Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Curtains for Eurovision.


Saturday was the Eurovision Song Contest.
My American chums won't know much about this but it is something of dinosaur.
I don't remember a time when then wasn't a Eurovision Song Contest but it used to be something a bit more real.
European nations each select and then enter a song every year.
The winner hosts the contest the next year.
It used to be rather genuine, with each country voting for their favourite song, but over the years it has become more and more political with countries voting for those other countries that they are currently on friendly terms with.
The songs are generally dreadful and forgotten 2 minutes after hearing them.
The singers are worse.
We have a show which probably costs a fortune to put on, showcasing awful songs sung by amazingly awful singers who's outcome is governed by who is still talking to whom in Europe.
So, why do I love it so?
Why do we Brits have Eurovision Parties?
Why every year am I devastated to have missed it because I am over here?
Because it is BRILL.
I think you have to be a certain sort of Brit, with a certain sort of sense of humour to really appreciate it.
Old miseries tend to state the obvious -  that it is crap.  Yes, it is crappity crap crap but that is the joy of it and that is the joy of wry British humour.
We know it is complete rubbish but the other European countries seem to take it seriously.  This makes it delish because we can take the mick out of the whole thing, especially them.
I watched a lot of the entries on Youtube and they were just wonderfully bad. 
Mostly they have scantily clad ladies, and very often men bouncing around singing their drivel, but this year Russia gave us a group of grannies in traditional costume singing something about a party and getting a tray of buns out of a pretend oven.
What was that about?  
I am beginning to think that no one wants to win it anymore as it costs so much to stage.  This should make for some excellent performances in the future.
My goal is always for Britain to come last.  This year we came second to last which was almost as good. 
There is nothing else like the Eurovision Song Contest on telly and, whilst a few might think this is a good thing, I personally hope that the Brits never lose their "different" sense of humour and that  it never ends. 

Sunday we put up the new curtains.
That is so easy to say.
Firstly, the old blinds had to be removed.   This was accomplished with a minimum of swearing (not me I hasten to add).
I then had to carefully iron 9 delicate, long, sheer curtains and a sheer window scarf.
This took bloody hours and my arm hurt big time.
Then the new curtain poles had to be put up.  This started well when Philip discovered he could use the holes where the previous blinds had been attached to the wall.
Eventually all the poles were up (  Oi missus!!) and the curtains ironed.
I needed a break so we popped out for ice cream.  As I was going out the door I had a worrying thought.  What if the curtains were longer than the height of the previous holes in the walls that Philip had so joyously re-used?
We really should have measured first.
I mentioned this over a peanut butter cup blizzard ice cream and it was decided that we would find out on our return.  Which we did.
The curtains poles had to be moved up by at least 4 inches.   So, now all the dowels etc had to be taken out of the wall, new holes drilled and each poxy pole moved 4 inches higher.
Oh this did make him laugh.   
Eventually, it was all done - again - and we hung the new curtains, which I think, look rather posh.
They were a bargain in a sale a few weeks ago and cost a fraction of the price we thought we would have to pay to replace the blinds.
At last.  Job done.  Next time we will measure first.  So at least we learned something.

Wednesday - today, I feel a bit pants.
I have a dodgy ear and my face hurts so it is probably a sinus thing again.   Oh well, never mind.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Idiot Magnet Overload

Well we left The Wigwam resort in Phoenix Arizona after telling them we would never, ever be coming back.
We were absolutely exhausted when we got to the airport.
Philip had decided he wanted to upgrade the seats again as he really wanted to try to get some sleep on the way home.
His disappointment was tangible as we were told at check in that there were no upgrade seats available.
Oh well, never mind.
But, there was another problem.  They couldn't seem to locate the original seats we had booked.
A supervisor was called.
Glory be, the answer was that we had already been upgraded at no cost.
Now he was smiling.
The only fly in this pot of ointment was the fact that these new, tra la posh, upgraded seats were not together.  They were one behind the other.  Pants, but still better than the pokey little seats at the back.
I said nothing but when we were the first to board the plane and I had a word with the steward who unceremoniously moved us to two seats together and more or less said whoever's seat he had given me would have to lump it.
Oh and he did lump it too.   Lumped it all the way to Milwaukee.
The steward wasn't interested in his moaning.  He just told him that in business class it really didn't make any difference and that we were not going to be separated.
YAY !!

