Friday, June 29, 2012

Another old photo...

This is a photo of Gregg and me. It was taken before we were married in July 1975, and we had driven up to Worcestershire to introduce him to my sister and brother-in-law.   I haven't seen this photo in years but I went upstairs and delved into an old box and found a whole bunch of them.  We just bought a replacement scanner for the one that broke a while back, and this week I have been finding old snapshots to scan and file.  Good job too, a lot of them are fading.  

I think when I first saw this photo I said something like "Yee-Gads, where did the time go?"

The first thing I noticed was how young we looked, and second was where are my EYEBROWS?  I am hoping that it was because it was the style of things back then and not because I had gone a little bonkers with the tweezers.  I never liked mine and would try to be as fastidious as possible in shaping what I had.  Nope, that doesn't look right, maybe I ought to tweeze a few more on this side.  Nope that looks terrible, let me try and match up the other side and heck, before you know it, whoops!

The first thing Gregg said?   "Who is that skinny guy?"   The first thing he noticed was that he was wearing a pink sweater.  If you knew Gregg you would know that this is an astonishing discovery.  He's pretty conservative these days and wouldn't touch a pink sweater with a ten foot pole.  He also remembers wearing bell bottoms.

We were also probably smiling maniacally due to relief, as when we first arrived my sister had left the key under the mat and we let ourselves in.  The last thing she said to me on the phone was, "Don't let Blue out, he'll see the open door and think it's time for a runner."  Well, Gregg opened the door and saw this big ball of fur flying at him from down the hallway, startled he did what any sensible man would do, side-step before he got trampled down.

Blue was a big old English Sheepdog with a major attitude and he was his own dog, not a dog who would stay put when called, by us anyhow.  We spent the next hour hunting him down, jumping over hedges, startling neighbors, apologizing to neighbors while trampling neighbor's flowers down - well not exactly because Blue had flattened everything already and jumped over so many fences and run across so many gardens, he was like his own herd of elephants stampeding through a forest.

All Gregg could think of was that the first time he met my sister and her husband, he imagined himself saying, "Hi I'm the guy who is going to marry your sister and oh by the way, I just lost your dog."  I'm thankful to say that we collared Blue eventually and the neighbors were really nice considering.  They knew we were coming and I think Gregg was the first American they had met in a long, long time  if ever, so he was a bit of a novelty.  I knew them from the many trips I had made up there.  Let's just say we made our mark and when we walked into the village pub that night we were well known.  What did my sister say?  Nothing much, she just rolled her eyes and said, "Oh Blue, you naughty boy!"  Blue looked back adoringly.  At this point my brother-in-law rolled his eyes because he will be the first to admit that Blue loved my sister but males on the whole, not so much.  All ended well and fortunately this did not prevent them from liking Gregg from the beginning.

I had known Blue for about three years and always enjoyed my weekends with that funny dog because you just never knew what to expect.  He was a character from day one.  He always paid my sister mind but didn't give a hoot to anyone else.  If he had been human I would have said he had wild mood swings, you just never knew on which side of the bunk bed he got up on, but how I loved that dog and now I think of him I smile a real big smile.

So look back at that photo and you'll now understand those big happy smiles, happiness, relief, thank God we didn't lose the dog.

(I found Blue's Doppelganger on line)

It's been a while, a food post

It's been a while since I shared a recipe.  With the coming of summer we've been having mostly non-oven type meals and a lot of salads.  I found this one at Kalyn's Kitchen and you can click on her link to go straight to her blog post.

Salad with Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Onions, Avocado and Balsamic Vinegar

3 small Persian cucumbers or garden cucumbers
1 cup diced tomato or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion or thinly sliced sweet onion (or more)
1 avocado
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (optional, for tossing with avocado)
1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cut cucumbers in thin slices.  I always peel mine but it's entirely up to you.  Dice tomatoes or cut cherry tomatoes in half to make one cup.  (Only make this salad when you know the tomatoes are at their best in taste.  I bought Roma grape tomatoes and they were delicious and sweet).  Add the sliced green onions or sliced sweet onion.  Peel and cut up the avocado into small cubes.

