Monday, 30 June 2014

Orange blossom

I went into our back yard in the early evening to photograph the blossom on our two orange trees:

Of the two trees, I photographed this one because it was receiving more sunlight.

However, when I took a close up picture of one of the flowers, I photographed the other tree's blossoms. The shade allowed my phone's camera to fully focus on the flowers.

Most of the blossoms are still on the trees but some of the petals have fallen, as can be seen here. Neither tree produces fruit, but their blossoms have a lovely scent.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

"Ghost" - Ella Henderson

This song reached number one on the British music charts in the past few weeks:

It's "Ghost"; it's by Ella Henderson and it's from her forthcoming debut album, Chapter One. Henderson first came to prominence in 2012 when she was a contestant and finalist on the ninth season of The X Factor. She was widely expected to win the season but ultimately came in sixth place. For the past month and a half, "Ghost" has been returning her to prominence.

It's a shame that she didn't win The X Factor, but somtimes the best people from talent shows are those who didn't win. I think that Henderson has a fantastic singing voice; I expect that we'll hear more from her soon.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Rude departure

I mentioned in yesterday's post that my brother hoped to attend a carnival today. Well, despite the damp weather, he did, and the carnival had a strong turnout. The parade traversed the town as per usual and then people went into the main recreation ground for the post-parade segment of the carnival. A history-related acting performance started sometime after the park opened.

Sadly, that part of the carnival was ruined. No, it wasn't the weather that ruined it nor was it the acting performance; rather it was the reaction of those in attendance that ruined it. My brother enjoyed the performance, but said that by the time it was over, more than 60% of the attendees had left; he watched people depart the park in droves as it went on...and the performance was only half an hour long. Worse yet, the sudden mass reduction in turnout then caused the carnival to end sooner than expected.

It annoys me when people do this! Unless the actors are being paid to perform at various across across Northamptonshire, it's most likely that they were all volunteers for the carnival; the hard work they put into their rehearsals was due to their care for the community rather than for monetary gain. The least people could have done was watch the performance, even if most of them had little interest in history or live acts; leaving the vicinity and causing the carnival to close early was deeply inconsiderate to both the actors and the remaining attendees.

My brother said that he otherwise enjoyed the carnival and that he deeply appreciated the performance. The act contained an anti-war message, as today is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which led to the start of World War I; because of this, I find it all the more despicable that people walked out.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Rain in June

Today has been one of those days when the weather cannot make up its mind. It rained in the morning, sprinkled in the early afternoon, was sunny for the rest of the afternoon and as I write this it's raining again; just a few minutes ago it was chucking it down! It was hot two days ago and there were clear blue skies over three days ago; the sky is now filled with dark rainclouds. What a change.

The raining is cooling the area down, which is good; we need the occasional rain in the summer since nearly all houses here don't have air conditioning and constant heat would be uncomfortable. At the same time, my brother will be attending a carnival tomorrow; I hope this weather will blow through so that the carnival won't be spoilt by the rain!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The second answer to "Who's on Heart" 2014

A second correct name has been guessed on "Who's on Heart" 2014! My brother was listening to Heart radio at 3:00pm today when a lady named Rhiana guessed Stevie Nicks (who, as we know, was the first guess), Ben Miller and Gethin Jones. Presenter Margherita Taylor announced that Rhiana had identified the second name and had won £20,000.

By process of elimination, my brother and I worked out that Ben Miller (I think it's this guy) was the correct guess: the player at 4:00 said that she had heard Rhiana's performance; as a result, she included Miller's name in her three guesses (remember, players need to say Nicks' and Miller's names - in addition to the correct third name - to win the £100,000) and Taylor confirmed that two of the names had been guessed before and were correct. Congratulations, Rhiana, for giving a correct answer and winning £20,000!

It's been over five months since Stevie Nicks was identified. Two down, one to go!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Matchbox Twenty correction

In the post I wrote two days ago about Matchbox Twenty, I mentioned that "If You're Gone" and "How Far We've Come" were the only songs of the band's that I could recall hearing. In the comments section for that post, my friend and fellow blogger Jessica linked me to another song of theirs: "Unwell".

I listened to the song and immediately realized that it wasn't two songs of theirs that I had heard: it's three. I had forgotten about "Unwell"; it was true at the time of the post that I could only remember two songs but I can now remember three. It is possible that I have heard another track of Matchbox Twenty's, but these three are most definitely the ones I can recall.

