Friday, January 30, 2015

Alanmas Dinner

Wednesday was the day of the long standing tradition of Alanmas Dinner.
This is usually a three course meal cooked by the great man himself.

Above is the starter, or as they say round 'these here parts' the appetizer - whatever that means.
I have never understood this term as we are usually quite hungry enough, thank you without eating something to give us an appetite.
It was delish.
Prawns (or shrimp as they are known here - who said that the US and the UK were two nations divided by a common language?  Whoever he was, he was quite right),  in garlic and wine sauce.

Main course, or entree as it is known in 'these here parts' (honestly they are just trying to be 'tra la posh' now), this was fish for Alan and I.  Mahi, mahi (you might have to look it up as I don't know if it is available in the UK) with a wonderful salsa of chopped up things which included, my faves, kalamata olives.
There were lots of lovely veggies too.

When told the main course (entree) was going to be fish, Philip had a sulk.  He wanted steak.
Alan told him, in no uncertain terms, that he would get fish and lump it.
Secretly, Alan had decided to do Steak Diane just for Philip (spoiled brat) and so Philp was pleasantly surprised when his meal appeared.
We all enjoyed our main courses (entrees).

Dessert or pudding as it is known on the other side of the pond ( I don't understand why we Brits call this course pudding.  It clearly isn't a pudding so we are just as bad.)
This was brandy snaps filled with raspberry mousse and sprinkled with grated chocolate.
This too was delish and finished off the whole meal very nicely.
I ate the lot, which is quite unusual for me.

Chef Alan did a fabulous job.  Ta ever so Alan it was all very yum diddly umptious.

I looked it was George Bernard Shaw who said the thing about being nations divided by a common language.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Result my results and statement of accomplishment for the Paleobiology course I did.
I got 98.3%.
I suppose I could consider this as I bit of a let down as I got 98.7% in my Archaeology course.
But, I am happy with it.
I still feel bad about giving up the Astrobiology one but, ye gods, it was so boring.
Added to which there was no exam etc, which makes you wonder why you are bothering.
I do like to be told a result - even if I haven't done well.
I am sure I will find another course soon.  What shall it be this time?

I want to get on with some jewellery making too.
For Christmas, Philip bought me all the gubbins needed to make bead & wire jewellery.

I have only had one go so far and made these earrings.

I am sure I will get better at it with more practice.
It should keep me out of mischief.
I must also get on with some painting but I will start that when Alan departs.

He seems to be enjoying himself still.  I think Philip and Alan are going bowling tonight and then they plan to go to the cinema on Thursday.

And finally......
I still seem to be on a nostalgia kick so here are another couple of photos of days gone by.  Both taken at a certain 'educational establishment' that one of my former colleagues still calls 
"The Factory".

Some readers of this blog might recognise a few of these faces.  Happy times....mostly.

Friday, January 23, 2015


Firstly..........I had an experience I have grown unused to.
We took Alan to a restaurant that we hadn't been to in quite a while.
The very nice server asked what we would like to drink.
Alan and Philip had diet cokes ( I think) ...I asked for water.
The nice waitress said....."What?"
I said, " Water"
She said, "What?"
I said, "Water"
She said, " I am sorry I don't know what 'volter' is."
"WATER" quoth I.
" mean waaardeeer.". said she.
"Yes." I conceded.
Even after all this time I am still amazed when people here cannot understand me.

My posts with the Fashion Show made me nostalgic for some old times and old friends.
Here is a picture from when myself and colleagues from a certain educational establishment used to have some wonderful 'Murder Mystery' dinners.  I see that wig has turned up again.
Oh they were such fun.
They were set in various times....the one above was 60s I think.
I worked with a great bunch of people.
The guy behind me with the bow tie was one of my bosses and the guy with the white tie was head of music and we still phone each other every week.   We did get together away from school.  We went to London to see shows, in the school mini van which was a complete nightmare.  I am so grateful that I was part of that as I don't think it happens so much now amongst school staff.  Such innocent fun.

This one I hosted at my house in Kingsnorth Kent.  I think this was the first one.
Zorro was there and various spies....I am not sure how it all turned out.
It was just a lot of dressing up and fun.

Lord knows what was happening here.
I think I had to wear this hat and then everyone threw sponge balls at my head.
It probably made a lot of sense at the time.

I will find some more...........I expect.
We don't seem to do a lot of socialising now.  Maybe we are getting old or maybe it is just too bloody cold.  Who knows?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Packed up.

