Saturday, December 31, 2011


Christmas morning.
Above is a picture of our pressies.
These were the pressies we bought each other.
We are both Christmas nuts and just love the whole thing.
These gifts are not all expensive items. We love unwrapping stuff so we buy each other a couple of good pressies and the rest are lovely, but relatively inexpensive.
We opened these in the morning.
Gary came over and we had dinner about 4pm.
After dinner it is stocking time.
We buy each other lots of little, fun pressies for our stockings.
I always do Gary a stocking too. This year I think I wrapped 28 gifts for his stocking.
It is a lot of fun and is only once a year.

This year my main pressie from Philip was a laptop.
I was thrilled.
I really didn't think I would get one as they are quite expensive. It means I don't always have to sit in the basement if I want to bugger about on Facebook.
I can now sit and watch telly and browse the 'interwebs' at the same time.
How tra la posh is that? I have been a bit envious of people who can just flip open the laptop and see what is going on in the world.
I use Donna's when I am staying with her and it is brill.

Every year I like to get Philip something to totally surprise him.
This year I got him an electric guitar, amplifier and a 'guitar playing for dummies' book.
I knew he had always wished he had learned to play a guitar so it was just right.
He seemed suitably impressed.
As I said, the rest of the gifts were not so grand, but lots of fun to open.

Gary stayed until about 1am. So he must have had a good time. Philip used a vacation day so that he could have Boxing Day off. We didn't do much except eat....:)

Then reality set back in with a bill for about $185 from Philip's doctor.
It was for an x ray he had when his chest was bad a few weeks ago.
At our doctor's office they have a clinic downstairs for blood tests, x rays etc.
So, if anything is needed he will just send you downstairs.......boom...done.
Philip phoned to find out why, when he pays $300 a month insurance, was he being charged AGAIN.
They told him that he hadn't met his $500 deductible.
He has paid in the region of thousands in doctors/hospital/ambulance bills this year due to his kidney stones and chest problems.
How could they say he hadn't the $500 you have to pay before they will pay out anything.
He was told that none of the money he had been billed for came off the $500 so he would have to pay the bill.
They couldn't properly explain this but just expect you to put up with it. He did tell them that it was daylight robbery the way they interpret everything to favour them while we had to pay.
It makes me afraid to get my hand seen to.
It makes me afraid of being poorly.
You can't really change your insurance provider either because the next one wouldn't cover any existing conditions. So, if you have an ongoing health problem you wouldn't be covered for that at all. Imagine the cost.
People lose their houses over health costs. It is bloody ridiculous.

If there is one thing I miss about England, it is the health care system.
At least in the UK you can choose to take private health care if you wish and if you do they don't still expect you to pay.

People who know me will be aware that I don't do New Year.
New Years frighten me as you never know what they hold.
So, I will wish you this..........I hope your new year brings whatever you want it to.
Good health to you all.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Idiot.

Off we went to :- visit this year's Christmas display at the bank and then on to Christmas Carol at the theatre.
The display, as always, was brilliant.
It changes every year and it has become one of our traditions to visit it on our way to the theatre.

We had put our glad rags on for the occasion and I thought I looked passable.
We both scrubbed up quite well, as they say, but unfortunately I didn't realise that I still had my idiot magnet in my coat pocket.
We arrived at the theatre, found our seats and settled down.
We didn't know that we would have Cousin Eddy's (from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation) little known, imbecilic, moronic brother, sitting behind us.
Two lumbering oafs, brothers apparently, accompanied by a tiny elderly lady (who turned out to be their mother....saints preserve us) arrived loudly.
The loudest had all the personality traits attributed to the badly stereotyped American often portrayed in old movies.
He was loud and obnoxious. Please believe me....Americans are not generally like this. We have always found them to be kind and polite....mostly.
This did not bode well.
After complaining, loudly, to "Ma" about how bad the seats were and that he had better seats before when he had seen various bands, it became apparent that poor little, aged "Ma" had bought the tickets.
The lights dimmed and the show started. He quietened down a bit and the first half passed uneventfully.
Then it was the intermission.
He really let fly then.
"Why were they talking in English with English accents?".....he couldn't understand them.
If ever there was an English movie on at home he would turn it off because he couldn't understand them. Why couldn't they speak in American accents? "
He thought it was crap and wouldn't have come if he had known they would be speaking in English accents.
"If it got any worse, he might leave and go to the bar up the street where they could meet him when it was over." Oh we wished.

