Thursday, July 30, 2015

Flower Power

The Warped Tour was a huge success.
Above, Lauren and her friend with a band I know nothing about (probably just as well).
Ooops...just been informed it is Drama Club.

Another one of her with a band........this one is called While She Sleeps.

This one has cleverly put their name on their tent.

And this lot appear to be making sure that everyone knows who they are.
It would seem they had a fabulous time and were thoroughly exhausted by the time they came home.
But Wednesday was going to be a big day too.

Wednesday morning we took Lauren to be enrolled in Ronald Reagan IB (international baccalaureate) High School.
It was bloody amazing.
I am not quite sure what I expected but I didn't expect what we got.
The staff were welcoming and the students polite.
Each child has an individual program made for them to be able to study the things that they enjoy and will be of good use to them.
They have very high standards.  Lauren had to write an essay to hand in.  This was no problem to her as she loves to write.
I was joking with Donna that I hoped they had given her enough paper and would we be waiting for hours for her to stop.
Whatever she wrote it must have been ok as she has been put into the top classes which prepare kids for university.
She is taking Maths, English, Biology, Social Studies....and best of all she got Theatre and Film.
She is chuffed to bits.
Donna said she thought her head would explode when they put her down for Theatre and Film.  She will learn all aspects, backstage, lighting, make up, directing as well as doing some acting herself.
There are also lots of after school clubs, including guitar, so she is rather excited.

So, it was quite a day.  We met a lot of staff and pupils, all of whom, love the school.  We were told yet again about the long waiting list to get in.
I do believe that being a British kid went a long way to help Lauren as they were all fascinated by her and her accent.
I do hope she does well.  I think she has the best chance of doing so now so it will be up to her.

In the evening we went to River Rhythms.
Donna and Lauren's first time this trip.   Donna is feeling better and as we only have to sit, listen to the band and people watch, it isn't hard.
And there were some people worth watching this time.
This guy turned up.

He came with lots of bags and rolls of stuff.  He set it all up on a table and then started to make a paper flower.

Donna and Lauren wandered off to see the police horses, who are there every week.

Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch showed up.
He obviously liked the band, many others did too, which played a lot of German polka music.
Not really my taste but I love seeing the people dancing and enjoying themselves, so it was fun.

We spotted some Lederhosen.
He looked very sweet in his outfit I think.

Not sure what this guy's outfit is all about but he strutted his stuff too.
The flower man at the back there is still making his flower (note...just one).

He had been making the same flower since he arrived.
You are not going to make your fortune if you can only make one in an evening.
Common sense says.....'Make the blooming things before you go"....but maybe he hadn't thought of that.

They had a beer stein holding competition.
The idea was that you had to hold a stein, containing a litre of beer, straight out in front of you for as long as possible.
Possible wasn't actually all that long and the competition was over in about 3 or 4 mins.
But, the prize was excellent.
The winner won a trip to New York.......that is a bit different from the packet of rice that the human hockey pucks win at the ice hockey!!!

Everyone had a good time.
It did wear Donna out a bit, particularly as we'd had a busy day.

The flower man eventually finished his flower and despite trying his best I don't believe he managed to sell it.
Maybe he will try again next time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Donna and Lauren arrived safely.
They were held up for a while in Chicago airport while visas were checked.  They have a habit of doing that.
Their cats were so pleased to see them.
I knew they were missing them.
Donna then promptly came down with a flu like virus.
It has been a nasty one too.
I think she has been so stressed and had so much to do over the past year that her immunity is low and she probably picked it up on the plane.
The first few days she was really poorly.  Now, she is still weak but with more classic head cold symptoms.
Hopefully by the weekend she will be feeling well enough to go gallavanting with her mates.

Today Lauren and a couple of friends are at the Warped Tour held on the lake Summerfest Grounds.

You may remember that I, Donna and Gary went last year.
It starts at 11am continues to 9pm........loads of stages........loads of bands..........loads of noise........loads of crowd surfing.........loads of swearing.......Never again!!!!!
This is why this year we have sent her with her mates.

