Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Well, I finally got a tattoo!! My wife & I went to Asheville last week even though I was sick. It was our fifth wedding anniversary, and on the second morning she said she had a surprise in store for me. Of course, being a man, I took this to mean the impending performance of some unspeakable bedroom antic, a request for which would normally be met by El Jeffe's icy stare and a vigorous refusal.

So imagine my genuine surprise when we arrived at the tattoo parlour, Liquid Dragon in Asheville, NC. I'd been wanting a tattoo for years, and had the design already in mind. Better yet, El Jeffe was having one, too!

3 hours later, minus some cash and mighty pleased with our new ink, out we came. El Jeffe had a peacock feather design on her foot, while I was sporting a lizard on my calf. Both were done from designs we gave to the artists, Sean and Mark, and I for one think they did a damned good job.

El Jeffe said it was so painful she'd never have another. I, on the other hand, can't have just one of anything, so I'm planning a tree frog for the other leg. I'll be glad when this one stops itching, though. I'm calling him Eddie L'Izzard.

Thought for the day - trust your wife to know what's good for you. Night, all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A spoonful of sugar...

Well, we've all got a nasty bug. I've had it for 2 weeks now, but El Jeffe, Poppy & Tater are all spluttering away now. Our neighbours look at us as if we were a colony of lepers - and to be fair, when you see 2 people and 2 dogs, all walking along, coughing & hacking in unison, you'd be wise to steer clear.

So we're all on restricted duty for now, which has irked El Jeffe, who likes to be busy, but suits me just fine. I have pills, EH has pills, even the dogs have a bottle each, yet we're still coughing. I think a couple of pints of prune juice each would cure it all. Then we'd be afraid to cough.

Thought for the day - pucker up!

A kick in the pants

I've just looked on Chesapeake Bay Woman's blog and yet again she's put up a beautiful photo together with some advice on gardening. How in the name of Tony The Tiger does she find the time?

I also inquired about a Blogfest she's organizing (although she would be justified in denying my application on the grounds that this is my first blog post in amost a year.)

So here I go, promising to blog reglarly AND frequently. CBW has shamed me into it.

Here's a picture - Mathews crew regatta, a couple of weeks ago. See, I CAN do it. Now can I come to the Fest?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Bald to the Bone

Well, Tater, has had a bad week. He has a torn ACL, which he got wrestling with me while getting his monthly bath, and last Friday he had some corrective surgery on it. The vet re-aligned his knee and put in a little plate & some screws, which should sort his leg out.

Trouble is, he has to remain very still - no going out for walks, no running or jumping, no swimming - for four weeks, and of course he's bored witless already. Worse still, he's had half his butt shaved, and a nasty pain-patch and some surgical clips put on his leg. So last night he decided to chew his clips out in a fit of pique while El Jeffe and I were out walking Poppy.

We arrived back home at 2am this morning, after a harrowing trip to the emergency vet. The guy took pity on us, and did the reclosure for around $65, a real bargain for animal medicine, especially in the wee small hours. Needless to say, Tater got a good telling off and will be sporting the Cone of Shame (see earlier post, October '06) for a while. We're just glad the vet said that the clips he's eaten will pass harmlessly through, although I secretly hope he gets a little reminder as they go through his rear end. Kinda like wiping your butt with a ripped up magazine without first checking to see that you took all the staples out. Serves the little toad right.

Thought for the day - don't chew off more than you can swallow.

Night, all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Just Looking...

Well, El Jeffe and I went househunting this weekend. Not for real, you understand. Just looking.
I was amazed just how much house you can buy currently, due to the economic downturn. We found a recently completed house in Gloucester, 3100 sq.ft, that was built inside in a kind of Moorish style, arched doorways, vaulted ceilings, huge atrium around the stairs. It was $351,000.
To put that in perspective, our current 3-bed rancher, at 1400sq.ft, was valued 2 years ago at $245,000. We'd probably get $215k for it now, at a stretch. In my home country of Britain, in the town I grew up in, that new house would go for S1000,000 at least,I kid you not.
Needless to say, we were crunching the numbers when we got back, and we were found wanting, but not by all that much. We could do it, but we'd be mortgage slaves, and that's no fun. I suggested we could salt Tater for a week or two and try to sell him as bison steaks to raise some cash, but El jeffe wouldn't hear of it. Sure was a nice house, though.

