Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Couple of Videos

We went for the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Our guide took us first to the horse brigade (I'm going to get all these names wrong---my head is spinning with too much information). We watched that ceremony, then hurried to---I can't remember what it's called, but that's where I took the videos. Then it was on to Buckingham for the last part. Usually all people see is the Buckingham Palace part of the changing of the guard---but there's other "behind the scene" pomp that goes along with it. One of those things we would never have known about without the guide---and such good views too---he knew exactly where we needed to be.

Favorite Photos

The flower boxes are incredible and they are all over England. Hanging baskets are on nearly every street post too.

Jeanne, isn't this bactopa? Look at the photo above---I've never seen it in blue.
I have no idea what this is about, but you can bet I won't be eating it. I didn't even have the nerve to ask what it was.
I consider myself pretty adventuresome about food except for meats---not really into odd things in that department. In my effort to fully immerse myself into the English culture, I ordered this as an appetizer. It's lentils and onions with a poached egg on top. I had to call the waiter back to find out what I was supposed to do with this---mix it all up together or eat the egg separate---that's what I asked. His response: "you can mix it all up or eat the egg first---it's up to you." Big help. I mixed it all up. It was just okay, but not disgusting. I'm not a huge raw onion fan. Later, our guide, David said he had never heard of this dish, so apparently, it wasn't even English. Figures.
 These signs were all over---but mostly more professionally done. Stands for 'water closet', but made me think of Walter and Chris.
 We went to church here on Sunday. It was an Anglican church, but it was right around the corner from our hotel---17th century. Everything is awesomely old here. Just gorgeous. The service was so similar to our Catholic Mass. I said the rosary like I usually do on Sunday, but we didn't take communion.
This is the outside of the church. Our servicemen during WWII used this church for worship---all denominations.

 This made me want to mail something. But then I'd have to write something, figure out stamps---too much work. I just love the crowns on everything and the queen's initials---ER (Elizabeth Rex).
The two of us in front of Buckingham Palace. The palace itself was a little disappointing after all the palaces and castles we've seen. The queen doesn't live here anyway.
This is where the English term "odd duck" came from.
A close-up of said odd duck.
First off, they need to get their songs straight! It's the Hokey Pokey!
Talk about a typo!!! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our First Snafu!

We were supposed to go to Liverpool today. We got to the train station at 6:30 a.m. for our 7:07 trip. We wouldn't have gotten home until about 10 p.m., so it was to be a full day. When we got to the station, the person that we were to meet did not have us on her passenger list. To make a long story short, Butch was getting worked up (only the 2nd time for the whole trip), so I sent him away to let me handle it. We missed the train and decided to get our money back. Mary, my travel agent friend, is handling that for us. Instead, we went to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels today instead of cramming it into our already full day tomorrow.

Afterwards, we had lunch at a German restaurant. Turns out that England is full of foreigners---not just the tourists, but the residents too. The food was delicious---except for the curry flavored ketchup. That was nasty---they didn't have regular. The bartendress (is that what you call a girl bartender?) gave Butch a beer glass and he bought another. Getting free stuff always makes him happy.

We took the "tube"all over today. Butch has been doing a lot of geo-caching all over England. Then, he found the Twinings Tea Shop---the original---started in 1706 and took me there. Such a cool place. I bought a lot of tea. More geo-caching. I decided to sit in the park. Remember I said they have no benches? Well, today, there were chairs set up everywhere. I parked myself---Butch warned me not to fall asleep. So I rigged up my purse through my shopping bags and attached it to my wrist.

I'm feeling all safe, like even if I fall asleep, no one could get my stuff. I was thumbing through a magazine, people watching, listening to all kinds of different foreign conversations and just enjoying the beautiful sunny day. A man walked up and said I owed 1.5 pounds (that's more than $2.25) to rent the friggin' chair for ONE hour!! Now it made sense. If they had benches, no one would rent the chairs! What a way to get a little extra revenue.

I watched a little girl about 2 yrs. old who had taken off her shirt and shoes and was pretending to swim in the grass. I kept thinking about how itchy she was going to be. Then she wanted her mom to blow on her arms. I realized that she was pretending to have her water wings blown up as she kept blowing on her arms herself too. Very cute. Kids are the same all over the world!

