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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Graham Leathers' LiveJournal:

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Thursday, December 31st, 2015
10:05 pm
Almost a year since my last entry.  Emerging once again.  I do a lot more looking on Facebook, these days.  Every now and then, I go, hey, why not poke into LJ again.
Tuesday, February 10th, 2015
9:07 am
England, thus far.
Reporting from Lincolnshire, England.  A quick blow by blow of the show so far.  The convention wound down yesterday and we began our trek north east to stay with TIm and Annie Walker for a day or two.  We arrived in England last Wednesday morning and were greeted at the airport by Lissa and off we went to her place.  We spent a relaxed kind of day settling in there and the following day we hopped the train into London.  Getting off the train at Wterloo station, we met Mary Bertke for a day od sight seeing.  We got to Madam Tousaude's and the London Eye.  Both of which are run by the Merlin enteratainment group,which happens to own the Sealife aquarium where I am employed.  Madam Tousaud's was interesting.  It was a lot of glitz and glitter and rather kistchy entertainment for the first bit.  I sort of expected that, being that I work for this company.  When you got out of the fun and excitement, you turn a corner and come face to face with a few bits of real history that were to say the least fascinating as well as a little disturbing.  You come face to face with wax molds of the heads of Marie Antoinette and Louise XVI.  Also the guillotine blade that severed the neck of Marie Antoinette.  Beyond that was a bit of the history of Madam Toussaud herself.  It seemed all very macabre.  I have passes to both places so we got on free of charge.  On the London Eye, we had a bit of fun looking down the River Thames and seeing all the famous landmarks that have been there forever.  The parliment buildings, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Charring Cross Station etc.  We also poked our heads nto the National Gallery and looked at some history preserved in art.  We sampled the local cuisine, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and then some rather nice Indian food for dinner.  Toodled around Trafalgar Square for a bit before getting on the train back to Grave's End where we helped fold programs for the upcoming convention.
The convention itself was a blast.  All in all, it was relatively small, but what a great time.  Before heading for the hotel, we made a stop and looked around the East Anglian Railway Museum, just outside of Colchester.  It is interesting to see how very different the railway equipment is in Britain.  In NA, there is a lot more distance and more rugged terrain to deal with so trains are much, MUCH larger.  They have a refurbished frieght shed, (or 'goods shed') as they call them over here.  The carrying capacity of freight cars is considerably less than what we see here.  This was one of the smaller railway museums in the country, but the work they are doing there is not to be sneezed at.  They are doing some wonderful restoration work there.
We arrived at the hotel intome for 'Cream Tea'.  This consisted of six different varieties of tea, and an "Amuse Bouche", which contained an assormtent of local crustaceans in an egg mayonaise.  Followed by scones, cakes, tarts, eclairs, and rounded out with a small trifle.  My "bouche" was quite "amused".
Then we got to the convention itself which was wonderful.  Annie and Lissa really outdid themselves in making this a wonderful time for everyone.  I our travels, we have met some of the people out of the UK and it was great to see them on their own turf.  We got to see some folks we haven't seen in a very long time.  Tim and Annie Walker, Phil and Lissa Alcock, and the ever delightful Talis Kimberly.  We also made some new friends as well.  My Tape Brother, Steve Macdonald was also attending.  We caught up on a whole lot of stuff there.  Our first concert on Saturday night was a hit.  We certainly had fun performing for them.  The following day, we did a finger picking workshop and then did our closing concert just before the UK Guest of honour, Clare Goodal, closed out the con with her wonderful stories and brought in an entire army of musicians and dancers in period Renaissance garb for a tour de force preformance.  The weekend rounded out with reluctant good-byes and then we caught a lift with Chris Malme who brought us all the way up to Loncolnshire where we are now.  More England to see before we return home on the 17th.  We will be heading up to York to see the BIG railway museum in the next day or two.
Thursday, January 15th, 2015
9:18 am
