Monday, 31 January 2011

Interview with Kim at Happy@Home

Last year Yiota asked if any of her readers would be interested in interviewing each other. Kim and I were paired with each other but Christmas and New Year intervened and I've only just managed to organise myself to pose some questions. So, with thanks to Kim, let me show you a little of the lady behind Happy@Home

 Interview with Kim from 
1:  Are you a lark or an owl?
Owl.  I prefer to ease into the morning, if possible.  I usually go to bed between 11:30 - midnight.  As a kid my mom always referred to me as a night owl.

2:  Which childhood books made a lasting impression on you?
I would say my love of reading began with the Nancy Drew series.  I spent a lot of carefree summer days as a child reading them.

3:  What are you reading now?
 I'm currently reading "We Are All Welcome Here" by Elizabeth Berg.  She is one of my favorite authors and this book doesn't disappoint.

4:  Have you got a favourite film - one that you watch over and over?
 I don't watch too many films over and over other than the classic Christmas films each year.  I have seen "Father of the Bride" a few times and enjoy it each time I watch it.

5:  What are the three most important things to you in a relationship?
The three most important things to me in a relationship are honesty, loyalty and kindness. 
 
6:  What do you eat for breakfast?
 I love breakfast and eat a variety of things.  Lately it's been oatmeal with fresh blueberries or banana, chopped pecans, milk & a tiny bit of brown sugar.

7:  Did you have one teacher who inspired you?
Sadly I can't think of any teachers who really inspired me.  Some were interesting, many were nice, but none really stand out to me now.
 
8:  Do you keep a diary?
 I don't keep a diary.  However, I have recently been reading the diaries my mom kept for many years.  Growing up I just thought of her as my mom without thinking much about her inner thoughts.  Although her diaries don't go into a lot of depth, it has been interesting to get to read about her thoughts and wishes as a young mother. 
 
9:  What is your worst fault?
 I suppose my worst fault would be that I overthink things.  Rather than just jumping in there and doing something, I think about it waaaay too much and oftentimes talk myself out of doing it.   My husband is the complete opposite.  If something needs to be done, he just does it.  In a recent conversation he told me that I think too much.  I'd like to think he meant that I am one of the great thinkers of the world, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't what he meant :).
 
10: Do you participate in any sports/physical activities?
 I've never been the athletic type, but I do like to get exercise by walking or riding my bike. 
 
11: How old were you when you learnt to drive?
 
 I learned to drive when I was 15 and got my driver's license at 16.

12: What hobbies do you enjoy?
My favorite hobbies are gardening, cooking, baking and reading.  A few years ago I had to be off of my feet for a few months and in this time I discovered the Food Network.  I was mesmerized by the way the chefs chopped up the herbs and fresh veggies to add to their food.  Everything looked so yummy.  Before that I had grown herbs, but never really knew what to do with them other than chop a few chives over baked potatoes.  Once I could get around again the first thing on my agenda was to buy a chef’s knife, take a course in organic herb gardening and plant my little herb garden.   To this day I find it very relaxing to light a candle in my kitchen, step out the kitchen door to gather some fresh herbs and then go about the business of assembling a fresh and delicious dinner. 
Thank you, Kim, for allowing me to interview you :-) 

Microfiction Monday #68

Lovely Susan from ‘Stony River’ organises and hosts this weekly meme. Thank you Susan J She provides a picture and the challenge is to create a story in 140 characters or less – including punctuation! Click here to read more marvels of microfiction – and perhaps join in. It’s fun!
Here is this week’s picture followed by my offerings.
‘See, Jim,’ said Tom. ‘You can have a nice warm bath first and then you can use the ring on your chair. That’ll ease your haemorrhoids!’
(136 characters)

You told me there’d be treasure from that wreck – gold bars and bullion. A bar of soap won’t make my fortune, only bubbles.
(123 characters)

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sunday 160

I saw this challenge on Jinksy’s blog and being inveterately nosy had to see what Monkey Man stipulated.

Here is the picture and my offering.

He had never divulged the horror that turned his hair white overnight.  Stoically he accepted his lot but his vacant expression and clenched fist spoke volumes.
(160 characters)

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Camera Critters #147, Pets Forever

It's amazing what you can get from Amazon these days!
Opening the box is always exciting.
. . . a glimpse of something warm and furry . . .
I think we should have called Winston 'Amazon'!

