Sunday, March 30, 2008

Anna's 7th Birthday. Wow!

We went to Waco Friday and saw Aunt Sudie and Granma Dulce. Then we stayed the night at Joe and Gail's and went to Pflugerville for Anna's party on Saturday. I got some pics and video to download but the March madness is calling me away. Back later.......
Well Texas lost as did Davidson. At least the second game was a contest right to the end. Texas looked bad.

Here's Anna when she was 2 and 1/2 years old....

And here she is at 7.............

Here she is leading the pack......

Her cake........

These are a few of my favorite things.....

I'll post some video manana

It's manana....

Anna got ready for a dance rehearsal.


Nothing but video of Evelyn.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A little learning is a dangerous thing. -Post Script.

My father used to misquote the saying that is this post's title. (Knowledge in place of learning) But in my case 'know-how' would be more aptly substituted!

Anyway,when Bev is away for a few days I like to do something to surprize her when she gets back. Like paint a room or some other little chore that we both knew needed to be done. Well, she's in Phoenix for the last two days so I decided to get rid of few extra protrudences and non-functioning thingys hanging off the ceiling and walls.

The people before us had had a security system and multiple smoke alarms which didn't work. So I removed the smoke alarm from the ceiling and patched the hole. Great. I removed the major security transmitter from inside the laundry area and snipped all the wires and did the same for the alarm keypad next to the bed, snip, snip. Did a good job matching the texture and the paint.

Today my friend Tud was to see his Dr. in Liverpool to get the skinny on what they will do for him. He was due home by 5 pm so I was watching the clock for the approprite time to call (adding 6 hrs). When I picked up the phone to call I had no dial tone so I called ATT and they checked it out. Said there appears to be a break in the line. Don't think it was my handiwork do you? Snip snip.

P.S. Yes it was my fault and after the phone lady stopped laughing and calling her associates to giggle with them about my blunder she figured out how to fix it. I had to chisel a hole in the wall to get the wires out so now I can test my patching ability again!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Bread, Bubbles and Eggs

Nana had help from the twins making her traditional Easter bread today. Afterwards the twins and Nana colored eggs. Here are a couple of nice vids of the work in the kitchen and then the real fun began on the porch when Nana got out the bubble making machine.

Waco Reunion and other stuff........

Last weekend in Waco the Brooks family and others got together at Joe and Gail's house. Jimmy and Becky thrilled us with a small recital on the piano. See Gail's blog for more of the piano playing stars.....GailLinkHere...

Here's Emily reading a book she made for Colin. She made one for each of her nieces and nephews. See more on this in her post here

Here's Anna reading her own book. She really reads well and has won recognition at school for her ability. Auntie Emily went to a great deal of effort. It was appreciated by the nippers and the adults as well.

Buck and Cathy went to Austin after Waco and then came down to Houston on Thursday.

Here we are having a picnic at a park after a failed attempt to gosee Lucy's bones. The traffic around the museum was just too much and we couldn't find a parking space so we gave up and ate out instead!

And here'slittle Evie on a swing. As Paige tells me it is not her first time either!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tag, you're it!

Emily tagged me with this 4x4 meme. Four questions and four answers to each.

4 places I've been...Note I am skipping Bermuda where I have been 15 or more times.

  • Bora Bora. We stayed in a hut suspended over the water.

  • Barcelona. I walked my rear end off on my first visit- so much to see.

  • Benidorm. Saw a lady (Sticky Vicky)do some incredible things with a light bulb. Now for the more prudish of you, please do not click the link.

  • Broadway. In the Cotswolds, a very pretty little English village. On our honeymoon

    we visited this spot where Bev's dad had been briefly stationed with

    Patton's 3rd Army in 1942.

    4 jobs I've had....

  • Butcher.
    Started at 13 years old until 16.

  • Bartender.
    In Queens at my BIL's bar near Belmont raceway.

  • Bellboy.
    P/T on the Queen of Bermuda.

  • Bosun. On the Manchester Ship Canal from 16 to 17 just before coming to U.S.

    4 Bands/Singers I listen to....

  • Beatles. Surprized?

  • Bocelli.
    Almost everything sounds fab.

  • Buffet. Looks like an old fart but can put a song across.

  • Norah.
    Nuff said. I broke the code to include her.

    4 favorite foods...

  • Bread. There is nothing like a good piece with-

  • Butter. It goes on the above.

  • Beer.
    You can too include this as a food. It's liquid bread!