I have sinned...
It has been nine months since my last entry, and those of you who have seen the fun on face book know that a lot of stuff has been going down since then.  In my last entry, I had mentioned a nasty bout of sciatica.  It was a herniated disc for which I had surgery in September and I have been pretty good ever since.  I can walk, sit, stand up straight and I am eager to get back on my bicycle next spring.  This injuryleft me somewhat inert for far too long and I am sadly out of shape.  We did a lot of moving around in that time. Three major moves in five months.  With my back being in the shape it was I was useless.  We can't begin to tell you how grateful we are to our many friends who came out and helped us pack up and get out of what was turning into an horrific situation.  I won't go into detail here.  If I see and we both have ample time, I can tell you all about it.  We're back in the cities now and things are getting back to normal; or at least that which is normal for us.  Things are definitely looking up these days, though.  We've been scrambling to climb out of a rather nasty hole, but we're getting there.  As awful as the 2014 was, we remain optimistic for the coming year and years to come.  In the best news ever, we're looking forward to our expedition to England next month.  Overseas guests at the UK Filk convention.   https://con27ilkin.wordpress.com/  It's coming up fast.
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
12:01 am
Minicon
We had kind of a bitter-sweet weekend at Minicon.  I have been dealing with sciatic nerve issues that have been most... uncomfortable.  Sleeping is difficult, as any time I move it causes painful twinges.  Getting up in the morning is one, big, bucket of suck. Once I am up and have exercised a little, gotten the muscles warmed up and I'm on my feet for a while, it eases off some.  If my mind is on other things I forget about it completely.  There is always a bit of stiffness, but the pain is not as intense.  The last couple of mornings have not been as bad and I think I am on the mend.  I'll take that.
Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
8:56 pm
Proceedings
Stuffing is done.  Now to roll up the sleeves and tackle some pies.
Monday, November 11th, 2013
6:17 pm
Back from Windycon
What a wonderful convention they run down there.  Becca had class on Thursday Night, so I rode down to Chicago with chasophonic and bonz_lizard.  We got to Becca's aunt's place and played for her over the better part of the evening.  A couple more friends of theirs came and played with us and a good time was had by all present.  Meanwhile, Becca had gotten through her class and was put on the Megabus and was enroute to Chicago upon our arrival.  The following morning, I got up and walked down to the Metra rail station to meet Becca as she was scheduled to arrive the following morning.  She was to disembark the Megabus and catch the train to her aunt's place and meet us at The Lucky Platter for breakfast.  We spent pretty much the rest of the morning playing and chatting with Becca's aunt and her new boyfriend,  (Delightful fellow, by the way,).  Friday afternoon we packed up and made our exodus over to the convention hotel.  We did the usual things, getting settled into our accommodations, getting registered, going through opening ceremonies, yada yada yada.  Then, the obligatory greetings with friends I have not seen in far too long.  Due to a medical emergency on the part of a member of Toy boat, some things got shuffled around and the round robin I was to do with Brenda was altered so Brenda had a full hour concert all to herself on Sunday morning, and I was given a full hour in the same slot for Saturday.  It was very well attended considering the short notice, and I apologize to all who found out too late that this was going on and missed me on Saturday and met with some disappointment when I was not playing on Sunday.  Brenda gave a fine performance and certainly did not disappoint.  The most memorable part of it, though was making the acquaintance of one deborah_c from the UK.  She was one of the members of the choral group who did the neatest vocal arrangement for Chocolate is a Vegetable and brought it into their repretoir.  I was tickled to hear about it and equally tickled to meet a representative of said group.  And what a talented person she is, too.  A virtuoso violinist, all-around great performer and an absolutely charming person to boot.
I also have to give cudos the the Fan GoH's for hosting some really fun parties on Friday and Saturday night.  I played some of the open filk on Saturday and got to reconnect with my old friend and filk collegue, Michael Longcore.  He's always good for for a most enjoyable chinwag.

