25 December 2011

Happy Christmas to all, especially all the fine 'beans and Cats in Lee County Clowder:)

Yes, Paul AND Scotland celebrate Christmas, some years more than others. For Paul, this is the most Christmas he's had in years. Decades, really. I'm bringing him along slowly-next year it is my goal to have stockings hung. With our names on them. And things in them Christmas morning.

Last year we had a string of electric fairy lights and one (seriously) bauble on the lovely huge Sitka Spruce we hauled home from the Focus D-I-Y; this year we have several little handmade decorations on the very lovely little (20" if that) live dwarf Alberta Spruce we intend to pot up slightly after 12th Night (AKA The Feast of the Epiphany, 6 Jan) and keep for next year:

We also have designed window decorations (see below), a door spray (that gale force winds have blown the live greenery from:

and the entry hall is bedecked:

(Next year, bathroom and kitchen will be as well)

It's half ten here (10:30 GMT) and we've been up since six. The children next door have been also, I feel for the mum, I really do! Shrieks of joy caroled out into the general back garden area as they found new bicycles under the tree:) I was standing out there having an early morning smoke so I got to enjoy the Christmas cacophony-it brought back memories.

Paul and I outdid each other in the gifts department by buying a careful mix of new and charity shop items. I got him a nearly new pair of Levis at the British Red Cross yesterday, that was a bonus! LOL, I went in there because it was on my way to the grocery and I was so stunned at the luck of finding a pair of Levis in his size in that condition that I almost forgot to pop round to the grocery.

Gifts wise, it's been a rather lovely Christmas-he gave me a nice sum of money when he realised on the 23rd that he couldn't figure out what to give me, and I promptly turned that money into a top rated electric hand mixer, a string mop and bucket with built in twister. My Christmas cup runneth over:)

We are having a traditional Christmas lunch, which means I need to get into the kitchen and get the beef joint into the oven! I'm cheating this year with frozen Yorkshire puddings that I'll drizzle some beef drippings onto when they come out of the oven, and yes, we are also cheating by having a store bought Christmas pudding. At least the whisky drizzle on that is authentic, lol, Aberlour, distilled up near his home county of Moray.

We watched the Alastair Sim Scrooge last night, that was lovely too:)

We went for a walk to see who had Christmas lights up, that wasn't as lovely since very few people have them up this year. I'm thinking about organising a caroling choir so that maybe people around here will get a bit more Christmas spirit.

I can understand the lack of interest but Christmas time is not really mandated to cost a lot of money-the general excuse this year for the lack of Spirit in this town! By the evening of 15th I ran a battery operated tea light in each of the two front windows (to light the Christ Child's way), and wired together some fake holly, a twig star wand and some greens from our garden to make a door spray. The next day the rest of the people on our street had something up too, nothing fancy but at least something on the doors and front windows. And then we got a Christmas card through the door from one of the neighbours thanking us for putting up the decorations:)

So I'm thinking a caroling choir made up of the neighbours might go over well. It certainly might get us a bit more Christmassy-I have been greeting people all this past week with a hearty Happy Christmas and the shock on their faces to hear the greeting is sad to see, frankly. Perhaps if they are busy practising for Christmas Caroling all year it will prompt them to plan ahead for other Christmassy things as well. I've got my year planned chock full of gathering gifts, making stockings and decorations-I'll natter on during choir practices and maybe, just maybe...

So here I am, Christmas Mid-Morning 2011, with a word,doc open because I am planning Christmas 2012. I made all my goals last years (except the quitting smoking thing, blast it all, but hope floats for New Years Day)-we had plenty of homemade Christmas Tree ornaments, the entry hall had a lovely bit of holiday bedecking (found 50 metres of red Christmas bead garland in a charity shop. I combined that with some artfully scattered larch pine cones and some vintage looking glittered gift tags on the hall mantle), the front door had something like a wreath, and the windows had a designed decoration in the Christ Child candles (which come down today to be replaced with a strand each of multi coloured fairly lights until 12th Night).

I had Christmas gifts for my husband, although the stinker sussed the big one-a framed print of a Tuscany farmhouse he's been eyeing up in a charity shop for months. I was going to pick it up Christmas Eve so the woman took it off the display and had it behind the counter when my husband decided it would be a swell idea to go visit the print he wouldn't buy for himself, and saw it gone, then saw it behind the counter (with my name on it). Sigh. Well, he got his Big Gift early (the afternoon of the 23rd) and lucky me, I didn't have to carry it home myself. Sigh.

I Believe.

I believe in Father Christmas, and the Spirit of Christmas, and to keep it in my heart all the year. It's time to spread that to my fellows on the other streets of my newly adopted hometown.

07 December 2011

Houston, we've got Winter.

It's been snowing off and on the past few days leaving behind snow dust, sharp cold, and ice. The ice melted off just enough to cause worse icing now that it is late afternoon here and the temp is dropping. I love Scotland in the Winter-sunrise at 0830, and sundown by 4pm, pitch dark by 4:30pm and by 9pm I feel interested in falling asleep. We have a TV license now, and I find myself falling asleep during the best parts of programmes. Of course.

Here in our little corner of Scotland in that the ice hasn't blocked anyone in or caused any terrible car wrecks but there have been a few very bad collisions resulting in death elsewhere in Scotland. More wintery weather is on the way, and from the sewing room window I can see a good bit of snow on the Cairngorms-I think it is officially Winter.

This afternoon we took delivery of two more builder bags of wood-I think we have enough now to get us through until around March. Paul has been building the nicest log stores with the pallets last winter logs were delivered on:

The above is the first one he built, we have another one now, too. Each holds a builder bag of wood. I'm not really sure what that is in 'cord' wood, though, but eyeballing it, I'd say a builder bag holds a little less than a half cord of wood. He has enough of the pallet wood left to build a few more log stores, too. I'm really proud of his work, he used almost all salvage material, and the cover for the second and subsequent ones will be at the whopping cost of 50pence, lol, thanks to a going-out-of-business sale locally.

We are using seasoned wood this year having found a reliable source; last year we were not able to find a reliable source (a very polite way of saying we were taken advantage of by the seller who had NOT properly seasoned that wood) and had to find a reputable source for kiln dried wood in a real hurry or risk freezing. We had the gas turned off to the house and the boiler pulled to make room for a walk-in pantry in September 2010, and while my husband was not pleased to hear me say "Hey, most of this wood is green" last year, he was even more unhappy when I was proved right as he tried to light what I'd just ID'd as greenwood.

Brrr, off we went out to the garage where the wood had been neatly stacked by him after the woodsmen dumped it in our forecourt-I'd offered to help and if I had I would have known immediately that we had a problem. But I was busy inside, and he was busy 'being the man' and so I didn't get a chance to heft the firewood until it was about to go into the stove.

Uh oh.

We re-stacked the wood, Paul learning very quickly to tell the difference between 'tink' and 'tunk' as an identifier of seasoned and unseasoned wood. Naturally the stack of green wood was a lot taller and wider and deeper than the tiny little pile of wood that we could reasonably expect to burn...

I got on the 'Net and found a company we could do business with and a couple of days later we were running both stoves wide open because we took delivery of several pallets of kiln dried wood (and a couple of pallets of pressed chip logs-oh my those do burn nicely!) just in time-The Big Freeze 2010-2011 had hit and the UK was near paralysed with the cold. We however, stayed toasty with our kiln dried wood. And we seasoned the greenwood over the rest of the winter 2010-2011, and spring-summer-fall 2011; it all worked out, the green wood is now seasoned and burning along merrily.

But when we looked at the cost we were disappointed at our savings (in electric and gas from not having the boiler doing the central heating). Luckily this year when we had the TV antenna installed we found a reliable (as in money back, etc) source for seasoned wood at a great price, and we've got the last of it stacked in the garage. The antenna installer has a cousin, you see, and they sell firewood...

So we bought four bags early, back in September, to give them a try and thinking well, if this doesn't work out we can always season it for next year. But every single piece in the delivery 'tinked' instead of 'tunked' and we just finished stacking another delivery of two more of those 'tinking' bags-not a 'tunk' in the lot. To make it even better, the driver told Paul that if they look as though they are getting down to the last few bags of seasoned wood, he would call us.

Now, between deliveries we had a chance to check out their business base, and are pleased to have found they season the wood in huge log stores with dating tags attached. So we are comfortable with this company, happy with the wood, and feeling pretty good about our warmth factor for Winter 2011-2012.

Just in time, I'm crocheting like mad to finish off the Dr Who length scarves for son and grandson Christmas:)

24 November 2011

Being an expat on Thanksgiving Day is horrible.

No-one slogs through the snow to get to your house because getting to your house requires a passport, a visa, and shedloads of money.

To go to a place where it is impossible to avoid the realisation that Thanksgiving Day and all the trimmings is not by any stretch of the imagination a priority in anyone's mind but that of the expat.

So you lie there in the pre-dawn dark wondering just what the hell you are going to do with yourself this morning, and when you recall that your bog plan of the day is to finish your husband's new pyjamas, and go to the Co-Op for a turkey not to be consumed until Christmas around lunchtime, you can become VERY distressed. Especially since you haven't had pumpkin pie with WAY too much Extra-Creamy Cool Whip since 2009.

Because when you lived in America you had turkey on Thanksgiving, standing rib roast on Christmas, and a baked ham on New Year. But when 2010 rolled around you were in the UK on Thanksgiving and didn't 'observe' the day because your soon-to-be new husband didn't get it that it was an important day for you, you sucked it up thinking Christmas would be different...but it wasn't, and a year later you really can't even recall what you had for Christmas Dinner...

