My Dad

From day one I’ve been a daddy’s girl.  Not the spoilt, get away with anything, daddy’s girl, far from it.  But we’ve always been buddies.  He just turned 70 and I had wanted to celebrate it in the proper way.  Our plan was to have our annual family get together this coming weekend.  Unfortunately we have had to cancel, well, postpone the festivities as he has to have major surgery this week.  It will be a good thing as it will get things fixed.  But I thought he should still be celebrated!  So in the spirit of the post I did about my mum I thought I would toast him as well.

Dad 1 2015

My dad always had time for his girls, something that has never changed.  Regardless of what he was doing, whether studying or working, we could be included.  It didn’t matter how long his day was he was always up for getting down on the floor and letting us use him as a jungle gym.  Many hours were spent doing row row your boat with his arms.  And pulling up his eye lids to see if he was still in there!

He’s had quite a journey in life.  He is a son of a coal miner who was the first person to go to college and continued on to get his masters degree.  When I went back to the UK for a year at university he came with me at the beginning to help me get settled.  We did a loop round the country which was a tour of his life.  He brought me to the house he was born in to show how far the family had came.  Imagine his surprise there was grass and the neighbourhood had come up a bit!  But I did get the point.

I am grateful that though he wanted us to have the world he didn’t fall into the trap of just handing it to us.  Mum and dad made sure we worked hard and never took anything for granted.  When he thought I was losing my way he wrote me a letter talking about how I was disappointing him.  I was having a bad attitude and being very angry about things.  Lashing out and hurting the ones I loved.  It was heartfelt and full of love but also a wake up call to me.  I still have that letter.

He has always seemed to know just what to say and how to be supportive.  For Senior Hooky Day I chose to go sailing with him instead of scarpering off somewhere.  It was a foggy day and it was great fun to just hang out and be outside.  He would show up to our American Football games in high school.  We had the worst team but once in awhile he would show up, bundled up to hear us play in the band.  On the rare occasion there was a touchdown he would actually hear the band play the school song.  It wasn’t often!

I get my twisted sense of humour from him.  You know the sort that gets you into trouble.  When we were in the UK there was an interview with Rowan Atkinson and he had a running gag of butt cheeks or kissing arse.  Something like that.  So the presenter would toss out words and he kept bringing it back to the gag.  They got to windscreen wipers and he just mimed kissing back and forth between butt cheeks.  I thought we were going to die.  Tears were streaming down our face.  Wish I could find that clip.  I can’t do it justice.

Of course there is the Championship of the Entire Civilised World for cribbage.  It’s quite stiff competition.  It’s just the two of us.  It’s a great way to just talk and joke about.

dad 2 2015

I am so grateful to have a dad like my dad.  He has showed us how to be true to ourselves, set our standards high, and was a great example of what it means to respect women and treat them well.  He and my mum are a great example of what type of relationship we should be looking for.  I was lucky that I have that as well with my husband.  Dad wasn’t pleased when I wasn’t happy or treated right in past relationships.  It was a great relief, I think, to my dad when I met my husband.  One, he fits right in with my family and two, he makes me happy.

While I’m nervous about the surgery, I know it is a good thing.  It will get him healthy and ensures we have years still to be goofy, make more family memories, and to well, have my dad around.  Because he is pretty neat in my book.

Let’s Be Radical and Say Down With Resolutions!

New Years Eve 1 2014

Ah the time of year where resolutions fly willy nilly dooming their proclaimers to failure.  I used to be a big fan of resolutions.  It’s a rookie mistake and after a few years (ok several) I realised I was following the definition of insanity.  If you keep doing the same thing expecting different results….

I suppose, as I get older (not old), I’m less worried about what needs to be fixed.  And I am lucky as there isn’t much to fix.  It’s been another wonderful year with my husband and kids.  They are healthy, happy, and doing well.  What more could I wish for?

Hopefully 2015 will be just as good.  I do know one thing for certain.  I won’t make the year without my daughter passing me in height and my son is hot on her heels!  I’m destined to be the short one in the family.  🙂

I wish everyone a very happy and healthy 2015.  And cheers to a fun night tonight!

