Monday, December 19, 2011

Family Decorations

This is a photo of one of the earliest child-made Christmas decorations.  I don't even remember what it is supposed to be.  We think it is a cat.  It gets put on the tree every single year and then removed and carefully stashed away afterward.

I love Christmas decorations that the children have made.  I know that I had more. I remember a pop-sickle stick sled that was broken.  Most of them have not lasted the years, even though I was careful with them.

I am calling on all my readers to post me a photo of their favourite child-made Christmas ornament.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Open Mike Night

Support Scotland, Drink Tennents!
Since before I met him, The Man of the Place has played guitar.  He has been loosely connected with bands and actually been in bands throughout the years.   I don't play an instrument, but I can carry a tune.

He tunes up while the rest get stuck into their pints
We used to go around the folk clubs years ago, but we lost enthusiasm for it  . . . .   He still plays when he can but rarely in public.

The Man of The Place and our boy listening politely.
A couple of our friends in the dive club go to the Coach & Horses on the Whitesands in Dumfries on a Monday night.  They have been asking Henry to come along.  This week he went along and both George and I tagged along.

Iowa radio station sticker on the guitar case
We met a bunch of new people.  These folk knew a lot of the same songs we know.  The songs we didn't know, were really nice.  There seemed to be a good reception to the songs that we knew but were new to them.  Good crossover then.
Our friend Rodger. 

This pair in the corner never gave their names, but they certainly were enthusiastic. The bigger one wasn't all that bad on the harmonica.  He took a fancy to my beret.  He must have told me how much he liked my hat 6 times.   I let him try it on, but though he wanted it, he couldn't keep it.  I wouldn't have anything to keep my head warm if I gave away my beret.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kill Fest 11

Our mild mannered house cat, Julio has started to put on weight.  Because of this, I have taken over the feeding of the cat.  I have always been in charge of feeding the dog because she is my dog and my responsibility and has really never had a weight problem.

Cats will overeat and cry for food even when they aren't actually hungry.  So it is up to the humans to make sure they get what is best for them.  

Julio has been on this new regime for just about a week.  A few days after we started cutting back the rations and only feeding the cat when it is feeding time we noticed something.  More dead mice were appearing in the house.   I'm not counting the dead ones I have pulled out of the mousetrap under the sink.  These are brought-in-through-the-cat-flap mice.  I  pray we keep on top of the mouse corpse situation.  Finding an partially decomposed mouse is unpleasant.

Two days ago, The Man of the Place found the head of a pheasant in the hallway.  That's a bit odd.  He threw it out.  Just now, I tripped over something in the dark . . . .it was a whole dead pheasant.  

Has hunger driven our poor cat to catching whole adult game birds?  Bleh

Saturday, December 10, 2011


It is winter now.  We had a bit of snow on Monday.  The snow melted a bit,  making slush.  Then at night the slush froze.  It made for some slippy driving. 

As I had an appointment in the town of Lockerbie, a mere12 miles from the house, I took my time in getting there.  I drove carefully and cautiously.  I have a pretty new car and I am over cautious with it.  I won't even take it through the car wash because those can scratch the finish.  I wash it by hand or use the jet wash.

I passed people having difficulty getting up hills because of the glaze of ice everywhere.  It reminded me of the ice storms experienced in Iowa.  Ice storms are stinkers.  The world is glazed with a sheet of smooth and slippy, glass-like ice. 

I got in to Lockerbie just fine and parked in the car park of the local health centre where I had an appointment to see the doctors (for work).  I turned the ignition off and reached across to the passenger seat/office to get my sales materials and . . . whump.  My car was hit!

I was surprised and probably a little stunned.

The moral of the story is, if you park your car on a hill, on a sheet of ice and the tyres of your car begin to melt the ice a little bit, the car will start to slide down the hill.  The car will slide even if it is empty and the hand brake or parking brake is on.

Later on, after the police had arrived.  Somebody else parked in the parking spot that had been occupied by the sliding car.  The driver was informed that this was not a good place to park and the accident was pointed out to him.   He didn't listen and walked away.  Minutes later, his car slid into the car that had slid into mine.  Well, we TOLD him.  Why is it that some people don't think that the laws of physics don't apply to them?

