Monday, March 30, 2009

25 Writers That I Love

My bloggy pal Regina, tagged me with this meme about three weeks ago and I’m finally getting around to posting it. Sorry it took so long Regina…thanks so much for tagging me. (smile) This was a fun meme. And hey, please stop by and visit Regina, she has a great blog.

This tag was to list 25 writers who have influenced me. I had to have a think on this one. I have always loved reading. Since I was a little girl, books have provided shelter for me when life has been tough, opened my eyes to many things in life, and helped my imagination soar. Each writer on my list has influenced me in some way. Some of these writers I discovered when I was a girl and they’ve stayed favorites into my womanhood; and some writers I’ve discovered or come to love as I’ve matured. All of them are brilliant to me and have lighted my path in some way, whether in a profound way or just for the simple joy of reading.

Without further ado, here’s my list, in no particular order:

1. Alice Walker
2. Toni Morrison
3. Agatha Christie
4. Dorothy West
5. Zora Neale Hurston
6. Judy Blume
7. Mary Higgins Clark
8. Edgar Allan Poe
9. Dan Brown
10. Virginia Woolf
11. Eckhart Tolle
12. Stephen King
13. Alex Haley
14. Maya Angelou
15. Langston Hughes
16. Lorraine Hansberry
17. Emily Bronte
18. Charles Dickens
19. Harper Lee
20. Carolyn Keene
21. Lalita Tademy
22. James Baldwin
23. Jane Austen
24. Mark Twain
25. Pearl Cleage

As I mentioned before, this list is in no particular order. However, it’s very fortunate that Ms. Cleage’s name came at #25. I have a personal anecdote to tell about her. I love her writing and so a friend and I went to see her do a reading in Atlanta a few years ago. Ms. Cleage was delightful and I kept thinking at the time…she looks like some of my relatives (smile) and I’d love to be a writer like her. Well, after the reading, I had a chance to meet her and she autographed my copy of her book. She was lovely to me. The crowd wasn’t huge so I had time to talk with her briefly and she gave me the great advice to just keep writing and to tell the truth. That stuck with me and so I try to carry on in that vein. I would love to be a published author one day like her and all the others on this list…maybe one day (smile)

Anyway, I really enjoyed this meme. So now I will pass it on to all of you. Please consider yourself tagged if you would like to participate (smile) I’d love to see your lists.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Special Request

I was asked by Lyn, one of my readers, to share the name of where Brit Boy and I went last Friday. She grew up in Oxfordshire, which isn’t far from where we live, and she was interested in finding out where the garden centre was located. I think it's cool that she grew up not far from where I live now and she lives in Florida which is right next to Georgia where I come from. It's a small world. (smile) Well, this one’s for you Lyn, in the spirit of full disclosure (smile). The garden centre is a place called Dobbies and it is located on the outer edges of Cirencester…in the Cotswolds. I really love going there. They have a little bit of everything. The building where they are located was repurposed from a former factory and given its current barn ambiance. I love that.

It’s a nice place to visit on a spring or summer day :-)

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Dad and The Arrival of Spring

Today has been such a beautiful day. The sun is shining and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. What a way to welcome spring. Today has been a day to enjoy for its beauty and also for me, today has been one to take a look back.

Brit Boy had to go and see a client today and I went along for the ride. We decided last night to make a day out of it. So after he finished his work, we took a drive over to the Cotswolds. We went to that garden centre that I’ve mentioned here before in a very early post. It felt like one of those full circle days since we haven’t gone there for roughly a year since I began my blog. It was nice to go back. I always like going there because the place reminds me of a huge barn and they have gorgeous flowers of every description. They also have beautiful garden furniture, gazebos, and a wide variety of ornamental garden stuff. And then they have all kinds of neat gifty stuff and they have a nice open cafĂ© there that serves hot and cold food. It’s just a neat place. Anyway, we went by there to get a gift for Brit Boy’s mom. And while we were there we took a look around and had something to eat. I love it when Brit Boy and I have time like this together.

