It’s not the fault of your set

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It’s a test pattern. Many of you probably have never seen one. Every TV station had one. Last month it became relevant in our subject of living life on wheels. We turned off the cable TV! What a relief!

In our family room we have a nice cabinet with an ugly plastic machine on it that never gets used. Between November and May we turned it on four times and didn’t watch it on two of those. With a phone call and a trip to the cable office to return the converter, we became $99 per month richer. (Richer being a literary term only.) We are now free to get TV the way the pioneers did it, snag it out of the air. Here is where the test pattern comes back into our discussion.

I knew what all those lines, circles, and numbers were for and could use them if some time machine were to take me back to 1958. TV station engineers broadcast the test pattern and adjusted the picture to make everything true to form. The portrait of the Indian Chief was to test clarity and sharpness of faces, which to this day appear on most shows. By turning off the cable we took a small step toward the test pattern. All we have to do now is buy a small antenna and get local weather free.

And of course there is the high speed internet and the toys that let us be our own TV programmers. And DVD’s. And the OFF button. So how has this worked out? In the last week we have watched the first season of WKRP in Cincinnati.

If you turn off the cable and don’t get 400 channels, “it’s not the fault of your set.” Thanks so much for joining me on our trip back in time. I always love to read your comments and share them with our community.

Picture is a large TV test pattern. It matches the standard TV format shape. It has a grid pattern and a large circle with a smaller circle in the center with lines of different contrast in all directions. In the corners are small circles similar to the center circle. In the largest circle is a portrait of an Indian Chief. If it sounds confusing, you have it right. It is.

 

Saturday selfie

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Oh, the much maligned selfie! It has become an art form in itself. But let’s start with a confession. I took the picture on Friday with the intention of writing on Saturday. This leads us to today, Sunday, and the actual topic. It’s about life on wheels and the less than glamorous things that happen. And the blog entries that didn’t happen.

I have not forgotten you. In fact I think of y’all every day and am thankful for each of you. Why has blogging not happened? In a nutshell, this invincible, wheelie warrior has taken some arrows (watched Avatar last night, hence the arrows thought) and is rolling backwards instead of forward. Hey, I said it was about life on wheels, the ugly with the awesome.

About 6 weeks ago I was removing the cover off the neighborhood pool’s lift chair when I felt a sudden pain that felt like someone had chopped my arm with an ax. As it turned out, that’s about what happened. I ruptured the bicep of my right (dominant) arm. The tendon ripped totally off the shoulder. Whack!

Now we have a paraplegic with a serious issue, as my arms are how I move around the mall – and do the essentials of daily living. Let us not forget the uninvited guest that moved in long ago called multiple sclerosis. MS does not like to be disturbed. The injury poked my MS with a big stick. Not good.

The heat has been oppressive with no rain for months (yes, no rain in Florida). Heat + MS = Fatigue. Multiply that by tendon and nerve damage, and we have ourselves a fight. Literally every MS symptom, you can find the list online or just ask me, has flared up.

The sunflowers are in the form of seeds. The potting soil is in the form of a bag in the garage. So you get a selfie instead of sunflowers. Sorry about that. I’m doing therapy every day and going to the office weekly. Yesterday we did Target. Today I cleaned the wheelchair you see in the picture. It’s my backup, and it has to be kept running, too.

Life on wheels. It’s time to get on with things, adapt as we have all done before and will do again, and keep on moving. I do think I’ll try forwards instead of backwards. What do you think?

Thank you for stopping by, and I’ll try to do better at writing and sharing.

Photo is a mirror selfie. Summer blond hair, round glasses with light brown tint, blue and white polo shirt, white canvas pants, and my favorite blue and white Converse All Stars, loosely laced. Titanium wheelchair with red casters, wood plank floor.

Final thoughts & the missing blog

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Has it been too long to add final thoughts to our series on Around the World in 27 Days? I asked and was told it’s not too late. We returned home very tired. I don’t think I realized  how tired. In dealing with paraplegia and all the issues with MS, fatigue remains my most disabling problem.

Thanks to all who followed along with us and to those who joined along the way. You are genuinely appreciated. Somehow, someway, part of an entry went missing, and I’d like to fill in the gap, as it was an interesting day.

London in the winter is wet. We were prepared with a simple itinerary that took into account a rainy day. We jumped in a black taxi and were at the Victoria and Albert Museum at opening time.

FullSizeRender The exhibits were incredible. This is the Archangel Gabriel. I believe it dates from the 1600’s.

A trend in museums is to have some tactile exhibits. The V&A is no exception.DSCN1637 In the photo below I am touching a vase that is also from the 1600’s. There is a complete explanation in Braille. There are several such exhibits throughout the museum.