I went away for to have a cup of coffee.  I couldn't go anywhere until the cars had been moved and it was cold.  I got the details of the owner of the red car and the insurance details. My lovely new car, that hasn't even had its first service yet is off to the body shop.

I was not terribly hurt in the accident.  A few hours later, my back started to stiffen up so I went to the doctor about that.  It isn't a terrible injury and I'll be fine . . . but be careful out there.  Don't park on any icy hills.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Best Shop in Scotland

I love living here!  I find it comforting that my youngest child doesn't remember living anywhere else.  I feel we're putting down roots.  One of the reasons that living in this community is so wonderful, is that it is just that, a community.

I was in the town of Langholm today.  It snowed overnight, so I didn't drive on the road that would get me there the quickest, I drove the big, well travelled and plowed roads.  Langholm is about twelve miles from the house.

While I was in town, I needed to stop by the most wonderful shop in Scotland, Latimers!  I love this shop and I will use any feeble excuse to go in.  This place has a wonderful, old fashioned way of doing business.  It has been around for years and it stands by the things that they sell.  They sell everything in here.  Really.  Everything.

I went in to buy a new grate for the fire.  You can buy a grate, an ash shovel and replacement fire bricks.  There is even some black stove polish if you need it.

One of the things I find comforting is a place that sells rope and string.  There is a nice assortment here.  From the sort of handy string for tying up packages (Does anybody tie up packages in brown paper these days?) and garden canes to a new clothes line.
Need a new brush for your broom?  I love brush heads and brooms.  They are nothing except practical and handy.  Now that I'm thinking about it, the door mat in the kitchen is well past the point of being useful and should be replaced.

This aisle is where I could be lost for a large chunk of time.  Why don't I have a mixing bowl in every size?  The kitchen gadgets are on the right hand side of this aisle.  If they don't have it here, you just don't need it.
I mentioned that it has snowed recently.  Guess where you can buy a snow shovel?  That's right!  I asked if they had sold many shovels today.  They had. I then showed him a photo I had taken with my phone of the amount of snow that had fallen at Whitelees this morning.  "Jings!" was the response I got. 
That's the grate I bought on the counter there.  I also bought a small tin of rust-proof primer and a tin of yellow paint. Paint is found behind the area where the china and fine glassware are stocked, just past the tools and nails.  The Man of the Place is giving our air cylinders a new coat of paint.  Rust never sleeps.

The back room is where they sell beds and carpeting.  The second floor is where the furniture is.  Sorry, no photo available.

Now that I'm home, it turns out that the grate I bought is a bit too big.  I'll take it back tomorrow and exchange it.  I don't have a receipt, but the man behind the counter will remember me and just swap it across without any bother.  That's how they do business.
Wal-Mart in the US has killed off all the shops like this in America.  I am SO glad that we don't have Wal-Mart here.  Yes the prices are lower in that big, faceless, soul destroying store but at what price to the community?  Family owned stores that are not a franchise of some other chain are almost extinct.  Wouldn't it be great to get them back?

Almost every farm in the area has an account there. Every raffle draw will have one prize in it, donated from Latimers.  Local brides get their names on the Latimers Bridal Registry.  I know I have rose-tinted specs on . . . . and I'm sure somebody will point out how messy the front counter is in the sixth photo of this entry - and how inefficient it is to tally up my purchases on the back of a scrap of paper.  It is probably bad business that even though my purchases came to £31.24  I was only charged £31.00, but they have my undying loyalty.  I will continue to give that shop my business for the rest of my days.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

I Visit Arran Again

It is actually been over two years since I have been on Arran for work.  The cost of getting my car across on the ferry,  inhibits me from a casual trip across . . . so when work is picking up the tab, all systems are go!

I thought that if the the ferries were running and if I could get somebody else to come along and if the forcasted gales stayed away long enough, I could squeeze a dive into my working day.  It would have to be meticulously planned and dive after my last appointment at lunch time and before the 4:20 pm crossing.