Christmas Traditions As The Kids Grow

It’s official, our kids have aged out of believing in Santa.  I have mixed feelings about that.  On the one hand I’ll miss them wanting to put out carrots for the reindeer, cookies and milk for Santa, and glitter to guide in the reindeer.  But then again we have a closet full of secret Santa paper that we’ve kept hidden.  We would wrap our son’s gifts in different paper from our daughter’s so no handwriting would be on the gifts to give away the magic.  That’s how I figured it out when I was a kid!

Because my husband had to travel half this month we got our Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving which is really early for us but we lucked out with amazing weather.  We go to a local farm where they have horse drawn carriages and pick out a tree.  Afterwards we have free homemade donuts and hot chocolate.

Christmas 2014 2 2014

I had a Griswold moment as we were picking out a tree.  As we found one I saw across the way The Tree.  I told the family to stay put, to hedge our bets, and took off running.  Now I don’t run.  There was a foot of snow and I’m in my winter boots huffing and puffing going as fast as I could.  Which isn’t very fast.  I got passed by the guy with a saw and a dolled up woman who laid claim to the tree.  I did a “Noooo!” and fell to my knees gasping.  The nice man said to me but there is another one right over there.  Before I could raise my hand and say “Yes!” the woman whipped round and claimed that one too.  I nearly did a faceplant in the snow.  So I trudged back to the family and claimed the one we hedged our bets with.  Actually it’s a gorgeous tree, just a bare spot in the back but we put that against the wall.  🙂

Christmas 2014 5 2014

We do have fun decorating the tree with our favourite ornaments and Christmas music is put on.  Guinness could care less but Murphy is always willing to be in the way.  He generally curls up right at the tree looking up to see what we are doing.

Christmas 2014 3 2014

I was way behind with things this month.  I only made the Christmas cake two Sundays ago!  The recipe is here part 1 and part 2.  I thought, because we are obviously not having a white Christmas, it would be fun to decorate the cake with the three stages of the snowman.  I had in my head how I wanted to do the snowman and knew I had to head to the local candy shop.  And right there were snowman done out of marshmallow!  Perfect so I was able to recreate using what they did.

Christmas 2014 4 2014

Today we’ll be playing games and watching Christmas movies in our PJs.  After we bake mince meat pies and sticky buns for tomorrow’s breakfast.  And it’s tradition to order Chinese food for dinner tonight.  We eat it next to the tree with the fire going.  And can’t forget the Christmas crackers!

Christmas 2014 1 2014

Guinness and Murphy are taken care of with big bones for them to entertain themselves with.  🙂

For those that celebrate Christmas, have a very Happy Christmas.  May it be safe and fun.  🙂

Good Cop Bad Cop…

It’s truly been eye opening the past few days in the aftermath of the KSC rioting.  Not the pumpkinfest rioting as that didn’t happen but because the students participating have hijacked #pumpkinfest people nationwide have connected the two.  Including the media.  Good Morning America is one example of the outlets continually saying that Keene State College had the pumpkinfest.  They didn’t.  I did tweet @GMA saying they need to get their facts straight but no response.

I also tweeted @drgoddess randomly.  I was just trying to clarify that they were two separate events and how I found it upsetting that #pumpkinfest was turning negative.  It led to a very interesting exchange.  Which is extremely difficult to do on Twitter when you are limited to 140 characters and when you add in tag names it gets limited even more.

I was coming from the point of view that the cops did a fabulous job stopping the riot from spilling into the festival.  I didn’t realise until the middle of the exchange that people are comparing this with Ferguson and the police response there.  It was basically if white kids riot they get tear gassed, if black kids riot they get killed.  This rocked me back.

As a disclaimer, I don’t have much faith in police as a general rule.  My experiences with them have not been positive.  Ranging from them royally screwing up my Grammy’s murder investigation, to not caring that my car along with several others got broken in, to here in Keene when one cop stood with me in my front garden with my kids looking on and basically saying it was on me to come up with solutions against those breaking the law, not him.  I’ve seen two incidences where cops stepped up.  The first was again in our front garden in the middle of the night when a drunk guy was beating his girlfriend.  They came quickly and dealt with it.  The second time was this past weekend.

