Friday, August 29, 2008

Our Day Out

I just wanted to mention something else. Today, Brit Boy and I went on a day out. Brit Boy had the day off. We went to an interesting place here in Wiltshire called Barbury Castle. We didn't have a sunny day here today. It was quite cloudy, but somehow the cloudiness of the day added to the atmosphere. There is no longer a structure there, but the landscape is stunning. I will be writing about it in the next few days and also I have photos.

Early Morning Viewing

Brit Boy and I have been watching the Democratic Convention this week and it has been once again interesting to experience things from back home along with him. I used to watch the conventions before I met him and he says that he saw bits and pieces on the news over the years. So we decided to check each night out together. We would tape it each night and then watched it the next evening.

For me, as an expat, it’s fun to keep up with what is going on back home and for Brit Boy, he is intrigued to know about things where I come from. Also, he is a big fan of the television show, “The West Wing”, so he likes political intrigue.

So for the last night of the convention, we decided to take a nap and then get back up to see the final speeches which were in the wee hours of the morning here. We both thought that it was great to witness Barack Obama accepting the nomination and giving his speech on the anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It was a full circle moment. And to us, it was a great moment in the history of the United States for all people, just as it was history in Hillary Clinton’s case. For me and Brit Boy, we thought it was just great, whether you were a Democrat or Republican or Independent or of whatever color. It was simply a human moment.
I have no idea what the outcome will be, but it was great to watch the convention with my Brit Boy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Trevor's Celebration and Holiday Pie

Yesterday, we all waved goodbye to the summer Olympics for another four years. As I wrote at the beginning of the Games, Brit Boy and I were cheering for two teams in our house and our family mascot Trevor was cheering along with us. In the end, the divided loyalties meshed and all together we were proud of both of our home teams. And overall, we caught the Olympic spirit and were proud of all of those from around the world who competed. There were so many athletes that I found myself cheering for, just for the strength and drive that they showed and it didn’t matter where they were from. I was cheering for Usain Bolt from Jamaica, as he broke the world record and just loved his enthusiasm. My heart went out to Liu Xiang, the Chinese athlete who was unable to compete due to an injury and he wanted so much to compete in front of his home crowd. I just love that all of these athletes from everywhere had the opportunity to compete.

Back on the home front, Brit Boy and I watched the Closing Ceremony and the handoff to London for the Games here in England in four years. Trevor, our mascot and dear robot friend, decided to hold his own little party to close things off nicely. Here’s a photo of Trevor with his multiple flags…isn’t he a proud one. (smile)

And he blew up the balloons all by himself. Brit Boy and I showered him with a bit of confetti, so he was a happy boy.

Today, here in the UK, we have been having Bank Holiday. A bank holiday, for those who don’t know, is a public holiday that is held here at different times of the year, sort of like Labor Day in the US. Brit Boy and I have been enjoying a day together and we even did some more baking today. This time instead of turning a cookie recipe into a cupcake recipe, we went another route and baked a pie. Although this time we changed one of the ingredients in the pie, so our changeable baking is still alive and well. (smile) The recipe was for a strawberry and rhubarb pie, but we can’t find rhubarb in the store anymore, so I thought we would try substituting raspberries.

Well it turned out great and we are really doing well with this “design your own recipe thing”. (smile) We were so anxious to taste it that we ate some of it first and then we had dinner. This is also becoming a tradition with us sometimes. We both think that we read somewhere once that eating in this order helps you digest or metabolize better or something like that. Who knows? But it sure is fun to eat that way sometimes. (laugh) Here’s a photo of our pie after we had our pieces and it has a few nips out of the crust here and there. We had to sample it to make sure it was okay. (wink)

So we have had a fun day, with our tasty pie and our celebratory robot.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Madonna's Opening Night

The Madonna concert was fantastic. She definitely proved that she can still perform with boundless energy, at whatever age she is. Brit Boy and I both said that we would love to have as much energy as she does and we are quite a few years younger than her. After witnessing Madonna do her thing and seeing the end of the Olympics, I feel the need to jump on a treadmill somewhere. (smile)

Much has been made about her turning fifty the Saturday before this, but she thoroughly made that a non-issue as she jumped rope, did a pole dance, and writhed around on stage as she has for years. And the girl can dance! (smile)
Madonna didn’t disappoint and was every bit as dynamic as I thought she would be. Here’s a woman who is a true performer and a definite pro. I have always liked her music and I have witnessed for myself just how amazingly she puts on a show. It is really something to see.