I broadcasted my plan to my dive club on Wednesday and the first volunteer was young David, a trainee.  He hasn't been diving in a while and would like to just "get his chops back".  Fine!  The dive I planned was a shallow dive in Lamlash Bay.  Easy in and easy out on sand, staying shallow because in our short winter days, light is often very poor.

I had to get up at about 04:00 to be out of the house by 05:00.   I picked David up at 06:00 just outside Castle Douglas and then drove north to Adrossan.  When I got out to go buy tickets for the ferry, it was very windy.  I was starting to resign myself to just a day out on the island, scrapping the dive because of the weather. We caught the 09:40 crossing from Adrossan to Brodick. 
Though there was a little pitch and roll on the way over, by the time the ferry entered Brodick Bay, the sea was very calm.  The wind direction mean that Brodick was sheltered.  Force 5 winds but there is barely a ripple on this bay.  

We managed the usual tourist stuff, buying cheese and soap.  We didn't really have time to get to the brewery, distillery or chocolate shop as we had a different agenda today.
Over in Lamlash Bay where the dive was planned there was a slight chop on the water, but nothing that would stop me from going in.  I must say that it doesn't take much for me to call off a dive, so the conditions were really quite okay. 

David and I DID manage to get a dive!  Because I was intimidated by the wind, I cut our dive from one hour to half an hour.  I was afraid that the wind would change direction during the dive.  That has happened before.
This is us getting ready - You can see the wind whipping my hair.  I put my hair into two plaits when I dive.  It is so much easier to manage and much less painful with a tight neoprene neck seal.  If I don't braid my hair up, it gets pulled and that hurts.

Once you're under the water, there is no wind.  There was a bit of current in the bay the further out we went, but as for bad weather, that was all on the surface.  We saw some wonderful stuff!  David was the first to spot some long-legged spider crabs.  They are very spider-like in appearance.  When I looked them up in my books afterward, I discovered that they stick bits of stuff on themselves for camoflage as they don't have much in the way of defense.  Staying hidden is the best way for them to stay alive. There were very few starfish.  Just a couple of little tiny ones, hidden between rocks.

My buddy also spotted a little humpbacked shrimp.  I noticed a seaweed with blue iridescence on it.  That was beautiful!  I was unsure about where the no-take zone starts and stops in Lamlash Bay.  Taking a sample of this pretty seaweed wasn't going to happen.  I wouldn't do that anyway.  If I'm in again with my camera, I'll get a picture.  I won't take the camera in when I have a trainee with me.  All my focus is on them and the dive.

On Friday afternoon, at the end of the working week, I managed to get a dive.  It was a beautiful dive too!

Many thanks to David  for coming along and being such good company.  It was a lovely lovely day out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weather again? Really?

I did not want to write about the weather . . . . rather I did not want to complain about the weather.  It forced me home early today.  The constant rain that we have been having is now causing flooding.
What I really wanted to write about is that even though I am forty nine years old, I still feel like an awkward teenager from time to time.  I still feel like that gangly, ungraceful and slighty bookish kid that doesn't hang out with the cool kids.  Now that I have years of social interactions under my belt, I know that if I just pretend that I've got loads of confidence, I'll be just fine.  The casual observer can not tell the difference between actual confidence and pretend confidence. Thankfully the old feelings of awkwardness don't come to visit very often and I am graced with actual confidence.  I can even do public speaking with out any hiccups. But every once and a while, I will get a little knock back.  I would really like to not have those feelings anymore thank you. 
I also saw two beautiful Whooper swans fly past my car.  I don't think I will ever stop marvelling at swans in flight.  As beautiful as those birds are in the water, to me they are even more spectacular in flight.   There was also a huge mega formation of Barnacle geese.  The weather has blown the geese from the fields near the sea, to areas further in-land.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Delicate Flower

Now I get to add something else to the list of things I'm allergic to . . . Brazil nuts, red ant bites and now . . . eye makeup.
This is exactly what happened to my skin!  Puffy red skin - not good on ones face - that goes a little flaky later.

I don't know which product is the culprit as I use a number of things . . .  mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, Touche eclait . . . .please don't let it be the touche eclait! 

