Wednesday, July 29, 2009

To the Dells...............

Tomorrow we are off to the Dells.
Waterpark capital of the world........or so they say.
There is much more to it than waterparks though.
You can travel around and across the lakes and the scenery is impressive.
Lauren will be happy as there is everything she loves in the Dells..............waterparks, petting zoo, deer park and horse riding.
Philip is so looking forward to a break from work.
He will be soooooooo exhausted by the end of this break.........but it will be a different, fun sort of tired.
Last year we swam, did the flumes, did the lazy river etc ....every day.
We also (Philip too) rode horses , fed deer and tried to fend off the goats.
This is the beauty of having Lauren with us. I doubt we would do half of it without her.
She is such fun too, always happy and singing........well up until I got her to practice her tests for the 11+ this morning.
She wasn't too thrilled at that but her mum made me promise to do some with her, so I had to.
We still found things to laugh at though.
Of course I mustn't forget the crazy golf.
There is always a Pirate's Cove crazy golf...........and one day Philip will be defeated.

Sigh............there will also be gift shops.........lots and lots of gift shops............
We should be back on Monday.......providing we are not still deciding what rubbish to buy this time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Busy Weekend.

Friday to see Ice Age 3 Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
It was brill.
We all enjoyed it.
Simon Pegg was the voice of one of the characters. I think it is great that he is getting more and more film work.

Lollipop had never seen anyone take a bath.
We always have showers but Lauren prefers a bath.
Lolly seemed to get quite worried when she saw her sitting in all that water.
But after a quick inspection it seems she was spick and span.
Nothing like sitting on the loo with a cat on your lap.

Saturday we went to the Milwaukee Public Museum.
This is a really good museum, way better than Chicago.
Chicago's museum is old and fusty but Milwaukee's is much more fun.

The dinosaurs were very popular. They have a wonderful diorama of a T. Rex which has just killed a Triceratops and is eating him.
There are amazing sound effects, roars and growls..........I bet there are a few nightmares after seeing this one.......and that is only me.

Lauren enjoyed the butterfly exhibit. She had some land on her.
I don't go in that one.
Not because I am scared of insects but because it is so humid in there that my hair fluffs up like the Pink Panther with his hair dryer.

She also likes all the animals from different areas around the world.
They have a fab ocean exhibit where you look through round port hole type windows beneath the sea.
As you descend you see the way the sea life changes at different depths.

Sunday .......the zoo.
She gets a lot of things from me........for instance........the picture above.
She didn't like that lolly.
It had cherry flavour.........I hate cherry flavour too........cherries are evil.

The budgie exhibit was her favourite I think.
You walk inside with seed on sticks and the budgies land on you to eat it.
Oh this was a big hit.
Lauren truly is a big animal lover (who can she take after I wonder) and she is also very knowledgeable about them.......despite some of the rubbish I was trying to tell her.

It was a long day...........well it had been a long day and we still had the gift shop to do.
Gift shops and kids..........sigh.........truly a test of endurance.
She spends so much time and so much money in them.
Philip bought her a lovely soft, stuffed toy.......a sea horse.
I would have liked one of those. :(

Thursday, July 23, 2009

River Rhythms....alas no men in leather kilts :(

Today Lauren came to work with me.
I only do a few hours while she is here and even that can be a tad difficult.
But, Pat is looking after Ellie, a teeny miniature dachshund who loves everybody.
As Lauren is animal mad I thought this might keep her amused for a while.
It did, but only for a little while.
When she grows up and goes to work she will have to find a job where she can work about 20 minutes a week.
We had got in, made a fuss of Ellie, I had gone into the office and switched on the computer, switched on the radio and checked the phone for messages when she said.

"Oh how much longer are we going to be here?"

At my insistence she had taken along her DS Light. Coo these are amazing contraptions.
Anyway, the game of dinosaur wrestling (or something similar) kept her amused for, maybe twenty minutes.
Ellie, having decided she still liked my lap best, was asleep on me as I was trying to make phone calls and type.
I admit I did rush through everything in record time, so I have probably made some spectacular bloomers, just to get out again.
I had forgotten how short an attention span kids these days have.
Unless of course they are watching Spongebob Squarepants........which I have to admit has us all in its evil grasp at the moment.

