31 December 2013

The last afternoon of 2013. I follow a blog by Victoria Elizabeth Barnes:


And on her most recent post she tossed out the info she's not especially keen on New Years celebrations, saying "I'm not finished with this year." I know just what she means.

But soon it will be 2014 here in NE Scotland and I've taken a few minutes to reflect on not only 2013 but past New Years celebrations. For example when 1999 became 2000 and we all held our breath hoping all those IT wonders managed to pull off the biggest IT scramble ever - and of course they did, God bless them! I very clearly recall standing on Westmont Drive at the stroke of midnight with my son and several of his friends watching the street lights flicker several times then return to a steady yellow glow.

For some reason whenever I pause to reflect on New Years of my past I am stuck for a few (mercifully brief) moments on the events of 31 Dec 1973 that saw me walking home from a party after the Big Date became the Big Dud. I was 17 and it was my first ever big date for NYE. As I vaguely recall I spent some of my hard earned part time job money on a special outfit for the evening - those stupid shoes were tossed into the shrubbery because really, walking five miles (with around ten to go, I gave up after five and forked out for a cab) in those ridiculous shoes was, well, ridiculous.

I confess my shoe stoopid continued for many years - yes, I have a bunion on my right foot from many more years of ridiculous shoes. Sigh. I always wear sensible shoes now. Back then I did learn something though - from then on I made a point of having a spare pair of sensible shoes with me no matter where I was going. Because ya just never know what's going to happen, do you?

Yes, 1974 was the year I started hauling around a big tote (and you thought it was some fashion queen who made big totes so popular, ha!) so I could have a spare pair of sensible shoes and a pair of jeans too, just in case I'd grown up to be a big magnet for big dud dates and was stranded again. And again.

Over the years the tote progressed to home sewn diaper bags that progressed to rucksacks because really, have you ever tried chasing a toddler through an amusement park whilst simultaneously trying to keep a fully packed diaper bag slung over your shoulder? Well I have and trust me it's really a no-brainer to use a rucksack. Hands-free, gotta love it.

I mean, I'm a shoe and bag nut - 3" heels are soooooooooooo fab, and OMFGsh I LOVE little beaded bags! I mean stoopid love, I really cannot resist at least looking at stoopid shoes and bags.

But "Prepared Practicality!" has been my secret mantra since that NYE in Southern California so many years ago. Over the years the rucksack carried a spare set of clothes, 1st aid essentials, and a toothbrush. Heh, Doomers think they invented the BugOutBag but I started it on 1 Jan 1974. So there!

LOL, I think that's the most thought I've given 31 Dec 1974 in decades! I wonder whatever happened to that Bel-Air pinhead who threw me out of his rag-top on a dirt road in old Cerritos that night because I said "Not without a ring we don't!"

Another 'winner' NYE was the ultra fail of 31 Dec 1998 when my soon-to-be ex-husband begged me to spend the evening with him in hopes of working things out. He got drunk, passed out, and I ended up stuck on his couch 150 miles from home, yeah, that was a swell night too. Our son was doing a teen NYE sleep-over with school friends and DAMN I still wish I'd agreed to be a chaparone for that rather than spend yet another dreary NYE with Crusty.

But there have been good NYEs of course. The most recent have been the best ones, Paul and I share our fireworks with the neighbours and then go in the house and fall asleep watching the Americans on telly, partying like it's still 1999. Very peaceful. I like that.

Tonight God willing we'll do the same. We need to make a fireworks run but other than that we're set for another peaceful NYE.

So how was 2013 for us? Busy alternating with not so busy. A few more DIY projects done, sigh - a few more stone added. A health scare for Paul (whew, he's fine, no cancer reoccurrence and no diabetes either); the realisation that I need to 'move it or lose it' forever and really, at 57 I'm too young to lose it, lol! So of course we've made some very firm NY resolutions.

And since we didn't do so badly at all on the ones we made 31 Dec 2012 I have high hopes for the ones we'll be making tonight. I'm really impressed with Paul and I for the past years work - we did quit smoking and that's made a large difference for us both.

2014. Bring it!

17 November 2013

I went out into the back garden last night in the bright, bright moonlight and looked up for stars. I was standing there in the crisp late autumn night hoping to see another shooting star when it hit me that it was 16 November.

And I thought back. Did the maths...

The sum follows me.

39 years ago I was sitting in a Philadelphia hotel room enjoying the sight of my afternoon's shopping spree. I won't say the bed was heaped with shopping spoils, I'm not built that way and wasn't then, but an utterly delicious winter hat nestled in the glorious Strawbridge and Clothier hat box next to a few new outfits spilling out of Macy's and boutique shopping bags.

