Saturday, 30 June 2007

"These Are Difficult Times" - Willie Nelson, 1971

Any of you who blog with regularity know that sometimes it's hard to be inspired enough to write. I guess I've been a little "blue" lately. And I haven't been a very good correspondent with friends and family either. As we get into a new month tomorrow, I'm making a vow to try to do better...despite my upcoming teaching schedule, which is a little hectic.

But I feel compelled to write something tonight. In case any of you don't know, the UK is now under its very highest state of terrorism alert.

Yesterday, two car bombs were discovered in London before they exploded. We've just heard on the news that unfortunately there's been a third car bomb -- this one in Glasgow, and this one went off.

I guess there was always the possibility of increased terrorist activity at the start of Gordon Brown's reign as Prime Minister. But I guess we also hoped we were being overly pessimistic.

These latest events aren't helping my spirits much. Neither is the fact that I'm headed into London myself tomorrow afternoon, as I'm running training classes there Monday through Thursday. But I won't be in an especially "touristy" area of the city, so at least that's good.

We never know where or when we're safe anymore, though, do we?

I'll get caught up with my Lord Celery readers in a few days, when I'm feeling a little more upbeat. Meanwhile, take care of yourselves and of all those you love.


Saturday, 23 June 2007

"Working for the Weekend" - Loverboy, 1980

It's been a crazy week, but I'll write about it after the weekend, if you don't mind. And I'll post some photos, too.

I was in London all this past week, running training classes 4 out of the 5 working days. I was also in 3 different hotels over five nights -- Greenwich, Victoria Dock (east London -- near the ExCel Convention Centre), and finally in the financial district (near St Paul's Cathedral). My salvation was that John went with me for the three nights in Greenwich.

So, I was indeed "working for the weekend", and now I'm really exhausted. Photos and some narrative to come, as I have time next week.


PS I had no idea, until I looked them up on Wikipedia (I didn't know exactly what year today's title song was released) that Loverboy were from Canada -- and, more specifically, from Calgary. Interesting. And here I thought they were just some of those California boys!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

"Long Long Life" - Otis Taylor, 2007

Our dear Houston friend Melanie has lost her grandmother. "Keezie", as she was known, died last week. She would have been 88 years old today.

Melanie told me that Keezie's obituary was in yesterday's edition of the "Houston Chronicle", so I looked it up online while I was eating lunch. There is a touching sentence midway through the paragraph. It says...

She taught her family how to love and to care for one another.

May we all be remembered in such a wonderful way.

Sweet dreams, Keezie.


Monday, 11 June 2007

"Freestanding" - Johnboy, 1993

(Click on the image for a larger version.)

John and I made an interesting observation recently, as we continue the process of settling into our new home. (The fact that neither of our cars is yet in the garage is a sign of how many boxes are still sitting in there!)

Here in the UK, our house is referred to as a "detached" house. In other words, it's a free-standing, single-family house -- it's not connected to another dwelling. (Fellow American-in-the-UK blogger Belle With a Bite wrote about the various housing descriptions in Britain in the midst of this blog entry, as she and her British husband begin their own process of buying a home. I hope she doesn't mind my linking her post here...I'm being lazy again!)

I told John that I haven't lived in a free-standing house since 1974. That was in Houston. Since then, in chronological order, I've lived in a duplex, an apartment, a condo, a series of two high-rise apartments (NYC and then Houston), a sort-of townhouse, another apartment (briefly, when I first moved to Oxford), and finally in the end-of-building "cottage" in the barn conversion (in our Oxfordshire village) that I was leasing when John and I got married. In fact, of all of those, the only one on that list that I didn't rent was the condo in Houston. That condo was my only (and dreadful) experience owning real estate myself.

But even more interesting is that, until now, John had never lived in a free-standing house in his entire life! His interesting assortment of previous dwellings even includes a stint in a houseboat on the Thames in London! But neither as a kid nor as an adult has he ever lived in a detached house.

So that makes our recent move into a home of our own -- as a couple -- even more special than we'd even realized!


PS After posting this blog entry, I received the following e-mail from John's mum:

Hello Janet
Have just read your blog on your "detached house", but didn't know how to fill in the comment page! Tell John he has lived in a detached house! He was 1 year old and we lived for 4 months in a detached cottage in Peaslake, Surrey before we moved to Crawley. Just to put the record straight!
Love to you both

Sunday, 10 June 2007

"Louie Louie" - Kingsmen, 1963

CONGRATULATIONS to Formula 1 driver Louis Hamilton -- the 22-year-old rookie British driver won his first Grand Prix today in Montreal! As the ITV commentator just said, nobody has ever started an F1 career as Louis has. He has been on the podium for all 6 of his first 6 races this season -- just remarkable! I can't wait to see what this guy will do next!