I miss my son. I miss making Thanksgiving Dinner while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I miss the bustle involved in buying the ingredients for the perfect meal, too. I miss the way I started shopping for the meal in late September because I could never forget the horror (lol) of leaving it all to the last minute one year, and not being able to find ANYTHING two weeks before Thanksgiving-no kidding, there was nothing to be found, the shelves were bare of the basics. Scary.

The last real Thanksgiving meal I cooked was in 1995. My then husband ruined the next ones to come right up to the last one in 1998, and because of the things he did that year no Thanksgiving has been the same since. But hope floats, and I thought in my heart that one day Thanksgiving would roll around and I would be joyously bustling around again planning, then preparing, then serving, then clearing up after the meal and the day and the joy of finally having my family...

My son and grandson are in America and I doubt deeply I will get a phone call, and know that I will make excuses in my heart for that lack of phone calls from the only family I have left, and frankly right now nothing is helping my mood at all.

I am feeling very alone, unloved, unwanted, unappreciated, and obviously VERY sorry for my expat self today. And the sun isn't even up yet.


22 November 2011

Like most Americans and not a few Europeans, I can remember the events of 22 Nov 1963 very-very clearly. I know just exactly where I was, what I was doing, what I did, and how the grown-ups around me were reacting.

Every year since that awful day the world changed forever I have sat somewhere quiet and remembered, and prayed for the family-not because they are famous icons of American Royalty but because they are people. I've prayed for Caroline Kennedy especially since her brother was killed and yet more fervently since her uncle passed.

She is the last one left, she is completely alone now, bereft of people with that especial intimate relationship of close family at a time of terrible tragedy. Everyone is gone-her mother, her brother, and her uncles. The cousins count of course, but there is a uniqueness to the family bond of parent and sibling. She has no-one left with whom to grieve, and that has grieved me deeply since Ted Kennedy died.

Yesterday as I went about my day something about the sound of my footsteps caught my attention and held throughout the entire day. The sound of my footfalls on the back garden path especially got my attention; the sound is as different as can be from the sound of footfalls on the American desert floor at dawn (my all time favourite sound just before the creak of saddle leather) yet somehow very nearly as comforting, nostalgic, restorative.

I'm going to listen to the sounds of my footfalls today.

08 November 2011

Smokin' Joe Frazier has died of liver cancer aged 67. I remember The Thrilla In Manilla very well, we watched it at the Olympic in Los Angeles in Aileen Eaton's suite.

We were in the Ali camp, himself having used my dad's boxing gym down in Long Beach to train when the crowds in LA got too big around the gym he used there. He also had a very nice training camp that Angelo Dundee built for him, but he liked the Skid Row atmosphere of Seaside Gym where my dad put hundreds of 'troubled youth' through the boxing programme he ran for the County of Los Angeles.

One of these days Ali (whom I've always thought of as Cassius Clay, and always will-it's not meant in disrespect, but because I met him when he was Cassius Clay and it was hard to remember to call him Muhammad) will pass too, and I will post a blog about him teaching me to skip rope like a 'real boxer', and his admiration of my speed bag skills.

Mr. Frazier was an amazing man, very gentlemanly, very reserved, very determined. I expect he faced his illness with the same reserve and determination, and I am beyond sorry that he lost this fight. It doesn't seem right that this quiet man is gone so young (at 55, trust me, 67 is young), and that he had to endure the horrors of liver cancer before leaving too soon. I heard about the cancer just a few days ago when his agent announced it-I have no contacts left from those days, no one to reminisce with about the days of the boxing gym, and the people we knew back in the day.

I feel sure though, that Smokin' Joe was met at the Gate by people who respected him, and like him, went on too early. I have a feeling my Pop was there to say hello, he very much admired and respected Joe Frazier for all we were officially in the Ali camp. And I'm positive that Mike and Jerry Quarry were on the 'We went too young, didn't we' welcoming committee for Smokin' Joe, among other boxing greats who died far too young, and primarily as a consequence of their boxing days.

Both Mike and Jerry died from complications of the horrendous repeated concussions suffered in the ring, it's the biggest reasons my dad got out of boxing when he realised Jerry had a serious problem. Pop said one afternoon while we were driving home to Laguna from the Long Beach gym, 'The lights are on but there's no-one home. Jerry is not in there anymore, and it's time to get out of this.' It disturbed my dad to see what was happening to Jerry, and he saw the beginning glimmers of the same thing happening to Mike, and that shattered my dad-he really liked Mike and didn't want to see that happen to either brother.

I don't know if Joe Frazier's liver cancer developed because of his boxing, I doubt it. He wasn't the steroids or other 'aids' type. I remember him as the kind of boxer who went about it honestly-shoulders set, chin tucked, and throwing a Smoking Jab that rocked your world in a very bad way if you were on the receiving end. I heard a rumour that he routinely snapped heavy bag drop chains while training. Dunno if it's true, just that he earned his nickname because he threw his punches so fast and hard. I seem to recall he was called Joltin' Joe for a while, in the early days of his boxing career for the same reason-if he hit you, you were beyond jolted.

God rest you, Mr Frazier. Say hi to Mike and Jerry for me, will you?

05 November 2011

Well hell, CNN has just sent a breaking news alert to my inbox that Andy Rooney of 60Minutes has died aged 92 following complications after minor surgery.

He was my favourite segment of 60Minutes, providing valuable training to this Curmudgeon-In-Training among laughter and nearly constant agreement with his venting against whatever annoyances struck him that week. Sometimes his pieces moved me to tears, too. He was great, and will be missed by the sensible everywhere who had the privilege of watching him on 60Minutes.

RIP, Mr. Rooney, you will be missed, and you are thanked by millions of C-I-T worldwide.

I was going to blog about my vintage Singer sewing machines today. I think I may have mentioned that Paul presented me with a 1933 Singer treadle model 66 for a wedding present in an earlier post. That machine and I are spending the winter together in the lovely new workroom Paul graciously gave up on as first a lounge (living room to American readers) then as a master bedroom. It is a huge lovely room warmed by a large Bohemian wood stove, lit by the huge front window, and is the perfect place for my now five sewing machines:

A 50s model Russian made Jones electric that converts to hand or treadle operations, but unfortunately is a side loading bobbin machine (WHY DO THEY MAKE THOSE WRETCHED MACHINES?!) that I am having a great deal of difficulty finding a manual for. At this point I would take one written in Russian although the machine is one manufactured for the British market.

And my four Singer lovies:

A 70s model 513 Stylist, all metal except for the bobbin gear. Guess what broke in the middle of the first project I sewed on it? Happy accident, though, it led us to a wonderful 80-ish years old former mechanic (read repairman) for Singer down in Clydesbank where my four lovies were manufactured. The 513 has several whistles and bells, straight, reverse, zig-zag, and something called Flexi-Stitch that I am having a TERRIBLE time getting to work WITH me. It's for knits, and with winter fast approaching (it was 33F here this morning at 0700 Scotland Time), I really need that feature to work-long johns and janes won't be made without that Flexi-Stitch feature, dang it!

A 60s model 449 Straight Stitch (and that's all it does, although it does have a reverse button, and stitches an incredibly lovely stitch)

The aforementioned 1933 treadle model 66, which I will now extoll as the most lovely gift I've ever received (except for the presents my son gave/gives me). It too is a straight stitch machine, but can be made to perform a zig-zag by the attachment of a special foot that will also fit onto the 449. No need for me to buy that attachment as long as I can keep the 513 running, but one of these days I think I will buy the zig-zagger foot. One of these days. More on attachments later...The treadle, cabinet, and machine are in pristine, 'start sewing with me today' condition and the decals look as though they were applied yesterday, but Paul (now the proud possessor of the Ultimate Refurbishment and Repair Manual for all things treadle and hand crank) is going to go over it with a fine toothed comb before I actually get started. The cabinet drawers hold the original manual, needles, bobbins, and a spare foot, and there is room for the tool box that holds the attachments set that came standard with the machine but didn't last the years to make it to me...this morning I received the Holy Grail of attachments...more on this later...

And finally, the incredible 1917 hand crank model 99, the baby sister of the 66-meaning it is the 3/4 scale copy of the 66 and uses many of the same parts, all of the same instructions including repair and maintenance, and is in the original bentwood case-with key. (Forgive me, I want to use a pure tonne of exclamation points at this juncture because finding that machine in the animal charity shop in Devon was an incredible stroke of the Sewing Angels leading my wonderful husband to its hiding place behind a rack of clothes, and for it to be in its bentwood case with the key and a few spare bobbins is next to miraculous frankly. So I want to jump up and down, and put LOTS of exclamation points, WOOHOO, I am over the moon!) The decals on the 99 are worn in the exact place fabric would feed over the plate. The hand crank turns smoothly. The case needs a nice lot of work with a restorative, but the key works and so does the machine.

Yes I have pictures-awful ones not worth keeping on the laptop, so I will post pics when I finally learn how to get good ones.

Now. 'Bout those attachments...

OMGsh I am now the thrilled and grateful owner of a complete GODZILLA BOX of Singer attachments that fit all four of my Singer lovies! I can now sew just about anything (except zig-zag) on my straight stitch machines, and if I'd like, the 513 as well. The tucker looks most interesting to me at this point, but there is a ruffler, two different types of binders, an under braider...eight lovely sewing machine attachments in all, and all in the wonderful Godzilla Box complete with a layout leaflet.