 

 

Of course on a rainy dFullSizeRender_2ay, there is the matter of lunch. Lunch at the V&A is affordable and in a beautiful room. The special of the day was one of my absolute favorites, leek and potato soup. Indeed, it was the best soup I’ve ever had. We were at a table for six, which was the only one available. We invited two ladies to join us and were treated to an interesting and pleasant conversation.

Have we covered everything? Not by a long shot, but there is a limit. I think we have reached  that limit on this topic. I always welcome your comments and will try to respond. I also am beginning to explore the blogs of my new friends. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support in this. Thanks especially to my wife and best friend Sandy. She makes travel and life in general a joy. I am blessed to have her in my life.

Photos: Top picture is the Victoria and Albert Museum taken in the courtyard. It has quit raining, and the building is gleaming in the round reflection pool. Second picture is a colorful statue of the Archangel Gabriel. Below that is George touching the vase. Final picture is a china plate and bowl with leek and potato soup and a slice of bread.

Awe in Westminster Abby

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I intended to write this entry last night, but the events of yesterday in London changed what I want to say. First, Sandy and I offer our thoughts and prayers to those affected in yesterday’s terrorist attack and to the entire city where we have been treated so wonderfully, during the Paralympics 5 years ago and again this month.

On our last full day we took one of the wonderful black taxis (all of them are accessible!) to Westminster Abby. In Roger Miller’s catchy words, “Westminster Abby, the Tower of Big Ben, the rosy red cheeks of the little children.” We explored the area in front of the Abby and around Parliament. About 15 minutes before opening we went over to the entrance and joined the queue that was just forming. A delightful gentleman showed us where to wait and said they would take us in through the accessible doors as soon as the Abby was open.

Photography is not allowed in the Abby, and I fully agree with that position. The Abby cannot be photographed. There is such a cornucopia of sensory input that just one cannot do it justice. I could not believe I was sitting in the very place that William was crowned in 1066 and every monarch since. Where Royals married and others were buried.

The nave is long and splendid with stone arches. I could hear the sounds in the arches far above and gauge the height. As we entered the transepts, the sound changed. It became more open, huge. The stone floor gently rocked my titanium chair, and there are plaques and crypts.

After touring we went to the cafe in the Cloisters. Tea and carrot cake. DSCN1742Then we explored some more, took our leave, and went over to Parliament. This is the exact area where yesterday’s attack occurred. The news and the pictures are surreal and heartbreaking. This is a happy place where people patiently wait their turn to take a selfie in front of Parliament. There were young couples, children, ladies on a girl’s day out, and even Floridians bundled against the cold. This is the meeting place where Commoners and Royalty stand.

Enough with the cold and damp, let’s play with Lego’s and find a pub. So away in another black taxi, and soon we were at the Lego Store in Leicester Square. DSCN1765

Pub time! The greeter/traffic director at the Lego Store said we would find some good pubs if we headed a bit south, so off we were to find a local eatery. In London finding a decent pub is simple. Soon we were enjoying pints of Carling and fish sandwiches. IMG_0490

At dinner time we were thinking maybe something light. The hotel’s restaurant/bar had chicken fajitas on the appetizer menu. In London? OK, why not? Hey Texas, y’all down there need to take notice. Paired with a Foster’s, the chef did this to perfection.

And then it was time to go home. Day 27 of Around the World in 27 Days was only hours away. This has been so much fun for me. The quality time with Sandy, the wonderful time with our family and friends in Taiwan, meeting our new grandson Cameron, sightseeing and sharing tables with Londoners who seemingly never meet a stranger. It has been fun having YOU along. Thank you for reading, for Liking, for commenting.

We have picked up some new subscribers, too! As we get things sorted out at home I will be looking you up, checking out your blogs. And thinking about a cruise. I’m always thinking about a cruise.

Images: At the top is a large image, almost Gothic in style, of a gnarled tree in winter in front of the face of the clock in the Queen Elizabeth II Tower. Then George at Tea  in a long, arched room.  A large picture of George wearing a red raincoat in a Lego train car. Finally Sandy ordering in a pub.

Princess Diana’s gowns

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With time in London limited, we had a short list of three things we wanted to see. Diana: Her Fashion Story was one of them. The plan had it that if we got a nice day we’d do Kensington Garden and the gown exhibit. 62 degrees with sun, in London, in March is a nice day! We walked (rolled if you please) from our hIMG_0442otel to Kensington Palace and arrived a bit before the exhibit opened. Once inside, the gentleman who sold us our ticket told us there was no queue for the gown exhibit, but lines would be long soon. He said we could see the exhibit and then do the palace tour.

(Please know that what I am describing is from memory and might not be precisely accurate.) The story begins with a young Lady Diana Spencer who suddenly finds herself about to be wed to the Prince of Wales. This was not something she had ever thought about, and she had no knowledge of royal gowns. She knew the fashion of well dressed young ladies, but this? IMG_0415

At first it was hard for both Diana and her designers to determine a style. What looked good, was befitting a young lady, and was something with which she was comfortable? Sketches we made showing her in prospective designs. She was not hard to please but did want to maintain her sense of self.

