Monday, January 31, 2011

Busy Monday!

Today sort of made up for my being a slug all weekend. We had a good swim class this morning - the teacher worked us hard. Aldi and WalMart were almost anti-climactic after that.

Bridge was definitely one of the worse days. Awful cards, and didn’t get to play with any of the better players. At least I didn’t have to play with any of the ones who really make me crazy. Gee, that sounds snobby. But how many folks can get with a group of 25 people and really like all of them. I’m glad we’ll have to miss next week - we need a break. I wish we could find another couple to play with on a regular basis.

And then there was the basketball game. Our Lady Mocs have been off for a week, and it really showed in the first half. They were really flat, and were behind the College of Charleston 24-22 at the half. The gals finally got things together and won 65-48 - presenting Coach Wes Moore with his 500th career win. Congratulations to Coach Moore, and to the Lady Mocs.
Stratton-Audley, with the parish church in the background.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

At the pub

Just a couple of photos tonight - the Red Lion Pub in Stratton-Audley, Oxfordshire, England - just a few steps from our friend's home.


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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kate!

It was a lovely day today, with plenty of sunshine, and temperatures in the 60s.

But what made it really special is that it's Kate's Birthday! Happy Birthday, Babe!
A bouquet of flowers in Stratton-Audley, England.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

It's time for your mammogram!

I had my mammogram this morning. Guess they’ll be letting me know next week sometime. It’s not the most fun in the world, but they surely have come a long way. It’s not nearly as uncomfortable as it used to be. I’ve said it before, and will say it many more times, I hope. Get your annual mammogram! I’m now 6 years, cancer free - after being found to have irregularities on a routine mammogram. This led to a needle biopsy, with a diagnosis of malignancy, followed by six weeks of radiation therapy. Let’s go for early detection until a real cure is discovered.

John and I went to the AAA office to get some passport photos made. We need to get visas for Cambodia and Vietnam, and both need passport-sized photos. Guess they’re okay - I didn’t even look at them.

We’ve got some nice days coming up, too - temps in the 50s, maybe even 60s. The long-range forecasts for south Texas calls for temps around 70. That’ll be lovely.
Stratton-Audley, England.

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String Theory in Chattanooga

While John and Margaret went to Knoxville to see the Lady Vols beat Mississippi State, a “girls night out” happened.

Five of us went to String Theory at the Hunter Museum to see and hear a quartet from The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. String Theory is a terrific set of “small” concerts held in the lobby of the Hunter Museum of American Art. The performers talk about themselves and the music for about 30 minutes, and then perform a couple of selections. It’s usually over by 7:30-7:45.

It’s a fantastic evening, and it’s wonderful to live in a community that supports this type of experience.
This is a carefully trimmed hedge along a lane in Stratton-Audley, England.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Friends are special!

Joyce and I got to be substitute teachers this morning for the swim class. That’s always a thrill - seeing if we can come up with enough stuff to do. Usually we wind up asking each of the class to call out a move to do for a minute - keeping everybody exercising and doing some of the favorite moves.

We have three class members who have spouses in the hospital, two are post-surgery or undergoing other procedures. We keep a phone to e-mail chain going pretty much all day long, keeping up with how they’re doing. It’d be nice to get everybody well at the same time - but I guess life doesn’t work that way, does it.

And friends taking care of friends is pretty special - for all of us.
The flowers certainly are spectacular in England in the summertime.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I got some terrible news at the rheumatologist this morning. I’m a whole lot shorter than I thought I was. I thought I was about ½” shorter (5’7 ½”) down to 5’7”. But I was horrified to hear her tell me that I was 5’5 ¾”. I’d never expected that! Oh, well - guess it’s only going to get worse. But all else is going well - no major changes (other than being short). It was a busy morning - I had my teeth cleaned; I took some watercolor paper to some classes where it might get sold; and had a great veggie plate lunch with Vicki.

We had a fun evening - dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and then went to a new coffee house where they were having "songwriters' night". One of the performers was our friend, Dalton Roberts. The seats were uncomfortable, and it was cold in the space, but the coffee was good, and the music was terrific. The audience was small, so we were even more pleased that we had gone to support our friend. Then home to watch the State of the Union speech.

