Thursday, August 29, 2013


I had to get back to work this week, now that my little chum has left.
I needed to get this one done, and it is, almost.
I have another to finish and yet another half completed.
Still, I am not complaining.
This one I have named Silent Night.   It uses a lot of techniques I haven't used before. It also has some I created myself.
I am reasonably happy with the result so far. 
I will take a break when I am in England but I already have another commission lined up for when I get back.
It is good to be busy.

It was the last night of River Rhythms yesterday.
Where did that time go?
I would say, "where did the Summer go", but it is still so blooming hot here that it hasn't gone anywhere.
I wish it would turn into Autumn bloody quick.
The band were The Toys.   I saw them some years ago and they are very good.
The line up has changed a bit and they suffered a bit from the loss of their lead singer.
It didn't stop the dancers though.

This guy was having a brilliant time.
He did seem to have a slight problem with his trousers though.
I think the 'vertical' hold had gone.

They were really limiting his choreography.
It seems it is not easy to 'trip the light fantastic' with one hand holding up your drawers.

The trousers, knowing when they were beat and after 'clinging to a daisy' for some time,  gave up all together.
Fortunately, for all concerned, and I think there were more than a few who were rather concerned, he was wearing some sort of shorts underneath.
Next time maybe he will listen to his mother and carry a safety pin with him at all times.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Homeward bound

My little (not so little actually) mate flew home on Tuesday.
She said her goodbyes to the kitties, the kids up the road and my mate June.
Everything at the airport went smoothly and I was soon back to a very quiet and empty house.
Never mind.  I will be seeing her again soon.

Wednesday was River Rhythms.
Lauren's favourite band was playing and she was upset that she wouldn't see them this year.
They are called 5 Card Studs and are a lot of fun.

Lauren asked me to get a video of the lead singer, shown here, saying "Hi Lauren" during their break.
I couldn't do that.
They are surrounded by people during their short break and I couldn't push through to ask him that.
I asked Gary to get some video of them playing and thought that would have to do.

We all bought 5 Card Studs t.shirts last year. Philip, Gary and myself were all wearing them.
During their break the singer came by us and called to us "I like your t.shirts.".
This was my moment.
It was a do it now or the time will pass and you will have lost the moment.
I asked him to do a short recording.  Gary would video it.
He was lovely.
When I explained why, he seemed genuinely sorry that Lauren had missed it and suggested I should be in the video with him.
It was magic. He even blew her a kiss.
Gary videoed it and sent it to me via facebook and I put it on her page.
She was overjoyed.
Donna couldn't believe I had got it.   I could scarcely believe it myself but to be honest, if he hadn't happened to walk past us I would never have gone up to ask him.
Some things are just meant to be.
What a nice guy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We can stay all day.

 We went to the zoo on Sunday.
This would be our last outing for this visit.
I was already missing my little mate......who is rapidly becoming my big mate.

Up fairly early.
Bubba helped Lauren eat her brekkie so we wouldn't be late.
Gary was coming round at 10.30am.
He has zoo membership which means two of us got in for nothing.
We had read that it was a special weekend.
Zoo a la Carte.
We were assured it wouldn't make any difference to us.

They also had another special exhibition.
I forget what it was called......something like "Shove your hand in the water as a stingray or shark swims past and see how many fingers you have left afterwards."
Some of the stingrays were friendly.

Others obviously had a career in films in mind.
This one definitely thought he was destined for stardom and loved coming up for a close up.
He was rather cute in a slimy, fishy sort of way.

There was model train exhibit too.

This was either a very brave or an extremely stupid turtle.
He is sitting on the back of the cayman.  I hope this didn't end in tears.

The bear had a bear sized version of a 'rubber ducky' in the pool with him.  It was a hot day.
He looked like a happy bear.

