Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Well, after a dodgy night my back was no better this morning.
I can walk, with difficulty, stairs are a bit of a problem, getting up/down is bloody awful.
It took me twenty minutes to get dressed this morning.
Putting my socks on was like a circus act.
And........I don't ever remember dropping so many things on the floor.

Getting to the mall today was out of the question.
Going to work tomorrow is likewise out of the question.
I phoned Pat to let her know and she gave me advice on applying heat to the affected area.
I had been given this same advice by another source but wasn't sure if it should be heat or cold.
Well, apparently, for muscles it is heat.
So that is what I am doing. I have lots of other things I would like to be doing and it is driving me nuts that I can't do them.
I can't even paint as I can't sit for long.

A Dave Barry quote for all parents :-

I would say that an appropriate cuisine for the parent of a baby is the kind that you can eat with one hand. You will need the other hand to keep putting things into the baby's mouth, so your baby can spit them out ( a baby is not happy unless it is emitting something from somewhere).
In fact, you may need both hands for this activity, so you might want to order a dinner that you can eat with no hands, sporadically lunging your face down to your plate and "snorking" up food Labrador-retriever style.

Monday, June 28, 2010


What cute little guys.
I couldn't figure out what they were and told Philip they looked like baby Star Wars Oompa Loompas.
Apparently they were NOT Oompa Loompas in Star Wars they were Enochs....or something similar.

Ticked off today.
We had a reasonably quiet weekend.
SummerFest is on at the moment and it isn't our thing.
It is held on the lakefront and is reputedly the biggest music festival in the world.
It is on for about 10 days and has many big names playing.
It is very, very big. .........The Big Gig is the local name for it.
I think there are around 10 stages playing at the same time. When we first moved here, almost 13 years ago, we did go a couple of times.
It is so crowded though. People are all having a good time and that is great but I just can't deal with being hemmed in by such crowds.
It is really for the youngsters and good luck to them.
It also means that travel / parking downtown is a bit of a nightmare. For this reason we will not be going to River Rhythms on Wednesday this week.

But now I have another reason.
I just did my back in ......big time. Doing what??????
I will tell you.
I was dragging washing out of the machine when.....Ping!.......my lower back went.
I am now in agony and can barely move.
I have sat down to write this and know it is going to be very difficult to get up again.
I have rubbed some BioFreeze gel on and taken some paracetamol but it doesn't feel much better.
I am hopeful that it will just ease off as the day progresses, but as I usually see my glass is half full only to find out it isn't, I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't.
I wanted to go to the mall tomorrow and I have work on Wednesday.....I do hope this just fades away bloody quick.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh Brother..............

It was my favourite band at River Rhythms last night.
Aussie guys who have a Scottish heritage.
Didgeridoos, bagpipes, guitars & drums..........they call it tribal rock.
And it is amazing.
Of course there were other celebs there too.

Gandalf.......is it really you.
Yep, Gandalf showed up.
He must have been living in Wisconsin a while...........and it shows.
But, it still was an honour to see him there.

Then along came Mr Bean.
He wore his best shoes and socks for the occasion too.
We were trying to work out what exactly he was sitting on.
I finally decided it must be some sort of Personal Porta Potty.
Very handy too I expect.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Here is Philip giving Baxter some attention before his family arrived.

They came to pick him up yesterday evening.
It was wonderful to see them back together.
They thought they would never see him again. Of course, even though I had tried to prepare them, they were shocked at how thin and battered he was.

It all got very emotional with everyone hugging each other.
They are going to take him to the vet for a check up which I think is a good idea.
I was very happy to see them go but a little sad too.
I had become quite attached to old Baxter.
I had told him that no matter what happened, whether it turned out this wasn't his mum & dad or if they didn't come for him..........then he would stay here.
He would be safe.
But this was the best outcome for everyone.
Bye, bye Baxter.......get better soon.
They have promised to send me pictures of him when he is plumper.

Just to clarify something I said before.
Cats are not allowed outside here. It is state law.
I think it is for a couple of reasons. Mainly that there are many dangers for cats outside in Wisconsin.
We have coyotes & raccoons etc. I am surprised Baxter lasted for 7 weeks outside.