It doesn't have the instruction manual for the attachments because Singer cleverly included these attachments as standard in most of their machine sales, and the instruction manuals for the machines include instructions for using the attachments. So the manual never came standard with the box, just the layout leaflet so the home sewer could put the tools away properly until next time.

I commented recently on a vintage Singer machine blog that for me there is something both romantic and practical about sewing on a machine that is a functioning antique. Frankly, it's Zen. Sometimes I go into the workroom and just stand there looking at those two aged beauties thinking about the things they've seen. I think about the home sewers who sewed for their families through two world wars and the arrival of the motor car, space travel, video recording, and the Internet.

And somewhere in that I can hear Andy Rooney commenting on how modern sewing machines will never be able to compete with the one his Gran used to make his short pants back in the day.

Tick-tick-tickety-tick, what a lovely sound a treadle and hand crank sewing machine makes.

08 October 2011

There is a distinct bite to the winds now, Autumn is here and shouting that Winter is not at all far behind. We are going like gang-busters trying to get things done around the house and gardens to have the house ready for what all predictions say is going to be a winter at least as severe as last year if not more so.

Now, last year just after what would have been Thanksgiving Weekend in the US, our area of Scotland was hit by heavy snow and a huge drop in temp that lasted until late January. The snow melted off just enough for our wedding guests to make the drive to our wedding-just. The temps came up enough for people to be comfortable, but in essence Scotland slogged through a deep freeze that began in late November and continued until late February.

And 'they' are saying this winter will be at least as bad. At least-which means it will likely be colder, earlier, longer than last year. I'm reviewing instructions for homemade snowshoes and I'm not kidding about that. There is an art to good snowshoes, I learned a little about it when I lived on Kodiak Island, Alaska in the mid Seventies. Snowshoes are wonderful both for getting around and for working off the pounds. (And my doctor wants me to lose at least two stone, and would be thrilled if I managed to make that a full thirty pounds loss)

So Paul is going through his checklist for essential repairs that have not already been done (it's been a busy summer since I got back from the States, and he'd already been busy while I was gone this spring), and I am going through every article of winter clothing and bedding we own.

Now, things are of course done a bit differently in the UK and it's been interesting to see how very different things can be! I mentioned in an earlier post that the amounts of food one buys in the shops are much-much smaller than what we are used to in the US, and now I'd like to bang on about the clothes washing machines.

Paul came with an under counter front load Hotpoint clothes washing machine capable of washing a 6kg load (6x2.5=15lbs of laundry in one load) but it really works best if there is no more than 10-11lbs of wet laundry in that poor thing.

Which means even if I could force the double and queen sized duvets in the machine I would burn it up and have a very cross husband to contend with.

Laundromats, places I avoid like the pest-and-plague ridden horrors they were in North GA (the owner shut off the hot water, now I ask you how the heck you are supposed to sanitise anything in cold water, and yes, bedbugs and lice were a constant problem in the schools...) are not something easily found in Scotland market towns. Everyone either has a clothes washing machine, or they take everything to the cleaners.

Including and especially duvets.

But not us.

We ran a bubble bath for the first duvet, sized double, and took turns agitating (read kneading, it was incredibly hard on the back and I think the king sized one is going to be snuck down to the cleaners), soaking, rinsing, agitating, and then using body weight to press the water out of the duvet and hefting it out to the back garden where it dripped for a full twelve hours, and then was hefted back into the house when the sun went down. Still wettish, I draped it over my lovely tower airer (drying rack) and it took four days to dry.

Because in Scotland, a top loading, large capacity washer is considered an unconscionable affection and display of conspicuous consumption. They are wasteful-use a lot of water and electricity, but in the process you get a hell of a lot of clothing and bedding washed.

My mother had an American top loader in her home near Manchester, England, and growing up I did think it luxurious whenever we visited her but that was because at our house on the desert of Southern California, my sister and I washed all of the family clothing and linens in a huge cauldron every Saturday morning. We had a portable wringer that we attached to the cauldron and my job was to feed the fabric through it while she cranked the wringer, then pull it out of the cauldron into baskets until she could refill and reheat the water for either more washing or more rinsing. I'll never forget the day my dad brought home the wringer washing machine, my sister sat down on the front porch steps and cried for an hour with joy.

There were a lot of reasons I liked visiting my mother in England, the laundry was one of those reasons. Until I met Paul I hadn't been to the UK since the Princess's wedding, and so it's taken me a while to figure out that there were HUGE differences between England and Scotland!

Tumble dryers, better known in the US as a dryer, are also something of a luxury, and the only people who have them are either middle-class with young children, or rich people. Dryers use an incredible lot of electricity. (Yes, Mum had one of those, too)

Of course, they also would come in VERY handy in the damp climate of Scotland, but that is not something my husband is quite prepared to buy into. In the months when the wood stoves are not burning it takes DAYS to dry anything if the sun isn't shining long enough to get things dry on the clothesline.

Which it wasn't for most of the summer.

I begged him to go get the free kitchen wood stove a friend offered us because I knew that bad boy would have a fire going year round (my husband loves my cooking and baking) and I could have a ceiling hung drying rack, oops, I mean airer, that would have solved my drying troubles.

But the cost of the wood outweighed my need for clean and dry laundry.


We took delivery Wednesday of most of our winter wood supply, and it was a bit pricey. I understand my husband's position on this topic-I try to wear long janes, socks, undershirts, heavy shirts, and thick pants to stay warm. We are on a fixed income and have to be careful.

We had a forecourt (driveway) full of beautiful wood and spent most of the Wednesday last afternoon stacking it in the garage. The log store is taking longer to finish than we figured because it's been raining more than it hasn't been, but when finished it will sit just outside of the back door for quick and easy replenishment of the stacks next to the stoves.

I baked a huge lot of chocolate chip cookies. These are not the same as chocolate chip biscuits as they are called here as I used a Betty Crocker recipe-if you bake with an American recipe it's called a cookie and is an important distinction apparently. LOL, I made Southern Biscuits for my husband one morning and he told a friend I'd made him cookies for breakfast.

Actually, what I made him were scones-not a cookie the way we think of it, but what Southern Biscuits are called in Scotland.

But only if you use a Scottish recipe can you properly call them scones.

Jeez. When I visited my mother they were called crumpets!

Scotland is an educational experience in many ways:)

02 October 2011

Oh boy.

First, @ Zippy, Sadie and Speedy's Mom-Frugal is the only way to fly, but oh I do know what you mean about one illness! It is the one difference between the US and the UK that stands out as 'their way is better than ours'-that here if someone in the family has illness they can be treated within a reasonable period of time, with a reasonable expectation of survival, and with a reasonable expectation of that treatment not putting them into the poorhouse.

The NHS isn't perfect, and there are movements afoot in government to cut it back drastically, but it is a health care system that seems to work pretty well.

That young American man who died with the abscessed tooth because he couldn't afford dental care sticks in my mind, as does my husband and his battle with testicular cancer. NHS would have matter of factly saved the young man's life, and NHS matter of factly saved my husband's-Paul was diagnosed after age forty, and had it come back (metastasized to his abdomen)-not a good prognosis in the US (read they likely would have let him die for lack of sufficient insurance), and not an especially good one in the UK or anywhere else for the simple fact that returned, metastasized testicular cancer is usually a killer. But Paul is alive, and doing well-we're almost to the ten year mark. Could. Not. Have. Done. It. Without. NHS.

@Lee County Clowder-thank-you for that, I try to tell myself the same things but it really helps to hear it from someone else!

And now for Blog'O'TheDay:

The longer I am in the UK, land of my parents, grandparents, great-grands going back thousands of years, the more I realise I am probably the first generation of my family to be fully, wholly, genuinely American-funny accent and 'weird' spelling aside. Yes, to my fellow Americans, I sound British. I grew up on Queen's English, not American English, so according to the Yanks, I not only talk funny, I spell funny too. And to top it off, I'm excessively polite, and I start my day with either a pot of tea or a pot of hot chocolate-not the American coffee.

BigWoo. I've come to see it's more like the difference between being from Boston instead of Atlanta, not the difference of being from the UK instead of America.

I have been thinking this for a while now, and wondering how to express it (read vent, sometimes these people drive me just a little bit mad). Last night we watched the first 30 or so minutes of Nineteen-Eighty-Four and the need to say something drove me out of the room and into the back (soggy, it's been raining since late Friday night) garden for a 'real' cigarette. When I came back in Paul had turned off the movie and fallen asleep.

I wonder why my great-grandparents came back to Scotland, what was the big drive to live out what was left of their lives and then die here? Why was my father always self (and actions) identified as a man of the British Isles? Why my mother returned to the UK after the divorce was a no-brainer, but the longer I am in the UK, the harder I wonder what brought my great-grands back here, and why my grand raised my dad to be British, and why my dad tried so hard to raise me to be British as well.

Which I thought I was there for a while, British. On the surface I've slipped into the British routine with ease. I have no real trouble understanding the accents (for the most part, although some of the more rural Scots do flummox me), I know the right words-for the most part. I have caused a bit of a stir because the words I use for things are English, not Scots, or Welsh, and certainly not Irish, but for the most part I have 'fitted-in' fairly well. In fact I sense I am something of a disappointment in that I do fit in here so well, I think the locals were hoping for more of a Wild West Show from me.

If only they knew.