I'm due to be a co-substitute teacher for the swim class in the morning. I wonder if it's going to be snowing. Folks in the class are really having lots of problems right now. Two elderly mothers have died in the last month, and this week, two husbands are hospitalized with major surgeries. Keep sending good vibes in this direction.
An English rose at Pool Farm, Stratton-Audley.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday as usual, without snow.


Window box at Pool Farm, Stratton-Audley, England
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Small music

Sue and Margaret left about 10 this morning. It was so good to be able to spend some time with them, by themselves, without spouses or children. They’re back home safely now.

We went to a Chamber Series concert by members of the symphony this afternoon. The program was four selections, a mixed quartet, string duet, string trio, and wind quintet . All the musicians were the principal players of the various sections of the orchestra. Made for a very special afternoon. Our favorite was a Rossini cello/bass violin duet.
Hollyhocks at Pool Farm, Stratton-Audley, UK

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The girls go shopping

Margaret and friend, Carol, met Sue and Amanda at an antique glass show in Cartersville, GA today - plus other antique-store stops. Sounds like they had a great day, and found some good pieces. They got back here in time to meet Tina and order carry-out Chinese. John went to the Lady Mocs game (they won over Western Carolina), but got home in time to get his hot-and-sour soup and some of the leftovers.

Kate went to Nashville to spend yesterday with Jean. So it was a good weekend for get-togethers.
The Manor House (getting roof repair), Stratton-Audley.

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Vocabulary / TV Review

Have you ever noticed that people have more than one vocabulary? We have our speaking vocabulary; we have a reading vocabulary; we have a foreign word vocabulary; if we work word puzzles, we have a word-puzzle vocabulary. Sometimes these overlap and/or intersect. And sometimes the twain never meet.

Tonight on our PBS affiliate’s “talking-head” show about the local news of the week, two of the panelists mispronounced relatively common words - pronouncing them like they had read them, but never heard them spoken.

One word was prevalent. The speaker pronounced it with the accent on the second syllable (pre-VALE-ent), rather than the correct pronunciation with the accent on the first syllable (PRE-vale-ent). Another speaker used the word palatable. Again he put the accent on the second syllable (pah-LAT-able) rather than correctly on the first (PAL-a-at-ble). How odd!
Mini review on a new USA short-series: This one is called Fairly Legal, and is about an ex-lawyer who is now working as a mediator. The characters are delightful. The setting is in a large law firm. The protagonist works for the firm, which was headed by her father and stepmother. The father has recently died. Our heroine lives in a huge boat at a San Francisco marina that was part of her inheritance from her father. One of the best sthicks in the piece are the ring tones on her phone. They are all themes from the Wizard of Oz: Wicked Witch = stepmother; Scarecrow = her house-hubby brother; the Cowardly Lion = her male secretary, Leo; the Tin Man = her ex-husband; and the Wizard = her father. Had to love that!
Our friends' flat in Stratton-Audley, England (second floor on the corner) - on the grounds of an old manor house.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Mini Reviews

I watched “Burn After Reading” (John chose to skip this one), loaned to us by a friend. I wasn’t too impressed with this one. I guess it was supposed to be funny, but it just didn’t get to me. These people were just too stupid. I didn’t realize until the end that this was a Coen Brothers film. The only other CB movie I remember seeing was “Fargo”, and I didn’t care for it either. Guess this just isn’t my kind of humor.

Having said that, we will be going to see “True Grit” - and I know it’s a Coen Brothers’ movie. I wonder how that’ll go.

The next day, we watched the animated “Despicable Me”. This is a delightful bit of fluff - almost as good as “Up”. I’ll definitely recommend this one.
This final picture from Iceland is of the Hellisheidi Power Station, a geothermal power plant. As I remember, this plant is about one-third completed, and in service. In a very few years, the plant will pay for itself, and then all power in the country will be generated by its abundant geothermal features.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A trip to Costco

We did a bunch of stuff this morning after swimming and coffee, and still got home by noon. We made a trip to Costco - didn't think I got much, but it was still a bunch at the check-out. One special they had was on pork loin chops. These are huge, maybe 1.5-2" thick - they'll have to be "butterfly-ed" and one will still be plenty for both of us. With the coupon, they wound up costing about $1.50 each. Can't beat that! Polish hot dogs for lunch made it a perfect visit!