Because most cats have never been outside .....they really don't seem to miss it.
Ours are very happy indoor kitties. Bubba was picked up by the Humane Society when he was about 2 years old and he has known "outside".
We have had him 10 years now during which time he has never been out, but just now and again he will go and sit at the back door waiting as if it is the most natural thing in the world for us to let him go.
Daft cat.
The other bonus is ........they don't pick up fleas, also they seem to live longer.
It isn't unusual for cats around here to live for 20+ years.
When I come over to England, for the first couple of days I tend to freak out if I see a cat outside.
Then I remind myself that it is ok...........I am daft too, but that isn't news to anyone.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ground Control to Major Tom............

And yet another Major Tom moment.

On Friday I saw the stray kitty outside my window again.
He looked very scraggy and I knew it was the same one I had seen last week.
I went outside but he hid under our peonies.
So, I took him some cat treats and moved away. He came out and scoffed them.
Hmmm......this wasn't good enough, so I went back in a brought him out some canned food in a dish.
He went back under the peonies but not quite so far this time.
After he had eaten the food I saw him wander sadly up the road. I was very upset about him.
That night I put more dry cat food outside. I was hoping that he might come back and if I continued to feed him I might build up his confidence over a couple of weeks and I might be able to take a look at the tag on his collar.

In the morning the food was gone but we didn't know if he or the raccoon had eaten it.
In the afternoon I decided to take a peak under the peonies..........and there he was all curled up.
I talked to him and he answered me but he wouldn't come out.
So, I got him some more canned food and sat right by the dish. Eventually he came out to eat and I managed to stroke his head.
When he had finished he didn't move away so I decided to take a chance and I picked him up.
It was a big chance as he could have exploded as only cats know how.
But, he seemed to have given up. He is so terribly thin and battered about.
I took him indoors and he is in the spare bedroom.
Major Tom moment..........now what do I do?
On his collar is a tag but it is just his rabies vaccine number .........it did have the number of a vet in Wauwatosa though.
This is miles away. Of course I rang the vet but they are all closed for the weekend.
Looked like he would be here until at least Monday then.
I also phoned a cat rescue and the lady there said she thought the vet would be the best one to try to trace the owners. She did warn me though that many people move away and just abandon their pets.

For some strange reason I decided to look on Craig's List.
I didn't even know if they had a lost & found section but they do.
I could tell this kitty had been outside for a while due to his condition so I trawled through loads of pages of missing & found kitties.
I got to the end of April and was about to give up when I spotted one who described a kitty exactly like this one.
And.......they live in Wauwatosa.
I immediately phoned the guy and he told me that Baxter is 13 years old. He described the collar and tag so we are pretty sure it is the right cat.
Poor Baxter had got out of the house while this guy's uncle had been working there. Cats here are not allowed outside so if they do get out they very often won't know how to get home.
He had come a long way though. He has also had a very tough time.

I was so pleased and excited. This guy, Bob, is supposed to be picking Baxter up this evening.
I can't wait to see them together.
Yesterday Baxter was a very sad kitty. I don't think he would have lasted much longer.
This morning he was much brighter and purred when he saw me. This afternoon he even came and curled up on my lap and went to sleep.
He is painfully thin. It makes me almost shudder to stroke his back as all his bones stick out.
His face is battered and he has lost some fur, but at least he is safe now.
I did try to prepare his dad for his condition. He will need a lot of feeding and nurturing but I think he will be fine.

What will my next Major Tom moment be I wonder?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

They can't ALL be fab I suppose...

River Rhythms last night.
The band was said to be some sort of fusion.
Trouble was it was a fusion of stuff we are not fond of.
Some are less fond than others .......as the above picture will prove.
They were a mix of Zydeco & Polka and something else equally uninspiring.
I am sure they were very good musicians but it didn't help.
I am happy to people watch and chat with Gary, who is a worse people watcher than me.
The evening had its highlights though.
Notice the woman in the hat who is sitting to Philip's right.

Yes, yes ....it was HER !!!!
It was Olive from "On The Buses" and she was in Milwaukee at River Rhythms.

Not content to sit still and enjoy the music, she decided to get up and add to the entertainment.

And, she certainly did this.
Strutting her stuff like a strutting thing, she took to the dance floor.
I haven't seen moves like that since Auntie Ethel's dog drank a whole bucket of "Old Tub Thumper" on Michaelmas Day.

