Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Scribblings

The key phrase was aging.


Sitting at the desk, Lisa was struck with the realisation she was now more comfortable with a cotton sweater on over her clothes, even with the heater on. She spends time every day searching for her reading glasses, which she can't find without a pair of reading glasses, so, some days she is fucked. She prefer cats these days along with knitting in the evenings as she watches TCM. Words she used to know slip by unnoticed when she is talking or writing or simply thinking about the things in her life. Names become, "Honey" or "Dear"....searching for the real moniker is too difficult in her current state. She is over 45 now, and has become a victim of Halfheimers... not young, and not quite into full Alzheimer's state. Just enough over the border to amuse at times, and leave her shaking with fear of the future at others.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I've become an addict.

HGTV is my lover, and I'm it's bitch. Yes, it's true... I watch it when I'm not watching TCM, finding myself picking the house in House Hunters, yelling if they chose the one I think is not right... wondering how I'll decorate my no longer my house, the things I can do to it to update and make it even better.

The key phrase is, 'no longer my house'.

I've hung painting and photographs in the new townhouse, accepting it's not mine. If I move to LA, I'll be in a pre decorated master suite, so, my stuff will go back into storage. I'm pretty sure they'll empty their house to decorate the new one, so, who knows? I may get to hang a few things and move some of my antique furniture into the space. I'll be able to plant again, and there is a yard guy, so, I don't have to mow. And, I can buy some KABOOM! Billy Mays makes me want to buy crap for my house.

Although I don't miss anything I disposed of, I sometimes wish I'd kept a few things to make my life easier should I move west.

Or, I can put in for a house makeover, and be on television again.

Now, that's an idea!

Our Neville Fact:

Due to requests from many... okay, two.... tomorrow will be a full report of Margaret and Neville's Grand Cruise.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fears in Life

I am watching the series, "Planet Earth".

Before he left, the WeatherGuy and I made plans to watch his DVD copy, but, we tended to get distracted and never got around to the viewing. When I saw it was back on Discovery, I made the note to myself to catch it on Tuesday nights.

I heard a strange sound as I was in my little kitchen making supper, and walked back here in time to see... locusts. Crawling, eating, flying... horrible, miserable, nasty grasshoppers in giant form. They say the swarm can be 40 miles wide.

I assure you, this would be where I'd go mad. I'd die in the Gobi before I ever ate a locust, no matter how I starved. More than anything else, I fear drowning and grasshoppers. The first is thanks to Kathy when we were kids and she shoved me in the pool as my mom chatted and smoked and didn't know I was on the bottom when they saw me until they were pumping water out of me.

The grasshopper fear I lay at the feet of Danny Boudreau.

Oh, I loved Danny Boudreau!! His younger sister was my best friend... so dear to me, I'd bend and play Barbie with her on occasion. She was the perfection of Southern beauty--golden hair, china blue eyes, small, petite, sweet and kind. I was her opposite--dark, white skin, hazel eyes and gangly. We were attached at the hip, even learning to sit on the same toilet and wee at the same time.

Don't ask.

Danny was dark and handsome and even at 7 knew his attraction to girls... it remains today. I was tongue tied around him, and let him win at baseball, even if he hit right to me, I'd drop the ball or miss it...anything to get him to smile at me as he ran around the bases and my team screamed at me.

This great crush would have gone on forever, I think, if Danny didn't have a mean streak. For him, this meant finding what you were afraid of, and chasing you with said item. Debbie H hated frogs, so, he'd pick up a good size frog and chase her all over. Fran hated snakes... you get the picture.

I wasn't fond of grasshoppers. Oh, I tolerated their existence, but, I'd prefer not to be around them... they spit. It took the one time of me wrinkling my nose at said creature, and my fate was sealed.

I still remember the day... hot, sunny, and I wore a blue and white seersucker sunsuit (say that five times fast) with an elastic waist and little white ties at the shoulders. The waist is important in this story.