After we ate, we took a good look around. Then I was stopped in my tracks. They have a section with old-fashioned candies and there on a stand was a colorful array of huge lollipops. I used to LOVE these when I was a little girl and I haven’t seen any of them in a long time. The thing is, it was great to see something from my childhood, but what really touched my spirit was that my dad used to buy those for me when I was little. Here’s where I got goose bumps. Today marks the day thirty years ago when my dad passed away. So when I saw these lollipops, I took it as a sign from my dad…like he was saying, “I’m never too far away”. I smiled when I saw them and it brightened my day and lifted my spirits. What a beautiful moment. I would love to talk to him as an adult since I was a child when he passed away, but over the years I’ve found a certain amount of peace and I keep good thoughts of him and my mom in my mind. I loved the lollipop so much that I had to buy one (smile). Here it is.




As we were driving out of the parking lot, I snapped this photo of a wicker type man they have out front. He is very earthy looking…don’t you think? I love him.




And also I took a picture of a lovely spot on the way back home. All of the daffodils and trees are blooming out.




When we got home, we went out into our backyard and I took some photos of our pretty little flowers that are coming alive. We planted these bulbs back in the dead of winter and now they are showing off all of their colorful beauty and they are the essence of life.




So as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, today was a day of the beautiful, the bittersweet, the joyous, and things came full circle. Even though this is the anniversary of the day when my father passed, all that I could feel was the joy in the fact that he had lived and he was my dad and he loved me and I loved him. I’m reminded that there is joy in life around us every day and through me and my siblings…my parents live on :-)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring-like Weekend Viewing

I had a nice weekend. It was rather spring-like and it was so good to see the sun. (smile) The hubby and I hung out around home mostly. We went into town on Saturday to pick up a few things. We hadn’t been to town in a while. It was good to see what was going on locally. Then we came back home and hung out some more.

On Sunday, we continued our hang out fest. The weather just kept getting better and we both couldn’t believe how it lifts the spirits. In the afternoon we decided to watch a movie, a retro movie that I’ve always wanted to see, but never got around to. It was The Eyes of Laura Mars with Faye Dunaway and Tommy Lee Jones from 1978. It was just one of those movies that I would see listed over the years on TV, and wondered about. I remember seeing it advertised when I was a kid. So I was intrigued. (smile) Anyway, we enjoyed it quite a lot. It was very 70’s and very hip for the times. It was good in a campy, wonderful way. If you haven’t seen it, it was about a photographer who sees crimes committed in visions, as if she is seeing through the killer’s eyes. What really intrigued me though was the soundtrack. I remember my older sister playing many of those songs on the stereo when I was growing up. So it was a cool blast from the past. (smile) Brit Boy and I danced along when every song came up. LOL.

Later, on Sunday evening, we watched something really great on the BBC called The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. It is a BBC and HBO co-production and will be shown here and back home in the US. It is brilliant and stars the radiant Jill Scott in the lead as detective Mma Precious Ramotswe. She brings such true warmth and spirit to this role and I just love this series. Jill Scott is already one of my favorite singers and now she is proving herself as a wonderful actress. Her singing voice reminds me of warm honey…so full and divine.

The series is based on the novels by Alexander McCall Smith, about the lady detective and her assistant, played by Tony award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose. It is set in Botswana and gives a fresh view of the continent of Africa. It has a wonderful vibe and both Hubby and I just love it. The series continues over five more episodes. A previous one-off episode was shown around Easter here last year and it was a great success. So I was so glad to hear that they were making more of these stories.

As I mentioned, it is being shown here on the BBC and back home on HBO, so if you get the chance, please check it out.

All in all, the weekend was a great preview of spring and we got to see some good TV :-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Tina Turner Concert

I’ve come back to Earth now, so I can tell you about our trip to London to see Tina Turner. (smile) I have been hyped up for a couple of days now. And today I’m finally able to sit still and write a bit about it.

We took the train into London on Sunday morning. I love the train. It’s so much quicker and it’s just a nice way to travel. You get to see the countryside which I love and there are no traffic jams (smile) We arrived at Paddington Station a bit after noon. Before we left the station, we took a walk into the bookstore/newsstand. It’s always fun to see what they have in there. They have little Paddington Bears. They are so cute.