In the evening it was off to River Rhythms to see the DooWop Daddies.
Photos are on Facebook.
They did look more like the DooWop Granddaddies and the songs were pretty lacking in any sort of lyric that didn't go ......."diddy, dum, woop, woop, ummm, ummm, shoop, wa wa ooeee oooo" but the old buggers were lively enough and were obviously enjoying themselves.
As were the crowd ......although I will admit it was a different crowd from last week when Brother (men in leather kilts.................oooooh matron) were on.

Tonight we are going to Stonefire Pizza.
This is a great place for kids with buffet food and lots of games, video games, go karts etc.
I have a feeling I know someone else who is going to enjoy it too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Who needs sleep?

She's here.
I didn't sleep much Saturday night.
I kept watching the clock........."they should be leaving home now"......."they should be checking in now"........"should be at the gate now"........"should have taken off now" know how it goes.
Donna rang at 7am to say that it had all gone well and that she was on her way.
I couldn't sleep any more then as the cats had decided it was time I was up.
So I got up........easier in the end.

I was nervous all morning and we set off for the airport before noon.
The plane was due to arrive at 2pm and the drive is generally around 1 hour 20 mins.
But, I like to allow extra time just in case.......particularly when you are meeting a 10 year old who has just flown almost 4000 miles and is alone.

Good job we did as the traffic was pants.
We couldn't make out why that was. Why so much traffic heading to Chicago on a Sunday?
Plus, there were lots of roadworks.
We arrived about 1.30pm.
The plane landed on time and then we waited an hour for her to come through the doors.
But, all was well. She had a great flight. Everyone was kind ........but she doesn't like airline food.
Actually I do.
I love it when that little package comes round.
OK it doesn't always taste great but it is still a little surprise.

She had been travelling for over 16 hours by the time we got home.
Did she sleep?
Not likely.
She started building a cardboard house for the kitties, we had a barbeque and then we all watched several hours of Spongebob Squarepants.
Haven't seen it for a year. It is strangely mesmerising.
Of course the evening wasn't complete until she had got back on RockBand.

Eventually we got her to bed but she was up before 6 am this morning.
Her body clock is natchered and at this rate mine will be very soon.

Her mates and their parents from up the road came to see if she had arrived.
I expect she will be out with them tomorrow.

It is brill having her back.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Not long now.

Lauren arrives tomorrow.
My nerves are just starting to get the better of me.
Yes, I know she will be fine.
Yes, I know they will take care of her.
Yes, yes.........I know all these things, but it is still a blooming long way for a 10 year old to travel on her own.
I will be ok when we have met her at the airport in Chicago.

We went kid shopping today.
They are costly items.
Special shampoo......non sting.
Bubble bath, body wash, cereal, juice goes on.......but she is worth it.
I suppose I do indulge her a bit (a bit !) as well as she is only over here once a year.
Then when I was speaking to Donna she said that Lauren hadn't let her get a new toothbrush as she said I always buy her a new one.
Do I ????
So, as soon as I got off the phone it was off to the chemist where I spent another $10 on a toothbrush/kid's mouthwash and toothpaste.

I won't sleep much tonight.
Donna is going to phone to let me know she left ok.
Then I shall phone to let her know she arrived ok.
I am worn out just typing it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oh...Brother !!!

This is Brother.
They were the band at River Rhythms last night.
They are my favourite. They are an Aussie band of brothers whose father was obviously Scottish.
Their names.............Angus, Hamish and Fergus.

They play what they call "Mongrel, Tribal Rock" and it combines, off all things, didgeridoos and well as guitars etc.
They are very talented and wearing leather kilts is just a bit of a bonus really.
But, before going off to River Rhythms I had had an interesting day at work.
I had the best "perv" phone call to date.
It left the "dangler" episode in the dust.
It went something as follow:

I answer the phone to be met with a nasally, squeaky, Kenneth Williams ish voice on the other end.
Ah ah............."PERV ALERT ! PERV ALERT!!"

