Anything you can do I can do better

Irving Berlin wrote the song for the musical “Annie Get your Gun”, but I find  this video featuring the Chipmunks (courtesy ktCATSbone ) encapsulates the sentiments in a more meaningful, more relevant manner for today’s audiences.

Yes, Anything you can do I can do better has been a way of life for my family as long as  I can remember. Originally my daughter, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild was the one trying to keep up with her older brother, The Obnoxious One.

Anything you can do I can do better
I can do anything better than you

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No you can’t

She tried to outdo him on everything, like Halloween costumes

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except I clearly won as the Wicked Witch 😉

and then declared she loved Killer, the dog, way more than he did.

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poor Killer doesn’t look too thrilled with either

My kids tried to outdo each other while on a beach vacation for the prize of silliest-looking and the best skin (after the mask).

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three-way tie

 

As they grew older their antics didn’t stop – just morphed into bigger and more ridiculous sibling rivalry.

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courtesy iclipart.com

They competed to see:

who was the loudest and most obnoxious? – usually my son, The Obnoxious One but sometimes my dear darling hubby, The Original Obnoxious One won the hotly contested battle

who was the weirdest? – definitely my daughter, The HIppie-Dippie Wildchild

who had the better worst tattoo? –  my son’s was totally overshadowed

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The Obnoxious One’s Tattoo

by my daughter’s, much to my dismay as I am SO not a fan of tattoos.  Sorry folks.

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this tattoo was originally just the phrase from “Dear Prudence”, until she added the tiny sun. Sigh.

And food? When The Obnoxious One came home for the summer after his second year of university with severe sensitivities to gluten and dairy, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild just had to become vegetarian and ultimately vegan to differentiate herself and outdo her brother. Preparing a healthy meal for the four of us became such a Herculean feat that I soon gave up – and cooked only for my hubby and I. After all, we’ll eat just about anything as long as it’s spicy and fresh and flavourful and homemade and …

By the way, after feeling sluggish and generally lousy for many, many months, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild finally succumbed to eating seafood a couple weeks ago, and even some meat. Hallelujah!! ‘Cause it’s kinda tough being a healthy, energetic vegetarian, let alone vegan, if one doesn’t eat beans or nuts.

At all.

The latest? Years of competition, heated debates and massive arguments have been replaced with a bare-bones tolerance, a delicate truce between The Obnoxious One and the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild.  Almost. Although I never know when it will blow up completely

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courtesy iclipart.com

and utterly.

But for now they seem to have found a new source of “fun”, a new opportunity to show off.  Now they compete to see who can buy the most ridiculous, most useless present for their dad,  a conservative business lawyer and senior partner with one of the largest law firms in CanadaAs mentioned in Our Very Own Goddess of Green, for Christmas the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild made a generous donation on his behalf to the British Hen Welfare Trust .  The Original Obnoxious One is now the very proud sponsor of Sky and Sparkle, two thankful British hens who are enjoying the great outdoors for the first time ever .british hen stuff

This lovely donation is the gift that won’t stop giving, because every couple of months he receives something quite lovely, such as this beautiful notebook and two charming greeting cards

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and this fascinating update on Sky and Sparkle’s return to health and happiness

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aren’t they handsome hens!

as well as this informative magazine.

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I do have to wonder though if the postage to send these fine items from the UK all the way to Vancouver BC costs more than the original donation amount?!

For Father’s Day not only did my son The Obnoxious One come home for a great 10 day visit from London, England (first time we saw him since Christmas), but he managed to snag a delightful Father’s Day gift for The Original Obnoxious One. This gift was so thoughtful and so relevant that the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild just couldn’t resist checking it out herself.

 

At the end of the day I just can’t imagine why my children are so competitive and try so hard to outdo each other. Perhaps it’s in their genes. Way, way back in the Dark Ages their father and I met at university in a second year Philosophy class in Logic. Every week the prof gave us quizzes and of course we always checked to see who received the better mark.

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I did of course!

Really!

 

When I’m Sixty-Four

I’ve been obsessing over numbers lately. Yes, it’s a C.P.A. thing (my other profession), it’s tax time, and it’s also spring.  You see during the past month or so:

  • my dad celebrated his 82nd birthday

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  • my son turned 23 far away in London-town during exams

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  • my daughter, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild,  much to our horror became legal everywhere when she turned 21
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courtesy iclipart.com

  • my husband, The Original Obnoxious One, reached the grand old age of 55IMG_0415
  • and my hubby and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary
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courtesy iclipart.com

So I am feeling rather tired from all that celebrating and a little…ancient.