All this time poor little "Ma" was saying pathetically that she could understand it and she had been to see this play 4 or 5 times and always loved it.
He meanwhile, totally oblivious to how ignorant and boorish he was, banged on about how much the tickets were. "Ma" had obviously bought them as a Christmas treat for her two sons.
I felt so sorry for her.
"Well, I think it sucks", he wailed, " I can't understand the stupid English accents."

By now I had had enough. Those that know me know that I have a long rope but will reach the end of it eventually.
I turned round and said to him in my best English accent "Would you like me to translate it for you?"
His face was a picture.
You have to understand that there are virtually no British or English living in Milwaukee. We know a couple ....that is all.
So, when we are out people are always amazed when we speak.....coo....we have accents.
I could see he didn't know whether I was putting an accent on at first.
He spluttered and blustered a bit, obviously even a lout such as he could be embarrassed.
"I really don't mind", I continued, " There are two of us here who could translate for you if you are having that much of a problem."
For a while he was struck dumb. It didn't last long though.
The rest of the intermission was taken up with him bemoaning the fact that his implanted teeth were playing him up.
Apparently, they were fine for the first two months but now they were giving him jip.
I wanted to suggest keeping his mouth shut more might do the trick but decided against it.
He went on...and on.....the teeth had cost him sixteen thousand dollars and he thought that he was allergic to them.

The second half started. He quietened down a bit after a few shs's.
Towards the end it was very quiet, maybe he went to sleep.
When it was over I turned around as I was getting my coat on just in time to see the back of him making a very hasty exit. He was like a rat up a drain pipe.
His family were still getting their coats etc.
It made me chuckle all the way home to think that little me had almost scared the pants off a large, backward, inconsiderate yob.
An English accent will do that over here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Almost here......

I have been busy.
The little cakes are all marzipanned, iced and given out.
I have now finished our Christmas cake (the one above) and it doesn't look too bad.
Donna sent me some marzipan and I made good use of it.
This cake has about a pound of the stuff on it. We both like marzi.
I cannot get the 'easy roll out' regal ice over here so I made Royal Icing.
Personally, I think this tastes way better and I should know as I ate enough of it while I was icing the cake.
I have also made the mince pies. We ate a few yesterday but I have put some more in the fridge and some in the freezer..........good job we have a fridge/freezer again.
I usually make some Christmas pudding ice cream (which is delish) but a friend of mine in England said she bought some mince pie ice cream and that it was wonderful.
So, I think I will make some.
I will probably wait until Alanmas to make that so that he can try it too.
Alanmas is less than two weeks away.

Last night we delivered the gifts to the kids up the road (Lauren's mates) and to my friend June.
Those kids are getting so excited. I love to see it.
The parcel I sent to Donna, Lauren and Glenn has arrived at last. That took more than 3 weeks to get there. I really don't understand it as I sent 3 other parcels at the same time, all to Kent, and they arrived after about 10 days. I was beginning to think Donna's one had got lost.

Tonight we are off on our annual pilgrimage to the theatre to see "Christmas Carol".
We shall also stop by M&I Bank as every year they have an amazing display of animated bears.
The scenes are different each year and they are beautifully done.

After the theatre I will be a little bit sad. I always am as it means that Christmas will soon be over. It does seem to have arrived rather quickly this year.
I bet Alan doesn't think so though.