Thank you, billroper and the rest of the cast and crew who made Windycon the marvelous time it was for us.  See you next year.
Thursday, October 24th, 2013
4:41 am
Very late
...or very early, depending on which side of the day you are on.  I haven't slept much and I'm trying to decide where I am at that point.
Thursday, October 17th, 2013
10:35 pm
A New Deveolpment
Renaissance Festival tied up a couple of weeks ago, and since then I have been getting together with one of my colleagues out there once a week.  My goodness, we have been having fun!  I have been learning parts to new songs, and I am even working up and playing guitar solos on some stuff.  I have never been much of a lead player, but I believe I am turning a corner there.  I have been sitting down and listening to a lot of blues licks and learning how this is done.  We are putting together a solid repatoir and we should be stepping out soon.  Be on the look out for "Minstrels of Mischief", coming to a coffee house near you.
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
11:59 am
Sept 11th

I have been seeing a lot of posts about what happened in New York on this day in 2001. There is a wide variety of feelings on the matter from near irrational hatred to "let's leave it alone." As I was not living in the US when this happened, I have a different memory of the events from the out pouring of grief, shock, sympathy and hostility. All justifiable feelings, but I would like to share something else. All religious and political analysis aside, here's what happened on, what was then, my side of the border.

As soon as the US was aware that this was a terrorist attack, they closed down all airports in the country. The border was shut down and no one could enter or leave the US. Many US bound flights were re-routed to Canadian airports and many travelers were stranded on "foreign" soil. They couldn't go home and they had no idea when they would be able to leave. There was not enough hotel space to put up all the unexpected transient visitors on such short notice. People all over the country opened their homes to travelers who had to alter plans on a moment's notice and had no idea how to handle the situation. Their ordeals were made much easier by the locals who at least gave them a place to stay and a base of operations for as long as it took for them to make arrangements to get home. One of my favorite tales was from a couple in Nova Scotia, I believe it was, when they put up some people from Arizona. When they left, they invited their new friends to come to Arizona and stay with them for a little while. A few weeks later, they received a letter in the mail expressing heartfelt thanks AND a pair of plane tickets to Arizona with an invitation for an extended visit.

Even the most horrific events can have some good come of them. Diplomatic ties may remain fragile in some parts of the world, but we can also see where things like this bring out the best in people. There have always been close economic and diplomatic ties between Canada and the US, even though we do have our differences. I myself have many friends on both sides of the border, all of whom I treasure. Acts like the one we saw all those years ago have had far reaching effects we still feel to this day. I'd rather not see remembrance of these people doing the unthinkable and killing themselves and taking thousands with them. Let us acknowledge that and see where we can find some common ground and co-exist. As far as we know, this is the only world we have, folks. We ALL have to make the best of it. Let us all take care of each other.

Friday, April 26th, 2013
4:18 am
Time to resurface
Every now and again, I come to realize I haven't posted or checked in with LJ in a long time.  I do most of my social media stuff on facebook, these days.  I know some of my LJ friends are not there, and I don't blame them when it comes right down to it.  I have lots to do without getting to mired in it all.  but, hello out there to those of you who haven't heard from me in a long tme.  I m here and in reasonable health.
Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
8:39 pm
A little thansgiving adventure
Twas three o’clock my work was done as I prepared to leave.
And make my way to hearth and home on this Thanksgiving Eve.
I made my way to the upper floor and found I had to stop.
And check the wares of a business fresh; a new hot pepper shop.
I looked around at all there wares of all that you could want.
I tried salsas, sauces and pepper jams each more and more piquant.
But the peach and jabanjero made me say,“we have a winner.
I’ll take this pepper jelly home for our Thanksgiving dinner.”

Then on my arrival home my wife said “Look, you slacker.  
This is fine hot pepper jam, but you forgot the crackers!”
“No fear, my love, do not despair some crackers I can get.
There is a little corner store and they’re still open yet.”
I donned my coat, made for the door, my lovely darling smiled,
“I’ll go two blocks and get a box I won’t be but a while.”

The store was open, in I went, and then what do I see?
Every shelf in the corner store was completely cracker free.
I searched high, and I searched low.  I walked up aisle and down.
I searched the store thrice over but no crackers could be found.
My head hung low, as I despaired a-wondering what to do.
I left the store and thought myself in a sorry little stew.
But, then I had a clever thought and did a little fun dance.
“The midtown global market should have crackers in abundance.”