We got back to our hotel about 5-ish and settled in for the evening. We ordered room service for dinner and split the spaghetti. We had the best day and agreed that we were sort of glad our plans for Liverpool fell through.

 This is the original mosaic threshold to the store from 1706---it's the exact same location.
 Butch---geo-caching. Don't let that look fool you---he's had a great time geo-caching while I was in Twinings.
 These are the original pieces of art over the door. Inside, the walls are lined with old oil portraits of the Twining family through the centuries.
 Here are the rip-off chairs.
Here's my security system. Ain't nobody gettin' my tea!!!

I'm about ready to drop---but we're having a great time!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm Pooped and...

we've got another week to go. I wish I'd have brought a pedometer. I'm certain I've put at least 50 miles on these short, chubby legs. My feet and legs throb. Today, we walked all the way back from Harrod's to our hotel. Probably not more than a couple miles, but it felt like forever. London is not a city that encourages sitting down. There are no benches anywhere. Even going through the park, they are few and far between. I managed to find a couple of concrete walls to take a break on. About 6 blocks from our hotel, we stopped and had lunch at an outdoor cafe---I love those things. I had a bowl of French onion soup (it's on every menu here). It was good, but not nearly as good as Germantown Cafe or Whitfields.

When we got back to the hotel, I told Butch that today was my part of the compromise about the taxis. He offered to get one right away when we left Harrod's, but I decided to keep up my end of the bargain. I didn't think we'd do much more walking for the day, so I felt safe in making this hike. Little did I know that we'd have so much trouble finding a cab to go to the London Eye this evening. We walked at least 20 blocks trying to find one. So far, this was the only time that Butch got worked up. Two people jumped in front of us for the cab. He was starting to panic that we weren't going to make our 6:15 appointment. We did, all was well and he calmed down.

Another thing we've learned. Apparently, the English must be some of the most illiterate people in the world. That's quite a statement to make and totally, politically incorrect. I really am only joking, but we cannot find a book store anywhere. I finished the book I brought 2 days ago and I'm going crazy without a new one. I don't ever recall going a day without reading a book since I learned to read as a child. I have some magazines with me, but they just don't fill the bill. I had a book out to bring, because I knew I'd need it. Either Butch didn't pack it, or I got side-tracked at home and never put it out.

Another bit of bad luck. It looks like the electric here has burned up my curling iron. I can't find a place to buy a new one either.

We're running out of money. We converted $1000 before we left. It's almost all gone and we've only used it for food, tips and taxi's. All entrance fees were pre-paid and we haven't bought anything significant yet. Everything's expensive here.

So now I'm crippled, broke and bookless with crappy hair. Ahhh, the memories!!

Lest you feel too sorry for me, take a look at some of what we've been experiencing:

 All of the pictures above are from our drive through the Cotswold's. The picture of Butch and I was taken in front of a 16th century country church. That's why I like private guides---they take you off the beaten path. Above is one of the many thatched roof cottages we saw.
 This looks like a postcard---a photo of Warrick Castle. Notice the reflection on the water?
 Our guide arranged for a private meeting with the queen. Cool! Now I can call her when I'm in town.
Looks like "Daisy"---the lady of Warrick Castle copied my family portrait idea. I do like her walls better.

PS By the time this posts, it's the next day here. Just wanted to update you. Butch made the hike to a bookstore far away from here, so I'm all set for the rest of the trip. We did Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey today. Awesome. Off to Liverpool and the Beatles tomorrow! We got a little money, probably not enough. I have a book. My legs are still throbbing and the hair has not improved.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Storytelling Sunday---The Day I Set the Alarms off in the Louvre!!

Since Butch and I are traveling, I thought it would be a good idea to give you a story about another trip about 20 years ago. We were in France with Walter and Chris. We enjoy traveling together and are pretty compatible. Chris and I can do our thing some of the time while the guys do “war” stuff. Don’t get me wrong, Chris and I do some of that stuff too, but not to the extent that the guys like. On the other hand, after one house, palace, castle or chateau with ornate furnishings, the guys are “done.”  So it works out well.

I also consider myself a considerate tourist. I don’t have to push or shove. I’m a rule follower (not just when traveling, but always---just the way I was brought up). If it says don’t walk on the grass, I won’t. If a sign says “do not touch,” I don’t----not even if it’s “wet paint.”