When Juan Pablo Montoya left from F1 racing to join NASCAR last year, I was afraid that I would lose interest. But Louis has definitely revived it!


Friday, 8 June 2007

"The Other Way Around" - Outnumbered, 1998

My friend Steve has written a very interesting item in his blog, Today Is Absolutely Today, about the flip side of my Lord Celery piece about having to take a UK citizenship test in the coming months.

Steve, who is originally from England but now lives in California, writes about having to take a US citizenship test in his blog entry "Not quite qualified to live in England". Give it a read, when you have a few minutes.

And Steve, John and I so hope that you'll get to see the space shuttle launch later today! And if you do, we'll be very envious...and are hoping you'll get some photos!

Have a great weekend, everybody!


Thursday, 7 June 2007

"Whole Lotta History" - Girls Aloud, 2006

A favorite website of mine is Overheard in New York, which I have linked permanently on the front page of Lord Celery. Since the bulk of my readers are either from Britain or the States, I thought I might copy a favorite of their recent items. Now supposedly, everything on the site is actually overheard by somebody while in the city. I'm not sure I'm that gullible...but it's certainly true that loads of bizarre conversations are held there every single day. (While I lived there, I was lucky enough to catch a few of them myself! But that's another posting...)

Here's the posting that really cracked me up when I read it last night...

History buff: So, you've heard about the Boston Tea Party, right? So, what happened is this guy, Christopher Columbus, is sailing around looking for the West Indies but instead finds America. He goes back to mother England and tells them all about it, and mother England sends over all the prostitutes and criminals. So England forgets all about America, but when they check back in, all those criminals survived -- they prospered -- so mother England's like, 'You gotta pay taxes now.' But the criminals say, 'Hey, we didn't ask to get sent here anyway. We're not paying nothing.' And that's how it happened, son. You'll learn about it in high school.

--F train, Brooklyn

Overheard by: baffled colonial historian -
posted June 6 2007

Well, erm, I guess dad's on the right track...well, sorta...?!?!?!


Wednesday, 6 June 2007

"Long Time Coming" - Jonny Lang, 2003

I have just received the following e-mail in my Yahoo Mail account:



C & C Promotions
U.K Lotto House
157-161 Millbank, London, SW1P 4RR Great Britain (U.K)

Dear Winner,


We are obliged to inform you that you a winner in the YAHOO INTERNATIONA LOTTERY that was held in respect on it's 100 Years Anniversary, held on the 26th of March 2007. Due to mix up of email addresses, the results were finally released on 31st March 2007.

Winners were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from ''300,000,000'' E-mail addresses, from eight different Zones; North America, Latin America, Caribbean, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Asia, South Asia and Australia/South Pacific. Your E-mail address generated British Telecom Jackpot Number 0220-T11444999-05P50 with serial number BT/400550/SH, Drew the lucky numbers 4-18-24-30-31-35-78-10, which consequently won the lottery in the 2nd category.

You have therefore been approved for a the total winning sum payout of U.S$2,000.000.00 (Two Million United States of American Dollars) to file reference number: BTGL/1500000/05p50/15305, from a total cash price of U.S$10.000,000.00 (Ten Million United States of American Dollars) shared among Five (5) International Winners in this grand category. Your claim agent will immediately commence the process to facilitate the release of your winning prize to you as soon as you contact them.

Your Claim Agent is:

Yahoo lottery Agency Services
0109 Sam Carolina St . West DR, London, SW1P 4RR
Contact Person: Mr. Thomas Lampard
Tel: +44701-115-0862 Fax : +44704-570-0137

Congratulations once again from all members of our staff and thanks for being part of our promotions program.

Mrs. Claudia Mourinho
Promotion Department For The C & C Promotions
U.K Lotto House 157-161 Millbank, London, SW1P 4RR

Note To avoid the issue of lost of funds, stolen funds and people claiming peoples prize/fund, your lottery prize/fund is not deductible, divisible or withdrawable until it gets to you.


As exciting as this all sounds, I am finding a few problems with this e-mail....besides all of the typos and poor use of English.

One is that, coincidentally (?), the surnames of both people mentioned have something in common -- they are surnames of two people affiliated with London's Chelsea Football Club.

Another is that I'm unaware that there's a "Sam Carolina Street" in London. (Somebody correct me, please, if I'm wrong about that one.)