And there I was with spirits high a cheery tune I hummed,
But half the stores in the market square were shut tight as a drum.
Will this tale have a moral?  A lesson as from Aesop?
The only crackers I could find were in a pricy cheese shop.
Again, I gave way to despair, a sorry man was I
But then I turned a corner and what did I espy?
A glowing light, a single note from angel choir was sung
A four foot rack with several kinds of crackers neatly hung

I made my choice, and paid the bill, and went home in a hurry
To find my agitated wife her eyes were wide with worry.
She kissed my cheek and said to me “If you go out alone
At this hour after dark, please don’t forget your phone.”
Monday, October 22nd, 2012
3:28 pm
Thursday, October 11th, 2012
4:33 pm
I can't think the last time I posted here.
It has been a while.  I'm alright.  How's everybody else?
Friday, June 22nd, 2012
6:37 pm
Put my bike in front of a bus.
If you haven'r seen my FB post, then I put my bike on the front rack of a bus and rode from the MOA to down town St. Paul.  There I had a meeting with the producer at the Mounds theater.  Now, you remember I had that little benefit concert to raise money to replace my green card?  Really, all you wonderful friends of mine did a superb job and you don't have to take my word for it.  Raeann, that's the producer at Mounds, was tremendously impressed with the talent who came and performed.  So impressed, she proposed I do more of that on a regular basis. She asked me if I would be interested in having a music night there and I would act as promoter.  Now, I don't think we would be able to pay the performers outright, but they would be cut in for most of the door and be able to sell product.  The venue would make what they can on concession sales, and I would take a small cut of the door, I'm not sure what would be a reasonable split.  I will have to look into that.  I want this to be an arrangement where everybody wins.  What do you think?
Monday, June 4th, 2012
7:21 am
Checking my posts,
... I find I haven't posted anything since February.  Goodness me, haven't I been the quiet one?  Not much in the way of earth shattering news.  We have spent the last couple of weekends planting vegetables.  we now have TWO garden plots.  One where we have planted both sweet and hot peppers, for which evil baby bunnies from Hell have acquired a taste.  I placed a bushel of dog hair around the base of the plants to deter Bugs and his ornery friends.  I have been riding my bike a lot these days as the car is inoperable and we can't afford to replace it right now.  The upside, is I have always loved riding my bike and between that and the lower carb diet to which I have been prescribing, I have been dropping weight like a creationist drops misinformation.  I am about 15 pounds down from where I was a year and a half ago.  The benefit last March went very well, and I am sorry I haven't posted about that here in so long.  We managed to raise enough to get my green card replaced, I went fo the biometrics a couple of weeks ago and it's just a matter of waiting for the new card to arrive and there was enough left over to go for citizenship.  That will be the next phase and then we will be done with all this hoop jumping.   I hope.
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
10:00 am
Upcoming Event

Some time ago, I put up a post about pickpockets being nasty. Here’s the skinny on that. I was on my way to work and my wallet was stolen while I was on the bus. As I am required to carry it by law, my Permanent Resident “Green” card was in there. It is going to cost me a fortune to replace. Now, I am holding a benefit concert - with various performers including Theresa Chandler, Laughing Hearts Pub Band, Riverfolk and others – at The Historic Mounds Theater on March 10th 2012 to raise money to replace the green card and take the citizenship exam and be done with all this once and for all. If you would care to donate now, (if I may suggest a small sum of $5.00 - $10.00) your name will go on a list and when you come to the concert, just give your name and come on in with my gratitude. There will be music, prizes and lots of revelry and enjoyment. Hope to see you there.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=T84ERTKXC4PYU

