prosthesis in five or six weeks, but I have seen patients not ready for up to a year because they had complications with wound infections or problems with insurance,
Ermm, excuse me, did I read that correctly? "problems with insurance"??? You've just lost a limb for goodness sake! What possible problems with insurance could there be?! 
"Excuse me madam, United Healthcare deny your claim for a prosthesis on the grounds that you have one functioning leg and therefore you have the ability to hop..."
WTF! What sort of health care system do we have in America? There may be waiting lists in the UK National Health Service, but for things that matter or are urgent, there is no wait, no insurance cards, no claims or referrals and no questions. And that just how it should be.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A sad day for Boston

What a terrible day for Boston. Information still being released slowly about the extent of the injuries resulting from the 2 explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. So far 3 dead (including a child) and over 100 injured. Injuries ranging from eardrum damage to loss of limbs. The bombs were packed with ball-bearings.  I am shocked that something like this could happen so close to home. And I am also unable to understand what sort of person could even think of doing such a thing, never mind putting it into action. There are some very sick people in this world.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Get well soon!

Best wishes to my mother who has fallen and broken her wrist and is in hospital waiting for an op to repair it. I hope you have a speedy recovery Mam - no more pommel horse for you!

Keep off the roads!

Now the fun begins! We have enrolled Rob in a local driving school for his Drivers Ed and lessons - in Massachusetts you can start learning to drive at age 16, but all drivers under 18 have to complete 30 hours of classroom training and 10hrs of instructor-led driving, as well as the 40hrs driving that they have to complete with their parents. Starting in May he will spend 9AM-3.30PM each Saturday at the Gilmore Driving school in Boylston - the next town over from us. Its costing an arm and a leg, but this is but a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of adding him to our insurance when he passes. Money, money, money!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Car damage again

Well, yet again my new car has been damaged before its even 6 months old. Today on my way to work some fool tried to move into my lane while I was still in it, forcing me to swerve towards the curb and scrape my alloys. Had to have my tires rotated and realigned and will need to send the wheel rim off for repair to make it look beautiful again. Best advice to give your children when they are learning to drive....assume everyone else on the road is an idiot. You will be right at least 80% of the time.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

What to wear?

Went for a refreshing walk this morning. Still can't work out whats going on with the weather though. Yesterday afternoon I sat on the deck in a sleeveless top, thinking how warm it was. Today it was below freezing at 10AM, with a bitterly cold wind blowing. I wore a ski jacket, woolly hat and gloves for my walk!

Pick of the Pops and Flops

Currently listening to BBC Radio 2. The "Pick of the Pops" show is on, which is played every Saturday (morning for me, afternoon for the UK) by long-time DJ Tony Blackburn. To the uninitiated, he picks 2 years from the past 60 (gulp!) and plays the songs that were in the charts during those years. Todays years selected were 1964 and 1991. Now I can't say I paid much attention to the radio in 1964, being more interested in eating, sleeping and ...well, you get the picture. But because the music was so good in the sixties, I think I recognized just about every song played, and knew the words to many of them too. The Beatles - Can't buy me love, Billy J Kramer - Little children, Peter and Gordan - World without love, The Hollies - Just one look, The Rolling Stones - Not Fade away...

I could not say the same for 1991. An example of the forgettable 'hits' are Scritti Politti and Shabba Ranks -She's a woman, Dannii Minogue - Love and Kisses, Banderas - This is your life and some tedious number by Simple Minds called "Let there be Love". Even the BeeGees song was poor - Secret Love.
The only ones I knew the words to were remakes of older songs such as The Pet Shop Boys - Streets have no name (Can't take my eyes off you).
I think overall the 90's has to be the worst decade for music.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

See how they've grown!

A couple of recent photos of the kids...not so young anymore!

Its just a number

Happy Birthday to my lovely hubbie Tony. I had to be creative with his birthday cake as he follows a "Paleo lifestyle" - see if you can guess what its made of!!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Unexpected disappointment

We watched "The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey" on DVD last night. Unfortunately I was very disappointed. Its been many years since I read the book but I simply don't recall it being as "childlike" a tale as was presented in this movie. At times I felt as though I was watching a Shrek movie or a pantomime. In addition to that, it seemed so loooooong. Endless in fact. The movie was 169 minutes long ; thats probably longer than it took me to read the book.