I am looking forward to seeing the old bugger .........but don't tell him. :)

Finally, a very Happy Christmas to all my mates, old and new.
I hope the New Year is everything you wish it to be.
Health and happiness to you all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


These pictures show just some of the stuff I had to cook for Arnie, our visiting possum, yesterday.
I had found a puddle at the bottom of the fridge/freezer in the basement.
My worst fears were confirmed when I opened the freezer part to find the contents warm, soggy and anything but frozen.
I could have cried....and almost did.
We had bought our Christmas food last weekend.......turkey etc and it was all ruined.
I had no idea how long it had been defrosted which meant cooking it for ourselves was totally out of the question.
I remember when we had power cuts in the UK we were told that frozen food would stay frozen in the freezer for 48 hours (I think) as long as you didn't open the door.
Well, this stuff must have been defrosted for some time.
The fridge light still came on and at first I thought that was still working. A thermometer which read 60F soon convinced me that that had broken too.
I spent most of the morning lugging black bags of heavy food upstairs and then dragging them out to the rubbish bin.
I then decided to cook some stuff for Arnie, the possum.

It just seemed too wicked to throw everything out.
So, I fired up the oven and began cooking it all.
Coo, the house smelled amazing.
I also had 7 Christmas cakes to ice for Philip's chums at work and a couple of my mates too.
I also had 2 loads of laundry on the go.
Oh, I did have fun.
What with my dodgy hand and was pants.

I finished up doing my back in totally.
Last night I could barely move so I spent the evening stretched out on the sofa.
I did manage to drink 3 brandies though.
Every cloud has a silver lining.

Yesterday afternoon Philip found a comparable fridge/freezer online at Sears.
This morning at around 10am they delivered it.
The delivery and installation was free - plus they even took the old one away.
They had to take the back door and screen door off to bring it in and they put them back on again.
The service over here is amazing. The guys told me that we should soon be getting a phone call from the company to ask what we thought of their work.
He said they will ask what number on a scale of 1 - 5. I assured him they would get a 5.

We were going to go shopping this evening to refill the freezer but apparently it takes 24 hours to get cold enough. We will go tomorrow.
A friend mentioned insurance........ha ha ha.
Insurance here is pants.
We can't claim on the insurance because our deductible (the amount we have to pay out before they will pay out) is greater than the amount we lost.

I am just happy to have a fridge/freezer for Christmas .
What would we have done with all the leftovers!!!

Arnie had two packets of shrimp and a veggie bake last night.
He must think it is Christmas already.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


When I opened my eyes this morning I knew the light was different.
It was a cleaner, brighter light.
I opened the curtains to reveal that our world had turned white overnight.
At last the snow had arrived.
Not a huge amount (especially by our standards) but enough to cover the ground and roads.
It made everything look Christmassy.
This is really late for us to start with the whole snow thing.
There have been complaints to Fox6 News.........I wonder what difference that made.
Oh, maybe it did make a difference. Maybe Fox6 is responsible for this snow fall.
Of course, this is just the start for us.
I made a point of saying cheerio to the grass and said I hoped to see it again in April.
We set off to the mall.
A more distant one than I visit on my bus adventures.
The above picture is of a mature Barber Shop Quartet who were doing a wonderful job entertaining the millions of shoppers scrurrying through the mall.
They were really, really good.
They proved it when people were actually pausing in their quests for last minute Christmas gifts. People actually stopped and smiled.
I love it when things like this happen. It makes the world a much happier place.

Father Christmas was there.
I don't know how he finds the time to do this when he has toys to make, lists to check (twice), reindeer to feed, a sleigh to oil.......maybe he gets the elves to do some of it.
I think he is wonderful.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gary's Bauble

In case anyone ever gives you something like this...........throw it away.
Or, give it to someone else.
This is the evil Christmas Tree decoration that Gary gave us.
If you don't know what I am talking about, then take a look back at my blog entries.

Just found this quote from Dave Barry on my calendar and thought I would share.