As Princess Diana grew more comfortable in her role she sought the counsel of several designers. Several commented that she was easy to work with, and over time began to offer direction in what she wanted. She was the first royalty to wear formal pants, a concept and basic design she did herself.

IMG_0413The gowns changed with Diana. As she became a sophisticated young lady her gowns became more formal. There was, however, something elegantly simple about them. The gowns never overshadowed the lady. Her popularity was immense, and people became fascinated with all aspects of her life.

Kensington Palace is home to both William and Harry. The exhibit is a beautiful tribute to a lovely lady, and more importantly, their mother.

Thanks for continuing our journey with us. By the time Sandy and I added another transoceanic flight and arrived home late in the evening, we were tired beyond words. MS fatigue reared its ugly head, and I’m a bit behind. Your patience and words of encouragement are always appreciated!

Images: Top image shows Princess Diana in a casual pose with her chin resting on folded hands. Then a display with mirrors to show all angles of the beautiful gowns and one emerald green gown. In the text is an image of the statue of Queen Victoria in front of Kensington Palace with reflections, trees, and a crystal blue sky. The next image is a pencil sketch that features Diana in a red gown with a drawing of the fabric along side. The final image is the famous Harper’s Bazaar cover with Diana in a long, black gown.

Pop art and 85 Sky

I hope you like the catchy title, though it says little of the topic. We’d best forge on to the Pop Art Cafe. Friday evenings are for relaxing and giving ourselves a little reward. That seems to be a universal thing. With my pockets empty and no camera (and apparently the world didn’t end) we piled into the small Hyundai and visited a section that I’d describe as the Taiwanese version of Soho. With limited accessibility and maximum help from the chef/owner himself, I worked my way through a series of ramps and bumps that he had mapped out ahead when Cliff called to make a reservation.

The Pop Art Cafe’s chef, another George, explained to us that he is a Canadian who came to Taiwan as an adventure, fell in love with a lady and with the nation, and merged his art profession with his culinary passion. The fare is what he described as simply delicious American ranging from burgers to pizza to steaks plus a bit of Indonesian. Excellent!

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Pictures resumed yesterday with a trip to the 85 Sky Tower. Approximately the height of the Empire State Building, all similarities to other skyscrapers end when one views the building. The first 39 stories are two office buildings that then connect and have a single spire rising from there.

We were in time for afternoon high tea, which did not disappoint. Salads, fresh seafood, sushi, ham, pot stickers, and an amazing lemon green tea. Let’s not mention the seafood pizza. “Pizza is not to be made with seafood.” – G Rector, 2017

Have you enjoyed Taiwan? I hope over a couple of weeks I’ve introduced you to wonderful people and an amazing nation! This was Kaohsiung, family style, which is what the world is all about. I’ve popped wheelies over bumps, rattled down old sidewalks, and glided on marble floors. This is my family, and I love them dearly.

Thank you for the wonderful comments and the many Likes. To our new followers, I hope you will join us as we continue around the world in 27 days. My time and my energy (remember old MS fatigue?) have been stretched thin. I promise that once home I will visit your sites, as well.

Picture above is of Cameron standing in front of a drawing of 85 Sky Tower. Below are some pictures taken from the 74th floor observation area. They show the harbor, Love River, and the city. And a photo of my my beautiful daughter-in-law Natalie. 

Night market pinball

Thursday evening Sandy, Cliff, Cameron, and I went to the small night market near home. Having worked all day, Natalie cherished a few moments of quiet. Space in Taiwan isn’t wasted. The seashore area where we had gone has fishing by day, but on Thursday nights there is a local night market.

There are two areas of interest to children, and those are what interested us most. We arrived early, so things weren’t so busy. Cameron got his choice of the tiny pinball machines. He did well and won a helicopter. And had fun.

After pinball we made our way to the other end where a tiny train is set up in front of a temple that appears to be of ancient origin. Along the way were food stands with spicy foods like  fresh fish, chicken, shrimp. Having had dinner we stuck to enjoying the odors.

The train, a tiny set up of cars pulled by an “engine” connected to an electric motor supplied from an industrial battery, is hugely popular with the little ones. For a modest fee you can ride until your parents can stand no more. Then you receive a toy. Awesome.

As we worked our way back to the car we passed stands that resembled an American flea market that had some intriguing goods that we didn’t buy! By then the food stands had lines and the seats full. Willpower, George, willpower.

Thanks for reading. I got a bit behind in writing, so let’s put the night market to bed and move on to Pop Art and 85 Sky.

The top images show Cameron at a long row of tiny pinball machines with child size stools. He is wearing his light jacket, a baseball cap, and has his Snoopy backpack to carry home his loot. A third images shows the tiny train. Below are two roofline images of the old temple and a small shrine that is attached. Both are forms of the pagoda style architecture.