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
10:12 pm
Cold!
I just finished feeding the dogs.  I was washing some dishes when the dogs finished their sumptuous repast and I took a small break to let them outside.  As I peeled my wet fingers off the metal door handle, I was reminded of a breezy morning coming down the western side of Roger's Pass in the summer of 1977.  I would have been fifteen and on my third consecutive summer crossing the Canadian Rocky Mountains on my bicycle, this time with my dad and my older sister.  If you are familiar with the Trans-Canada highway between Revelstoke and Golden, BC, you know riding to the summit of Rogers Pass makes for a pretty long day.   Revelstoke sits at the comfortable elevation of 480 meters (1575 ft) and over the course of about 43 miles, you climb to about 1382 m (4,534 feet) so you are doing a fair amount of climbing.  (See video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsuJ53HJAqs)  Picture this in the summer on a bicycle and you pretty much have what we did.
We left the hotel at Glacier very early the following day; early morning in late summer.  At that elevation and at that early hour, the air is pretty crisp. From the summit, you drop down to the level of the Kicking Horse river into Golden over approximately the same distance you did the previous day.   We loaded up our bikes and began the descent.  Once you start down the western side of the pass, you don't turn a pedal for about five miles.  Coasting down the hill like a stooping falcon, I remember well the icy air ripping right through me.  I was wearing all the warm clothing I had brought with me but I was still chilled to the bone.  As I was nose diving to river level, my dad coasted up beside me.  He was in his rain suit with a hooded sweatshirt underneath and the hood was pulled up and tied so only his face was exposed and he had thick, clean socks on his hands.  His eyes bugged out of his rosy face as he pulled up along side me.  He spoke over the over the buzzing ratchets of our freewheels;  "It is as cold as a mother-in-law's kiss!" he said rather briskly.  Those words reverberate in my ears every time I step out into the cold air whenever the temperature goes below freezing.  I will apologize to all the kind-hearted and affectionate mothers-in-law for this simile but whenever the temperature drops, that's where my mind goes; before a nice cup of hot cocoa.
Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
4:11 pm
I have been back working at the aquarium for some time now. We were recently issued a little quiz to assess our knowledge of the animals we talk about at the aquarium.  My boss spoke to me briefly after telling me he dad gone over it and told me my "grade".  I felt a bit of a Hermione Granger when he said I had scored an embarrassing 109%.  I hope I can qualify fir a time turner soon.  There are a lot of do-overs I would like to try.
Friday, August 12th, 2011
3:47 pm
Oh,What a Mishap!
I posted earlier today that my employers have been good enough to keep me working in a capacity other than driving until school starts.  Here's how I repay their good will.  The company was bought out by Koch Bus last spring.  So far, this is turning out to be a very good thing.  They are a family run business and they are as easy going as our former owners and I really like the new boss.  Anderson (That's us) had their annual inspection last April while Koch has theirs in July.  so, Hank, our resident mechanic was pulled out to their facility helping to get their fleet of buses up to snuff so they would all pass.  But, the work to be done at our own facility has kind of gotten backed up.  As a result, Hank is completely overwhelmed with his maintenance workload which has to get done before September.  I said I needed work up to the start of school, and asked if they could keep me on doing anything at all.  Hank can't get both the maintenance work and the cosmetic work done in time, so, I am gaining a new skill set in body work and painting.  Today I started scraping paint off of a very needy bus and opened up a veritable Pandora's box of rust.  With many applications of rust retarder, "Bondo" body putty, primer, sealing compound and paint, it looks quite a bit better.  As I was opening up a brand new pint can of paint it fell off the stand.  I let out a prolonged, low-registered "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" as the can tumbled earthward in slow motion and landed upside-down - UPSIDE-DOWN, mind you - on the shop floor.  I scrambled to contain the ever widening circle of School Bus Yellow with industrial paper towels and solvent.  There is now a large spot on the floor which is just slightly to the yellow, though barely noticeable if you aren't squinting. How's your summer going?
6:58 am
Rough Summer
I don't mind saying the summer has been a little rough and a bit more disappointing than I had hoped.  It has kind of slipped by without doing much of anything fun. Last Spring, I took my bike to the Hub to use their public workshop to give my bike the semi annual overhaul only to find the frame had snapped at the seat stays.  That pretty much renders the frame dead and unusable.  No bike riding for me all summer.  For someone who has been pushing pedals since before he could walk and since a bike has been a significant form of transportation this has been a blow.  Also,  summer school tied up for the yea two weeks earlier than usual and I have been effectively grounded for August.  However, and I must compliment my employer for this, they have agreed to let me stay on for the remainder of the summer to do some painting and minor cosmetic work on the buses which will provide me a substantial income for the rest of the month.  I am very grateful to them for this as I was worried sick as to how we were going to get through August with no income.  In the end I have decided to look upon this as a summer of sacrifice and be better prepared for next year.  As an old friend once said to me, "You never know what's around the corner", so who knows what the next year will bring?  As disappointing as this last summer has turned out to be, I remain optimistic for the next year.  Already, I am lined up to start teaching guitar lessons in the fall, and I have my annual directing gig for Mounds Theater around Christmas,  Next weekend we begin ren fest so much of my time has already been booked up.  Let's hope we can breath easier and have a bit more fun next year.  This summer has left me with a lot to make up for.
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