There we were, in the shade of the Chinese elm in my back yard, playing with the plastic cowboys and horses we got every summer. It was still early enough in the season we had a full set, no missing legs on the cowboys nor feeling we had to substitute an Indian pony for a cowboy steed. A few were chewed on; between Lynn's habit of putting things in her mouth and the dog, teeth marks were evident, but, not enough to stop the play.

I was focused on my cowboy, having him ride his black horse to save the homestead when I felt someone behind me grab the top of my sunsuit. They pulled the material back, then dropped....

....the grasshopper.

It crawled and grabbed on my skin to try and get away. I started screaming over Danny's laughter, and then.... he squished it.

I can still feel the bits and oozey parts on my back, trapped by the waist, my ears filled with a voice I didn't know screaming and screaming.


Three years later, I accepted a ring he made for me out of a dog choke chain, but, I never really forgave him. To this day, I can't be within a mile of a 'hopper or I panic. I've been known to drive off the road when one flew into my car window. The Brother once told a friend, "You don't want to drop that on my Sis, she'll beat you senseless." He's always been very bright.

So, I've turned off the sound and won't look up for another few moments. As it is, I'll have nightmares tonight about them flying about and crawling and eating everything in sight.

Thanks, Danny. Thanks a lot.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Visit From The Past

The Ex is in town.

It's always a difficult time for me, when he drives over to see our kids. Part of me, a small part, is resentful he's only now really attentive to them, having left the difficult part when they were growing up in my not always capable hands.

A larger part wants to sit around with him and said kids and enjoy them together. Regardless of how our divorce came to be, and whatever happened in the meantime, he can still make me laugh (as I do with him) and we are older, wiser (I hope) and life is just too fecking short to waste on old anger. Sadly, it won't happen.

Ah, well.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I had some nice news waiting when I arrived home late last night (after 20 hours!).

Not only do I have a new SixSentences published, but, one of my Smith Magazine memoir in six words is a finalist to appear in their next book!! woot! One problem, I'm not sure which of them it is!!

Hope you enjoy the reading.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


How on earth did I get all this cr...stuff??

Better yet, how will I put it back into my case? I've already had to go to a larger one, and even with my medium size case stuffed, too, I still have things left over. I suppose I'll have to cave and buy a rolling carry on case, as my usual large bag I use won't work.

I imagine it is the plethora of candy I have (Malteasers, HRH!), the number of food products I can't get home I love to eat (if only I could bring bacon!), and the, um, 20 sets of new lingerie I bought.

I can't describe what The Investment will have, as he reads this, but, it fills one third of my big case. I just hope he likes it all.

Maybe, if I shift the underwear to the smaller case, the robotic bat and stuffed animals for grandkids to the place that left....

The airline is going to love me. Not.

Our Neville Fact

Every Tuesday, the Captain has a Fancy Dress Party in the main dining room. Margaret has decided she and Neville will dress in the fashion of the cultural area they are visiting. She looks stunning in her off the shoulder Grecian gown, her still heavy hair wrapped in braids and long curls around her head. Neville grouses the entire way down, wearing this only because it makes Margaret happy, but, feeling a right plonker in his version of the Greek Army dress uniform. Staveros thinks he looks divine!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Northern Ireland and Me

Northern Ireland can be visited in a single drive of five hours or so.

I didn't do that... we only went to three places, all of them unique, interesting and totally diverse. Some people say Ireland is more green than any other place... I don't know about that. I do know I saw shades of green I've never seen before. The air is soft and so is the water. There is a toughness that is required to live there, I think. You live in a place that is still warring (we had to drive miles out of our way to avoid an armed check-point) and dealing with the 'Troubles'.

We went to the Giants Causeway, which legend has was built by Finn McCool, the giant. It looks to be man made, because it is so precise in it's design, in the formation of the rocks. We went to the Bushmill distillery where I bought a coin purse, and we passed on the tour. There was a huge sweep of sandy beach, surprising as it stood there between craggy rock. The ocean was a heavy grey colour, stretching all the way out, and I imagined how it was for my great-grandmother, who left these shores as a young girl, piled onto a boat deck, escaping the horror of the Famine.

