Greetings everyone and welcome to the end of spring – what…huh? Wasn’t I just complaining that it was already March? Seriously, this year is disappearing as quickly as my waistline did when I turned fifty.
How are you all doing? I suspect many of you have contributed to the stock price of Kleenex now that Mother Nature is having a big laugh and driving us bonkers with the bloody pollen. Even my family in the UK are complaining like I am – it’s just as bad over there. Hey, there could be a new Superhero emerging from this…dun dun duuunnnn…the Pollinator! The Germinator!
Here, at Debtwood, life goes on for me, Gump and Scout the pot-bellied wonder dog. We’re all still overweight, and Gump and I could form the percussion section of a band, with all the creaks and noises our joints make every time we move. We thought fifty was a ‘trip’ – but dear God, sixty is….well just wait and see for yourselves 😊 I’ll just say that when you sneeze, you might crack a rib….
Gump has been battling blood pressure issues. Historically, his hadn’t been that bad, and he took a very small dose of medication to keep it in check. Then one day, Gump decided he didn’t need the meds anymore, because we all know a Gumpster is smarter than the average doctor, right? A month later he went for a check-up with his new doctor, and told the medic he’d made that call. The doctor laughed and then ordered him to start checking his blood pressure for a couple of weeks and then come back to review. This equated to Gump asking me to do the deed, because though my spouse can change the oil in my car and check our collective vehicles’ tire pressures, he is apparently inept at wrapping something around his arm and hitting a button. Why is it I have quietly taken my own blood pressure readings for the past ten years, and for the five minutes Gump has to track his, it involves the entire household, including Gump juniorette (Scout) who wouldn’t leave his side during each process?
Gump’s numbers were quite high, and not wishing to alarm him, I downplayed them, I didn’t want the man to freak out and cause the readings to go any higher. To make him feel better, I even took mine (which is high but controlled by meds) and showed the readings, easing his concerns. Wouldn’t you know that at that particular moment, my numbers were actually higher than his (no wonder). Gump made that shocked noise and said “Oh my God! That’s terrible, those are really high numbers! Are they always that bad?” And that pretty well summed it up right there, his role and mine. Mine to comfort and nurture, his to be a drama queen.
Needless to say, the man’s back on his meds, and I probably need to up my dose because I have to live with him.
I don’t know about you married folk out there, but do you have trouble finding things to watch on TV with your spouse? The longer we are married, the LESS we like the same things (good job we didn’t share children). It has become virtually impossible for us to watch a show together.
Herein lies the problem.
Team Gump – Sci Fi, WW2, Karate, Political News, Marvel, Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Team Jude – Drama, PBS, British shows (Shetland, Vera, BBC)
Team Scout– A squeaky ball, dogs barking
I tend to compromise and watch the programmes he likes, if not, the entire evening will be spent browsing EVERYTHING – which ladies, is actually worse punishment than your partner waiting for you while you shop for clothes. On rare occasions, I win, and Gump pretends to compromise for the first ten minutes of my shows. But this is what generally occurs —from my peripheral vision, I’ll notice him sort of squirming. Then the little noises start…he’ll move around a bit, then he’ll sigh. A few intakes of breath come next, then he’ll make puffing sounds through his nose until I finally pause the show and say “What?”
“Nothing,” is always the first response.
“What?” I say again, knowing full well he’s going to tell me anyway.
Then he’ll start picking apart the story. “Well, the plot is dumb. That would NEVER happen in real life. I don’t know why they always do this because it’s not believable!”
Me – “News alert- I hate to break it to you, but speaking of believability factors, there’s actually NO such man called Thor, who flies between universes with a magic hammer, and Batman is made up too. It’s called FICTION.”
Gump (having to acknowledge the point) – “Yeah, but the story is way too slow. The camera gets too close. Why do the British shows always have camera angles that get so close to the people’s faces? It’s weird.”
