Saturday, June 6, 2009

Away the Lads!

A belated congratulations to my local football team back in England, Burnley F.C. The Clarets victory over Sheffield United gained them promotion to the Premier League after an absence of 33years. (In fact, 33 years ago the Premier League didn’t exist, it was just Division One). Back in 1882, Burnley F.C. was one of the founder members of the Football League and is now finally back in its rightful place. Well done lads, I’m proud of you. My son-in-law took my 12-year-old grandson to Wembley to see the match, a thrilling experience for them both.

Digging in the Dirt

The other day I was playing in the muck, and finally getting a few flowers planted. I usually get it done much earlier than this, but it has been such a wet and stormy spring that the job kept getting put off. This particular day was really cloudy and cool, thus a perfect gardening day for me, as I loathe laboring in the heat. The weather reminded me of summer days in England, endless gray skies, with the ever-present threat of rain. In fact, I had no sooner put in the first plant than the heavens opened. Fortunately, it was only a heavy shower, so it didn’t deter me for long. And it’s a good thing that I got the gardening done when I did, today it’s hot and sunny again.

I have added more perennials to the garden this year, though it’s always hit and miss whether they come back, some are more tolerant of the cold winters than others. I will put some photos up, once the plants get established. Our veggie garden is coming along great, if you’re interested you can check out Mick’s blog at

Toodle pip for now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This and that

Lendonwood Gardens - Grove, Oklahoma

It’s been a long time, but I’ve been ill – again! Surprise, surprise! By now, I’m sure you all must think that I’m a complete hypochondriac. The truth is, ordinarily I am not a sick person, but these past few months it just seems to have been one thing after another. (Sigh!)

This latest ailment was the flu, and it was a bad one. The doctor said he didn’t think it was swine flu, but as he gave me his diagnosis over the phone after telling me not to come into the office, I’m not sure how reliable it was. But he did put me on anti-viral meds as a precaution.

The worst thing about this flu, was when all the fever symptoms began to abate, I couldn’t keep any food down. On the plus side I did lose 8 pounds, but I would not recommend this particular method of weight loss. :-(

The illness also put me behind with my latest assignment for Oklahoma Living Magazine, as the doctor had told me to avoid all contact with people until my symptoms were gone. My editor did extend my deadline, but it was still a bit of a push to get it done in time. Sometimes the writing just refuses to flow. This piece was about a local mushroom farm – a fascinating place to visit – but tricky to write about.

Until I started doing my research for this article, I had no idea what a complex process growing mushrooms is. If you’re interested you can take a short video tour of a mushroom farm here:
The site also has lots of information about mushrooms, and some great recipes.

There was yet more doom and gloom in our house this week. I got my entries back from the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation contest, and I won a big fat zero, not even so much as a measly honorable mention. Oh hum. On the plus side, I did get some excellent marks from the judges and some very favorable comments, but I guess others just did better. Oh well, you can’t win them all, and there’s always next year.

Way back when I last posted, I did say I would tell you what I was up to in 1973. In that dim and distant past, I was 16 and doing my O – levels at school. Back then they were called GCE’s, (General Certificate of Education). You took a GCE in each subject you studied, (provided the teacher thought you had a chance of passing), up to a maximum of 10. I took 7 and passed 7. Later, I did take 3 more and passed those too.

These exams are not like the tests you do here, where you get multiple choice answers to questions that you can have a stab at it even if you don’t know the answer. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the impression I get). You actually have to answer many questions in essay form, and marks are deducted for sloppy handwriting, poor spelling, grammar and punctuation. You have to know your stuff and be able to present it in a logical manner.

My granddaughter is taking these exams at the moment, though now they are called GCSE’s – General Certificate of Secondary Education. I’m wishing her lots of luck – not that she needs it – she is one smart cookie.

Also in 1973, I was dating my first boyfriend, he too was doing his GCE’s though we didn’t attend the same school. All my friends were really jealous of me, because he was so good looking and played bass guitar in a band. It was all very innocent, but they were happy days.

