Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Some of the destruction that greeted us on Monday morning. The first is my dogwood tree. The second a persimmon tree threatening to fall. The third is the willow, and the fourth the remains of my neighbour's cottonwood tree, together with leaning electric pole.

More ice storm photos from Sunday. Believe it or not the flowers on the left were crysanthemums.

Ice Storm photos taken on Sunday, December 9, 2007. Above is the dogwood before it split in two.
Oklahoma Ice Storms

On Monday, December 10, a state of emergency was declared for the whole of Oklahoma following the weekend ice storms. Once again, as in January of this year, the air was rent with snapping tree limbs, the sounds echoing round like sniper fire.

My garden looks like a wasteland, it's truly a heart-breaking sight. A tiny flowering dogwood, the prettiest tree in my yard, with its beautiful white blooms in spring, and its blaze of red leaves in the fall, was split in half. A red bud tree has fallen down. And many other trees have lost limbs, oaks, maples, and two peach trees. Only the willow managed to bend his back and survive the chaos and destruction around him.

I’ve lost trees, others have lost much more. Fifteen Oklahomans have lost their lives, and our hearts go out to their families and loved ones.

We all live at the mercy of the elements, and sometimes Mother Nature is a cruel mistress. And Oklahoma seems to have suffered much at her hands this year: ice and snow storms in the winter, flooding and tornadoes in the spring, sweltering heat and humidity in the summer, and now back to ice and snow.

Along with over half a million other homes in Oklahoma, we lost power. Throughout two bitterly cold nights and one whole day we had no electricity. Although the power did return briefly last night, by the time Mick and I had finished cheering, it was off again. This morning, around 9am, the lights came on, and are still on as I type this. Others are not so lucky, and can expect to be without power for a week or more, and with snow and below freezing temperatures forecast for this weekend, the outlook is pretty grim, and does not bode well for the festive season.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Tommy Ticklemouse, though his wound is barely visible in this picture.
An Honorable Mention, an Injured Cat, & GE Finally Pay Up.

Well, it’s been a week of highs and lows. First of all, one of my articles appeared on the front page of our local newspaper, The Grove Sun Daily, and I was delighted.

That very same day, I received a letter from the editor of Writer’s Digest informing me that my short story entitled, Stranger, had been awarded an Honorable Mention in their annual writing contest. And went on to say that I could feel justifiably proud of myself as they had received 19,000 entries. Proud, I was euphoric, it’s the first time I’ve received any sort of recognition for my fiction. I didn’t come down to earth until one of my cats hurt his leg.

To say he hurt his leg is putting it mildly, Tommy had two gashes front and back, so deep I could see the bone. He was rushed to the vet who had to suture his wounds, resulting in a bed and breakfast stay at the surgery for Tommy. The vet said the wounds weren’t the result of a bite, so we assume he must have got his leg caught somewhere. Tommy is sporting his war wounds for all to see as the vet had to shave all the hair off around the top of his leg, but he’s making a good recovery. He’s a tough old boot.

Then things took a turn for the better. After four weeks of phone calls, e-mails and letters, GE finally agreed to cough up the money to repair my range, and then back to worse when they sent me the wrong replacement part. So I still can’t use my oven, and Thanksgiving looms. Mick and I will be on turkey sandwiches at this rate.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sippin’ and Signin’ with Santa’s Old Broads

On Saturday, October 20th my husband, Mick and I went to a Sippin’ and Signin’ hosted by Santa’s Old Broads.

Santa’s Old Broads are a great bunch of women who work tirelessly all year round raising money to help disadvantaged children have a great Christmas.

In order to raise money, they have written and self published three cookbooks:
Doing It... in the kitchen, volumes one and two, and Quickies...in the kitchen. They also have a new book scheduled to appear in the fall of 2008 entitled, Doing It...around the world.

In the Old Broads own words their cookbooks are, "Like us, just a little risqué and funny. These books require a sense of humor. If you find you are getting offended by the works of a bunch of ladies in their 50’s to 80’s, you might be a little square to begin with. It’s all about having fun and helping to make a brighter Christmas for the children."

The Old Broads are certainly doing that, to date they have helped over 500 children.
What’s more their books have sold in every state in America, and they have even shipped some overseas to England, Australia, and France. And, every penny of the proceeds from these sales and other fund raising events goes to help children in need in at Christmas.

Every child they help is outfitted from top to toe in quality, name brand clothing, and each receives a toy or gift from their own wish list. Moreover, the kids never know where the gifts came from because Santa’s Old Broads work in total anonymity.

