Wednesday, October 28, 2015


A star is born.
Friday night we went to see Lauren in her first ever production.
She has really thrown herself into her theatre studies at school and landed one of the main parts in a school play.
The play was entitled.....'War of The Nerds'.
Now this had a touch of deja vu for me.

The story was about a bunch of Star Wars fans and a bunch of Lord of the Rings fans, who meet at a convention.
They are all dressed as their favourite characters.....Lauren was the hobbit.  She looked good , with wig, make up and hobbit ears.
Both groups of fans converge on a room where the Star Wars characters insist Harrison Ford will be talking but the Lord of the Rings fans are convinced that Orlando Bloom will be the speaker.
Each side tells the other side to leave.
They start calling each other names and after some harsh words a fight breaks out.
A Jedi with a light saber fights the hobbit (Lauren) who is armed with a little sword.  The Wookie is fighting an get the picture.
My favourite line that Lauren had was when the Jedi referred to her as an Ewok.
This was just before the fight started.
She looks very puzzled and says, in a voice with Michael Caine overtones......."Ewok, what the bloody hell's an Ewok?"

Now remembering this is an American school and she is the only British produced a huge laugh from the audience.

Anyway, after they have beaten each other into a pulp, another person arrives with a huge sign to put outside the room they are all fighting over.
The cover is removed to reveal that it is actually William Shatner who will be the speaker - shock, horror.
This is obviously a very condensed version on the play.

It was a lot of fun and I feel privileged to be part of her school life.  American high school has been something of a revelation for us.  It is lovely to be around someone young and enthusiastic.
Before the play started we were able to buy 'Dramagrams' to have sent backstage to the actors of our choice.
They cost a couple of dollars each and not only is it a brilliant idea, but it also raises funds for the school.
We waited for her to come out afterwards.........when she did.......oh my "Luvvie Alert"..........the kids were all hugging and kissing each other.
Who is this girl ?
What happened to our little punk rocker?

Now she is auditioning for the school musical..."Hello Dolly."
She is practicing her songs and dances all over the place.  I would never have believed we would be hearing her sing anything like this.
This girl has changed so much in these 3 months.....she is almost unrecognisable.   The reason......confidence.  She has so much more confidence now.  We think we know why.  We have noticed, and Donna and Lauren have particularly noticed, how no one over here takes the 'mick' or makes fun of anyone else.
There isn't even an expression, that I am aware of, for 'taking the mick'.
No one seems to make fun of anyone's appearance, dress sense, accent etc.  Americans are very accepting.
Even Alan has said in the past how he likes it here as you can dress how you want, and no one cares what you look like.  They certainly wouldn't remark on it.
I think this is what has given her the confidence to try new things.  She isn't afraid of failing and being made to feel a fool.

Donna practised her one hour massage on me on Sunday.
It was very, very enjoyable.
I was a bit concerned at first though as there seemed to be a new massage therapist who wanted to have a go.

Fortunately we persuaded her to let Donna take over and all was well.
Philip is going to be having a massage this weekend.
I wonder if he will have an 'official observer' too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Home Coming.

It was Lauren's school's Homecoming dance on Saturday night.
I have never really understood what that meant when I have heard others refer to "Homecoming".
Well, it is a bit like the school prom.
The girls all wear their nice dresses, the boys wear tuxedos and everyone has a brilliant time.
She met up with a bunch of her friends at a pizza restaurant before they went to the dance.
We didn't know until later that she had a date for the evening.
She showed me a photo of him when she got home, and very handsome he is too.
He has dark hair and moustache and looked a lot like Zorro.
Apparently they were about to have their second slow dance of the evening when Juan's mum said he had to go home.
It was 9 o'clock.
Poor Juan.
Lauren tells me that Mexican mums are rather strict.