Anyway, on to the story. We were strolling through the Louvre in Paris. We came across a couple of rooms that were recreations of those in Versailles of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s. I was surprised that there were no ropes or anything, just the rooms. I would never dream of walking in the room or on the carpet. But, I wanted to examine the needlepoint on the chairs. Being a needlepointer myself, I was interested in that. I had my hands behind my back---to basically keep my purse from swinging forward. I leaned over to get a closer look at the needlepoint on the chair. That’s when it happened---the alarms went off! I was mortified. Butch said, “way to go” as he walked off to disassociate himself from me. Surely, if it looked like I was going to be arrested he would have come to my aide---at least I like to think so.

A security guard rushed up to me. I said, “I didn’t touch anything.” Turns out my head broke some type of laser beam security system. I was so embarrassed. As I choked back the tears, the guard was very nice. At least he seemed nice. I have no idea what he said to me in French, but he said it in a nice tone. It probably went something like this, “oh you stupid American woman!”

To this day, I am never lured by displays that seem to have no barriers around them. I know they do. I don’t need that kind of embarrassment again. Plus, next time, I might not be so lucky. The shock of the alarm would probably cause me to startle, topple over and damage something! I’m pretty certain of that.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Showtunes---We Will Rock You

This is the musical we saw here in London on Monday night. It's sort of like "Mama Mia" in that it is a whole story woven around the music of Queen. Robert DiNero is one of the producers. Here is one of my favorite selections:

This is my personal favorite Queen song. I loved it in the show too, but that clip was too long. So I'm just giving you the original. Can't get any better than that!

Butch surprised me with the program. He knows I collect them from all the shows I go to. But I'm fine with just the free one. Well, apparently in London, you don't get a free program. You have to buy the expensive one with full color pictures. I wasn't going to get it because it's about $15.00 and the actors/actresses don't mean anything to me anyway.

That was a nice surprise and a sweet gesture. Things are going really good. Butch admitted last night at dinner (Thursday) that he wondered if we'd start getting on each other's nerves. I think our discussion ahead of the trip really helped. We are each getting to do what we want without making the other feel bad if we don't want to do what they want to do. I just want to do what I want to do!! After all, it is a vacation!

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Few Photos

This is why we love boutique hotels. Small and charming.

I've been so impressed with the flower boxes all over England. This is a close-up of our hotel.

These are the same all over the world.

This cab is so darn cute---they don't all look like this.

I wanted to call somebody just so I could use this, but I don't know anybody in London and I doubt the Queen or Barry Gibb would take my call!

I've always considered fuscia to be what I call a "sucker" plant---you buy it because it's so beautiful, then it dies within a week. They are gorgeous and seem to flourish all over the place. I seriously doubt they get the tlc I gave them. It just must be the very best place for them to grow.

This Kensington Palace where Princess Di lived. It was just about 2 blocks from our hotel. Prince William and Kate are going to be living here too.
The gates in front of Kensington Palace.
I thought this was a pretty ingenious way to store a bike. That ledge is only about 4 inches wide.

I don't have as much free time as I would have liked, so that's why I'm only able to post sporadically. Who knows when I'll have free time. We're on private tours pretty much all day, every day. Yesterday, we went through the Cotswolds---if you picture those darling little villages with thatched roofs, you would be seeing the Cotswolds. Perfectly lovely---as they say here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's All About the Food

I'm just going to cut to the chase. Everyone wants to know how it's going with the meals. Here it is:
2 scrambled eggs and 1 1/2 turkey sausage links at 9:30 a.m.
dinner on the plane at 6:30 p.m.---lousy food
horrible breakfast at 4:30 a.m. on the plane.
dinner at "The Goat" pub at 5:30 p.m.---Butch admits he's a little dizzy and light headed from hunger---Barb has fish and chips; Butch has "a pint and a pie"---beer and chicken pot pie---both meals were good; bottled water.
continental breakfast at the hotel---8:30 a.m.
lunch at Cafe Rouge---2 p.m.; bottled water
drinks and 1/4 cup cold artichoke spread with 4-1"x6" crackers ---we shared---turns out we were at the same place as we had lunch---a chain---we didn't know.
popcorn at the theater---we shared; bottled water
2 thin mints---one each
continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m.
lunch---Burger King---1 p.m.
drinks---a glass of wine each---turns out it's the same pub chain as "The Goat"
dinner---8:00 p.m. The Firehouse---we each had a salad, 2 glasses of wine (cheap), split a pizza---$80.00!! Butch says starting tomorrow he's going to throttle back!

