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Monday, May 22, 2017

Not All Is Political!

Spring is melding into summer. It's warm outside and May is not even over in the Northwest of England! Unusual in my experience, having lived in this part of the world only since the early 80's. It's now time to get ready for the yearly travel to France -- and this year we are once again able to leave in June to be there in time for my birthday in the middle of the month. We had planned to leave earlier but have been  delayed by the need of The Man to cast his vote and watch the results unfold.

Whatever the result, he will probably not be happy with it, being a Liberal Democrat and all...

Being a political junkie myself, I never thought I would have had enough of politics and all the hoopla that goes on around them. However, I have had enough for a while. Although, I must say that the limited time we in Britain must endure ads on television -- the parties take turns having 5 minute time slots per night on each channel is heavenly common sense compared to the pure hell of the American  daily ordeal. And we have never received a party political phone call here either. The only complaint I've read about is someone who is unhappy from hearing a political pamphlet shoved through the mailbox after midnight! Tame stuff to anyone who has had to endure the madness of America during a presidential campaign!

I haven't posted anything since the 28th of March! I felt that I didn't have anything worth writing about. Couldn't seem to process events other than what's been in the headlines when of course there is really everything else that is more important and more interesting even if I haven't been able to see it, think of it. For example:

My youngest son and his partner, who live with us now, will be having their first child at the end of October! As The Man and I have 7 grandsons, we are rather hoping for a girl! But healthy boy or girl, when all is said and done, it really doesn't matter! The happy couple is also renovating a house of their own,  not very far away, so  I think they are  hoping to be moved in by the time the baby comes.

All of this activity has brought back may memories of establishing our own family nest -- and that was very complicated. The Man and I now can look forward but also back, but we look back at experience rather than as longing.

Imminent looking forward are books for the summer reading and polishing up on my blogging imagination and packing up. This year I'm flying to Limoges and The Man is driving down. He will pick ,me up as he passes by. Hopefully, his timing and Ryanair coincide!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Doom and Gloom

The Man has pronounced many times that the Internet is going to self-destruct and it will be the end of civilization as we know it! The rest of the family, including me, poo-poo him and insist that this will never happen. Though I will admit to  wondering what would happen if, indeed, it did implode....

My first thoughts were about Internet banking, which I find very convenient and which I have convinced myself is perfectly safe. So nice to be able to 'ping' funds abroad and not have to trudge the few blocks down to the bank to make arrangements and then pay a fee. But, oops, if the Internet blew would my money (such as it is) be safe? Would the information I have 'on the cloud' still be there? Would data survive??? Would all our blogging efforts just disappear in a nano second?

Would governments and businesses be able to cope if Internet services were somehow destroyed.

On a positive note -- there would be no more addicts punching madly on their phones and tablets. They might learn how to converse again. They might even talk to us old guys.

I am going to suggest to The Man that he concentrate more on finding us a suitable replacement for the 25-year-old Volvo Estate. He's doing searches on the Internet so he'd better hurry before his doomsday scenario  makes it impossible.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Old Fashion-able

It's been a while since my last post because all I could think to write about were certain political creatures occupying the White House, their shenanigans and my antipathy toward them. So in order to limit myself to only occasional diatribes in that direction, I have stayed silent.Well done, me...

Then yesterday I managed to come up with a totally different topic and here I am again! Hurray!

It's about fashion. Now just because I am an old broad and self-opinionated as well, doesn't mean I don't have valid observations about today's trends. I shall elaborate with a few examples...

This season there is a madness for ridiculous sleeves. Most of them are fitted elbow to shoulder and gathered in skirt-like fashion to the wrist, if not slightly below. The bigger the sleeve, the more expensive the outfit. I lost count of the number of sweaters/jumpers/cardigans, blouses or frocks that I rather liked the look of until I caught sight of the 'thing' hanging from the elbow and ready to dive into the soup, or graze the bolognese, capture some bearnaise and otherwise participate in culinary delights.

