Thursday, 26 February 2009

"Keep It Comin' Love" - KC and the Sunshine Band, 1977

When they came to see us in October, Mike and Eileen brought us a giant flower bulb as a gift. I joked that it looked like a giant turnip - while being very appreciative, needless to say! It's an amaryllis, and the tag said it was "striped".

Bulbs are always fun, aren't full of interesting to watch as they develop!

Well, our amaryllis. although coming alive a little slowly, has done itself proud. There are five beautiful blooms on the first stalk, and a second stalk is about to flower as well.

Here are a couple of photos of the beautiful flowers in our dining room window. I hope the flowers just keep comin', because they are giving us so much pleasure! It's like a signal that spring is just around the corner.


Wednesday, 25 February 2009

"For the Very First Time" - Manhattans, 1964

John and I watched the BBC's long-running soap "EastEnders" last night, just as usual for a Tuesday evening. It was an interesting episode, dealing with the history of racial problems in an area of London during the late 1950s.

Some time after the program finished, John found this article on the BBC's website.

Wow! We hadn't even noticed that had watched something so historic. Good for you, BBC!


Tuesday, 24 February 2009

"Bass and Tremble" - Dipsomaniacs, 1998

I have vivid memories of watching the "G.E. College Bowl" on television, beginning when I was a youngster living in Tulsa. (That was back when the world was in black & white, by the way.) I admired the ultra-smart college students; and I tried, valiantly, to correctly answer every question that I could.

I always thought it was a terrific format. The program was educational and entertaining at the same time.

When I moved to the UK, I was delighted to find out that the format continues with Britain's "University Challenge". John and I have a great time watching each week, as we compete against the brainy university students. And being much brainier than I am, John always wins our living room competitions!

The final of this year's series was last night. The winners were Corpus Christi College, Oxford, which is part of Oxford University. And the big winner was the almost-one-woman-team, Gail Trimble! (What I have linked to her name, by the way, is her undergrad profile from an Oxford University website.)

It was touch-and-go who would win last night's final. I found myself barely able to watch at times. John was cheering and bouncing on the couch just as he might when watching a sporting event on TV. (That's a good sign that his neck is improving, too, don't you think?)

Finally, Trimble/Corpus Christi took off and beat the University of Manchester by a large margin! In the meantime, despite some mean-spirited detractors, Ms. Trimble has become a celeb on her own. It's about time the public showed some admiration for someone for reasons other than an appearance on a reality TV show.


PS A message to my friends in New Orleans and Mobile - enjoy Fat Tuesday for me, too, please!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

"A Little Bit Slow to Catch On" - Dolly Parton, 1968

As one of my American friends would say, I can be a "little slow on the uptake" sometimes.

I've been hearing sporting news reports over here for ages about Sir Allen Stanford. I knew he was not British but an American. I knew he was very rich. And I knew he was seriously into cricket.

But I never made the connection to the firm with questionable financial practices (to put it mildly...), Stanford Financial in Houston. Well, I have now, after reading all about it in yesterday's Houston Chronicle's online edition.

Oh dear. What an embarrassment for the England and Wales Cricket Board!


PS I just found some video about the Stanford Financial situation from TV station KTRK in Houston, the ABC network affiliate. Those of you outside the Houston area might like to see a bit of local news coverage from the 4th largest city in the United States.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

"All You Need Is Love" - Beatles, 1967

Today is Valentine's Day. I love the 14th of February. That's probably because I'm in love with the most terrific man I've ever known.

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!


Friday, 13 February 2009

"Fly Like an Eagle" - Steve Miller Band, 1976

It's Friday-the-13th today. So it's time for a little levity.

When I changed the type of contact lenses I wear, I also changed the type of lens solution I use. Here's a photo of the box I get every quarter from my Oxford optician...

Every single time I look at that box, what runs through my head is:

"Out of the clear blue of the Western sky comes...Cy Clean."

Now I only expect a few of you - of a certain age - to even get this. And of those of you who do, most of you will think I'm completely nuts. And I probably am.


Thursday, 12 February 2009

"Roses Are Red (My Love)" - Bobby Vinton, 1962

Thursday used to be my least favorite day of the work week. Starting this year, though, it's not a work day anymore, and I now love Thursdays!

