Thursday, August 27, 2015

All change........

So, Donna and Philip went to pick up Donna's new car on Monday.
The one pictured in my last blog.
They paid the money and then the guy wanted them to sign some papers.

There was this one piece of paper that they wanted them to had a big red warning stamped on it which said....

Warning this car is street illegal in Wisconsin.

Well, Philip called everything to a halt and wanted to know what this was all about.  It turned out that the car had dodgy brakes and leaks and was deemed too dangerous to be driven.
Of course, this brought the whole procedure to an abrupt halt.  No way would she be buying a dangerous car.
What right had they to try to sell someone a dangerous car?
AND....what I think is even worse -
they had sent us out on two test drives in a street illegal car.

So, goodbye Tracker.

Tuesday morning Donna and I had a bimble around and spotted a nice looking suv in a car lot.
A lovely old boy came and talked to us.  George.  We both liked George.  He was like an ancient cowboy moseying around the cars.
He showed us the car we liked, a Ford Escape but it had a price of $11,000 ....way too much for Donna.
We knew it looked too good.
She had initially seen a Ford Escape online at this showroom but it was only $5,500.
George went off to see if he could find it.  When he came back he said that actually it was the same car and was $5,500.
We told George we would be back later with Philip.
In the afternoon Donna had her Wisconsin driving test.
Fortunately she passed it.  I think she is quite chuffed at having passed the driving test in two different countries.
I know I would be.
That evening Philip and Donna went back to have another look at the car and take a test drive.
Philip really gave it a good going over.
Apparently, it is very good.   She bought it and is picking it up tonight.
Here is a picture of a similar one.  I can put pictures of her actual one on soon.

It is rather big.
It is also rather powerful.  She said she has always fancied driving a big car but this would be outrageous in the UK.
It would cost a fortune to fill up with petrol.
Here petrol currently costs around $2.50 a gallon, which works out as 1 pound 62pence a gallon.
Shocking really.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Lauren has been auditioning for a part in her high school play.
She had learned the part of an elf for some sort of Tolkien performance.
After her audition the teacher commented on her British accent and asked her to say, " You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.",  which of course she did.
She said that this seemed to amuse him greatly.
We have heard she got a "call back" today so she has probably got in as something.
I do hope so.
Her confidence has increased in leaps and bounds since she has been here.
Every day she comes home bubbling with stories of all the things she has done.
It is really good to see such a shy girl gaining so much self esteem.

Monday, August 24, 2015


River Rhythms on Wednesday featured the band favourite.
The evening was tinged with sadness as this seems to be their farewell tour.
The front man, singer, player of anything that could be, even slightly considered an instrument, is hanging up his guitar, bagpipes, didgereedoo, drums, keyboard etc.
They drew the biggest crowd I have ever seen at River Rhythms.
As it was once stated in a TV show I used to watch........"All Good Things".....

Saturday was our 17th wedding anniversary.
Every year I reflect on how amazed I am that we are still going strong.
I know many people didn't think we would make 17 months.  I don't blame them.  I am as surprised as they are.
So, what did we do?
What we did was spend 7 hours driving from dealership to dealership and from one end of Milwaukee to another, looking for a car for Donna.
She can't afford a lot of money, but it still has to be a reliable car that will cope with Wisconsin winters.
We went to the first dealership to look at a car but it was too beat up so we didn't even test drive it.
Whilst there I spotted another, same year, same price but which looked in excellent condition.
I will now state quite openly that I know absolutely nothing about cars......NOTHING....but I pointed it out anyway.
It seemed to be ok with our party leader and, leaving me behind, they all went on a test drive.
I didn't bother to go because they really didn't want my input as to how comfy the seats were.

It was a very hot day and the air conditioning didn't work.  This seemed to put people off so we set off for the next dealership.  I did just whisper to Lauren that I had a feeling we would be coming back for this one and it would be a case of 'getting the first one we looked at'.

The next one looked lovely though.  We all went on a test drive this time.  All was well except for an awful squeaking noise coming from the back....oh and no headrests at the back.
Disaster struck when we got back to the dealership,  a small Arthur Daley sort of dealership, and parked the car.  The salesman came out to put the car away and .........the thing wouldn't start.  No way would it start.
He then did something very wrong.  He blamed Philip for having locked/unlocked/ put the key in.......all wrong.
Apparently, this made it randomly disable itself.
We didn't think so.  No one did anything weird.
The guy said he would phone when he got it going again.  He never did.  Crossed that one off.
The rest of the cars we saw were more expensive, covered in rust, one had no driver's door handle, one had had the radio ripped out.........the salesmen had a bloody cheek to even show them.
7 hours later.........guess what?
Yup, we were back at the original dealership signing papers for the first car.
They are going to look at the a/c to see if they can fix it.
Donna and Philip are picking it up tonight when Philip gets home from work.
It is a Chevrolet Tracker.

It looks like this.
I hope it will be ok.

So, having spent all day out and about we were all exhausted.  How would we celebrate our anniversary?
Philip and I had sort of planned to have a meal out but we were too tired.
So, we bought Subway sub sandwiches and ate them indoors.
We still know how to party.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

There's a guy works down the chip shop.......