She came out to her song “Candy Store” and was sitting on a throne. What an entrance. A highlight was the bit when the fancy car was driven onstage and a party broke out. I don’t want to tell too much so that I won’t ruin it for those who are attending later. But it was fabulous. She did reworked versions of some of her past hits and she played guitar at some points.

All in all, it was a full circle moment for Brit Boy and me. We were teens in the 80s and Madonna and Prince were big idols then, so to come around and see both of them as adults is a great treat. And the great thing is that both Madonna and Prince are still doing their things and they just show me that great work goes on and lasts.

A Hard Experience

I am usually rather upbeat here in my own little corner of blogland, but something bad happened last night and I have to mention it because it made it hard to sleep last night or early this morning, when we finally got home from the concert. And I have also posted a happier entry about the Madonna concert, because she was just amazing last night.

I am always hesitant about writing about too much negativity here, because I don’t want to be accused of criticizing things here in Britain, as one who was not born here. But what happened to me shouldn’t happen to anyone and so it’s not an America versus Great Britain thing. It’s a human being thing. Usually here on my blog, I refer to my husband as “Brit Boy”, but we had a serious run-in and so for this post, he will be as always, my husband. (smile)

We had left the concert and we were headed to catch our coach back to Wiltshire. It was late, but we were walking along with thousands of others leaving the concert venue in Cardiff. It was nice to just be walking along with my husband, holding hands and enjoying the night. We walked along in peace for a while and then the crowd thinned out a bit as people fanned out on their own routes home. Our coach/bus was waiting in a park near the venue, so we had to walk along a lighted path along the river with dozens of others to get back there.

So we traveled along, minding our own business, walking along at a pretty good pace so we wouldn’t get left behind, but not running at all. We were just enjoying being together. These three guys passed by us and then their two other friends acted like idiots. The first of the two came up right in front of me and raise up and mimicked as if he were going to jump on me and hit me and then the coward walked on past us. Then the second one stopped dead in front of me and did this weird wiggly thing at me like he was thinking he was a ghost or something, put his hand in my face, and made a noise at me and trotted along to catch his friends as they all laughed. My husband called the first one a “suitable name” that I won’t repeat here. Then as the second one passed, I called him “yet another colorful word”.

Now anyone who knows me, knows that I am a peaceful person and so is my husband. And I hate to even write about us having to deal with people like this, but sometimes you can just get tired of the craziness. Those losers kept trotting and laughing over how “clever” they thought they were. And my husband and I just kept walking in the other direction, but I must admit, we were angry. I guess that we should have been a bit relieved, because we hear a lot about knife crime and how people who are minding their own business and living their lives are stabbed by losers on the street terrorizing others. The thing is, these guys didn’t look like some roving teenaged gang, they were dressed neatly like they were having a night out. This made it all the more disturbing to me. These were “normal” looking guys, but they acted like brutes.

I will say here, that I didn’t shed a tear, but it enraged me that I as a woman, as a human being, can’t walk along a path with my husband and many others and be spared this kind of assault or worse. And we are so glad that it didn’t turn out much worse. I’m sure there will be those who say, well be glad that you weren’t knifed or killed…we know that and I thank God. But still, it just angers me that there isn’t more respect out there. I don’t think that this is too much to ask. I am not talking about an idealized world. I do believe that most people are decent, but they are drowned out by the people who cause the strife.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Madonna Tickets

Well, after quite a few days of wondering whether Brit Boy and I would get our Madonna tickets on time, we finally got them today. (smile) I just realized that there is a Madonna theme happening here since I wrote about her in my last entry too. But that’s okay. I like her music. It’s good time music. Plus ever since we saw Prince last year, we figured that we would try to see as many music stars from our teen and young adult years as we could to kind of bring things full circle. Prince and Madonna were huge in the 80s, when we were teens and they are still going now, so it is great to get to see acts that we have enjoyed for years.