It all has to go!  I will reintroduce items back one at a time after the skin has returned to normal. I have to stop wearing all of it for a while until my red puffy eyelids feel better.   Then get hypo-allergenic stuff to replace the makeup that I can no longer wear.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bowling Night

I'm off to try to win back the bowling trophy that I had to hand back last year.  I am sure I would be a better bowler if I went more than once a year.  I am also falling on the excuse that my back went out last year and was on high doses of codeine and paracetamol.  I'm fine this year.

The trophy isn't as grand as this one, but it is fought for just the same.

I have a bowling trophy up in the attic that belonged to my grandfather.  I wish I knew the story behind it.

It is still howling out there.  I am going to take the train into Carlisle and wind seldom upsets train times.  Let's just hope those aren't famous last words!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Violent Storm Force 11 to Hurricane Force 12

It has been a bit breezy here the past couple of days.   Last night was a real window rattler.

On Wednesday night I was late coming home.  I was out having coffee with my pals and time got away from me.  As I crawled into bed, the clock radio on my bedside table was still on and the Shipping Forecast was
being sent out.   The man on the BBC said that in some shipping areas, the seas were violent storm force 11 to hurricane force 12!  I had never heard those numbers before! The shipping areas that were supposed to get the worst weather were further up north, shipping areas SE Iceland, Faeroes, Fair Isle, Viking.  So I knew we were in for some wind but the worst weather was further north.

Beaufort wind scale Mean Wind Speed Limits of wind speed Wind descriptive terms Probable wave height in metres* Probable maximum wave height in metres* Seastate Sea descriptive terms
Knots ms-1 Knots ms-1
0 0 0 <1 <1 Calm - - 0 Calm (glassy)
1 2 1 1–3 1-2 Light air 0.1 0.1 1 Calm (rippled)
2 5 3 4–6 2-3 Light breeze 0.2 0.3 2 Smooth (wavelets)
3 9 5 7–10 4-5 Gentle breeze 0.6 1.0 3 Slight
4 13 7 11–16 6-8 Moderate breeze 1.0 1.5 3–4 Slight–Moderate
5 19 10 17–21 9-11 Fresh breeze 2.0 2.5 4 Moderate
6 24 12 22–27 11-14 Strong breeze 3.0 4.0 5 Rough
7 30 15 28–33 14-17 Near gale 4.0 5.5 5–6 Rough–Very rough
8 37 19 34–40 17-21 Gale 5.5 7.5 6–7 Very rough–High
9 44 23 41–47 21-24 Severe gale 7.0 10.0 7 High
10 52 27 48–55 25-28 Storm 9.0 12.5 8 Very High
11 60 31 56–63 29-32 Violent storm 11.5 16.0 8 Very High
12 - - 64+ 33+ Hurricane 14+ - 9 Phenomenal

It got pretty breezy here and we lost a few panes of glass on the greenhouse . . . again.  I will admit that I'm getting weary of replacing that glass.  I'm going to have to find a solution to this re-glazing problem.

Some of the dive club members were across in Eyemouth this morning.  I don't know if the sea was calm enough for them to get in or not.  I prefer smooth, calm water but that isn't always what I have.  The roughest sea I'll consider entering is about 5.  There is some footage around somewhere of me jumping into a sea that isn't overly calm.  I'll try to put it up here.

Once you're under the water, it isn't so bad, it is just the getting in and out safely that's the tricky part.  That and trying to to get sea sick. 

At a quiz night a few years ago, The Man of the Place and I had to label a map showing all the shipping areas around the British Isles.  We got some of the labels right.  I think now we might do a bit better as we're more aware of the sea and which shipping area we are diving in  - mostly Malin.

I don't hear any roaring tonight so I think it is calming down a bit.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ice Dives and Being Thankful

I do not like ice dives.  The coldest water I have been diving in is about 4 centigrade - which is about 39 Fahrenheit.  Any way it is calculated, it's pretty darned cold.  It gives you brain freeze.