Combine the cucumber, tomato, onion and avocado in a plastic or glass bowl and gently toss together.  Add the tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.  Season to taste with your favorite sea salt and plenty of fresh-ground black pepper.

If you have any left-over salad and haven't already done so, toss the avocado with a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to stop it from going brown.  This is best when it is freshly made.


This was a delicious salad and one we will be having again.  I used an English/Hot-House Cucumber, also a White Wine Balsamic Vinegar as it was in the cupboard and I didn't want to go to the store just to buy the other.  I also had a sweet red pepper in the fridge, diced it up and threw it in.  I don't have sea salt and replaced it with Kosher.  My avocado was the last one I had and was tiny, so next time there will be a lot more avocado.  I had also tossed it before with the lemon juice and it gave it a nice tangy taste along with the balsamic vinegar.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Meadowlark Gardens, one of my favorite places.....

Several times during the year, in every season, you will find us at Meadowlark Gardens.  It is one of our favorite places to visit.  The gazebo is always one of our stops.  

This noble looking rooster sits on the roof and we can sit under it while we take in the surroundings.   By the time we reach the gazebo we are always ready to rest for a few minutes, and on this day it was particularly hot.  Fortunately there are enough rest spots along the walk, many that are under shade.

We enjoy watching the colorful Koi swimming around.  I expect they are used to being fed here.

And then you get many turtles poking their head up....

and this time there were Canada Geese poking their heads down.  Bottoms up!

The lotus were getting ready to bloom

Gregg enjoys taking photos as much as I do and many of these shots are his.

You might remember this one from a few posts back in a sepia tone.  He was nice enough to stay still long enough to pose for me.

The lilies were blooming beautifully.

Gregg posed on the new bridge built earlier in the year.....

and here he is sitting on the bench but it was not one of the shaded ones so I opted to walk on, to find one that was.

This is the Bell of Peace and Harmony.  It is new to the garden.  We took a lot of photos and I will share them soon in a separate post.

Another resting spot, this time under a nice shady tree.  There is even a miniature bench for the younger members of the family.

I took several pictures of what was blooming.

There were several nesting boxes and in many tree swallows had already taken up residence.  There were more natural nests under the eaves of the gazebo.

Canada Geese were in several places but not quite as many as there are usually.  I know they can be an awful pest in great numbers but I do love them.  I like their feisty nature and no I don't get too close but admire them at a safe distance.  We were on one of our errand runs the other day and Mama, Papa and several Baby Canada Geese actually stopped traffic on a busy road as they made their way across.  Since we've lived here we have seen this happen many times.  People are generally very kind in allowing families to cross safely, as long as long as there is no danger to anyone and that's a fine balance as we well know.

There were lots of American Robins busy gathering food for young ones....

and I spotted this little Catbird doing the same.

We always seem to find chipmunks, this one's mate was close by.  We disturbed the little lovebirds but only for a moment.  

A bench, a bench, my kingdom for a nice shady bench and I found one, yay for me and I didn't even need to give up my kingdom. The heat and humidity always gets to me and on my shopping list is a new sun hat as I lost my other one.  I'm repeating myself yet again but I also should know to take a bottle of water along, as by this time I could have drunk a river.  There weren't too many people walking around in the noonday sun, only - as Noel Coward would say - Mad Dogs and Englishmen - and Denise - and Gregg but then he's a Virginia Boy, grew up here and the more hot and more steamy the better he likes it.  He was lapping the heat up and I was all shades of purple, blue and red, a veritable patchwork quilt of color.  Gregg first noticed this strange phenomena the year I experienced my first summer in the States, which I have mentioned many times before, probably every time we get that first really humid day, like this day, and we're not even at the height of summer yet.  Whoopee!!!

One more hike and one more bench to sit on where I saw this lovely scene, a grandpa taking a stroll with his granddaughter, and a baby in a pushchair.  

They rejoined the rest of the family soon after.