Click to see more Camera Critters and  Pets Forever.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

ABC Wednesday B is for the Battle of Blenheim

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
English, Prussian, Dutch and Danish allies are depicted by blue arrows.
French troops are allies are shown in red.

The Battle of Blenheim, fought on 13th August, 1704, was the major battle of the War of the Spanish Succession. The war arose as a result of the Spanish King, Charles II, leaving his throne to Philip, Duc d’ Anjou, grandson of the French King, Louis XIV. Louis XIV allowed his grandson to accept the Spanish throne when Charles II died in 1700 whereupon Europe was embroiled in war. The Austrian Habsburg Emperor would not condone the Bourbons of France absorbing Spain, fearing that the unification of France and Spain would alter the balance of power in Europe (Battles were also fought in North America - Queen Anne’s War - and the West Indies.)

The defining battle of the War of the Spanish Succession was fought at Blenheim, (or Blindheim) a small village on the banks of the Danube. The English troops were led by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, aided by Austrian, Prussian, Dutch and Danish allies.
In recognition of this great victory Queen Anne gave John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, the royal manor of Woodstock in Oxfordshire and a large sum of money with which to build a palace to commemorate the battle.

Blenheim Palace, the only non-royal, non-episcopal palace in England, was built between 1705 and 1724 and has been recognised as a World Heritage Site since 1987. It is the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, the family home of the Spencer-Churchills and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It is open to the public and among its many attractions and treasures is the Blenheim Tapestry, which depicts the Battle of Blenheim.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The tapestry, by Judocus de Vos, shows the village of Blenheim in the background. In the foreground an English grenadier holds a captured French colour.

Thanks are due to the Brilliant Denise Nesbitt and her Bright and Brainy Band who organise this weekly meme. Click here to see more Bs around the world and perhaps be inspired to join in.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Microfiction Monday #67

Lovely Susan from ‘Stony River’ organises and hosts this weekly meme. Thank you Susan J She provides a picture and the challenge is to create a story in 140 characters or less – including punctuation! Click here to read more marvels of microfiction – and perhaps join in. It’s fun!
Here is this week’s picture followed by my offering.
Silently, stealthily the tree pulled up its roots and prepared to move forward. The humans would soon be swallowed up in the mists of time.
(139 characters)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Shadow Shot Sunday #140

Three days ago we saw the sun shining brightly in a flawless blue sky and casting shadows among the branches of the trees.
Here is a Great Spotted Woodpecker in an oak tree. There must be insects and larvae around and she's making sure they don't damage the developing buds. Actually, she's not in the least altruistic - there's a feast to be had and she's having it!
Thank you to Tracy at 'Hey Harriet' who organises this weekly meme. Click here to see more shadows and perhaps join in.

Gus and the airer

Gus has a very long tongue and it seems to lengthen when he's excited - or apprehensive.
It’s easy to forget how young Gus is – just 16 months old. He’s a very exuberant pup and gives the impression that nothing fazes him, apart from the vacuum cleaner. He’s a bold and fearless guard dog, though we know that should any stranger come through the door, Gus would greet him with open paws rather than slavering jaws.
The infamous airer! Gus was convinced it was waiting to pounce.
So it came as a surprise today when the clothes airer spooked him. I have a backlog of washing to dry so decided to supplement the tumble dryer with the airer. There is absolutely no point in hanging the washing in the garden – it wouldn’t dry and would probably be brought in wetter than it went out. The solution Barry found last year in 2009 was hailed with much rejoicing but turned out to be less than satisfactory (slight understatement there!) 

As a refuge for the smaller forms of flying wildlife it was unsurpassed. It was almost a case of standing room only. Much as I admire and am interested in winged beasties, I have no desire to get up close and personal with them, but was forced to confront them as I wrestled the washing from the rotary dryer. Lifting the skirts of the cover to gain access to the laundry was difficult if even a slight breeze was blowing. Eventually, a stronger than usual wind happened along and tore the whirligig from its moorings. So now I have reverted to a naked carousel which is used only when rain isn’t falling.

Today, however, was not such a day. The ground is soggy, the dogs’ paws dig deep; consequently, things with which they come into contact when they come home – mats, chair covers, dog bedding – are soon rejoicing in a new guise, the ‘clean dirt’ look. Mud is ‘clean dirt’ – I leave you to imagine what might be classed as ‘dirty dirt’.