And I thought we were finally getting started! So, to re-cap, it looks like I get a meal approximately every 8 and a half hours. We've been to exactly 6 places since we've been here and we've managed to duplicate 4 of them. I'm hungry a lot---Butch isn't. I think we're actually the only people that go on vacation and actually lose weight---not that I can't afford to lose a few. I think I've been doing all the compromising on the food.

It's a good thing I learned all about keeping food logs from Weight Watchers.

The peas were disgusting---and I like peas.
What's wrong with this picture? The "pint" is bigger than the "pie"!!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Halloween Time

I have tons to report from London, but not the time to do it yet. This will have to hold you over. Before I left, I got my Halloween decorating done---over-achiever that I am. After all, it will be October when I get home. If I can't have it out a month, it's not worth it. I have a busy month, so now was the best time to get it done. I ended up being sick on Thursday which really cost me in the "time before a trip" department, but my plans on Friday didn't take as long as I thought, so I picked up a couple extra hours there. Just enough time.

 These are my needlepoint Halloween suckers I made. I bought the pumpkins for Nancy and I to put them in. She was just telling me that she had no idea where hers was. I told her I knew exactly where mine was. Well, I lied. It wasn't where I thought it was and couldn't find it. I ended up using this one, but it's a little too small. It'll have to do for this year.

 Every year I add a few new things to the arrangement. It never looks the same way twice because I don't refer to the pictures from the previous year. I can never remember how it was.

Here is a close up of the needlepoint pillow I made. It's pretty cool. The witch is a chandelier.

Tomorrow I'll get to reporting on our travels.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Storytelling Sunday---Mom, Me and Those Pesky Twins

I'm in London now. It's 2 a.m. your time, but 9 a.m. here. We didn't sleep a wink on the plane. We're waiting for our room to be ready which is going to be awhile since the current occupants haven't checked out yet. Our plan was to take a 3 hr. nap, then stay up until about 9 p.m. tonight and hopefully avoid the jet lag. We'll see how it goes. Butch is going to want to head out pretty soon.

On to the story. Friday was the one year anniversary of mom's death. I decided that I would do this story in her memory. That's the thing about stories---and why I'm so passionate about telling them. When you tell a story, you provide a bit of immortality to the person the story is about! Think about that. If we tell the stories, the people live on. That's what it's all about---well and the "hokey pokey" too.

This one's for you mom. When we were little, mom dressed the twins and I alike---like even though we were the same size, people might think we were triplets. Janice and Jennifer are identical, so I just looked like I was adopted into that threesome---plus, the name Barbara didn't fit either (mom went on to name all the other girls in the family with "J" names---I should have asked her what that was about---I just wasn't part of the "J" club---maybe I was adopted? That would explain why I didn't inherit the "drinking" gene). Anyway, as we got a little older, the twins passed me up in the size department. Then I got their hand-me-downs. Since I had multiples of everything, my friends teased me that I didn't wash my clothes. Seriously, though, the worst was the homemade crop tops mom made for us out of the leftover kitchen curtain material. She even put the leftover, red, ball fringe on the bottom. Believe me, running around in our kitchen curtains wasn't much fun. I opened myself up for a lot of ridicule, but what was a kid to do? Mom was all proud of her sewing abilities and it those days, you didn't dare complain. So wear the kitchen curtains I did!

By the time I got to 5th grade, I'd had enough of those twins and having to dress like them. Mom brought home green velvet Christmas dresses for all of us. I said I didn't like the dress. It caused a really big stink because the twins loved it (at least Jennifer did---Janice didn't like dresses, so she just went along with Jennifer). Dad kept asking me why I didn't like it---I kept saying I didn't know, I just didn't like it. Inside myself---the part that would never verbalize what I really thought---I was thinking, "I'm not going to dress like the twins anymore." We were starting to have some sibling issues---a lot of fighting and I pretty much hated them. I secretly took great delight in the fact that mom had to shop for them in the "chubby" department (yes, it was actually called that back then).

