Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spellinh mistakes courtesy of East Coast Raiil

I am sitting on a train heading out of Newcastle on my way back south to Londn after 2 weeks of visiting my Dad. I treated myself to a 1st class ticket ( which was not much more than a standard class), so i have free wifi and fodd and drink service. i thought i would take advantage of the 31/2 hour journy to catch up on my blogging. However, I have not aken into onsideration the lack of investment in rail travel over the last 20 years or so, which makes rail travel, even 1st cladss feel like riding a very bumpy roler coaster.
I have just ben served a large glas of red wiine and I am taking bets as to howw much gets drunk, and how much gets pored over my nice clesn shirst.
I am happy to report that Dad is alive and well on the aniverery of his 90th Birthday. He is smaller, less steady on his feet, and has a few more shakes than 6 months ago, but is remrkable, considering he had a hert attack in February last year, which nearl floored him completely.
It never gets any easier saying goodbye, as we both keep thinking this will be the last time we see each other, but we romised to see each other in 6 months which gives us both something to look forward to.

The lokelyhood of me having a clean shirt when i arrive in london has now been decreased with the arrival of lunch. All bets are off.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The day for the "Talk" is fast approaching.

I took our son to a community dance this weekend, along with his friend Sally (Not the real name) who lives next door. Legend Jr is almost 10 and Sally is almost 12, just about the right time for her to "Blossom."

I remember my old Jr School teacher, Mrs Wilson, telling us rag tag 10 year old boys that Maureen would not be changing with us anymore for Gym, as she had blossomed.
We had NO idea what she meant, but we assumed she had some nasty disease as she had to get changed in the janitor's closet, so we never did get to see what all the fuss was about. My only sex education was gleaned from the walls of the toilet block. For years I thought women got pregnant by having someone shove their finger in their ear. Obviously, the diagrams were not too accurate. One of the more enlightened boys tried to show me how it was done by thrusting his loins at a small hole in a tree trunk in our back garden. I still failed to see what sticking your spiget in a hole in a tree could possibly have to do with making babies.

I was a slow learner.

So, back to Jr and Sally.

These two have been palling around for the last two years since she moved next door. She has accompanied us on many trips and Island excursions, and to all intents and purposes was just one of the boys. However, when she came over to the house on Saturday dressed in skin tight leotard bottoms and a skimpy figure hugging shirt, I couldn't help notice that her boyish figure had vanished.
Legend Jr apparently, had not noticed any change, that is until we got to the dance.

After several energetic numbers had been played, and a lot of jumping around had been performed,  Jr came up to me and whispered confidentially that  Sally had "jiggly bits just like Mommy."
After I snorted out my red wine through my nose and all over the table, I quickly regained my composure to try and deliver his first sex education lesson.

I briefly explained to him that Sally was getting older and her body was developing in a way that would enable her to have babies some time in the future.
"What will happen to me when I am old enough," he asked in that tone of voice you know is going to come back at you and bite you in the arse.
I told him his voice would change and he would start to grow hair on his body, just like Daddy.
He asked if his Spiget would get any bigger, and I affirmed that it probably would, in time.

He thought about this for a while and then asked me if I was still waiting for that to happen.

He gets me every time. Just like a lamb to the slaughter.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A good start to 2014

Happy New Year all y'all, as they say in Texas, allegedly.
The only time I have been there was when I got stuck in Dallas, on route to Colorado. I may have heard that very expression used, but I was full of Tequila and so jet lagged, I couldn't walk. I do remember getting a taxi from the airport into down town, as the driver pointed out where Kennedy had his brains blown out. I think he was impressed by my perceptive nature when I told him they had done a good job cleaning up the mess.

Speaking of messes, I can say without equivocation, that 2013 was one of my worst years on record. Sure there were highlights. I think I documented every one on this blog. So you see, there was much to be left unsaid.

I have a feeling that 2014 will be different. My Labor Compliance Consultancy landed a big contract, after chasing them for 2 years. Things are still slow, but at least crawling along instead of lying prone like a snake on life support.

