Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wedding Preparations!

I have three sons.  The eldest has already been married for a number of years.  He is 29 and lives in Chicago with his beautiful wife.  Son number two is 28 and is getting married on Friday here in Scotland!

I am fizzing with excitement!  My boy is marrying a beautiful, smart, strong and lively woman.  She fits right into this family already.  It isn't often that all three of my boys are together in one place.  That happens this week.  On the day of the wedding they'll all be in kilts!  

The happy couple asked me a while ago if I would make "the cake".  I am not a professional baker, but I do love to make cakes.  It turns out that my son and his bride don't like traditional fruitcake.  They like my carrot cake and as that is what they like, would I make it.  I was so flattered.  Of course I'll make it for them.
Just as soon as I said I would, I wondered what I had agreed to.   I can bake with my eyes closed so I have no worries in that department but I want it to look pretty!  I don't want it ending up on cakewrecks.com.   In fact, I can't look at that site without my heart sinking just a little.   I'll just make the traditional icing for carrot cake, cream cheese icing and make it as smooth as my non-professional hands can make it.  We'll get it on the stand, a ribbon goes around each tier and we're done.  Once it is cut, nobody cares.  I have actually had ingredients donated for this cake.  My friend Helen gave me eggs from her hens.  

Last night, I started baking.  I guess I should have planned better.  I ended up taking over the entire kitchen and The Man of the Place and our youngest had to have cold pasta salad left over from yesterday for dinner. They aren't dead this morning so I'll have to make certain that they're fed properly tonight.  

Our only other job is to dress nicely and show up.
The Man of the Place bought a new suit for the occasion and I bought a new dress. 
I also have a new hat.  To be revealed to the public on the day.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Goodbye Julio

This post was inevitable.  We live on a quiet-ish road and our family cats have always been outdoor cats.  This means that if they don't learn about cars, they will get hit by one.

Julio seemed to have more sense than other cats and would get out of the way of the cars and gravel trucks that come up and down the road.  One time is all it takes.

He was the most sociable cat we ever had.
He was a very people oriented cat.  He had to be where his people were.  He had to see what you were doing.  It was almost like he was checking to see if you were doing things properly.
When we went away on family holidays, we usually had the neighbours come in and feed him.  This actually traumatised our friendly cat. It wasn't enough contact for him.  I don't think he even liked it when we went to work.  We took to sending him to a cat hotel when we went away.  It was an expense we could have done without, but we didn't want him to be upset.

We are already missing this cat terribly but it seems that the local wildlife will not miss him.  He was the apex predator in the area.  Migratory songbirds, stoats (pictured above) and field voles are now safe. He even caught a bat or two.  It does seem that there were many more birds in the garden this morning . . . .  

I get that accidents happen.  Cats are hit by cars all the time.  After finding his body we knew that he had died instantly (slight comfort there).  It was the cowardly way his remains were thrown over the stone wall afterwards that upset us.   The person who did that didn't come up to tell us what had happened.  We had to make the discovery on our own.

His body is now under the cedar tree in our own pet cemetery.  We miss you darling boy.

Friday, June 22, 2012

He is Still Rockin! (so am I)

A while ago I posted a blog entry about a concert that I never got to attend.   Bruce Springsteen in the early early 80s.   Thirty one years later, he is still cranking out the music and I was able to go!

June 21st - summer solstice - at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland.  The Man of the Place got tickets and knowing my history with The Boss, I got the other ticket.   I haven't been to a concert in a stadium for a long time - Rolling Stones in Miami in '88 or '89.

After work we headed over to Sunderland.  It is a trip we do often but usually for football.  This was the first non-football event The Man of the Place has ever attended at the stadium.

A former work colleague and friend of mine opened up a tea room a few months ago, Serendipity - Tea and Trinkets.  I have been wanting to come in to see her and visit the shop since it opened and this was a perfect opportunity to do that.  June is awesome - and it was her birthday.
Beautiful Junie
It is great to keep in touch with the really cool people whose paths cross yours through the years.  We only worked together for just over a year.  That was about 13 years ago. We've kept up the friendship.

The Boss - club sandwich
She's a big fan of music and had a big Bruce Springsteen themed day going on in the shop.  I had a "The Boss" club sandwich.  It was huge and I actually couldn't finish it.
I did manage to find room for a cupcake.

It was pouring with rain as we drove across to Sunderland and raining while we walked to her shop, so I skipped the promotional beer or Thunder Road cocktail in favour of tea.

Our damp view of the stage
We then made our merry way across the bridge to the stadium  - only about a 10 minute walk from the shop.  We staked out our place down in front.  It wasn't WAY in front but it was pretty close.
Sunderland fans attend a non-football event
Naturally we tried to avoid standing behind tall people, but they always seem to find us.  A guy in a pale baseball cap stood right in front of me - I had to hold my camera above his head  to get a shot. 