You get the idea.
She is in contact via her phone so we are keeping tabs on her, but the security last year was brilliant.
They are all youngsters, no booze allowed anywhere on the site and they give them free water.
My biggest fear is sun stroke.
It is so bloody hot.  We have sent her with sun block and strict instructions to keep applying it.
I wonder if she will remember to eat?

Tomorrow we have to take her to enroll in her new high school.
I have never been inside an American high school so this will be an interesting experience for me too.
I shall let you know what that is like.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Further to my previous post regarding weight loss, I happened to be listening to a news programme yesterday.
I say 'news programme' as opposed to 'the news' as this was not entirely (at all) truthful.

It caught my attention when I heard someone, who was representing a doctor, talking about weight loss and this whole new way of losing the flab.
She didn't actually say she was a doctor but the impression was there.
At first I was intrigued and interested in what was being said.  There was a woman with her who claimed to have lost a vast amount of weight using this new method.
After making numerous claims about this infallible way to get back in trim, the 'doctor look-a-like' said, "Yes you come along to our clinic where we can re-set your metabolism so that you will be able to eat normally and the weight will just fall off."
Oh yes.....really??
She went on........."Yes our pills  (ha!!! pills!) will re set your metabolism so that you can lose weight without any effort.
"Bullsh*t" !!!!
How dare they put this on as if it were true when all they are trying to do is peddle useless pills, for vast amounts of money with worthless claims.
If there were any safe pills for reducing weight then doctors would have been dishing them out willy nilly by now.
I remember some prescription pills being given out a few years ago that caused many health problems, heart failures and deaths before being withdrawn.
All the time companies can make money out of people with diet pills, crazy diet foods, and weight loss fads, they will keep telling us how dreadful it is to be overweight.

Donna and Lauren should be arriving in Chicago around noon tomorrow.
It has been a difficult, stressful year for them getting all the paperwork in order.
There have been many hurdles to overcome but I truly hope that once they are here, things will settle down.
I am sure their cats will be pleased to see them.
There will be many tears shed tomorrow when they arrive.  I wish them a safe, uneventful and boring trip from Ashford to our house in Milwaukee.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Weight Issues.

There was an interesting discussion on facebook the other day.
Just a small one.

A friend of mine has been trying, unsuccessfully, to lose weight for years.
He would lose a few pounds and then put them back on...repeat again and again....always trying to find the magic formula that would melt that weight away.
Of course there isn't one.  For someone who is predisposed to being overweight it means eating less for ever. Their whole going back to eating normally ever again.
I say less because there are some who think by eating different things the weight will disappear.
That is true but only to a certain extent.  To lose weight and to keep it off, still requires a great reduction in portion size.
Anyway, he was talking about his weight issue (I won't call it a problem as I don't think it is) and there was a well meaning person encouraging him to "keep going. Don't give up" etc. etc.
I have to say, in this case I don't agree with that.
This lovely friend has been doing this for doesn't work.  It just makes his life miserable and he probably agonises over everything he is eating for much of the time.
What happens with most people who diet is this.......lose weight, being thoroughly miserable all the time you can't eat the things you like.....stop doing it....weight goes back miserable because the weight is back on.......try to lose miserable.
Can you see what is happening?
Your whole enjoyment of life is impacted by this weight issue.  
I am not saying eat a dozen cream buns every day but what I am saying is just relax and forget about it.
Eat a reasonable diet without denying yourself the treats that make life worth living.
It is a pointless exercise to keep going through this.
The daft part is that we are brainwashed by the media to think there is a certain size everyone should be.
How ridiculous.
Take a look at your parents and grandparents.   You are what you have come from.

It would be like taking a shire horse and starving it to make it into a race horse.
Won't happen.
If the shire horse was starved until it was the same size as a race horse it would just be a very ill shire horse who would return to shire horse size as soon as it was allowed to eat normally.

My brother followed the "lose weight, be miserable, put it back on" theme for many years.
Then one day he said, "Sod it.  I enjoy eating and like a pint.  I have a miserable life all the time I am trying to lose weight so I am not doing it any more."
He didn't get any bigger.  He just stayed the same, and he is much happier.