It was also the year I made my first trip to Italy. My mum had an Italian friend, and the previous year, she and her husband had decided to move back to Rome. In 1973 they invited us for a visit. It was a fantastic holiday. And when we got back to England I remember my mum phoning to get my GCE results, while I stood outside the phone box panicking. All in all, I have very fond memories of 1973.

Toodle pip for now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1973 and all that.

Our Garden is coming to life - Apple Blossom on our Fuji apple tree


I’m back! At long last.

I thought I was going to get through flu season unscathed this year, but it wasn’t to be. I didn’t have flu, but I did have one stinker of a cold. To make matters worse, I had a story to write for Oklahoma Living Magazine about a local botanical garden, and if the illness wasn’t enough to thwart me, the weather had to conspire against me as well. Every time I would arrange an interview and a visit to the gardens there would be a thunderstorm, or a snowstorm, or freezing conditions, and it would have to be postponed. I had a few hairy moments when I thought this story would never get done, but I just snuck in under the wire. Oh hum.

More tulips

Also, early last year, I wrote a piece about my local vet who has volunteered his services in the Iditerod, that great Alaskan dog race, on four occasions. At the time I couldn’t provide a link to it as it wasn’t a feature story, but it has finally appeared in the archives. Even so, I can’t give a direct link, you’ll need to scroll through to pages 40-41 to read it, but if you’re interested you can find it here:

A dog sled team crossing the frozen Yukon River

Anyway, the dental problems are gradually getting sorted, at great expense I hasten to add. And I did have to cancel my last appointment because of my bad cold, but I am hoping that the next appointment may be the last, for a while at least.

I’m still doing well with the no smoking, it’s been just over 5 weeks now. Yay! I won’t say I don’t miss the ciggies, because I still do. Though I am now able to go for quite long periods without thinking about them. The worst times are still when I am writing under pressure of a deadline, then I could absolutely murder one. I was as grumpy as hell this past weekend, so I kicked Mick, and shouted at the cats. :-) Oh well, nobody said it was going to be easy.

Speaking of smoking, that reminds me of a fantastic British detective series I watched quite recently called Life on Mars. In it the main protagonist, a young detective, is involved in a car accident and finds himself transported back to 1973. He doesn’t know whether he’s dead, in a coma, or mad. To him, 1973 feels like being on another planet, hence the title. Anyway, my point is, what really strikes you about the program is the fact that everyone smokes, and a permanent fog of smoke hangs over every room in the police station.

It also got me thinking about 1973, because back then I hadn’t yet taken up with the evil weed, in fact I despised smoking, probably because both my parents smoked. It also brought back other memories of 1973, but more of that next time. If you were around in 1973, what were you doing back then?

Toodle pip for now.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Few Bits and Bobs

I know, I know, I’ve been slacking on the blogging front once again, and my sincere apologies for not getting around to visit with you much. I wish I could say I’ve been busy, but alas, I haven’t. In fact, I have been avoiding doing any writing because it still makes me crave the dreaded weed too much. I’m a sad case. But I need to get my act together, as I have two assignments coming up soon for Oklahoma Living Magazine. Anyway, as of this moment I have gone 13 days, 16 hours and 5 minutes without a fag (ciggie), and I do want to thank you all for your supportive comments on my last post, they were much appreciated.

I also want to say a big thank you to Pam, one of my cooking blog buddies, for the info about Allen Carr’s book, The Easy Way to Quit Smoking. I have almost finished reading his book, and have downloaded his audio tape from the Interweb. It does recommend reading the book before listening to the tape, so that’s what I’m doing. It’s been tremendously helpful, I only wish I had read it before I quit, as he does really dispel many of the myths about smoking that all smokers are guilty of believing.

Anyway, enough about my filthy old habit. Last month when I went to renew my tags, I was handed a new license plate.

Personally I preferred the old ones as they were much more colorful. What do you think?

There are, however, good reasons for the change, which if you’re interested you can read about here:

Last weekend we thought spring had sprung in our little corner of the world. My daffs were up and basking in 70/80°F temps and bobbing in the balmy breezes.