Lauren was so impressed by this dance.  She said that when she had her school prom in Ashford, only about 50 kids showed up, many of them were not even dressed properly.
Here it is a really big deal.
She said there were about 500 kids at the Homecoming dance, all the boys wore tux's and she loved that they were complimenting each other on their choice of bow tie.
How civilised.
Their mobile phones were taken from them by teachers when they arrived.  They were attached to their id's and were returned to them when they left.
No sitting at staring at phones all night then.  What a brill idea.
She was bubbling over with excitement when she came home and can't wait for the next one.
Homecoming dance is something to do with returning to school after the summer break and all the sports teams.  I am still not entirely clear.

Sunday we had to take part in Donna's experiment.
She labelled jars of baby food  1 to 6.
We then had to hold our noses while she dished out a spoonful of each one to us.
We then had to make a guess as to what flavour each one was.
Some of us were better than others.
Some of us made a huge fuss over the tastes being yukky.
One of us made an even bigger fuss than you can imagine.

I will admit that some of the tastes were pretty disgusting but I just ate mine.
I was also pretty pants at guessing what they were.
Lauren made something of a fuss but Philip made the biggest to-do of all.  He even refused to actually eat the stuff but spat each spoonful out into a napkin.
What a wuss.
I thought afterwards that it was only those among us who had spent a number of years on the other end of a spoon, trying to prise open a baby's gob, maneuvre the delicious offering into the orifice only to have it spat back out again, which in turn causes us to consider the heat of said food and have to sample the delights ourselves to be sure of its palatability - only those people with this experience didn't make a palaver out of it.
Only when you have played, choo-choos, airplanes and motor cars in an effort to get sustenance into that little tunnel, while that little pink tongue tries to thwart your every futile endeavor, do you find no terrors in tasting a little on a spoon.
Whereas, those among us who have never experienced these adventures in child nourishment, made more fuss than a baby does.
Still, it did cause a number laughs when laughs were needed.
We all concurred that strained peas, strained carrots and strained runner beans are bloody disgusting, but apples, mangoes and bananas aren't too bad.

Petal the Possum has been finishing off the left overs and she needs no encouragement at all to scoff the lot.

Monday, October 19, 2015

View over the lake

This is a view over Lake Michigan.
I took at while we were at my friend's memorial on Saturday.
I was dreading going but when we arrived we found the most beautiful building with lovely surroundings.
This was taken from the patio.
Once inside we found that in the first room tables were set out for tea.....proper English tea.
Lettie had been so very, very English.
There were lots of people there, some dressed very flamboyantly.  There were many people wearing big hats.  It was like Lady's Day at Ascot.
There was even a guy wearing a huge pink feather hat and boa.
Lettie would have loved it.

We made our way onto the patio where we found, Eldon, her husband.
That was when it hit me.
He was talking to people but......he was alone.  There was no Lettie standing with him.
That, unfortunately was when I lost it.
Eldon was brilliant.  After I had, almost, got myself together he explained what happened.
Remember, he was a doctor and she was a long time nurse.

She'd had no symptoms, seemed in perfect health and was in the garden pruning some roses.
She adored her garden.
Apparently, some workmen saw her just drop to the ground.
After 6 days in the intensive care unit she died.  She'd had a massive aneurysm in her brain that, as Eldon put it, just exploded.
She'd had no warning signs what so ever.
He is devastated.

Eldon introduced us to her daughters.  I had never met them as they live in Mexico.
Oh bugger, that started me off again.  They both look so much like her.

We decided to go inside in search of tea.  Bearing in mind this is America and you can't get a cup of tea anywhere let alone a decent one, it was lovely to see a perfect English tea laid out.

There were scones with jam and cream, little finger sandwiches and tiny cakes.
The sandwiches (again remember where we are and how unlikely any of this is) were MARMITE and cream cheese, ham and mustard along with salmon and cucumber.
Lettie would have adored was so HER........and she should have bloody well been there.
There was also proper tea to drink ...with MILK...not with poxy coffee creamer......or iced with lemon.