Apparently, a 'must have' article of clothing this season is the lopsided skirt! "Why?", I ask -- stupidly, no doubt. Obviously, it is a must of being fashionable, that one can wear anything and not feel ridiculous or distracted or uncomfortable. I cannot imagine feeling anything but disconcerted by feeling the hem stroking my leg on one side of my body and the thigh on the other. So much for me and confidence. It is obvious that this sort of skirt is not meant to be worn if one is sitting down.

Hey, is it possible that spike heels are going the way of the waste bin, out of harms way,  where they belong? I have seen this season, shoes with square heels that are very smart and probably comfortable! Clarks has a pair in powder blue with a strap and little blue flowers decorating the heel. I love them -- perfect for this dowdy old American bag wearing jeans and having a fair share  of attitude.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Flummoxed again!

So then... The day following my last post I turned the radio on only to discover the bluetooth reception was terrible. I thought it was the terrible weather  we had been having, but nothe , it is still terrible.

I went back to the Internet and looked up my system and found the instructions that had been missing in the box. Now why didn't I do that in the first place? I discovered  first of all that I had not pulled the antenna out far enough so that I could swivel it around for good DAB reception!

So now even though the bluetooth is now a flop, I am back to my original plan to have a digital radio in  working order...

Oh, hell, I guess I will just have to put up with being just another pretty face...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Still not Just a Pretty Face

For Christmas my son and his girl gave me a new music system. Nothing particularly fancy, but it has a DAB radio, an FM radio, a CD player and Bluetooth. Bluetooth was not one of my requirements, just a surprising extra. Since I rarely have had need of it, Bluetooth, is a feature I don't often consider, even though my phone and new little computer have it. The only time I have had need of it was when I briefly was besotted with the idea of a selfie stick.

I have had a DAB radio for a few years -- in the kitchen. However, when the kitchen was recently dismantled that radio got moved into my study. I had an old hi-fi system with multiple cd holders, which was not playing CD's very well and the radio had terrible FM reception. Thus my request for a new system.

So a day or two after Christmas I opened up the box and took my new toy out. The DAB radio reception was terrible! I was so disappointed. But at least the CD player was just fine and dandy... FM radio was non-existent -- no reception at all. I have since learned from the Internet that DAB reception can be very problematic indeed.

So, as is  my wont, I complained and explained to my middle son. And he said why don't you connect with bluetooth? He then proceeded to connect his phone's bluetooth, via a special app, to my new hi-fi and 'bingo' perfect reception. A few days later middle son left to return to Italy and I still hadn't figured out how exactly he had done it. And thinking about it it was not exactly convenient to tie up my phone with the hi fi in my study.

However sitting on my desk right next to my  new present, is my little travel computer which also has BT! After some investigation -- looking for the app I would need and how to connect it to the radio, I discovered that aq feature of Windows 10 is the ability to connect easily to BT devices!  All I had to do was put the radio into "BT Mode", turn the BT on on the computer, find the radio station and the computer speakers would automatically find the BT speakers on the hi-fi!

I did have to fiddle-fi-diddle a tiny little bit, but I did it -- by myself! And now here I am listening to my favourite station and feeling quite smug.... Several hours after writing this post, I realized that I had not published it when closing down -- as I had meant to do... Maybe I am just another pretty face ;-)

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Disaster

For the first time in my life, Christmas was an unmitigated disaster. Believe me, it was all going so well until we all were to sit down for Christmas dinner. Noses got out of joint, tempers flared and people walked out as the main course was about to be served!

I am still reeling from the aftermath, although, fortunately, I am not being held to blame by anyone. But oh my there is a lot of forgiving that needs to be done and it is up to others to make amends. An important relationship may be broken beyond repair -- time will tell.

Well, now it's a new year and it promises to be challenging on all fronts! Let the fun begin...

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Water Meter Reader Cometh

So last week the doorbell rang and the man came to read the water meter -- which is downstairs in the cellar garage. So with a little groan I told him I had to go down there and open the door for him to gain access to the meter. The Man wasn't there, you see, to take care of this.