Now, back to Zoo a la Carte.
What a rip off.
Firstly, where we usually drive straight into the zoo car park, we found ourselves on the end of an enormous queue.
This made my better half very cheerful.
Once inside, we found, apart from half the population of Milwaukee, lots of stalls that were selling food from different restaurants.
All this food and drink could only be purchased with tickets, which you had to buy first at the ticket stall.
I knew it would get tricky.
The tickets were 10 for $5...or 50cents each.  You could only buy them in blocks of 10.
We were thirsty and were going to buy some lemonade.  This isn't like British lemonade but flat stuff, supposedly made of real lemons.  It isn't, it is made with a mix.
The cost per glass was 7 tickets or .....$3.50. !!!!!!
$14 for 4 glasses of lemonade.
Bugger that, thought I and made off to the zoo's cafeteria.  There were loads of families there with little kids.  There was no way they could afford to buy this stuff from the stalls for all those kids.
Surprise !!   The cafeteria was closed.  The drinks vending machines were not working also. Funny that.
I was a little cross about this.
But, it was a hot day and we needed drinks so we had to buy the poxy tickets.
The food they were selling didn't look great.  Little cardboard boxes of stuff selling for about 12 tickets and up.
We also had ice creams.  10 tickets each.
We will never go again on Zoo a la Carte weekend and I really don't understand why any else does.
Zoo a la Muggins I think.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I am looking for a Safe House

Saturday 17th August.
We headed downtown for lunch at the Safe House.
We have only ever been there once before, years ago.  It is so much fun.
It follows the 60s spy culture, movies etc.
It is quite hard to find as there is nothing to advertise it.  Just a plain door in the side of a brick wall.
We met up with Gary and made our way in.
Not into the restaurant, but into a tiny room with a reception desk.
In the evenings this is manned and you are asked for the password.  If you do not know the password then you have to pay a forfeit which is televised to those people lucky enough to be in the bar/restaurant already.
We went during the day so we found this room totally empty.
After waiting for a few minutes, with nothing happening, we started to look around.
I pulled a lever and a secret panel in the wall opened.
We were in.
Even at lunchtime, in a place this hard to find and to get into, we were told we would have about an hour's wait to be seated.
We were given a 'mission' sheet to do while we waited.
The place is very big, covers several floors but all the rooms are quite small and have different 'spy' themes.
Lauren loved it.

We went in search of the ladies.
This was on the door.
Even more surprising was what was inside.

It was Burt.
He had a red heart covering his particulars.
It was fortunate that we were not curious as we found out afterwards that should a nosey lady take a peek, alarms and lights flash in the bar and restaurant.
How embarrassing would that have been?

The food was excellent.
The best we have had in a long while. 
It made for a great day.  The "mission" was fun and took us all over the restaurant trying to find the answers to clues.
To get out we had to enter an old phone booth, lift the phone and put in 25 cents.  We were then given a code number to press.
A secret door then opened  and we found ourselves in a different street to the one where we went in.
Tomorrow - the zoo.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Up, Up and Away

My sunflowers are enormous.
They are all starting to flower now.
These are at the front of the house and I have more round the other side.
The seeds were sent to me by a friend in Michigan. 
I planted them as a memorial to another friend who passed away earlier this year.
I am so pleased with them that I think I will plant some sunflowers every year.

One of our roses, the best one actually, the one that grows right up and over the door, has been looking a bit poorly lately.
I couldn't figure out what was wrong.
I have now.
There is a wasps' nest right in the roots of it.   It goes under the ground.
I didn't know wasps built nests like that but, after looking it up on the wonderful 'interwebs' I have discovered they do, and they have.
The little buggers.
It said they can be a bit dodgy if you interfere with them.
Some people suggested various methods of getting rid of them but a couple said "call in the experts".
So, I went back to the 'interwebs' in an attempt to just get a general idea of what that would cost.
After filling in numerous questionnaires, I still hadn't got an estimate so I gave up.
Then I got a phone call thanking me for my enquiry for wasp removal.
I hadn't wanted a phone call but as I now had the bloke on the phone I thought I would ask the question.
He faffed around a bit, long enough to make it sound like they would be battling a battalion of fuzzy wuzzies - "They don't like it up 'em Capt Mainwaring!", then quoted me the price.
I thanked him and said we would let him know.
We will find something in the chemist  to squirt in the hole.  It is best done at night, so I understand, as they are sleeping.
Oh dear.....I just have a bad feeling about it all.