Thank you, Jessica, for inadvertently jogging my memory!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

White chocolate brownies

A few days ago, my brother and I baked a batch of white chocolate brownies:

These brownies weren't for me nor were they something we baked out of the blue. No, they were for a recent special event, and they were served with strawberries and cream. Let's just say that with the the desserts I've eaten these past few days, I'm glad I walked 20 miles last week; I might have to walk that far again soon!

Monday, 23 June 2014

"If You're Gone" - Matchbox Twenty

Another song that our Oregon radio station would play every once in a while was this:

It's "If Your Gone" by Matchbox Twenty; the song was released from Mad Season, the band's second studio album, in 2000. This track and "How Far We've Come", which was released in 2007, are the only Matchbox Twenty songs I can recall hearing; however, my brother has in his music collection ...Something to Be, which is the debut solo album by Rob Thomas, the band's lead singer.

Matchbox Twenty are still an active band: they have had a couple of hiatuses since "If You're Gone" but they have come back both times; in 2012, they released North, their fourth studio album.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Yesterday's fair pictures

Here are four pictures that I took yesterday at the fair:

Some people walking past a few of the rides. While these rides look empty, they had been active.

The stand on the left that says "Floss"? That was where I bought some candy. Its label says floss because cotton candy is called candy floss here. The other two stands in this picture featured games, which players could win prizes for if they won.

This ride was active for the whole time I was at the fair; it involved cars speeding around the ride's centre. I think it was a variant of the Music Express-style rides.

This is one of the last pictures I took: it's focused on a stand featuring teddies but it's also a view of the street on which the fair was held.

As I said yesterday, I wasn't present at the fair for long (around half an hour) but it was fun to attend.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Not empty this time

My third attempt to attend the fair while it was open was a success. I stayed for about half an hour, which might seem short given the effort I put into getting there, but all I wanted to do was have a look, take a few pictures, buy some candies and then walk back. The walks were most of the fun.

I will post some of the images later but for now, here is a picture of the treats I bought at the fair:

I've already shared and eaten what was in the bag beneath the lollipop. It contained what looked like brown and white mushrooms but were actually chocolate and coconut-coated marshmallows with a hint of lemon flavouring.

Thanks to all three of my walks to the fair and my shorter walks on other days, I have walked 20+ miles this week.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Knocked traffic post

When out on my walk today, I noticed that this traffic post had been knocked over:

I hope the post will be put back up soon: it helps to prevent people from parking on a traffic island. That being said, even knocked over it's still doing its job.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The empty fairground (2)

To avoid a repeat of yesterday, I walked to the fair in the afternoon. In regards to the weather, today was the better day, as it was cloudy outside and there was a breeze present. This all sounds good, so what was the problem? Exactly the same as yesterday morning...the fair wasn't open! The buildings and facilities were all there, but nothing was happening. I walked around the block and headed back home.

The fair will officially close on Saturday, but from my current perspective, that would just be a formality given that I haven't seen it open. I might try again on Saturday to see if there will be some activity then; if nothing else, I will have had three long walks this week!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The empty fairground

My brother and I walked to a local fair this morning. We decided to attend it in the morning because the fair took place in another town; also, because we had a long walk, we didn't want to be out in the heat for an extended period. It was a good plan...until we got to the fair.

What happened? The fair wasn't open! We were too early. The facilities were set up and the town centre was occupied by the the fairground, but the area was empty. For the first time that I can recall, my brother and I were in an empty fairground, and it was an extremely eerie place to be. The eeriness that I felt from being there was most likely influenced by films I've seen that featured empty fairgrounds to symbolise deserted town and cities.

Fortunately, the fair lasts for a week, so we're going to try again tomorrow. In the afternoon.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Liveland History: 17 June 2011

When I began Air Nice-to-Livelands in May 2011, my early posts received little readership, which I expected; however, now that I have a greater readership than I did back then I'd like to highlight some of my old works in a segment that I have called Liveland History.

A Liveland History post will highlight a blog post of mine that is over three years old and will feature a summary of that old post. The Liveland History posts will be infrequent - no more than two of them per month - as I do not want my blog to become a recycling bin for my old posts. No, this segment is intended to provide the occasional trip to this blog's past. I know that my readers would be unhappy if I constantly brought back old material and, in all honesty, so would I.


The first early post of mine that I would like to highlight is "Gopher snakes", which I wrote on 17 June 2011:

In "Gopher snakes", I wrote about a type of wildlife in Oregon for which my brother and I had a strong fascination: gopher snakes. I explained about how to recognise gopher snakes and what to expect from them in regards to their behaviour towards humans. I also included a picture of a gopher snake in my hand and warned readers to seek additional advice and research before looking for wild snakes or catching them: better to leave animals alone rather than risk harm to them or yourself.