Anyway, as dad kept quizzing me about the dress, mom was in the background saying, "individuality, Gene, individuality!" I didn't know what that meant, but dad let up. And I didn't have to wear that dress. Nor did I ever have to dress like the twins again. Mom recognized what I wasn't even aware of. I'm glad she did, but I still got their hand-me-downs.

Here's a recent picture. Jennifer is not in it. My sister, Jeanne is on the left and my sister-in-law, Janet is in the back. She was welcomed in to the "J" club 35 years ago. Janice is next and I'm on the end.

I have to say, sibling rivalry aside---I love those girls now!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Showtunes---Phantom of the Opera

I'm on my way to London. I'll be visiting the theater there on Monday. I just had to play homage to the great, British composer Andrew Lloyd Weber. Phantom of the Opera ranks in my top 5 musicals. We could have seen this in London---and I was sorely tempted, but I've already seen it so many times and I might only have one opportunity to go to the theater. I decided to opt for something completely different, but also---so exclusively British! Next Saturday, you can look forward to a post from what we see on Monday. Until then, get lost with the masters---Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman (in case you don't know this, Andrew wrote Phantom for Sarah's voice---his wife at the time. Another bit of trivia, Phantom was Michael's first musical. He was a comedian and not even a singer!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blogging My Heart!

I decided to take the challenge on this blog:

I pretty much share everything in my life here, but not always my worries or fears. And it wouldn't be real if I said I didn't have any. There's a part of me that believes that if I worry about something, it will actually come true. As a result, I try to push those thoughts away as fast as they come. It's not always easy. I consider myself an optimist, but that doesn't mean that negative thoughts don't creep in.

1. I worry incessantly about my grandkids. Will they make the right choices? Have we made the right decision in letting Jordan change schools? So many things to think about---far more than with my own kids. I really have to make an effort to NOT think about them driving. Scary stuff!!! I worry about auto accidents---not totally from an injury standpoint, but from an insurance standpoint. We've had a few too many fender benders in the family recently.

2. It's hard to think that I am nearing 60 (Butch is already there). We both have a problem accepting limitations. We continue on with our lives as if we were still 20 something. My feet are telling me that I am not. Butch has taken up running and is starting to have some problems with his knees. He thinks it's minor---and I agree that it probably is. But, as I've said to him just yesterday, "Why would you do something you hate and jeopardize being able to do something (golf) that you love?" Makes sense to me. We head off to London on Saturday. I'm afraid my feet aren't up to it. We'll see...

3. I'm pretty sick of the workmen being around here. It's been pretty much solid since last March. Between painting and the front porch and upper porch renovations, it's about pushed me over the edge. The last thing is our new front doors. Another two weeks should do it. I hope that means when I get back from England, all will be done. Not getting my hopes up.

4. I'm glad to be off prednisone since August 1st. I hope it's forever this time and not just temporary as it has been the last 3 times in 12 years. It's not good for the body in any way. I do hope to get this weight off. That will go a long way to making me feel better and certainly help with some of my feet issues.

5. I've always had crappy hair. There's nothing I can do to change that. I've been meaning to do something different with it "when I lose this weight" which has been a hope for years now. I'm afraid if I take that step too prematurely, I'll look shorter and fatter. Yes, I'm still vain---even under all this fat.

6. I'm praying for some family members going through a particularly rough time. They are never far from my thoughts. I even suffered some depression on their behalf, but have been able to get on with it. A counselor once told me that I'm empathetic to a fault. That's just my nature. I'm a fixer. I don't like not being able to do something to help. That sucks!

7. Butch and I have discussed our trip and think we have a pretty good plan. We are very different in how we like to travel. He likes to hit it hard from 7 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. Not me. I like some down time in the afternoon, or if we've hit it hard all day, I like to be back in the early evening. He doesn't like to shop---I like to shop a little---not a lot, but some. He doesn't like to eat. We're both going to compromise on that. He doesn't like to take taxis---he's going to compromise on that. He doesn't want to go to "high" tea with me. I'll take my book and be perfectly happy. That's why we travel so well with Walter and Chris. The guys and girls can go separate ways now and then.

8. I wish there was something I could say that would make Butch stop worrying about money. Even our financial advisors have told him we're really good. It's just like my own unrealistic worries. Just because someone tells you not to worry, you don't really have control over that. I told him to just earn enough money to cover our trips each year. Neither of us thought we'd be traveling so much. Maybe he'll feel better about it if we don't have to "take out" of our retirement for that.