It is a shame because this means that I would not willingly go on any expeditions to the Antarctic and would therefore miss seeing sights such as this:

I feel bad for the stupid and slow starfish and sea urchins that froze to death.  I also feel bad for the underwater photographer that had to be under the water to get that shot.

I have a massive crush on the narrator David Attenborough.  He is well outside the age bracket for "men within my age range I might run away with" but he is the lone exception and I adore him.  I would even do an ice dive for him.
It is Thanksgiving in the US.  It still continues to NOT be a holiday over here and I was at work today.  That doesn't mean I am not thankful for all the many many blessings in my life. 

My entire family is still alive and healthy.
I am healthy.
I have a husband of many many years that I love and still loves me.
I have lovely lovely friends.
I am employed.
Diving seems to have taken a larger part of my life as the years roll on and I am thankful for that.  I will continue to enjoy diving until old age and infirmity stop me.

Life isn't perfect, but it is awfully close!   Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Books Can Save

I always loved reading.  It started very early on through the thin, newspapery Scholastic Book Club catalogues handed out to us early on.  I remember ordering Charlie Brown books, bringing the money in a little envelope to school.  It was really thrilling when the book order arrived and I was handed my new books.
This was the first book I read from cover to cover all by myself.  Okay, so it was a comic book, but there were some hard words in there!  It was the first one that wasn't a school reading book (Dick and Jane) or a book that was read to me as a bedtime story.
My first books were like that - comics and childrens stories.  As I grew the books got more sophisticated.
From the time that I was old enough to walk to the library by myself, I always had a stack of library books.  With the junior library card, I could only get four books out at a time.  This mean that I was at the library every week.  I'd check out my limit of books and go home to start reading them.  I loved discovering new books.  A good story was completely engrossing and I would be upset when I reach the end of the book, and the story was over.

I still wonder what happened to Mary, Colin and Dickon at Misselthwaite Manor in The Secret Garden after I finished the book. This is where a good series was invaluable.  The story continues in the next book!  

"Peggy, it's time for dinner!"

 - no response -

"Peggy get down here!  Dinner's ready!"

" . . . okay just a minute" 

Then I clump down to dinner, book in hand. 

"No reading at the dinner table"


I would much rather spend time in Narnia, Middle Earth or 19th Century England.  It was a wonderful escape. I stayed out of trouble and nobody bothered me. It did improve my vocabulary - to the point where somebody in my 5th grade said that I talked like a professor.  Note to my 10 year old self - dumb down the language for classmates or they will think you're weird.

It mystified me that none of my children were ever big readers.  I thought all kids liked to read, but then we didn't have Nintendo back in the olden days.  I tried to get the boys to like books more - but you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!
I read to them endlessly, starting with books that I liked when I was their age.  They did like bedtime stories, but that was kind of it.  It was scouring for a new lure into the world of reading for my youngest that I picked up the first Harry Potter book.  I had become aware of the publicity around these new books for children and got the first one to read to my little boy..  I started reading him a chapter a night . 

After the second night of reading the book, I marked the spot where we had finished, tucked the book under my arm and went into the living room to read more on my own.  I then had to manage two bookmarks for a couple of days.  Then I went on to the second book while still reading the first book to George.

I think at this point there were only three Harry Potter books in the series.  So, after ripping through the initial published works, I had to wait for Ms Rowling to finish writing the next in the series.

I read books that aren't childrens books. I have shelves and shelvesof them but for some reason it is these first books that hold a special place in my life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 22nd

Today is Gordon's birthday.  He's 18.  We have been neighbours for almost his entire life.  I certainly remember being in next door's kitchen on the day of his first birthday when he was making his first wobbly steps across the floor.

Gordon is in the blue shirt. My youngest son George is in the red shirt.  Those boys have been friends their whole lives. 

They really didn't have a choice about being friends.  We were the nearest neighbours to Gordon's family out here in the countryside and George and Gordon are a mere eight weeks apart in age.  The friendship was forced upon them.  
They are very different in personality and interests, but have always managed to be friends anyway.  We've got a lot of memories wrapped up in the two of them together.

Horsing around on the hills above Gordon's family farm . . . .


and family holidays

I don't have any recent photos of the two of them together . . . I'll try to get one this Christmas.