I saw the old work house, re-made into a hospital. A ghost is there, whose been seen by many. You see the long dormitory rooms where up to 200 women slept on piles of straw in a room the size of my old dining room and living room combined. People came to the work house when they had starved for so long, their pride was gone in the face of hunger. Couples were broken apart, families sent in the direction of their sex and age, to not see each other again until they could earn enough money to buy their ticket to freedom; America.

I went to Derry, where the Troubles were intense and fierce and you can still see the signs painted on walls, "FREE DERRY". It used to have a man made wall around part of the city, with violence going on behind it. Big Ev was in the Army back then, and told us stories of a policeman who had his feet blown off when a bomb in his car only partly exploded...or of his friend who was buried under a building that was blown up and collapsed on him, and walked away with nothing more than a broken cigarette. He showed me where the police stations stand like fortified modern castles, and the police cars are unmarked, and have bullet proof glass.

Some things don't change easily.

There was the huge sweep of farmland, broken by gorse bushes that were breaking into yellow flowers. Homes dotted that area of farms and potatoes and sheep. The town he is in has 45% unemployment. Can you imagine? Forty five percent of the people have no job... it's frightening.

I spent time with a cat that tried to nurse on every bit of my shirt tail as I sat on the couch, drooling when you stopped him. There was Amber, the nervous Cocker Spaniel, who sought out scratches and her 'baby'.. and Big Ev and his delightful daughter who is tall and lean and beautiful and sweet.

Home now, picking up the dogs at some point... nice to have my 'own' bed back, yet, missing those long sweeps of green and heavy accents and a history that is still being created in violence and the sought after peace.

I'm in the hopes peace wins.

Our Neville Fact

The boat has a crew of pursers, maids and cooks. The young man assigned to Neville and Margaret's room is called Staveros, and he is very, very attentive to their needs. It seems he caught Neville coming out of the bathroom looking for his trousers, and saw the Great Package. Since then, he's continued to pop in without knocking, in the hopes of becoming a close friend of the Package. Neville is clueless, and can't figure out what happened to his best boxers...not realising Staveros has them under his bed pillow in his cabin, where he holds them and dreams.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cheap Airfare

Loo and I are flying to Northern Ireland Thursday, to see her fiance and play tourist.

We are using one of the clever UK airline's flights that are free.... after taxes are paid. Oh, and if you want to have more than one carry-on, that's extra... pack that purse!! Wait, you want to check in online, and don't have a UK or EU passport? That's another 9.50 sterling, each way.

So, that's it... except if you want a seat. You pay for that. And, if you buy the cheap fares, they don't guarantee an oxygen mask. Or a seat belt. Or breathing at all on the flight. Each breath costs an extra 2 pounds. Ohhhh, you wanted to deplane? Get out your credit card!!

Okay, the last bits are pretend, but, you feel that way. Your 'free' flight ends up costing as much as a non-free one, where you can carry on something larger than a Tesco plastic bag.

If you carry a Sainsbury's one, they charge you.

Our Neville Fact

Neville and Margaret left on their cruise yesterday. They will be doing a History and Culture themed trip aboard the Hellenic ship, ξιπασμένος. The Greek staff tell everyone the name means "Precious" when in fact, it means "Pretentious". They have their table sittings, and received the list of the couples who will be sitting with them, along with their good friends. Included are the
Leonard and Leander Ponce-Duncombe of Surrey, the Viscount and Viscountess Howe (Neville and Shirley) of Wiltshire, Kiril and Olivia Welbore-Kir of London, Mungo and Emma Mardsen-Smedley who are from Aberdeen, Miss Lucy Hobhouse of Great Cocks, near Swindon and to finish out the group, Mr. Clifford Baniel of Silverstone. Neville is still grumpy over having to wear his coat and tie to each dinner, and Margaret is excited they may get to sit at the Captain's table during one meal. Amid kisses and waves from family, they were off!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Scribblings~ Flash Fiction

The prompt phrase was, "Look, this is important."