Okay, I guess that's everything in my heart today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Entertainment Review

Let me start with the movies. If you haven't seen "The Help," then you should. I NEVER say this, but the movie was as good as the book. So, if you haven't read it, don't waste your time---see the movie. It is exactly the same and really good!

On the other hand, "Sarah's Key" is really, really good, but the book is better. Still worth seeing if you do not plan to read the book.

"Contagion" was fabulous. It kind of reminded me of Stephen King's book "The Stand"---about how a virus spreads rampantly. Now, if you are a germ-o-phobe, or a hypochondriac (like Steph), then it might not be for you.

That means I'm batting 1000 with the last 3 movies I've seen.  I guess the next few I see might be bummers!

On to live entertainment. Butch, Steph, Nicky, Mindy and I saw Journey and Foreigner in concert last night. We started with dinner at The Palm---an upscale steak house. We picked it on Mindy's recommendation that if you eat here and valet park, you get to park for free. It's right across the street from the Bridgestone Arena. Probably not such a great idea after all---or it goes to show how expensive parking is here! We really miss, not only the free parking, but the service we used to get---a guy just standing there "holding" the best spot and waiting for us whenever we came. Oh the perks to being married to the head honcho of parking! The food was fabulous---as always, but very expensive. Let's just say without revealing the actual bill (since Butch reads my blog) that the alcoholic beverages---which did NOT include a bottle of wine---were 100 bucks! And I only had water.

After dinner, we walked across the street to the concert. We had floor seats which is never good for me. Everyone stands up, so I can't see a thing. But, truth be told, even when everyone sits, I can't see either. The pains of being short. Anyway, the first band was Night Rangers---who we had never heard of. Turns out they had a few hits in the 80's that we recognized---including "Sister Christian." They were good.

After a 15 minute set change, Foreigner performed. The problem with the arena is that the acoustics are very bad. It takes nearly a full minute in to the song to figure out what it is. Still, they sang many of their hits for an hour.

Next up---after a 30 minute set change---was Journey. They were good too, but they played too many songs from their newly released album. Songs we didn't know or really enjoy. Kind of a bummer. They performed for an hour and fifteen minutes. They did "Don't Stop Believin'" for their encore.

I think these 80's bands owe a debt of gratitude to "Glee" for exposing a whole new generation of kids to their music. There were a lot of young people there. Mindy even had a Journey t-shirt! She said she got it in New Orleans a few years ago. I'm surprised she could even find it. I'm just sayin'...

What I didn't like is how Journey and Foreigner add all this instrumental stuff in the middle of the songs to basically kill time and let the lead singer rest. Journey added to this by starting each song with a long instrumental too.

Right off the bat, my ears were starting to hurt from the girl behind me shouting so shrilly that the sound pierced my eardrums. I got a kleenex from Steph and stuffed it in my ears. After that, I could hear the concert perfectly, but was shielded from the screamer behind me. She was also a "head banger"---meaning she kept banging me in the head while she was dancing. I couldn't stand the whole time, so sat a good part of the concert and watched the screens. Like I said, I couldn't see much anyway. Really, that's okay, I'm used to it. But the gal behind me kept knocking me---one time so hard that I saw stars. I was going to say something, but decided not to. I figured she was just having a good time---and a little drunk. I didn't want to ruin her night by complaining, or run the risk she would get "pissed" and spill her beer on me. I hate the smell of beer and didn't really want to wear it. I also didn't want to look like a crabby old fogey!

We had a really good time and all agreed that we liked Foreigner best. At least they played all songs we knew and loved.

Oh, and Nicky plays a really "mean" air guitar!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Who Would Have Thought?

Who would have thought that I'd see a bird's nest with eggs on a table twice in a week and a half? Remember this? I said that Jeanne couldn't fool me. Whoever heard of a bird building a nest on top of a table? Well, I never considered the fact that perhaps she found this nest and moved it to the table---that is if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes!
We were out at the Broussard's farm over Labor Day weekend. Bruce cleaned out the bluebird house and put this on their table on the front porch. You can see how the nest is square---as was the birdhouse. They knew the nest was there---in fact, by looking at it, they probably scared the mother off. Now they get to have a "real" nest and eggs on their table. 