John grilled one of the chops for supper and it was absolutely delicious - one served the two of us generously. I had a sweet potato casserole in the freezer, left from Thanksgiving, and that went really well with it. The loin chops will be featured at Costco until the end of the month, so if you have access to a Costco, I certainly do recommend these.

On the way home, we took some things by the Community Kitchen/Shelter, and went by the Arena to order our tickets for the Southern Conference basketball tournament (first weekend in March). It's to be in Chattanooga this year. Unfortunately, our Lady Mocs lost to Samford tonight.
A couple enjoying the sunshine at the Pseudocrater, Iceland.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Law of Unintended Consequences

For many years, the Chattanooga Police Department has assigned police vehicles to patrol offices to drive do and from their homes, leaving the cars in their driveways. I’m sure many other cities do the same thing. It’s easy, traditional, and some say the presence of a police car parked in a neighborhood deters crime. And it allows officers to get quickly from their homes to a crime scene in a police vehicle, without having to go to a central location for a car.

OK. In a recent City Commission meeting, as an expense-cutting measure, police were told they were to leave the vehicles at the police station, or pay a mileage fee for having a take-home car. I think the commission was surprised when a large majority of the officers decided to leave the police cars at the station rather than pay the fee.

Now come the unintended consequences. There’s no secure place for all those extra police cars to be parked when they’re not being used. Or for the officers’ personal cars to be parked while they’re at work. And no place near the main police station to put one. Oops!

I think this was supposed to take effect a week ago, and it was just before that when somebody figured out this lack of parking spaces. Now they’ve been in a rush to complete two fenced, camera-monitored parking lots, which are going to cost the city at least $20,000. When asked why this hadn’t been done ahead of time, the answer was that they had had no idea that so many officers would decide to leave the cars. The officers, of course, are pissed about the whole thing.

We can’t wait to see what happens next.
This was the only time we saw an Icelandic horse. This breed is well known for being a very sturdy animal with a thick coat. This man was out getting some exercise for his horse and himself, while putting his horse through his paces.
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Not so much any more.

All the snow isn’t gone yet, but I did get out to drive myself for the first time today. It was only to Aldi and WalMart, but I did drive.

The two undefeated men’s basketball teams in the Southern Conference met tonight in Chattanooga. The University of Tennessee Chattanooga and the College of Charleston played one whale of a ballgame. From starting out 10 points down, UTC went on to win the game 91-88. Congrats to both teams on playing a terrific game. Of course, I’m a bit biased, since I’m a graduate of ATC and we live in Chattanooga, so I think the good guys won. Our three grandkids who went to the CofC might disagree.

John took his computer to a local computer guy. He’s gotten some viruses. The guy’s going to clean it up, and get it back to him in 3-5 days. There are some programs John will probably have to reinstall. It wasn’t too long ago that being without a computer wouldn’t have bothered anybody. Not so much any more.
This is what's called in Iceland a pseudo-crater, Kerid. It's a caldera from an old volcano, not a meteor

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

What a mess!

I fixed waffles for breakfast, and then the fun started. I was refilling the syrup pitcher and dropped it on the floor - without the top, of course. It didn't break (a small favor), and I grabbed it up quickly But there was still syrup on the floor, on the heating vent, etc. I just threw some wet towels down on it, and left it to clean up after breakfast. Then when I was refilling the pitcher (in the sink, fortunately), I knocked it over again, and there went another couple of glugs of syrup (maple, of course) down the drain. Oh, well.

By the time we got around to cleaning it up, most of the syrup was soaked up into the towels, so it was just a matter of sweeping and mopping the floor. I even put the vent grate into the dishwasher, so that was easy. Obviously, this was NOT my day to be handling anything dangerous.

John’s computer crashed this evening - with a virus or something. He’s going to have to take it somewhere to get it checked out.
It's fun to take pictures of the picture-takers (waiting for the geyser to erupt).

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Good Riddance!