I took a few photos during the show.  I wasn't impressed with what I was getting so I gave up.  I'd rather just watch the show than try to view it through the lens of a camera.

Here are some of my efforts:

And this one

It was quite tempting to take photos of the big screen rather than Bruce himself.   I thought that was silly. If I can't get a good shot of the actual person, I'll just give up and get some better photos from some other source.

This is the crowd on the way out of the stadium.  It was much worse than game days.  On days when there is a home game - there are park and ride buses that help filter the thousands away and coaches that have designated areas.  As it was, most people came in private cars.

The rain eased up just as the show started and kept away until we were in the car on the way home.  I was VERY glad to get back to the car.  I didn't realise until we got to the stadium that our tickets were down in front and not in the seats.  Oops.  I wore the wrong shoes.  I wore cute boots with a heel.  They were not good for standing for hours.  On the way back to the car, I stopped to take them off .  It wasn't much better at that point and I put them back on.  My feet were throbbing when I got into bed later.  

I will say this much.  I didn't actually notice my feet were hurting during the show.  I was transported!  Such a good show.  I felt like I was 18 all over again.  Thanks Bruce.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This Shows Promise!

I know I will be accused of bias on this one. . .accuse away.  I AM biased.

My youngest son has started a blog.


With a grand total of two entries so far, it is really really new.  Having said that, I think the writing shows wit and a whole lot of promise.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Goodbye Summer Vacation

Some of the render on our house was becoming loose, pulling away from the wall.  If you tapped it, there was an expensive sounding hollow sound.
Cracks appeared years ago
Cracks have always been there. This part of the house is 50 years old. It doesn't look all that bad, does it? Things like this are bound to happen.  A few years ago a bit fell off . . . .The Man of the Place patched it and we thought no more about it.

Now that the house is getting a new coat of paint, more attention was given to the north and east walls of the house.  In preparing the wall where our bedroom window is, a great chunk of the render came off and crashed to the ground, shattering as it fell.   The hole that was made by the falling bit of render gave us a view to what was really happening.  You could fit your hand between the wall and the render.  As it is supposed to stick to the brick, this is not good.
Our bedroom window - The render was falling off of this wall
A builder was contacted.  While we are waiting for the builder, the decision was made to remove all the very loose render.  It came off in sheets.

The east side of the house is worse.  If it had just been the section on the north side of the house by our bedroom window it wouldn't have been so bad. Because the damage seems to include almost the entire east wall, the cost has trebled.  We may even have to have scaffolding.  The money that is set aside for a family vacation is going to have to be reallocated.

To add insult to injury and salt to the wound, some friends who work at a dive centre in Egypt have posted this photo.  It was taken on the south platform of Elphinstone reef - where we were last year.

With the caption, "We're going again tomorrow, where are you?"  I'll tell you where I am.  I am right here and it looks as though I am staying put for some considerable time. (picture a sulky me with arms folded tightly across my chest)

I love our house and I do not really begrudge repairing it.  I am just sad that the plans we were starting to make have to be stopped.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Okay - I've Not Given Up

I just get side-tracked.  Work and diving sucks up a lot of time.  I have been neglecting the garden more than usual this year.  I hate that I don't get out more.  I only saw ONE orange-tip butterfly this year.  I know there were more of them, I just didn't stop and look.  I did manage to hear a couple of cuckoos.  Now the cuckoos are silent and the orange-tip butterflies are gone.  The tadpoles in the pond have thinned right out and we seem to now have a whole load of snails.
While I was busy, spring arrived here at Whitelees.   I obviously still need to pull the weeds out of that gravel path.  In our defense, we have tackled the lawn-beast.  With the lawn mower not feeling well, the grass didn't get cut for a long, long time.  When we finally got to cut it, the mowing had to be done in stages.  First a rough chop (mower blade on the highest setting and collection bag off).  Let the first cut dry a bit and then do a second cut with the bag on.  I hauled 15 wheelbarrow loads of grass clippings to the forest.  The grass is now smooth and carpet-like.  The house is being painted by The Man of The Place.  He's doing a lovely job.
Julio our cat has been busy killing small rodents and the occasional migratory song bird.  We picked up two shrews and half a vole in the house just this morning.
It seems that everything is in bloom at the moment, even cacti .
One of the things I love about fuchsia is this:
The flower buds dangle so temptingly.  I just want to pop them between my thumb and forefinger.  I don't do that though..  I love the flowers.
I have two large baskets with fuchsia on either side of a back door.  This one is called Dark Eyes and the flower buds are even fatter!
The morning was warm and sunny.  Polly is still here and still an enthusiastic walking companion.