But my favorite is the comment about this being the 100-year anniversary of the "Yahoo Internationa(l) Lottery". Yeah, right!!!!!

Has anybody else received one of these?


Tuesday, 5 June 2007

"Beginnings" - Chicago (Transit Authority), 1969

Here's a common scene in Oxford this time of year...and this is a shot I took this morning, in front of Christ Church College, on my way into the office.

(Click on any photo for a full-sized version.)

They look awfully young to be university graduates, so perhaps they have just finished their studies for this term? Or maybe not. Perhaps they are new grads, as of this morning! In either case, congratulations!

And after taking the photo of the students, I just couldn't resist turning 180 degrees and taking this so-typical Oxford city shot...

This is the most incredible "commute" to work that I've ever had in my entire life!

Monday, 4 June 2007

"Picture Book" - Kinks, 1968

The photos from "A Minute in the Life: The Simultaneous Photography Project" are going up on their website this morning! Take a look when you have a chance. It's fascinating to see what people were doing, all around the world, within the same minute.

Gavin's photo made Gallery 1; and is yours there, too, Gnightgirl? John, Wendy, and I are in Gallery 3. Anybody else I should highlight here?


PS It's the 11th anniversary of the day that John and I met for the first time, live and in-person, in New York City! I probably can't tell the tale any better than I did a year ago, so I'll just be lazy and link to my post of exactly one year ago today about this special anniversary! (John and celebrate quite a few anniversaries, as regular Lord Celery readers have probably noticed!)

Sunday, 3 June 2007

"Good Day Sunshine" - Beatles, 1966

I glanced out of one of our house's upstairs rear windows this morning and saw this...

(Click on any photo to see a full-sized version.)

That's Snuffles, the Jack Russell terrier next door, enjoying the British sunshine on the garden furniture that she has obviously claimed!
We had a beautiful day yesterday and spent most of the day working in the garden. It looks like today's weather here will be more of the same!
After photographing Snuffles, I swiveled a bit to the left and took this shot of our own back garden in the morning sunshine...

I hope the weather is as beautiful where you are!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

"Minute By Minute" - Doobie Brothers, 1978

I found out about the photography project A Minute in the Life a bit too late to blog about it. You'll see that it's the idea of a man in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. He wanted people to stop what they were doing between 2:00 and 2:01pm Eastern Daylight time and take a photo, to be e-mailed to the project. He'll eventually post the photos he's received -- hopefully from all around the world!

Of course John and I participated! UK time, we had to shoot our photos between 7pm and 7:01pm this evening.

My submission isn't particularly creative. I'd spent most of the day gardening, so I just stopped what I was doing and took a photo of the back garden in the evening light. I was hoping that a bird might see fit to land on our bird table just as I snapped the shutter, but sadly none of the usual evening diners cooperated!

(Click on any of the photos for a larger version.)

Meanwhile, John's photo is much more interesting. What was he doing as the clock struck 7 this evening? He was baking potatoes as part of our dinner last night!

One more. I had told my officemate Gavin about the photography project late yesterday, and he's e-mailed me the photo he's sending in. He decided on a self-portrait, in his Oxfordshire back garden. I just love those shoes, Gavin!

So did any of the rest of you participate, by chance? I know that Gnightgirl was planning to, so let's see if she posts her photo on her blog! And I see that "Blanche" has as well. Great!


Friday, 1 June 2007

"Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" - Beatles, 1967

"It was 20 years ago today." No it wasn't. It was 40 years ago today!

The BBC, among others, are commerating this historic album's anniversary.

I distinctly remember hearing "Sgt Pepper" for the very first time. It was like nothing that had come before.

I loved the Beatles. I loved their stylish pop songs. I loved their irreverent personalities. I especially loved their accents. (Perhaps that's why I'm living here in England now???) I used to spend hours listening to Beatles records through Daddy's big headphones, picking out Paul's bass guitar lines and trying to understand all of the lyrics.

"Sgt Pepper" was the first so-called "concept album" I'd ever heard. The songs linked into a story. It was so cool. And besides, the songs were terrific, even when you listened to them individually.

I was just thinking that I have three copies of the album. And I mean the LPs, too, not including the CD version. I have my original "mono" version, bought in 1967 (or perhaps it was a birthday gift, since my birthday is late-June?). I bought a "stereo" version a few years later, when I finally got the first little stereo of my own. And then somewhere along the way, I bought a UK pressing of the album. And, of course, I also have a CD. That's four copies total.

But the fact that it's the 40th anniversary is making me a little is the fact that only two of the four Beatles are still alive.