Fortunately, my tulips were not going to be fooled into an early spring, and a good thing too, as Monday it rained and the wind began to blow from the north, so it was all change once again. Now my daffs are looking decidedly droopy. Oh hum.

Toodle pip for now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Quitting Smoking and an Award

"As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain when awake." So said Mark Twain, and I have adhered to that same policy for 30 years. I’m a smokaholic! But today, I decided to quit.

That last statement is not strictly accurate, I actually decided to give up smoking before Christmas, and set a date of February 1st. But, then I got all stressed out over these dental problems, and the date got deferred to March 1st. The dental treatment isn’t over yet, I still have to go back for more tooth grinding to correct my bite, but I figured continuing to smoke will only exacerbate the gum disease. So I’m biting the bullet, well, not exactly, I’ve actually stuck on one of those nicotine patches, and am trying to give up.

Mark Twain understood a lot about smoking, "Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it hundreds of times." Twain was quite right, it is easy to give up, it’s not starting again that’s the problem. I can’t say I’ve tried to quit hundreds of times, but a few. I’ve tried nicotine gum and patches several times, I’ve been prescribed pills by the doctor, I’ve even tried hypnosis, but I’ve always started again.

The reason I always cave in is because I really enjoy smoking. On previous occasions when I’ve quit I do okay at first, but after a few months I start thinking about the torment of years without a cigarette, and then I snap. Once again Mark Twain was right on the money when he said, "...when they used to tell me I would shorten my life ten years by smoking, they little knew the devotee they were wasting their puerile words upon -- they little knew how trivial and valueless I would regard a decade that had no smoking in it!"

Today, I’m finding it very difficult to string a sentence together, I can’t write without a cigarette smoldering in the ashtray. I keep getting up and wandering listlessly around the house, gazing out of the window, fiddling with pens and pencils, molding a piece of silly putty. Nothing satisfies, because there is something missing from my life. It’s not that I’m craving nicotine, because this patch is feeding me a regular dose of that, but I am craving the simple pleasure of smoking. That’s because I’m an addict. Addictions, however, can be broken, and I am determined to do the best I can to break mine. Wish me luck.

An Award

Finally I must apologize to Josephine over at she very kindly gave me this award and I am only now getting around to posting about it. I’m such a slacker! Thank you so much Josephine, I appreciate your passing it along to me. I’m going to pass the award onto Pam at

Toodle pip for now.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Watch Out! There’s a Virus About

Today, on a quiet Sunday stroll around the Interweb, I was suddenly interrupted by a message, allegedly from Microsoft, warning me that several of my computer files were corrupted with a virus. It also told me to download software to clear the virus.

Immediately alarm bells began ringing in my head. Back in 2002, my old computer was struck by a virus, and the only way hubby could get rid of it was to completely wipe my hard-drive. At that time, I had no back-up system in place and lost everything.

This time, I looked at the web address where the message originated – there was no mention of Microsoft. I ought to have made a note of it, but didn’t. Sorry! I know it said www police, and ended with promo 3. I immediately closed down the Internet, and set my own anti-virus program running – it detected nothing. I then went onto the Internet, clicked on Tools, and Internet Options, and deleted my browsing history, and all cookies.

Just thought I should pass this along in case it happens to any of you. Be careful out there.

Toodle Pip for now.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Teething Troubles 2 and a Meme

Ernest Shackleton's ship, Endurance,
trapped in the ice pack.
(Photo by Frank Hurley - 1915)

I’m sorry to read in the comments that several of you are also have teething troubles, you have my complete sympathy. I have to go back to the periodontist on Tuesday to have my bite corrected. This will mean 3 hours in the chair having my teeth ground into alignment, followed by a hefty bill. I can hardly wait. :-(

A while ago, Gill, at challenged me to come up with 10 things I love beginning with the letter "A," so here we go, and in no particular order:

  1. ANTARCTICA, I have a fascination with the place, and love reading about the early exploration of this icy continent by such men as Shackleton, Scott, and Amundson.
  2. APPLE CRUMBLE, it’s one of my favorite puddings (desserts), especially when smothered in custard.
  3. ANIMALS, especially my three cats. And I love elephants, even though I don’t have one around the place. We have a big yard, but not that big! But I was lucky enough to see elephants in the wild, on a trip to Kenya many moons ago.
  4. ALPHABET, I love words, but then they are my stock and trade. I’m one of those people who picks up the dictionary to check a spelling or a definition and gets distracted by other words.
  5. ARIZONA, I love the Grand Canyon, and have seen it twice. My step-daughter got married there.
  6. ANNIE PROULX, I love all her books, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be "That Old Ace in the Hole."
  7. AFTERNOONS, I’m not a morning person, even though I get up early most days.
  8. ALCOHOL, especially wine, and particularly cabernet sauvignon.
  9. THE ADRIATIC SEA, I love the Greek Islands, and the sea that surrounds them is so beautiful and clear.
  10. AMAZON, because I love books and reading.

I’ve changed the rules a bit as not everyone wants to play along with these meme games.

  1. If you would like me to assign you a letter, let me know in your comment on this blog.
  2. Write about ten things you love that begin with said letter.
  3. Post the list on your blog, and invite your readers to play along.

Toodle pip for now.

Endurance, crushed by the ice pack.

Photo by Frank Hurley - 1915

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Teething Troubles

Does anyone else hate dentists as much as I do? When I lived in England I was really good about going to see the dentist, and went every six months. Since moving to the US, I have to say that my dental visits have been a bit erratic, to say the least. Probably because I know that whenever I go, despite having insurance, it’s going to cost a bloody arm and a leg. Hell, you need to re-mortgage the house just to get your teeth cleaned here.

So in mid-December, when I began experiencing some discomfort in an area of my gums, I thought, uh oh this feels expensive. But I called the dentist’s office, and was offered an appointment five weeks hence. I complained a bit, but as the pain was not bad, I didn’t make too much fuss.

By the time I got to see them last week, it was a lot worse. They took a whole bunch of x-rays, and scared me to death by telling me I definitely had something going on back there, but they didn’t know what. Of course, in my mind it had to be cancer of the jaw, at the very least. They also said I had lost quite a bit of bone around my teeth, so they were referring me to a periodontist. Needless to say, the nearest one was 50 miles away in Joplin, Missouri. (Sigh)

On Monday, I called the periodontist’s office, only to be told that the appointment would be for March. This time I did complain about the pain, and she gave me an appointment for Thursday. Then on Monday afternoon, the ice storm moved in. So not only am I bricking it wondering what’s wrong with my gum, but I’m also thinking I’m not even going to be able to get there.

On Tuesday, the weather conspired against me still further by adding a hefty layer of snow on top of the ice. And the trouble with this area of Oklahoma is they do little or nothing about gritting or plowing the roads, so the whole place just grinds to a halt.

So on Wednesday, when the receptionist called to find out if I would be at my appointment, we got chatting, and it turns out she travels to work from this area. She told me that all the main roads were clear, but the side streets were still bad. And I thought, well if she can get there, I can.

To cut a long story short, it turns out that the problem with my gum is something to do with my bite being out of line. The dentist gave it some fancy name which I can’t remember. Whatever it was, it wasn’t cancer of the jaw. You can’t imagine my relief. So he gave me some antibiotics, and told me to go back next week for my teeth grinding into line, which sounds like a lot of fun. :-( He also said he would give me his full diagnosis then. At least all the teeth are not going to have to come out, (another of my worries), or why bother grinding them.

I must just tell you this little anecdote about my time in the chair. This morning I was reading Sarah's blog: and she was talking, among other things, about how we Brits have to curb our sarcasm here. The girl at the periodontist's who took my x-rays, also coated my teeth with a red dye, which helped to reveal plaque build-up. She said to me, "Most kids learn how to brush their teeth in kindergarten, here we have to teach adults how to do it." I wanted to reply, "That's funny, at school in England they taught us how to read and write." But I bit my tongue. It's no wonder I'm having all these oral problems. :-)

Anyway, on a brighter note, I did manage to get my entries in to the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Contest. I normally send entries to seven or eight categories, but this year, with all the worry about my teeth, I couldn’t concentrate, and only entered four. I’ve sent in a short-short story, a short story, a feature article, and a piece of nostalgic prose. So it’s fingers crossed now. Wish me luck.