This is a video taken by, I think, a student.  There are a few examples of why this is different from Ferguson.

First, in this country there is a gross disparity between how blacks are treated and how whites are treated.  This is a valid argument that needs to desperately be resolved.  Stealing cigarettes and causing trouble by walking down the street should never end in a death sentence.  And if a young man is put into the back of a cruiser and for some reason does go crazy, instead of shooting him, leave the cruiser.  And the Ferguson police lost further credibility by trying to arrest journalists for reporting on the story.  Sadly this scenario happens too often in our big cities.

However, I honestly don’t see that happening here.  Even though we are a very small city we are quite diverse.  Not only do we have whites and African Americans we also have Indian, Asian, African, and European.  We have poor and rich folk going about our business without too many incidences.  The vast majority of us look at character and how you treat others rather than what you are wearing or what you look at.

In the video the cameraman seemed to start off by trying to show that the police were being excessive as the police were lined up in riot gear.  He asked one student about it and the guy said no there were people throwing things which is why the police were there.

Then it shows an African American man approach the police.  He did put his hands up briefly which is smart for anyone approaching riot police.  He went up to the police, spoke then shook hands with one of the cops.  He turned round and said that the cops need people to leave the street.

There are a few minutes when the cops went and shot off some tear gas and pepper balls.  There was a white guy taken down, then a bunch of drunk kids bemoaning the abuse.  Honestly these kids wouldn’t know reality if it hit them.  Then you see some of the cops taking the time to talk to those who asked them questions about why they are doing what they are doing and what they are using.

This is hardly an over the top abuse of power.  In fact, they did an awesome job keeping the injuries to a minimum and preventing a bigger disaster that would have happened if the riots spilled into Main St.

This has provided many teachable moments to our children as well.  I was talking about my twitter exchange at dinner with the kids.  My 10 year old son was confused.  He couldn’t understand why blacks would be treated so differently than whites.  In our household we don’t tolerate racism or bigotry against anyone who is different than we are.  And at school he has friends of all colours and a few different countries.  So we had an interesting conversation that has continued since with him trying to wrap his head around the fact we aren’t all treated the same.  A lot of adults wonder the same thing.

Keene PumpkinFest vs Keene State Rioting

It was a tough weekend in our town and many of us are very upset and hopped up as they say.  We host the annual Pumpkinfest on Main St.  Many people put in long hours to make this work and there have been several world records for the number of lit pumpkins including last year with a count of 30581.  It’s a point of pride.  Two years ago we had HGTV in town and the world got to see what a fabulous community event it is.

Pumpkinfest 2 2014

Every year the school kids carve pumpkins at school as well as home, local businesses donate pumpkins as well as carve their own, and families wheel their pumpkins downtown and find good spots for them.  Friday there were good spirits as we set up our creations.  I found a good spot for ours.

Pumpkinfest 3 2014

They set up the student pumpkins in Central Square.  Of all the places that you don’t mess with, that is the spot.  Problem is there has been a growing problem with the college kids in town.  Please understand when I talk about the college students I do not mean all of them, in fact, some were hunkered down in their rooms too scared to leave.  But there is a growing faction of those that think it’s fun to cause trouble.  It started Friday night with drunks smashing pumpkins.

We like to take the dogs down the morning of when the streets are blocked off and it’s quiet.  We noticed a few pumpkins here and there smashed.  Even the top of my husband’s pumpkin was missing.  One woman was very upset because she saw that her 5 year old grandson’s pumpkin was destroyed in Central Square.  It didn’t bode well.

Pumpkinfest 1 2014

The best that I can see the perfect storm happened this way.  First, the college is spineless in holding the students accountable for their actions.  I’m not surprised at how bad it got.  They set up a town-gown committee after incidences last year and all that is happened is the decision to take another year to work on this before deciding what to do.