The text in the dotted lines is how the average Liveland History post will be; however, I expect the length to vary based on how long or short the highlighted post is, and whether or not I have any additional comments to make about it.

Is Liveland History something that would interest you? Like I said, I wouldn't be writing the segment often but I would like to occasionally re-feature and write about some of my early posts. Please do let me know what you think.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Spiders and insects

It used to be the case that whenever an insect or a spider came into the house, I would kill it (especially the latter). As far as I was concerned, they were unwelcome inside and my only way to deal with them was to kill them. In recent years, however, I have changed from killing insects and spiders that come into the house to catching them in a glass and releasing them outside.

Why the change? The main reason is because I didn't like that I was killing innocent creatures. Insects and spiders come into the house in search of food or warmth, not because they are intentionally trying to hurt me or anyone else. In fact, I don't think they've ever harmed me in the comfort of my house! Believe it or not, I felt bad about what I had done to members of their respective species'.

The second reason was because, before we left Oregon, there was a spider living in my brother's room behind his bookcase. It had been there for a long time and we had given it a name, although it's doubtful that it knew or cared about that. No, the spider just kept to itself and caught flies; it didn't bother us and we didn't bother it.

For these reasons, I now make the effort to rescue and release these beings rather than kill them. They have every right to exist as we do and they shouldn't be needlessly slaughtered for what they are.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Human cat perch

I've seen this video, filmed in July 2008, appear several times these past few days:

It's certainly an interesting routine; I don't think I've heard of a cat that willingly sat atop a person's head. Cats are strange (and lovable) creatures, but this is weird even by feline standards!

There is no way that our cat Smudge could ever have done anything similar. Assuming he had ever developed the desire to balance himself on top of someone's head, his sheer size and weight would have been too much for that person; more likely, though, he would have just fallen off and taken the towel with him.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Hot pink cars

Four days ago, I saw a Volkswagen New Beetle (the model manufactured from 1997-2011). This, by itself, isn't remarkable, as Beetles aren't rare here in the United Kingdom. No, what was noteworthy about this particular Beetle was that its colour was hot pink. A hot pink Beetle! It blatantly stood out among all the nearby vehicles.

However, that Beetle was not the first time that I had a seen a hot pink vehicle in this town. A couple of months or so ago, I saw a hot pink Cadillac (old style) parked in a driveway. I haven't seen many Cadillacs in my life, so seeing one was cool; the hot pink just added to the experience.

Hot pink isn't my favourite colour, but I do pay attention to it when it's the colour of a car...even more so when that vehicle is a Beetle or a Cadillac! Until recently, I'd only seen hot pink Cadillacs and Beetles in movies, and the hot pink vehicles I've seen elsewhere hve usually been vans or trucks.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Last rose picture...for now

This is my fourth rose-related post in two weeks; I can assure you that this will be my last one for some time (honestly!):

This rose has now secured the title of the finest rose in our yard. I know I've already said it, but Mum's cutting back of all the rose plants to cure them of the blackspot infection has caused them all to grow back with a vengeance. This has been our best rose year!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

"Teenagers" - My Chemical Romance

In the last couple of days, I learnt that the band My Chemical Romance split up last year. I listened to this song of theirs again:

It's "Teenagers", which is from the band's 2006 album The Black Parade. Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, said that he was inspired to write the song after traveling on a subway in a train filled with teenagers. Besides teenagers, the song's theme is about the over-prevalence of violence.

"Teenagers" is one of two My Chemical Romance songs that I've heard (or can recall hearing). The other is "Welcome to the Black Parade".

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Poppy, the world's oldest cat

I was saddened to hear that Poppy, the world's oldest cat, has died:

Guinness World Records recognised Poppy as the world's oldest cat last month. It's saddening that Poppy died and more so because she only recently attained the title of world's oldest cat. On the bright side, Poppy lived a long and happy life, which is the best life any pet can have.

February 1990 - June 2014

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Dual roses

Another rose picture. This is another of the yellow rose with the fly:

A second flower has grown right next to the first flower, while a third flower is growing just above them both. These roses are the finest in our yard at the moment; most of the other roses have wilted significantly since I photographed them a few days ago.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Cloud variations

I took this picture yesterday evening; I like the different types of clouds that are present:

I'm most fond of that fluffy cloud near the top left; I like how it appears to be just underneath the dark rain cloud!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

British feet

This was a strange article, yet it might be good news for me:

My feet are larger than British shoe size 10 (11 in the United States) and it's hard for me to get decent shoes; very few stores sell shoes in my size. My Nottingham aunt has taken me shoe shopping twice and it took us over an hour each time for us to find me a suitable pair. Perhaps this new report will mean that larger shoes will enjoy greater availability.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Wet rose

The red rose in our front yard has produced this beautiful flower:

It rained this morning, hence the water. I am delighted that there is no trace left of the blackspot infection; this is a completely healthy rose plant now.