I walk in the park (not far from our house) and wish I had a gun in my shoulder-it seems the height of lunacy to go about unarmed. In America I was licensed to the hilt to carry concealed, and to use the thing at my discretion-a discretion trusted by sheriffs and police chiefs across the Deep South. That trust was earned on a number of occasions, the first of which was when I used my little snubbie to run a crack-head out of my front yard and into the front yard of a retired LEO (law enforcement officer) two places down from my 20 acre place. I put a round over the junkie's head and he took off running; a near neighbour heard the gunshot and rang the police.

Long story short, while the retired LEO was wrestling the guy into cuffs he kept around the house as a memento, the active LEO taking my statement was nodding his head condescendingly at my story, convinced I'd shot at shadows in the middle of the night. Until the radio came alive with the news that my neighbour needed a pick-up on aisle five.

The next day the sheriff AND the chief of police made visits to my driveway to enquire: "Ma'am, why didn't you just shoot that boy and save the taxpayers some money?" Turns out the kid (about 20) had a rap sheet as both a juvenile and an adult, and they were in the expensive process of deporting him to his native Germany.

Here's where the trust was earned:

I looked at both LEOs for a minute, thinking what should I say, and then simply answered "I just didn't feel like killing anyone last night." Both understood what I meant-the young man was built like a long time junkie, whippet thin. If I'd knee capped him (my original target), unless I applied a very quick tourniquet and then got paramedics there REAL quick, the kid would have bled out on my front porch. And the application of First Aid is something I would have done, thereby put myself in a worse spot-hopped up junkies bleed profusely and feel no pain. There would have been a very real and very dangerous moment he would have been well placed to take my gun.

Couldn't have that.

So when I put that round over the junkie's head I was hoping the little bastard would go and I wouldn't have to kill him. Because I didn't feel like killing anyone. Not that night, or any other.

Say what you like about South Alabama law enforcement and it's very likely spot-on. But they aren't all corrupt, they have a job to do, and they appreciate it when the citizenry can be trusted not to add to their burden.

Word got around, and no matter where I lived in the American Deep South, I could count on the local LE to trust me and my discretion. Renewing my pistol permit was never a problem no matter where I was living at the time.

It's an American thing.

And I am an American.

I grew up on the desert ranges of Southern California, off-grid (due to an old feud between my paternal gran and the Mullhollands) watching and helping my older siblings, my dad, and the hired hands slaughtering chickens, raising cattle, making soap in the same huge cauldron my sister used to wash our clothes every Saturday morning and scald the dead chickens every Saturday afternoon. I had a pet coyote, and knew to pay attention to my horse if he shied from a spot-usually meant a rattlesnake, a tarantula as big as a car tire, or something dead.

I learned to swim in the wild Colorado River, body surfed the beaches of LA and Orange County, and skied off Mt Baldy in the winter.

I had a .22 from the time I was five, and a snub-nose .38 from the time I was ten because by then my dad had sold off the ranch and we were driving into the ghettos and barrios of Long Beach and Wilmington to train his boxers, young men sent to him by parents in Mexico and other Central American countries to get them away from the continual wars, and young men sent to him by the LE of Southern California because they knew if anyone could wear out the anger of a young man headed for adult hard time, it was my dad. He did it through a boxing programme he started, and several of his fighters went to the Olympics and beyond. A few fell through the narrow cracks but most went on to straighten out their lives, graduating from college and becoming dentists, MDs, school teachers...

I had tutors who taught me to think critically, grans who taught me to shoot straight if need-be, and to cook a decent meal with just about anything hanging around. I was raised to be at ease in a saddle, boxing gym, dinner party, or in a boardroom-my dad owned several businesses and trained me to run them too.

I had siblings who hated me, lol, because I seemed to be the reason our parents broke up, could shoot straight, ride for hours and still be able to help out around the place, and seemed to be my dad's favourite.

Competition was stiff 'round our place, and they thought it was the height of unfair that my dad took me everywhere with him. What they didn't know was that my step-mother was dedicated, apparently, to one thing only-killing me, and so Pop took me with him everywhere he went to keep me out of Dirty Dort's clutches.

I wasn't Pop's favourite, I was the replacement for the baby who'd died supposedly of SIDS 1st July 1955, but whose body was found dressed in a snowsuit in a nursery with the heat on full blast. Pop could never prove it but he always believed his second wife had sent the night nurse home, dressed the baby in the snowsuit, turned up the heat, and went to bed. He wasn't going to let that happen to me.

Another long story short, my parents married in the UK during the war. They had three children, then he got caught fooling around with the woman who later became my step-mother. She got pregnant, my mother did a Reno but stayed in the US at my paternal uncle's hoping for a reconciliation. The chippie had the baby Mother's Day 1955, by July of course, he was dead. My dad went to my mother for comfort, she got pregnant, when my dad didn't remarry her she gave birth to me, dumped me and two older siblings on my dad, and went back to the UK with my other brother.

I was not especially popular at our house. I could try to make a list of the things my step-mother did to me but the most illustrative is that on the way to have my portrait taken in my First Holy Communion dress, she tossed me out of a moving car and then tried to back the car over me.

Typical of those days, a neighbour rescued me, told my dad he should do something about that awful woman like institutionalize her, and washed their hands of it.

What my dad did was keep me under watch 24/7 (except when he was away on business, then he hired someone), teach me to defend myself including fighting back and speaking up loudly if someone was treating me badly, taught me to believe there was every reason to believe a better day WOULD come, and in the process raised a completely independent American girl.

My Pop taught me that if I wanted or needed something I should earn the money to buy it or learn how to make it myself-using repurposed material if needed. He taught me that if something wanted improvement to get out there and do it myself. The British for the most part want/need something but hit an obstacle and give up. Meh.

Americans for the most part aren't quitters, and I am an American.

It just took me 50+ years to figure that out. I grew up thinking I didn't belong in America, that I was more British than Yank. But.

I am an American.

I am strong. I am optimistic. I don't kneel in the mud and let 'Life' walk over me because it's what my forbearers were accustomed to do, and it is especially American that I would not stand for the squalor of the life the Winston Smiths of what used to be known as Great Britain meekly accepted as their lot, their due, their fortune, their fate.

I put up with about thirty minutes of that Doomer Porn trash movie last night and then couldn't take anymore. I am the girl who would have picked wild flowers to brighten up the cells.

I wouldn't have it any other way. 'Life' is not going to beat me down.

I don't have a scooby why my great-grands came back here but I will find out. I come from them, am only two generations out from them, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how or why any of my gene pool would come back to such a strange and sad way of life. Yeah, there is an amazing beauty to Caithness (where they are from and now rest eternal), and a breathtaking beauty to North Wales where we are really from, but...

People here are too meek. Too easily cowed. They live on top of each other and they accept a quality of life that is meager, small, and mean (cheap, it's a lexicon thing). They pay outrageous prices for tiny bags and bottles of things-OMFreakin'Gsh, a jar of applesauce here is the size of a small mustard jar and costs twice what a normal American sized jar would. It's as though these people take a perverse pleasure in deprivation.

And they do revel in it, and consider themselves vastly superior to Americans, calling us greedy cows because we expect a four dollar jar of applesauce to have some heft to it.

It's a head-shaker, a head-scratcher, and frankly? I find it obscene.

I'll continue to be the 'good American', the 'good guest'. But I am an American, and always will be.

26 September 2011

Yesterday I started using the e-cigarette. It's not bad but I am secretly sort of wanting a 'real' cigarette and contemplating a quick run to the newsie for a packet-an urge I shall resist fairly well since the e-cigarette does work to substitute for 'real' cigarettes for the most part. It is a bit strong and a lot heavier than a 'real' cigarette of course, but other than that it is remarkably like and I think I'll stick with it.

The battery is disguised as the business end of a 'real' cigarette and even has a logo at the top near where the filter attaches-just like a 'real' cigarette; the tip glows when the smoker inhales, and exhaling yields a very realistic smoke stream that is in actuality a harmless water vapor.

The filter screws in to the battery. In e-cigarette terms it's called a cartomiser (I chose to go with a company called VIP Electronic Cigarettes and they have their own names for things, the other companies call the filter an atomisers, a cartridge, and the nicotine in the hidden vial is termed e-liquid) that has a concealed vial of nicotine; when activated by both inhalation and the battery the nicotine becomes a vapor that is so low in nicotine the exhalation tests out to have only bare traces. The taste takes some getting used to, as does the weight.

I printed out the glossary, lol, there is an entire lexicon for using an e-cigarette. Users don't smoke, they 'vape', for example, and 'real' cigarettes are known as 'analogue' cigarettes, ROFLOL!

So I smoked the thing all over the house yesterday and there was no odor, no yellow film over everything, and it was fairly satisfying as a smoke. I wish I'd listened to my son while I was in the States, who tried mightily to get me to try the thing. He was so right about the e-cigarette!

Yesterday I also did something for Paul I never did for Crusty. I made real nachos for Paul to enjoy while he watched Formula1 racing. The nachos came out rather well, and now Paul is looking at the Betty Crocker cookbook I schlepped back to Scotland with a much less jaundiced eye. I've never made nachos before and I'm rather pleased at how well the recipe came out.

OK, I did substitute a small onion for the zucchini-who the heck puts zucchini in nachos?! And I used chile con carne instead of plain chile and beans, plus I used Red Leicester cheese instead of Monterey Jack-hey, this is Scotland, you can't get Monterey Jack at the Co-Op. Paul said he could get used to this kind of wifely activity.

Then for supper I made a nice beef roast with potatoes and onions, and broccoli on the side. Paul said he could get used to this as well. It's the second Sunday in a row that I've made a roast. We watch the sales and get them on offer, then I stick them in the freezer. In Scotland if one watches the sales one can fill the freezer with all sorts of goodies.