Second, there is a company in Boston that searches out colleges to bring people in to rave.  It’s called FinnaRage that sets up concerts and parties at colleges.  There are videos showing things getting out of control at previous events but the CEO insists that is not what they are about.  For me the proof is in the pudding.

Third, our town councillors knew they were coming but didn’t prevent it.  They were pretty toothless to be honest.

By 3pm the police had to be in riot gear and had the tear gas out as the students and their out of town guests were drunk and throwing cans and bottles at people.  By the end of the night there was a helicopter, swat teams, and responders from 3 states up against the mob raging, smashing pumpkins, destroying cars including flipping one over.

Pumpkinfest 4 2014

Here are a few things I want to clear up because social media, the national news, and yes the international news have the facts wrong.

First of all Keene State College does not host the PumpkinFest.  The town of Keene does and many hours of hard work are put into making it safe. And it was safe, there wasn’t any rioting during PumpkinFest.  In fact I was downtown at 3pm and none of us knew what was happening a few blocks away.  The police and fire departments kept them away from the families and visitors.  The kids got to check out the pumpkins in their costumes and have their fill of cotten candy and fried dough.

Second, Keene State has a lot to answer for.  Their first response was that it was out of towners.  Yes there were a lot of out of towners but they were invited by the students.  The college is trying to say it wasn’t on campus.  The streets that this happened on included the campus.  It’s time this stops, it gets worse each year.  Not only is it unfair to the residents of our town but unfair to the students that are actually there to learn.

Third, no it is not cool to flip cars and rage.  However, it is cool the idiots keep posting with their names fessing up to what they did.  Will make it easy to catch them and hopefully get them charged? I hope so. I mean really, how did these people get into college?

Pumpkinfest 5 2014

It upsets me that these hooligans highjacked the #pumpkinfest to use on the social media as it sullies all the good that happens.

While we didn’t get a new world record this year I would call the festival a success.  There were fabulous and creative pumpkins, adorable costumes on the kids and some scary ones on adults, and loads of volunteers who love our community.  That’s what I want #pumpkinfest to be full of.

Such a Lovely Day to Pick Apples…

The past two weeks have been go, go, go.  My husband took a week off so we can do home improvement projects.  On the list was to completely redo our small bathroom and replace the floors of the back two porches.  I’ll follow up with a post on before and after photos but I am so excited about getting these projects done.  And I’m exhausted!  We both are.  I went about two weeks without doing much cooking and no time to post.  Things are starting to get back to normal now thank goodness.

We went yesterday on our annual apple picking outing with our friends.  Couldn’t have picked a more gorgeous day to get together.

I was worried if there would be much to pick given how harsh the winter was.  The two trees in our front garden gave us a grand total of 2 apples and our peach tree never flowered.  Usually this time of year the trees are groaning with all the apples at the orchard and a lot of trees looked very bare.

Apple picking 4 2014

We had to go deep into the orchard to find apples.  I even found an optimistic apple flower.

Apple picking 5 2014

Because the pickings were so slim they had bins set up with apples so you could just fill your bags.  We did it the “hard” way keeping up with the kids running through the trees.  Much more fun that way!

I always enjoy the colours on display around the small shop with the flowers, apples, and pumpkins.

Apple picking 1 2014 Apple picking 2 2014

The displays wouldn’t be complete without the giant pumpkins, some of which I’m sure, will find their way to the Pumpkin Festival in a few weeks.

Apple picking 3 2014

When we got married four years ago we considered this place for our wedding.  The costs were a bit much but it is such a beautiful spot.

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We now have enough apples to sink a ship.

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The kids are looking forward all the baked goodies.  Can’t let them go to waste after all.  I will have to come up with gluten free dishes as I am doing a month long experiment eating gluten free.  More on that later!

Let it Snow! Let it, ok it can stop now….

This past weekend we had our first major winter storm where we got about 8″ of snow during Saturday night.  Which was very pretty and cozy.  Our second storm just hit.  Icing on the cake of a day that started at -8F/-22C.  It is now 9F/-13C.  We are supposed to get a few inches but we got that already today and it’s still going.  On the plus side it may let us have a white Christmas.  I’m afraid I jinxed it the other day saying we’re guaranteed.  Like I am a rookie or something!  We’ll have three days over the weekend above freezing with some rain.  Not good.