We bought our tickets weeks ago, but there was a holdup in the printing and basically we were running out of days before the concert. Then the doorbell rang this morning and I flew downstairs because I knew it was our tickets. It was funny though. I had left a bag of plastic bottles and one with cans at the front door that we were going to put out for recycling, and I had to move them out of the way to open the door. Well, when I moved them, they made a lot of racket. The mailman probably thought I was one of those people that loads their houses with trash and keeps it. When I opened the door, I thought that maybe he didn’t hear it, but he said, “Are you okay in there?” I laughed to myself.

So on Saturday, we are off to Cardiff to see Madonna. I have never gone to Wales, so it will be a fun experience.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dara Torres and Madonna

This past weekend was full of many delights at the Olympics. I cheered along with everyone else over Michael Phelps’ achievement, but another story has also stood out so much for me, the story of Dara Torres. She is a 41 year old swimmer, who came out of retirement in order to go for the gold one more time. She became the oldest Olympic swimming medalist in the Games. She came away winning three silver medals and these were her 10th, 11th, and 12th medals in her career. She has now competed in five Olympics. Her story to me simply says to never put limits on yourself and to go for what you want. She has inspired many women, but I also feel that hers is simply a human story of continuing to challenge ourselves, whatever our age.

Also this weekend, Madonna made news as she celebrated her 50th birthday. Brit Boy and I are supposed to be going to see her on this coming Saturday and we are excited. I think it is great that she is still doing what she wants to do. I hope to still be doing my thing, whatever that turns out to be, at 50. (smile)Fifty is not old these days, but I heard this one entertainment report over the weekend and they had guests saying their two cents about her. Basically, one of them said that she should just take a bow and sit down now that she is 50. What silliness. Madonna has outlasted many and she is still going, so I say good on her. It is up to her to decide when she wants to stop, not some pundit. So I say rock on Madonna!

This weekend these two women celebrated a moment in their lives and have shown me, that age ain’t nothing but a number. We should all go for what we want, whether we are a woman or a man, no matter how many birthdays we have been fortunate to celebrate.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Magic Roundabout

The other day, Brit Boy and I went into Swindon, which is the biggest town in Wiltshire. We had some errands to run. We live quite a ways out in the countryside, so it is always fun to see what is going on in a more populated area. Swindon was a railway hub during the 19th century and is now a great historical landmark for the rail history of England. It’s an interesting place.

One of the things that I fear though in Swindon is the Magic Roundabout. The Magic Roundabout is this huge roundabout that is actually five roundabouts surrounding one in the center. So there is traffic coming from every direction. And since I am not from here and we don’t have roundabouts a whole lot where I come from, it scares the heck out of me! (laugh) The first time that I went through it I held my breath the whole way and closed my eyes. I wasn’t driving thank goodness. But now I can go through it breathing and with my eyes open. However, I do unconsciously grip the door as we make our way through it all.

Here’s a video of what a trip around the Magic Roundabout is like. The video is so like being there.

Two Pennsylvanias

Brit Boy and I went out today since we finally got some sun. We went to South Gloucestershire in order to go to Dyrham Park, which is a National Trust site. It is a gorgeous mansion and grounds. Near there, there is a village that we passed through called Pennsylvania. It’s so cool when I see places here that have lent their names to places in the States. So I have now been to a Pennsylvania in two countries. It was a great day out and the weather was the best it has been in days. We ran into a bit of rain on the way back home, but we had fun.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Brilliante Weblog Award

I logged on today and found a wonderful surprise waiting for me. One of my blogging friends has given me an award for my blog. It's the Brilliante Weblog Award. I am honored. My friend writes an inspirational wonderful blog at Red Pine Mountain . Please check her out. I thank her very much for passing this award along to me.