If damp items lie sullenly in laundry baskets too long, anticipating their turn in the drying machine, they sometimes rebel and develop an unwholesome odour. Then they have to be washed again because musty linen smells most unpleasant. Thus the task sometimes seems endless. I do occasionally complete all the washing so that none is left sadly awaiting its moment in the spotlight, its fifteen minutes of fame (actually, that should read ‘its moments in the washing machine, its anything from forty-five to ninety minutes of attention’)  
Gus relaxing during Frodo's ministrations
Anyway, as I was saying, Gus was frightened when the clothes airer appeared. No, it didn’t come stumbling out from the cupboard unaided but had to be wrenched from its lair under the stairs. It’s a harmless piece of equipment but Gus didn’t know that and had to be comforted by Frodo.

I’m linking to ‘Camera Critters’ and ‘Pets Forever’. Why not take a look and see what other folks have to offer?

Friday, 21 January 2011

Unusual visitor

Do you remember our Scottish visitor last June? I was very excited by her presence and rather sad when she finally departed to complete her journey home. 


This week another guest came calling. When I glanced out one day as the sun was shining - it hasn't done that very much recently  - I spied an unusual visitor to our bird table. 


She (I think it's female) was beautifully and colourfully marked and quite large. I didn't see her arrive but she stayed for quite a while, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the company of birds small and larger, none of which approached her closely. Birds are wary of strangers, I find.


She appeared to be very comfortable and was obviously snoozing, all worries of the world forgotten. Quickly I alerted Barry so that he could photograph this beauty. After a while she turned round and gave us a better view of her pretty face. Now we could see that she had large, yellow-green eyes She was enjoying the shelter she had found; she only just fitted under the roof but I know this species -  very supple and able to fit their bulk into surprisingly small spaces.


Eventually she departed but I expect that she will return to her comfortable vantage point the next time the sun shines and she's feeling peckish.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

SkyWatch Friday - January 2011 clouds

The first full moon of 2011 . . .
 . . . sailing through the clouds
Emerging from clouds this aircraft is on its way to the USA
Thank you to the SkyWatch team who organise this weekly meme. 
Click here to see more skies around the world.

Walkies!

Missing from this photo are the various bags needed to contain and transport camera, GPS, et cetera
Barry and I usually take the dogs walking together. That is to say that together we take all the canines out at the same time – my goodness, how word order can change meaning. Occasionally, one of us cannot participate. The dogs don’t mind, so far as we can tell – they’re simply keen to follow up the pee and poohmails from the previous day.

When Barry is the sole human walker of the dogs they are familiar with every stage of the routine, becoming over-excited and, in Gus’ case, peeing on the floor if he hasn’t been put out to relieve himself.

First he goes upstairs to find the correct walking clothes (Barry, that is!) – heavy gauge trousers if it’s very cold, waterproof if the rain is falling, three-quarter length if the day is warm and bright. Gus follows him upstairs, sometimes beginning the overture to a howl – ohw, ohw, ohwwwrrrr - if Barry is taking an unreasonably long time over his preparations. Meanwhile, downstairs, Jenna and Frodo follow every footfall, every creaking floorboard, their heads turning this way and that, their ears standing to attention.  

Shoes are very important – well, of course, Barry wouldn’t go barefoot (though I used to in my teens). Sturdy approach shoes, as used by climbers on the lower reaches of the Himalayas, are his customary choice. He even wears them with a business suit if there’s any likelihood of him having to walk further than fifty yards. Appearances are not of great consequence to him.

He reappears downstairs and disappears to the conservatory to check the weather on his laptop. This determines what sort of jacket he will wear. Will it be a warm fleece, a light waterproof, a heavy goretex, a down-filled coat? Next comes the hat and again there are choices to be made – cap, hat, Tilley? If the Tilley is selected it usually means the day is bright and sunny and so sunglasses are added.

The dogs are now beside themselves. What a strange expression that is. Obviously it cannot be literal – they can be beside each other, or me, or even the seaside, but not themselves. Perhaps it is intended to indicate that they are moving so rapidly in their anticipation of the pleasure to come that they present a blurred, whirling image. Whatever, the agitation quotient is increasing exponentially (I nearly wrote ‘excrementally . . . ) with the chances of a Gus puddle becoming ever more probable. He is dispatched to the garden, ‘just in case’ whereupon he barks, piddles, gallops between garden gate and patio door. Frodo and Jenna are now circling excitedly, deliberately impeding Barry’s progress for fear that they might be left behind. He trips over them and they move away apologetically.