In the meantime - Happy 18th Gordon!  I love you!

Territorial Fish!

Whenever a shark attacks a human it is sensational headline news.  It would make news, sharks can kill people and sometimes do.  Almost always a shark is going for somebody on the surface of the water; swimmers, snorkelers and surfers.  They rarely ever go for divers.  I guess we aren't acting like a food source.

There are some things under the sea that will attack divers, especially if divers are blundering near their nest.

Such was the case in August when we were in Egypt.  This beautiful Titan triggerfish systematically went for each and every diver in our group. The above footage was shot by a person in that dive group.  Me and my family managed to stay out of the way of the camera.  My husband and son were canny enough to move further out into the blue when the attacks started and viewed the whole scene with interest.  I was grateful that when he went for divers, including me, he kept his attention on fins.  If he had bitten any other part, we would have needed stitches.  They have hard coral biting mouths.

I have a nick out of my fin now.  I kind of like that.  It reminds me of a beautiful dive in warm water and of a very territorial fish we saw.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I keep them. Once somebody has made it through the friendship door, you get to stay.  We don't have to agree on everything - sometimes we don't agree on much.  But what we do have is friendship and I sure do value that!

A few people have drifted out of my life that I wish were still around.  Mostly I have been very good at finding people who can put up with me and my little eccentricities. I'm pretty good at keeping in touch.
In the past couple of years, I've found two friends from grade school. These are friends I had when we lived in Bismarck and it was the 60's!!  I am seated in the front row on the far right (glasses).  My friend Beth is in a cute dress with a Peter Pan collar, seated third from the right. 
I particularly love this one!  We are sitting on the back porch of our old house in Bismarck.  My good friend Janice is the one with the hair as black as a crow's wing.  You can see that the house behind us is constructed of logs!  Lodgepole pine!  I miss that house and I miss my friend.  I haven't seen Beth or Janice since we were children.
Here is another good one.   It is my wedding day in 1992 and I'm surrounded by my dear dear friends from college.  The only person I am not in contact with is Sarah in the red dress. Nobody knows where she has gone. I pray she is happy.

Over the years I have made a few friends through work.  Some have become real friends, not just work colleagues that I quite like.

Now that I have been in the dive club for a while, some of these reprobates have become more than just diving buddies, they're friends.

So, if we were friends at some point and you were unsure about contacting me because you fear I won't remember you, you're nuts!  Of course I will remember you!  I have probably been wondering what ever happened to you and will be delighted to be in contact again!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Easy Sunday

This is the first Sunday in a while that I have not been out diving. 

Although I love diving, it is nice to have a real rest and get things done around the house - or not.
Pets appreciate a nice fire.

Though I didn't do much, I did get the bathrooms cleaned and the floors vacuumed.  I like them to sparkle and the have really sparkled in a while. 
The Man of  the Place worked on wallpaper and paint.  I made cups of coffee and other domestic support things.   The above room used to be our living room with the TV and sofa.  That has moved to another room.  I have plans to move the dining table in here.  I don't know if we'll actually USE the room once it becomes a dining room.  We shall see.  He is getting closer to the finish line with it and doing a fine job.  A big shout out to The Man of the Place for spending a good chunk of his week off work to do this job!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Luggage Madness

I am going to have a little rant here. WHY do people over pack? It is maddening!! Suitcases are getting bigger and bigger. They're the size of coffins as it is! When will it all end?

This is how suitcases used to look.

Nobody used to complain about those. The worst thing that happened was that it would get confused with the others that looked just like it. You got everything you really needed in there and didn't really miss anything did you?