I had to laugh last week whilst sitting in the dentist chair trying not to think about what was going on in my poor mouth-the radio was on a talk show and the presenters were gasping about the tough lot of Baby Boomers who have to manage on a mere £24 ($37) a day. ROFLOL, Paul and I'd think we were living in the lap of luxury if we felt able to blow £24 every day!

I kept my thoughts to myself, however. The plain truth is that for most Baby Boomers there is still a mortgage to pay, credit cards and other loans (car, university for the children), and little to no skills at grocery shopping-veg gardening-making do/using up/repurposing. They're in a world of hurt because they owe-owe-owe, and have no clue how to cut down their expenses. It's so strange to think about, when I was a girl visiting here people were so careful with money, so frugal, and so sensible. Nowadays though, it's different here, everyone seems to have got this notion they need to have THINGS to prove they are worth something, and so there are almost as many McMansion estates here as there are McMansion subdivisions back in the US. While the 'fancy' pick-up trucks are not at all a common sight on the roads here, the behemoth SUVs are, and because the cost is so high, I know there are car loans on nearly every one we see.

Meanwhile Paul and I own the house with no mortgage, have a veg garden (which reminds me, hopefully we really will get that Indian Summer forecast for this week, and the tomatoes will be able to be left to ripen on the vine in the ground), have no car, and repurpose with ruthless skilz!

I can understand the problems in the US, there $37 a day is not enough most of the time. Having lived in several of the large metro areas of the US, I know from personal experience that using mass transit is almost an impossibility-it's dirty, dangerous, and unacceptably depressing. Decent grocery shops are few and far, far, far between. Housing prices were so high for so long that people are mortgaged and remortgaged to the hilt. Thrift shops are located in the worst parts of town and one needs personal transport to use thrift shops anyway for the most part.

But it's different here. Mass transit is clean and safe-I can get anywhere I need to go with a bit of planning, and we live out in the country. We don't have nor do we need a car available 24/7, it saves us no end of money! Every now and again we hire one for a couple of weeks, which is fun, but when it goes back to Arnold Clark (the Avis of the UK, lol), we are happy to see the forecourt (driveway) again.

We have and use bicycles, but it's simpler to walk down to the shops (which are clean, close-everything within a half mile including lovely charity shops, and did I mention clean?) towing a shopping trolley for heavier loads-LOL, Saturday morning I trundled off with a load of library books to return and my grocery list tucked into the trolley. I returned two hours later with a new load of library books, and several grocery items, I confess pulling the trolley up the hill to the house wasn't as easy as I would have liked. My point is that I was able to get a weekly shop and library trip accomplished on foot in less than two hours-without rushing. Never something I was able to do in the US.

Paul bought this house at a very good price and then worked himself to the bone to pay it off right away; he bought the house in '96 and by 2007 it was paid for. So, no mortgage.

I could go on but it's starting to sound smug and braggy. I really love my husband, it's great to be married to a man who appreciates the finer things in life-being debt free and living a simple life:)

Today I am sewing him a new pair of pyjamas, cut from flannel sheets in excellent nick bought from the British Red Cross charity shop. We've rearranged the furniture yet again-think we've finally got it where we want it now-and I have a dedicated workroom, YEA!!!!! Paul's old desk works perfectly as a cutting table and Saturday after I got back from the weekly shop I was able to get the cutting done, today I will do the sewing. It's fantastic to have the ironing board on permanent set-up, and the sewing machine in its cabinet awaiting a bobbin and some thread. The light in that room is amazing, too, so this afternoon I will be sewing to my heart's content!

Best part is that with the money we're saving by my not spending £6 a day on a packet of cigarettes, we'll be able to have a cat in the house. I feel guilty about that-I do feel I abandoned Mozart and Gonzo and wonder if I even deserve to have a cat in my life again. I think that's because I cannot get any information from the people who took them, they've changed their phone number and email addresses, and I can't get in touch with them. I have daymares about them out in the woods alone and frightened and wondering where I've gone...

23 September 2011

Wednesday Paul couldn't go with me to the dentist so I had to ride up on the bus alone.

We had it planned that I would travel back by taxi. I was not looking forward to the travel or the dentist appointment as the previous visit had been so very difficult. On that return journey I was reeling with pain and nausea, and bleeding badly-the ride back on the bus was a nightmare and the walk home wasn't any better. The wind howled louder than I did, and it was so cold it took me three days to warm up!

So Wednesday afternoon, trembling and faintly nauseous already, I managed to get myself onto the correct bus and purchase a ticket for the next village up. I arrived in time, bought some paper towels and persuaded the clerk to give me an extra bag (to spit blood out into, I just knew I was going to be in rough shape). I got into the dentist office and waited to be called, by which time I was shaking so badly I worried I would throw off the dentist aim!

Suffice it to say this appointment was considerably nicer than the last one. I rode the bus home, no trouble; walked home, no trouble. Sat up in bed the rest of the evening, and only needed aspirin to cope with the pain. Yesterday I didn't need anything and had to remind myself I'd had two teeth pulled.

I was so sick the time before that for the first time in my life I was afraid to go to the dentist. However I only lost two teeth instead of the four the dentist had planned on taking. Oh yes, I am happy!

Re the mass transit in our little corner of the Kingdom: it's very nicely done. Quite unlike the chicken buses in Central America, the only animals allowed on the bus are domestic ones with vax tags and they must be restrained by either cage or leash. Music may be enjoyed only via headphones, people say please and thank-you, and even the school children try to behave. This was my first bus journey alone and it went so well that I am sure I could get myself to Dundee if I wanted to go alone (a distinct possibility, they have fabric shoppes in Dundee!) I felt strange, though, this was the first time ever that I have taken public transportation in a foreign country, it was a bit scary. Because even though we have a somewhat common language, there are differences and I worried I would do or say the wrong thing. But I got there and back, and am feeling able to wander a bit on my own now. It's a really wonderful feeling. I don't feel up to trying to drive-it really is confusing, this driving on the left, and the roundabouts are very intimidating!

Paul couldn't go with me to the dentist Wednesday because he had to be home to accept two different shipments. One was my e-cigarette, something my son tried to get me to try while I was visiting in the States this past spring. I was so sick then I couldn't get the research done (heh, I was so sick I could barely move, my grandson must think I'm a real lump) but I've been doing the research and have found the right brand. We ordered it Tuesday afternoon and it was delivered Wednesday while I was at the dentist. As soon as the wounds heal I will be able to try it-REALLY looking forward to not being a smoker. I plan to cut down on strengths to the zero nicotine atomiser-yippee, all the things I enjoy about smoking with none of the nicotine. I feel like a winner already because all of the chemicals have been eliminated with the atomisers from the e-cigarette company, though. But I am really looking forward to being a total quitter and I think the e-cigarette is the way to go for me.


And we have a working, licensed TV in our house. A 22" colour TV was scheduled for delivery while I was at the dentist and Paul had to be here to sign for it. The license was paid for Wednesday night, the aerial installer arrived yesterday afternoon, and we were watching FreeView by 1530hrs.

British television is different than in America. First of all, when a television is purchased new or used the seller is required by law to communicate said purchase to the licensing ministry (seriously), as are aerial installers-who ask to see the license when they arrive to install the aerial without which there is no TV reception. It is highly illegal to watch live television (as it is broadcast on the airwaves) without a license, and they DO have monitoring vans that go through the street searching for unlicensed TV viewing. Officially the license fee is paid to the BBC, and it covers television, online, and radio use. There are tiers of the fees, we unfortunately do not qualify for another twenty years to have the senior citizen advantage of the free license, lol!

Most of the BBC programmes are very highbrow, lol, but actually very good and interesting, and then of course there is Dr Who on Saturday evenings. And there is the very distinct plus of no commercials-the licensing fee of £146 ($225) per year gives us four BBC channels commercial (called adverts in the UK) free, and the right to watch several other channels (very advert heavy).

So far as I can tell from channel surfing yesterday afternoon and evening, telly in the UK consists of the BBC channels, and several channels of other stuff. Like in the US, there are scrambled channels, and one can pay for premium a' la cart (dratted spell check!) choices that are loaded onto a card inserted into a slot on the telly, or one can (like in the US) order from a cable company.

The commercials are not like the ones in the US, but are charming for the most part although some of the adverts seem to be trying for the US style and are awful. It is a little funny to hear the American accents in the some of the adverts (not well done, I'm afraid, hmmm, I wonder if I could get a job doing voice overs?)

The programming on the BBC is excellent. Last night I watched a fantastic programme on art history that focussed on Charles the First's official portrait painter. We also get several other channels and a couple of those feature programming from the US! Last night I was able to catch up on The Big Bang Theory OMGsh, Penny and Leonard are going to be getting back together? WOOHOO!! Now, if I could just catch up on House I would be content, LOL. It does run here, so I just need to figure out when it is on. It did feel odd to be watching TV, and American TV at that, whilst sitting in my little Scottish bedroom, lol!

I am also now hooked on Downton Abbey, oh wow, what a spectacular programme! And I got to watch Midsomer Murders, that was splendid! I've been hooked on that programme since the first time I saw it on PBS years ago, and followed it as best as I could through they years-now I can keep up with it:)

It's strange though, to have TV in the UK, in this house. Paul always said he hated TV and we wouldn't have one, it was theone thing he insisted on and I decided it wasn't that big a deal, I could always keep up with the news online and use the iPlayers for things like Dr Who, Midsomer Murders, etc. But he came home from a walk a week ago and said we were getting a TV-I think to compensate for dropping the forum (he hasn't been posting, and I don't even think logging in except to answer PMs). And then it turns out he missed watching Formula1 racing. ROFLOL!