Me – “It’s just their method. The cameraman wants you up close and personal with the characters. They want you to connect with the story. It wouldn’t bother you if their faces were painted green, and they had pointy ears, would it? It’s part of the ‘buy-in’ and you have to just roll with it.”
The conversation usually declines until it escalates into a disagreement, and I turn off my show. Gump 1 – Jude 0
Remember the Carrot Club? Four horses who live in the field behind us that we keep supplied with carrots every single morning. EVERY..SINGLE..MORNING.
Periodically, they get moved away to another pasture in different town, so that their field here can replenish (as can my wallet) – The horses’ owner usually sends me a text to that effect, which she recently did a couple of weeks ago. It was Friday, and she informed me the horses would be gone on Saturday morning, the following day.
Of course, I had just bought oodles of fresh carrots, and though Gump likes them, there was no way he could get through 15lbs of them, even with his girlfriend, Gump Juniorette’s help. So, every time we went outside that day, the horses came over (as per usual) but each time we gave them more carrots. They were very happy, and possibly able to see in the dark, later that night – All day I had to put up with Gump lamenting their leaving. I was secretly doing a happy dance, because along with everything else there is to do/feed around here, it’s one less chore. Also, I HATE having to make a carrot run to Sam’s, which happens a lot.
We got up Saturday. Low and behold, the Carrot Club was present and correct, waiting expectantly at the fence as per usual….what?
They hadn’t left. That was strange. Then the owner texted – the move had been postponed. They would be here for another week. Great, we’d given them all the bloody carrots. Guess where I got to go ☹
Living with another person is tough, right? Living with a Gump is seriously challenging, especially a Gump who’s a science guy. Gump is a geologist. That means he likes rocks….at times likes rocks more than people – but never more than Blue Heelers. Gump’s idea of a perfect vacation is slightly different to mine. It does not involve beaches, drinks with umbrellas and sumptuous, delicious dinners. The Gumpmeister’s perfect trip goes like this – a remote cabin, PBJ sandwiches, Fig Newtons, and a ten-mile daily hike. Then fast asleep by nine to do it all over again the next day.
Disclaimer – These characteristics were not entirely evident to me when we tied the knot. Oh sure, I knew he liked all that stuff, and the outdoorsy component to his personality was most alluring, even though he wasn’t as fascinating as Indiana Jones…but I didn’t realize that was ALL Gump liked to do.
He’s an American, through and through. He’s never harboured a desire to see the world, at least not until he’s seen his own country.
Therefore he should not have married a Brit.
Us Brits, by design, are wanderers. We live on an island. A small island that used to wield a very large punch. Travelling is part of our genetic make-up. As time has passed, travelling also necessitates the prerequisite lovely beaches, sumptuous dinners and drinks with umbrellas. Just like the tv shows battles we have, the compromise on travel/vacations has been a tough one. After enduring several of Gump’s trips where I came back dirty, sweaty, tired and with an aversion to peanut butter, I finally dragged him kicking and screaming to the UK in 2012.
Watching this man who is by nature awkward in his native environment, try to navigate his way in England was absolutely bloody hilarious. I had to translate as his Louisiana ear struggled with the ‘foreign’ language he dealt with even at the airport when we landed. Everything in England suddenly looked smaller with Gump in the picture. He was the proverbial bull in a china shop.
And then he saw Scotland.
It was love at first sight- though Gump said he’d take a bullet before he’d ever wear a kilt, he did embrace being there – the man even ate haggis (ugh). It seems that in Scotland, for a Geologist, there are so many geological events present in a very compact geological area. The place is a Holy Grail of rocks.
Now fast forward ten years, and I’m dragging him back again. This time not kicking and screaming – but only because he has an agenda. A very noble one too.
This time it’s all about World War II -Normandy beaches, the War rooms in London and Dover Castle. But Gump’s real destination is to finally go and pay his respects at the grave of his Uncle Billy, Gump’s mum’s only sibling.