I would like to say a great big thank you to everyone who has supported Santa’s Old Broads by buying their cookbooks. If you haven’t already bought one, do so today – in fact buy all three – and bring a smile to a child’s face this Christmas.

For more information and to buy books check out the Old Broad’s web site at:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

On a lighter note

I went to the Grand Wine Country Fall Festival on Saturday, October 13, the wine flowed, there were lots of tasty munchables, as well as a grape stomping contest, and arts and craft stalls. Music at the event was provided by Olivia Duhon and the University of Tulsa Jazz Trio. A good time was had by all.

The event was very timely as I had just written an article about Oklahoma wine for Oklahoma Living Magazine. The article featured one of the wineries present at the festival, Summerside Vineyards and Winery, www.summersidevineyards.com
To read the full article visit:


Also represented at the festival were:
Oak Hills Winery & Vineyard, Chelsea, Oklahoma. www.oakhillswinery.com
Cabin Creek Vineyard & Winery, Big Cabin, Oklahoma. www.cabincreekwine.com
Coyote Run, Winery & Vineyard, Adair, Oklahoma. www.coyoterunwinery.com

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Just one of those weeks

My oven door shattered, and my computer was ill.

I had just got this blog up and running when my computer decided to have a nervous breakdown ― the upshot was she had to spend 5 days in hospital. To make matters worse, that was the very week I had to come up with story ideas for Oklahoma Living Magazine’s 2008 editorial calendar. Anyway, I just scraped in by the skin of my teeth, thanks to my friendly, neighborhood computer psychoanalyst.

But that’s only the half of it. I am presently in dispute with GE, the electric appliance people. Three weeks ago, for no apparent reason, the internal glass in my oven shattered, and neither the oven nor the hob was in use at the time. In fact, it hadn’t been in use all summer as my husband and I prefer outdoor grilling when the weather’s hot. This range is only 14 months old, and of course, the warranty had run out 2 months previously.

I spoke to a customer service rep. who offered a replacement part, but was quick to point out that the expense of installation was my responsibility. Not good enough! As far as I’m concerned this is a major defect on a relatively new appliance.

I wrote to the company’s Customer Relations Manager, who obviously wants to have no relations with his customers, as two weeks later I still haven’t received a response. I am now trying another avenue of complaint; I will let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Janet Brett
Who Needs U

When I first moved to America from England, it never crossed my mind that there would be a language barrier, after all, we all speak English, right? Wrong! Although Californians always remarked, "I just love your accent," few of them actually understood a word I said. Anyone brave enough to venture an opinion as to where I was from generally thought, Australian, (as in, you speak English, but not as we know it). Or, the alternative, "Scotch," (I was always sorely tempted to be pedantic and explain that scotch was a drink, not a nationality). But I should also point out that in those early days, I would have been hard pressed to recognize many of the different American accents

Actually, I hale from the north of England, and have an accent that any self respecting Londoner would describe as pure "hicksville," but which, for some reason, Americans seem to think is "posh." Of course, they don’t actually use that expression, more something along the lines of, I "speak correctly." It is my belief that they are of this opinion because I pronounce T’s as T’s and not D’s as is the American way.

I encountered similar problems when I began writing for an American audience, particularly with the differences in spellings between English English and American English.

I should add a proviso here; it is not my intention to deride the American version of English, because believe me, the English, myself included, do an excellent job of murdering our language without any help from anyone else.

Over here there is a definite aversion to the letter U, hence neighbour becomes neighbor, labour becomes labor, (even now my spellchecker is having a thrombosis), and the word queue becomes line. Now, why Americans chose to dispense with the letter U, I have no idea, perhaps they just considered it superfluous. But it can be a bit of a nuisance when playing scrabble, it’s difficult enough getting rid of those pesky U’s as it is.

Language, however, is always in a state of flux. Take the zed, (an American friend once asked me to spell zed, I replied Zed, E, D, of course), or zee, for example. At home, I have an old copy of the Concise Oxford Dictionary, in it words such as realize, analyze, and theorize are all spelt with a Z, as they are today in the U.S. In a modern English dictionary the Z has been replaced by an S. I have no idea when or why this occurred, but it is natural for me to use S.

So, you see what I’m up against? And this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are also subtle differences in grammar and punctuation, as well as expressions and turns of phrase that have no comparison here. I could go on, and on, but I won’t, I think I’ve bored you enough for one day. Have a great week.