  • Bacon. To lay across the bread and butter to make a bacon butty.
  • Sunday, March 9, 2008

    Significant Date #2

    So, three weeks after I had returned to England for my Dad's funeral,I went with my Mum and sister to Liverpool to book passage back to the U.S. It was on a Friday morning that we took the steam engine out of Runcorn for the 20 minute trip. Brief stops were made at Ditton Junction, Allerton, where Paul graduated from Grammar School that year, and Edge Hill before it arrived at the terminus at Liverpool's Lime Street station. We bypassed several small towns such as Wavertree, Mossley Hill and Sefton Park.

    Lime Street was a huge station with the roof a hundred feet high made of glass. The high ceiling was to accomodate the noxious fumes from the coal burning steam engines. We walked the 1/2 mile or so on Dale Street and Water Street to Pier Head where there are 3 large buildings. They are known as the 'Three Graces'

    The one at the left with the clock and dome with a bird on it is the Royal Liver. The centre one is the Cunard and the one on the right is the Port of Liverpool building.

    I liked visiting the Cunard Building because of the many large models of ships throughout the lobby area and I had walked into the lobby several times in earlier years just to see them. Liverpool was a place we visited often in my childhood. Mum would go there with me in hand for a day out or to go shopping at Lewis's. Or you could take a ferry from Pier Head across the Mersey to New Brighton, which as the name implies was a seaside resort town.
    New Brighton It is actually in Cheshire on the Wirral

    Anyway, we made reservations on the Corinthia sailing on the 23July two and a half weeks ahead. It would be a terrific sailing because the ship would be going down the St Lawrence River past Quebec all the way to Montreal. ( an overnight train ride to NYC would complete the journey ). The Cunarders asked to see our visas for the entry into America and it prompted my sister, who already had a 'permanent' visa to ask me what I thought about applying for a resident visa since we were right next door to the American Consulate. "Why not" said I. So off we went to the Port of Liverpool building and found the door to the American office closed. We banged on the door and waited. After a few more bell pushes and door bangs the lock slide scraped and the door opened a crack. "What do you want?" said a guy in shirt sleeves and no tie. My sister, who at 38 years old was one good looking blonde charmer, told him the sad tail about my father's passing away and this is his mother and she is upset and CAN HE GET A PERMANENT VISA TO AMERICA???

    "Do you know what day it is Madam" asked the gentleman. "Sure, it's Friday" she said. We all agreed it was Friday.
    " Well it also happens to be July 4th, Miss, which in America is a Holiday" All our empoyees have the day off, there's no-one here but me he said but since I am the Consul I suppose I can do it. He let us in and took me into his office where he asked a few questions like did I belong to the Communist Party and was I a subversive and had I been vaccinated. " and Yes" I said and he said "Very well, that's good you're in". He right there 'rolled' out a visa for me in my passport and that was it. I was to become an immigrant. And what usually took months of paperwork and visits to Liverpool all the other officious nonsense was bypassed in 1/2 and hour on July 4th 1958......another significant date.

    It turned out he didn't really know what he was doing because the Immigrations officials processing the paperwork as we docked in Montreal were not happy. They apparently had a little work to do to make my immigrant status correct. But other than that it was OK.

    Thursday, March 6, 2008

    Grandma Dulce is 87

    We drove to Waco last Saturday to celebrate Grandma Dulce's birthday. Aunt Sudie and Dulce were surprized because they had known Cinda and Li'l Bev were coming but Beverly's visit was unexpected.

    We went to eat at The Olive Garden and had a great time. The Brookses and Muirheads seem to enjoy the uncivilized act of sharing food THAT'S ON THEIR OWN AND OTHERS' PLATES. Oh my.

    Anyway, after everyone was satiated we went back to the house to eat some delicious cake that Cinda (the gorgeous looking girl dancing in the video) had prepared.

    At the end of this first vid you will see that brother Joe and his offspring Beckie and Jimmy came for cake too.

    Ride 'em Cowboy

    The rodeo is in town. Every year in Houston the rodeo takes over the entire complex at Reliant Stadium. We went on Wednesday night and saw the rodeo which is spectacular and Faith Hill who was something less than spectacular, although I think the format was not the best for stage acts.
    Beer was $7 per bottle so we didn't drink much.

    Here's small video of Graham and Paige dressed for Rodeo Day.