Thought for the day - an Englishman's home is his castle. Just make sure you pay the gong-farmer well. Night, all.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's a fair cop

Well, El Jeffe and I had a run-in with the law this week. It all started Wednesday, when El Jeffe wanted to get her oil changed. We went to drop her car off (a 2006 Pontiac Solstice, very sleek) at the Pontiac dealership she bought it from. It was dark, around 11.30pm, as as we pulled into the lot she noticed a Solstice for sale, with the convertible top down.
Being an inherently good-natured soul, she wanted to put the top up on ot, less it should rain and fill the car with water. So we went up to it, saw the alarm wasn't on, and put up the hood. Then we dropped her keys in the night drop-box and left.
No sooner had we gotten back onto the highway than she started to wonder if she'd locked her car, so back to the dealership we went. Sure enough, there were not one but TWO Police cars on the lot, doubtless looking for someone trying to steal a Solstice.
After some sincere grovelling, and after checking both our ID's and our unlikely story, we were released, shaken but unharmed. We were lucky we weren't cuffed and detained - this isn't my first contact with local law enforcement - and we decided not to tell the people at the dealership. El Jeffe was very embarrassed, although I still think we did a good thing.

Thought for the day - no good deed ever goes unpunished. Night, all.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Back in the saddle

Well, I've decided to start blogging again, after an eighteen-month hiatus. I haven't posted on here since I was 38 years old and now I think about it, nothing much has changed. plenty has HAPPENED, but not much has CHANGED. El Jeffe is as delighful as she ever was, bless her, and Poppy and Tater are still damn cute. Poppy has aged a little, and isn't quite so energetic, but Tater is still a monster. At two years old and 94lbs, I think he's about os grown-up as he's going to get, which isn't very grown up. Brunhilde, my beloved expedition, is still going strong, albeit with a new transmission. I have another kayak on the way - more about that later.
It's nice to be back on the blogosphere.
Thought for the day - forty is the new fifty.
Night, all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Murphy's Law

Well, there is a school of thought that says "just because things aren't going well, don't believe for a moment that they can't get worse." I lost my wallet (see last post) at the end of November, and had to replace the contents, which has been a little trying. The credit cards weren't ordered and El Jeffe and I had to call them, although to be fair they were with us within 48 hours following the second request. The ATM card was the same. The bank failed to order a new card, even after both El Jeffe and myself had asked them to do it. I finally recieved a card today, 19 days after reporting the loss. DMV were pretty fast considering their reputation. Worst of all, though, was the Green Card. It's a cool $260 to replace that, plus a trip to Maryland's Eastern Shore to get new fingerprints done. Why my fingerprints would change is beyond me, but there you go.

And just when it all seemed like an expensive mistake, what should happen? Yep, you guessed it, El Jeffe found my wallet. It was in a box in the garage. Needless to say the $260 can't be refunded, so I feel pretty wretched about the whole episode. It's almost like I'm being taunted by my own absent-mindedness. At least I won't have to drive to the Eastern Shore for the fingerprint session.

On a lighter note, I found the kayak I want to build. I looked at a number of designs and chose the Chesapeake 17 from Chesapeake Light Craft. The plans won't arrive until after Christmas, but I'm in no hurry. I'm collecting tools. Incidentally, I did some bargain hunting and managed to get 2 Black & Decker Workmates, an orbital sander, and 14 one-handed spring clamps for around $80 at Lowes. That's what I call a good deal. I priced them up in English Pounds and back home in Britain that lot would have been around $250 or so. Hooray for Uncle Sam is all I can say.

El Jeffe's Christmas present arrived this week. I bought her a German language course. She lived in Germany as a teenager, and loves the place, and we'll go there on vacation as soon as we can afford it. Meanwhile she wants us to learn German so we can talk about people without them knowing. I bet she learns the rude words first.

Thought for the day - things can always get worse. Night, all.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I Left My Wallet In El Segundo

Well, not actually in El Segundo. I left my wallet somewhere. I borrowed a kayak and went paddling on the mighty Beaverdam Lake at the weekend, and managed to lose my wallet. I think it fell out when I was looking for my truck keys after the trip. It hadn't been handed in the following day, so I've cancelled my cards just in case.

What a pain. The bank cards and credit cards, well they are easy to replace. But my drivers license has gone, and that cost me a morning at the DMV, which is about as much fun as one person can have without taking off their clothes. Worse still, my Green Card was in there, and that really will be a pain to replace. The INS want $260 just to process the replacement form, plus a trip to my local INS office, 40 miles away. Oh, and an additional visit to the Biometric Data Collection office so I can give them another fingerprint and retinal scan, all very high-tech. Wonderful system, shame the British government don't implement it. Trouble is, the Biometric Data Collection Center is conveniently located halfway up Virginia's Eastern Shore, which is a 4 hour drive even from mainland Virginia. I suppose if I get there and they are really peeved at me for losing my card they'll just drive me off the Eastern Shore into the Atlantic. That'll teach me to be more careful.