The evening is never a complete washout when we have the likes of "Olive" there to keep us amused.
One of our number couldn't seem to see the funny side and was more than pleased when it was time to leave.
At least he won't have room to complain about "Brother"............... the men in leather kilts ....(steady) when they are on next week.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jurassic Zoo

This photo totally sums up the relationship between Philip and myself.
Oh look, bless him.......I am embarrassing him yet again.
Instead of just posing politely in front of a big, nasty dinosaur, I think it is far more natural to scream bloody murder.
Well you would. So I did.
I think he was wishing the blooming thing would eat me.......and who could blame him.

We went to Gary's company picnic at the zoo on Sunday.
It was brill.
There was lots of grub & music too.
As you may have noticed they have a new exhibit of dinosaurs.
This was mega brill.
They are animated and have sound too. So not only do they turn to look at you, they roar.
There are baby ones who squeak as well.
Another one spits water. Most of the adults worked this out pretty quickly when they saw the water on the ground in front of it.
Fortunately most of the kids didn't until they had water squirted at them.
I thought it was funny anyway.

The T. Rex was amazing.
It had a juvenile and a nest of babies.
Before you got to it you could here the "boom, boom"......thud of footsteps just like in Jurassic Park.
Some of the smaller kids were frightened but when others were staring at the dinos I longed to creep up behind them and give them a fright.
As they were not my kids, I think their parents may have objected.
So I controlled the urge........but only just.
Little kids know so much about dinosaurs.
I pointed out the T. Rex to one little boy, maybe 5 years old, and he replied in a most mature manner "Oh yes that is a carnivore".

I told his mother that I would have done better going round with him as Gary was telling me a load of rubbish about each dinosaur.
We were at the velociraptors when he pointed out the large claw on the back feet.

He said, " do you see that huge claw that sticks up?"
"Oh yes", I replied.
"Well, that is called The Stick Up Claw".


Friday, June 11, 2010


Light Up.

Wednesday we went to the first River Rhythms free concert of the season.
We had perfect weather.
Warm, sunny and very pleasant. It was probably one of the warmest opening nights we have ever had.
It usually can get a bit chilly for the first couple of concerts but Wednesday was brill.
I was so pleased to be back there.
We met Gary over there, put the blanket out, put the chairs out, dished up the grub and then relaxed by the river, watching the boats go by.
Lots of boats.
Big ones, little ones. Long rowing boats and motor boats.

The band were a tribute band.
A tribute to Styx.
I have to admit I am not familiar with Styx.
Philip said they were from the 70's.

They always have very good bands and these were brilliant musicians.
The singer was excellent.
But, I don't think I was particularly fond of Styx.
Mostly I couldn't even remember the songs they did. A lot of people could.
There was quite a large crowd there and many people were wearing Styx or, as the band were called, Light Up, t shirts.
Philip was impressed, he said they sounded just like them.
They must have because a lot of people were getting excited. There was much dancing and cheering.
The two last songs they played I did remember.
I am probably just not a big Styx fan.
I still had a brill night though.
I did make our American chum Gary almost choke on his drink.

We were talking about British biscuits (as opposed to cookies) and I told Gary that he should dip his ginger nuts in his tea.
Apparently this means something entirely different to an American.
His reply was that he would if " it wasn't too hot".

How odd.

I think Brother, the Aussie band with the men in leather kilts (steady) is on the week after next.

Dave Barry quote :

Everyone knows what babies do on planes: They stand on their parents' laps and stick their heads up over the seats, so they can get maximum range when they shriek.
On a baby-intensive plane, you see shrieking baby heads constantly popping up all over, like prairie dogs from hell.
As a parent in this situation, your fervent hope is that the other babies on the plane will shriek louder than yours, thereby diverting passenger hatred away from you.
It would not surprise me to learn that some parents creep under seats and pinch other people's babies to set them off.
I myself would never do such a thing.
I carry a slingshot.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rainy Day

Just a few of my efforts today.

Pot of chilli for about 12 I think.

This picture made me chuckle.
If you buy this gun you want to make sure you don't upset the trigger.

Today has been a busy one.
I was contemplating going to the mall but when I got up this morning it was raining hard.
It has continued to do so ever since.
We don't often get a day like this in Milwaukee. We call them "Bradford Days" when they do happen.

I think the weather affects me as my knee, hip and neck have hurt all day.
I decided not to go out and then did more work by staying in.
Doh !