There are not many more steps to be executed. Gloves, mobile phone, camera, video camera, Jenna’s tracker collar, Pacer poles, heart/pulse rate monitor chest strap and associated watch, (all physical exercise is logged) Garmin GPS, (might get lost!) headlamp in case it gets dark (and after all this time, dusk could well be approaching) Aqua kong for the Labradors and finally, car keys. Any one of these stages has the potential for further delay as mislaying, losing, forgetting all come into play though it’s true that the dogs can’t be mislaid.

Approaching the porch door – we have a sort of air lock that enables us to get to the front door without accompanying canines – our badly-trained dogs jostle for position. Gus is still outside. Barry makes his way into the porch and out of the house to unlock the dog car. Frodo and Jenna are let out and Jenna leaps into the car. Frodo looks questioningly at me – ‘Are you coming?’ he asks. Gus is released and joins Jenna, who grumbles at his exuberance. Frodo is encouraged into the car and as Barry drives away, gazes back at me, the answer to his query, this time, being ‘No’.

On his return, a long while later, Barry divests himself of his many gadgets and updates his exercise log.

It’s a different matter when I take them out on my own. I dress appropriately for the weather that I can see through the window, make sure I have my mobile phone (I’ve had it drummed into me never to leave home without it!), put my small camera in a pocket, find the kong, shepherd the hounds into the dog car and set off.

I can worry quite efficiently enough about where Jenna might be without the need to track her.  If it rains, I get wet. If the sun shines, I squint and get too hot. If it’s chilly, I tuck my hands into my sleeves. If the cold wind blows, I bend my head against it, pull my inadequate jacket around me and shiver. Sometimes I wear a hat and sunglasses. If I think more physical effort is required, I walk faster. I have to concede that Barry is always far better equipped than me for any eventuality – but I get out walking much quicker than he does!

ps: We only use the word ‘Walkies’ in jest. It was a term used by the late Barbara Woodhouse.

pps: not for nothing did our son's friends dub Barry 'Inspector Gadget'.
 
Can you spot the difference between this photo and the first one? No prizes, I'm afraid ;-)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

ABC Wednesday - A is for The Auk

One of our Christmas crackers posed a question about which well-known people merited respect and admiration. One name that came up was that of Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE, familiarly and fondly known as The Auk.
Auchinleck in Delhi attending an Art exhibition organised by Barry's father.
He served his professional life in the Indian Army and was reluctant to agree to the Partition of India which he felt was essentially shameful. In fact, he refused a peerage in case he was thought to be in favour of the policy of Partition.
You can read more about him here and here.
Thank you to the Able Denise Nesbitt who Administers this meme, Aided and Abetted by her Army of Assistants. Click here to see more As and perhaps be tempted to join in. 

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Tenth Blog of Augustus Lazarus Cooke – Gus: January 2011

 
  This is me sitting on Frodo's head. My eyes aren't white, you know. Mrs H tried to make them look right but she couldn't.
Hello everyone! Happy New Ear to you all! I don’t know what that means and none of us animals or Humans has got new ears but all the Humans keep saying Happy New Ear and looking cheerful about it so I think it must be a good thing.

We’ve had such a busy time with lots of people coming and going (and so much food) but the really exciting bit was that us dogs went on holiday for a couple of days. Our Humans took us out in the car - not the dog car, we’d already been out in that when we went to the forest for a long walk – but the really comfortable car that we don’t usually go in.

We were in it for hours and it was dark when we stopped. I didn’t know where we were, though Frodo and Jenna recognised it. They wouldn’t tell me ‘cos they wanted it to be a surprise. Imagine how happy I was when I found that we’d arrived at Tia and Foxy’s house. They were ever so pleased to see us, I can tell you. We all rushed around and sniffed about in their garden and then Gillian gave us our supper. We were so busy we didn’t see our Humans leave. When we went to bed we slept with the children. I was with Marnie and Jenna was with Callum. Kiri had Foxy and Tia, and Frodo was in Gillian and Paul’s room. In the very early morning Frodo started howling and woke everyone up. He was missing Mrs H but he soon settled down again.