So, to sum up.  I think that if you know someone who has been struggling with weight issues for years it is unkind to tell them to keep on trying.
If they want to accept themselves as they are and live a normal, happy life without worrying about food all the time, then good for them.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Not long now

River Rhythms last night.
The band was good.
They played mostly their own music, which I am not always fond of as I like to recognise it, but their own stuff was good.
I liked them.
It was a lovely evening, warm but not humid and we took along another chum.

He hadn't been to RR before as he is a truck driver who works nights.
He is on vacation this week so Philip invited him.
He really enjoyed it.  I was glad the band was good and not one of the dreadful ones that do show up from time to time.
He couldn't believe how much food we take.
There were very few weirdos there.
I wonder if it depends on the band?
Maybe certain bands attract more weirdos than others.

The sunset was quite glorious.

It is hard to believe that this time last week we were on our way home with TommyJones and Elsie after their long flight/ordeal.
They have done very well considering it is just a week.

TommyJones now has the run of the house.
My cats are mostly ok with him.   Tootsie really likes him, Looby Loo is intrigued by him, Sally is nervous of him and Lily is being the psycho bitch from hell that we knew she would be.
It will take her some time to accept him.
TommyJones actually doesn't give a hoot.  He bimbles around doing his own, sweet thing even when Lily is growling and hissing at him.
He is doing exactly the right thing.
Here he is snoozing on the windowsill, completely oblivious to all the drama he has caused.

Elsie likes to stay upstairs at the moment, which is fine.
She watches the birdies from the windows, snoozes on her cat tree and plays with me and the stick.
They all seem to like a stick.
Alan used to call Bubba, Sherman, because when you played with him he would storm in like a tank.
That title has now been passed to TommyJones.  He is hilarious to play with.  I wasted way too much time this morning playing with him and Elsie.

Elsie is a sweetheart and I think once Donna and Lauren arrive next week she will summon up her courage to explore the rest of the house.

Here she is playing with the stick.
We have a hundred toys here but they all seem to like the stick.

I am looking forward to Donna and Lauren arriving next Friday.
I have set up meetings with an insurance agent to get them health insurance, also the bank to open an account and we will have to take them to get social security numbers too.
You can't do anything without those.
When we came we didn't have a clue and we knew no one here to help us out.
When I think back I wonder if we were incredibly brave or incredibly stupid.

Friday, July 10, 2015

River Rhythms etc

River Rhythms

The Thrift Tones........not good.
We were rather disappointed as they had a good write up.
There were not so many people over there so they probably knew something we didn't.
Their sign was pretty pants too.

But, we met Gary there and made the most of it.
Gary brought brownies.......sort of.

Philip decided they looked rather like Mr Hanky from SouthPark.
If you are not familiar with Mr Hanky, I suggest you look it up as I am not going to go into details here.

Gary also had a bottle of suspicious looking liquid.
I don't really want to say what Philip said it looked like but he thought it was some sort of sample.
A rather large sample I think.

Thursday........Cat Day

Thursday came around, at last, and we set off to collect Donna's cats from Chicago airport.
Well, from the cargo area of Chicago airport actually which turned out to be about 4 miles from the airport.
After some faffing about, we eventually collected them in their crates.
I was scared to look as I had this huge fear of collecting two dead cats, but after taking a peek we found them to be alive........thoroughly traumatised, but alive.

We got home with them about 4pm our time.  This meant they had been travelling for 19 hours.
Poor little buggers.
Elsie went straight under the bed but TommyJones was up for a cuddle.
I slept in the bedroom with them and TommyJones slept at the end of my bed......Elsie stayed under it.
Philip had today off work (Friday) and we had turns spending time with them.  Elsie eventually came out from under the bed this afternoon.
That was something of a relief.  They have both been eating and drinking so I think they are getting over the shock.
Our dear Tootsie is desperate to meet them.  She sits outside the door purring.  She is our little meeter and greeter.
It won't happen yet though.  Cat introductions must be taken slowly, the last thing we want now is a huge cat fight.
Donna is so relieved they are here safely that she burst into tears when I sent her photos of them.

TommyJones looking like the cool dude he is.

Elsie when she eventually came out from under the bed.