The tradition of the award is to pass it along to other blogs that you enjoy. So here are seven blogs that I love reading and I draw something special from every one of them. They are varied and just show that everyone has something great to offer. Here are my nominees:

Finally Woken
Just Me
Kuting's Place
Fiercely Strategic Marketing
Slighty Mordant
Cutie Booty Cakes
Gifts of the Journey

And thanks again to everyone who comes to read my blog. All the best!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympics 2008 & Two Teams In Our House

Brit Boy and I, like many around the world, were absolutely amazed by the Opening Ceremony at the Olympics in Beijing. The visual imagery was astounding to see. We were very impressed by the beauty of it. I also always like the parade of nations and you get to see all of these athletes who have worked so hard to get to the biggest sporting stage in the world. I can’t imagine the pride that they must feel to be able to compete and do their best alongside the rest of the world. Sadly, there always seems to be strife going on in the world, but for that one moment, a great chunk of the world is on the same page. I love getting that glimpse of what the world could be.

So now that the pageantry of the opening is done, Brit Boy and I are good naturedly cheering for our own national teams. It’s a funny thing about living in a house with two nationalities. Just by us coming together and marrying, we have forever linked ourselves regardless of our backgrounds. So we live our lives as just us. We both feel a divided loyalty and it works for us. (smile) However, just to rib each other, we take up the flag of our teams during the Olympics. It’s all in fun.

I gave Brit Boy some robots for Christmas and the main one has been dubbed Trevor… or Trev for short. He is our family mascot of sorts. But poor Trev has to parade the flag for both sides. He’s so loyal to us both. (laugh) Here’s Trev with the England flag and the Union Jack for Great Britain as a whole.

And then here he is with the American flag.

And then little Trev is showing his divided loyalty proudly with all of the flags. He’s such a team player.

So we support two teams in our house, but mostly we just enjoy the world all playing nice together and giving us all something to cheer about.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

One Year Ago Today

I was just thinking today about where I was one year ago this very day. Brit Boy and I were having a wonderful day. We were in London and were staying the night at the lovely Hotel Novotel in Greenwich. We had decided to stay in London instead of having to travel all the way back home so late. We were in London to see Prince perform at the O2. He was doing a series called "21 Nights in London". He was amazing!!! I have been a Prince fan for so many years and Brit Boy loves him too. He is a part of the soundtrack of our preteen and teenage years. (smile) So we both were on our feet throughout the whole concert and I was singing along with Prince and the other thousands of fans at the top of our lungs.

There were two guys in front of us who were really enjoying it too. The one guy directly in front of me would turn around and point at me and sing along. And I of course had to reciprocate and sing along back at him. Then Brit Boy and I would danced together. So it was a WONDERFUL time!!! I love it when the whole crowd is vibing together and vibing with the artist onstage and it is all just a big party. Those are the moments in life to be enjoyed...when we drop all the other stuff and just let go.

Prince is and always will be my favorite musician. He did not disappoint. When he would launch into yet another hit, it made me realize just how much great stuff he has put out there. And he was so good that time that Brit Boy and I had to keep contributing to our gig addiction and go see him one more time in September as his 21dates were winding down. And Prince didn't really duplicate what he sang the first time. He has been very prolific. It was all worth it to see him one more time. He was great and we had the time of our lives.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bournemouth, More Movies, and Lash Rescue

Yesterday Brit Boy and I had a date in the afternoon. As I mentioned before, he is on vacation for a few days and so we are doing our best to make good use of this time together. Of course the weather has decided to not cooperate with us, so we haven’t been able to go to Bournemouth to the beach like we had hoped yet, but maybe we will get a day of sun soon. Bournemouth is lovely. It’s a beautiful seaside town. According to their website, they are the greenest town in the South of England and apparently very happy folks according to a survey. Well, I can only speak as a visitor down there, but I think that I would be pretty happy if I lived down there. It has an easy feel to it and there is just something about the seaside. (smile) So I hope that the rain goes away in the next couple of days and we can get down there to soak up the green and some of the happiness.