The next day lots of people came to see us and say hello, then we all went out for a walk, but we couldn’t go off our leads. We had lots of fun playing in the garden later on, though. All the Humans kept talking about New Earseve and us dogs didn’t know what they meant. They seemed happy so we decided not to worry about it. They went out later on and left us in the house but it was nice and warm so we didn’t mind and they weren’t gone long.

On New Earsday our own Humans came back after it was dark and took us home to Berkshire (I think it’s funny that we live in *Berkshire – well, we do bark, but so do dogs that live in other parts of the country!) We were so tired that we slept all the way. It was nice to go and stay with Gillian and Paul but it was really good to be back in our own home and Winston was very pleased to see us.
It’s been very quiet in our house since we all came home again. Mrs H has put the small Christmas trees out in the garden. She says they’ll be much bigger next Christmas. I wonder if they’ll grow as much as I did – she’ll never get them in the house if they do. I’m ever such a big boy now. When Frodo and me went to see Kate-the-Vet to have a check-up and a booster (whatever that is) we had to stand on a platform that told the Humans how heavy we were. Frodo was 33 kilos and I weighed 31 kilos. I expect I’m more now. I expect I’ll be heavier than Frodo soon. I don’t think he’ll care though. I knock him over sometimes but he never grumbles. I really like Frodo. I sit on his head sometimes but he doesn’t seem to mind - well, not very much. I think he’s super. I don’t think I’ll ever be just like him ‘cos he’s a Dalmatian and I’m a Labrador. When I was little I thought I might grow large white patches and look like him. That was because I had some white hairs on my chin – I know better now. I’m not sure about Jenna, though – her chin’s getting quite a lot of white on it.
I like playing with Winston. He’s only a cat and ever so much smaller than me but we rough and tumble – well, I rough and he tumbles. He missed us dogs when we went on holiday for New Ear. He said it was ever so quiet.

Frodo did some falling down last night. He doesn’t do it very often and I always think he wants to play but my Humans tell me to keep away. Afterwards, he staggers around for a while, crashing into things and knocking things over and then he goes to sleep. The Humans tell him he’s a poor boy, a good boy, and make ever such a fuss of him. They always look a bit sad when Frodo falls but Frodo doesn’t bother – he can’t even remember what’s happened.

Jenna’s going to the vet today. She likes going there ‘cos everyone talks to her and makes a big fuss of her. She gets biscuits, too. Frodo and me got biscuits the last time we went. I liked it there and Frodo’s so used to being there that he doesn’t worry about it. Kate-the-Vet was ever so nice. Her hair tasted good and so did her face. Frodo doesn’t lick the vets – he says it’s not polite but I say, how else can I tell the vets I like them? Anyway, I’m sure they’d rather be licked than bitten – I’ve heard that some dogs bite people. That really isn’t good manners. What in all dogdom are they thinking of?

Time for supper now. Chicken chunks – yum!

Hwyl fawr am nawr! (That’s Welsh for ‘Goodbye for now!’)

*Berkshire is pronounced Barksheer. 

USS New York

Image courtesy of zootpatrol.com
USS New York (LPD-21) is the fifth ship in a new class of warship designed to be used in missions including special operations against terrorists. She is expected to carry 300 sailors and 700 Marines. The combat-ready Marines will be delivered ashore by helicopter and assault craft.
24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center were melted down in a foundry in Amite, Louisiana, and used in her construction. Her bow section includes 7½ tons of WTC steel. An observer remarked that the steelworkers treated the molten steel with complete reverence as it was poured into the mould in September 2003. Her keel was laid in August 2004 and she was christened on 1st March, 2008 at Northrop Grumman’s Avondale shipyard in Louisiana.
USS New York has twin towers on her superstructure and her motto is ‘Never Forget’. 
Image courtesy of website maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com
One can only imagine the emotions of her crew as they begin their service aboard her. The following is taken from the official website of the USS New York commissioning http://www.ussny.org/ship.php
The Ship's Crest
USS NEW YORK
  • Seven rays of sunlight signify the crown atop the Statue of Liberty and the seven seas.
  • Central focus placed on the Twin Towers and the bow of the ship, forged from Twin Towers steel.
  • Breastplate of the phoenix bears the colors of first responders from the New York Police Department, New York Fire Department, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
  • Blood drops represent the fallen.
  • Three stars for those earned by the battleship USS NEW YORK (BB34) in World War II at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and North Africa.