He went out yesterday afternoon to pick up a few things from the grocery and came home with a What's On, a UK television viewing guide. LOL, he said he looked around to make sure no-one saw him buying it. My husband is very well known in this small town, and everyone knows (even the children) that he is vehemently anti-TV. (Insert laughing smiley with rolling eyes)

People stop me in the street to chat-they are all curious about the woman who married Paul, the town misanthrope, lol, and now our house sports a TV aerial! I'm sure they're all thinking that on Halloween we'll have a Jack 'O Lantern and give out treats, lol, and have a holiday wreath on the door this Christmas.

Well, yes, actually, we will:)

17 September 2011

Hmmm. I get busy IRL and Blogger changes it's 'interface'-uhm, would that be the old dashboard thingy? Sigh.

OH BOY!!!!! Update on the new interface-DOES. NOT. WORK. To get this post in properly I had to copy and paste it into the old 'interface'.

HMPH! @Blogger-if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

@Zippy, Sadie, et al's mum-you are SO right! On this past Labor Day I read a Washington Post op-ed that Americans should have marched on the White House, and I agree. Non-violent but obvious protest against what is happening in the US. I hope it happens soon, but I wonder if it will happen at all. There seems to be a drive against the working poor and their cousins (the New Working Poor, formerly known as The Middle Class)

Meanwhile, I am so glad to hear your DH is coming home from hospital and is on the mend from NF-oh wow, I almost fell off the chair when I read about it! Thank-God you were there, thank-God you got 911 there so quickly, thank-God he responded to the antibiotics!

Sadly, there is a global drive on several fronts against the Common Man. There are things being put into place here in the UK that will strip the people of their ability to protest overdevelopment, and there are constant attacks on the NHS. There are so many attacks on civil liberties all over the world that it easy to believe the Doomers who say we're on a Highway to Hell. In Paris it is now against the law to pray in the streets-should we be in Paris and I make the Sign of The Cross when I see or hear an ambulance, for example, I will be arrested. The law is being enforced due to the increasing number of Muslim men who prostrate themselves in the middle of busy Parisian boulevards at prayer time. But last night it was announced that this law will cover all form of prayer-which a Sign of The Cross is. Guess we won't be going to Paris anytime soon.

I've stopped posting at the forum, in fact I've deleted my account. Paul is leaving his account there because he's part owner and admin, but he tells me he won't be posting either (LOL, we'll see, he loves that place, and men have a strange notion of what constitutes loyalty).

Someone said something a few weeks ago that has stuck in my head (that no-one on that forum is there to talk, they're there to spout and spew), and after several incidents of trolling/cyber-bullying I decided to end my association. Yes, I still believe Peak Oil is going to jump up and bite us all in the face; yes, I still believe that preparing for the potential ensuing chaos is the right thing to do.

But I also believe in the goodness of people, and to be honest, a group of cyber-bullies have taken over the forum who are merciless to anyone who is religious, hopeful, and not 'edgy' enough for them. And my darling (dense) Paul preferred to hope they would shut it and go away rather than smack them down every time they raised their pointed little heads. Two in particular were especially difficult and when it got to a certain point, that was it for me. I won't be going back. I'm sure I won't be missed.

Something that has been particularly painful/hilarious are the people who know my private email address but are choosing to use the forum messaging system to ask my husband to tell me how much they will miss me. Funny, I never saw them standing up for me when I was being attacked (but then they never saw my husband and our forum co-owner do so either, someone I thought was a personal friend, God knows he's been a guest in our home and broken bread with us. Never again, but my husband doesn't need to know that).

"Let's be lights in this age of darkness" Someone sent that saying to me after I left the forum a couple of days ago. They no longer post there, either.

'This little light of mine/I'm gonna let it shine..."

We're getting a TV (I almost fell over when Paul said that, and I wonder if he really thinks I'm that easily bought).

We're getting a cat. Not the older one we'd thought we were going to have, but a kitten who will grow up an indoor cat. There have been anti-freeze poisonings and fox attacks, and there are increasing attacks on cats by yobs-often in front of the horrified owner (usually a child). Not in our town as far as we know, but in nearby towns. Enough for us. Mozart (oh Lord I miss those two!) was right-In IS better!

As for my health, the antibiotics had to be extended for a second course but the infections are beat! I had starting walking before I knew how sick I was-thought I was just lazy and out of shape so I would FORCE myself around the track enough times to make two miles. Well, a couple of days ago I was halfway through the second mile when I realised not only was I striding comfortably and vigourously, but that I was indeed halfway through the second mile. I stopped on the track for a few minutes, shocked to understand yet again just how sick I'd let myself become, just how bad the pain had been (now that there was a no-pain condition to compare), just how little I was willing to accept from Life.

And that the leaves are beginning to turn colour. Autumn has fallen.

07 September 2011

6 Sept 1974 I arrived in Cape May New Jersey to begin basic training, USCGR. I was one of the first women to go through basic training since WWII. I've always been proud of that.

Years later and I am sitting in a dental surgery having a WHOLE LOT of dental work done. I feel as though I've been hit in the face by a telephone pole. I've had three teeth pulled yesterday, and while he was pulling those three he determined I have three separate infections two on the left and one in the front. I'm on a high dose of antibiotic, I feel woozy, and I feel angry.

Not at the dentist, he didn't do anything except arrange for me to be treated-he's doing a fantastic job!

I'm angry at the dentist back in Ozark who knew I was in trouble back in 1998 and pulled treatment because he believed my soon to be ex that I was the one who'd strayed. I'll never forget that. I'm sitting in the chair and he comes in saying "Someone's been a very bad girl" I asked him what the hell he meant and he told me my soon to be ex had rung round that morning. We got it cleared up but I also told him to go to hell and I'd find a new dentist.

But the divorce became so dangerously ugly that I was busy sorting that out, plus Fox was in terrible shape.

I didn't see a dentist again until 2004, and he was doing an incredible job getting things sorted out until one day my boss told me if I went to my next dental appointment I might as well not return to the office/apartment. The pain was bad but bearable and I quit in 05 and moved to No GA where I thought I would be able to use my new job dental insurance.

Before it kicked in, though, three months before it kicked in, I had what I thought was a sinus infection, and I was terrified, and broke, and sucked it up for days although the pain was horrific. My roommate had an old prescription of antibiotics and he gave it to me, and I seemed to recover.

Then the insurance kicked in and I went to find out about finishing getting my teeth fixed only to find there was so much wrong with my teeth that the dentist wanted $20K plus what the insurance would pay, and he wanted it up front because since the divorce I had no credit...

Off and on through the following years I've had horrible pain come and go on both sides of my face, and thought it was my sinus', something else I couldn't afford to treat.

I was sick the whole time I was in the States with my son, keeping the pain at something of a dull roar with a combination of high dose aspirin and sinus pills I bought over the counter.

A few weeks after I got home to Scotland I knew something was really, really wrong, and then two teeth broke while I was flossing. My husband made me an appointment with his dentist. I didn't want to go because I didn't need to hear how badly things were in there, and that the dentist would want £20K...except he didn't want that much. He wanted a little less than £300 and we paid it, and I went to the dentist yesterday for the second treatment.

It hurt beyond belief, I lay there last night moaning and crying and telling my husband I can not do this.

My husband set the alarm so that it goes off when my next antibiotic pill is due to be taken.

I left the dentist office yesterday minus teeth and plus a prescription for high dose antibiotics. Because I have a raging infection on the lower left side of my face where he took the remnants of two teeth out; I have a raging infection on the upper left side of my face where he took out a badly abscessed tooth; and I have a raging infection across the upper front where he'll be removing three teeth as soon as the infections are knocked down.

He'll be replacing them with a temporary bridge and tell me as soon as the trauma is healed and the gums shrink back to a normal size, we'll discuss better alternatives. He was quite firm that I should take the antibiotics to the finish, that I should 'swish' with warm salted water three times a day. And he told me in an amazed tone that he can't believe I'm ambulatory but since I am he'll keep me out of hospital. For now.

A few weeks ago a young American man died because he couldn't afford the treatment I'm getting. He couldn't afford the pain killer and the antibiotic so he chose the pain killer, and the infection in his one abscessed tooth migrated to his brain and killed him.

I'm angry-I could have had this taken care of years ago if not for the divorce, if not for my former employers, if not for the greedy Atlanta dentist who let me leave his office knowing I was sick. Because my Scottish dentist tells me it's obvious I've had these infections over and again for YEARS.

And I am sickened and angry because a young man in America is dead because he couldn't afford dental care; because a dentist, and then and emergency room let him walk out of their facilities without proper medical care, and he died.

My son is in America. He doesn't have insurance, either. He can't afford dental or dental care either. So I'm scared, too.

Forgive any typos, I'm sick from the surgery and the antibiotics.

20 August 2011

It's been thirty years since I found out I was pregnant with Fox. My beautiful boy, my son. Those terrible years we were estranged now over and passed, I am the mother of an adult son who lives in a different country than I do, with my beautiful grandson and I miss them both so much that I hope for miracles-I would be SO happy if Fox and 'Bas came over to the UK and my family was physically together!