They were the proof she’d survived.

Facing anyone was difficult, facing someone she trusted added to the intensity of the discomfort. How to explain what marked her... from the scar beneath her knee, received when Steven Jones pushed her into the swamp canal, and she caught it on the broken end of a branch, hauling herself out of the goop to the bisecting scar that crossed her from hip to hip, left after an operation that caused her to loose so much blood, she was as white as her sheets.

How to explain the thin stripes on her back and legs where she’d been punished with rulers belts thin willow branches that stung long after the beating ended. There was the had been nearly severed after being caught in a car door, and her parents didn't care to pay emergency room fees, so, they taped it back on, and life went on..and she was left with a fingerprint that didn't match up, a finger that was off kilter.

How to explain what marked her internally, the curses and cruelty and devastation that caused her to cut people out of her life, leaving yet another hole that may not ever fill. Forgiving would cause more pain, so, the hole was left to work itself into another scar.

How to explain to someone who’d never known any of this, who had a life blessed by love and good luck. The one who held her heart. They showed how she survived, not badges of courage, but, reminders of life, personal tree rings.

“Look,” she said. “Look and touch and listen...because these are important.”

This is FICTION. Promise.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The UK Me

I'm eating too much.

I graze all the time, as if I'd not been fed in years.

I also drink copious amounts of tea, something I seldom do in the States. I like mine white with one sugar... whole milk, please.

I eat leeks, toad in the hole, roast pork, sausages and bacon and toast for breakfast.. all things I leave behind when I go. Bars of CurlyWhirlys, Dairy Milk and Malteasers. While I'm here, though, I wallow in the love of these dinner foods, along with a pudding every night. I take baths in the wonderful bathtubs here. I walk everywhere...basically, I enjoy my life.

I watch 'Top Gear' and 'QI' and other shows I'd not be bothered with at home.... this place has become my second home, with friends who started as friends of my friend, the pub knows me, I have my own room, the dogs love me. I may go ahead and live here the six months we've discussed me doing...

And buy lots of stretchy pants if I do to cover the acres of flesh I'll become.

Our Neville Fact

Margaret has signed them both up for a cruise around Spain, traveling with the Bagsocks-Larsens; George and Flora. Neville hates cruises, as he's forced to be nice to people he doesn't know. Margaret looks forward to gin games and gin drinks, and continues to pack a case for both of them, ignoring Neville's grumping.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

You've Got To Have Friends


Raino gave this to me on her blog.... tagged me as you will.

I was startled, embarrassed and tickled to be honoured. Here are the boundries:

“These bloggers are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

So, my eight bloggers are (and this was tough, I think every one of the blogs I read should be read by people.... they are all amusing, charming, and well written)


So, thank you Raino!! You're a star!!

Our Neville Fact

Margaret's cousin, Letticia Boyd-Neves, came to visit in 1973 and stayed until 1976, waiting for her divorce. Neville remained miffed the entire time as she took over the ManRoom as her bedroom during her 'visit', placing his snooker table in the garage. Margaret had to do a number of things, including making the hated Toad in the Hole once a week, to make up for this affront.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Love Loocy

Time with Loo is never dull, to say the least.

Last night, while scooping dog poo in the drizzly dark, under a pale light, she screamed. I mean, let one rip. One of the piles of Frank and Nova poo had jumped--she'd scooped a frog by mistake.

Last Friday, she bent over to pick something up and her back went out. She hobbled about, in great pain, while the rest of us laughed and took photos. Thankfully, she's great humoured, and sort of ended up posed for us. P.S. She recovered after 2 Valium and a glass of

On Tuesday last, we went to Bristol with Hols so she could interview for University. We kept drawing looks as the three of us walked along, and I suddenly realised she was quite posh in appearance, while I had on jeans, sensible shoes and my short hair. We looked like two lesbians taking their daughter to her interviews. The three of us started to laugh like mad, and then, Hols asked if she should call us both Mummy or should she call me Mom since I was American. Later in the week, we stopped off in a travel agency, to pick up a few brochures for Mills to use in her course work. The agent came over to help us, and when we asked for anything she had on Barcelona, her expression changed to one of "Dear me! How will I handle this?" On the way out, Loo had tears from laughter.. it seems Barcelona is the number one location for same sex marriages in Europe.