We had a bit of a storm on Saturday.

It is difficult to see in this photo but the front of this house is totally destroyed.
It is in the same road as Lauren's school.
I do hope no one was hurt, but even so, they must be terribly shocked and upset.

Neighbours up the road went away to the Dells for a few days and I looked after their cat.
He is a sweet boy and no trouble at all.
That isn't a picture of him above.
That is the gift they brought me back.  They really didn't have to do that.  I don't mind taking care of a cat......we have six so one cat in the house to feed etc, is a piece of cake.
They know me too well.  I collect dragons and so I was thrilled when they gave me this.
Ta ever so mates.

We have the insurance agent lady coming last.
She has cancelled twice so I am hoping she shows up this time.
Donna and Lauren need health and dental insurance.  I am a bit worried about how much it is going to cost.
Most people, like Philip, get health insurance from work.  You have to pay a certain amount and your company pays the rest.
This is expensive enough but I dread to think how much it will cost doing it on your own.
Oh for a National Health Service.
I will let you know the outcome.

Finally, we went shopping in Pick n Save (a lot like Tesco) on Sunday.
There is a guy there who I have wanted to take a photo of for ages.  He works on the tills and is lovely.
His name card says "Gary" but underneath it says "Elvis"........I think you will see why.

Isn't he just wonderful?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Spider Baby

It is Irish Fest this weekend.
So, of course, the whole of the population of Milwaukee claim some sort of Irish heritage.
Trouble is they think the Irish and Ireland is a sort of fantasy world, where the little people and the faeries coexist amid fields of shamrock and tame shillelaghs.
Irish Fest does tend to reinforce this image.
The band at River Rhythms had been imported from the Emerald Isle.  We were hoping they might be a bit of a fusion band.
We have had Scottish bands before that combine rock, guitars and bagpipes.  They have been rather good.
This band, however, played purely Irish folk music where every song sounds exactly like the previous song.
They were nice enough, probably good musicians, but as boring as a very boring thing.
The guy on the right, with the guitar, looked a lot like Father Dougal (from the TV show Father Ted) prompting cries of "Spider Baby", from us not the Americans, but you will have needed to see the episode to fully understand that.

Across the river from the park the little girls were busy getting ready to do their Irish dancing.
There was another band playing over there for them.  I think it must be some sort of competition.
Whatever it was, it sounded a lot more fun than we were having.
We did have a giggle at their hair.
Someone, sometime, must have said that Irish dancers all have huge bunches of ringlets that jiggle up and down when they dance.
So, every one of the girls has a huge wig stuck on her head, which not only looks ridiculous but, also must be a nightmare in the sort of heat we are having.
I bet they say it is "tradition".

Some of us were not enthralled by the Irish music. Mind you she was probably tired.  She gets to school at 6.45am.  Classes finish at 2.45pm
Thankfully, she is thoroughly enjoying it.  She is quite a celebrity, being the only British kid and seems to have made a lot of friends.  I am so pleased for her.  It must have been pretty daunting to start there.  She has now been there a full week.
Well done Lauren.

Some people appear to have gone to the wrong festival altogether.....and why would you sit so close to the bin?

We enjoyed watching the boats on the Milwaukee River.  They do some lovely trips, some include dinner, drink and music too.

Finally, this Trump bloke gets everywhere.
This truly is a "Donald Trump" don't ya think?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

School and Driving

Well Lauren had a blast on her first day of school.
She had friends waiting for her when she was dropped off in the morning.  That was a bonus.
She had a lot of fun during the day and came home with biology homework.
She did that as soon as she got in........I wonder how long that will last.
She said it was very different from her English school and that everyone was very friendly and helpful.
Sounds good so far.
There is a parents evening towards the end of the month so I expect I will go with Donna.

Donna took her written driving test yesterday too.

She passed it first go.
She will be taking the road test on August 25th.

Today we took her out to rent a car to practice in.
She can drive a rental car on her international license as it comes with insurance etc.
To get regular car insurance here she has to have a Wisconsin license.
Once she passes the road test we will help her find a car and then she is sorted.
Oh, well she will be sorted when we get the insurance figured out.
Oh, and we still have the health insurance lady coming on Thursday.  So, we are not quite out of the woods yet.
We are taking a step at a time and we will, eventually, get there.

Today she has been out driving the rental car, trying to familiarize herself with her route to uni and the route to Lauren's school.
She is a good driver but you have to get used to being on the other side of the car, the road and various differences in road usage.

I think I forgot to mention but a couple of weeks ago I go my results from the course I took run by the University of Barcelona.
It was called Magic In The Middle Ages but really included a lot of European history and literature.
I knew I had got the essays etc in on time but I really wasn't sure how I had done.
Well, I got 100%
I still can't really believe it.
Of course this does mean that any future courses I take, if I get anything less than 100%, I shall consider that I have failed.
The only way is down it would seem.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

On a stick

We went to Wisconsin State Fair on Friday.
Donna and Lauren went again yesterday to see a band they like.

All of the usual rubbish was there.......on a stick........but we were quite surprised at this next one.