 

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?

Also The Original Obnoxious One and I saw Sir Paul McCartney in concert when he passed through Vancouver in late April. There was a lot of press and social media about the fact that Sir Paul is 73 – for good reason.

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courtesy thebeatles.com

He was incredibly energetic and funny and warm and of course, a Musical Super-Power. I’ve never seen him in concert before so this was quite the thrilling experience for me. A great big tick off the old bucket list.

But back to the ageing thing.

When I get older, losing my hair
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine,
birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

About 18 years ago I had laser eye surgery; I was extremely near-sighted so afterwards this meant I could see clocks and computer screens and drive without peering through 3 inch thick lenses . It totally changed my life for quite awhile.

But then I turned 50 – ouch.  I actually needed reading glasses – purchased from the local drug store – to read the newspaper at night. And then during the day. And then to read anything at all. But I’m not the only one.

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The Original Obnoxious One and Franklinstein

And I even have bifocal sunglasses for reading outside!

Sigh.

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Shhh! Don’t tell anyone those are reading sunglasses.

Recently while walking Franklinstein in the woods not far from where we live, I ran into an old colleague, a girl from back in my C.P.A. articling days. We walked and hiked together, chatted up a storm.When I whined about turning older and becoming near-sighted, her response was:

Look Rita. Yes, I need reading glasses too but here’s the thing. In the morning when I get up and look in the mirror (sans glasses) I think I look amazing – no wrinkles, no grey hair on my head and no hair on my legs.All is good!

Of course the reality is just a wee bit different.

My friend does have a few wrinkles – after-all she has 2 boys roughly the same age as my kids and has been married for almost 30 years. She does have quite a number of grey hairs on her head as her hair is naturally quite dark and she doesn’t dye it. And she does use reading glasses for absolutely everything.

So then I felt a bit better – someone else was suffering just like me!

You’ll be older too.
Ah, and if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

Except I don’t have the issue of grey hair, because I have very expensive blonde highlights in my mousey brown baby-fine hair. Hairy legs – shockingly yes whenever I put on my glasses and look at them. Otherwise who knows?!

And the drug store near me carries all kinds of cool and colourful reading glasses for folks like me – I should know because at any given time I have at least 4 at the house. One pair for upstairs, one pair for downstairs, one sturdy  pair for reading in bed and one floater pair.

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courtesy peepers.com

And by the way,  The Original Obnoxious One also has several pairs of readers lying around the house, and at the office and in his gym bag, and in his briefcase.

Most of the time I don’t really think about the whole aging thing. I’m active –  I walk Franklinstein whatever the weather and we dance together regularly,IMG_1431 (Edited)

I do Pilates, I  eat healthy for the most part and I smile. A Lot. Except when I don’t. Like when I’m reading or concentrating or writing. That’s when The  Original Obnoxious One lets loose with his own unique brand of obnoxiousness.

Each and every evening.

Rita, what’s wrong? Smile! You look sad..or miserable..or angry. Be happy!

Here’s the thing. Nine times out of ten I am happy. I’m not miserable or sad or even angry – unless someone in my family did something incredibly stupid.

Again. You know who you are!

But l do have wrinkles (a couple)  and gravity does weird things to my face.

Okay, I confess, I have RBF – Resting Bitch Face.

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RBF

Get over it!

Really!

 

Lyrics of When I’m Sixty Four courtesy thebeatles.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London Calling

Last summer when our kids came home from university to work and study, Vancouver had one of the driest, warmest summers in recent memory or at least in my recent memory. And my son, the Obnoxious One, took full advantage, burning the candle at both ends all summer long.

Perhaps it was the serious health scare with his grandmother and then father. Perhaps it was because he and his long term girlfriend broke up, or the fact that he graduated with a BA in History after 4 years of partying university.  The day after he arrived home he started the prep course for the Law School entrance exam and attended  5-6 days a week, 7 hours a day, and completed all the homework assignments and test, which was pretty amazing!

Regardless, he still plunged himself into every activity known to man, work-wise, sports-wise and fun-wise.

He started with the same boutique law firm he had worked at the previous two summers.557682_334349746677236_966526195_n-001

He and his dad took a number of Scuba Diving lessons with the hope of becoming certified,

 

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courtesy iclipart.com

which unfortunately didn’t quite work out, but that’s another story.

