Monthly Archives: February, 2014

Whatever next, a rhubarb festival, maybe?

Well, yes, it sounds crazy, but in fact, it already happens, for a few years now, in Wakefield, the town I visited today. In fact, the famous rhubarb festival was only last weekend, but, like Trans Pennine Express trains tend to do, I was running a bit late for that!

Rhubarb is actually more interesting than you think, and before you ask is it fruit, or is it vegetable, I’ll tell you the answer, its both! Over here, for some reason, its a vegetable, but in the US, its a fruit! Personally, I see it more as the latter, but anyway…

Its so famous over here, that Yorkshire forced rhubarb is one of those foods that has a protected designation from the EU! Even more so, if it comes from the famous Yorkshire triangle, I kid you not!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhubarb_Triangle

Forcing apparently keeps it sweeter (grown in heated dark sheds during the winter) which is pretty helpful, because on its own, its a pretty sharp taste! I only really know it cooked in pies, and crumbles, but as the video shows, it is useful in other ways too.

Oh, and one other fun connection, for me at least. Kansas State is probably the college I most root for in the US, and their sport teams are the Wildcats. Wakefield’s rugby team, yes, you’ve guessed it, are also the Wildcats!

For me though, my favourite thing about Wakefield, the wonderful charity shops there! For some reason, vintage, and vintage look clothing (more the latter, I suspect) seems to be plentiful over there, I have no idea why, but I am very grateful. To support my home town of Huddersfield, we too have some good charity shops, but beyond one, finding anything less than modern looking, is nigh impossible. So not hard to see why my shopping expeditions take me to Wakefield!;)

So, the next time you have rhubarb pie, just think, it might have been grown in a shed near me! Hope that thought doesnt put you off it!

I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 475 more!

Yes, I know, thats not quite the line in the song, but according to the Iditarod website, thats the distance those teams of dogs will be ‘walking’ this year. Thats right, on Saturday, the big parade in Anchorage, and then on Sunday, the real race starts, from Willow, to Nome. For the leaders, about 9-10 days, depending on conditions, for some, nearly a week more, in temperatures way below freezing!

This year, its the northern route, so the ghost town that the race is named after, will remain quiet and peaceful, until next year at least. Though even so, one or two of the checkpoints on this route have a population count of less than 1 anyway! These days, its hard to imagine somewhere going from being a thriving town, to no one, but thats the gold rush, and Alaskan weather for you!

The irony, given all the freezing weather, and snow that has been dumped on the main 48 states of the US this year, that at one point a few weeks back, the concern was whether there was enough snow out on the trails for the dogs to run. Eventually, just over a week ago, the call was yes, and the regular route will be run. In case you’re wondering, they were going to restart further north, from Fairbanks, and then eventually connect to the traditional route further along.

I know I’m not from that part of the world, but contemplating such a run is way beyond my comprehension. For some though, its a way of life, and I admire them for doing it. Doesnt mean that one day, I’d love to be in Alaska, at the beginning of March, and see them off though. Suspect it wont happen before I retire though, and by then, the marathon flight, and the cold might be too much for my old bones anyway! But for now, I can still dream, that one day…Would also be wonderful to see the finish at Nome, but suspect thats even more steps too far lol!

The video, yes, the clue is in the title for those old enough (like me) to remember it. A live version though, just for a change

One last thing before I let you go. One hero of the Iditarod wont be running this year, the multiple winner, Lance Mackey, because of health, principally dental issues. I know, I mentioned it a while back, and a few might have given then, but at this rather apt time, the link to his fundraising campaign is

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/3g2Dd

The end of the Winter Olympics, and Gibraltar issues

Well, pre Sochi, all the fuss was about Russia’s new ‘anti gay’ laws, and how they would effect the Olympic events. In all honesty, its been a bit of a damp squib really, despite certain countries (deliberately) sending diplomatic groups determined to say that, we are sending out all our LGBT celebrities, just to annoy you, Russia.

To be honest, what I’ve seen of the laws, the main thing Russia seemed to be concerned about, was grooming of youngsters, which I personally think is wrong, that everyone should be allowed to make their own choice, and not to make ‘anything’ homosexual illegal!

The irony I find in all this, was the British stance on the matter, because if they looked a little closer to home, they might decide to stay quiet about things. Gibraltar, so very British that you would assume their LGBT rules would match the UK. Wrong!

In fact, it took until 2011 before equality of the age of consent for gay males happened there. Work discrimination rules have been brought in, but for anything else, its under consideration, and will probably stay that way, as long as they can! As for transgender rights, oh please, dont go down that road. Putting it simply, it doesnt matter what you do, you cant change gender out there! So full sex change op, totally a true woman, but in the eyes of Gibraltar, sorry, you’re still a man!