Day before yesterday my husband taught me how to change bicycle tires. He and Fox would spend hours in the garage working on bikes-both love pedal and motor bikes in the same way. I know they would enjoy spending time together, and I know that Paul, in-spite of his avowed "Never wanted children" is anxious to be a father to Fox and a grandfather to 'Bas. I know too, that he feels terribly that we weren't able to get Mozart and Gonzo over, and while he has stopped asking if I have heard back from their new Peoples, yesterday we saw a ginger cat the exact colour of Mozart and we both went quiet for a moment.

Because yesterday was the one year anniversary of my arrival in Scotland, and the day before the last time I held my ginger close.

What a year it has been! I came over to Scotland unsure of what I would find-I was only 99% sure that Paul and I were right for each other and because I am after all the five thousand year old woman I knew it was very possible that the missing one percent of surety would prove we weren't a couple after all, and I would end up back on the plane to the US for another round of 'single life'.

I read and post on an ex-pat forum and often make the joke that I came over last year to see if Paul and I could share one small Scottish bathroom-but kids, it ain't really a joke! It's symbolic of all the things that can wrong in a relationship, it's a metaphor for the little things that erode away at a relationship until you are waking up in the middle of the night wondering why in the name of all that's holy you climb in the bed with that person in the first place.

I woke up this morning (BST) at 0230 not because I am wondering why in the heck I am with Paul, but because I have a WHOPPING toothache-oh ouchie! I have a dentist appointment Monday that I am not looking forward to in the least as the dentist informed me in the consultation that I have a rather lot of dental work wanting done. I'll be seeing him weekly until the middle of September. Oh joy.

Yesterday we went to lunch with a dear friend of ours, a former work colleague of Paul's who has been gently prodding him to go back to work, and yesterday was finally able to get him to admit that he misses it. I love Sarah as though she were my own sister for getting that admission from him! I watched the two of them together yesterday going around inspecting buildings and the interest, the glow emanating from my adorable husband was fantastic to see.

He was offered a really splendid job in Wales last month and I know now that he is regretting declining the offer (I'm regretting it too, the money was incredible and it would have got him back on the game).

We've been working on the house. The contractors are coming this week to start the work we can't do ourselves, which means we'll be painting and 'trimming' on the inside while the contractors are working out. We're having a fence and gate installed across the forecourt and the side garden, and some work done on the roof and a couple of the shed windows. We were going to build a log store across the bottom of the terrace wall below the back garden but have decided we are going to use the garage instead to store the logs and need to get started building the log store in there. Based on what it took us last year to get through the admittedly brutal winter (which I expect will be repeated to a lesser degree this year), we're going to need most of the garage fitted out with log stores, lol, poor Paul!

We have a lovely life. Boring but lovely in the boringness. I've got him hooked on jigsaw puzzles-next up backgammon!

I'm making good use of the time this morning-a blog post (Hi Fox and Kev, thank-you for reading:) to catch my son up (why is it that I always forget the important stuff when writing or talking to him?) washing up in the kitchen, reading a few news pieces online and answering emails, then off at a reasonable hour to get the morning walk in-the doctor wants me to lose two stone (close to 30lbs) and I completely agree!

It was depressing enough to have gained 15 extra pounds after arriving in Scotland last year, but when I was with Fox this spring I added an unconscionable twenty more! The heat/humidity made exercise impossible for me as thanks to my stoopid little heart thing I can't go outside if it's over 85F and 60% humidity because then I swell up like a water balloon, especially if I have been less than conscientious about the low-sodium diet. Which I have been for the past year, which explains the extra pounds. I now own a bathroom scale (I think it owns me, although I am trying not to obsess.)

I love my son. I miss my son. But I cannot-CANNOT-take the heat and humidity in SouthEast Alabama, not without tons of money lying about to pay for air conditioning and a car to get around. One of the things I love most about Scotland, and that I think my son and grandson would love as well, is the joy of not needing a car. I can walk to the shops for just about everything I need; I can now ride my wonderful red bicycle to the shops as well, and to the 'beauty spots' (British for tourist attraction-photo ops) of which there are many in the very near vicinity.

We rode the bus yesterday to visit our friend who'd kindly arranged a tour of a restoration being done in the town she is assigned to as conservation officer-we had an incredible time climbing all over this amazing 16th century building in hard hats and hi-vis vests, poking around at 15th century timbers reused in the 16th to build a 'merchant house' being restored to a ground floor shop and what will be a rather posh home above on the next three stories.

The only disappointment was the bustle of the workmen (in whose way we strove not to be)-it was impossible in the commotion to enjoy a sense of history; no shadows out of the corner of the eye, I think the din has driven out whatever 'ghosties' may have been there.

Just as well!

14 August 2011

So far it's been quiet-no riots in Scotland but arrests are up now on young people who've been caught 'inciting to riot' using FaceBook. I'd laugh but it's not really funny given the seriousness of the rioting, but if a FB user doesn't know by now that there IS NO ANONYMITY WITH FACEBOOK he/she deserves what they get. I don't FB and don't intend to (har-dee-har-har, you watch me have to FB now to keep up with the grandson).

We had a houseguest last week, and after he left to return to England, we jumped on the bus and went to Dundee. I'd seen the doctor Monday and been told I needed to lose two stone (sob, nearly thirty pounds!), so we used that as an excuse-need to find bathroom scales.

Which we found, and which I regret to say measure in stone and kilo, not pounds. Dammit. It sits there in the bathroom glaring reproachfully up and I stand there in the bathroom glaring resentfully down...

Dundee was not at all fun Friday. We took the bus down-lovely ride at the top front of the double decker, but within minutes of getting off the bus near one of the shopping centres we could sense something wasn't right-the vibe was tense, still, thick. I had my rucksack on and quickly began to wish that I hadn't. I felt vulnerable, as though anyone coming up too close behind me was going to be able to get at my purse and passport quickly.

We stopped at the chipper for sausage suppers (oh yeah, that helped that 30lbs alright). We took our treat back down to the shopping centre area and stood under cover watching the mist and people passing. People passing who looked hungrily and resentfully at our sausage suppers and I began to wish I'd had time to make us a lunch so we could have picnicked in the Howff Cemetery the way we usually do. I seriously thought some of the passersby were going to lunge at us, I really did, it was a VERY strange vibe going on in Dundee Friday!

People looked strange, almost as though I was seeing them through a fun house mirror. They looked angry, and on edge, and it wasn't just the young people, even the older people, the OLD people looked snarly.

We had a haggis we meant to post down to said houseguest who'd forgot to take it down when he left. Paul went into the post office and I stood outside to smoke a cigarette. While I was standing out there I noticed a beggar harassing an elderly Hindu. The beggar looked to be in his early to mid-twenties. He had his hood pulled up against the misting rain but there was something sinister about him-I kept telling myself "Oh now, you're hyper because of the riots" but eventually he left the slim pickings of the older man, walked past me rather automatically asking if I had a spare twenty pence without stopping. He made eye contact, his eyes not really registering any emotion, not even disappointment when I shook my head regarding the 20p.

About three minutes later I noticed he was back with friends. Friends who looked more seedy than he. One of the young men looked about 17 and as though he was slumming-he positioned himself across the pavement (sidewalk) from me and I started to think, "Oh hey, I think I might be about to be mobbed..." I didn't really want to think that but Gavin de Becker's outstanding little book The GIft of Fear popped into my head, the example of getting into a lift with someone who makes you VERY uncomfortable...

I got rid of my smoke (I was at that point willing to take a chance on a bobby giving me a littering fine-nae bother, didn't see a one the whole time we were in Dundee, and that was odd as we always have before) and went inside the post office.

Just before deciding to get rid of the smoke and go into the post office, the group of young men down the pavement started to row, and the young man who'd stationed himself close to me had the strangest look on his face, as though a prospect was slipping away.

When I got inside and found Paul, I moved my purse and passport to the inner pockets of my jacket. Next time we go to Dundee (or Edinburgh, or Aberdeen, or Montrose, or...) I am NOT wearing a rucksack. Which of course annoys me. For one thing, the rucksack is very handy for hauling lunches and water and purses and passports and jackets and facial tissue and napkins and camera bags. All of the things a newbie-in-town likes to carry (camera, maps) and all of the things a Scottish housewife likes to carry (purse, tissue, lunch, water, jackets, brollies, etc). It makes much more sense to carry one's food nowadays with the hygiene of most establishments being highly to question; I like my creature comforts of jackets and tissues and brollies...

But all that makes one a target. I knew I'd got off easy with that beggar-I was smoking a cigarette and it was clear I had things in my rucksack-poor and downtrodden I didn't look in my NorthFace jacket and rucksack.

It's back to money belts and concealed carry for me. I hate that. The yobs have made getting out too unpleasant.

Not to mention the spare thirty pounds weight I'm hauling around-if I had to protect myself I wouldn't be able to.

What a lovely life, eh, to be having to think "Could I fight these guys off?" No one should have to do that, and every one is lately. I read a number of horror stories this past week, and more are coming to the surface of what the regular people went through down in the riot struck areas of England last week-people pulled from their cars and beaten, mothers attacked going home from work and the library, whole families trapped in their homes as the mobs swirled through their streets setting wheely bins and cars and the occasional house, on fire.

No-one was spared if they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The older man who died after being savaged by a gang during the riot-he was standing up for the British values of his growing-up, the values I grew up with, btw, and tried to raise my son to have as well.

Oh hell, no-one was spared period. People who thought they were safe in their homes were broken in on by the mobs in some areas, diners were attacked and robbed. People had to leap from their burning homes because a gang of feral animals decided they were 'gonna show the rich and the government and the police that we can do what we want". Swear before God, that is what the little bastards are ALL saying-"We can do what we want, and the government ain't takin' proper care of us so we have to take what we want." Even the middle class, the rich, and the advantaged who have been arrested red-handed robbing, looting and vandalising.