 

He attempted Kiteboarding at Squamish with a couple buddies and lived to tell about it, more or less.boys kite sailing

He bought and enjoyed a couple paddle boards for he and his friends and paddled all over Howe Sound. Apparently one of the paddle boards was for me, (the great big wide beginner one) but I have yet to check out its charms.

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courtesy  seatoskyadventurecompany.com

He went kayaking down a steep concrete chute at Lions Bay with a couple super-crazy friends

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courtesy iclipart.com

and yes they ripped a hole in one of our plastic Costco kayaks although the Obnoxious One denies it to this day.

He attended the Pemberton Music Festival and…let’s just say he had a very good time.music festival

He climbed numerous mountains and fiorded numerous lakes and streams, kind of…hiking

But then the dog almost died and his best friend from high school did die.

It’s a hard thing for a mother, even this Terrible Awful Mother to watch her darling experience such pain at the tender age of 22. You may think that’s life, so suck it up. You may be right, but somewhere along the line that precious obnoxiousness that defines my son vanished and was replaced by a sea of tears, frustration, desperation and lots and lots of soul-searching. I encouraged him to seek a therapist and luckily he found one with whom he developed a great rapport – an expensive one but a wonderful one.

And gradually he put himself back together.

But he decided it was time for a change. For a number of reasons he decided Law School in Canada was not an option, so he did the unexpected – to me anyways! He applied to law school in London, England late in the summer and was accepted; he left in mid-September. Darn those  family trips when we drove all over Europe, exploring the sights and sounds and smells – he developed a far too-keen appreciation  for big cities and travel!Big-Ben-and-London-Bus

He found a place to live with a few friends who were just starting banking careers in London, and now he’s having a blast. And working very hard at school of course. A couple months after moving halfway around the world he sent me the following message:

“Mom, I’m so happy I moved to London – it’s been the best decision of my life !”

“So what is it that makes you so happy, darling? The energy? The architecture? The museums? ”

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courtesy britishmuseum.org

“The football (soccer for North Americans) and rugby games Mom – they’re brilliant! I even saw Jeremy Clarkson (his Obnoxious hero who was fired from Top Gear a year ago) sitting just across from me.chelsea football

And the pubs are pretty amazing too!”

Oh right. Of course. There’s a reason we call him the Obnoxious One.

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Really! But at least I’ll have a place to stay whenever I can afford to visit London, that is if he doesn’t spend too much in the meantime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Annus Horribilis

The Queen had hers way back in 1992 when Charles and Diana separated, a fire burned Windsor Castle castle almost  down to the ground, and the tabloids enjoyed themselves far too much reporting on royal antics.

I had just had my own annus horribilis this past year and a bit  – a truly terrible, really bad, horrible year. Yes, menopause was and is still a monstrous thing, and yes I broke a couple of fingernails, I earned several of large black and blue bruises and I even found a few grey hairs.

But you have to understand – I went from this:

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courtesy iclipart.com

to this practically overnight:

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courtesy iclipart.com

  • My mother who lives half-way across the country was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer  – tumors in her breast, lymph nodes and cancer in her hip and leg bones. A few months later she was also diagnosed with a brain tumor.
  • After suffering through multiple open houses and far too many  showings, we finally sold our beloved house of 12 years. Moving day proved to be a nightmare featuring stoned and scary-looking movers who damaged furniture, broke treasured mementos and left the old house with lights on, doors wide open, fridge full of food and valuables on the kitchen table. (And we even used one of the so-called top local moving companies – really! ) Because we were gluttons for punishment we lined up painters and carpenters and electricians and tile layers immediately and kept them busy for almost a year.
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courtesy iclipart.com

  • And while a fire didn’t almost destroy our place, we did experience more than our fair share of leaks and floods from the three toilets, the refrigerator, several windows, the roof, my son’s bedroom wall and of course the pool.
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courtesy iclipart.com

  • We sold and vacated our water-access-only cabin  which we had owned for almost 20 years and was a source of many wonderful family memories. It truly was a bittersweet moment.