On another note - I have booked my flights.
That was another stressful episode.
Stoopy banks with their over the top security on their cards.
Anyway, I should arrive on Sunday Sept 29th and leave on Oct 19th.
Well, technically I leave on Oct 20th but I shall stay overnight in a hotel at the airport as it is an early start.
I am getting a bit excited now.  I do hope NO ONE is ill this time.
Lauren goes home on Tues.  Where did that month go?
I am glad I have my flights booked as I can console myself knowing it won't be long before I see them all again.
I have a feeling it will be harder than ever for me to let her go this time.
She has grown up so much and we have shared so many laughs.
Oh....dear....must stop or I shall start myself off.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jiggling about.

Not just any old cakes, but cakes made by Lauren on the theme of Green Day.
Do ask me .......I have no idea......mostly.
She made these so she could twit to whoever it is (the whole of the music world it seems) about them.
She twits a lot.
I, on the other hand, not so much.  Never actually.
It kept her busy all of Tuesday afternoon.
She iced some others, having made enough to feed Milwaukee and all of her colonies.
These we took to River Rhythms.

This week, as it is going to be Irish Fest at the weekend, we had a Scottish band called Manran.
I still fail to see why they import a Scottish band when Irish Fest is on.
Maybe they are cheaper.  Perhaps they work for a 'wee dram'.
They were pretty good.
They did insist on singing a lot of their songs in "Garlic"...not "Gaelic"....they said that was Irish.  In Jock speak it is "Garlic". 
Load of rubbish if you ask me.  I have never heard this before.

A few stars showed up.
Grizzly Adams was there.

Johnny Depp was there too.
I don't know what he is carrying.  He didn't have a dog so I doubt it was a pooper scooper.

They said we were in for a treat during the break.
Well that was a lie.
No...sorry...that is unkind.
We were treated to some Irish dancing.  Lots of kids, wearing curly wigs, bobbing up and down a bit.
I loved the little boy in the middle.  Bless him.

Lauren was miffed with me.
They asked if anyone in the audience would like to learn some Irish Dancing steps.
I kept trying to put Lauren's hand up but for some reason this irritated her.
I would have gone with her.
It looks easy enough.
Some people (see above) had a go.

This the look you get from a 14 year old, who is firmly plugged into her Ipood, when you ask her to do a bit of jiggling about.
Talking of which.
The band kept singing a lot of their songs in "Garlic" and you couldn't understand a bloody word.
I found it amusing to try to figure out what they said.
I swore there was one chorus which repeated,

"Jiggle about, me arse a'rubbing."

So, this is what I sang.
I did the actions too. 
These were antics that meant even, a 'cool 14 year old',  fell into fits of giggles.
Ah, there is hope.
I also found a couple of lines that sounded like "See you Jimmy, be happy".
She even joined in at times.

We have found out that 5 Card Studs are playing at a festival nearby tonight.
Brilliant band.  Donna and Lauren love them.
We are taking Lauren over there later.
We shall all be worn out after this visit.
Love it.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Sunday Aug 11th
Up bright and early to meet Gary at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
First stop inside......The Mud Show.
Oh it is fascinating and disgusting.
One of those things you just have to watch.  Hilarious actually.

Yep, we all enjoyed seeing them covered in mud, kissing members of the audience and eating mud.

Lots of shows going on.
Some really good acts are here every year.  Not just jugglers, or acrobats, they are really funny too and engage the audience.

And so to the Queen's Joust.
As usual we sat on the bad guys side of the arena.
It is much more fun supporting the baddies than the goodies.  These were our baddies.
As you can see, these guys have way too much fun doing this.

Lauren loved watching the jousting.
I think she is after getting a job here in the future.
I don't think it is anything to do with all the handsome young chaps but I could be wrong.

Queen Elizabeth I got miffed with our knight.