Microfiction Monday #66

Lovely Susan from ‘Stony River’ organises and hosts this weekly meme. Thank you Susan J

She provides a picture and the challenge is to create a story in 140 characters or fewer – including punctuation! 

Click here to read more marvels of microfiction – and perhaps join in. It’s fun!

Here is this week’s picture accompanied by my offerings.
Horrified, he discovered that he had drawn from his scabbard not a sword but a parasol. Valiantly he battled on, blocking his enemy’s blows.
(140 characters)


Forensic pathologists were astounded. Cause of death? Microscopic samurai hidden under cocktail umbrella. The victim never saw his killers.
(139 characters)

Friday, 14 January 2011

Cold calling and Customer Advisors

I was just reading Dianne’s post on ‘Forks Off the Moment’. It reminded me, if I needed reminding, just how annoyed Barry and I can become with the telephone. We receive a seemingly incessant flow of unsolicited phone calls. Some are simply taped messages – ‘Congratulations! You have won . . . ‘I never listen long enough to discover what I have won, for it is certain that the supposed prize will entail time and money from me. ‘There’s no such thing as a free meal’ and ‘If it’s too good to be true, it is too good to be true’ are the guidelines I use to ward off my natural gullibility. Other callers that irritate are those who try to offer a service or device in which we’re not interested or charities suggesting that we might like to increase our monthly donations.

We have had a spate of uninvited calls recently and have developed a technique for dealing with them. If the caller identity indicates that the number calling is withheld or unavailable or the number shown is not one with which we are familiar we don’t pick up the phone.

Unfortunately, although Barry and I can easily ignore a ringing phone, Frodo cannot. Woken from a deep sleep by the jangling tones he begins to howl and is soon joined by Jenna and Gus. At four years old Jenna has only just learned to howl – well, perhaps she already knew how but just hadn’t made us privy to the secret. Notwithstanding, Frodo begins the chorus with his fine tenor. Then Gus joins in, uttering short, staccato barks as he warms up his voice for his baritone cry. Finally, Jenna, with a higher alto wail befitting her smaller stature and female nature, makes her contribution to the trio. Some days we have many calls and after two or three it seems that Frodo is attuned and waiting for the signal, starting his song after a mere ring or two from the telephone.  The process rapidly loses its power to entertain on a busy ‘calling day’ and more particularly when one of us actually answers the phone to a recognised caller but cannot hear or make ourselves heard over the cacophony.

There are occasions when we need to make calls.  These times can prove extraordinarily frustrating. Some enterprises do not have automatic answering rituals, resulting in the tone ringing for several minutes and then abruptly timing out. You are aware that there must be a queue – or that ‘everyone’ is having a tea break – and having to start the procedure again is very aggravating, particularly when you sense that the pattern will be repeated.

Is that more exasperating than the automated response, though? Sometimes, the preamble takes minutes to inform the caller that the call may be/is being recorded ‘for training purposes’. Then comes the list of instructions for which number to press for which service. Having clicked the correct key the inevitable ringing tone is heard – for minutes on end – interrupted intermittently by a gentle recorded voice apologising for the delay and frequently taking the opportunity to advertise other benefits. Usually the ringing tone is replaced by music – or musak - which can be very annoying. When a human finally answers it is only too common for their help to be of the wrong sort, requiring them to put you through to the supposedly correct department which denies all knowledge of any solution and passes you back to the original respondent or on to another section.

I understand that the operators/advisors are doing the job they have been trained to do but that is of no help when problems have arisen which are not covered in their script. Of which, more anon. 

Riverdance

Mara from 'Weighty Matters' posted an amusing clip - a spoof on Riverdance. I enjoyed watching it then felt the need to watch some clips from Riverdance. I love watching dance, particularly ballet and tap. I think the dancing in Riverdance is breathtaking - literally so for the dancers! I regret that I didn't see it live.
I hope you will enjoy the following clips as much as I did - it was hard to pick only two!! The first is Irish (tap) dancing.

The second is 'Cry of the Celts'.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Humour at work

Barry received this email from a friend the other day. He worked with many retired officers of senior rank, several of whom he had appointed, so this anecdote resonated with him.