In the other room a violin quartet was gently playing and then another friend of theirs got up and sung a couple of songs.
Again, too much for me.  We stayed in the tea room.
They put on a wonderful memorial for dear Lettie.  I am still thinking of it.
We said our goodbyes and we given a gift to take home.
It was a memorial card and photo of Lettie plus a Day Lily bulb for the garden.
These were Lettie's favourite flowers.
I shall plant mine and hope it grows.  It shall be Lettie's Lily.

This was the front of the building.
Lettie would have had a really good giggle about this "Don't look Ethel" statue.

Saturday evening was Lauren's school's Homecoming Dance and Sunday was a chance to take part in an experiment for Donna and her course.
That was something of an experience that I shall relate in due course.  At least it meant the weekend ended with laughter.

Friday, October 16, 2015


What a crappy week?

We had a phone call the other night from a friend's husband.
This was the couple who stepped in and helped us out when we had to leave the USA and spend a year in Bradford.
They looked after our two cats for the whole year.
They would take no money for for food etc.  They loved and cared for them.
We hadn't known them previously but were introduced through another friend of mine.
The wife is British but had lived in the US for about 20 years.  Her husband is Swedish.
They were so kind to us.
She sent us photos of Bubba and Lily every couple of weeks.  Real photos, not digital, along with a card or letter telling us how they were doing and what mischief they had been up to.
We have never felt we were able to thank them enough for what they did.

Well, apparently she has died suddenly.
I have kept in touch with her via email and phone since that time, 10 years ago (where did that go?).
We don't know yet what the cause was, we were told she was taken into hospital and died 6 days later.
Tomorrow we will be going to her memorial service.
I am so shocked.  She was probably one of the nicest, kindest people I have ever met.
Her husband too is a lovely guy.  He must be devastated.
I am dreading going tomorrow.

I have just had a message from Philip.
One of his friends has died leaving a wife and a couple of kids.

Oh dear.  This is really too much.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Left hand down a bit....

My daughter is at uni learning massage therapy.
There is a lot more to it than you might expect.  She has been learning about cells etc, lots of biology and masses of physiology.
She is now moving towards muscles and bones.
That is the theory part.
Fortunately there is also the practical part which involves various forms of massage.
Along with this goes.........practice.
At uni the students practice on each other but sometimes she needs to practice at home.


She practiced on me the other day and it was bliss.  She had to refine her technique for doing arms and legs.
So, as I have a couple of each of those that could do with a bit of the old massage therapy, I volunteered.
The only downside was when she said she was a bit scared of doing my arms as they were so skinny she thought she might break them.
She did qualify this by saying that the other ladies in her class were more "junoesque" in stature. Actually that isn't the word she used.  I learned that word from Mrs Slocombe on "Are You Being Served?".  She was most upset when someone called her stout and said the preferred term was 'junoesque'.
There are quite a few junoesque people in Milwaukee. In fact when I now see Mrs Slocombe, she looks really rather slim compared to the norm in these parts.

I might do better with this type of massage.
I don't know what the professional term is but it is in plentiful supply around this house.

Thursday I went to the mall.
I mostly had a lovely time but then just as I was waiting to be picked up by my daughter, I had an angina attack.
Oh I hate it, especially when I am on my own in a public place.
I had to pretend nothing was wrong, stuck a pill under my tongue and wish for it to stop.
I had to take another pill, when it showed no signs of stopping and pretend to be looking for something in my bag.
The pills make me dizzy and I felt like I might faint.  I needed to put my head down without looking like a wally and having people make a fuss.
Making a fuss was frowned upon in my family.  I would dearly have loved to lie down on the seats in the food court but that would have prompted people to ask if anything was wrong.
So, I sat on my chair, looking for some imaginary object in my bag, which was on the floor, until she turned up to take me home.
By the time I got home everything had calmed down.
I did feel a bit rough for a couple of days though.  Saturday was the worst.
It is hard to explain.  I feel sort of drained and exhausted........a bit like really severe jet lag.
Well, wasn't that pants....and I didn't even get any billy bargains while I was in the mall.