I had a nice trip on the lake, though. It was unseasonably warm for December, about 78 degrees, and sunny but windy. The lake was choppy, and covered in ducks, geese and the occasional heron. In fact, I liked it so much that I'm going to build a kayak. Buying one would be easier, I know, but where's the fun in that? Also, it'll be too cold and rainy to go on the water for about three months now, and I need a project to keep me out from under the feet of El Jeffe.

Thought for the day - rain drops, work stops. Night, all.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, it's Thanksgiving Day, and I'm so full I can barely reach across my groaning belly to type. We've had a steady stream of people here eating this afternoon, and El Jeffe has sent every one of them away fat & happy. My mother-in-law arrived first, with the younger brother-in-law at around 2pm. B.I.L upset Tater a little - Tater is only six months old, and he's a bit shy around people who get too close too quick - but then my father-in-law turned up. Tater likes him (he looked after Tater for a week when we first got him home) so things quietened down a lot. Never one to miss out on a good pud, my other brother-in-law, together with his wife and two daughters turned up some time later, notwithstanding the fact that they had already eaten one Thanksgiving dinner at her parents' house earlier today.

The food. My God, the food. To say El Jeffe is a good cook is like saying Michelangelo was a decent housepainter. Let me list it all for you. We had turkey; prime rib; stuffing; creamed spinach; Southern style green beans (put'em in water with a slice of bacon and boil the living daylights out of 'em for 45 minutes); gravy; potatoes mashed AND potatoes timbales; corn pudding; yeast rolls; cranberry and walnut relish; pretzel and strawberry salad; and banana pie. Was it all home-made? Why, yes it was. Magnificent.

Being English and all, I am still unfamiliar with Thanksgiving dinner, although judging by today's display of abject gluttony I could get used to it pretty fast. We don't do it in Britain, but do a similar thing at Christmas. Up around 8am, off to Church, then home by 10am. Eat at around 1pm - and I mean eat - to finish around 2.45, leaving plenty of time for the Queen's Speech on TV at 3pm. Then we can lie around in a turkey-induced haze while the big Xmas movie comes on, and you can bet it'll be either Ice Station Zebra, The Poseidon Adventure or The Great Escape. Sounds a lot like Thanksgiving, doesn't it?

So I'm doing my best to fit in with all yall's celebrations, with help from El Jeffe, and I think I'm doing a pretty grand job too. Now if you'll excuse me a moment, I'm going to see if I can make room for just one more piece of banana pie.

Thought for the day - be thankful. Night, all.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Brunhilde goes under the knife

Well, I had to leave my beloved Ford Expedition, Brunhilde, at the menders tonight. The dreaded 'service engine' light came on this morning, which means it's something complicated, and probably expensive. Usually I can do my own repairs on mechanical stuff. I spent many years running cheap cars with no money to spend on them, and so I learned to fix them myself. Also, I had a couple of old motorcycles that I restored to good condition in my garage and shed, which taught me a lot about vehicles.

It used to be that working on cars, and bikes, for that matter, was relatively simple. Not exactly easy, mind - it was still hard, dirty work, usually costing me some skin and blood - but it was something your average hump with a little sense could do. Breakdowns meant exactly that - something had either worn away or broken, and it was a matter of taking off the old part and putting in a new one to get things running again. Sometimes it wasn't even as hard as that - one of my cars, a 1976 Triumph Dolomite, had sills (rocker panels to you, Uncle Sam) that were made mostly from concrete and chicken wire. And while I've never actually replaced a broken fan belt with a pair of nylon hose, as in the urban legend, I can vouch for the 'raw egg in the radiator' trick to get a car - a 1978 Mini 1000 - drivable, so it can limp home to be fixed properly.

But technology has moved on since then. I first experienced this with my first 'proper' car, a 1989 Toyota MR2. Fantastic car, 40mpg, looked like a little Ferrari, handled like a go kart, and fast, for a 1.6 engine. The speedo went to 140mph but I could never get more than 134 out of it. But to work on it ? Worse than the Mini. No room in the engine bay (it was behind the seats) and it was so low you couldn't get the jack beneath it.

Likewise my Expedition. Everything on it is so damned BIG !!!! I had a flat on it a couple of months back, and the spare was so heavy I could barely pick it up. The hood is level with my chest. And that engine (wonderful engine by the way, V8 5.4 litre, smooth, bags of torque) is tucked right down beneath the bulkhead, safely away from the owner. Apparently, Ford recommend that if their mechanic needs to work on the cylinder heads, it's easier to raise the body - yes, to detach the entire car from the chassis and jack it up a bit - than to remove bits and pieces to get access to the engine.

So my Brunhilde is spending the night at the repair garage. Yes, I know modern cars are cleaner and more efficient, and it's easier to have the car talk to the computer about OBD codes and all that jazz, but I do miss the smell of hot metal and Castol R sometimes.

Thought for the day - the whole can be more than the sum of the parts. Night, all.