Almost at the end of our walk around the park I sat on yet another bench in another shady spot.  We had one more hill to climb with the visitors center in sight and Gregg, bless his cotton socks, told me to rest while he hiked up to get me an icy cold bottle of water, at which I immediately put on my neck for a lovely cool down, and then I drank the whole lot before I got back to the car.  Can't wait to get back here but maybe it will be in the evening time as the sun goes down, and not with all those silly mad dogs, etc., etc.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fishing and the Internet


Life tends to throw all kinds of things our way, so best to count our blessings and enjoy each day to the fullest.  Gregg and I try to do just that.  It doesn't take much to keep us happy and we enjoy each other's company no matter what we do and just as much, even more, as we did when we got married almost 37 years ago.

Since I last wrote a ramble we have seen son and daughter-in-law quite a bit, and a couple of days ago had breakfast with son before he went to work.  We love them dearly of course, we love their humor and the way they make us laugh out loud, and yes we're probably very prejudiced but they are two of the nicest people and a whole lot of fun to be around.   

When we were at the restaurant an interesting sight greeted us as we rolled into the parking lot.  There was even a stetson on the dashboard.  Not something you see every day.  In fact, I don't think I have ever seen a set of horns decorating a vehicle before, maybe in a movie once, and wondered how can that be legal?   I would think they have to take those things off to pass the annual inspection.  Son took this photo with his camera.  It had a Virginia license plate.  I half expected to see someone come out of the restaurant with six-guns on his hip.  To protect their privacy I have changed the licence plate.

We also had two nice long chats with my niece and her Dad who live in Germany. In fact my niece grew up in Germany and is bilingual, lucky girl. My sister always used to say we were very alike and I have to admit that I have noticed this myself over the years. She also makes us laugh out loud and we love her great sense of humor. She wants us to visit and I promised her that Gregg and I would plan a trip next year.  We have to sort out the dates so that she can take the time off.  She and her young man have just bought a new home and are also the proud owners of three sheep, which came with the house. They are pets and the previous owner kept several but didn't have enough room in their new place for these three. She's hoping that she can take care of them properly as this is a whole new territory, and they both travel extensively with their jobs, not usually at the same time however.  

As I mentioned before, last week Gregg took time off work and we were off out every day, either to one of our parks getting lots of walking in, or just pottering around running errands.  He enjoyed his break and will be back at work today, with a couple of trips into DC.   

So here I have been playing with a new toy. Gregg surprised me with my very own IPad and I have had fun getting used to it.  I've been downloading all kinds of neat apps and as my interests lie in photography and art, I have been concentrating on those. I took a picture of myself, opened the appropriate app and voila, turned it into a sketch.  It's going to be like my pocket camera, I won't be leaving home without it. We were in the book store one of the days and while Gregg was browsing around I sat myself in the coffee shop and had fun reading on the new toy. I hope we'll always have 'real' books to pick up but it's a fact that the world is moving into a different direction. As you walk in the bookstore there is a permanent display with someone trying to sell you their particular variety of electronic reader, as you've probably seen yourself.

Talking about books I took a break from my usual detective novel and am reading a wonderful biography by Janet Wallach on the extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell, who among many other things explored parts of the Middle East as a very young woman at the turn of the century.  You can read about her here.  We were saying that we're surprised no one has made a movie about her, but on doing a little surfing I discovered that Angelina Jolie is directing and starring in one due out this December on Gertrude's life.  I also read:

"Turning away from the privileged world of the "eminent Victorians," Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) explored, mapped and excavated the world of the Arabs.  Recruited by British Intelligence during World War I, she played a crucial role in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders, and her connections and information provided the brains to match T. E. Lawrence's brawn. After the war she played a major role in creating the modern Middle East and was, at the time, considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.

In the masterful biography, Janet Wallach shows us the woman behind these achievements - a woman whose passion and defiant independence were at odds with the confined and custom-bound England she left behind.  Too long eclipsed by Lawrence, Gertrude Bell emerges at last in her own right as a vital player on the stage of modern history, and as a woman whose life was both a heartbreaking story and a grand adventure."

Saturday we had a quiet day and ran more errands.  Gregg felt like an ice-cream in the evening and he likes to go to the Milwaukee Custard in Sully Station.  It was packed out and there were a lot of tired but happy children tucking into their treats. They usually have a toy train making its way on a track high above our heads, and I heard one disappointed little boy say, "Where the train Daddy?"  Thomas the Train must have been undergoing repairs.