So since Brit Boy and I can’t get to the beach, we have stayed closer to home. We went into town yesterday. We are becoming regular townies at this point. Wow! (laugh) Anyway, we went to the movies to see “Hancock” starring Will Smith. When we got there, the cinema was packed. I told Brit Boy that I never knew that that many people lived around here. It was a Tuesday afternoon, but it looked like a Saturday in a much bigger town. It was wild. The queue was almost out the door. We decided though that a few things had created this perfect storm of the throngs of moviegoers. The kids are out of school, it was a rainy day, and Tuesday afternoons are discounted. But it was all good. The queue moved fairly quickly and we got seats so we were happy. It was a fun time.

Before we went in to get our seats, we made a stop at the concession stand. Neither one of us had eaten anything much, so we loaded up. Each of us had a hotdog and a drink and a small popcorn. We didn’t share a popcorn because Brit Boy likes sweet popcorn and I like salty popcorn.

We found this out the first time we went to the movies here in the UK together. We got a popcorn tub together and were ready to share. Then I grabbed a handful and said, “Why is it sweet?” It looked like it was salted popcorn. This was one of those funny little cultural things. When we were in the lobby, there wasn’t a sign that said, “Salty popcorn here” and “Sweet popcorn here”. So how was I to know. And sweet was normal for Brit Boy and salty was normal to me, so we got our wires crossed and since we all come from our own experiences, it didn’t cross our minds, for Brit Boy to ask me or for me to ask him. It was funny and we laughed about it. It was no big thing. These things have happened from time to time between us in the past and we just see it as very cool that we get to learn about another culture through the person that we love most. This is one of the things that I love about living in another country at this point in my life…I get the opportunity most days to see the world in another way. So since then, we each get a small popcorn of our own, but we share our nachos and we like that. (wink)

So we went in to sit down and thoroughly enjoyed our hotdogs and drinks. Those hotdogs were really good. Then the movie started. I have read good and bad reviews of “Hancock”, but then we never follow reviews and just see what we like. Brit Boy and I like Will Smith movies and we really enjoyed him at the Mandela concert we went to, so we figured we would check out his movie.

We really enjoyed “Hancock”. It was laugh out loud funny to us many times just because his character said what he felt like. It was funny to see someone say the things that a lot of us wish that we could say when we get ticked off in life and we refrain from doing so. And deep down his character was a good guy. It was just a great laugh and a good way to spend a couple of hours on a Tuesday afternoon.

Oh, by the way, I did finally get my waterproof mascara remover. When we went around the corner from the cinema, we popped into the pharmacy and I got my lash rescue finally. (smile) I used my store points and didn’t have to pay anything for it, so I was able to rescue my eyelashes and not spend a cent.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Mascara and Movie Love

My weekend was pretty laid back. Brit Boy is on holiday/vacation for a few days, so we are having a chance to spend some quality time together. On Saturday, we had a bit of a lie-in and then got up at about 10am and decided to go into town. We haven’t been into town since I stopped going to have acupuncture a few weeks ago. I stopped by Karen’s acupuncture shop to say hello to my new friend. She was doing fine.

Brit Boy and I went into town to pick up a few things that we had been wanting and also to get a newspaper. I had the thought that I loved going to acupuncture in the past because of how it restored me, but it was nice to go into town and be able to put on makeup and do something to my hair. When I used to go in for acupuncture, I didn’t bother with doing much to my hair and just pulled it back. And makeup wouldn’t have survived since I spent nearly the whole acupuncture session with my face pressed into the opening in the table. I don’t wear much makeup anyway, but the first time I went to get treated, I wore a bit of eye shadow and blush and when I got up from the table, the paper was smeared with the imprint of my face. It was like looking at my face staring right back at me. (laugh) So Saturday was my first venture into town with a bit of makeup. It was another sign to me that I am healed.