Perv.............."(puff, pant).....I want to ask (pant) about the (huff) massage.

Me................."Oh yes"

Perv.............."(puff, huff)........what sort of (pant ) massage do you do there?

Me.................(Engaging school marm voice reserved for occasions such as these)
"All the massage therapists here are QUALIFIED, FULLY TRAINED therapists
who do deep tissue massage down to relaxation massage."

Perv..............."(pant, oooh ooooh) .....I need a (puff) relaxation (pant) massage. How many (pant,
huff) do you have and what ( oh, oh, puff) hours are you open?

Me...................(Trying not to laugh) " Five therapists here between 9am and 7pm.

Perv................."(ooooh) some places I called had (pant, puff) men!!

Me...................(Jumping in here) "OH....did you particularly want a man?"

Perv................."NOOOOOOOOOOO!! I WANT A WOMAN (puff, oh, pant). How long have (puff,
ooh, oooh) the therapists been there?

Me...................."Well, it varies..............WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THAT FOR?"

Perv................."(puff, pant) just wanted to know how(oh, oooh, pant) experienced they are.

Me....................(GOT HIM)..... "Oh we have an old lady who has been doing this for a very long
time........maybe she would suit you?"

Perv.................."( Ooooh, oh, pant, puff) I will check my schedule (huff, puff, pant)between
9am and 7pm and call you back."

Me....................."YEAH RIGHT."

When I got off the phone I couldn't stop laughing.
Well, he was obviously enjoying himself. Over here they find a British accent a real turn on.
It must have been the answer to a prayer for him when he got an accent on the other end of the phone.

I do wonder if I might be missing a career somewhere though.
I surprise myself that I can keep from laughing while they are on the phone. There were so many things I wanted to say to him but I didn't. My control does not falter.

"If you can help somebody" as the old song goes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Royal Bedchamber

Well, it is complete. The Princess Bedchamber is done. No more poxy cork tiles and burnt orange shag pile carpet.
I looks like a completely different room now.
I thought I had better take some photos now before she arrives on Sunday and wrecks it.

You will see there is a cat tree by the window at one end of the room.
This is an attempt to encourage the kitties to go in here and pester Lauren in the morning instead of us.
I am also going to teach Lauren how to feed them..........this should ensure she gets tapped.
She is going to get two kittens of her own after her holidays so my excuse it that it is stuff she needs to know.
I do hope it works.
Mind you..........sometimes it is a blessing.
This morning Lilly came and licked my cheek. She doesn't usually do that and I rolled over to look at the clock.
The alarm hadn't gone off and Philip should have been up.
He was sound asleep and would have been very late if she hadn't woken me.
Funny how they always wake me.
Might have something to do with the way they get shoved off the bed if they do it to Philip.
He also has a squirty bottle of water at his side of the bed in case anyone proves to be too insistent.
We went to Bastille Days on Saturday, downtown.
There was going to be the Circus Parade on Sunday which would have meant nightmare parking so we decided Saturday was a better bet.
I still really don't know why Milwaukee does Bastille Days. No one here speaks fact they don't go in for speaking any other language apart from the Mexicans who contrary to what a guy at Gary's place of work said, speak Spanish..............NOT Mexican as he insisted.

In its history there were French fur trappers who traded with the American Indians.......probably before all the "unpleasantness".
But, apart from that, everyone I have spoken to doesn't seem to like the French very much.
They are quite disparaging about their war time exploits.

Anyway, there were bands, stalls, FOOD (not a lot of French food ........not really any.........oh....there was some Cajun stuff which is near enough I suppose) and that grand old French tradition..........Belly Dancers!

No, I don't know either.