Just when you think you have seen it all they come up with something healthy.  It won't last though.
I bet by next year it will be "Deep Fried Salad on a Stick".

It was mostly a lovely day apart from a few sprinkles in the afternoon.
Some of us used their ingenuity to stay completely dry.

He got this t shirt for his birthday.
He collected quite a few compliments on his way around the fair from people saying how perfect it was for the occasion.
It is considered compulsory to 'eat you way' around Wisconsin State Fair and he throws himself into it wholeheartedly.

I also got something at the fair.

A new handbag.
Well I like it.

It is Lauren's first day at school tomorrow.  She is excited and (I am sure) a little nervous.
She would never admit it though.
I hope she enjoys it.  I doubt we could have found anywhere better.
Donna takes the first part of her driving test tomorrow.
She will take the written exam and then if she passes it she will set up her skills test, which they say is about a week later.
She has been practising all weekend so I hope she does well.
She can then get out on the road and do some driving before she takes the skills test.
Oh it is all happening here.
Next will be sorting out a car for her, car insurance etc.
We have a lady coming round tomorrow to try and sort out a reasonably priced health insurance too.
Very expensive time right now.

On another note.   In case you haven't heard there will be an election over here next year.
The Democrats have two or three candidates who are running for the leadership of the party whereas the Crazy Party...oh I mean Republicans....have about 20 candidates running.
Mostly they are nutters.   Anyway, so far the biggest nutter of them all is Donald Trump.  He is upsetting the Republicans in as much as he is far crazier than the rest of the Republicans.
Trouble is there are many loony Republican voters who are supporting him.  It is rather comical but, I have to admit, I dread to think what the rest of the world thinks of this circus.
TommyJones, never wanting to miss a bandwagon worth jumping on is getting in on all this mallarky.

Meet Tommy Trump.
He gets my vote.

Friday, August 7, 2015


It was Donna and Lauren's favourites at River Rhythms this week.
The 5 Card Studs played lots of songs specially for "The ladies.", which always makes the men, as well as the women, in the crowd chuckle.
It was good to relax and enjoy the fun after a couple of tedious days of buggering about trying to trawl through more red tape to enable Donna to drive, get insurance, get a bank account.....etc.

There was one celebrity of note in attendance.

I couldn't quite make up my mind if this was Jethro Tull or a hobbit.
Either way he was interesting.

Something Philip didn't find quite so interesting was this elderly couple dancing right in front of him.
They were getting quite carried away with their smooching, while Philip was casting shocked glances towards me and Gary.
They stopped just before I thought he would tell them to "get a room".
Which was quite a relief.

Oh almost forgot....
I had a Major Tom moment at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).
We were there trying to sort out a Wisconsin license for Donna.
DMV wait times are notorious.  There is always miles of queues and you can guarantee being there for a bloody long time.
The temperatures have been in the high 80s for weeks now and as we came out I heard a dog whimpering......some idiot had left a dog in a the DMV!!!
I stormed back in, found an official and told her.
She said it had been reported earlier and they had thought it was taken care of.
So, she announced it over a loud speaker and some idiot young man said..."That's my car.".
I yelled at him right across the whole waiting area.   I told him if he didn't get out there now and take the dog out of the car I would call the police.
He tried to say he thought he would only be 5 arse.
I chuckle now when I think about how the whole place fell silent as this small, British woman bellowed across the hall.
He hurriedly followed me out, got in his car and took off.
I was furious.  There has been so much publicity lately about never, ever leaving children or animals in cars for even a few minutes that I couldn't believe he was so stupid.
I don't get worked up much but I will always, ALWAYS defend those who cannot defend themselves.
Children and animals will always be my first concern.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


It makes me so sad that some people think it is fine to make fun or make light of something that is a really horrible, life changing crime.  Don't they ever think that there may be people who have experienced these crimes who might be upset and offended?   So very sad.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ronald Reagan High

Lauren went for her orientation at Ronald Reagan High School today.

She had to be there for 7.30am.  I knew she was a little nervous but they were only going to be there for 3 hours.
I thought they would just be shown around but apparently I was wrong.
She had a fab time, met lots of people and took part in lots of activities which I think are aimed at breaking the ice.
It seems she didn't have much ice to break and already has some friends.
One of whom she is meant to be going to the mall with on Thursday.
She has not stopped talking about the school since she got home.
I cannot tell you what a relief it is that she is so happy to be going there.
She couldn't get over how friendly everyone was, kids and staff alike.
School starts this coming Monday.  7.30am until around 2.40pm.

Ronald Reagan former grads.

 I hope she does really well there.
I think she has a wonderful opportunity to shine and hope she does.

Donna has to find out her timetable etc soon so we know how things will work out for trips to and from school.
Philip will drop Lauren off in the morning.  The school provides the kids with free bus passes so she could come home on the bus if there is no lift available in the afternoon.
I am sure it will all work out.  These things generally do and as long as she isn't outside for any length of time in the winter it should be fine.

It is Philip's birthday today.
He got lots of cards and pressies.  Tonight we shall go out for his birthday dinner.

He wants to go to Red Robin......which is alright I suppose.