The Christmas season can be a difficult and stressful time for a certain group - a group whose needs, all too often, are overlooked in our society. That group is : men.
Why is it so hard on men?
There are many complex reasons, by which I mean: women.
This problem dates back to the very first Christmas. We know from the Bible that the Wise Men showed up in Bethlehem and gave the baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Now, gold is always a nice gift, but frankincense and myrrh - at least according to my dictionary - are gum resins.
Who gives gum resins to a baby?
The answer is : Men.
The Wise Men, being men, didn't even START shopping for gifts until the last minute, when most of the stores in the greater Bethlehem area were closed for Christmas Eve.
The only place still open was Big Stu's House of Myrrh.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Easy money

Wanna make a fortune?
It's easy.
Become a vet. It isn't hard to do, just buy a book......ermmm...."Vetting For Dummies" or something.
Then rent a couple of rooms and put up a sign.
"GUILT TRIPS R US" would be a good one.
Then just wait.
Very soon along will come Mr & Mrs Gullible Suckers accompanied by their precious kitty, Sir Squitsalot.
Put your concerned face on and listen to his symptoms.
What next? Should you....
a, Suggest X Rays (very expensive)
b, Suggest blood tests (very expensive)
c, Suggest an ultra sound procedure (super expensive)
d, Prescribe medicine (make sure it is expensive stuff)
e, Sell them special anti allergy food (bloody expensive - $50 for a bag of dry food)
f, Prescribe more medicines (more expensive than the last lot)
g, Try to convince them that the only things to do now are even more expensive procedures.

Answer :-
All of the above.
At this point you should lean heavily on the guilt trip side of things.
Mr & Mrs Gullible Suckers are guilted into doing whatever you say. Good so far eh?

Mr & Mrs Gullible Suckers bring in another of their kitties , Miss Tub-o-lard, for vaccinations and a check up.
You look inside Miss Tub-o-lard's mouth.......suck some air in through your teeth and shake your head sadly.
You announce that she has a bad tooth, possibly two. She must have a hard time eating, you sympathise.
Miss Tub-o-lard meanwhile, looking plump and smug, has settled down and her bulk has spread out sufficiently to cover most of the examination table.
A couple of days later Mr Gullible Sucker drops Miss Tub-o-lard off for her dental appointment.
Explain simply that each tooth extracted will cost from $20 - $95 depending on the difficulty of the extraction.
Later that day when Mrs Gullible Sucker phones to enquire into the well being of Miss Tub-o-lard, you should be bright and breezy and announce that the patient is recovering well. You then slip in quickly "we took 4 teeth out".
Mrs Gullible Sucker will then say something like "Oh poor thing. How much will this cost?"
Now you must use the guilt trip thing again.
"Only $550".
Do not be surprised if Mrs Gullible Sucker then explodes with, " What ??? For four kitty teeth !!! Were they the size of elephant molars with roots like a mangrove swamp??"
You may find that she then goes on to remind you that since April they have already spent 3 million dollars at your clinic on Sir Squitsalot on useless procedures & tests prescribed by you, only to find out a couple of weeks ago that all he needed was a $20 dose of jollop.
She might even suggest that after coming to your clinic for the last 13 years she might decide to take their menagerie somewhere else to waste money on them.
This is where you must show empathy. Show you understand. Simper a bit.
Then say " Maybe we could knock it down to $460. As a gesture of goodwill you understand."
She will probably be thinking, gesture of goodwill my arse, but what can she do?
You, meanwhile have raked in another $460.......that is over a hundred dollars per little kitty toof.
So, to any of my chums who would like to make a mint of money, if you have any sort of scientific background or if you have an old white coat in the back of the closet.
Become a vet.
This time next year you'll be a millionaire.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Giants and hermaphrodites

This morning I once again took my life in my hands and ventured out to the mall.
As I approached the bus shelter I could see there was someone already waiting for the bus.
As I drew closer I found I could not distinguish whether this person was male or female.
Well, I know it is Wisconsin and we all 'bundle up' this time of year but even so it is usually pretty apparent what gender someone is.
Nope, couldn't tell. No particular shape and the face could have swung it either way (poor thing).
It also looked like it had come from the "shallow end" of the gene pool and worthy of some compassion.
I was just beginning to think, rather complacently, that if this was the strength of my "idiot of the day " encounter.......then.....poo....I can handle this.
Poo indeed.
From nowhere, it seemed, there appeared a huge neanderthal man. He was at least 9 feet 10 ins tall and big.
In a deep, guttural voice he yelled,


It was rather obvious that he had fallen out of the Ugly Tree and hit every branch on the way down before landing in the Ugly Bush.