This was why.
Our bloke - the one in black of course - fell off his horse and the other bloke in the red very kindly offered to help him up.
This seemed to offend our guy.  He got up and smacked him one.
It all went pear shaped after that and turned into a punch up.
No gallantry or code of conduct.  Our guy had been insulting him earlier too. Something to do with his shirt having puffy sleeves.  On learning that he would be pitted against him, our baddie had turned to us, his loyal following, and said, "So, I am to joust The Blouse am I?".
I don't think the bloke in red liked this much.
The Queen, having become very miffed, told them to be back at 5.30pm for a "joust to the death".
Whilst this sounded very appealing, we really had to leave before then so missed it.
I hope it went well.

The highlight for me was that Philip misheard the name of our guy.
He was Sir Morrick.
Philip asked me what his name was and I told him Sir Baldrick.
We all like to take part with enthusiasm, yelling our support for our knight.
It made me giggle every time Philip yelled for "Sir Baldrick".
I did tell him afterwards.  Well you would, wouldn't you.

By the way.....the people there, who all do very good English accents,  keep yelling "Huzzah!".
I have never heard of medieval Brits saying "Huzzah."
I wonder if they did.


Saturday Aug 10th
We were going to the Safe House for lunch today but the car suddenly developed a problem with the brakes.
So, Philip had to take it in to be fixed.  I won't mention the cost because it hurts so much I would not be able to type it.
Lauren and Sally are BFFs.
Sally is always with her.  She will miss her so much when she leaves.........but I am not going to talk about that.

My first sunflower has bloomed.
I planted some seeds as a 'Memorial Garden' for a friend who died suddenly earlier this year.
She was a lovely lady with a passion for helping to rescue animals.
I have never grown sunflowers before but will certainly do so again.

Tootsie will miss Lauren too.
Ooops.....I said I wouldn't mention it. 

Sunday we are off to Bristol Renaissance Faire.
I hope we don't wear poor Lauren out too much.

Catching Up.

I am trying to catch up with this blog.
Lord knows what we did Monday and Tuesday.  I can't remember.  I have a hard enough job remembering what I had for dinner.
I know we went to the mall one day.
This was Wednesday - River Rhythms.
The band were ok, no wait, they were brilliant musicians but a little boring.
The guitarist certainly knew his stuff.
Lauren solved the 'boring' issue by listening to her 'ipood' whilst watching the band and pretending that they were playing what she was listening to.  If you follow me.

This guy was brilliant though.

Others solved the 'boring' problem another way.

I hope he gets this sleeping mallarky out of his system before this coming Wednesday when a Scottish rock band will be playing.
He has had problems with the jocks before.
Meanwhile, Gary and I amused ourselves putting little hats on his head.

I also have another way to keep amused.
This works rather well for me.
I had to laugh when I saw my hand sanitizer in this picture.
I never go anywhere without the stuff. 
Some call it OCD.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Is it on a stick?

Sunday it was off to State Fair.

We met up with Gary inside.   He was just finishing a strawberry cheesecake - on a stick - when we arrived.
It was very busy.
This summer the weather has been beautiful.  Oh we have had a few extremely hot days but mostly it has been sunny, warm and dry.
I am sure a few of my British buddies would be up for trying a 'Beer Pretzel On A Stick'.

The highlight of the day for me was the Blooming Onion.
I had a some help to eat it too.

We checked out the horses with Lauren.
This one had a nice bum.

This is a better view, in my opinion.
We also saw the pigs, goats and sheep.
There was a sheep competition going on in one of the arenas.

I am not sure what the competition was about.
None of them did any tricks or did any showjumping.
I think it was either a beauty contest or a contest to see who had the biggest "attributes".
There were some very big "attributes" on show.
The sheep were all boys.   I don't know much about sheep but I could tell that much.