She has a ghost. There are candles in the sitting room, and we keep finding them lit, with no one having been in the room, no matches about... all quite spooky. Today, a cartridge suddenly rolled completely across the very level table. There is a non living animal that sometimes walks across the kitchen. All great fun. Not.

I needed my hair trimmed, and Loo said her hairdresser, Fiona, would come around and do it for around five pounds. What a deal!! She didn't mention that Fiona is from the Highlands, and you can't understand a thing she says. She chats away about haggis and horses and her kids as she clips and snips and we just go, "Ah huh." She's coming back on Sunday to do something. We aren't sure what we agreed to, it happened during one of the "Ah huh." moments. It should be interesting.

Yesterday, when opening the door to let the dogs out, she snapped her pinky nail below the nail line, causing a nice rip on the nail bed. Yes, I ewwwww'd too. She danced around, moaning and groaning, "It hurts! It hurts!" I know it hurts, I showed dismay, but, please, I'm trying to watch Homes Under the Hammer. The rest of the day, she went on about how her "....finger hurts, quite badly!" Suck it up, woman.

Underwear is a passion for our Loo. Everything she owns matches, and they have their own special drawers in her dresser. Sadly, she's invited me to be addicted, too. You fall into it, at first picking up a little set from ASDA, and next thing I know, I'm in Marks and Spencers, drooling over silk sets, caressing satin ones, discussing the varied shades of blue, trying to find the perfect one. I would hear, "QUINN!!! Come QUICKLY!!" and she'd have a set in deep mushroom silk; a set that meant I'd have to sell a kidney to buy. I think I'll be able to live without the kidney. Interspersed with the yells for me, were her comments about her nail. Again, please... I'm shopping for underwear here.

Her kitchen floor flooded before I arrived, and we've lived with the Big Loud Machine since then. It's to suck moisture out of the floorboards. I reckon if we kept it turned on all the time, it'd work. Obviously, we don't.

It's been a good time... we tag team iron, tidy, shop for underwear, go to Costco's, even if the experience was ruined by screaming children and no food examples.

It's my home away from home, here in the Village. Full of people I like and things I enjoy doing. Angie pops round for tea, people call all the time, teenagers lounging about, Hols wanting her tea, the dogs barking at nothing and everything and Cat irritated there's no cat flap between the kitchen and the room where his outdoor cat flap is located. It's never dull here.

And, it's got Loocy.

Our Neville Fact

Margaret wants to go see the new film about Queen Victoria, but, Neville refuses. It seems his great Grand-Aunt, Lady Flora Hastings, was the subject of the main part of the plot, a dear woman who was banished from Court for no reason than having a liver aliment that made her stomach swell. She was thought to be pregnant! Neville's family never forgot the slight, and had to put on a good show when Nev married Margaret as she descends from Queen Victoria's Stuart line. Neither side spoke to the other that day, and more than a few wine glasses were 'accidently' poured on the silk skirts of the women there.

Margaret went alone, while Neville saw 'Grand Torino'.

Monday, March 2, 2009


My friends in Silverstone fund an amazing organisation.

They'd vacationed as a group in Kenya a number of years ago, and after meeting Janet and Allen, they ended up 'adopting' the local village. In the time since the first visit, they've funded a tap in for clean water, provided clothing and food, and...built a school from the ground up.

Angie heads the group, going to schools here and different organisations, raising money and finding sponsors for the children in the school. Not a dime raised goes to any thing but the school and the children. Her group pays for their own travel. It takes around $18.00 a month pays for teacher's salaries, food and uniforms for your sponsored child. They bring out clothing and toys when they head to the area every year. Most of the children are orphans, from the constant violence and AIDS.