Charlie, a new retiree greeter at Asda, just couldn't seem to get to work on time. Every day he was 5, 10 or 15 minutes late but he was a good worker, really tidy, clean shaven, sharp minded and a real credit to the company, obviously epitomising their 'Older Person Friendly' policies.

One day the boss called him into the office for a talk.

"Charlie, I have to tell you, I like your work ethic, you do a great job, but your being late so often is quite bothersome."
"Yes, I know boss, and I am working on it."
"Well, good, you are a team player. That's what I like to hear. It's odd though, your coming in late. I know you're retired from the armed forces. What did they say if you came in late there?"
"They said, 'Good morning, Admiral. Would you like some coffee now, sir?'" 

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

ABC Wednesday Z is for Zoot Suit

Image courtesy of Aaron F and Wikimedia Commons
In this family the slang phrase ‘Zoot Suit’ is used to describe a man’s smart apparel or formal business clothes. When I looked up the expression in my ‘Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable’ (the ampersand is used in the title) I discovered that it dates from the late 1930s and was used to describe an extravagant fashion adopted by followers of Swing who were known as Hepcats.
Image unattributed
It comprised high-waisted, baggy trousers with turn-ups tapered at the ankle, a long coat rather like a frock coat with wide lapels and exaggeratedly broad padded shoulders, often in vibrant colours or bold patterns. Worn with it were a flamboyant tie and a broad-brimmed hat, frequently sporting a long feather. The essential finishing touch was a long key-chain dangling from belt to knee or even below and then rising back to a side pocket.

Further research led me to the Zoot Suit Riots which began in Los Angeles in the first week of June, 1943 between American sailors and marines and disaffected Latino youths. You can read about them here.

Thanks go to the Zealous Denise Nesbitt and her Zippy team who host this weekly meme. Click here to see more Zs.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Microfiction Monday #65

Lovely Susan from ‘Stony River’ organises and hosts this weekly meme. Thank you Susan J She provides a picture and the challenge is to create a story in 140 characters or fewer – including punctuation! 

Click here to read more marvels of microfiction – and perhaps join in. It’s fun!
Here is this week’s picture accompanied by my offerings.
‘You’re so strong,’ she gasped. ‘So virile, but one thing troubles me.’
‘Tell me’, he answered.
‘What happened to your other ear?’
(128 characters)

‘The cream has worked wonders on your hands. They’re so smooth. Next we should try doing something about your complexion – and your teeth.’
(139 characters)

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Winston’s January 2011 blog

Winston here . . . p’rrrrr, p’rrrrr . . .

Happy New Year!

It's a lovely day here – the sky is blue, the sun is shining. It’s a lot better than the pouring rain we’ve had. I’m feeling very relaxed, nice full tummy, warm bed to lie in and, later on, a roaring fire to toast my paws.

I told you last time that it was ever so busy in the house. Well, it got busy all over again, with even more food what us animals wasn’t allowed to even sniff. There was lots of twinkly lights and a big tree appeared in the sitting room with pretty decorations on it. 
Mrs Human even decorated me

There was people coming and going and coming back again and then suddenly it was ever so quiet but there was still lots of food, don’tcha know, and we still wasn’t allowed to have any of it.
 Then something strange happened. My Humans went out with the dogs and though I waited on the table in the hall like I always do, they didn’t come back for ages and when they did come back the dogs wasn’t with them. It was ever so odd. I mean, I like the dogs – they’re part of my family – and I was a bit worried ‘cos I didn’t know where they was. Then the Humans went out again. They put out bowls of food for me and left the lights on and put the radio on in the kitchen. I was really worried, don’tcha know, ‘cos I didn’t know if they’d come back again and they didn’t, not for days. I felt quite proud, being in charge of the house, but it was a bit lonely. I hope they don’t do it too often. Oh, Mrs H has just whispered in my ear that it was only one night and one day and something about a blue moon.
 Anyway, we’re all back together now and things is normal again. The tree has gone and the house looks like it always does. Gillian and Paul come the other day. They’d just bought a fire surround and they showed it to us. I thought Paul’s work van was a funny place to have a fireplace but I suppose it gets cold in there in the winter. I don’t expect we’ll have any visitors now for a long time. It’s fun when they come but it’s nice to be just us again.

I’m going to do some bird watching now – they’re ever so busy, don’tcha know.

Be good!

TTFN

(Mrs H says she's linking to Camera Critters and Pets Forever.)