Friday, October 9, 2015

D & D - does that mean dilly and dally?

So, Lauren expressed a wish to learn how to play Dungeons & Dragons.

Philip still plays this once a month with a group of chums.  I haven't played with them for years and when I did, we played other games, like Vampire, Werewolf, Call of Cthulu etc.
I thought I had played D & D years ago though.

It was decided that Philip would run a game for me and Lauren to give her a taste of what goes on.
This was set up for last Sunday.
Philip spent a lot of time getting it all ready,  sorting out a plot, the characters and then setting stuff up on the computer so we could see the dungeon, the monsters and our characters.
This was all very new to me.
When I have played before it has been very sort of free form.
By that I mean, that most of us (me mostly to be honest)  hadn't a clue what we were doing or why.
We had lots of laughs, ate way too many sweets, played silly buggers and giggled at daft jokes.
We sort of said what our character wanted to do, rolled a dice or three and then either did it or didn't do it.
It would then be the next person's turn, whilst the rest of us sank back into giggling and eating sweeties.
I also remember going to Loughborough University to attend a GenCon weekend where we were invited to  play a new game ( to us ) called Hol.
It was the rudest ( and funniest ) game I have ever played.
We played it in the student union bar, maybe quite the most fun I have ever had I think.

Anyway, back to D &D.
We played on Sunday.  I realised I hadn't actually played this game before and it seems a little bit tedious.
That might be because we had just started, Lauren and I are not used to the rules and the characters are new to us.
But, having said that, we did play for a couple of hours or so.   I am not sure I like playing it using the computer screen.
The other games I have played around a table, so everyone feels part of the group.  Having us all staring at our screens and even rolling dice by clicking on an icon on the screen, just wasn't quite the same for me.
It sort of lost its coziness.
I think people Lauren's age would probably prefer it this way as they seem to spend their whole lives staring at one screen or another, but it just seems more social to be gathered around a table, talking, arguing,  watching each other throw dice and move characters.
Maybe it will grow on me.

Lily's leg continues to improve (thank the gods for that).  The mere thought of another trip to the vet gives me an anxiety attack.

Monday, October 5, 2015


I started putting up the Halloween decorations on Saturday.
I have spent this time of year in England for the past few years so I haven't been able to put them up.
This year, not only am I here in the US, but I have helpers.
Much good they did me.
No......don't really mean that.  They were a good help but would be even better if they didn't argue amongst themselves.

The bay window was the first to be transformed.
You can't really see here, but I have put some beautiful black roses in the vase.
The spooky eyes lights are new, as is the witch lantern.
There is a skull in front of the vase and a crow and sparkly pumpkins alongside.  I will take a photo in daylight and they may show up more.

Onto the other end of the living room.

I like the effect of the orange lights.  Sally, sitting in the cat tree, doesn't seem spooked by the spider hanging by the bannister, but it has spooked Lauren a few times.

More orange lights for the dining room.
Beware of the ghost.
A couple of British chums asked me on facebook why I had put them up so early.
It isn't early for Halloween decorations over here.  Some people's whole houses, outside and in, have been bedecked with ghouls and ghosties for weeks.
I don't do the outside any more since the rabbits ate through the wires of our pretty lighted pumpkins.

Then Saturday evening we invited Gary to dinner.
I did have an ulterior motive which was to ask him to take some photos of Bubba's portrait.
I have to get them printed but photos from my camera do not have a high enough resolution.
Gary does photography professionally and has awesome cameras that take fabulous photos.
Well, he didn't mind at all.
He took the photos and then we had dinner.
We watched a couple of QI's on our telly.....yes....not on an American channel though.
They did show a couple on BBC America but it was obviously way too rude and was dropped - bloody quick.
I found Acorn TV which we get through our Roku (think that is what it is) that is all popular British TV.
They have old and new programmes.
Donna and I have been watching quite a bit of Jeeves and Wooster.
We were amazed to see the date on it..........1991.
No wonder they both look so young.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Battle of Wounded Knee

Took Lily to see Dr Thomas about her leg yesterday.
As you maybe aware, this is what Lily thinks about going to the vet.