You may remember, I have resurrected my catering skills to keep some cash flow coming in, instead of flowing out all over the floor. That has been quite lucrative and is picking up week by week. I am chefing at one of my favorite veggie places on the Island (Snapdragon) on the 18th where we will be doing an Indian Tapas night, with favorites such as Mushroom Massala, Punjabi spiced chick peas, and Pakora with yoghurt curry sauce. If it goes well, I may be allowed to make it a regular occurrence.

My wine making is going from strength to strength, with friends pushing me to make it more official, i.e. sell the stuff instead of drinking it all. I took a major risk with the 2012 Cabernet by bottling it a year early. What on earth for, I hear you ask.  America is suffering from an acute barrel shortage. Who knew?
Not me apparently.
The day before the 2013 Cabernet was due to go into the barrels, we were still missing a very important part of the process.
Ooh, you are good.
Yes, we also had a shortage of empty barrels.
I decided to bottle the 2012, to free up the aforesaid barrels, so we didn't fuck screw up the 2013 production.
As it turns out, it is delicious and very fruit forward (Think Beaujolais Nouveau.)

And last, but not least, my good friend Kat Eggleston's dad is now safe in a wonderful senior center on the Island. He is suffering from dementia and has been a handful for her to care for. This new life for Al has meant she is now free to play and travel, so Middlemarch (Kat, John Dally and yours truly) will take wings and maybe end up playing somewhere near you.

So wherever you are, whatever you do, make 2014 a year to remember.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bits and bobs and the lovely Hestia


I was back home in the North East recently to see my dad, who is recovering from a major heart attack. He is 89 and still living at home and doing a very good job of being independent. Since my last trip 6 months ago, he has become more frail and a tad forgetful, but he still insists he does not need help. I was only allowed in the kitchen to eat the food he prepared for me with loving precision. He wouldn't even let me wash up. I did get to take him out in his car for small trips to see relatives, or do the shopping at Aldi. You know time is hanging heavy when he insists on taking their catalog home to read. I couldn't get him to stay anywhere for more than 10 minutes before he wanted to be back home. I didn't understand this until my sister in law told me that home is where my Mom is in his mind, and he just wants to be back with her.

I did score one success on this trip. I found him a mobility scooter he can use to get to the local shops. He doesn't really need it yet, but it won't be long before that short trip will be out of his range. When we got home, he took it out on the pavement to try it out. As he was backing it into his garage, he looked at me and said, " Well, it isn't as exciting as my old Yamaha 250, but I will get used to it."

Apart from seeing my Dad, I had two very special surprises. A good friend of ours, Victoria and her daughter Kaitlyn, were in Greece as a present for Kaitlyn's graduation. They ended their trip by coming up to the North East to visit me. It was a very special few days, as I got to show friends from my new home, how special my old home is. I took them to see the castles and beaches, of which there are many in Northumbeland, and we hiked part of Hadrian's wall.

We stopped in for lunch at the Battlesteads Pub in Wark, a highly acclaimed Gastro Pub and had some wonderful cheese and potted ham. The home made piccalilli tasted wonderful, but it did look a bit like cat vomit. Too much sauce and not enough pickle.

I did notice a sign in the toilet that perhaps reflects the current anti immigrant feeling in the UK.

Apparently, they are not too easy to dispose of up here.

When I go back, I always have to go for dinner at the Rat Inn, one of the best pub restaurants in the country. Their Lamb is to die for, and their beer selection is sublime. The girls ended up their brief stay tucking into the best food this region has to offer.
They promised a return visit. I hope so.

I spent some time with Terry Docherty and Pete Scott in Newcastle the following week, catching up with the local music news and trying out all the new beers and watering holes down by the old quayside.

I got to sing at a folk club and found some new songs that I just have to learn. I took the train back down to London on the Friday, and got to taste a "Fantastic Pastie" at the central Station, the subject of one of Pete's songs.

When in London, I always try and see my two lovely friends Jill and Sarah, both from school days. I usually stay with Jill and her husband Paul, and we save one night for a few drinkies in Soho.