I'm sponsoring Valerie... she's three and an orphan after her parents were killed last year in the election riots. She lives with her aunt who is also taking care of two other orphans.... I'm humbled to be able to do this to help them out.

Janet and Allan had a dream of building a school... Janet bought a brick at a time, even knowing the project would take years, at .05 a brick, it was a huge undertaking. Janet and Allan were born and raised in this village, and take care of 14 children on their own.

Have a look at the site, if you can. It takes so little... $5 will help buy food..give clothing that is neat and clean and not some cast-off. When you have nothing, it doesn't mean you should have to wear rags. Every little girl deserves a dress that twirls, and these people make sure that happens.

There are more than lions in Kenya... there are also people you can help. Think about it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hunger~Film Review

The Turner Prize has never really rocked my boat.

Perhaps it’s too many installations that make me go, “WTF?” when I see them, wondering how on earth a huge monetary prize is awarded to that particular artist. Steve McQueen is one of those Turner Prize winners, and, he’s moved his focus to film; a decision for which I am thankful.

McQueen has made his first film, one that is riveting in both its subject matter and in the filming process itself. ‘Hunger’ covers the last months of IRA activist, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender). Sands was part of a group of prisoners in 1981 at the (in)famous Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, during the height of ‘The Troubles’. They had lost their political prisoner status, and were now simply terrorists held by their ‘enemy’--the British Crown. Protests were staged in the prison on a regular basis, with the men refusing to shower or bathe or wear clothing. They chose to make their jail cells places of horror, including piles of uneaten food, and excrement smeared walls. Both sides hated each other with bone deep hate, choosing to strike against the other side whenever possible.

I remember my Gran speaking with ice edged distain in her voice of the English and how they treated the Irish. She’d tell me of how they had driven her grandparents out of Ireland during the Great Famine, how they starved and suffered in the ships bringing them to America. She loathed the English (even as she taught me the proper English way to have tea) and had no logical reason why. It is something I've seen more than once, this long-standing hard-eyed fury.  I met a Northern Irish waitress last summer, who told me of how she was a new immigrant (read hoped not to be found after her visa ran out) and her life in Belfast. “On Sunday, we’d lob rocks at the Proddie kids.” she said. When I questioned her as to why, she said, “I’ve no idea. It’s something you did.”

Is the hatred DNA locked? Is it generational, with the original flash points long ago, and far away? So long ago, no one knows why they still fight, it’s become something without questioning the reason behind the action, the words, the emotions.

The film does not vilianise nor make heroes of either side, it only points out the events of the H Block hunger strike. Both sides were reduced to a life within the walls, and it shows how hate and anger can erode a soul. McQueen never makes this a martyrdom for the strikers, nor a statement of justification for the prison guards and warden.  Instead, he gives us the facts, and allows us to make our own decisions.  He takes on the role of storyteller, and it is a role he wears well.

It is harsh, brutal at times, almost unbearable to watch. McQueen makes great use of long static shots (the conversation between Sands and a priest is 21 minutes long, and filmed in an uninterrupted take--breathtaking film perfection) and shows us, with the dearth of dialogue, how sound or silence can be used as a weapons. It’s very effective as a filming tool.

There are crafted juxtapositions through out, from the sight of a British policeman quietly sobbing behind a wall as prisoners run a gauntlet while being beaten, to the cruel reality of Sands’ existence and the almost reverence shown in the kind way he was treated by those same guards as he lay dying.

Gandhi used starvation as a tool to passively resist, relying, I believe, on the world eye to cause things to change, to prevent him from dying. Bobby Sands did not have that same stay of death. Fassbender’s image at the end is turn your head away painful. This film is an uncompromising view of what humans are capable of; in violence, in decency, in using their own lives as a means of protest.

I watched and wondered--would I have that kind of belief in my cause that I'd give over my life?  It's a question I think McQueen wants us to ask ourselves, one whose answer may surprise us once it's known.

Hunger, directed by Steve McQueen, written by Steve McQueen and Edna Walsh. In limited release in the US on March 20, 2009. Rated ‘R’ for nudity and violence.