Clearly, 39 years later, the hat is the only thing that sticks in my mind. I had that hat for years. Loved it, wore it, felt like an heiress in it. Crusty killed it in the 90s, the bastard, by tossing it in the washing machine. He killed several of my favourite clothes that way. He'd killed my USCG foul weather jacket the same way in the late 80s, and when I begged to know why he'd done it he said he'd always hated that jacket. No doubt. It was warm and I loved it. 'Nuff said, he said he'd always hated The Hat when I demanded to know why he'd washed it. I always did the laundry but every now and again he would run a load, and something else of mine would be ruined. 

I had a beautiful cashmere car coat I somehow managed to keep safe from him until we moved from California - somehow in the move after my dad died several boxes of my things somehow didn't make it onto the moving van. That was Crusty's way. If it was mine he either ruined it or left it behind in one of our many moves over the marriage. Bastard, but Crusty is not the topic of this post.

The topic of this post is that on 15 November 1974 I graduated from USCG Basic Training Cape May. My step-mother and her live-in boyfriend made the trip out to New Jersey and from Cape May we all went to Philly for a week. So 39 years ago tonight I was sitting in my hotel room revelling in my temporary freedom from uniforms and superior officers, freedom from Colors, Taps, and rules.

And to be honest, all I remember from that week is:

Lunch at Bookbinders (Down an cobblestoned alley. Looked like England. And Scotland)
The drive to Allentown (Grey, wet, cold. 'Nuff said)
The afternoon shopping (Grey, cold, windy, GLORIOUS - OMG I SHOPPED PHILLY! Walked down their version of the High Street with enough cash in my purse to convince me I could buy anything I wanted)

And then we all went back to California. I had two weeks on the beach in autumn (my favourite time of year on Seal and Huntington Beach) until I had to report to RESTRACEN Yorktown. For further training.

I was 18 years old. I remember flying into Newport News and looking down over Virginia thinking 'This really is the beginning of the rest of my life, and it all starts down there...'

And it did. From there the pattern of my life to 2009 at least was set in stone. If I hadn't gone to Yorktown none of what followed would have happened. I wouldn't have gone to Alaska, or any of the other places I went because of things that happened and decisions I took in Yorktown.

And in the end, I wouldn't have Fox, and I wouldn't have 'Bas. So in answer to a question I posed to a friend nearly as many years ago as my Philly shopping spree - Yeah, I'd do it all again if that was the only way to be Fox'sMom, and 'Bas' gran.

23 September 2013


Thank-you, had to let that out.

When one begins digging into one's family tree and history in the absence of reliable oral and physical history, one finds things that are at first disappointing. All I can say is do more research, and most importantly, continuously think of your ancestors as people to remember they were people, and in context with their times.

I've lived in Scotland now for over three years. Living here has made tracking down my family a lot easier; surprisingly I've found more info re the American side since living over here than I ever did whilst living in the US. And I've found out so much more about how my Scottish side of the family got 'over the water' and to the US.

Now, that comes with some (OK, lots!) of frustration. For example (and right now the most aggravating!) finding my father's US Army record hasn't been a great experience- according to the currently available info my dad only finished two years of HIGH SCHOOL but I know that's not true because I had his high school diploma - he graduated with honours from a Los Angeles high school in 1937 aged 16. By 8th December 1941 aged 20 he had two years of college towards a mechanical engineering degree under his belt, and I also had the paperwork to prove that.

Until Hurricane Ivan. When I lost just about everything I owned including my dad's things.

So when I contacted the Veteran's Administration to make the corrections I had to have copies of the paperwork that will prove the errors and instigate corrections. This is a long involved process, the high school wasn't terribly helpful in helping me find out the correct department of the Los Angeles School District administration offices to go through, and the college wasn't all that helpful either. In fact, the attitude from both was 'Gosh, that's ancient history, why does it matter now?'

Well it matters to me, to my son, and eventually it will matter to my grandson. How do I know this? Because in the process of finding my dad's info I found my granddad's, and my great-granddad's, and a lot of that is wrong too, and it matters A LOT to me as a grand and great-grandchild. So far my son is nearly a perfect chip off this old block and his son is showing a lot of the same 'chipedness', so it will likely very much matter to them as well. Hmph to anyone who doesn't get this.

I'm making my way through it all. The Veteran's Admin assures me that while the oxen are slow the wheel does grind and eventually not only Pop's but Granddad and Great-Granddad's info will be adjusted. Good. Sooner the better.

Interesting info about family is also available via released Census stats on both sides of the Atlantic. One very interesting thing I found out was that during The Great Depression my paternal grandmother kept the family going (and rather nicely I must add!) by becoming a seamstress - she earned roughly five times the average annual salary as a 'dressmaker' but there is so much more to it than the dry entry to the 1940 Census - she earned that astonishing sum because she had three sons to put through university and so took her sewing skills to Hollywood. Now I understand why my family knew so many 'movie stars'.