I hate going down there. The first step is deeper than the rest and there is only the wall to balance against. The handrail doesn't appear until the third or fourth step. Anyway, I made it down to the bottom unscathed and went into the garage and unbolted the glass doors for him. He went to follow me to show him where the meter was and as I turned ...

I promptly and completely tripped over the handle of the trailer which was parked in front of the doors. Shock and Pain! And suddenly out of nowhere The Man appeared, shouting at me. "What are you doing down here. You shouldn't come down here," etc. etc. Well, fuck, me!

My right hand was killing me -- really hurting -- as was my right 'boob'. I didn't feel the other aches and pains until later. At anyrate, I also skinned my left knee, which meant I was rather loathe to put it down on the rough floor to push myself up. The two men, who were both looking rather helpless, I deigned to allow to help lift me up off said floor and I was then unceremoniously ordered outside to re-enter the house from the front door.

Now it is never convenient to have this happen. But 10 days or so before  Christmas is really inconvenient -- especially to have a gammy right hand. No, I did not seek medical attention -- I was pretty sure nothing was broken and the following morning the main had marginally decreased. The first night was difficult because my hand really ached. Two days later my right breast was totally purple. Now it's almost totally clear. There are still a few aches and pains -- knee mostly -- but the Christmas show is back on the road.

I am now under orders not to descend into the cellar. And The Man just delivered the Christmas tree stand into the utility room -- with orders that I am not to trip over it!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Like It or Lump It, the Bitter Pill

I have been wondering ever since I wrote it, why I chose the story of my last post. I am appalled by the election results, but not surprised -- exactly. I want to give the not quite the people's choice the chance to be not as bad as I think he will be. But it has  not been easy to reserve judgement. Especially with the choice of Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor. When I hear that instead of 12 million illegal immigrants there will only be deportations of three million, the grim history of the 1940's comes to mind.

So, why did I write my last post? It was an attempt to explain the phenomenon of Donald Trump. I have a vague recollection of when I first heard of him. He was at the time married to Ivana and they were both quite young and glamourous -- she was amusing. And of course everyone was fascinated by all the money they had. Gosh that was a very long time ago -- long before the sleaze and the divorces and the mysterious goings on with bankruptcies and money -- or lack of it! Most of all, we really didn't know anything about him. We were really only interested in the glamour and all that dosh.

What I find beyond difficult to understand, is how this urban New Yorker has been able to convince middle America that he has the answers to the country's problems and in particular their problems. There is a long road ahead and it looks woe be gone to me.

I am a life long Democrat from a family of life long Democrats. I am on the mailing lists of many Party organizations and try to keep abreast of what is happening in the ranks. For a long time now I have castigated the Republican Party for allowing itself to be taken over by right wing extremists and I have also been pretty unhappy with the tone of the recent election. But now I find that the tone of my own party is making me question its ways.

For example I have received emails asking me to support the impeachment of Donald Trump. Surely, this is not the time for that! Like it or not, approve of the man or not, he has been elected and must be given the opportunity to serve as President. In addition, it is utterly stupid and a waste of time and money, to expend energy on such an exercise which is bound to fail before a Congress the  majority of whom are Republicans.

Above all, I believe this is a time for extreme caution. Our President-elect is not happy about recounts in three states and is now making accusations that Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote because the election was rigged! So many reactions and counter-reactions do not bode well for the future well-being of the country and its citizens.

It is fortunate that the U.S. election is followed several weeks which provide time for reflection and meditation. No matter who wins, there must also be a loser and so people are both happy and miserable. For those of us who follow the traditions of the season of Advent, it helps to meditate on the Antiphons of the church, which begin

 O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly.  Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Modern Fairy Tale

Once upon a time quite a few years ago in the town of my parents, a prince was travelling through on his way home to his neighbouring kingdom. It was very beautiful in this New England realm and many aristocrats  and famous people had been known to travel the roads just for the scenery.