After being told by the very nice young man at the other vet's (Dr Thomas was on vacation) that we would need x rays, mri etc (very costly) to determine what was wrong with her leg, oh and how one of his cats started limping like this and soon died of cancer (eek!), Dr Thomas told us exactly what was wrong.
He listened carefully to our description of how it started, he then examined the leg.
Oh how simple this sounds.
It bloody wasn't.
Lily is likely to explode in the vet's office at the best of times.  Having someone pull her hurty leg around to examine it was a step too far.
She, as they say, went off on one.
After a couple of minutes of this furious white fluffy ball of fangs and talons whirling in an incensed torrent of rage and howling like a banshee........the retreat was sounded whilst a muzzle was located.
A muzzle ....a MUZZLE ...on my poor, sweet Princess Lilibet III.

Philip by now was bloodied and torn.  Dr Thomas and I, so far, had escaped unscathed .
Dr. Thomas produced bandaids  for Philip, reinforcements were called in and I left the room.
I was getting upset.
His assistant Lori, who is a very capable lady and not easily fazed, joined the fray.

I sat outside listening to the shrieks, screeches, thumps and bangs emanating from within that dark portal of hell known as Dr. Thomas's office.
Philip emerged at one point.  He had received more injuries and had been sent out to clean them up.

It suddenly went quiet.
Either Lily's examination was over or .........she had killed Dr. Thomas and his assistant.

Philip opened the door.  All was well.  Lily was back in her carrier with a look of absolute disgust on her face.
Dr. Thomas was all smiles and no blood.
Lori disappeared back to reception.
He knew exactly what was wrong with Lily's leg.  She has a torn ACL (called a CCL for some reason in cats).
There have been a few American footballers with this injury in the news lately.  I hadn't noticed Lily slipping out for a quick game of football with the lads, but apparently she could have come by it in many ways.
It is easy to do.
Dr. Thomas said he was 75% sure of this diagnosis, from our description,  before he examined her leg but as soon as he did it was all very clear.  100% positive.  He even tested the other leg to make sure.  That was perfect.
I can't help but remark that if I had been Dr. Thomas, he knows what she is like, I would have gone with the 75% and not bothered to be doubly sure.  Brave chap.
He even drew a little diagram to show us what had happened.
He also said that as this is a ligament x rays would not have shown it.
Apparently there are two ways we could go.  The quick fix would be surgery which would be very expensive, involves pinning the joint, but it would be instant.  Well, apart from getting over the surgery and Lily is 12 years old.
He did suggest the best course of action was to be patient and wait and see.  He said that small animals do often heal by themselves.  The ligament doesn't actually heal in surgery or in time...scar tissue forms and stabilizes the joint in both cases.
As she is already walking much better than she was initially he thinks waiting is best for her and that she has a good chance of making an excellent recovery.
Not necessarily a complete recovery, as he so rightly pointed out, we can't all expect to be in perfect condition as we age.  So, even if she has a very slight limp, as long as she hasn't got any discomfort, we should be happy with that.
I hope this vet never moves away or retires.  He could so easily have pushed us towards an expensive surgery but he has such a down to earth, common sense approach that it makes everyone love him.

Philip took her back to the car while I sorted out the bill with the receptionist.
She was so kind.  I was apologizing for Lily's 'episode' but she said it was no problem and that they understand that she is so frightened.  Fear makes her explode that way.
Then she said the best thing of all....
"We have some worse than her.".
Bless you Lori.