Billy died in the skies over Berlin, when the Lancaster bomber he navigated was shot down on January 1st, 1944 by German fire. Billy, had originally signed up with the Canadian Air Force as the USA had not yet entered the war. But later, he was transferred to the USAAC. Ultimately he sacrificed his life fighting for my country, even though he was just a handsome young lad from Lake Charles, Louisiana and could have remained safe at home.
Billy is buried in the American Cemetery, in Neupres, Belgium, and Gump will be the first person in Billy’s family to ever visit his grave. Makes me emotional even typing that sentence. But what an awesome pilgrimage it will be. I am so glad we can go.
After that emotional part of our journey, we’ll throw in a stop in Paris (that should be interesting) and then we are off to Wales. This is Gump territory again, and ‘a hiking he shall go’! I am sure I will have plenty of fodder for upcoming blogs once we make the trip.
I’m headed over in a couple of weeks (without Gump or Juniorette) – and I can’t wait to see my family and friends and stuff myself with fish and chips.
Six weeks before my trip, I decided to get a TSA pre-check application done. It’s where you fill in forms, pay the government money, and get to skip the long security lines at the airports here in the USA.
When I arrived at the place to do this, it looked more like a dodgy office where you’d go to get drug tested. The guy in charge of the place was a dead ringer for Peter from The Family Guy cartoon show, and I couldn’t get that out of my mind the whole time I was there.
Eventually, ‘Peter’ called me back to his tiny cubicle to get the business done and asked for my i.d. I’d brought my passport. He looked it over and then fastened his beady eyes on me.
“This has expired,” he said.
I laughed. My life flashed before my eyes, images of my plane leaving for England without me. “You’re mistaken,” I said. “It expires in September, and it’s only March.”
He shrugged, then showed me the date on the passport – Expiry September 2021 GASP!!!!!!!!
Any of you who know me, know I’m a control freak and I’m pretty organized. I cannot tell you how many times I have ‘checked’ my passport during the planning of this trip. I read that date multiple times, and though I read 2021, I obviously thought I was still in 2021…
I left the place in a wild panic – good job I didn’t check my blood pressure then – I raced home, got online, filled out the renewal form and was at the post office, all within an hour. I had approximately seven weeks until my departure date, if I expedited the passport, it said it would take 5-7 weeks. AAAGGGGHHHHHHH
I was freaking out. I do everything early in my life….appointments, packing, holidays, you name it. This was totally out of my control, and I could feel the cracks appearing in my brain.
I mailed off the application, and then all of a sudden, when I got back in my car I stopped stressing. It was the strangest feeling. Finally, my 62-year-old self just said “Give it up”. Stop wigging about absolutely everything, it doesn’t help anyway. And for the first time, I actually took my own advice.
I got my passport back in under a month.
Gump has been spreading seed around here like a crazy man. Not in a biblical way but in a grass sense. He’s obsessed with growing grass in dirt that doesn’t want to grow grass. This requires inordinate amounts of time, money and water, all for the brief production of grass which disappears as soon as the temps head north of 80 degrees. It’s also dotted with brown spots due to Scout’s watering bits herself. Gump also has an unhealthy obsession with Japanese Maple trees. We plant trees in memory of loved ones passing, and it is a really lovely memorial to them. But over time, these trees have had babies, and our yard is slowly turning into a forest, which Gump loves, and I tolerate. But have you ever tried growing grass under a canopy of trees? Do you see the irony? Gump, like his sidekick, Juniorette, chases his own tail.
Lately, we’ve both been fighting the loss of our collective memories. Sometimes we just have to laugh, because we’ll have a conversation which goes something like this.
Me -“Do you remember when we went over to thingy’s house, and they showed us their photos from when they went on vacation to that place in wherever it was?”
Gump -“Who are you talking about?”
Me – “You know. Thingy, the guy who works at near the airport.”
Gump – “The guy with the beard?”
Me – “No. Not him, that was the guy who played guitar. This one always wore that tee-shirt that looked tacky.”