My small voice quavered as I meekly replied, "ermmm....anytime now I think".
He then flapped his coat at me as he bellowed,


What....was he thinking I would crawl in there and give him a hug to keep him warm?

Once more I found myself praying for the bus.
It seems I spend most of my time praying for buses.
I am beginning to believe that if the Lord decides to call me, then there will be no stairway to Heaven for me.
No ferry across the River Styx........ no chariot of fire.
When my ticket gets punched (so to speak ) I am sure it will be a Celestial Number 64 Bus that arrives to transport me to that great bus depot in the sky.
I digress.

Back to the bus shelter.
During this flapping display, our little hermaprodite friend showed that he/she had more common sense than x or y chromosomes, by making a hasty exit and standing just outside the shelter.
After about 5 years the bus appeared on the horizon like a knight in shining armour.
We all came out of the last so I could keep an eye on Hagar The Horrible.
The bus arrived and then a strange thing happened.
Strange things often happen around me, but I guess you have noticed that.
Herman or Hermione the hermaphrodite, instead of getting on the bus, suddenly walked the other way and crossed the road.
What was that about?
Did the confines of a 56 seater present too small a personal space in which to avoid Ugg?
I shall never know.
I let the troll get on first and paused long enough for him to occupy his seat of choice before making my way to the back of the bus where I could continue to watch what he was doing.
He flapped at a lady sitting opposite and roared,


She, for some inexplicable reason, suddenly found something rivetting that caused her to stare fixedly out of the window.

You would think this latest adventure was over now but there is a twist in this tale.
I bet you think I make this stuff up. Well, I have to tell you that my imagination would never stretch this is all true.
Thankfully, he got off before me having flapped a few final flaps before leaving.
I watched him walk up the street.
Fascinated, I watched him go into a shop.
Not just any shop.
He went into, probably the poshest, most select, superior, made to measure tailor's shop in Milwaukee.
It is likely one of a few left.
I do not know of another "bespoke tailor" in the area.
This was not the ending I was expecting.
This would have been the last place I would have expected to see him enter.
I hope they make him something


Monday, December 5, 2011

Bug or Rodent ?

Ok so I have been decorating the Christmas Tree since Friday and finally got it finished late yesterday.
The picture is when I was almost finished. I hadn't cleared up the floor or anything yet.

This morning whilst tidying up, hoovering etc.........I heard a noise. A strange noise I didn't recognise.
Two of the cats were sitting under the tree staring intently upwards.
After a while I heard the noise again.
It sounded sort of rustly and squeaky.
The cats were fascinated.
Oh no.........was there something living in the tree?
When we bought it on Thursday it was really tightly compact. The branches took a couple of days to relax and open up a bit.
Was something in there and we didn't know?
I listened...........there......heard it again!!!!
This time it sounded like a chirrup, sort of like a cricket. Oh ...maybe it was some sort of big bug.
Oh no.
I got on the internet.
Yes, there are pests that you can bring into your home via a Christmas tree.
They listed, mice, bats (oh no not a bat) and various insects, the most common of which were praying mantis.
Oh yuk.
Apparently they lay eggs in sacs in the tree but the warmth of a home can make them hatch.
Your house is then invaded by praying mantises. You can't spray the tree as the sprays are flammable so you have to wait for them to die and then hoover them up.
By now I had decided that this would be the very last real tree ever to set trunk in our house.
Back to the tree.
I heard it again.....this time the rustle and squeak. It must be a mouse, chipmunk or bat.
To test my theory I got a muffin.......yes a lovely banana nut muffin........ and tucked it way inside the tree.
I would look later to see if there were any nibbles out of it. If there were....then it was a rodent of some description.
I then went out with my friend June and grossed her out with the tale of the intruder who had hitched a ride on our tree.
She said I had to phone her when we got back to let her know the 'nibbles' situation.
There were no nibbles but I could still hear the noises.
I decided that when Philip got home we would set up the humane trap in an effort to evict the beast.
I had written my dilemma on my status on Facebook but hadn't had the chance to check it any more.
I had a think.
This morning I had found a special, boxed ornament that our friend Gary had given us when he came to Thanksgiving dinner.
It wasn't very glamorous. No sparkles. Just a ball with a picture of zombies (very festive) and a ribbon. I remembered that as I put it on the tree I was surprised when it rattled. I even tried to see if it opened. It did not. Why would it rattle?
I hadn't heard the noises before I put the ornament on the tree.
I went and got it. I then noticed that the string that holds it retracted into the ball when it wasn't hanging.
Miss Marple hat was well and truly plopped on my head now.
Hmmm.........I hung it next to me on one of my reindeer.
After some chirruped.
That bugger was a trick ornament.
I flew downstairs and went onto Facebook where my status had produced quite a few comments from friends.
One of which was Gary who said......."you might want to check the ornament I gave you".
I hadn't been on there and hadn't answered. After several other comments there was another from him......"seriously, you might want to check the ornament I gave you."
It was very well done. The noises are really spaced quite far apart.....maybe 5 or 10 minutes so you are not able to track them down.