Fortunately the forecast for tomorrow is very good. Warm and sunny.
Apart from having to go to work it is also the first day of River Rhythms - the free concerts in the park downtown.
So, I decided to do some baking.
Trouble is, I can never just do enough. I always seem to think I am feeding an army.
We are meeting Gary there tomorrow but that still makes only 3 of us.
So, what did I make?

I made about 24 cheese, onion & tomato palmiers (puff pastry made into the shape of this
o^o - that's as near as I can make it).
I made about 24 parmesan, chive & garlic whirls.
I made 12 small quiches.
Then with the left over pastry I made little purses filled with tomato, onion, parmesan etc.

After spending much of the day making pastry & baking I was still surprised when I saw how much stuff I had made.
So, I have frozen half of it.
We will take the other half tomorrow along with chicken, rolls, celery, carrots, crackers, dips & strawberries.
Sigh.......what am I like? We are only going to be there for 2/3 hours - not a week.

I have now also made a huge pot of chilli for dinner tonight (veggie chilli), and I will freeze about 6 containers of that too.

I am now going to have a cup of tea.
Next time I decide to start baking - I am going to the mall.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I fancy a fascinator.


Where did the weekend go?
Saturday....ermmm......what did we do?
Oh yes, we had a trawl round the mall. It was fun.
Before that I sold some old broken gold jewellery. I don't know if it is the same over there but over here the jewellers are begging people to bring in their old gold.
So, I had a peruse of my jewellery box and found some stuff that I either don't wear or was broken.
It was quite an interesting experience. Once inside the shop they touch each piece of jewellery with a strong magnet. If it sticks then the stuff is merely gold plated.
My stuff passed that test. I did ask the posh ladies if they used that device on jewellery that their boyfriends might buy them.
On to the next test. Carrots or carats or karats....whatever.
Here we hit a bit of a problem.
In the US gold is 10k, 18k or 24k.
In the UK gold is 9k, 18k & 24k.
Over here they don't want any of that British 9k rubbish......thank you very much.
So, some of my stuff was politely refused as it was bought in the UK.
This left about 4 bits & pieces.
They then tested these bits and decided to give me $159.
I was quite chuffed with that. I might just as well have the dosh as have broken stuff.
I am hoping that they are buying gold in England when I come over as I will bring the 9k stuff with me.
They should buy it back.......they were happy enough to sell it to me.

Sunday. We finished the garden. Well, I hope we have.
Along the side of the garage, instead of planting annuals or a sumptious flower garden mat ( which failed miserably last year) we decided to put decorative white marble rocks.
It looks quite nice but took way more than we anticipated.
The trouble is that the trough is shallow so any flowering plants dry out very quickly, otherwise I would have planted perennials.
As the trough is so shallow I don't think they would survive our winters.
This way the marble rocks look nice and keep the weeds away.
Hopefully, if all the other stuff we planted grows then the only gardening we will need to do in the future is pruning the roses and chucking some more mulch down.....well apart from mowing the grass.
We shall see.

Thinking about when I am over in the UK brings me to fascinators.
I have been invited to a wedding while I am in England.
Of course I shall get a posh frock etc but I really want a fascinator. A friend of mine once sent me pictures of himself and his wife at a posh "do" and she had this wonderous contraption on her bonce.
It was so pretty with whirly, sparkly bits. Much better than a hat.
When I enquired as to what it was he told me it was a "fascinator".
I have wanted one ever since. Well, I suppose I have wanted one and an excuse to wear one ever since.
At long last this could be my chance.
Now I have to find out where I can get one.
I feel some searching on the "interwebs" coming on.
Maybe ebay too.

I really fancy a fascinator.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Winkling on....

The winkle mystery didn't really deepen.
It seems there are still winkles to be found, if you know where to look.
I am reliably informed that Romford Market has them and that various seaside resorts still have them.
Does anyone still eat them then?
My friend, Gary, has found them on sale for $13 for 11ounces. That is in shell.
By the time you've winkled the little buggers out you would have about a tablespoon full.
I knew someone would try to make them up-market.

Donna and Glenn surprised me by remembering granddad eating winkles on a Sunday.
In fact, Donna reminded me that as a toddler she would eat them too.
Glenn didn't. He does remember granddad's winkle sandwich though.

Another friend told me his wife remembers her dad eating them. She used to take the little discs, that I called hats, and stick them to her face as beauty spots.
Oh...I wish I had thought of that.