Friday, 6 June 2014

"Get It Together" - Seal

In the past few days, I re-discovered this song:

It's "Get It Together" by Seal. It comes from his third album with the name Seal (also sometimes known as Seal IV), which was released in 2003; it was also included on his Best 1991–2004 compilation album, which also featured an acoustic version of the track. Dad bought the latter album at Circuit City slightly over nine years ago and it was my introduction to Seal's music.

The video is much different to what I'd imagined it to be. I expected to see people in outdoor settings rather than dancing in a club; then again, the song is supposed to be positive and uplifting, which is the point of dancing.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Turquoise and red

My brother pointed out this red poppy growing in a plant pot in our back yard:

I like how we have a turquoise plant pot, too. Usually its colour allows it to blend in with its surroundings, but in this picture its colour highlights it.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Not expected

Yesterday, a certain special something of ours arrived at the end of its road. It was a part of the family for over twenty years and has always been there to open things for us. Now, I don't know what we'll do without it; I know I will miss it dearly. I am, of course, talking about our tin opener (or can opener).

After over two decades of service, our tin opener's upper handle broke off from the main handle. Once this happened, it was unable to maintain a grip, which was necessary for it to be able to open a can. The cause? Its bones (plastic construction) had weakened over the years from all the hard work. Our trustworthy and long-time family friend was no more. If only it had retired a few years ago; it could have been relaxing in Florida instead of having to be put to rest before its time.

Alas, we will never open a can again. At least not until the replacement opener arrives, anyway.

Tin opener
1990s - 2014

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Four years here

My family and I have now been living in the United Kingdom for four years. When we arrived here in the morning of 3rd June 2010, it was our first time back in this country since 1996. Moving here was the biggest change in our lives since our move to Oregon in 2000 (although the loss of our two cats in 2009 was also a major - albeit sad - change).

While today hasn't exactly been a brilliant day, I am feeling more hopeful about the future than I was a year ago. Once a few things have been sorted out, we will be undergoing another large change fairly soon.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Rose and fly

The yellow roses in the back yard are in bloom again:

This rose was once afflicted with blackspot, but since Mum cut the plant down to a stump it has grown back without the infection. The leaves now look fresh and healthy. The rose has a beautiful scent!

There is a fly present on the rose. This is the only picture in which the fly is featured: when I focused the camera during the second shot, the fly flew off the rose to start bugging me (I was wearing a yellow shirt).

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Bloggers Blog Party - May 2014

Here are my contributions to the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party for May 2014. The blog party turned a year old during the last week of May:

Friday, 2nd May: Dad brought this Granny Smith apple back with him from work. He wasn't going to eat the apple so I did instead, which was better than it being wasted.

Tuesday, 6th May: The snails and slugs have been out a few times this month, as they've been encouraged by the intermittent rain. This is a snail in the grass on the main path at the park; I hope it moved off the path before anyone could tread on it!

Sunday, 11th May: This is a mug with German hot chocolate powder covering its bottom. The drink was warm and tasty, as hot chocolate always is, but the flavour wasn't any different from American or British hot chocolate; still, I enjoyed it. My brother was impressed with this picture: he thought there was water in the mug, but there wasn't. He liked the optical illusion.

Wednesday, 14th May: For some bizarre reason, this road work sign was damaged and thrown aside in some grass. I noticed it because it became exposed when the grass was cut.

Monday, 19th May: The main road through our town has been completely gravelled over; this gravelling extends beyond the town's borders. It is not known why this has been done; there is no obvious reason for it, although it must be related to road maintenance somehow.

Tuesday, 27th May: The daylillies in our back yard were flattened by the rain. Since this picture, this plant has exploded with new flowers and some of the old ones are upright again

Saturday, 31st May: It's been one year since my first Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party post. Happy birthday, blog party! I made this (somewhat crude) image using an app on my phone and took a screenshot of it. Sorry if the text isn't properly centered; it can be hard to line text up on a touchscreen! Credit goes to S Memo.

I've had a fun time participating in the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party for the past year and I fully intend to continue. A big thank you, again, to my friend and fellow blogger Stephanie, who came up with the whole idea in the first place.