Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

To my family and friends who are celebrating Christmas,
I wish you a Merry Christmas
and to my friends of different faiths,
I wish you a Very Happy Holiday Season.
To Evereyone,
A Very Happy and Healthy New Year.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb:

If I were a wise man
I would do my part.

Yet what I can I give Him,
Give Him my heart.

~Christina Rossetti~

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Excuses, excuses!

The squirrels are trying to convince Santa that they haven't been eating all of the birdseed this year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spending time with good friends

All these photos were taken with my cell phone, consequently several of them are out of focus because it doesn't seem to do well in low-lighting, unless I get really lucky, so please excuse the poor quality. I haven't been able to recharge my pocket camera as I seem to have tidied the charger into non-existence; that is I have been doing a lot of house-cleaning and have apparently put it in a place I can't remember. It will probably turn up when I am looking for something else in another week or so.

We have done a lot of socializing lately. This past Sunday we were guests at our friends' church. Kathy and Chuck play the bells and sing in the choir and asked us if we would like to attend Sunday Service. Another good friend, Anne, also has a beautiful voice and even though she is not a regular church member because she lives over an hour away, sang in the choir as a guest. It was a great pleasure to hear my friends singing. Back when Kathy lived in England she taught the boys' choir for the opera performances at Covent Garden, and met Chuck in Italy when he was training as an opera singer. He also has a magnificent voice and did a couple of solo's. Because I was in church I made myself sit on my hands and didn't take too many photos but I did get this one of Kathy who is on the left.

After the service our friend Carol invited us all to lunch at her house. She has a lovely home with many things that catch my eye. Below is friend Hazel, very out of focus but I liked the softness of the photo and decided to include it. I don't think Hazel would mind.

Hazel with another friend of ours, Jackie.

I like Carol's fireplace a lot and took three photos....

and here's Gregg eating an appetizer, drinking a glass of wine and enjoying that lovely roaring fire.

Time for lunch.

A delicious meal.

Afterwards we all sit around and enjoy chatting with Carol's oldest granddaughter who is taking good care of her little sister. You can just see Carol on the left, next her husband Donald who is looking at his granddaughters - notice the Redskin Shirt - Donald is a big fan and occasionally disappeared as there was a game going on. He returned with reports on how the game was progressing and that's Chuck, Kathy's husband.

This little long-haired chihuahua's is Sophie, and her mummy is Carol's daughter. Kathy enjoyed giving her a fuss.

Gregg with Kathy and Anne. Kathy is again with her new best friend, the little chihuahua, but don't tell Hamish. Yes I am joking, he needn't worry as we all know that he is number one dog in Kathy's life.

This is the little chihuau's sister, a Pomeranian called Lily.

One of me with those darling little dogs. I was at that point wondering if I could smuggle them under my coat and take them back home with me.

They are definitely getting a lot of attention.

Time for dessert. By this time it has gotten dark outside and I feel very lucky that this photo came out as prettily as it did. I liked it so much I used it in my new header photograph.

The next two photos are totally out of focus but I'm still happy that we at least got something. Carol's husband took a couple too, which I hope they will be sending me soon. In the meantime here we all are; left to right Kathy holding Sophie, Carol, Denise, Anne, Jackie and Hazel.

Another good time together and already making plans for the next gathering.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My World Tuesday

In this photo Gregg is standing outside Starbucks (Baltimore) with Chuck and Hamish. We were meeting Kathy and Chuck's daughter-in-law and grandson, who were coming to collect Hamish. They were going to look after him while we went to our Christmas concert. We were also going to stay overnight at the Holiday Inn.

I have done a few posts on our trip to Baltimore now and this is the last one from our trip. There were six of us altogether, Kathy and Chuck, Anne and Carol and Gregg and me. Gregg drove our van so that we could all go together. We talked all the way there and it seemed a short ride - the one-and-a-half hours went by really fast.

Because Kathy's son and his family live on a boat, Kathy was fixing a harness on Hamish.

Hamish made a friend - from a distance. He was waiting for his human who had gone in to get a cup of coffee. Such a friendly dog, a real sweetie.

We went to the 2.00 p.m. performance. Here we are, Kathy, Anne, Denise and Carol. Gregg said with a big grin on his face, "You girls sure can talk." "Well..." I said, "You boys seem to be holding your own pretty well."

These ladies were on the second floor and we heard them before we set eyes on them. I love to hear bell ringers. It takes me back to when my family and I went to town at this time of the year and heard the Salvation Army sing Christmas Carols while ringing the bells. A lovely memory.

There were several children enjoying that pretty sound.

One wall showed all the musicians from the Baltimore Symphony. I enjoyed their photos. They were apparently asked to choose a pose that would capture what they enjoyed doing, other than playing in the symphony.

Kathy and Chuck's son is also one of the musicians.

I didn't realize Father Christmas was going to be there.

This little girl was waiting to go into the concert hall. I softened her face somewhat to mask her identity. When I don't know the child I try to be considerate of how I would feel if she were mine. She was so cute though. I noticed all the children were dressed in their party attire. I loved the pretty frocks the girls wore.