Just a thought about Facebook.
I sometimes worry that my friends across the pond think I am ignoring them.
It quite often happens that I don't see the stuff they share and therefore don't click 'like' or comment.
This isn't because I am ignoring my mates, it is quite simply a result of the time difference.
By the time I get up in the morning, half the day is gone in the UK so unless I have been tagged in something, the status of friends has rolled by on my timeline and I don't see it.
Now I realize how much I am missing I shall try to make the effort to look back through the timeline more.
I will be honest though, I don't always have the time to sift through it all so if I don't click 'like' on a photo of your latest wart, I do apologize and hope you forgive me.
I do still love you all.

Monday, July 6, 2015

TJ and Elsie


and Little Elsie

They will be setting off on their grand adventure on Thursday.
To say I am worried would be a great understatement.
They will be travelling for an awfully long time, cooped up in cat carriers.
From the time they leave home to get to the airport to the time we get them home here will be around 18 hours.
I do hope they arrive ok and are not distressed or sick.
We will be taking food, water, extra blankets, wipes etc with us so that we can get them out in the car to see if they want to eat or drink.  We might also need to clean the carriers.
Poor little buggers will wonder what is going on.
I won't rest until I have them home and safe.

This is what TommyJones thinks of it all.

We didn't go to the fireworks for 4th of July celebration.
I don't know why really.  We usually say we will go but then we can't be bothered.
I think it is because we are used to watching fireworks on cold, damp, foggy nights around a bonfire. We should also be sipping soup and burning our mouths trying to eat potatoes cooked in the fire.
It doesn't seem the same here, waiting for ages for it to get dark, sitting in a deckchair and swatting mosquitoes.
It is just what you are brought up with I suppose.

This year Donna and Lauren will be able to take part in Halloween and experience their first Thanksgiving.
I am looking forward to that.
They will also be here for the run up to Christmas.  They have been here for Christmas quite a few times but never experienced the anticipation, which I like better than the actual event.
They will also experience a full blown Milwaukee winter.
Oh they have been here before in the snow, but only for a couple of weeks at a time.  This time they will find out what it is like to have the cold, snow and ice from November to about April.  
Ha ha....Donna may wax lyrical about the lovely snow now but let's see how much she likes it when Christmas is over (looks pretty up until then) and it doesn't know when to stop.

At least she will have Alan here to help shovel for a few weeks after Christmas.

  He seems to enjoy it.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


After almost a year of stress, worry, work, paperwork, red tape and hoops to jump through.......Donna and Lauren have both had their visas approved.
Donna already has hers but, due to a hiccup, Lauren had to go for her interview at the American Embassy today and hers has now been approved.

Unless you have been through this procedure you can have no idea just how difficult it is.
Donna has her place at Herzing University in Milwaukee to start in September, studying for a degree in Massage Therapy.
Lauren will be attending in the Ronald Reagan High School in Milwaukee, studying for her High School Diploma.
She is blooming lucky to have got into this school.
It is one of the best in the country and is very selective about who they take.
They also prepare them for university so I hope she does well.
I would have thought she would be very nervous about going to an American school but she is taking it all in her stride and doesn't seem worried at all.
They should be arriving on July 24th.
The cats arrive next week.

I have been getting a room ready for the cats.  It looks like a kitty play room at the moment.
There will be a very slow introduction over several weeks.
Cats are not usually quick to accept newcomers.
I am concerned about them and the long flight.  I shall be very stressed that day until we pick them up from the airport in Chicago and get them home.
Poor little things will have no idea what is going on.
I hope they settle down quickly and have no ill affects.

I think there will be many tears flowing when Donna and Lauren arrive.  This has been a long time coming and the sense of relief will be amazing.
Donna usually bawls all the way here on the plane, just because she can relax and have others to share all the responsibilities that she usually shoulders alone.
I can see the stress lift from her as soon as she sits on the sofa........actually I can see this with Alan too when he arrives.
He works hard all year and it must be such a relief for him to know he has 6 weeks or more to relax without working.
Ha...having said that, he usually does quite a bit of work with the snow shovel, but I think that is different, almost therapeutic.
I must remember that.
When we have yet another 3 feet of snowfall I will send them out for some snow shovelling therapy.

Anyway, well done Donna.  It has been a tough year but it will be worth it.