After our look around, we headed for the tube. We rode over to Victoria Station and had lunch at this great pizza place. I can’t remember the name, but we ate there before and it’s just really good. Our waiter was really nice and we got served very quickly. I love that place.

Then we decided to hop back on the tube and headed for our hotel. We timed it just right because by the time we got there, we were able to check into our room. We rested for a while and then got dressed and headed to the O2 for the concert.

Let me tell you, the Tina Turner concert was AMAZING!!!! Ms. Turner was like a force of nature. I have always loved her, but I was totally blown away at how amazing of a performer she is.

She sang all of her hits and everything else, such as… “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, “The Best”, “Proud Mary”, “Golden Eye”, “Addicted to Love”, “Let’s Stay Together”, “Nutbush City Limits”, “River Deep Mountain High”, “Private Dancer”, “We Don’t Need Another Hero”, and so many more.

She REALLY put on a proper show. She had at least six costume changes and was just beautiful in every outfit from long gowns that broke away to mini dresses that showed off her beautiful timeless legs.

The stage was set up with a catwalk across the back and her band played underneath that and the backup singers stood there too. Ms. Turner’s dancers came out all slinky and fabulous along the catwalk and down the stairs on either side. Then Ms. Tina made her entrance. She walked out on the top of the catwalk and her outline was illuminated by this bright light and then you saw her come into view as she stepped out onto a pedestal and was lowered down to the stage as she sang. My first thought was, wow, she is not afraid of heights. LOL. The height was quite a few feet. What an entrance! (smile)

When she sang “We Don’t Need Another Hero”, she got dressed in her outfit from the Mad Max movie and amazingly she looks very much the same as she did back then. And when she sang “Golden Eye” from the James Bond film, she came out onto the top of the catwalk through the golden eye emblem that twisted open and she stepped through. Brit Boy and I were amazed at the production value of her show. You can tell she comes from a generation of performers who REALLY can put on a show. I love the song “I Don’t Wanna Fight”. She didn’t sing this one, but during this point of the show, they showed a montage of her career as this song played and it went back to her days with Ike right up until today. It really illustrated to me what an amazing survivor she is and I just loved it.

One of my other favorite moments was when she sang “What’s Love Got To Do With It”. She had on her little red dress and her heels and she strutted across that stage like nobody’s business. This was probably my favorite moment. She just owned it. And she just worked it out on "Proud Mary"...wow!!!! (smile) Tina did her thing!

Later in the show, she did another bit where I was amazed at her not fearing heights. The stage had this arm with a catwalk and a basket with railing on the end. So she goes to this basket as she sings and the arm swings out into the audience over everyone’s head. She leaned over the edge several times and I held my breath. LOL. And then I realized that this woman is truly in charge of herself and free. She just goes for it! (smile) I admire her so much and I want to be like that….moving forward and truly, truly enjoying every minute.

Then after her being in the basket, she ran back across the catwalk towards the stage and then back to the basket and was singing and doing this all in 4 inch heels! (smile)

I can say that I was just enthralled by her and just couldn’t get enough of watching this amazing woman. She said early on in the concert that she had a bit of a cold and might not be her full self, but you couldn’t even tell. And this left me wondering, if that wasn’t her 100% performance, then what must that be like because she was full on Tina the whole time it seemed. (smile) She danced along with her dancers and sang full force and she left me winded just watching her. She never looked out of breath. I know I keep saying it, but she was amazing!!!!