When finding these sparse, bare 'facts' one has to take it all in, including what may appear a disappointment at first (until thinking it all over). A good example of this is the US Census 1880 entries for my great-grandparents. Lovely thing, the Census, on that one it lists where my great-great-grandparents hailed from and it was a bit of a shocker to learn my older sister hadn't been dreaming when she claimed our great-gran Sophie was an Ashkenazi Jewess.

The reason for the shocking part to me isn't her being Jewish, so if you're anti-Semitic, sod off now.

I'm proud of that. I'm proud of her having the courage to marry outside her faith for the love she had for my great-granddad, and gratefully proud of the prudence of my great-great-grandparents for getting the hell out of Hesse Darmstadt before Hitler was born and grown to have murdered them off.

That side of my family tree had been in HD for many centuries; before sensing something rather awful was going to happen my Hessian ancestors had been religiously, socially, educationally, and financially successful. But pogroms were starting against Jews in parts of Germany in the early 19th century and my g-g-grandparents had the sense and courage to up-sticks to the US. May they rest in peace forever, I thank them for their good sense.

No, the shocking bit is that my older sister managed to know that and wasn't just fantasising. She had a habit of that so I'd discounted her 'version' because research from the American side of the Atlantic showed me my great-gran's maiden name was quite common in the Caithness area of Scotland (still is, btw).

But the 1880 Census sheet is clear - she was the daughter of immigrants from Hesse Darmstadt and from there it was a simple matter to find out they were Jewish. And that explained why they were living in a Buffalo, NY Jewish tenement in 1880 despite the fact my great-granddad was a Roman Catholic Scot with two university degrees (nice to find out that bit was true:).

After thinking it all over it explained why our branch of the family was called the black sheep, why family legend recounted a huge estrangement (sadly, given the times, it had to be over the marriage of an RC to a Jewess), and why in-spite of those two engineering degrees my great-granddad had to support his growing family for a time as a coachman.

When I first read that bit about his being a coachman I was very disappointed, just as I was at first when I read the abbreviated military record on my dad.

 A coachman! And Great-gran was listed under occupation as 'Keeping house' - WHAT?! A housekeeper, oh ick! (Yeah, I know, I can be a bit of a snob. I'm working on it). Again, as I wrote above, further research and considerable hours thinking about it brought me to a better understanding.

He couldn't find employment as a civil engineer (his training) married to a Jewess in late 19th century NY state. And back then the Census listed homemakers as 'keeping house'; a real housekeeper would have listed a 'Housekeeper for (insert employer name here)'. FTR, he eventually did find employment as a civil engineer working for the railroad, work that moved the family to the American West. He also was buried in a National Cemetary when he died in 1905 by virtue of his military service as a US Marine during the American Civil War. Semper Fi!

Just as I managed to recall (finally, it took me an hour or so) that 'Hey wait a sec, I know I had Pop's high school diploma and college transcripts, dammit! This thing is wrong!', I recalled that when I showed a bit of aptitude for maths in high school myself my father proudly awarded me one of his most treasured family heirlooms - his grandfather's slide rule.

Coachmen of that era didn't ordinarily have slide rules to pass on through the family. So I dug deeper. And as I did I thought about what my own 'paper trail' would have to say about me. Food for thought and more items to add to the Do List - make sure the descendants never have to go through this by leaving a reliable (meaning non-fantasist or glossing over) oral and written history.

I'm OK with it all now 'though it's taken some time to be 'OK'. You see, I've found a bit more of my family, warts and all with the biggest wart being not incorrect information hounding them down the centuries but the estrangements. I suppose in a way OK with that now too because it does explain sooo very much.

Although naturally I'd be a lot more OK if estrangements in this family weren't such a blasted family tradition!

11 September 2013

It's that day again. Twelve years have passed.

It's almost noon here in Scotland so in NYC and some parts of the central US people are waking up to start their day. I hope with all of my heart it's the most boring uneventful day of all their lives. 

In some ways it's almost a distant memory but in most ways it's as though it happened this morning. Some years the anniversary passes 'easier' than others; for some reason today I know is going to be one of those harder days. I woke up this morning and my first thought was 'It's 9/11'.

I clearly remember coming down the stairs to see the South Tower crumble and dropping to my knees because I knew my former hospice parishioner who'd become a much loved member of my family was there and I knew I'd just seen him and countless others die. I knew there were people from my ex's business in those towers, too, so when the North Tower came down I knew I'd just watched more people I knew die.

My son had already gone to work. I left the house in a daze and drove down to the bookstore he worked in at that time - he threw his arms around me and sobbed.

I filled the petrol tank. I'd expected to see long queues but there were only three or four of us in the Citgo; as we waited in turn to pay for the petrol an older woman said to me that she was surprised to see so few people getting gas because she remembered Pearl Harbor and how the first thing everyone did was rush the filling stations. This was two hours after the North Tower fell, I think most of Dothan at that time was still glued to their telly in total shock.