….and so it goes on. Ultimately we never get to the actual point and veer off into a conversation about how forgetful we have become. And that’s when we’re alone. Throw in a couple of visitors at our house and it’s frightening. The instant forgetting of names when just introduced, or the name of the place you met them. Sometimes I struggle with my own kids’ names, never mind how old they are.
We’re so forgetful now, that recently, we made a pact to populate our phone calendars with appointments etc. so we could see one another’s commitments as we communicate so poorly and have even missed 2 concerts we’d bought tickets for because we ‘forgot’.
So a few weeks ago, I spent an entire evening putting our data on my phone calendar, and then we figured out (eventually) how to share our calendars etc. The debacle that ensued was a joke. Who knew there were so many different calendars, and if you forgot to assign the correct one, your appointment wouldn’t show up? Then there were issues adding something to a shared calendar when the other was sleeping, and the ping waking them up. It was nonsense. I aborted the attempt to become higher-tech, and I’ve reverted to using my pen, and my paper calendar. I feel like everyone’s using a calculator and I’m still using the abacus…but I don’t care.
Oh, and I’m now officially diabetic. This comes as no shock, yet it is a complete failure on my part to do the right things to take care of my body. Look, if massages, pedicures and cabana boys were part of the solution, I’d have blood as sugar-free as water. But my love affair with all things Cadbury or Carbohydrate is catching up with this old, tired girl.
Perfect timing for a trip home to the land of fish and chips, delectable pastries and yes…REAL Cadbury’s (sorry Hershey’s, you just don’t cut it). The upside of my journey home is the amount of walking I always do, which usually results in my losing weight whenever I’m there. So, it’s a crap-shoot at this point. My Doc has given me ‘special dispensation’ to get my act together before I take on yet another prescription…and I’ve got until October to lose a quarter of my weight and detox the chocolate out of my system. Wish me luck!
And that, dear readers, is all my measly little brain can squeeze out for this blog. Between publishing deadlines, a trip home in a couple of weeks and a mountainous pile of chores and to-do items, I can barely write my shopping list, so this edition is quite a triumph!
I’ll touch base while I’m home, mainly to brag, possibly to show off pictures and occasionally to confess to being naughty and eating the wrong foods.
Oh, and please don’t forget to check out the following books listed below as I really am a writer now (said boastfully whilst wearing a beret)
****AND…..if you subscribe to my website/blog, you can pick your choice of the romance novel, or my previous scary short story, Retribution, for free.
Past subscribers get one too!
If you currently subscribe/start subscribing – drop me an email at [email protected] and tell me which story you would like and I will email it to you!
The fruits of my labours!
New Secret Book – The Secret of Lorelei Lodge -May 9th Paperback & E-Book (E-book can be pre-ordered)
New Romance (Yes, I actually wrote one) – Forever Starts Today – Available now, E-book only
A Friday the 13th Story – Last Train Out – Short scary story, available May 13th (of course) E-book only.
Love it!!! So good to hear all the latest adventures!! Safe travels!
You brighten my day Ms. Bayton!
You and Gump have a fabulous trip! I hope Scout will forgive him for leaving her…. I can’t wait for the next post!
In the meantime, I would love to read Forever Starts Today!
Sending your way!
Love, love your blogs! I am so excited for your trip home and I hope Gump feels awesome after visiting his uncle’s grave – so wonderful.
I have finished your first three books and thoroughly enjoyed them! I had no idea you had a short, scary story! How fun!
So, how wonderful for you to get your passport in under a month – I’ll have email you and tell you about my debacle with my passport and not being able to go on my trip to Mexico for a friend’s wedding. Hang in there with your diabetes – drink lots of water and do get some exercise while traveling!
I would love to see you –
I think I’ll have to host a girl’s gathering when I get back! Thanks for being such a loyal reader – it means so much!
I love to hear of your travels. I will live vicariously thru your adventures.
Great as always! Have a safe journey back home & we look forward to seeing you in Wales! Our BIG trek starts today! Xxxx
Have a wonderful adventure!!!!!