The Vols (men) came from way behind to beat the Vanderbilt Commodores this afternoon. Tonight, the Lady Vols had an easy, if uninspired, time with the Lady ‘Dores. Margaret and John were at the game, of course.

Our temperatures got into the 40s today, so there was a good bit of melting going on. We’re actually starting to see grass and dirt. More 40s tomorrow and rain on Monday should pretty much take care of the snow that’s hanging around. Good riddance!
Thermal pools, Geysir Geothermal Area, Iceland

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Back to what we laughingly call "normal"

It was wonderful to get back to swimming and coffee this morning. The roads aren’t completely clear yet, but John had no problems driving.

He told me today that he fell on the ice yesterday. Frowning! He waited until he was sure he was just bruised (shoulder) before he mentioned it. Tonight, he says it’s just sore. What’s a spouse to do??

The symphony concert tonight was quite good. The focal piece was Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. It was terrific, and we really enjoyed this young woman guest/trial conductor. (Sarah Hicks)
Geysir Geothermal Area, Iceland

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Celebrities in our midst

Robin Hill (who happens to be my niece) has a new show at the Lennon Weinberg Gallery in New York City. It opened tonight. Robin also has a show opening this month at a gallery in Los Angeles. She’s a busy lady, making pieces for her various exhibitions, and teaching full time at UC Davis - to say nothing of being the mother of two teenagers. Congratulations on your shows, Robin!

In the Serendipity Department, several of my friends are going to be able to see her shows. My friend, Jan, has been living in NYC for several years. She got to go to the opening tonight, and met Robin. Missy and Tina will be in NYC at different times this month, and I hope will get to see the show, too. Jan was even written up in an article in the New York Times this month. Great article!
Iceland has its own geothermal area, named Geysir Geothermal Area. Did you know "geyser" was an Icelandic word?

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011


We actually got OUT today. A swimming friend picked us up and we went to Panera for coffee. Only one other gal was brave enough to come - and that was only after we called her. Our street is still pretty icy, up to the next more-traveled street. It's not too bad, and it connects to a main street, which is clear. Our wonderful driver also took us to WalMart. I had hoped that might happen (but didn't ask - she offered), so I had brought my list. Dummy me didn't put eggs or bread on the list, so I forgot that, but we'll make it. The paper and the mail were delivered.

John got his workout this afternoon - he borrowed a snow shovel from a neighbor and did some clearing of the sidewalk and driveway. Hopefully, it’s enough so that a little sunshine tomorrow will warm the pavement up enough to clear off the driveway. I’ve started making this year’s big pot of split pea soup. I’ll get it into the freezer tomorrow. It’s out on the deck to cool overnight.
We lost one of the great voices today - Margaret Whiting. She gave us many years of wonderful listening. RIP
Gullfoss, Iceland (in this view, the spectators at the overlook are easier to see)

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Not much melting today



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Another snow day

Another day snowed in - without much melting. We did get newspaper delivery this afternoon - yesterday’s and today’s editions. But still no mail.

It’s looking like we will get out tomorrow. Our swimming instructor was planning to hold class tomorrow morning, but then the Y announced that it’s won’t be open until after our class time. So that’s off. BUT, the group comes through, and we’re going to meet at Panera for coffee at our usual 9 a.m. Carol, with her 4-wheel drive vehicle, offered to come pick us up. We gratefully accepted!
Gullfoss, Iceland (for scale - can you see the teeny people on the rock outcropping on the left side of the picture?)

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Monday, January 10, 2011

It is a pretty snow (if snow can be said to be pretty)

With nearly 8” of snow last night, we obviously didn’t leave the house today - and probably won’t tomorrow. For the first time, we didn’t receive a paper OR have mail delivery. But, we had the internet and the TV - plus we were warm - a lot to be said for that.

Channel 3 here showed a story about a liquor store robbery in Dalton, GA, in the middle of the night last night. The robbers just took some bottles, and went back to their apartment. The police followed the footprints in the snow, right to their door. Click here to read the whole story.
Gullfoss (Golden Falls), Iceland

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More pictures

Early this morning, this squirrel was able to dig down to find some acorns.

The back of our house and steps.

Depth on the steps.
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