We got home OK, the kitties were ecstatic to see us (not) and all was fine.
The weather here is warm and sunny (not burning hot) and it is always nice to be home.

I have discovered I didn't leave my idiot magnet back in Arizona.
I had a little outing to the Half Price of my favourite places.
A man approached me as I was browsing.
I thought he was doing a survey at first as this is what he said.

"You look like a fast reader.  How long would it take you to read a 200 page book?"
"Oh I don't know," I replied, "It would depend on what else I had got to do."
"What about Self Help books?", said he.
"What about them?", was my response.

By now my idiot radar had started to beep.
It was telling me to walk away but I was brought up to be polite so I stayed.

"Do you read self help books?", he insisted.
"Well, I suppose everyone can do with a little help sometimes.", I replied most tactfully.
"I never read fiction.  Did you read The Secret?", he asked.
"", said I.
"Did you see the movie?" he enquired.
"Ermmmm.........that would also be a no." I said, wondering if there was something major I was missing.
He looked aghast.
"Oh it is a wonderful book about...blah, blah, blahdee, blah, blah.", he enthused, and went on blahhing for what seemed like an age.
I really needed to escape.  The idiot radar was screaming at me.
"Are you British?", he changed the subject.
"Yes.", I confessed, somewhat taken aback by this change of tack.
"Oh I love your accent.  I would really like to go to England.  I would really like to have a British accent.", he continued excitedly.
"Well, maybe you will go there one day." I replied, now looking around for a means of escape. Anything would have done, a passing wagon train or maybe a sinkhole opening up just by the the checkout.
"I really want to be able to speak with a British accent.  Maybe if I had a British friend I could practice it with them."
Oh, Oh, time to go, thought I desperately.
"Well, I suggest you watch all the Harry Potter movies.  Practice with them and you will have a British accent in no time."
Then I legged it.....bloody quick.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jolly Boys Outing Day 4 Tuesday May 15th 2012

Very tired this morning.
Second night of very little sleep. 
Philip had booked a game of golf for 7am.  Of course we would all think this was totally mad but the temperatures here meant it would be impossible to play later.
It was going to be 109F today.
While he was golfing I went for a swim only to find the pool locked.  I then saw an attendant unlocking some of the gates.
I approached waiting to get in.
Oh oh....she was a 'job's worth'.
She told me the pool was dirty because the palm trees had been clipped on Sunday evening and the pool had been locked all day Monday.  Apparently I was welcome to walk to another pool.
That was rubbish.
I told her that I had watched the trees being clipped Monday morning, ( not Sunday evening) ........actually it was fascinating as the guys shimmied up the trunks and lopped the old palms off with machetes.  Then they sort of abseiled down again.
I also told her the pool had not been locked all day yesterday.
She said it had.
I told her, not only had it not been locked, but that I swam in the blooming thing along with a couple of dozen other people.
She didn't like that.
I asked her it could be that we were allowed to swim in it yesterday but not today.
She then sniffed and said she hadn't actually said I couldn't swim in it.
Well, that's alright then, I told her.  It didn't kill me yesterday so I expect I shall be ok today.
I had my swim. 
Shouldn't argue with me when I have had no sleep for two nights.

We had brekkie at a cowboy themed restaraunt.
There was sawdust on the floor but fortunately a distinct lack of spittoons.
The waitress had a gun on her hip.  A friend of mine has since said that there probably were not many complaints in that place.
Even the door handles were guns.  Loved it.

We then set off for the Challenger Space Science Centre.
I needed to go somewhere indoors as the heat made outdoor activities pretty much impossible.
It was a bit of a disappointment.  Not too much there but what was there was interesting.
This evening we returned to Bella Luna where we knew the grub was good and it was.
We got back and packed ready for the return journey.
We had to be up at 5am for a morning flight and desperately needed some sleep this night.
We hadn't heard next door or upstairs all day.
Next door were probably still too terrified to speak above a whisper and we harboured hopes that upstairs may have gone home.
We were wrong.
They kicked off around midnight again.
2.30am we called security and it eventually quietened down about 3.30am.
Great..........we have to be up in an hour and a half.
No sleep at all for me this night.
This relaxing vacation had turned us into two sleep deprived zombies.