This means that I need a bird's nest with blue eggs on the table on my front porch. I think I'll settle for the fake ones. The real ones just might draw snakes!

Sheesh, keeping up with the "Millers and Broussards" is tough!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You on September 11, 2001?

It's a date you'll never forget---or what you were doing when you heard the news. Like when President Kennedy was shot (I was in the 5th grade---we spent the rest of the day praying), or when the astronauts walked on the moon (I was at Reenie's house watching it on tv) and who could forget when Elvis, Marilyn and John Lennon died?

On 9/11, I was talking on the phone with Sandy. She was in a hotel room in State College, PA. Victoria was just 2 1/2 months old. As we were talking, she had the tv on and told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We continued our conversation just thinking it was a terrible accident. When the second plane hit, we got off the phone and I turned on the television. I was glued to it for the rest of the day---and crying. It was just too unbelievable and sad.

The following day, I spent all day standing in line to give blood at the Red Cross. It literally took me 6 hours, but I couldn't think of anything more important right at that moment. Now 10 years later, it still seems unbelievable. I can't imagine what all those people---living and dead---went through. I hope we never have to go through anything like this again.

Where were you?

Storytelling Sunday---Me and My Big Fat Mouth!

My big fat mouth has gotten me in trouble many times at school through the years. But I'd say the very first time was 1963 when I was in the 6th grade. I had the meanest nun of all, Sister Richard Maureen---most were pretty mean in the 60's, but she was the meanest. We had just come back to the classroom from lunch. Dick Hoffmeyer---we grew up with him as Dick, but suddenly when we entered high school, he became Rich---go figure! Dick did something that made us all laugh hysterically. Sister came in and asked, "What was so funny?" Dick raised his hand and she called on him. He said, "Sister, I cut the cheese." We all cracked up again. Sister quickly put a stop to that. Well, I couldn't stop giggling. Sister got out her roll of masking tape with the blue stripes. She put it over my mouth. Of course, I was mortified and very near tears. So what does a 12 year old girl do to hide embarrassment? She continues to giggle.

Completely frustrated with me, Sister put me in a corner out in the hallway. There, I was able to have my own private little pity party. I was still out there at 3 p.m. when school let out. I looked a sight with that blue-striped tape over my mouth. I was embarrassed all over again as the kids filed out for the day. Even worse was knowing that my brother and sisters couldn't wait to get home to "tell" on me. Back then, if you got in trouble at school, you got in worse trouble at home. That gave me something else to worry about.

Around 4 p.m., Sister Richard Maureen was leaving our classroom for the day. As soon as she stepped into the hallway, she gasped when she saw me still standing there. She didn't admit it, but I realized that she completely forgot about me. She wasn't exactly nice or apologetic, but told me I'd better learn to control myself in the future and then sent me home.

But that's not the end of the story. I got my chance to confront Sister Richard Maureen about 40 years later. It was the closing of our childhood parish and school, St. Aloysius in St. Louis, MO. The whole family came. We were delighted to see old classmates and teachers. I would never have recognized Sister Richard Maureen. When I found out she was there, I marched right up to her and said, "Hi Sister, I'm Barbara Zimmermann (Eads) and you were the meanest teacher I ever had!" She said, "Was I really?" We started talking. I was sure that she would want to apologize to me for what she did all those years ago. But before I even got to remind her of her "crime", she told me that at the time, she was a brand new teacher---22 years old and had 59 students in my class. She had to be tough in order to keep that many kids under control. I remembered that our classes were huge, but I had no idea she was so young---nuns always seemed old to me---and she didn't have any helpers either. Suddenly, I felt a little sorry for her.

I never did remind her of what she did to me. I figure, just like all of us, she made a mistake and probably has enough of her own regrets. She didn't need to be reminded of just one more. If something like that happened today, parents would be "all over it." That teacher would have been in so much trouble. But you know, I was none the worse for it. I learned to behave. And a little humbling is good for the soul. I wasn't harmed for life. I'm pretty well adjusted and happy. In fact, I think I owe Sister Richard Maureen a big thank you. Because of her, I'm still a rule follower. It might drive some people nuts, but I like myself this way.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday Showtunes---Mama Mia

I remember the first time I saw Mama Mia on stage. I just couldn't figure out how they could weave an entire story around the songs of ABBA. They did it and I fell in love with it right away. I've seen it 3 times on stage including once in New York. Theaters in New York are just plain fabulous! Of course I also own the movie. Enjoy!