Winter 1 2013

Watching my kids get excited about the snow brings me back to when I was their age.  There was nothing better that several inches of snow.  Epic snowball fights, endless runs down the hill on our sleds.  My dad would do a run with bumps for us from our next door neighbours into our back garden.  As an adult I doubt the bumps were huge but to a small kid we were flying!

Winter 2 2013

As an adult now I think about the roads, how much shoveling and snowblowing will we have to do, and when’s a good time to walk the dogs.  This morning Guinness was very intent on getting round.  He couldn’t wait to get back to the door.  Murphy could care less.  I have to say I put as many layers on that would allow my coat to still fit.  I looked a bit like the little kid in “The Christmas Story”, the bit where he can’t put his arms down.  And I was still cold!

Winter 3 2013

If the snow was right when we were kids we’d make snow forts into our hill and hang out in them.  Little caves.  Of course now they tell you not to do that as they could collapse.  I want my kids to be safe and all but sometimes common sense sucks the fun out of it.  Our first winter here we dealt with the blizzard of ’78.  My dad dug us a 4′ deep hole, plunked us in, and set about moving several tons of snow.  My Grandma came over that winter for the first time.  My parents tried to warn her of the cold and snow but living in Yorkshire for most of her life she felt she’d “be fine, lad”.  It took her breath away.

Winter 4 2013

To be honest though if the snow is right we’re right out there with the kids building forts and having epic snowballs fights.  We’ve gone on for hours sometimes.  So we’re due for the sticky stuff, not this dry snow.  As long as it’s on a weekend.  🙂

Are You Apple Eating or Apple Picking?

Every year we get together with 3 other families for our annual apple picking adventure.  It seems like we just did that but poof it’s time again!  Mother Nature has a habit of rain or the threat of rain whenever we plan on coming and of course it was forecast to rain.  But we planned going anyways.  We won’t melt!

It turned out to be quite the weekend.  About a week or so ago this little kitten, we’ve called her Tiramisu, decided our back garden was the place to be.

Apple picking 1 2013

Isn’t she cute?  Well we think it’s a she.  But she would show up during the evenings so we waited because you don’t want to take anyone’s kitty.  But we came back from our date night on Saturday night at 9.30 and there she was in our garden.  Way too late to be out.  So we grabbed her and brought her in and set her up in the guest room (aren’t we good hosts? 🙂 ).  Boy the dogs were curious!  The Humane Society opened at 11am in the morning so we planned on bringing her over.  We have two dogs and a cat.  Our cat would just mutiny if we brought another animal to stay.  Bad enough when I opened the bathroom door in the morning and she all but had her paws on her hips and a look on her face “We need to have a chat”.  She was not amused!  If I had my way I’d adopt every pet that needed a home but I do need to think of the rest of the family and the animals we already have.  So we couldn’t keep her.  But at least she was safe because that night the rain that was supposed to come Sunday afternoon swept through Saturday night.  I was up all night listening to that storm.  Sometimes it was like a very large fire hose was aimed at our house!

Come Sunday though it was gorgeous.  Such a beautiful day for apple picking.  The kids love it.  They all run round eating the apples.  The orchard know some of the goods go out in stomachs rather than bags.  Think that is reflected in the price!  Fair enough.  I joked with my daughter saying we should have weighed her going in and then out again.  🙂

Apple picking 2 2013

Try as we might to be careful it never fails that you pick one apple and a bunch fall off.  By the state of things I was not the only one with this problem.

At this orchard they had the oldest and I think tallest elm tree in the region and I was all set to take some really nice photos to share.  What I found instead was this:

Apple picking 3 2013

It died.  Such a shame.  It was like a beacon for apple picking.

This year they had a very large pumpkin patch and we came across this funny looking thing.  Someone thought it was a turban pumpkin.

Apple picking 4 2013

I love the colours of autumn.