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  • Due to my incredible lack of coordination I fell and cracked my ribs on the rocks by the ocean while shoveling dog dung into the ocean the day after Christmas; the ER was not the optimum spot to spend on Boxing Day.
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courtesy iclipart.com

  • My husband of 30 years, a corporate lawyer who generally works 60-80 hour weeks, became extremely ill and inexplicably weaker and weaker, spending at least 20 hours a day in bed.  He was no longer the Original Obnoxious One. After seeing 14 doctors and making 5 ER visits to 2 different hospitals he was finally diagnosed with heart disease and placed on 2 kinds of medication; then he suffered a mini-stroke and stayed in hospital for almost a week.
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courtesy iclipart.com

  • My son’s best friend from high school died very suddenly and unexpectedly this summer – my son, the Obnoxious One and he had been estranged the past couple years which somehow made the whole situation worse. The boy was a lovely sensitive and creative soul who lost his way.
  • In addition to dying her beautiful hair black with blue ends, and adding a couple more tattoos and piercings, my daughter developed several medical issues which  culminated in three lengthy hospital stays.
  • My 4 year old yellow lab nearly died as a result of ingesting a large amount of rat poison.
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courtesy iclipart.com

And when my husband and I took a much needed vacation for some rest and relaxation this past fall guess where we went – Jordan and Israel right when the 2015 stabbings and Wave of Terror began. Of course! Keep in mind that we live in boring little Canada where no one carries guns and people are way too polite most of the time. In fact, the most exciting thing that has happened to us in decades is the fact that the New York Times called us “hip” in  January 2016.

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courtesy iclipart.com

But…deep deep breath… I’m back. And I’ve cried enough tears and hosted enough personal pity-parties to last me for a very long time. So no more, besides, I’ve got stories to share.

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courtesy iclipart.com

Stay tuned.

Really!

 

It happened

It happened and it’s kept me really busy.

  • my son, the Obnoxious One, survived third year university more or less in one piece, turned 21 and arrived home two weeks ago; one internship fell through but another better opportunity may just work out this summer…we hope397566_10201028718439486_4699414364402152008_n
  • my daughter, the Weird One, returned home in early April from her first year of university abroad, with a nose ring, numerous other new piercings ( 7 in one ear and 5 in the other), ombre hair, and a dread lock; amazingly enough she landed a job at a local coffee shop with a little help and turned 19 a few days ago1622392_10153969194690204_2067224220_o
  • My husband, the Original Obnoxious One, and I flitted down to Laguna Beach for several days, made a quick trip to New York and then visited Vegas for the first time  – this little tree-loving hermit is still reeling from the overwhelming sights and sounds of Vegas, and yes, the Original Obnoxious One is an amazing photographerIMG_0352
  • our cabin is for sale again
  • we took our house off the market for a month, then re-listed it last week with a different agent
  • we’ve had 6 showings plus an open house and unfortunately the 3 houses we really liked are all sold, but we’re still hopeful there’s something out there for us1
  • my parents turned 80 and I planned a cruise to Alaska next month for them, myself, and my sister – I can hardly wait!

    courtesy celebritycruises.com

    courtesy celebritycruises.com

  • I took on the role of Treasurer for a very interesting and creative charity and for the first time in decades found myself mired in journal entries, adjusting journal entries, year end procedures and an Annual General Meeting

    courtesy iclipart.com

    courtesy iclipart.com

  • I polished off the second season of House of Cards in short order – gotta love Kevin Spacey!10306475_708054889217280_2568578375498721271_n
  • I finally joined the ranks of thousands and became enthralled with Downton Abbey, I consumed all 4 seasons in short order,and yes, I do have a love/hate relationship with Netflxacfc64e0226d90026cc0d53d5067d11b

Of course life goes on whether I blog about it or not. And one day, one day soon, an agent or publisher will call me and  The Trouble With Queenie will be published. It will happen.

But in the meantime my dear darling children are behaving more like they’re 4 and 6,Top-15rather than 19 and 21, with lots of screaming, slamming doors and unflushed toilets.

Never mind. Spring has arrived in the Pacific Northwest and the mountains and Franklinstein are calling my name. With any luck, the Obnoxious One and the Weird One will either kill each other or learn to get along. Frankly right now I don’t care which option they pick, as long as there’s progress.

Really!

A Tale of Two Sisters

Once upon a time there were two sisters who were nine years apart in age.  Even though they loved each other very much, they couldn’t be more different from one another.

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One had fine blond hair, while the other had curly dark brown hair.

One was average height, while the other was statuesque.

One excelled at school, particularly in English and Mathematics, while the other excelled at sports, especially in swimming and volleyball.

One was cautious and introverted and found solace in reading fiction, while the other was effervescent and gregarious and loved to hang out with friends.