Jolly Boys Outing Day 3 Monday May 14th 2012

Tired this morning after last night's shennanigens.
Just a bagel brekkie and then off on a two and a half hour trip to Sedona National Park..
This would be our first visit to a national park.
It was Philip's idea to go and he seemed to enjoy the drive.  There isn't much on the road as you can see. I was fascinated by some of the road and place names.

Happy Valley.
Carefree Highway.
Daisy Mountain.
Horsethief Basin.
Bloody Basin.

There were also various Mesas.
Philip's boss had recommended  a restaurant for lunch that he said had a fabulous view.
We found it (isn't gps wonderful) but to be honest there had been better views on the drive up.
We won't tell him that though.
Sedona is north of Phoenix and the temperature here was around 88F with a light breeze.
After yesterday it felt wonderful.  I think this was a very good idea of Philip's even though I wasn't keen on the long drive initially.
We found our first gift shop !!   I had been surprised at the number of gift shops (none) since we arrived.   I managed to find a couple of Christmas ornaments to take back. 
We have a bit of a tradition to buy a Christmas ornament whenever we travel.
At Christmas it is lovely to remember each trip with every ornament I unwrap.
We then drove back and guess what ???    We saw tumbleweed !!
It is one of those things you see in cartoons and movies but I had never seen the real stuff before.
We both marvelled at it as it blew across the road.
Amazing what daft things catch your attention.

When we got back I had another swim and then we went out to dinner.  Oooh Mimi's looked good.
All we should have done was look.   It was pants.
Big, smelly pants. 
Back to the room, upstairs had been quiet all day.  Hopefully they were still recovering from the previous night (we were) and we would get a decent night's sleep.
Not a chance.
This time it was the people next door.   There was an adjoining door between our room and theirs.  It was locked but I assume if you were in a big group that it would be open.
It also had no soundproofing at all.    The bunch of yacking girls in there had loud, piercing voices that came right through.
It all kicked off around midnight and Philip was getting annoyed.  I did say that we couldn't really complain about people talking in their own room, got louder and louder until they were shrieking and squealing at each other.
About 2.30am I had had enough and banged so hard on the adjoining door I thought I would go through. Philip yelled at them to be quiet too.
Absolute silence.  I think we frightened the bejeebas out of them.  Of course now I am so mad and fully awake  that I couldn't sleep.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jolly Boys Outing Day 2 Sunday May 13th 2012

Sunday - American Mother's Day.
A wonderful night's sleep.  Awake and refreshed.
I had a lovely early morning swim and then we set off in search of brekkie.
We went to one of the restaurants in the resort and found that people had all made reservations.
The guy at the desk said he would check to see if they had any space available.  He came back and told us we were luck as there were two seats.
He told us that it was a Mother's Day Brunch and Philip started to follow him to the table.  I then asked him how much that would be.
$38 each was the reply.
We made our excuses and left.
By the time they had added all the usual bits and pieces on to the bill that would have been about $100 just for breakfast.
It took a while, as everywhere was crowded but we did find somewhere else.

Then off to the Desert Botanical Gardens.
This turned out to be a bit of an adventure. 
It was quite amazing to see how different the landscape is out there.
It was also very hot.    It was around 106F (43C) I think but it is deceiving because it is so dry.
After we had been wandering around a bit, saw a couple of lizards,  a hummingbird and lots of cacti, I started to feel a little odd.
I had been drinking water all the way round.  We had started off with a cold drink and we kept the cups which we replenished from water fountains dotted along the way.
I then began to feel very odd.  I needed to get into an air conditioned building.
There was one at the beginning of the trail so we made our way towards it.  It seemed to take forever but eventually we made our way inside.
It was the gift shop which was almost empty as it was being refurbished.
I found an empty shelf on the floor and sat down.
After a few minutes I saw the lady from behind the counter walking towards me.  "Oh bugger", I thought, "I bet she is coming to tell me off for sitting on the shelf."
She wasn't.  She was very concerned, asked if I had been drinking water and then insisted on getting me a cold,wet towel to put on my face, neck and arms.
I had a touch of heatstroke.  I suppose she has seen it many times.

