Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Well at last the wind chimes are chiming away and the colorful windsocks flying in the wind on the porch. Of course they were in the largest box in the cellar at the bottom of a pile of similarly sized boxes containing the Halloween and Christmas decorations, yet another example of the Law of Common Perversity!

In this letter I’m going to discuss some rather mundane subjects such as rubbish collection and school ‘buses. Here the binmen are not nearly so fussy over what they have to collect. Each Monday evening I put the week’s trash out kerbside, we do not have any seagulls or similar creatures to investigate the contents of the bags. And they can be any sort as well as black, anything gets collected even to the extent that the Christmas trees went with that week’s collection. There is no sorting at source here, rather disappointing I think, all the week’s newspapers go in the bags along with glass and tin cans. I gather that this is done at the tip. Still it is a reliable, efficient service which the City offers It’s taxpayers.

I expect everyone is familiar with the big yellow school buses which operate here, they have been seen in films and comic books. But there are some aspects of which I was not aware. When the ‘bus stops to either collect or set down the hazard lights are on and a “STOP” sign hinged out from the offside (left of course). So long as this is displayed all traffic in both directions is obliged to stop; in addition an horizontal post swings out in front and along the axis of the ‘bus. This is about three feet in length and the idea is to prevent anyone crossing in front where, due to the bonnet length, they could be hidden from the view of the driver. The ‘bus drops the kids off at fixed points where there is a school crossing patrol to ensure safety and where parents can park up and collect their offspring. The crossing patrols have short handled hexagonal “STOP” signs unlike UK “Lollipops”. So there is a little more to the ubiquitous yellow ‘buses than first meets the eye.

Next weekend is the first holiday weekend here - Memorial Day during which the veterans are honored. There is a parade down the road at Garfield Square of practically any organization in the City, as well as the old soldiers there are school marching bands, boy and girl scouts, cadets and of course pretty much all the local fire trucks (well, it wouldn’t be the same without them would it?). It is a family tradition that we go to Bobby’s on the Saturday for a cookout. The weather forecast is good with temperatures upper 70’s/lower 80’s (average temperature for late May is 74). So, unless we catch a rogue thunderstorm, it should be a good day out. Bobby lives around an hour away to the west and has a lovely bungalow set in what I would call a mini-ranch.

Apart from that nothing much happening, we have had to abandon the trip to NYC and my old school annual dinner due to expense which came, as usual, in threes - car, water heater and washing machine! Still there is always next year.

Talking about language differences, I was going to go shopping the other day and Joanie told me to add “Soap Dish” to the list. I replied that we had about four up in the bathroom. After a somewhat lengthy discussion it transpired that what was wanted was washing up liquid! Yes it is true to say that England and America are friends divided by a common language!

Until next time,



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