Dave Barry quote :

Summer holiday season is almost here, and if you have kids, you know what that means!
It's time to put them up for adoption.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Whatever happened to winkles?

I was lying in bed this morning, thinking it was time I wasn't lying in bed when another thought struck me.
Two lots of thinking.......coo ......and so early.
Well, the one that struck me was :
Whatever happened to winkles?

When I was a kid growing up in London, my dad would have half a pint of winkles with bread and butter for his tea most Sundays.
There was a "winkle man" who came around the streets.

I used to watch my dad eat the winkles. It fascinated me. He had a needle that he used to remove the little cover they had. I used to call them their "hats".
Then he would twiddle or "winkle" them out.
Sometimes he would put them on his bread and butter and make a sandwich.
He used to try to get me to taste one but they looked disgusting, like little curly grey slugs.
So, I wouldn't.
Now and again one of the shells would contain a little hermit crab instead of a winkle. I liked to see those.

I never hear of winkles now. Do they still eat them over there in Blighty?
You see prawns, cockles, whelks, mussels...........but I can't remember the last time I saw a winkle (oooooh matron !!!!).
The above photo was on Wikipedia. I have to admit I faltered when it came to doing a search for "pictures of winkles". I chickened out.
I have been caught like that before when I googled something in all innocence (honest guv) and got way more than I bargained for.

I am wondering if they just went out of fashion. If that is the case then you can be assured that some day soon they will suddenly become a "gourmet" food item and restaurants will charge a fortune for them.

I think I shall ask about winkles on Facebook. Maybe someone there will have an answer to this mystery.

I still don't know why I suddenly thought about winkles though.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Weekend....busy, busy....

Saturday Philip was up and out early to help his mate move.
We both thought it was going to be a day-long event but he was home by lunchtime.
They had already been moving boxes of stuff for the past week and it was just the furniture etc that was left.
Having 6 blokes doing the move also helped.
In the evening I cooked a slab of salmon he had caught on Thursday.
I did it in wine and pesto with herbs and it was delish.
With it we had pasta with shrimp and garlic bread. The salmon really was lovely and I am so glad I didn't have to clean the thing.

Sunday it was off to Chocolate Fest.
They do a lot of festering here in Wisconsin.
They do a lot of frying too.
I took this picture just to show how ridiculous it has become. Deep fried pickles indeed.
There was also one that did deep fried oreo biscuits......how yukky is that?

Anyway, it was a very hot day. Probably not the best weather for Chocolate Fest but it was a lot of fun.
We picked Gary up and dragged him along too.

There was a fabulous band playing in one of the beer tents. Wisconsin does a lot of beer drinking too.
It is funny how you can go to something like this and then see a really good band.
They were called Road Rage and I shall be looking out for them again.
The lemonade I am drinking in the picture is made fresh with real lemons when you order it.
It is very delish.
Unfortunately we did miss Cactus Charlie - World Famous Rope Spinner and I did lose the camera case but apart from that it was a fab day.

This is a picture of the climbing rose on the front of our house.
When we first moved here it was rubbish.
A very sad and sorry looking rose. I didn't help by pruning it back in the Autumn for two years.
It was so pants I was ready to dig it out but looked online first.
Hah........you are not supposed to prune them at all.
So, the year before last I didn't. It grew a bit better.
Again last year....I left it alone. It now looks like a different rose. It is full of buds and flowers.
I am so chuffed. It looks so pretty against the white of the house.
I have another one that I think may be a climber that I have been hacking at every year. I won't this time and see if I can do the same again.

So, Monday was a gardening day.
We bought one more holly tree so that meant we had two hollies and a blue spruce to plant.
We wanted prickly stuff to keep the kids off that side of the front garden. Mean eh.
The blue spruce is soooooooo prickly we called it Bitey.

We had brekkie out first then got the last holly and some more mulch etc.
After mowing the lawn Philip dug out the holes and I planted the trees/bushes.
It wasn't easy as my back/hip/leg is playing up.
I do get sciatica now and again but this seems to be hopping between the hip and the back.
Philip's back & neck are playing him up too so we make a right pair trying to garden.
It all got done and if I do say so myself it looks lovely.
I will take some pix and put them on Facebook. I have more of Chocolate Fest I need to put on there too.