Both Brit Boy and I loved the show. And I came away inspired. She reminded me that life is meant to be lived with gusto. There is beauty in being strong and assured and to love what you are doing. I think this is part of her secret. You can tell that performing is her passion. What a wonderful night we had! :-)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

International Women's Day & Tina Turner

Tomorrow Brit Boy and I are headed to London. We are going to the Tina Turner concert and we are excited. We bought these tickets several months ago. I’ve always wanted to see her because I just love how strong she seems and how she just does her own thing. She’s one of those artists that you sort of put on your list to see and hope that you get the chance to have the experience. When the tickets went on sale many months ago, we didn’t know if we had a chance, but me being me, I just tried (smile)

One Sunday, I was upstairs on the computer and Brit Boy was downstairs and I saw her video on a 80s countdown I was watching on TV. Then I started to wonder if there were any tickets still left for one of her shows. The tickets had gone on sale days before. So I just hopped on over to check it out and lo and behold there were some nosebleed seats available and they were cheaper so it was a win-win. So we bought a couple of tickets and we’ve been waiting all of these months for our Tina experience (smile)

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day and I can’t think of a better day to see a legendary woman like Tina Turner. She has come through so much in her life and is now living her life on her own terms and I admire her so much. So as I’m dancing around in the cheap seats tomorrow night, I’ll be watching this woman who is a survivor.

And please check out the link on International Women’s Day, there is so much there to support, to cheer on, and to celebrate. I guess that you can tell this is something I really care about because I put two links (smile) Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

My First Blogoversary

Today is my 1st blogoversary! When I started this blog a year ago, I had no idea how much I was going to love going on this journey. As I’ve written before, this blog came along at a time in my life when I needed an outlet and it has been a great catalyst in my life. I’ve also been able to connect with some fantastic people from all around the world. I’m a Georgia girl, who came across the Atlantic and settled in England, and then kept traveling around the world everyday on this magic carpet that we call the blogosphere. I've met some great friends. What a ride! (smile)

During this past year, I have had lots of fun along with some low points, but in the end, it’s all been great to look back on the highs and lows. And it’s all been great to experience it all alongside my hubby Brit Boy.

Here are some of the things that I experienced and enjoyed sharing here on my blog during this first year of blogging:

April 2008 - I got my unlimited leave to remain visa, which allows me to settle here and that was a wonderful step. We celebrated our wedding anniversary and the visa by going to see the play “Speed the Plow” starring Jeff Goldblum & Kevin Spacey.

June 2008 – We went to Wimbledon... what a thrill that was. We attended the Nelson Mandela birthday concert and we were able to see him speak briefly which was very moving.

August 2008 – We went to the Madonna concert in Wales.

September 2008 – We went to the Stevie Wonder concert. He was amazing! Stevie Wonder is Brit Boy’s favorite singer, so my hubby’s grin was a mile wide during the concert (smile)

October 2008 – I was in the thick of trying to get my absentee ballot in for the election and after many attempts I got it in. This showed me that I have more persistence than I ever imagined. LOL.

December 2008 – We went to the Simply Red concert. And at the tail end of the month, I had my visit to the US Embassy and it turned out well. On that day, Brit Boy and I got separated twice and found each other again, but I discovered for the first time since I’ve been here that I’m still able to take care of myself. And that was a great turning point for me, since I’ve relied so heavily on my husband since I’ve been here. I loved that day! (smile)

Since the start of 2009, the big events have slowed down a bit, but it’s still been fun to share my life experiences with all of you my dear readers and commenters who make my day when you come to visit me. So I want to say a big thank you to you all!!!! (smile) This blog wouldn’t be what it is without you all. And thank you to all of my fellow bloggers for welcoming me into this world….what a pleasure!

When I looked back in order to write this post, I instantly had this song from the musical Rent in my head. I love this song and it makes me joyous because it celebrates what one year of life can be, even when we go through hard times here and there. So I hope you enjoy it and thanks to you all for supporting me…and I reciprocate that support in return…always! (smile)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Party Update

Well, the party turned out....um...bad, let's say. We stayed for a while and put in an appearance and then made our excuses and got out of there. The former sister-in-law had a friend there who was a total jerk who kept popping up and the best part is that we'll NEVER have to see him again. LOL. In the end, the birthday honoree had a good time, so I'm glad of that :-)

Brit Boy and I raced each other to get out of there. LOL. Brit Boy and I did save the night by coming home and having our own party, complete with drinks and snacks. Now that's our kind of party :-)