These Wisconsin Belly Dancers had gone way overboard on the belly part of this endeavor.
I would imagine that they must have reached at least a 6.5 .......on the Richter Scale and there are probably undulating waves still in motion some 3 days later.
Good job my vertigo is improving.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Wascally Wabbit

I am still searching for the "perp" of the ripped apart window screen.
I don't think it is this little guy.
He is way too sweet.
He loves our garden and has made himself a "rabbit dip" for sun bathing in.
I think he has got to know us now and really doesn't move very far away if we are in the garden.
I can't imagine him tearing the screen......he wouldn't reach for a start.
I leave food out for him most days.
A few carrots or some biscuits.......he seems to like most things.

Philip discovered he can do yet more "handyman" stuff.
He replaced the mesh in the screen.
We had taken the whole thing out and set off for the store.
We thought that you just bought a replacement..........well you don't.
You have to buy the mesh, some "spline" (I know........... it sounds like an obscure body organ) and a gadget.
The man in the shop told us.
He explained what we had to do. He looked a little amused. We must have come across as so thick standing there with our whole window screen.
We took it with us to make sure we got the right size..........sigh.........a right pair of nellies.
Anyway, after listening to the destructions he gave us we bought all the bits and made our way out of the store, trying not to look self conscious and attempting to distance ourselves from the blooming great ( albatross).....I mean window screen which was obviously not ours and must be following us home.

Down to the get to grips with this next project.
It required the usual amount of swearing but eventually conceded defeat and was fixed.
I helped but Philip did all the important "man" stuff.
We bought extra strong, heavy duty, "let's see the bugger get through this lot", mesh.
Made a fair job of it too actually.
It is now installed in the window and we shall wait to see if any more Milwaukee wildlife comes out of the undergrowth in an attempt to enter "chez nous".

I shall keep the camera and a big stick ready .........just in case.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Triffik Triffid

I have a flower that has grown from my "instant Olde English Flower Garden" carpet.
It is pictured above.
Take a close look.
It looks like an orchid of some sort.
It it very teeny, tiny. So, teeny, tiny that I had to put my glasses on to see it.
I took the next photo to show how small the flower is.
Very beautiful, if you get near enough to see it, but not exactly a "carpet".

Still no idea who the "perp" of the broken window screen is.
I did think that maybe someone was walking their dog off the lead and maybe it saw one, or more, of the cats at the window and scooted across to try to attack them.
I thought that maybe it was so quick the owner couldn't stop it and in its frenzy it tore the window screen.
I had thought that.
I preferred to think that rather than what my friend Sharon said.....
"I don't think you have any bears around there?"
But, having thought that, I went outside to have a butcher's at the ground, screen, area....etc.
Well, I have learned a lot from watching Poirot and Miss Marple.
I checked the ground for footprints.........nothing. It hadn't rained in ages so the ground was too hard.
Then I looked at the Hosta.
I have a few of these round the house.
They are lovely big plants and at the moment they are in bloom. Lots of tall stems with bell shaped flowers on them.
This particular Hosta is right underneath the window.
I am pretty sure a dog in a "gotta get the poxy cat that is taunting me from the window" frenzy would have left its mark on the Hosta.
Hosta is fine. It is in perfect condition. Not even a slightly crumpled leaf.
So I think that theory is out.
I wonder if it is like crop circles.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Stay out !!!

When I came home from work today Bubba didn't start hammering on the window for me to open it.
Cats are not allowed outside here but as all the windows have screens it means I can have the window open and they can sit and watch the birdies, bunnies, squirrels and chipmunks.
They have a couple of "kitty condos" which are by windows and usually as soon as I walk in Bubba starts bashing on the window so that I open it.
He doesn't do this for anyone else.
When Alan was here he told me that Bubba didn't bother all day until I came home from work and immediately he would start with the window walloping.
Today he didn't.
He has me so well trained that I went to the window anyway but just as I was about to open it I saw a tear and a hole in the screen.
My immediate thoughts were.............."Bloody Nora that Bubba has got excited at seeing the birdies/bunnies/squirrels and chipmunks and has scratched so hard at the screen that he has broken through it".
This would have had to have happened this morning before I left for work.
But, a couple of things don't add up :

1, I would have noticed it when I closed the window before I left. I always close them just before I leave ..............and this was very noticeable.