On our way home we bumped into a friend out walking her dog and we did a little catching up before going home. I felt pretty tired all day with the heat and I won't say I am not a morning person but I couldn't have been paying too much attention to dressing myself.  I discovered in the evening that I had been walking around all day with my blouse inside out.  I only realized this when I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw that all the seams were on the outside, and when I checked to see where the label was, there it was hanging out in all its glory! Now if I remember rightly, one of the old sayings my mum used to say was that it means there is money coming my way.  Apparently I used to do this a lot as a child and my mum slipped a few coins in my purse to make that saying come true.  "See?  I told you so!"  Bless you Mum!

Sunday was another quiet day but an enjoyable one and now it's back to our normal weekly routine for both of us.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Even though Today's Flowers is on hiatus and we will not be adding anything new to the meme until August 18th, whenever possible I will be posting flowers each Sunday.  



Today's Flowers was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Thank you Misty for hosting Camera Critters.
To see other fun critters please click here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Look for me in Rainbows

This is dedicated to Gregg's Uncle.  Uncle passed away this week, we will remember him as a very dear, sweet man and we are keeping him and all the family in our thoughts and prayers.

Look for me in Rainbows

Time for me to go now, I won't say goodbye:
Look for me in rainbows, way up in the sky,
In the morning sunrise when all the world is new,
Just look for me and love me, as you know I loved you.
Time for me to leave you, I won't say goodbye;
Look for me in rainbows, high up in the sky,
In the evening sunset, when all the world is through,
Just look for me and love me, and I'll be close to you.
It won't be forever, the day will come and then
My loving arms will hold you, when we meet again.
Time for us to part now, we won't say goodbye;
Look for me in rainbows, shining in the sky.
Every walking moment and all your whole world through,
Just look for me and love me, as you know I loved you.
Just wish me to be near you,
And I'll be there with you.

Music and Lyrics: Conn Bernard (1990) Vicki Brown

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A magical light....

"That beautiful season the Summer.
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape lay as if new created
In all the freshness of childhood."

~Henry Wordsworth Longfellow!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tree Swallow at Meadowlark Gardens

As Gregg decided to take this week off, we had fully intended to drive down to the Smoky Mountains which would have been wonderful, but after we had hummed and haaa'd for a while, we realized that neither of us felt like a long road trip. We decided to have fun in our own back-yard. There are plenty of places in this area that we have loved visiting over and over again, and that's what we have been doing every day. We have gotten lots of exercise walking around our favorite spots. Yesterday we visited Meadowlark Gardens and if you want to see other posts, you can click on the label below this one.

At Meadowlark the most predominant bird to watch, at least for us yesterday, was the Tree Swallow. They are seen zooming across the lake like a low-flying aircraft and it's quite a sight to behold.  An absolutely delightful little bird and the gardens have several nesting boxes all along our walk.  We came across this one and was drawn to it because of all the Canada Goose feathers. Not wanting to bother the bird I wasn't really that close as I was using a zoom.  

The Tree Swallow is medium in size but a very strong little bird and their legs are quite short.  They are in the air most of the time but you will see them perched on tree trunks and branches where they hold on tight with those strong little feet.  You can find more information here and also scroll down and click on the button that says 'typical voice' to hear what they sound like.

There is definitely something of the prehistoric in that little face.  When you read about the relationship between birds and dinosaurs, most researchers now support the idea that birds are a group of therapod dinosaurs that evolved during the Mesozoic Era.  Fossils of more than 20 species of dinosaur have been collected with preserved feathers, and many scientists now believe that birds are actually survivors of the great extinctions of the dinosaur age.

After a while it was time to leave our little dinosaur survivor to its nest building.  It was hot and muggy and I was thinking that with all that flying around and collecting of the feathers, it needed some well deserved rest.  Then again he might have been a relatively new fledgling who found it far too steamy inside the box and was getting some air.  Still being a fledgling birder myself and still learning the difference between markings of male, female and juvenile, it's back to the books.