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The trees were laden with apples of all sorts of varieties.  We filled our 1/2 bushel bag in no time.

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Which means baking!  We made baked apples last night for dessert.  But there is apple pie, apple cake, and a bunch of other goodies to make.  🙂  Of course a lot of them will make their way into the kids lunches.  An apple a day….

But You’re Just a Babe, What Can You Know About Life?

That is essentially what I get told when I try to relate to people older than me.  And it’s not a babe as in dang girl but babe as in you are wet behind the ears.  Which I haven’t been for most of my life.  Granted I used to get told this a lot more in various ways when I was in my early 20’s but it happened today.  I’m 40!  I actually called them on it.

It was in Pilates class.  As it is a mid-morning class I am younger than the next yougest by about 10 years and then the average age is late 60’s.  We had taken a TRX class prior to this and we were discussing the level of difficulty and the older women were saying it feels like a bit of a victory getting through that class.  Which it is as it’s hard!  I said I wish we were more appreciative when we were younger about what shape we were in.  In my 20’s I was a martial artist and extremely fit but didn’t fully appreciate it.  If I did I wouldn’t have gotten so much out of shape because it’s hard getting fit again.  Literally it was all what do you know you are just a babe, wait til you’re our age.  I called them on it.  I asked at what age can I expect to not hear that anymore.  I’m 40.  I’ve had experiences.

Experience 1 2013

I try not to do this to people younger than me as I find it incredibly patronising.  I can’t assume what some one has done in life.  I packed a lot into my early 20’s that have shaped how I am.  I went to university in London and explored Europe on a shoe string budget.  Once, to get cheap seats to see Pavarotti in Tosca, I spent the night outside Covent Garden.  I was 3rd in line.  I was a foot from the boot of his Mercedes when he pulled up.  I was first in line for an autograph except he went out the other door to avoid us.  Skipping along in Brussels we accidently went up onto the palace wall.  Guards coming out of the shadows gave us pause before we ran like hell.

Experience 2 2013

I used to love going to Hyde Park and see Speaker’s Corner.  The down with the government speakers kept the crowds, the religious end is near folks, not so much.  When I came back stateside I helped reorganise our family’s manufacturing business then got through the sale of it.  I was sick of journal entries by the end of that!  While I graduated college I attained my black belt in Kempo and went on to achieve 3rd degree.  Of course I couldn’t give up traveling.  I vowed to use my passport once a year.  I can’t think of a year when I didn’t do that so I’ve been very lucky.

Experience 3 2013

As I moved through my 20’s I packed less into each year but still collected my experiences as I went.  There were the various relationships and heartache, I wasn’t very good at picking them until I met my husband.  I bought a house, then moved and bought another.  Sold that one.  Then came the major experience.  Being a parent.  If that doesn’t throw you into the deep end, I don’t know what will!

Experience 4 2013

Now as I try to find new experiences I get to include my husband and our kids.  My husband and I have the same idea.  It’s important to live life and experience it rather than collect things that can come and go.  Every experience shapes us good or bad.  We don’t spoil our kids with material things but if they mention something that will broaden their horizons and build memories then we find a way.  Our daughter did an autobiography in 4th grade where she mentioned she wanted to see the Eiffel Tower but not in pictures.  So we showed her.  My son now has that teacher and he’s working on the autobiography.  I wonder what we’ll have to save up for!

Experience 5 2013

I hope our kids have a ton of experiences when they set out on their journey.  I just hope they don’t have to justify it like I have had to.  I wonder what age I’ll be when I stop hearing but you’re so young, wait til you are my age.

Pure Joy

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best source of joy.  Take ice cream for instance.  It would be a very rare thing that it would bring a frown to someone’s face.

I have good memories of my Grandma, she was a neat lady and I would have loved to know her more but she passed away a few years after we moved over here.  I’ll have to do a proper post as she was quite the lady.  But as summer is coming to a close and ice cream shops are closing for the season I am reminded how ice cream can make you smile.

This is a photo of her getting her first ice cream sundae stateside.

grandma ice cream 1 2013

She loved it!  🙂