 Last, but certainly not least, I got to meet the Lovely Hestia (Alison Cross). Now to say this lady has considerable talent, is a bit like saying the Pope is a Catholic. I love her writing, her humor, and all the little ways she has helped and encouraged me to write over the last few years. She was in London at a Tarot conference where she was presenting, and had some free time for a lunch on Sunday. I met Ali and her husband and son at the Dickens Inn. We had tried to get Jo from "A Girl's guide to turning 50" fame to join us, but we failed to let her know where we were in time for her to be there:(

To use one of Ali's expressions, I luff her. We had a great lunch and a wee walk through the deserted streets of the city, before they went on their way and I headed back to Jill's for the night.

I am now back home on Vashon and straight back into the routine.

What a memorable trip

Thursday, September 5, 2013

No... honestly.... they are not mine.......

For those that know me well, you will already know of my ability to lose my wallet on a depressingly frequent basis. You may not, however, be aware of my propensity for embarrassing moments. Maybe my 3rd grade teacher was right when she said I would need a nursemaid, or at least someone who could help me extricate myself from the messes I can get myself into.

For instance, my son left for his first day of 4th grade yesterday and left his swim suit and towel in the dryer. How inconsiderate of me to wash and dry his clothes and forget to put them in his school bag. The wheel has almost come round full circle as I pull everything out of the dryer and prepare to head into school to drop the offending articles off at his new class.

As I get out of the car, I find a pair of my wife's panties stuck to the towel. God bless static electricity.

As I am also in a hurry, I stuff  the red silk underwear into my short's pocket.

I call into the office and get my security clearance, together with my visitor badge and hide the AK45 in the towel and head off upstairs to his new classroom.

So far, so good.

I knock politely on the door and I am waved in by his new teacher. I tell her I have just dropped in to bring his swim suit. We exchange polite conversation and I hear how delighted she is to have Legend Jr in her class this year and then I turn to leave. I pull my car keys out of my pocket and out pops a pair of, well, let's just say they wouldn't pass for a handkerchief. She looks at the floor, then at me, then back to the floor again as I retrieve the offending article.

"I do rather like the color red," I said, as I opened the door and beat a hasty retreat back to the office to sign out. I did catch a glimpse of her doing a very good impression of a Guppy with a speech impediment just before the door closed.

And so another good start to the school year unfolds.

I think I will keep my distance for a while. Maybe until High School

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

SIM Card Hell

Back in February, I went back to England to visit my Dad. I have an old unused Blackberry, so I thought I would just take it with me, buy a SIM Card,  on account of the last trip and the extortionately large bill I received when I got back to Vashon for using my US phone for 1 call.

Simple idea, but as it turns out, it was a nightmare to arrange. I ended up buying a new cheap phone in England, and apart from the problems setting it up through T-Mobile a carrier who shall remain anonymous. I mean, their input template wouldn't recognize a period FFS. Have you ever tried to type in an e-mail address without being able to use the "." function? I ended up opening a word document, typing in .com, and pasting it in to the required field. Several sweary words later, I managed to open an account and make a call.

When I got home, I decided to give the phone to my 9 year old son, who is getting more independant by the day. I thought, mistakenly as it turns out, that if I bought a US SIM Card, it would work just fine. $10 later, I installed the new SIM Card, only to get this error message, "Not Compatible."

What is not compatible?

The phone, the card, me and my wife, or some other piece of nonsense?

It didn't say.

By now, the normally sedate Legend's blood pressure was causing my eyes to bulge as I headed off Island to find a card that would work. I popped into Target and was helped by a nice young man who wanted to be my best friend, and couldn't do enough for me. He promised that if the T-Mobile card  didn't work, he would refund the money (another $10), an option I partook of the very next day because it was the wrong f***ing size.

By now, my heart was keeping time to a Gloria Estefan Conga as I headed towards a T-Mobile store, fully intent on doing someone bodily harm if this was not resolved.
The salesperson took the phone, opened it up, inserted the right size of SIM Card, opened the account and handed it back to me and said, "This should work now." I paid another $10 for the new card, and a $10 top up for service.

I switched it on and got a "No Service" message.

"It appears to be NOT working now," I said with only a slight hint of malice.

"Oh, did you say you bought it in England?"

"I did."

"Oh, It is probably locked for use in England and won't work in the USA."