How do I know all this? Well, a few years back, at work, the opportunity arose to move out to Gibraltar to work, when they decided to reshuffle (for want of a better word) the whole telebetting side of the firm. I wasnt really interested, but took a cursory glance, because if things were highly favourable, it might have been tempting to make a clean break, and start again. But, given it was just the opposite, I didnt take it any further. Of course the British government conveniently overlook this, and focus on Russia!

Of course, some folk have taken a look at the whole LGBT thing in Russia, and came up with a wonderful Canadian video, included in this next piece

As noted, some lugers werent impressed lol!

Oh, and one last amusing piece on Gibraltar. Today was the draw for the qualifying groups for Euro 2016 (Football), and for the first time, in the draw, Gibraltar. Firstly, the top seeds were drawn into groups, and Spain were drawn into Group C. Next to be drawn were the minnows, also known as the 6th seeded group, including Gibraltar. Guess which group they came out for, that they should have gone into? Yes, Group C! After a few, err, diplomatic words, they went into Group D instead. For anyone who doesnt understand why, try looking up Spain, and Gibraltar together on Google lol!

Added footnote, which I’ve just found. The first openly gay athlete to play in the ‘Big 4’ US sports.

http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24454370/report-jason-collins-expected-to-be-in-uniform-for-the-nets-tonight

he has played in the NBA for years, as the report says, but this is his first match since coming out. Good luck, Jason

Don’t like Jamaica, oh no, we love it!

Seems to be true for the Irish cricket team at least, again after last night, when they beat the West Indies in a 20 over match, at which they are the current World Cup holders!

The first time an Irish cricket team turned up in Jamaica, was 2007, at the 50 over World Cup, their first major event. For most, expectations weren’t high, and though I watched their first game against Zimbabwe, due to national loyalties. I didnt know an awful lot about them as a group. Lets just say that a few had interesting Irish accents, and leave it at that! Somehow, a tie was conjured up, in a stunning finish, and Ireland had gained a point in their first game.

Next, on St Patricks Day, was that game against Pakistan, that has now gone down in history for so many reasons! An Irish win, and all of a sudden, a bunch of part timers are in the Last 8 of the World Cup, against all expectations. Another win against Bangladesh, and the road to glory was truly being ridden.

Anyway, coming forward to now…As part of the build up to the next 20 over World Cup, Ireland have been in the West Indies getting in some preparation. To say the early results were a bit mixed, would be putting it mildly! But now, at the end of the tour, comes the big 3 matches, against the West Indies. Firstly, two 20 over matches, then a 50 over match on Sunday.

Well, the first of those matches was last night, and Ireland won! I only wish we could bring Sabina Park back to Dublin (or Belfast) and we could be unbeatable! The bowlers were brilliant, restricting the hosts to 116, which didnt look a major target. However, when we were 8-2 in reply, I was beginning to despair, but…Ed Joyce, Gary Wilson and Andrew Poynter turned things around, and led us to victory. Funnily enough, my shift at work ended at 10.00 last night, and the winning runs were scored literally seconds before that, so I knew we’d won before leaving for home, really proud. Hopefully, a repeat tomorrow night.

The video, yes, pretty obvious, isnt it? Live version from 2011, not the original

Oh, and an endpiece. I know its been a while since I really did a transgender issue, which I do like doing, so would love to know what you’d like to hear about. So, either comment here, or send me an email at stephmajor8@hotmail.com , and I’ll do my best to answer

Ace of hearts? Probably not!

Yes, we have come back to that famous day in the year, when everyone shows their love for that very special person, and I get nothing! Seriously, the last time I got a card, or anything for Valentines Day would be 1998! Since then, big blank. And no, I dont expect that to change this year either lol!

Though if someone wants to prove me wrong, with an ecard or something, feel free to do so, the address is stephmajor8@hotmail.com , just in case. Whats that? Ah well, never mind!

And even if there was some crazy person who wanted to wine and dine me tomorrow night, sorry, I’m working till 9.00, so forget it! Mind, I might be stuck in Leeds if the weather is really bad, in which case… 😉 Would have to be in work clothes though, no plans to wear a posh frock, and heels to work, I must say, not this weather!

I guess part of the problem might be that I make it pretty clear that me, and romance are not the best of friends. Been bruised too often in the past, and I guess ‘body issues’ may, or may not play a part in that too? I could be free Saturday night though, if you want to wine and dine me? What, not even if I pay my half of the bill? Oh well…lol 😛

Anyway, to all those happily in love, in relationships, I hope you have a wonderful day, and do all the right things. If like me, you’re single, survive it as best you can!

The video, one much under rated artist

Not all child stars go wrong!

And yes, this is a brief tribute to one of that band who died today, Shirley Temple, at the ripe old age of 85!

I’d love to say that the ‘road crash’ rate amongst young stars is a recent thing, but you only have to look back at the likes of Judy Garland to know thats not true. But in these days of mass media, the internet, social networking and things, it just gets out further, louder, and seemingly more disastrously for some.