Toodle pip for now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Interview with Lakeland Jo

I interviewed Lakeland Jo this week, you can read here answers here:

Thanks for playing along, Jo.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I am being interviewed by Pam at The rules are posted below, if you want to be interviewed by me, leave me a message telling me so and I'll come up with some questions.

Pam asked:

1. Since your move to Oklahoma, what do you find you like best about the area? Also what is most annoying?

One of the things I like best about living in this area of Oklahoma is the wide open spaces, and big yards/gardens. After 9 years of apartment living in California, I love that this house is on an acre lot, and none of the neighbors but right up against us. It’s also very peaceful, as the house is at the very end of a small cul-de-sac, so no one comes down here unless they’re coming to see us, or they’re lost.

And I love that people here are so darn friendly, I have made far more friends here than I ever did in California.

I also like that I am sort of famous in my little town, well, at the vet’s, the filling station, and the bank. :-)

One of the things I find most annoying about living in such a rural area is the fact that my nearest supermarket is 16 miles away, grocery shopping has had to become a detailed battle campaign.

I also dislike being so far away from the ocean, I love the sea and seafood, I miss being able to walk on the beach, and buy decent fish.

Another thing I hate is the way people abuse our beautiful countryside by throwing litter all over it. The local newspaper published an article from me on this very subject, but it hasn’t made a blind bit of difference.

The final annoying thing for me is the fact that there is no recycling program in this town/area. Although we compost, and donate our cans to the local humane society, all our plastics, glass, and paper go into the landfill, I hate that.

2. Lake District England vs. Lake District Oklahoma – is it safe to compare the two areas?

The short answer to that is, no. The long answer, absolutely not. :-)

Seriously, Pam, while this area of Lake District Oklahoma is very beautiful, the lakes here were man-made in order to supply the growing need for hydro electric power. So the lakes in these parts can in no way compare to the natural grandeur and majesty of the English Lakes. Sorry!

3. Have you always been a writer, and can you tell us a little bit more about how you came into your writing career?

No, I have not always been a writer, in fact, I am a relative newcomer to the craft, but, from a very early age, I loved books, and reading. I actually wrote my first short story in 2002, after reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing, which incidentally, I consider to be one of the best books on writing I have ever read. That first story was utter crap, as were subsequent ones, but the only way to learn this craft is to keep practicing.

For the first couple of years, I can only describe myself as a bit of a dabbler at this writing lark, and never saw myself giving up the day job to pursue it seriously. Then in October, 2004, I joined my writer’s group, Grand Lake Wordsmiths Unlimited, and they were so encouraging of my work, that I began branching out into non-fiction. Until joining the group I had only ever written fiction, mostly short stories, and I had started a novel, but threw in the towel on it after about 25,000 words. I did start another novel, and got slightly further with it than the first one, but still abandoned it.

Three other things contributed to my starting to take myself seriously as a writer.

  • Jobs are few and far between in this area, and I had been unsuccessful in my efforts to find one.
  • In May 2006, I won first place in the essay category of the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation annual contest. This was quickly followed by getting a few articles published in local papers, and then in August I got a break with Oklahoma Living Magazine. The article was a little 600 word piece about Oklahoman Sylvan Goldman, the inventor of the shopping cart, which I sent to the mag on spec. The editor liked it, and I have since written for them on a regular basis, as well as anyone else who will take my stuff.
  • My husband, Mick is so supportive of my writing. If he didn’t continue to toil away doing the day job, then I couldn’t continue to do this. I can only hope that one day I will earn enough to support us both. After all, one of my favorite writers, Annie Proulx, was 58 when her first book was published.