Finally, speaking of large "attributes".
I took this photo of Philip's back to show the rear of  his minions t. shirt.
It seems I captured more than I bargained for.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Steve & Starship

Lauren has been wanting to have her ears pierced for years.
Donna has taken her several times.
The outcome was always the same.   Lauren disappearing into the distance.
Just before she came over Lauren asked me if I would take her.  She really wanted it done and she would definitely not run away this time.
I somehow have always known I would get landed with this job, but thought I was far enough away that I might escape it.
When I told her mother what she said, I had to wait for 5 minutes for the hysterical laughter to die down.
I was reliably informed that whatever Lauren had said wouldn't happen.
Whenever I tried to discuss tactics, Donna would begin to suggest things, stop, giggle and say "But it will never happen."
Getting Philip to sit on her was one suggestion.
I decided on a different approach.
When Lauren arrived and talked of this impending adventure, she also talked fondly of "legging it" out of the shop before.
So, I told her she had to understand that if she wanted her ears pierced I would take her but I was only taking her because SHE wanted it done.
It made absolutely no difference to me if she did, or if she didn't.
I didn't care one way or the other.
Nope....I didn't give a 'rat's arse' whether she had pierced ears or not.  In fact, I tried to put her off a bit.
I told her she wouldn't be able to swim while she is here and she said she didn't care for swimming any more.
I did say I would take her to a tattoo shop rather than sitting in a chair in the window of "Claire's Accessories".
I phone Starhip Tattoo.  It seemed a reputable place and had been in business over 20 years.
I spoke to a nice young man, Steve, and told him of her nervousness........I omitted to tell him of her previous various methods of escape.  He was very understanding.
So an appointment was made for Saturday.  No one, least of all me, believed it would happen.
We played it down.  Didn't  make a drama out of it and arrived at 2pm.
Lauren was all dressed up in her punk gear, chains and all.  I was pleased about that as I thought if she had her cool gear on she might be less likely to want to look like a wally.
We met the receptionist who took my money ( of course I was paying for it ).  After racking up about $70 in piercing, earrings and aftercare stuff, I was feeling a little apprehensive.  If she took off now could I ask for my money back?
Donna has since told me that one time she did just this.  She actually was in the chair, Donna having paid for it all, but as soon as she saw the gun that does the piercing she was up and away before anyone had a chance to stop her.
Steve arrived.  Bless him.   A very young looking guy.  He looked about 17 but I imagine he must have been older to be able to do the job.  I had filled in loads of paperwork.  Lauren had to show her passport and I had to show my I.D.  So it was all very professional.
He took Lauren into a side room.  I decided to sit in the corridor.  The receptionist told me that strictly speaking I should go with her.  I told her that I thought she would do better without me and that she might be less inclined to look like a woos in front of the delightful Steve.
I sat there nervously.
I was sort of waiting for her to come hurtling out of the room and wondered if it would be considered ok to stick my foot out when she did.
I could hear Steve talking to her.  He was talking to her LIKE AN ADULT.   He didn't talk down to her and explained what was going to happen.
Wait for it.........thought I foot quivering for a quick stretch of the leg.
Then I heard Steve say,  "Ok, ready for the next one?"
She had got one done !!!!!!
I heard them both talking.  Both ears were obviously done so I entered the room.  Lauren was all smiles. Bloody hell.
After she said her goodbyes and was leaving the room, I slipped Steve a $5 tip.

I think she spent more time talking about Steve than she did about her lugholes for the rest of the day.
I have been cleaning the piercings twice a day for her (I knew I would get all this) and, hopefully, by the time she goes home she can do it herself.
She wants to go back to Starship Tattoo to "look at the t.shirts".......yeah right.

Her mother can still barely believe she did it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Goodbye campers, see you in the morning.

Friday we set off for home.
When we arrived we found our kitty sitter still here.
She was busy with the kits and told us how good they had been.
We were very confident about her because every day we were away she posted pictures of the cats on Facebook.
I think this is a brilliant idea.
We had been a little bit worried because Bubba has to have his "zoomie juice" and I wondered how he would get on with a stranger sticking him with a needle.
It seems he didn't mind too much.

In the picture above, Lily obviously thought that Philip had not taken care of his hair properly while he was away.
She soon sorted him out.

Lauren used her new mug for the first time.
She bought it, not only because she liked it, but because one of the Green Day mob likes comics and super heroes. 
She wanted to put a picture of this on twitter or some such.........oh and Billie Joe now has a dog called Mojo.
Good to know these things.

On Saturday Lauren would be facing a Herculean task.
She was getting her ears pierced........and what would be worse..........I was taking her.