    Tuesday, March 4, 2008

    Significant Old never can tell

    The complete title for this post really is ' you never can tell before until after what's least expected most' (acknowledgment given to my brother-in-law from Weaverham)

    Well, here's the story:

    February is the month when we must get our cars inspected. Because of Bev's foot operation we left it until last week. Naturally I want to be able to trust the garage that I use for inspections and repairs. Since we left El Paso, where we knew we could trust Resler Chevron ( They once came back with a bill that was less than the estimate!) we have been using a Mobil station for our oil changes and they cemented their relationship a few months ago by fixing a flat free of charge.

    So I took my car in and it passed no problem but they recommended a flush and recharge of the transmission fluid. At $215 plus the $40 for the inspection. Nah, I said we'll have to wait on that flush. Next I took Bev's car in which had a little 'check engine' light on. "We'll have to resolve that exhaust system problem that that light indicates before we do the inspection" said K.C. " because it will fail the inspection" Okay I said. It turned out to be extensive and expensive......$750 for parts and labor. It took them 3 days to do it and it was finished on Friday night as I was picking Bev up from the airport.

    Driving from the Hobby airport to the station I tried my cruise control and it wouldn't work. A minute later I put on the A/C and, damnit! It wasn't working either. Bev said I should mention it to the mechanic as we picked up the Pathfinder and I'm all "What, are you kidding? Do you think they're gonna be able to look at this at 6 pm and do you think they will give a rat's ass that we are driving to Waco tomorrow and we will be without air and cruise?" Bev said well you never know. Oh yeah!

    When we got there the guy saw my unhappy face and said " What's up Mr Downward?" I told him about the a/c and cruise control issues. He gave me the bill Bev's car and said he would have Juan take a look at my a/c immediately. The bill came to $699 AND they threw away the bill for the $40 inspection for my car and discounted the $40 inspection fee for Bev's car too. Nice!
    Then about 5 minutes later Juan was under the hood checking the fuses and compressor and all, he said there's plenty of freon and the fuses are Ok it should work. He turned on the car and Bingo the A/C was working. You'll have to try the cruise while driving home he said. I did and Shaboom! It worked too.
    So you see, you really never can tell before until after etc...

    Significant Funding

    Commenting on my recent post about sailing from Liverpool to New York Emily asked how I got the money for the passage on the RMS Sylvania.

    Well my sister upfronted the money and I paid her back weekly at the rate of about $15 a week. (I was also expected to send $$ back to my mother as well which I did at least monthly till I was 21)

    When I came in March of '58 I was on an easy to obtain visitor's visa which allowed 6months unlimited access to the U.S. as long as you didn't work here. It specified 'not allowed to work'. But we had a workable plan. Tom Halewood, my sister's husband, was the Chief Bartender on a British ship that sailed out of Newcastle every October and plied the NYC-Bermuda cruise route until the following September when it would return to Newcastle for a month of repairs etc.

    We planned to ask the Chief Steward, Mr Ivor Atkinson, if there would be any way I could join the ship in New York. It took all of a week after my arrival on March 14th to arrange the deal and there I was, out to sea on the Queen of Bermuda and seasick again after only one week's respite. I was seasick for the two day transit to Hamilton and following 3 days of absolute joy in port in Bermuda, I was seasick for two days back to New York. They had given me a job as a Second Class waiter which meant I served the officers (not the Captain and his immediate staff but the lower level ones like the chief bartender......I was miserable looking at food for three meals a day and trying to make it to the gunwales before losing it.

    Anyway, after they saw I was sick on the trip down to Bermuda and back they decided to try me for one more week of waitering. I was better on the second trip but still had nausea. Mr Atkinson told me to report to the Switchboard and -poof- I became a switchboard operator. This was much better for me as the switchboard was right in the middle of all the passenger activities.

    As Lily Tomlin's doppelganger I normally did well. (That's one ringy dingy) Except for one day when we arrived back in NYC (at Pier 95). When we arrived back in New York we would always be hooked up manually to a line to shore. At other times only radio calls could reach the ship. Now, I had no idea about phone numbers in New York which in those times had prefixes such as Havemeyer or Plaza or Neimeyer. So when a senior officer asked me to call his wife at his home in NYC he said "Ring any21234 for me and get my wife" Well, I tried any 2(any 2 numbers)
    And of course it didn't work. He came by again and repeated his request saying the number very carefully. Again I failed even though I varied the any two first numbers several times. Finally, another operator came by and clued me in that any2 was really Neimeyer or NE2.............oooh!

    One night at sea I was on the switchboard when a radio call came through asking for ME. It was my sister in NYC telling me we needed to return to England rapidly upon arrival because of the health of my father.

    I had just about finished paying off the debt I owed for the trip out to America and now we had to return to England. Because my sister worked for Alitalia we got cheap tickets somehow. Don't ask; I didn't. I had enough for the one-way plane ticket and a bit more to spare.