4. You say you are the reluctant cook – have you come to enjoy cooking more over time?

To be perfectly honest, I have to say that I did used to hate cooking, now I merely dislike it, so I must have come to enjoy it a bit more. :-) The funny thing is, cooking is something I’m good at, but if someone else would cook for me, I’d let them.

5. I love the name Ticklemouse. Can you tell me how he came to have this name, and a few other quirky, fun things about your cats.

Tommy Ticklemouse as a kitlet, helping out in Mick's office

Tommy morphed into Tommy Ticklemouse after living with us for a few days. Tommy first appeared in our yard as a stray kitten, enticed by the smell of our BBQ. We think he had been living under our shed, for how long we don’t know, but the poor little mite was starving. At first he would stand over by the wood pile and yowl at us, and Mick would say, "Ey up, little Tommy Tucker is here, singing for his supper," the line comes from a nursery rhyme.

We fed him, of course., and after a couple of nights he began to come over to the sit with us on the porch. A few days later he moved in, and then Mick began saying, "Little Tommy Ticklemouse, lived in a little house," from another nursery rhyme, and this time the name stuck. Tommy (AKA Tickle, Man of Mystery, amongst others), was the last cat to join our household, and I don’t think that he has ever forgotten that we rescued him, he is certainly the best natured, most loving and loveable of our 3 cats.

Wilson - Slobbo Puss

Wilson, (AKA Squeaky, Willie Wombat, Wilburn, among many others), was our first adoption from the humane society, and he was about 5 years old at the time. They had called him Sparky, I’ve no idea why, as he is spark out most of the time. Unfortunately for Wilson, he had been de-clawed, and had never been outside, so I began taking him for walks around our yard. The neighbors thought it was a hoot that he followed me around like a little dog. He will now happily wander around the yard on his own, or with the other cats. We have no fences to keep him in but he never ventures far, and he does at least get a bit of an outdoor life. Most of the time though, he’s our slobbo puss, our lounge lizard. He likes nothing better than a comfy knee to sit on, and his belly tickling.

Alvin - The Terminator

Alvin was another adoption from the humane society, but he was only a kitten when we got him. He was always a naughty little chipmunk, hence the name. Alvin is now a predator, (AKA Arnie,or The Terminator, amongst many others), he sleeps all day and hunts all night. He is a very aloof cat, and is definitely the alpha male amongst our lot, but he’s smart enough to recognize that mummy is numero uno in this pecking order. I don’t need an alarm clock with Alvin around, every morning at 7:30 am, he climbs on the bedroom window ledge and yowls at me to let him in.

Want to be interviewed by me? Here are the instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions and let me know when you have posted it, so I can link to it.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Oklahoma Writer's Federation Inc. (OWFI)

Once again, my apologies for not having been around much this year, there is nothing wrong, but thank you Daffodilly for your concern.

January is always a very busy time for me as the deadline for the OWFI contest looms at the end of the month. There are 33 different categories covering a wide range of writing topics such as short stories, poetry, articles, essays, fiction and non fiction books. Which is great, as writers of all genres can find something to suit their style among the many options available.

Anyway, I’ve been working hard on my entries, writing some new stuff, and ensuring existing manuscripts are error free and contest ready. When my writer’s group, Grand Lake Wordsmiths Unlimited, met this week the conversation was all about the contest. We always check each other’s work before submission, as another pair of eyes is invaluable in seeking out mistakes. The main problem is, you know your own work so well that you tend to skim when reading, and end up missing errors.

I have been entering this contest for four years, and have won in two different categories, as well as being awarded places and honorable mentions. Entering writing contests is a good discipline for writers, as it forces you to revise, and edit your work, and to meet a deadline, just as you would have to for a publisher or editor.

If anyone is interested in joining OWFI, and you don’t need to be resident in Oklahoma to do so, you can find out more about them on their web site at: As well as the contest, they also hold a writer’s conference every year in early May. It usually takes place in Oklahoma City, but this year it will be held in Norman, OK, and the key speaker is best-selling author, Tess Gerritson.

Toodle pip till next time.