Friday, November 29, 2013

And One That Didn't

Though he did go to a good home.

Meanwhile the most snow I've ever seen for Thanksgiving since I came to WNY, shows no sign of relenting.

From this......
 ... to this.. seems, in just a blink of an eye.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkeys in the Snow

The ones that got away? Happy Thanksgiving, lads!

Turkey Day Snowed Off?

Yikes - possibly!  That's what everyone around here is saying. Today's the biggest travelling day of the year in the US, in preparation of course, for Thanksgiving tomorrow and the east is blanketed in snow, with much more to come.

I heard the ominous sound of scraping this morning and saw hubby at his first shovelling session of the winter

Our guests coming from Ohio have cried off for today and hope to risk it tomorrow morning, when the weather forecast's marginally better. So they've managed to dodge the cooking but have promised to do the washing up. And we can all blame a certain young family member for praying fervently for snow all week so he can get on the bunny run at the ski resort.

He may be in luck. The ski resort is rubbing its collecting hands in glee. Open for Thanksgiving! Oh the sweet bleep of the cash register!

Some turkeys might be in luck too.

Monday, November 25, 2013

RIP Bill Foulkes

He of the "flabbergasting" winning goal for Manchester United against Real Madrid in the 1968 European Cup semi-final. Ah blessed memories!  He was the sort of dour, steady player people just took for granted and a defender of course, in the days when defenders knew their place. But that goal was arguably the most important in the club's history. Modestly, he said he'd just happened to be in the right place at the right time and got that perfect pass from Georgie Best. How to explain all  that to Americans? Hubby still can't get his head round the difference between the Premier League, the Champions League, the Capital One Cup, the FA Cup, the World Cup, oh, I don't know......And in a country where football players all have college degrees, they would find it puzzling that Bill was a former miner.
  He did, though, have some management stints in America - in Chicago, Tulsa and San Jose. I wonder what they thought of him?  Another sign of the times - he doggedly started playing again, taking on the team captaincy because there wasn't anyone else left who could do it, just a few days after surviving the 1958 Munich Air Crash. And he got no counselling. Those were the days.

Mobile Phones on Planes...

No, No! No!!, No!!!, NO!!!! NO!!!!, Pleeeeeease NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Aren't things miserable enough?  A platinum Flying Turkey, engraved and mounted, for the sadists, or, in hubby's favourite expression, miserable creeps, who want to bring that in!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Autumn Memories: Riding to the Pub

 I'm looking out of the window at the first, big, blasting blizzard of the winter. The wind's been howling, the trees bending and the snow falling. It doesn't take more than a few minutes for the weather to get serious around here.
  Time, I think, for some memories of a sunny autumn. On this particular day my friend Annie and I rode Ellie May and her daughter, Riis,  to the pub. We didn't actually hitch them outside, which would have made for a great photo but here they are in a friend's paddock.

Saddles off and enjoying a bite of their own lunch. Cognoscenti may notice the English saddle on the right - my obliging friend keeps it specially for me, as a I remain a stubborn purist.  I pulled her leg about the Confederate flag saddle-cloth, "So you're a racist redneck then?"
 "No I am not! (I can verify that), just a proud southerner!"  She hails from Alabama and we had an interesting conversation about self-determination.

It was a fabulous day, the hills still holding some autumn colours, apples still clinging to the trees to the great delight of the horses, the high meadows shimmering in the sun.  A day to sit outside in the beer garden, a day when you couldn't imagine winter just around the corner.

 Of course it wasn't really a pub in the English sense but it would do.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Western New York Idyll:November Walks

    It's getting colder and the "I wish I was in Florida!" vibes are kicking in. But there's a beauty to the bitter days here;  the lake at the top of our lane with patches of ice.

The dried, dead wildflowers.

The sudden tang of woodsmoke on the air and distant shots - it's deer season.Last week's early snowfall has almost gone - for now - though some still frosts the roadsides.

 and the shadier parts of the woods.

The beauty of the bare trees against the sky.

 And after the rain, a little waterfall.

 Some autumn gold still left

 And a deep silence

 The sun on the lane

 and vapour trails

 A bite in the air and a babbling brook

Were winter only always like this!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Poor Illinois

 My heart goes out to the people of towns like Washington, literally flattened by the weekend tornadoes.  To think that, last week, we were just a couple of hours south of there. Tornadoes are capricious, evil phenomena, sometime homing in on one side of a street and leaving the other intact, sometimes taking out just one lonely barn, sometimes striking  in the night, out in the countryside, so no one ever knows. Humbling, that the world's superpower is still powerless against the force of nature.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

And the Flying Turkey Goes To......