Mama Mia

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Fear I'm Not Far Behind!

This is a typical conversation at lunch with my old lady bridge friends.
Old Lady #1: "Did I hear you say that Linda M. was in a car accident?"
Old Lady #2: "Yes, she hydroplaned in the rain the other day."
OL#1: "Well Nancy L. was in a car accident too."
OL#2: "OMG, I hadn't heard that."
OL#1: "I thought everyone knew that. Wait, you said Linda S. was in a car accident?"
OL#2: "No, I said Linda M. was in a car accident. Was Nancy L. hurt?"
OL#1: "Yes, but that was years ago. So was Linda S. hurt?"
OL#2 (now throwing up her hand frustratingly): "No, it was Linda M. As far as I know, Linda S. was NOT in a car accident! But Linda M. is really shook up."

This is so typical. They get everything all mixed up and I find my head spinning trying to make sense of it all. Conversation #2.

Me: "Did any of you see The Help?"
OL#1: "I tried to see it, is it still playing?"
Me: "Yes--at least in Green Hills."
OL#2: "I've heard The Debt is good."
Me: "A friend of mine just saw it and said it's good but you have to really pay close attention."
OL#1: "I tried to go to Cool Springs. I don't think it's playing anymore."
OL#2: "I think it just came out."
Me: "Yeah, I know my friend just saw it over the weekend."
OL#1: "All I know is The Help's not playing in Cool Springs."
OL#3: "I want to see Sarah's Key."
Me: "I'm seeing that tomorrow."
OL#1: "I thought you were seeing The Help---it's not playing in Cool Springs."
Me: "No, I already saw The Help a few weeks ago. I'm seeing Sarah's Key tomorrow in Green Hills."
OL#1: Well, all I know is The Help is not playing in Cool Springs."
OL#3: "I never knew the French were as bad as the Nazi's."
OL#2: "The Debt's about the Nazi's?"
Me: "Excuse me ladies, I need to use the restroom before we go back to the bridge table."

OMG---they can really drive me nuts! I did joke with them that I would be 75 and OLD too in just a mere 15 years. Scary! I'm so afraid that my conversations are going to go like theirs! Most of these gals are in their 80's to 90's. As confused as they can be in normal conversation, their minds are totally clear at the bridge table. They are shaaaarrrrpppp!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Scrapbook Retreat

Hey All,
Here are a few of the layouts I did at our last retreat.
A few years ago, I brought some "fill in the blank" cards for my family. It includes all kinds of likes---like: favorite color, favorite food, restaurant, etc. My plan is to use them when I do a page about a particular person. 

I had a card for Janet, but it fell on the floor, so I forgot to use it. I ended up giving it to Jeanne. I have very few pictures of Janet---in fact, this is it---not even enough for a double page spread. That's why I put couples pictures on the left side. This was a really simple layout---just some squares of pattern paper, a few felt flowers and a punched border. 
My style of scrapbooking tends to be pretty clean and simple. I'm pretty linear---nothing cockeyed or crooked for me. I didn't seem to mind "angling" that heart.
I did several layouts about our family "Minute to Win It" game while on vacation in July.  I have about a dozen albums in the works at all times. That way, I never get bored. I scrapbook what I want when I want. This layout will go into Sandy's album---that's why I focused on the pictures that are of her family.

This layout couldn't have been easier or faster---8-1" strips of pattern paper. I just eyeballed them to lay them out. Then I just put a picture in each square using one square for the title. After that, I just added buttons or brads at each junction---sort of like a quilt. Took less than an hour.

I had this layout already completed except for the journaling. I decided to document our 4 mantels and explain the significance of the items on them.

This layout will go into our family album. It's just a bunch of random photos from our vacation. I love writing across several journaling spots and post-it notes. I was happy to be able to incorporate the vintage bingo cards from my stash too.

Another game page for Steph's family album. I had some odds and ends that I bunched together on the left side for an easy border.

The title banner is just layered stickers. Banners are all the rage right now. Another thing I like to do and have to be careful to not "over-do" is the 3 brads in the upper right corner and lower left corner.