This will explain it all.

Tannenbomb Prank Ornament from ThinkGeek
I will probably murder him.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lights R Us

This was last year's outside lights.
We have put even more up this year but I haven't taken a picture yet.

I have been working on the inside ornaments/decorations for over a week now.......and I am still not done.
Philip had Thursday and Friday off so we bought the tree and have installed it indoors.
I have been working on that too and so far we have the lights on it and most of the ornaments.
I have still to put the beads, crackers and 'poke it in things'. I don't know the official name for these items but they are glittery sort of branches you poke into the tree.
They had to the festivities.
I really wonder why we go to all this bother when there is only going to be the two of us this year.
But, even though it wears me out, we enjoy it.
We enjoy it more when it is done but we enjoy it.

It have been a little tougher for me this year as I am having problems with my hand.
It seems I have probably got carpal tunnel with a little bit of tendonitis thrown in ...just to make it more interesting.
I saw the quack yesterday and she wants me to see the 'hand doctor'.
Of course over here this means actually finding out if the 'hand doctor' is on our list of doctors that our insurance will allow us to see.
The insurance never covers everything, you always get bills, but if the doctors are not on 'your list' then they won't cover any of it. In which case I won't be seeing the hand doctor.
Now I have to bugger about finding out and then bugger about a bit more to find out if whatever is recommended is covered at all by the insurance.
So much simpler on the NHS.

Bubba (our big old boy cat) has been having problems with the 'squits' since April. He has had various medications, blood tests, x rays and ultra sound which has cost us a small fortune.
The vet was trying to get us to send him for an endoscopy which would have cost us around $1500. We couldn't do it.
So they were going to do more blood tests but as a precaution gave him some more meds that were to check he didn't have a parasite.
He had to have this stuff every day for 5 days. It cost just $20.
It worked.
We couldn't believe it. Normal poops......the first in 8 months.
We are of course thrilled that he is better (they were starting to suggest he may have cancer) but actually rather miffed too.
Why didn't they give him this stuff back in April?
It would have been $20 instead of about $500.
What if we had agreed to the endoscopy?
Apparently this parasite is a single celled organism. It would not have shown up on an another $1500 up the to speak.
Today Bubba and Lollipop went for their vaccinations.
All ok except that Lollipop has a couple of bad teeth that she has to have out.
She is going in on Wednesday for the day.
This won't be cheap either.

Tootsie has discovered there are things dangling on the tree just asking to be bopped.
So she is bopping them.
Willy nilly.
Well, you would wouldn't you?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Difficult time.

December 1st.

This time of year is tough for me.
Suffice to say.
Happy Birthday to my two precious little guys who couldn't stay long with me.
I think of you every day.