The almighty Packer game was on Sunday afternoon.
Alan was happily ensconced on the recliner, complete with brownie, beer and obligatory cat, Bubba in this instance.
The game started well and continued well until the final quarter where it all went 'arse uppards'.
The Green Bay Packers went from winning through the whole first three quarters to finishing with a draw.
Only it wasn't finished.  They had to do extra time, resulting in The Seattle Seahawks winning by a touch down.
Oh it was a shame.  Poor Alan.
I even put my one and only Packer's shirt on for the game.
I have only worn it once before and that was when they won the Superbowl.....whatever that is,
It obviously isn't the lucky talisman I thought it was.
Philip watched the game too - amazing.
I will admit it did sound exciting.  I say 'sound' as, although I was in the room, I was busily knitting a cat blanket for the rescue.
I did find that the noisier the crowd got, the faster my knitting needles went clicketty clack.
Never mind, there is always next year.

These are Alan's snacks.
They will probably help to ease his sorrows.
Well, the Jim Bean won't do any harm.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Blast from the past.

A old friend of mine posted some pictures of me on facebook yesterday.
Oh my....what memories.
They were of a "Fashion Show" put on by the school I worked at, some years ago.
I was so chuffed to see them as I don't have any from that time.
It was great to see old colleagues, some of whom I am still in touch with, others whom I haven't seen in years.
It was such fun.....and blooming hard work.
I was one of the organisers and had a group of kids to wrangle.
They were the stars of the fashion show. We staff were minor players.
We did two fashion shows and I can't remember which one, but the rugby world cup was on at the time.
I had been fascinated by the haka performed by the New Zealand  team.
I formulated a haka for one of the younger groups taking part.
Oh they did look wonderful on stage strutting their stuff.

Maybe not as good as this lot but "I wasn't far out was I ma'am?"

Every segment told a story.  I was a gangster's moll.........the song playing was the theme from The Godfather.  Don't you just love that wig?

I loved the dress too.  I would have liked to have been able to keep it.   I am so chuffed he found these photos so that I have a record of some very good times with some wonderful people.

I end on another note.   Another bout of dressing up and another wig.  This time a Bajoran from Trek.  I still have this wig. It is one of my favourites.   Again, good times, good people and bloody good fun.   Thanks Paul for finding these.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Playoffs and Packers and Cowboys ......oh my.

Alan watched the Green Bay Packers in their play off game on Sunday.
I have learned that this is like a quarter final.
It was something of a nail biting game but fortunately the Packers won.....just.
It was still touch and go in the last 3 minutes, although anyone who has watched American football will know that those 3 minutes can take about half an hour.
They must be able to warp time or something.
Thusly, Alan was a mega happy bunny.
The Dallas Cowboys were probably not.

The Packers now play in the semi final this coming weekend.
I will let you know how they get on and if they are going to be in the Superbowl.
Apparently this is the world championship, which seems a little odd as only American teams are in it.
Still, the winner is given the title of World Champion.

The weather continues to 'event' all over the place.   It has been 'eventing' (snowing) all day today.
I haven't looked to see when the next snow event takes will just happen anyway.
The snow we have is now nicely frozen and I can, once again, walk on top of it.
That is a bonus when filling the bird feeder.

The cats were quite excited at the window the other day.  I looked out.  At first I thought there was a blooming great chicken eating seed under the bird feeder.
On closer inspection, it was the hawk.
Oh he is a big bugger, like an eagle. It was quite unnerving to see him up close, under the window.

I was thinking, "Blimey he must be hungry if he is eating seed fallen from the feeder."
But, I was mistaken.
He wasn't eating seed.  He was eating one of my doves who had been eating seed.
Oh poor little dove.
I know everything is hungry but please Mr or Mrs Hawk........please have your picnics somewhere else.

I have conceded defeat with my latest Coursera course.
I hate to give up on anything but this time I am....and here is why.
Firstly, it is so boring.  They have made no effort to make their dry facts interesting.  No fun illustrations or interactives.   Just Mr One Shirt reading from his ipad.
Secondly, I am tired of wading through every lecture I have done to try and find where I am now.   There is no list of lectures or quizzes.....nothing.  I have been making notes of the last lecture I have done each time but there is no way to go straight to it without whizzing through all the others first.
Plus, since when does 2.1 come after 3.4?
I tried looking on Coursera to see how many more I had to do.  I couldn't find that out but what I did find out that for all of this work and tests.......there is no Statement of Accomplishment.
I am not talking about getting distinctions or anything like that but all of the ones I have done so far give you a Statement of Accomplishment if you pass, just to say you have done it.
I am not a trophy hunter but it is nice to have some recognition of doing the damn course.
Then I found out that I had only done 61% so far.
Oh stuff it.
Mr One Shirt can keep his course and his ipad.  That blue jumper he put on didn't fool me either.  I could see the collar of his shirt under it and it was still the same one.

I have got my eye on another course but I don't know when it is starting.  I will see how that goes.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Alanmas begins

Alan arrived safely on Tuesday afternoon after a long and tiring journey.
He seemed happy to be here despite the welcoming snow, ice and all the usual stuff.

Poor soul ended up shovelling that same evening.
No gentle introduction to Wisconsin winter in January.