The dwarfs were annoying and frankly, I didn't much care whether they found their homeland or got eaten by an Ork. Probably the latter was preferable.

The best part by far was the fairly short scene featuring Gollum - excellent animation/acting/facial expressions. A character that was both scary and pathetic simultaneously. But I also felt that the power of the Ring was not made obvious - the focus seemed more on its ability to make Bilbo invisible.

 It transpired this was only part 1. The director/producer obviously was confident enough to think that we would love this movie so much that we would return to watch the sequel when it comes out at the end of 2013. I would not be so sure...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Important US holidays

A list of the main US holidays:

1. Alka Seltzer day (Jan 1st)

2. Chocolate Heart day (Feb 14th)

3. Corned Beef and Cabbage day (April 17th)

4. Chocolate Egg day (third Sunday in the lunar month)

5. Shopping day (final Monday of May)

6. Burgers and Wings Day (4th July)

7. Grilling Day (first Monday in September)

8. Candy day (October 31st)

9. Turkey & Apple Pie (4th Thursday in November)

10. Shopping Day (day after the 4th Thursday in November)

11. Beef/Ham/Pork/Turkey Day (December 25th)

12. Shopping day (December 26th)

Just sayin'...

Get that Friday feeling

Today is Good Friday, which is observed by Christians on the Friday before Easter Sunday. On this day Christians commemorate the suffering, and death on the cross of Jesus Christ. Based on that, I wonder why its called "Good" Friday? There are various theories about it really being "God Friday" or the fact that it lead to the resurrection which, apparently, was good. 

I happen to think that every Friday is good. There is something about a Friday evening that is so satisfying. I love that first half an hour when you get in from work and collapse on the sofa with a cup of tea or a glass of wine (or both). The knowledge that you have 2 days where you won't be rocket-propelled into consciousness at 6AM by the alarm clock. Knowing that you have time to read, or snooze or watch the Weather Channel. That "Friday feeling" almost makes it worth working 5 days a week.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

An extra hour of daylight

I love having the extra hour of light in the evenings. In the US, our clocks went forward a couple of weeks ago and although its been light enough to go out for a walk after work, its been freezing with too much snow on the ground. Tonight was the first evening where I actually felt in the mood for a walk, and the weather was conducive to it also, being close to 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). It was very enjoyable and makes me think that Spring must be around the corner (keeping my fingers crossed).

British TV Shows

I have to admit, I do not watch much TV. But what I do watch usually comes from the UK. Obviously my one staple program is Coronation Street - I don't miss an episode. But I do try to keep up with the various series on UK television. I loved Downton Abbey and am looking forward to the new series. I also enjoyed Sherlock, Episodes and Ripper Street. The latest series that has my attention is Broadchurch on ITV. I watched Episode 3 last night.

I'm not a big David Tennant fan. He's a bit manic looking for my taste. But he's reasonably good in Broadchurch. This show started off very strongly, with the unexplained death of a local boy. But its starting to drag and last nights episode was somewhat tedious. We are being introduced to lots of suspicious looking people from the village who could've committed the crime. But its obvious to me that the person who did this is someone you'd least expect. I believe Ellie (the policewoman) is significant in the plot, as is her family. They have played down the character of Ellie's husband until last nights episode, and its obvious her son has something to hide. So my great powers of deduction have decided that Ellie's husband is involved somewhere, and her son is covering up what he knows to protect his see if I'm not right :)

A very strange series that became a must-watch for us was the Green Wing. It was the weirdest show and we couldn't decide if we liked it, but by the end of the first series we were addicted. What a disappointment the second series was! So poor in fact that we never bothered to watch all episodes. A real shame.

One of the more unusual shows we watch is on BBC Alba - BBC Scotland. On a Sunday night is a show just titled Alba, and each week it covers 1 year of history in Scotland during the seventies. Its narrated in Scottish (celtic?) but most of the people speaking on news reports are speaking English. All the events of the decade are backed up by music of the time. Its interesting to watch news "reels" on the Cod War, various utility service strikes and politicians such as Ted Heath and Maggie Thatcher coming into power. Its amazing how much I remember, especially towards the end of the seventies (I must be REALLY old!)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Seventeen years

Happy 17th Wedding Anniversary to my darling husband and thanks for all the good wishes from across the pond

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bottoms up!