We went into town in search of various things. I wanted to get a proper pizza pan, because we have been putting frozen pizzas on a rectangular cookie sheet forever, but it always leads to one half of the pizza getting overly brown and the toppings slide to one side. It just doesn’t work out right. Also, I am going to try my hand at making a homemade pizza soon, so I want to give an authentic round pizza pan a try. We found one at a discount store, so that was a good find. I have also been looking for a particular mascara by Covergirl that is supposed to be amazingly durable and waterproof and doesn’t clump. But alas, I have found out that I can’t get Covergirl products in the UK. So I put that search aside for the day.

I bought a lottery scratch off ticket and won £2 on it and that was cool because the ticket originally cost £2. So it was a win-win. (smile) Then Brit Boy and I have both been wanting to get the new “Now 70” CD which has a lot of the current hits on it. We searched a couple of different stores to get the best price. While we were on our CD search, we also came across two other great compilations. We bought a compilation of 80s hits and one of 90s hits. When we were in the store, I had one in my hand and Brit Boy had the other one and we volleyed back and forth reading out the hits that we remembered from back in the day. It was great. (smile) Ahh, the good old days! That is one thing that I love about the music stores here, they just have loads of compilations on offer. The 80s CD is three CDs long and the 90s one is five CDs in total and they were around £5 each, so they were a great bargain and we got lots of music.

On Sunday we had another lie-in and then got up and had breakfast. We had seen a combination printer, copier, scanner in town on Saturday for a mere £25 and so we decided to go back into town to pick one up. The price was too good to be true. We didn’t get it on Saturday, because we forgot to stop back by and pick it up. It was a good thing that we went back when we did, because when we got there, the pile of about twenty from the day before had been reduced to five. So we got one. I have been in love also with these cheap ergonomic pens that I have been using and thought that I would pick up some more for us. They were cheap when I got my first two when I was trying them out. Well, this time we really got a deal and got ten ergonomic pens for £4.95, which is a good deal since they are very comfortable to the hand and write smoothly. So Brit Boy and I will be writing with those pens for years.

I ended up getting some mascara finally. As I mentioned, I can’t get Covergirl products here, so I got a comparable one that was waterproof. And here’s the kicker, yeah, it works really well because I can’t get the stuff off now. (laugh) Well at least I have long, full lashes. Note to self: Get some proper mascara remover the next time I am out before my lashes fall out. In the end though, we had a great rare weekend of shopping and we did it in wonderfully discounted style. It was fun to save a pound or two.

On the way home from town, we decided to find this car park/parking lot that we noticed the other day when we were sitting on the train, getting ready to head into London. We both had never noticed it before since we usually board from another platform. So we did a bit of detective work and did locate this secluded little parking place that is adjacent to the train station. Brit Boy has lived here his whole life and had never noticed it. The place is rather hidden from view, but is very convenient. So we were excited to find it. Hey, we are easily amused. (laugh)

We got home and I made some dinner. While it was in the oven, we watched the movie “Stepmom” with Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts. It was just starting when we turned on the TV. I love this movie and I have watched it many times. Brit Boy had never seen it. It was a good movie for a Sunday afternoon even though it is sad, but it does have uplifting bits to it about going on in life.

After the movie, I did what I do a lot now. If I am loving the locations in a movie, I will look online and try to find out where the movie was filmed. Brit Boy and I simply loved Susan Sarandon’s house in the movie. It was a gorgeous old two story house with a wraparound porch. I found out that much of the film was filmed in New York state and New Jersey. Brit Boy is now really feeling some love for the suburban beauty of New Jersey. (smile) Me too. I have a friend who is going to be moving there next year, so I told him that when we go visit her after she gets settled, we can go give some love to New York and New Jersey.