One maintained virtually the same hair colour and style for over twenty years, while the other changed the colour and style of her hair on a monthly basis.

One pierced her ears as a teenager (just one hole in each lobe), while the other pierced each ear numerous times, and got a small tattoo or her ankle, followed fifteen years later by a larger one on her lower back.

One was determined to pursue a highly successful financial career, and the other set her sights on marrying the love of her life and being a stay-at-home mom.

One embraced a conservative outlook on life, while the other thrived on a seat-of the-pants approach.

One moved across the country to live on the wet West Coast, while the other moved to a subdivision within an hours drive of where they grew up.

Eventually each sister did get married and each sister did pursue a career, one in accounting and one in recreation therapy. Each sister had two children, a girl and a boy. As time went by, however, they traded aspirations, so that the conservative accountant became the stay-at-home mother and the outgoing athlete became the manager of many.

When the older sister’s daughter turned eighteen, and that daughter went to university far, far away, the older sister wondered: had the universe played a joke on the two sisters? After all, her crazy, charismatic, bohemian daughter had long brown hair (before she dyed it pink – yep, the latest!), numerous piercings (including a recent nose stud), a tattoo (still just one – fingers crossed), and desperately wanted to save the world from itself.1097285_10153091960670290_1898675884_o

The younger sister, meanwhile, had a daughter with blond hair, who was cautious and careful, who enjoyed the orderly nature of mathematics, the quiet pleasure of reading, and who lived for dance – jazz, ballet and hip-hop.527614_10151435117720084_1288564314_n

I think someone somewhere is laughing at us, big time. The good thing is …IMG_0933-001

we’re laughing right back. Really!

You can’t handle the truth!!!

You may remember that we entered a brand new era in my household. A hint that the universe was unfolding as it should. An indication that perhaps, just maybe,this Terrible Awful Mother had done an okay job raising her children. Yes, this summer both of my children friended me on Facebook. This took some trial and error on my part: learning that I should observe but not “like”, that I could read but not “comment”, that I could post photos but not tag. But just when I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it, disaster struck . In a most unlikely and unforeseen manner.

As my daughter , the WeirdOne, (recently the Demon Child) is spending her first year of university in the UK, various hoops needed to be jumped through, numerous forms needed to be filled out and several interviews needed to occur. However, paperwork and busy work and organization are not the Weird Ones forte; as a typical kid with ADHD, she thrives on creative and stimulating circumstances, bizarre friends from every walk of life, music, dancing and of course, chocolate and Nutella.

But give me a situation to analyze, criteria to review, paperwork to plough through….well those are things that this accountant can cope with. I may not thrive on them, but I can certainly handle them.
So it turns out that because the Weird One is spending more than six months in the UK, she needed a special visa. To obtain that, she had to fill out a number of forms and schedule a compulsory interview with the representative of the British consulate. I sent her a text confirming when this was happening.But a better time became available and I may have neglected forgotten to tell text inform her of the change. Maybe that’s one reason they call me the Terrible Awful Mother . The night before, I reminded my daughter and guess what happened: the Demon Child appeared in all her glory. And then some.

courtesy iclipart.com

courtesy iclipart.com

Apparently a very good friend of hers planned to get a tattoo at that particular time on that particular day and it was of the utmost importance that my daughter accompany her. The Weird One gave her word after all. My husband and I tried talking to her. We tried rationalizing the situation. We tried bribing her. And yes we yelled at her. Finally I threatened to contact her friend on Facebook and explain the situation. Turns out that was the last straw for the Demon Child.

“You are a Terrible Awful Mother! You can’t handle Facebook! You can’t handle the truth and you certainly can’t handle being my friend!”

And with a quick click that was it. Not only was I defriended but I was also blocked. Banned. Back to square one. Rats!

Half an hour later she informed me that she had spoken with her friend and that the timing of said tattoo had changed and that my daughter could now attend her interview. But I was still defriended and still blocked.

About a week later my status was reinstated and all was well once again.

So here’s the thing. Summer is now over and I am on route to the UK with the Weird One. Just the two of us. No husband, no son, no Franklinstein. We are spending 7 nights and 7 days together before I deliver her to the University. Will there be blood? Will there be casualties?
Only time will tell.

Stay tuned and wish me luck. Lots and lots and lots of luck.

Really!

P.S. I am posting on my iPad rather than my desktop computer, so feel like a total blogging newbie. Please bear with me. 🙂