I have waited to check in while the over packers remove stuff from their suitcases.  The airlines are going to charge them for excess baggage (which can be very expensive).  The over-packers don't have the money to pay the charges and they have to get on that flight.  It must be humiliating for them. Some of these oversize suitcases aren't designed well enough or are sturdy enough to carry the weight that the size suggests they can carry. If these behemoths are packed to capacity they will fall apart. The baggage-claim area is a great leveler. I've seen over packers in baggage-claim areas upset because their suitcase zips have split, the wheels have pinged off and the handles have come away in their hands

This is a photo of an offensively huge suitcase. In my own private world, you could only use this if; 1) you are going away for the entire summer 2) leaving your spouse 3) you're emigrating 4) your diving equipment is in there. You can't use a suitcase of this size if you are going away for a week. Don't even think about using this case if you're going away for the weekend!

quote from my mom -

"Oh, I HATE those things! It was a sad day when they put wheels on suitcases. When the day comes that I can't carry what I need in one small, light bag, I'm gonna either quit travelling or hire a bearer...."

You think these people were going away for months on The Grand Tour of Europe. However, they're only going for a week or less. Geeze, get a grip! You can't really need all that junk!

This is an example of a normal modern suitcases. I'm not putting in an ad for suitcases, this photo just had the best examples.
The larger suitcase in the above photo is what The Man of The Place and I share for our annual vacation. We do go to hot places where lots of warm clothing isn't needed. We like to save our luggage allowance for the diving gear. The smaller one is a perfect weekend size and is fine for carry on. Now please don't think the larger blue case is okay for carry on. Its just too big.

I pride myself in not being an over packer - It is actually very nice to travel without all that stuff along.  That's me holding my luggage for two weeks (packed)!  I will say that I did have diving equipment in another case - but that little green case holds my clothes and toiletries for the holiday.  I had one pair of shoes  - on my feet and that was it!  I didn't miss anything and I wore each item I brought along.  I didn't even have to run to a store to get something that I had forgotten and needed.

I'm just hoping beyond hope that at least one over packer will see this and re-think what they need to bring along next time.

reprinted and modified from an entry I wrote in 2006

Friday, November 18, 2011

Good Value

Diving equipment can be expensive.  We try to cut corners where we can.  Some things like a new drysuit which can run to over £1000.  We won't spend that much, but it is easily done.  We will buy second hand diving equipment from eBay when we can  I have been pleased with almost everything we've had from those auctions.

A number of years ago, I needed a new dive watch.  The one that I had died just before we were due to go on a dive trip. Water got in the watch - and salt water and watch works just don't make good companions.  It was just after a battery change - done at a jewelers that reported to test the security of the seals if they change the battery of a dive watch - that my watch had died.  

We were going on a trip very soon and I needed a watch that I could take with me under the sea.  Just out of curiosity, I looked in the catalogue of the local supermarket.  They had a Lorus Sport Watch, rated to 100 meters for about £12 pounds.  Whoo hoo!  Even if it only lasts a short time, it is a better price than the near £300 that the dive shop is asking for a watch of a similar rating.

It was near Christmas, so I bought one for me and one for The Man of the Place.    This is a photo of the very watches I bought .  Mine is on the left - with a dead battery.  When the battery died, I was given the loan of the one on the right, his watch.   The loaner watch misted up with condensation a few weeks ago and in the wee hours of this morning, died.  

I'll get another battery for mine but I'm afraid that the other watch is dead.  I can't complain too much.  We've had very good service out of those watches for not a lot of money.  I am now  watchless until I can find time to get a new battery for my watch.  My left hand feels weird and there is a white bar across the wrist.  I feel adrift without a watch.  I may look at new watches - as serviceable as those watches are, they are NOT very feminine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dirty Car Season

Before dinner, I was out washing our cars.  They get REALLY dirty this time of year. 

It's hard to keep them clean, especially when we live out here.  There is always mud and more organic material on the road to our house.

Let me tell you know, once that stuff has dried onto your car it  is STICKY!  Presoaking is required.

I have been washing my car by hand instead of running it through the car wash.  I'm doing this for two reasons: 1. I won't charge myself any money to clean the car. 2.I've got a brand new car and car wash brushes can scratch the finish on cars. 

The drawback is that I will miss bits.  I like to leave the car to dry after washing it - then go back an hour or so later, find the muddy spots I missed early and wipe them clean.     I missed some bits on Saturday and didn't go back to check - it was too dark to check.  I didn't find out I had missed bits until I was somewhere where I couldn't do anything about it.   - bleh