Shirley started her career at the ripe old age of 3, and had retired from movies by the time she was 22, although the highs of her career had long since passed by then. Her peak was the mid to late 30’s, including the film that the video is from, interestingly what I assume is a colourised clip, because the film was definitely black and white!

No, not for her, the road haul of marriages, divorces and the like, she remained married for 54 years, until her husband died. Alright, fine, there was one brief marriage (a couple of years or so) a decade earlier, but on the whole, a pretty fine score.

Of course, for those of us of my age (and yes, I am getting on now, but not that old!), we dont so much remember the film career, other than on days like today when the news picks up on it, but the brief fling with politics, and her diplomatic career for the US. Thats right, Shirley Temple Black didnt just sit back, comment on the old days, and leave it at that, she developed a second career for herself.

But today, for the last time, the Good Ship Lollipop left port, taking her with it.

Thanks for everything, Shirley, and rest in peace.

Yes, the video is the obvious one, but in colour

Was I looking at the wrong decade?

When I had the photo shoot done last year, it wasnt just for vanity, though I must admit, it was great fun having it done. One of my main aims behind it, was to get a picture (or 2) that I could use as a guise for an author writing stories set in the 1920’s. And yes, at the time, I was trying to think of a blonde Louise Brooks, that cant be denied. Thankfully the hats used in the pictures did a very good job of hiding my lack of fringe, for such look. And yes, as some may have noticed, I’ve switched pictures here on my blog, to one of those as well.

What I wasnt expecting, was for a couple of people to point out that I did look like a film actress of the distant past, but not Brooksie! But, in all honesty, being compared to Jean Harlow is pretty flattering too. And hey, she is blonde, after all!…And pretty!

At the time, my suggestion was that some people needed an eye test, but in time, and with a couple more comments on the same line, I’m beginning to see their point! Mind, given she died at the tragically young age of 26, of kidney failure (far higher fatality rate back then), I can only claim to be a more mature version of her, surely? It does seem we both have had comparable success in our love lives, mind, in her short life she was married, and divorced 3 times! Whereas me, I just eschew the whole love thing!

No, I’m not planning on throwing out my 20’s style in my wardrobe, and hitting the 30’s, unless someone is offering to pay lol! 😛 But OK, I might stay blonde, and stick with the Jean Harlow look now, who knows? 😉

For those who havent a clue who I’m talking about, watch a piece of this video, and see some pictures of this pretty young woman, then look at my shots, and compare. I am happy to hear more opinions on the matter, thats for sure.

Oh, and now for that little piece of advertising. Yes, finally, a new book went up today, titled ‘The Life and Times of Belinda Nicholson, AKA Flapper Girl.’. Yes, its a super heroine story, set in the 1920’s, and features Belinda’s various scrapes and adventures, as a sassy young Flapper in River City. The cover looks like

BelindaNicholson-coverdesign

Already available at Smashwords, and Amazon, and Barnes and Noble have it too, just not published there yet. So, great value for just $2.99, if I say so myself! Links

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/406177 and https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00IAPGK6U

I’m sure that if you arent in this corner of the world, Amazon will soon direct you to the right place.

Got to pay your taxes!

Well, for forty years or so (just under, will hit that mark in October), I’ve been paying my taxes as a worker in the UK, both as man, and woman, not many get to say that bit, do they? But in the last 6 months or so, there has been a first, paying taxes to the US Government, albeit not very much so far. Why, royalties on book sales of course! One nice thing about the US taxes, all paid as a woman lol! 😛

Over here, every year, you get a form (P60, I believe?) that details all your tax details for the year, so you can see how much you have ‘generously donated’ to our Government, to help pay the bills. Or to help bail out the incompetent bank firms, but enough politics…

This morning, I had post from the US, my tax certificate for last year, showing how much I paid in US taxes. No, its not a great deal, I didnt start publishing until July, and therefore payments only started in September, but its a few dollars, all the same. No form to fill in, offering me citizenship in gratitude though, guess it wasnt enough lol? No, wouldnt have mattered how much it was, but anyway…

And yes, its my own fault I had to pay it, if I had sorted out a TIN number (Tax Identification Number?) when I was in the US, I could have had those few dollars as well, but I was having such a good time, I forgot! And equally, being honest, the cost of calling them from over here, to get it sorted out, would probably be more than my tax bill for the year! So no, not going to worry, just be a good ‘US citizen’ and continue to pay my taxes, as a good girl should. Just wasnt expecting the certificate really, but it makes for a nice souvenir, I guess?

So, if you want me to be an even better US citizen, and give them even more of my money in taxes, buy a few books, by Merry Brooks, please!:) I still get more than they do, lol!

The video, a tribute to those who get to pay far more in US taxes than I do, just hard to believe this song is 30 years old, thats all