    We were supposed to leave at 8pm on BOAC from Idlewild but the plane returned to the gate three times with mechanical problems and we finally left after midnight on the 14th June. We landed at Heathrow and that was the first time I had ever been to London. A bus over to Euston and a train to Runcorn. Next day my sister went to see Dad in hospital in Warrington; it was deemed unwise for me to go too as Dad would figure something was up. Do you believe it? Anyway he died the next day Monday the 16th and I never saw him again.

    The next installment later.

    Monday, March 3, 2008

    Significant Date #1

    A posting Steph made brought to mind the significance of Nones Martius and perhaps even slightly moreso the pridie Ides Martius. (This is the Roman way of saying 7 March and 14 March) For it was on those days in 1958 that I left Liverpool and a week later landed in NYC.
    The ship was named RMS Sylvania and here is a little snippet about her. She was the last one of 4 liners built for Cunard to serve the UK to Canada and U.S. routes.
    'The fourth of the series, Sylvania, became the last Cunard Liner designed exclusively for North Atlantic trade. These ships were typical of the many new passenger liners built in their day, having excellent passenger facilities, as well as having a large cargo capacity. Each vessel had three holds forward, and three holds aft. The Saxonia Class Liners were revolutionary for their day, as they were the first liners ever built, with tourist class occupying the majority of the ship, offering greatly improved comforts. As example, the Royal Mail Ship Carinthia carried 154 to 174 First Class, and 682 to 714 Tourist Class passengers. They were placed on the Liverpool, St Lawrence route to Quebec City, and Montreal, Canada. Then, during the winter months, they were rerouted to the Liverpool, Cobh, Halifax to New York service. '

    I was seasick the entire week and, unable to eat for most of the voyage I was pretty unhappy. The ship left Liverpool late in the afternoon that Friday and went overnight to Cobh (Cork) on the south tip of Ireland. It was there for only 8 hours or so. A very nice young man named Andrew Kelly got on. He had some shamrock with him that we put in the little well which was to catch water draining from the cabin's little porthole window. It was still doing well 7 days later when we got to NYC after another brief stop in Nova Scotia. Andy was a very nice young man about 4 years older than me.

    There was also a young Canadian who shared our cabin. He was a lumberjack in Canada and had made enough money felling trees that he was able to take time off during the harsh Canadian winter to travel to Europe. He was about 20 and had spent most of his savings by the time he was going home. On the first day out of Cobh he and I went halvsies on a WHOLE CARTON of fags. He went to get them and came back with Viceroy. Wouldn't have been my choice but they were cheap! After that expense I had only a ten shilling note and a florin ( 2s/0d ) that my girlfriend's sister had pushed into my hand as I left Runcorn station. That was a total of 12 bob which would be about close to $2 then.

    There was also an older guy (40 or so) from England who was assigned to the same cabin. So, there were 4 strangers sharing the room. The cost for the trip was 62 pounds which would have been about <$190. I just recalled as I was thinking about this that at the end of the week I gave my room steward the 10 shilling note as a tip with my apologies that I couldn't give him more.
    " No problem son," he said, " I understand, and maybe you'll be able to do better in the future" Mmnn, maybe.

    I had a suitcase under my bunk that had nothing much else in it but my pajamas. My Mum had insisted on me having pajamas and she had purchased them just before my journey was to begin. At the end of the week the suitcase was full of fruit. Because, although not feeling well, for almost every meal I went to the dining room and tried to get over the bilious feeling. Usually I would push the food away and since I could eat hardly anything I thought I should take something back to the cabin with me..... fruit. My suitcase was almost full after seven days. However upon arrival in NYC the Customs agent on Pier 92 scoffed and chucked all my fruit into the Hudson River.

    It was cold as heck in the city- it snowed that week. My sister met me and we took a cab from the dock on 12th Ave to the subway on Eighth Ave. The E train. We went to her apartment in Rego Park Queens and I was introduced to life in America. Not a bad place (after all it had my name as part of its). I became accustomed to TV being on for most of the day and half the night, unlike in England where it was only on for a relatively few hours daily. The Late Show. The Late Late Show. Pizza slices at 15 cents each. Ice cream sundaes and floats. Malts. White Castle hamburgers at 12cents each. I remember I weighed 145 pounds and my waist was 32 inches. Oy Vey.

    Baseball and Ballantine,Schaeffer, Rheingold..all 99 cents a six pack...........Whoah Baby!