This is the concert hall. Maureen McGovern was the presenter and she sang some beautiful songs. I didn't realize that we were going to see a variety show of sorts. Martin Preston was a Liberace impersonator and had some very elaborate costumes as you might guess. He was excellent. I remember my mother loving Liberace and I could appreciate his talent and the colorful and very glittery clothing, very visual and an integral part of his act. We weren't allowed to take photos of the performance of course, for obvious reasons.

We also saw Tony Hoard and Rocking Rory, a dog and frisby act made famous by America's Got Talent. What do they say about not following an animal act? They were so much fun and I noticed at the end of the show that the dogs got a hearty applause, maybe a louder one than any of the other artists.

We met Martin Preston (Liberace) afterwards. Kathy and I asked him if he would autograph our program and I bought a CD. I almost forgot to say that we watched the Baltimore School of Arts perform. They did a Vegas routine and were excellent. Such energy, all those high kicks tired me out. We all enjoyed the show and I am looking forward to going back just to hear the Symphony. It was fun to see Kathy's son on stage and he and all the other musicians performed beautifully.

Back at the hotel we had time for Gregg to catch up on some work before meeting up with everyone for dinner. The weather was a bit iffy and instead of walking to a restaurant to meet Kathy and Chuck's family, Kathy asked them if they would mind joining us in the hotel for dinner.

Yes, I told Carol, Anne and Kathy, I even take photos inside the elevator. God Bless good friends!

As we were early we went to the bar, sat in a corner and had a quiet drink. The barman came over and said his mother was Irish. He thought we were but we said no, we were one Scot, three English, and two Americans. That sounds like the start of a joke doesn't it?

He chatted to us for a while after he took our orders and he was such a nice young man. One thing we were all very happy about was how nice and friendly all the staff were at our Holiday Inn, a credit to the hotel. They earned high marks on customer service, and the food was very good. Here are two of the meals; Carol and I had pork chops with garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli, Gregg ordered fried chicken with the same veggies. They came garnished with deep-fried thinly sliced sweet potatoes, and they weren't greasy at all. Gregg doesn't eat sweet potatoes but he enjoyed these. Other friends had salads and salmon, fish and chips, and when Kathy's family joined us the children ordered macaroni and cheese, so the menu was very kid friendly.

We had a long, leisurely breakfast the next morning but no photos. I was too busy joining in the conversation to even think about it. We were in no hurry to leave as we wanted to miss the rush-hour traffic, it being Monday morning. One last chance for me to take a photo out of our hotel room and we were ready to head for home before noon.

This was in the foyer.

Gregg had gone ahead to try and warm the car up before we got in. It was so cold and the weather was supposed to turn horrible. Thankfully it remained dry all the way back.

More talking....more smiling....

and taking shots around Baltimore as we drove over to pick up Hamish.

Pretty graffiti, someone had painted a lovely hibiscus on the wall.
Down by the water it was freezing and I took photos on the fly while following Kathy and Carol.

Kathy and Chuck's family live on a boat but we had to use a pass to get into the marina. Below you can see Kathy and Chuck with Anne looking on. The wind was whistling off the water and it was freezing, the first day I remember it being bone-chillingly cold, but we were after all on the water.

I wasn't sure which boat we were going on and thought this was it but it was the one parked next door.

Gregg was asked to pull on the rope to try and bring it nearer to the wooden step, which we had to climb to get on board. That was exciting, especially as we had to practically do a pas de deux across what seemed like a couple of feet of space. The water seemed a long way down at the top of those steps. I don't think Gregg was having much success at pulling it closer and oh boy, I wish I had a movie of us boarding.

Gregg's voice was getting more assertive as he told me to pocket my camera. He told me later he had visions of me dropping my precious camera, and automatically grasping empty air while doing a swan dive right into the water. I told him not to worry, I would have used my common sense, I think, at least I hope.
We made it without mishap but Gregg and Carol decided to stay dockside. We weren't on board very long as we didn't want them to turn into Popsicles, but Kathy gave us a quick tour and I had a chance to see what life would be like living on board a boat. Pretty neat and it was warm and toasty in there.

Hamish had a great time with his cat-friend Emmet but he was ready to go home with mum and dad. He was extremely happy and wriggling so much, he was a bit of a blur.

I had a chance to admire the Christmas tree and a few of the children's ornaments.

But it was time to make our way down those wooden steps again. "Do you have your camera in your pocket?" said assertive personality Gregg. "I certainly do!" I said.

Liar, liar, pants on fire! There's Gregg again getting back to his navy days and I think Carol is taking a photo of us all.

Hamish is raring to go.....

....and so is Gregg. I think he is regretting not wearing his long-johns.

He's not waiting for me anymore and if I take that swan dive I am on my own because he's heading out at a fast pace. He is not asking me if I have pocketed my camera anymore, he's too busy heading for the van so that he can turn the heat on.....

and so are the girls. In fact, we're all marching at a pretty fast pace, yes even me with my camera.

We all had such a great time and the homeward bound journey went just as fast. Yes Gregg, we girls can really talk up a storm.

Gregg and I have now dropped everyone off and were heading to the dry-cleaners to pick up his business clothes for the following week before they closed, but of course when Gregg said, "Hey take a picture of that!", I couldn't resist, especially as they were fellow dog lovers....and there was no danger of me going for that swan dive. Gregg could rest easy now and so could I.

One quick one of the school bus.

Thank you Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia for hosting My World.

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