I grabbed him by the throat and flung him to the floor and started to beat him senseless with my English f***ing useless phone. Actually, I didn't do that, but I SO wanted to. Instead,I asked him politely why he sold me the new card and accepted my money if he KNEW it was not going to work.
I think there may have been a few expletives in there also, on account of the manager coming over to intervene.

He apologised, and then offered to sell me a phone that would work which would cost another $49.99.

I offered to insert it up his rectum.

I left the store in a mood that, let's say, could only be described as uncharitable, and went to search for a new phone. This was my last chance to avoid a hefty jail sentence as a result of strangling someone, so I headed off to the Seattle Mall.

I did find one, and paid the more reasonable $29.99.
I now have to charge it up. Of course, the charger doesn't fit any of the other devices we have, so I have to buy something that will work in the car too.

Sometimes good ideas just don't work that well.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cruel and unusual punishment

Several weeks ago, my dear wife asked told me to sign Jr. up for T Ball, the pre-curser to baseball for children, so I duly paid the fee and signed my name in blood. We have tried to get our son interested in team ball sports, but apart from kicking a soccer ball past his own goalkeeper during an English soccer camp on the island, he has so far failed to show either prowess or interest, which is fine by me. Playing team sports here requires the logistics of the last crusade, the patience of Mother Teresa, and the time that only the seriously driven parent can afford.

Zero out of 3 so far.

So it was with a certain amount of trepidation, I drove him to his first team meeting.
After corralling the  future Allstars in the bull pen, the coach gave them all a little talk on what to expect. They had to run to first base to be allowed on the team, which they all managed to do with a little help from eager parents. The coach then handed out their uniforms and told us to be at the High School for opening day of the baseball season, uniforms on and raring to go at 9.00am sharp.
Saturday morning at 8.30am, we were still hunting for elements of the uniform that had disappeared as soon as we got out of the car from his first practice. Not an auspicious start.
We arrived there 5 minutes late, and discovered (not for the 1st time) that the word "sharp" on Vashon, really means "approximately."
The fairly pleasant weather of the last 3 weeks had changed overnight to a blustery, chilling and downright dirty day. We stood in line for 20 minutes for the team photo, by which time some of the younger kids had been taken home with frostbite.


 Parents huddled round cups of coffee to keep warm while the coach encouraged her new recruits to jump, stretch, wrestle run on the spot to ward off hypothermia.

There were 5 other T ball teams there, as well as all the teams from the middle and high school, and all of them were programmed to play a short game each, before the parade could start. Needless to say, there was an awful lot of standing around. As if to add more misery to the plot, the wind picked up speed and sent anything that wasn't screwed down scurrying across the sports field, including mini tornadoes of dust from the pitch.
I hid sheltered in the dugout and watched as their first game progressed, shivering as the realization that this might be what my life was going to look like took hold. It didn't help that my wife had just told me that our friend Jim had been to every practice and every game his two sons had played, and then stated, "Now that's a real Dad for you."
As the game progressed, I found myself getting more involved, as kids ran around the diamond with scant idea of what or where they were supposed to be doing or going.

"Throw the ball to first base.....yes the ball in your hand.... throw it to......OK, run over with 1st base.....that's 3rd base......good throw."

It wouldn't be an opening day for anything in America without a parade.
While the compere chatted and the grand stand filled up with parents and sponsors (yup, even T ball has sponsors), the assembled teams stood off in the distance, freezing their little butts off.

It took over half an hour before the assembled masses were ready to watch, by which time, many more of the smaller children had been carried off by their parents. Eventually, the word was given and they trotted past the stand and assembled on the running track, team by team. I had to take a photo of the flag at the corner of the field, as this will give you something of an idea of how windy the day was.

 After all the teams had assembled, they reserved the last bit of torture to close the parade. I am of course referring to the singing of the Star Strangled Banner. Like all dutiful and patriotic citizens, the children and parents, coaches and teachers, all solemnly put their hand over their heart except for Legend Jr (mine were over my ears), as a lady, who I did not recognize, murdered the national anthem.

Who knows where this might lead. So far, he is enjoying his foray with a bat and ball, and I have enjoyed watching. However, I may not have what it takes to be a real dad:)

Share it