Just back from an orthopedic massage appointment at a new place not far from home OrthoMed Massage Clinic. I've been pummeled, rolled and kneaded like a loaf of Hovis for the past hour. Don't know if it will ease my back pain or the sciatica that runs down my left leg, but at least my left buttock had a good workout. I was told to use ice this you suppose she meant in a vodka and tonic? Thats what I was planning to do anyway. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Indigenous wildlife

Last week I saw a beaver, complete with flat paddle tail,  a coyote and a family of wild turkeys. Was I in the local zoo? No, I was driving to work. Admittedly the coyote was dead in the middle of the road but still, it was unusual to see all that wildlife.

Of course it would be even more unusual had I been driving in Wales. I used to assume that the Northeastern states of the US were geographically similar to the UK and would be home to the same species of animal. Yet the reality is that the indigenous population is quite different.   No hedgehogs in the US; no chipmunks in the UK, for example.

However I should add,  although we don't have that common UK species, the "soccer hooligan", we do have something equally as offensive called the "Walmart shopper". Here's some lovely specimens going about their daily business.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stop! Cease! No more!

Another 6-8 inches of snow expected tonight and tomorrow. Its the middle of March for goodness sake! Enough already!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Psychedelic cake

Emmas latest cake baking experiment. Looks good, tastes good

Close up view..symmetrical too!

St Patricks Day?! - Pah!

Somebody told me last week that in America, St Patricks day is the day when everyone is Irish, or if they are not, they wish they were. Of course I disagreed with this and after this years Rugby Six Nations championship, I can tell you that I am most definitely Welsh!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

HomeGoods - somewhat unique

What a wonderful store HomeGoods is! Its the place to buy unusual stuff for your home, at pretty reasonable prices. Ornaments, small one-off pieces of furniture, bedding, housewares etc. You can always find a unique chest or chair, but today they excelled themselves with a 7ft high by 4ft wide by 8ft long (approx!) decorated wooden elephant. Hmm, now which room would I put that in?

A normal Saturday

Its a very normal Saturday today. I'm listening to Sunshine Radio Hereford (the wonders of Internet radio), taking it easy recovering from a bad cold which has kept me in bed for the past 2 days. Tony has watched the Ireland/Italy match (Rugby 6 Nations to the uninitiated), and is looking forward to the England/Wales decider later on today. Again, the technological wonders of the internet enable us to watch British TV shows, either in real time or on iPlayer. Emma is playing soccer in Auburn - she has 2 games in a row today.

Later I will take Rob to his piano lesson and spend a peaceful half an hour drinking hot chocolate in my favorite coffee house (Black Diamond Coffee) across the street while I wait for him. I expect later I will be able to squeeze in a bit of shopping therapy to help in my recovery!

A short interlude

Its been so long since I wrote a blog entry that Google have changed the interface. I hope I can work it out and this comes out OK.

What inspired me to start this up again?  My cousins wife actually. Their son is undergoing a bone marrow transplant to treat a disease called 'CGD' (Chronic Gramalomatus Disorder), which is a genetic blood disease. CGD means that his immune system doesn't work properly. The cure is to undergo a bone marrow transplant, and it turned out that his older brother was a perfect match. So my cousin has his two sons in University College Hospital in London. His wife decided to start a blog to document their progress which meant everybody could get the latest status, without them being overwhelmed with emails, phonecalls etc. 

It made me realize how much good there can be in blogging, especially when you have friends and family that are some distance away. Its not just a vehicle for commenting on the latest TV shows, fashions, people or for venting about lifes frustrations. It has become an important communication media in the 21st century.

Having said that, do I have something life-changing to blog about. The answer is No, and I don't expect I will either! Hopefully nothing as traumatic as my cousin anyway! I will attempt to document the mundane as per usual, and if you find something of interest then all well and good. And if you don't, theres always the BBC News website instead.