The prince drove a splendid and expensive sports car even though the day was very cold and the roads were icy and the landscape snowy from a recent storm. A few miles down the road he came to the crossroads where he would turn right to cross the old gray covered bridge across the beautiful and picturesque Housatonic River en route to the border of his realm.

The lure of a powerful sports car tempted him to go faster over the icy and snow-packed road than he should have gone and suddenly  his car was skidding and spinning and flew up over the bank of snow on the side of the road and into a very deep snow drift. As this was a long time ago and well before mobile phone signals might even exist -- if they even do to this very day! The prince was well and truly stuck. Of course, it was also true that the prince was not wearing appropriate footwear either and it was going to be dark soon.

The prince tended to be a very lucky man -- and luck turned out to be with him that day. Farmer Bradley was on his way back home after a day pulling felled trees from where they had fallen across the road during the snow storm.  He was on his tractor and his tractor had chains and sand and other useful and necessary equipment for winter country life. Seeing the princely predicament and being a neighbourly and helpful sort, even at the worst of times, Farmer Bradley set about freeing the car from the snowdrift in no time at all.

The prince was very grateful, as one might imagine. And he tried to give the farmer a generous sum of money for his gracious help. But the farmer would take none of it because he believed that if you can help someone, that's what you do and money shouldn't come into it. The prince was surprised and slightly disappointed that he could not reward the man for his kindness and generosity of spirit.

Not long after the events described, Farmer Bradley had to go to the bank to pay his mortgage. When he got there the Manager called him into his office to tell him that his mortgage had been paid in full by the prince.

The prince's name was Donald Trump!

A true story -- with embellishments!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Delays and Mishaps Don't Prevent the Vote

Last week I despaired that I would not be able to vote in the upcoming Presidential election. I had sent my forms into the town clerk of the last town in the U.S. where I had lived about three weeks in before and had been waiting for an email in response.

The procedure for absentee voting is different for every state and in my home state of Connecticut it is more straightforward than many others. In order to ensure delivery of my application to the Town Clerk I had sent the mail requiring a signature. This also allowed me to track it -- and imagine my surprise when I discovered it had been sitting in the New York State postal service for a good 10 days! I surmise this was because I had paid extra money to have a signature!

I then spent several hours trying to discover how to submit a Federal ballot, which is used in emergency situations -- for example when a ballot does not show up. Finally I found the right link to click and sure enough I was able to download and print it and get it ready for mailing -- once again to the same peopled in Connecticut I had already applied to in the first place!

Then I read a little line in the instructions about how it would be a good idea to call the Town Clerk's office as any confusion might be cleared up quite quickly. And so I did. Well worth the trouble of that call! It also helped that I was dealing with small town America...

I had sent my application to the town of Canaan, Connecticut. But I had forgotten, that the town where I had only lived for a short time with my mother, was, in fact North Canaan. When I called Canaan, the town clerk remembered my application and informed me that it had been delivered to the town clerk in North Canaan and I should call her. Which I duly did.

Oh yes, she remembered me very well! After all they don't get many requests for absentee ballots in North Canaan. She informed me that she had sent me an email with all the necessary forms attached! But, I explained, I had not received an email. She replied that not only had she sent it to my main email address, but also to the alternative email address I had supplied...

When I asked her when she sent it she said the day she received the request or the day after.  She said she would resend. When I got off the phone, I trawled back through my emails. I hadn't deleted any for about three days. I don't know about all of you, but I get hundreds of emails -- many from political organizations, so I have to regularly dump them. I felt sure that if I had received an email from her it had probably been dumped. But trawl through what was there I did. And believe it or not the very last emails from three days previously were from the town clerk of North Canaan with all the necessary forms for me to vote in the 2016 Presidential Election.

It didn't help that the 'from' address was just the persons name, and not official looking. But it just goes to show how easy it is to overlook important emails. It makes me wonder how many I have missed over the years... But on the same day I found them, d I filled out the forms and sent in my ballot with my choices. What a relief!