He keeps his thermals, boots, big coat, hat, gloves and probably, 'unmentionables', here through the year as he doesn't really need them on Guernsey.
They will get plenty of use here over the next six weeks.
The schools have been closed for the last couple of days due to the brutal cold.....minus 30C .
Even the weathermen have stopped saying, "The weather is brisk" as frostbite warnings and advice to stay inside, flood the TV channels.
Libraries are staying open longer hours for people who have insufficient heat at home to be able to warm up.
Lord knows how the animals survive but I think many will not this time.
We have more snow on the way this afternoon, on top of the frozen stuff we have.
I hope Philip doesn't have too horrid a drive home from Chicago.

Alan does seem to thrive on it though.  Bless him.
He said that when he woke up on his first morning here, for a second he didn't know where he was. Then he said, he remembered he was 'home'.
I thought that was so sweet.

We all opened our Alanmas presents and everyone was happy with their gifts.
Looby Loo only went halfway up the stairs again.
Any other man arriving and she would disappear altogether, but she always remembers Alan.
They say cats have little appreciation of time so I wonder if, when he comes, in she just thinks he has been round the shop and there must have been a long queue.
She was soon back looking for him to make a fuss of her.

The Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs......whatever that means....and Alan will be glued to the TV on Sunday to see if they go through.
I don't envy them playing in this weather.
We shall have to get him back here after Sunday brekkie a bit sharpish so he doesn't miss the start.
Then we shall leave him here to go grocery shopping.   Coo....he got out of that easily.  :)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Almost Alanmas Eve

As predicted, the snow has arrived just in time for Alanmas.

It started Friday and has been snowing most of the time since.
It is supposed to continue in this vein for the foreseeable future.
Nothing new there then for a Wisconsin winter.

It has not been without its comical moments.
Philip was poo pooing the various neighbours who saw fit to go out snowblowing and shovelling this morning.
As it was still snowing, he quite rightly said it was a waste of time and he would do it in one fell swoop this afternoon.
Sounds reasonable.

He eventually dragged himself outside around 3pm during a lull.
I could hear the snowblower but it was making a funny popping sound so I poked my head out and asked what was going on?
I was informed that the poxy snowblower wasn't working properly.
He then started shovelling.
Oh bugger......there was an awful lot of shovelling to be done, especially when you are one Alan short.
Discretion being the better part of valour, I took myself back inside and did some hoovering.
I peeked out every so often to see a cold, red faced Philip valiantly shovelling heaps of snow from the sidewalks and paths.
He kept popping up at different sides of the house......and he didn't look happy.

After he had finished all the sidewalks and paths, I felt sure I heard a phantom snowblower.
On peeking outside again, I saw Philip with a now functional snowblower, clearing the drive.
Oh bugger this was even worse.
The poxy thing had decided to work after he had cleared 90% of the snow.
I couldn't hear him laughing exactly.

Shortly after this I saw him sprinkling rocksalt (2 x 25lb bags of rocksalt actually) so I knew he would soon be coming in.
When he did he was...............smiling.............SMILING.......... what foul magic was this?

He had found out what was wrong with the snowblower.  There was nothing wrong with the snowblower.  Philip had forgotten which was the choke and which was the accelerator.
Silly sod.
I was more than a little surprised that he found it amusing.
It must have been the relief of knowing that he didn't have to get it fixed.

In other news.
I am doing an Astrobiology online course.
I have to is boring me senseless.
I think I must have hit the jackpot with the first course I ever did.  That was an archaeology course and was brilliant.
It was fun, informative, entertaining but also very structured.
I then did an animal behaviour one done by an Aussie university that was a bit slapdash but quite amusing.
The last one I did was paleobiology and was also excellent.  That one gave the whole of the course contents at the beginning of the course allowing you to study at your own pace.
It was also fun, informative, entertaining etc.
I haven't had the results of that one yet.
Each one of these had a good format.  There were forums, videos, lecture notes, helpful links etc.
I thought that as these were all run by Coursera that they would all have similar set ups.
They do not.
The one I am doing now is run by Edinburgh Uni.
It has no set up, format or anything else useful.
It just launches in to the lectures and then every now and again gives you a test.
There is nowhere to see what you have done, what is next to come or any sort of list of contents for the course.
Every time I log on I have to wade through all the lectures trying to figure out where I had got to.
There is just one lecturer who delivers all these lectures whilst reading from an ipad.
I must have done about 10 lectures now and he is still wearing the same shirt.  He must have recorded all this in one day.
There is nothing fun or entertaining.  No, interesting visuals, just him relating these 'dry as a bone' facts.
Philip, who sits playing Lord of The Rings at his computer near me in the basement, even comments at how boring this guy sounds.
Anyway, I doubt I will give up.
I do not like conceding defeat so I will continue for as long as I can but I hope I never do another one like this.
If this had been the first one I had tried, I would never had taken another.