2, I went outside to inspect the screen and this is a blooming big hole. If Bubba had managed to make this hole he would have been through it and gone.

He is the only one of our cats that has lived outside for any length of time. He was around 2 years old when we got him from the Humane Society and he had been picked up as a stray.
So, he would still like to go out.
Sometimes he makes me feel so bad as he sits by the back door as if he expects me to let him out.
We have had him 9 years and he still does this now and again.
I KNOW that if he had made that hole he would have been gone.

This leaves just one other possibility.......something outside made it trying to get in.
I don't like the sound of this.
I have seen a stray cat in the neighbourhood but not for quite a while.
I have seen raccoons but they usually come out at night.
I am wondering if it could be the red tail hawk that we have seen hunting out there.
I wonder if it was after a dove or even after one of the cats and tried to get through the screen.
The cats are actually keeping away from that window.
Bubba hasn't been up there at all since I have been home.

Whatever it was ..........we have to get a new screen.
I just wish I knew what had happened as it is a bit worrying.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Number One

I am feeling better.
I still have the vertigo but not constantly as I did on Saturday.
Still have to be careful about tilting my head certain ways and can only lie on my left side in bed but at least I don't feel continually off balance and woozy.

Today cometh the carpet men.
They arrived as promised at around 11.30 am and it was all done and dusted by 1.30 pm.
I think they expected a tip though.
They didn't get one.
Everyone over here expects to be tipped.
We do tip in restaurants.
It is expected.....and it is expected to be between 15% - 20% of the bill, depending on how good the waiter/waitress was.
Even buying a drink at the are expected to tip the barman/barmaid.....every round you have to give a couple of dollars to the staff.
But when it comes to things like having carpet put in ...........I think it is a bit of a cheek.
We paid quite a bit for the carpet, we paid to have it installed and we also paid for them to take the old one away.
I really don't see that we should have to divvy up another $50 or so on top of that.

Someone rang about an hour after they left to ask me if the work was ok.
I told them it seemed fab so far.
It does look nice.
I will take some pictures of the room when we have put the furniture back in there.

I booked my flights yesterday.
I am arriving in Blighty on September 5th (Sunday) and returning to the US on October 4th (Sunday).

Today I have been looking through some old photos.
I needed to do this as I know Lauren will want to see some photos of her dad while she is over.
It was quite hard looking at some of them. He was so full of fun.
Anyway, whilst doing that I came across a load of old Energize photos.....hence the Numero Uno reference.
Coo, some of them look so young.
There were also photos of Paul and Cathy's wedding. He looks about 12 !!!!

I still have lots more to look through. I am thinking of getting some sort of scanner so I can let everyone else see them.
Happy days.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fireworks R Not Us

Wimped out of the fireworks this year.
We usually go.
We used to go and watch them over Lake Michigan. It is held on July everyone their chance to do their own thing on July 4th.......which means something to the people here.
When we lived downtown it was a piece of cake.
Walk down to the lakefront, stake your claim on a bit of grass, peg out your blankie, set your chairs up and wait for the show.
Of course you would need to be there by about 3.30pm to find the last piece of grass even though the fireworks were not going to be on until around 10 pm.
But, it was fun sitting there with everyone else, hoping you didn't need the loo.
Even when we moved out to the burbs, Gary still lived down there so he would be our scout.
He would stake our claim and he also lived near enough that we could go to his apartment when we needed the loo.
Now, we all live in the burbs and parking is a nightmare.
So, we have started to watch the slightly inferior fireworks in our local park.

But this
I have felt pants today with my vertigo.
I had no "oooomph".
I hate it when I am "oooomphless".
I could not be bothered to go to the park. Well, I suppose it didn't help that they have dug up the road we usually park on and I don't know where we would have parked.
Anyway, we didn't go.
We did go shopping today........well we attempted to.
It seemed every road we needed to get onto had just been shut down for a 4th July parade.
It caused quite a few curse words.
We eventually got home and wallpapered the wall in our bedroom that had the cork tiles on it.