Anyway, I was reading some email in the living room this afternoon when the doorbell rang. It was a floral delivery - for me - of a dozen long-stemmed red roses! What a nice surprise! John said that he thought I would enjoy getting my Valentine's Day present early so that I could enjoy them on my days off before the weekend. How sweet of him!

So the enormous (and very beautiful) Waterford vase, which I received as a gift back in my oil trading days, has been put to exceptionally good use!

I wish I could post the aroma as well, as these roses smell really "rose-y"!


Sunday, 8 February 2009

"Keep It Comin' Love" - KC and the Sunshine Band, 1976

The snow just keeps coming here. This was taken about 4:30 this afternoon, out of our front door. And there's a forecast for blizzard conditions starting late Monday!

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


"Over the Rainbow" - Judy Garland, 1939

One of my friends here in England has just lost his beloved cat. Although his little friend had a very long and happy life, he was very ill at the end.

I understand what's that like...and how hard it is to let go, despite the condition of the pet you love. The same thing happened to me when my little Mac died in 2001. Sometimes, it feels like I lost him only yesterday.

To give my friend what I hope will be a little comfort during a very difficult time, I'll quote the little poem called "The Rainbow Bridge" here. I don't know who wrote it, but the idea expressed gave me some comfort at the time of Mac's death.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....


Friday, 6 February 2009

"Winter Wonderland" - Richard Himber and His Hotel Carelton Orchestra, 1934

Well, the snow has continued over the week in parts of the UK. That has certainly been the case here in our part of Oxfordshire. Let me share a few photos. (You can click on any of them for a full-sized image.)

Here's our house from the front window of our neighbor across the cul-de-sac. This was taken about 11am Thursday. It had snowed quite a bit overnight. But you can see that it never snowed enough in the morning to cover the spot where John's car had been parked overnight.

But today was a much different story. Within minutes of John's departure, the "blizzard" began. By the time it was light enough to take this photo from our bedroom window, the snow had completely covered John's parking spot.

This is a similar view - but this one was taken from the window of our study this morning. The snow was still coming down like crazy.

And here's the back garden during this morning's snow.

And here's another angle of the back garden. These almost look black and white, don't they, because of the heavy snow.

This shot of the patio will give you an idea how many inches we have gotten in the past few days.

By later today, the snowing had stopped. But we'd been left with a lot of the white stuff.

This is John. Poor guy - after making it all the way to Oxford and back in today's snow, he got stuck turning into our street! We got a shovel and tried to get his car out of the ice/snow just around the corner from the house.

Here's where he got stuck.

But with the shovels and pushing power of two of our neighbors to help us, we managed to get his car almost to the garage...but at least it was out of the way of our neighbors.


Monday, 2 February 2009

" 'Snow Wonder I Love You" - Sandy Foster, 2006

Some of you may have heard that Britain had a big snowfall beginning during the night and continuing today. Our part of Oxfordshire didn't get more than, maybe, an inch at the most. But east of here - especially in and around London - they got much more.

John took a very atmospheric photo during his shuttle bus trip from his Oxford workplace back to the park and ride after work today. With his kind permission, I'll post it here...

(Click on the image for a full-sized version.)

Sorry that I wasn't able to take any photos around our house today. It was dark when we left this morning (just after 6:30am), and it was dark when we got back home (around 5:30pm).


Sunday, 1 February 2009

"Leaning Slightly Forward" - Maggies, 2001

I spent quite a bit of time this afternoon watching one of the robins who regularly visits our bird table. I don't think it's our friend Batman, who has appeared in an early blog post, but I could be wrong about that.

We have a fat ball hanging off our bird table. Some of the birds - notably the acrobatic little blue tits - have no problem clinging onto the ball to munch...sometimes in multiples! But the robins just can't manage that.

One of our robins has learned an almost hovering maneuver, looking a bit like a hummingbird as it very quickly nibbles from the fat ball before losing control in the air. But the one I was watching today has learned another way of eating some of the fat. Watching very carefully to make sure it was safe, it would perch on the edge of the table and then lean forward and munch on the fat. I have never seen a robin do that least not in our garden.

Although they aren't much more than snapshots, I did manage a few photos this afternoon. By the way, those streaks you see are the snow flurries coming down at the time. Click on any of the images for a full-sized version.

Clever fellow/lady, don't you think?

I hope our garden birds manage to stay warm tonight. It's already well below freezing out there, and it's likely to get colder...and perhaps begin to snow again.