I'm definitely out of shape two weeks away from 55. I need to get back into shape for a lot of reasons not the least of those reasons being I want to go back to Dundee and not be afraid.


We cut through the Howff Cemetery without stopping to look at any of the 16th century tombstones, hurried through our shopping and got the bus back to home as soon as possible. I don't think we'll be venturing to Dundee for a while.

11 August 2011

A police chief calls rain the world's greatest police tool, and he hailed the downpours over England yesterday for the quiet. One or two spats of attempted thuggery quickly handled by the constabularies that have been beefed up with squads from Scotland and other parts of the UK.

But I think the real reason the violence was stopped yesterday was because of the horrific deaths of three young men in Birmingham, and the beating of a 68 year old man in Ealing that left the man unidentified in critical condition.

The three young men, youngest being only 21, and the other two late twenties and early thirties, were victims of what appears to have been a racially motivated hit-and-run. Police have the driver in custody after an all out hunt yesterday. The father of one of the victims called for peace yesterday afternoon, and it appears his was the voice that finally dispersed the rampaging mobs of youth.

And what stellar (read that as dripping with sarcasm) youth! Some have been interviewed by news outlets as laughing at the police and government, and scorning the values their 'boring' parents have tried to instill; asked why they are looting and being so destructive they are replying that it is to show the police (and government and parents) that the rioters can do as they please.

These little monsters (go to hell Lady Gaga!) are laughing as they ask "Wot they gonna do, gi'me an ASBO? I'll jus lif'it" (What are they going to do, give me an ASBO {Anti-Social-Behaviour-Order}? I'll just lift it")-meaning they will simply ignore the terms of their ASBO and continue doing as they please.

And what they please to do is destroy 'rich people's property', and get free stuff. Seriously.

One young girl (aged 15) told reporters she'd participated in starting fires in small business' because the shopkeepers "are rich, and we need to show them".

Mainstream media is restraining themselves to calling them 'little blighters' but all over the UK the real label being applied is 'little bastards' and people are arming themselves, fortifying their homes and business', and organising, some unfortunately with the help of the EDL and BNP, two of the most dangerously racist groups I've ever seen, they remind me of WWII Brown Shirts, the KKK, and the NAZI political party. (You did know the Nazis were a political party, right, like the Tories, Whigs, Democrats, Republicans? That they swept to power with HItler at their head before becoming the single most dreaded name in genocidal insanity?)

Tuesday night as Croyden burned, a Polish lady had to leap for her life into the arms of fireman gathered below her first storey flat. US readers should understand that what the UK calls 1st storey is what we would call second floor, and that the heights of the floors in the UK are often much higher than we are used to seeing in the US-she had quite a leap to make, and almost didn't as she was paralyzed with fear).

The media tried to find her all day yesterday as the readers (mostly) were worried about her safety. She has been located, and she is not doing well emotionally; her sister said "We thought this was such a civilized country!"

But it's not right now, and while the violence had quieted down for now, I strongly suspect it will blaze back up once we have some drier days. Two Scottish teens have been arrested, one in Glasgow, and one in Dundee-MUCH closer to our little village, with more arrests being on the local police agenda. FaceBook and Twitter are being used to organise flash mobs, and the police have not shut down the social networking sites as they are using the information to try to prevent further violence.

Good on them, and I hope every one of these little bastards, these feral little savages of every race, religion, and apparently of every socio-economic class (several of the youth being arraigned are from middle and upper-middle class homes, ffs) have the book thrown at them.

They are being likened to the characters in The Lord of the Flies, and having read that terrifying book years and years ago, I have to agree. These 'children' are savages, frightening beyond words. One mother kept saying "I did not raise them to be like this!" and she has my total empathy-these rioting animals are NOT all from dysfunctional homes that lack grounding in common decency.

Some are of course-one mother when rung at 0245 to come and fetch her teen from the rioting was angry about being woken to attend parental duties.

And most horrifying, most saddening, maddening-several of the youths were accompanied by a parent or older relative.

God save us! I would prefer the rain to stop-I need to get another crop of peas in, and to hang out the washing, and, and, and, and...and I find myself hoping it continues to rain long enough to take the fervor off the rioters. Because I have a VERY bad feeling that this is not going to end well for the UK, that the violence and sheer lunacy WILL spread to every corner of the UK.

We are having contractors around tomorrow to see about fencing off the forecourt from the street, and installing shatter-proof double-glazing on the last front window that we stupidly didn't have done last fall. We are rethinking our shopping habits-no longer does the purse (wallet) go into the handbag or rucksack. Instead I am working on designs for new rucksacks with pockets on the straps for not only the purse, but a weapon that can be easily reached. We are starting to carry walking sticks that can be used for protection as well (very glad I learned how to use a staff all those years ago, and interesting how the moves all come back).

And every kid in a hoodie that passes our house is eyed suspiciously. The council estate with the worst reputation is across the park from us, the kids cut through the park and our neighbourhood to get to the grocery and other shops. They've left beer bottles and other litter in their wake many times, and I've caught some of their parents urinating on the hedge and lamp posts across the lane several times. Two weeks ago obscene graffiti was splashed across the monuments in the park, and a swastika painted across the bronze back of the man who donated the park over a hundred years ago-a man who made his fortune making and selling sweets to the people of the area and Scotland, and who gave nearly every pence of it back to the people in one way or another. He hired the jobless, he built housing shelter for the low-waged that was comfortable and modern for the times; and he donated parks, concert halls, and libraries-all to help the disadvantaged.

So their thanks is to paint obscenities and swastikas across one of his gifts.

As I said, we are having contractors in tomorrow-we will have a fence across the forecourt just as soon as we can get the work done as we have also had some of the yobs cutting through our gardens to get to the lane behind us. Of course, they also had to cut through other gardens, and Paul and I are not the only homeowners in the process of fortifying our homes.

Our village is a small one, our neighbours are nice people who mind their own affairs. And the yobs in our town as are capable of destructive rioting as any other yobs in big or small towns.

09 August 2011

I'm sitting here in north-east Scotland watching the news coming out of England with my jaw scraping the floor-I cannot wrap my mind around what is happening and I am starting to wonder if this insanity is going to spread north into Scotland. Frankly wouldn't surprise me, we have a lot of the same conditions and problems as the English do just now, problems and conditions that are the real source of the rioting spreading through England.

This link will take you to the Daily Mail, it's sort of our version of FoxNews-a little breathless, a little tabloidish, and a lot right-wing, but dang if they don't always have the scoop on the best photos of whatever is going on!

***There should be a hyperlink showing here but I'm not seeing it, leave a comment if you can't either:)

The pictures that the Mail has been posting the past three days are shocking. One photograph that was published Saturday made me angry to the point of shaking with it-the photo showed a child of no more than ten out in the midst of the rioting with an adult who was clearly an older brother or father, and it wasn't until last night that I was able to get the image and the thought ("Who in the hell takes a CHILD to a riot?!) out of my head.

The image was replaced with more frightening ones, when the violence spread north to B'Ham, and Nottingham-bad enough the violence had spread to the very outer skirts of the M25 (which rings greater London) and was now a mere two miles (as the crow flies) from the home of our houseguest (whose wife remained South, and is under strict instructions to 'Bunker Down' and be ready to evacuate away should thing become worse than they are already-to get to their village the rioters will need boats or cars, the nearest bridge across to the village is thirty miles from where the violence erupted last night).

This simply isn't something ANYONE expected when a gangsta (self-proclaimed, the photos he posted on his FaceBook page make it very clear, he was 'gangsta') was shot and killed resisting arrest last week. This is beyond protest, this is wanton thuggery.

A better commentator than myself has likened it to 'shopping by violence' and I think he is spot-on. Children as young as seven years old have been photographed clearing sweets counters into pillowcases-but only after having been snapped using bricks and ballbats to break the windows of the shops. They are feral, and the violence is becoming much worse. There is a viral video now showing a young asian man bleeding profusely who is robbed by passersby who first seem to be coming to his aid.

I asked Paul if he thought the violence would spread to Scotland and he said he really didn't think so, but I wonder. When I read the comments on some of the news sites I wonder-it doesn't matter where a poster is posting from, the sentiment is the same: "Multi-culturalism doesn't work; the immigrants are taking 'our' jobs; the men are here only to rape our women..."

It. Is. Scary.

I was in Los Angeles when the Watts Riots broke out. I was appalled when Reginald Denny was brutalised during the Rodney King Riots-appalled and terrified, I really understood how fragile the line between 'diversity' and mob-violence' was the day the video was released-it COULD happen because just look, it HAD happened!

And it is happening in England right now as I type this blog entry. Mobs are roaming more and more streets attacking people who are simply trying to get home; shops all over England are being looted in broad daylight, and Parliment has been recalled.

There are rumours of Martial Law.

The riots are no longer confined to the socio-economically depressed areas of Greater London. Last night diners at an 2 star, upscale restaurant in Notting HIll (a VERY posh area) were attacked when thugs broke through the windows and robbed the diners of jewelry, etc. The restaurant kitchen staff (have I mentioned that my son is a chef?) rescued the diners and led them to the safety of first the bathrooms and then the wine cellars-and I have to be honest in saying that my first thought after thank-god no-one was injured was OMFG THAT COULD BE MY SON LEADING HIS KITCHEN STAFF T RESCUE HIS GUESTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

***There should be a hyperlink showing here but I'm not seeing it, leave a comment if you can't either:)