It wasn't easy.
I am the paper hanger.
I had to climb the stepladder.
I have vertigo.
Hopefully the paper is reasonably straight and actually adheres to the wall.
This should be the last time we need to hang wall paper as the rest of the house is cork tile free.
Tomorrow is gardening.
Exciting eh?

I did see most of the fireworks.
I watched them from my bedroom window.

Friday, July 3, 2009


This is our Cowcat..........Lollipop, sticking her tongue out.
She is inside a whole pile of packing paper that came with something Philip had delivered.
Don't ask me what it was as it was something to do with computers..........probably a Fat Agnes or something.
I wonder if computers still need a Fat Agnes.
Anyway, the box had all this paper in it and the cats have had so much fun with it.
I haven't got the heart to throw it away and so it sits there, in the middle of the living room, like a set from Doctor Who.

Yesterday I had an email from a friend I worked with for many years at a certain facility in Ashford.
Anyway, she asked if I would be in England around September 12th as her husband is having a milestone birthday.
I had planned on coming over around September 20th for 4 weeks.
But, we have been mates for years so I would hate to miss this for the sake of a few days.
Nothing in life is ever simple though.

I like to fly Virgin Atlantic.
That is a fib.
I actually don't like to fly at all.
I find it tedious and boring. Right from when you arrive at the airport it is nothing but queues, lines and waiting.
But, if I have to fly, I do prefer Virgin Atlantic.
So, what have they done?
They have decided they won't fly out of or into Chicago through the winter.
Now I would have thought September was still Autumn but I would be wrong.
I contacted the travel agent we usually use...........I know I can book online but they are so fab.
They book everything for me, seat, veggie meal etc, and it takes a little of the hassle out of the process, they told me Virgin isn't flying from Chicago from about September 13th until March.
Now I have the choice of American Airlines, United Airlines or BA.
I am not fond of any of them.
Plus, it is SO expensive. The cheapest I could find was around $890.
This is flying non stop.
I could fly Slovorskalgenarian Airways........or some such obscure airline and make a dozen stops, going via Moscow and Taiwan, but I would prefer not to do that.

Anyway, I think I have decided to try to come over around September 5th going back October 4th.
This way I should be able to take in two "do's".
There is one at the end of September I would like to attend.
We are going to check out more prices online but I doubt I will find a better deal.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Crappity, crap, crap

This is a miniature rose we have in the front garden.
Isn't it beautiful.
I really don't know how it survives the winters here but I do cover all the roses in poly hats to try to keep them warm when it is cold.
And we do COLD big time.

Yesterday was a pretty pants day.
I felt crappity, crap, crap.
After our work out on Monday I ached a bit on Tuesday.
Also had a dodgy back........but my vertigo has come back.
I haven't had that for years and it is not fun.

Certain ways I turn my head, looking down , looking up.......I go all "swimmy".
In bed I can only sleep on my left side because if I try to sleep on my right......go all "swoozy".
It is not a pleasant feeling because if you don't correct it right away, you feel nauseous.
At work yesterday, Pat said that you can pinch a nerve in your neck and it will result in this.
I think that is what may have happened doing all those exercises with the weights on Monday.
He had us holding weights and stretching to either side.
I am hoping this did cause it really because hopefully it will soon go away.
Today my back seems ok ..ish.....but the vertigo is still there.
Thankfully that was our last session with a trainer because after this lot if we had any more I would have cancelled them.
Philip has a dodgy back too......and a dodgy leg.......oh........this is ridiculous.

I have just made a series of phone calls to Home Depot carpet installation.
After several very unhelpful people I eventually found one that had more than 3 brain cells.
The carpet should ( I say should as I find these things are never certain) be installed on Tuesday next week.
This would be brill as it gives us time to get the furniture etc in Lauren's room.
We will see.