She was extremely kind and very concerned.
Philip, meanwhile took photos of me.
My face, neck, arms etc were very bright red. 
He was worried about me but this was a photo opportunity he could not afford to miss.   Blog Fodder as he put it.
The nice lady told me to stay there for as long as I needed, she then showed us a shortcut back to the car so that I wouldn't be out in the sun for long.
It took hours for my colour to return to normal. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, when I felt better I had another swim to cool down.   We found something to eat in the resort bar.
We did notice that everyone seems to say "Y'all" a lot, don't hear that in Milwaukee.
Time for another lovely night's sleep - or not as it turned out.
The people upstairs (crowd of blokes) decided to party until 4am.   I called security at around 2.40am but it didn't seem to make much difference.
Sigh......there will be more to this side of the story to follow.

Jolly Boys Outing Day 1 Saturday 12th May

Wigwam Resort Phoenix Arizona   

 Up at 3am to leave for the airport.......yawn.  On checking in we were asked if we would like to upgrade to business class for $99 each.
This would also include free checked luggage (usually $20 first bag and $25 for a second).
We have never travelled posh before and Philip thought this was a bit of a steal.
You also get to feel important because you don't have to line up for security and you get to board the plane first.   Free drinks and snacks all the way.  Brill.
Large leather seats.....bliss.
The flight is over 4 hours, quite a long time to be squished into a regular seat for someone of generous proportions.
So, we went for it.  We asked if that was both ways but they it was just the flight out.  Oh well that would do.
On boarding the plane we found they had no record of us upgrading......What!!!!
We were shown to our meagre seats at the back of the plane.
Philip was not happy as the steward went to sort it out.  All ended happily when we were shown to the very front two seats (we were close enough to hand the pilot his sandwiches ....if the door had been open).
Tra la posh.
The flight was uneventful and boring......just as I like them.
We picked up the rental car, a Ford Focus, which Philip seemed happy with and drove to The Wigwam Resort.
Oh it was lovely.  We did see a major car fire on the way which wasn't lovely.

The top picture is the view from our patio.
We looked out over the pool.   The guide told us that the temperature was 100F and would be at least that throughout our stay.
The picture with me in it is not of our room.
Our room was huge, tv, computer (which we found out didn't work), huge bathroom with bath and separate shower, king size bed.......fabulous.
The pool called to me and I had a swim.  It was so good that it even tempted Philip and he came in too.  We then relaxed under the sun shades to begin our holiday.
What a great start.  I was already planning a trip here every year.
Phoenix is two hours behind us in Milwaukee so the day seemed very long.   We found an Italian restaurant for dinner and that was wonderful food too.
This must surely be heaven...............but is it?   Things can change very quickly.
More of that another day.

Look at the picture of me outside one of the villas.   Look at the buggies that all the staff whizzed around in.
Remind you of anywhere?
I was waiting for some to yell   " I AM NOT A NUMBER.  I AM A FREE MAN"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cat's Cradles.

This is a posh cat bed.
We bought this posh cat bed for our kitties as they had wrecked one of theirs.
We spent a lot of time choosing it.
The fabric had to be very soft and luxuriant.
The shape had to round so the kitties could curl up comfortably in it.
It also had to have high sides as it gives them a sense of security.
Yep, we took a long time deciding which bed to get.
Of course once we got home we couldn't wait to see the kitties tussling over who would be the first to experience the luxury of this new bed.
 We needn't have worried.
Philip also bought a new pair of shoes.
They came in a box.
We brought those home at the same time.
This is what happened.

New, posh, luxury, round, high sided, silky soft cat bed.........null points.
Hard, square, cardboard box the shoes came in .........priceless.

On an entirely different note.
We voted for the first time as American Citizens last night.
Oh it did feel strange.
After living here for almost 15 years, never being able to take part in any elections, it was rather nice to be important enough to have a say in things.
I caused some amusement at the polling station when I told them it was our first ever vote as Americans and told them they must know I am American because I do sound American now don't I?
The answer to that was - I do not.
They were all very helpful and showed us what to do.  It is a little different from the British way of voting.   They even clapped and cheered when we managed to do it properly.
AND - I got a sticker saying I had voted.   They said they expected to see us at the next local one in June.  The biggee will be the presidential election in November.
Coo....won't we be posh then.

I was surprised at the number of people ( not one ), waiting outside to do an exit poll.  Maybe that will be different for the presidential election.  I also missed the likes of The Monster Raving Looney Party, but then you can't have everything I suppose.
I wonder what my American chums would make of this.