  Alas it's time to award another Flying Turkey Travel Award.   Let's begin with a little background. You and I have all travelled by air. And especially if you are American, you may well have changed planes at an American airport. So you will know how passengers changing planes at American airports feel. They are tired. They are frazzled. They are nervous. They are anxious. They are in a bad mood. And they are usually in a hurry, trying to make a connection. And since short American flights long ago stopped serving any kind of food, save pretzels, it's also fairly likely that they are hungry. So what does Detroit airport do? It gives you a long, long concourse with, admittedly on hurried inspection, just one eatery (not counting coffee and the Martini Bar.)
  But still you say to yourself, "Hooray! Burgers! Yummy burgers!"  You are starving. You have twenty minutes before you need to board your flight and burgers mean FAST food - don't they. You are not normally a fast food person but fast food, you say to yourself, has its place and this is it.
   So you enter the burger joint and you perceive a queue. You join the queue. After five minutes of confused standing, a helpful person behind youin the queue  mentions, "I think you have to go to one of those screens."  Screens? Ah yes. You go to the screen and you see lots of pictures. You have to tap the one you want. OK. Cheeseburger. Next. It gives you a pictorial cacophony of other options. No thanks. NEXT. It gives you a a dazzling selection of different drinks. No NO, you just want a cheeseburger. A nice, small, quick cheeseburger. Finally after a succession of different screens, you wearily reach the end. (Meanwhile the lady next to you is muttering, "this is the stupidest !@#$%& I've ever seen". Believe me, she ain't seen nothing yet.)
   Then you have to go and pay. So you join another queue. For the till. And you get a number. Except you're told your number very quickly and if you forget it and try to look on your receipt, you can't find it. Only people who've been to this place before know what to do ("It's the last two digits of this six-figure number - 34 - see?") But the thing is, most people passing through airports are by nature, er, passing through airports. They are not regulars. They need things simple.
   Then, once you've found your number, you have to wait. Wait until someone in the back of the shop cooks your burger and hands it through for embellishment to the poor girl manning the till (I hasten to add this is not her fault) who is doing her best, running back and forth alternately trying to give change and slop baked beans or chips or whatever on somebody's burger. You wait. And you wait. And you wait. The poor old lady in front of you has been waiting a very long time indeed. And behind you the queue is building up and more and more people are muttering, "This is the stupidest !@#$%&  I've ever seen". And the numbers are called in no sort of order so you don't know when you'll be lucky. This year, next year....
    And THEN when you finally get your burger (and the poor old lady still hasn't got hers by the time you get yours and she's number 31) you have to put all the stuff on it yourself - tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mustard,  whatever and they're all in different places, as are the drinks and then you finally say " to !@#$%&  with it"  and, covered in ketchup, you run for your flight, which is boarding, your hands full of an over large, cumbersome container that won't close and behind you, you hear the poor old lady saying politely, "Excuse me, I did order a coffee too..."
  So, step forward whoever invented this asinine system. The Flying Turkey Travel Award goes to you!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Through Illinois and Indiana

Southern Illinois, a world away from Chicago. A land of hidden lakes.We saw this one from the road and a friendly girl and her dog, "Lone Star", emerged from a wooden house by a tumbledown barn and invited us to get a better picture.

A land of autumn colours still vibrant, it being that much further south..

A land of big, big sky

A sunset fence in the grounds of  Hickory Lodge in Carbondale, erstwhile home of the Martin family and donated to become the offices of "Keep Carbondale Beautiful".  Much of the interior is a timewarp, untouched since 1976, including a bathroom with a chandelier, pink bath and dark brown wallpaper. I hope they never change it.

Down a country lane by the edge of a conservation area, a persimmon tree.

Previously, Persimmon to me meant Edward Vll's racehorse, not the odd, orange fruit, tasting of apricot and caramel, which is only ready to eat when it's fallen on the ground

Back to the airport and passing another lake, silver in the dawn.

Southern Illinois is a land of farms

That co-exist, seemingly in harmony, with working oil wells (so many fields had a pump, busily bobbing up and down) and tanks. Was that why a sign pointed to a village called "Texas City"?

Approaching a toll bridge over the Wabash River, though no one was collecting. The trailer says "Fun Finder". The mind boggles.

And into Indiana and the town of Mount Vernon,

With its war memorial

And exquisite courthouse.

So many of these all over America.

The sky is bright but the air ferociously cold. Winter is coming, even here.

Stating the Obvious

This, stuck to the headboard in our (otherwise perfectly nice) Southerm Illinois hotel.

Duh????  (or, as hubby commented, "I should *****ing well hope so!")

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In Which I am Disowned by Hubby

More travelling this Bank Holiday weekend and a family visit to southern Illinois. Sunday morning found me at Buffalo Airport, laptop on my knees, glued to Man United v. Arsenal. Being in a public place, I tried to muffle my shrieks of  "Oh No!" and "YESSSSSSSS!!!!"  but soon got some uncomprehending worried stares from the Americans around me. Hubby, looking increasingly embarrassed, mouthed, "It's OK, it's only a soccer game." and retreated to the bookshop. I was quite heartened, though, to hear another American voice behind me ask, "Is that the Man U-Arsenal game?"
"Yes!" I said.
 "Are you an Arsenal fan?"
"No I am not an Arsenal fan".
He relaxed visibly and asked, "Is the kid Adnan playing?"
"No, I fear not".
We spent a few minutes debating the relative defensive merits of Evans and Rafael and the too-frequent absence of Chicharito from the starting lineup. I invited him to join me for the second half but he suddenly remembered he had a plane to catch. Life is full of surprises. The glorious final whistle coincided with the return of poor hubby, who found himself crushed in an ecstatic hug.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Poppy Day

  Is not a concept much known to my American neighbours. "Oh how sweet, you and your husband are both wearing matching red flowers!" etc. I have to ask British friends to get poppies for me in London. There are Canadian poppies but they seem foreign, a different shape, stiff and velvetty. If Americans do have poppies, it's for Memorial Day in May, when those who died in action are commemorated - and they are small, more like buds, really and hard to come by.
   Americans don't have Remembrance Sunday - though they might play some patriotic music after Mass and sometimes it's My Country Tis of Thee, aka God Save the Queen and I'm the only one standing while everyone else is rushing out for coffee and doughnuts. November 11th, now called Veterans' Day, is observed as a public holiday and banks and some businesses are closed but it honours all military veterans, including those still living. Here, you could almost not know it's happening. Memorial Day came first, after the Civil War, Americans point out. But it's odd to have a sad day in May. November seems somehow more appropriate and it's one of those times when I really miss Britain.

Oh No!

The daisies of summer are white again.