Sounds sensible to me.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lily's Eyes

This is my latest pet portrait.  Finished at last.
Her name is Lily.
I spent a lot of time on this one as I wanted to get it 'just right'.
I haven't met the dog so I used photos to figure out the personality. 
People do seem to like this one, but I think boxers have such wonderful faces it would be hard not to.
I have just changed the mat as the first one was a light colour and I didn't think it worked so well.
This one I am happy with.
I hope the recipient is just as happy.

When I am doing any sort of portrait, one of the first things I like to get in are the eyes.
This gives it soul and once I am happy with the eyes then everything else seems to fall into place.
Lily's eyes were special.
There is a lot of depth to her eyes and just as Pete and Dud once said "They follow you around the room".
Check it out here.

Lily's eyes followed me all the time.  They seemed to watch me accusingly because I hadn't finished her portrait.
Now she is all done they don't make me feel guilty.   They just look full of charm.
This one has to go to England so I shall be packing it up well and sending it soon.
I can't frame it because I don't think sending glass through the mail is such a good idea.

I have another one I have just started on.  At least I have a sketch drawn onto the paper.
That is part of the battle won.   Looking at a blank, white expanse and knowing I have to produce a picture on it is always daunting.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Retro viewing

Philip being away this week I dug out the video tapes.
YES....VIDEO TAPES....remember those?
Fortunately we must be one of the few households to still own a device that plays them.
I am so glad.
I have complete sets of stuff on tape........The Avengers for instance.......that I would not want to start buying again.
Anyway, I have loads of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 or MSTK3 as it is also known.
I loved this show.
Every week they would take some crappy old scifi movie and comment on it all the way through.
They were very funny.
Some films were better than others

This one is one of my favourites.  A Japanese (they get a few of these) concoction called "Prince of Space".
MSTK3 did lots and lots of movies.
The following one is also hilarious.  Dreadful plot, acting, costumes, sets, continuity (one woman is killed only to reappear in the very next scene).
It is obviously not meant to be funny.  The hero (oh I am stretching things to call him that) is a very muscular meat head who comes in for much criticism.
They take great delight in coming up with other, more suitable names for him throughout the film.

You will see what I mean if you go to the following link.

So, I have spent a relaxing couple of evenings chuckling to myself at these movies.   I am so glad I kept them and the player.
I wonder how many people have kept their old video recorders?
Tracking.........remember tracking?  I had completely forgotten about that.
I wonder if the humble vcr will ever become cool?
Maybe one day they will be in demand again.
You know where to come if you want to spend mega bucks on one.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Just me and thee.........or five.

This is me most mornings......well, most of the night too x 5.
Philip is away on a course this week.
So, it is just me in that huge king size bed until Friday.   HA HA, did I say just me?
The kitties think it is great to be able to stretch out on that bed, forcing me into a small area the size of a pea, just alongside a pillow.
I have to take a cup of water up to bed now for Bubba. 
"Hey Trek mates !!!  Do you remember those mugs we bought that had wide bottoms ( steady on missus) so they wouldn't fall over?  They were Klingon and Star Fleet."
Well, it is one of those.
I take it up because the poor old bugger needs to drink several times during the night and it is too far for him to go way down in the basement every time.
I know that it is very important for boy cats to drink plenty or they can get blockages, especially if they are getting on a bit.  I think this applies to human males as well........just saying.
So, as he has to sleep with me holding his hand, it works if he has a mug of water on the bedside table.  Well, it works for him.  For me ......not so much.
Slurpy, slurpy, slurpitty, slurp, about 6 times a night can get a bit wearing.

Philip, meanwhile is having a whale of time at a hotel whilst doing this course.
It might not be a very big whale though.   He has found there are only two people taking this class and the other one is a bloke he works with.
But, I have asked him to view it as a lovely break away from work and the stress.   A mini holiday without access to computers (or he would be checking things all the time).
So, I hope he can do this and enjoy his little break.

I have almost finished the boxer dog portrait.   I rather like it.   I hope the owner of the dog does.

I am not sure what to do about the Queen's Birthday bash.
I could ask another set of people altogether but to be honest,  I have lost the enthusiasm for the blooming event now.
I shall wait a while before finally deciding.

I was reading Dave Barry and he quotes an Associated Press article re a small town wanting to ban alcohol sales as on some nights, the town's only bar has "those dreadful teriyaki songs!"