That shock lasted long enough for me to get to a couple of groceries and stock up on bottled water, food, and medical supplies - who knew what was going to happen next?! I remember one clerk asking me if there was still water on the shelf because she was going off shift and hadn't stocked her hurricane pantry yet. Clearly she 'got' that 'things' might become extremely bad extremely quickly.

My son got home about six hours after the North Tower fell and by then the immediate shock had worn off, he said the filling stations and grocery car parks were stacked with people circling the block. By 9pm that night a lot of the grocery shelves were bare.

And all that day the sun shone in a clear blue sky devoid of aircraft; the breeze carried a hint that it was Autumn and winter would be coming. It seemed a mockery, that picture postcard crisp American fall morning, it really did.

I can still hear Joey's voice in the voice mail he left (because I was in the shower and didn't hear the mobile phone buzzing; by the time I found it, of course, Joey was dead) as he and his attorney tried to make it down the stairs of that South Tower; oh God help me.

"Listen, Sunnie, I'm in the South Tower stairwell with my lawyer, we're trying to get out of the building. This is bad, kid, really bad. I don't know what exactly happened, I think terrorist planes hit both of the Twin Towers and I don't really think we're going to make it out of here so I need you to make sure those scholarships go through." He was still talking when the voice mail limit cut him off.

I kept that voice mail as long as I could but accidentally deleted later changing handsets.

There were other voices - the most haunting to me was the man identifying himself as Stephen and repeating "Please, can you call my wife? Our number is ??X-X?X-XX?? and I need her to know I won't be home to read to the boys tonight. Please, can you call my wife? My name is Stephen and I was on the 102nd floor. Our number is...Please, can you call my wife?"

If I could have heard the whole number I think I might have called his wife just so 'the boys' could hear his last thoughts were of them. To this day I still hear his voice over Joey's and I don't think I will EVER, EVER get those words and his voice out of my head.

"Please, can you call my wife?"

This morning I took a walk through town. For a good long part of the walk all I could think about was that man's pleading, and how old were his boys now, 12 years after his death? And I keep hearing his voice.

"Please, can you call my wife?"

Rest in peace, Joey, John, and all those others who were so brutally murdered that awful, terrible, horrific morning when everything changed forever and ever and ever. 

16 July 2013

'You know it's real because it all happens at the same time.' she said as she was in her last few days of Life. When she said that to me back in 1999 just before she died her words brought the hair on my arms up.

We promised ourselves if I got permanent residency we would make some changes - once the nightmare of Immigration Limbo was lifted we were going to start doing up the house, spend a hell of a lot less time online, Live More, in other words. Finally we would be able to exhale.

If you've never been in the midst of Immigration Limbo you won't know what hell it can be. Suffice it to say as an American it's very-very-very strange to be on the receiving end of the anti-immigrant sentiment. Not that anyone was overt but there were little things. The UK (and European) press is full of anti-immigrant sentiment every single day; the hurdles an immigrant must negotiate to become a permanent UK resident are more like flaming hoops and lakes of fire. They OWN you if you are an immigrant - every single action is fraught with the knowledge that the UKBA could swoop in and decide you have to leave the country. Now. Not next week, now. It seems in the UK if you are a law-abiding, compliant immigrant it is still easy to be unintentionally outside the rules; they change the rules so often that it's nearly impossible to 'get it right' at any given moment and so they can deport you in a half-heartbeat. It's something we live with every day until/if we are granted permanent residency, that fear that inspite of all the hoops and hurdles endured the UKBA has every right to drag you from your home and put you on a plane back to where ever.

(Unless you are a radical extremist; apparently the drive in the UK to prove they are multi-cultural and believe Islam to be a religion of peace causes the government to err on the side of caution. So the hate preachers carry on spewing hate in the streets and create no-go zones whilst Christians are told they can't wear a cross to work and Christian children are told they can't have a drink of water during Ramadan at school - all to avoid upsetting Muslim extremists. In the midst of the anti-immigrant press is the constant reinforcement that the huge influx of Muslims to the UK are the worst of all the immigration troubles but the government is unable to do anything concrete because clearly they don't want to offend them and cause another 9-11 or 7-7 or near beheading of a soldier on his way to the base. RIP Lee Rigby, hacked to death by Muslim extremists on a London suburb street in full view of horrified passers-by, 22 May 2013)

And then Immigration Limbo was over, and we could indeed exhale. Life is better. We bought a BBQ, a car; we finished the kitchen and started on the bathroom...And then, as my hospice parishoner reminded me, it all happens at the same time...

We went down to Devonshire for a week in the car we bought just after I was granted permanent residency in the UK. We stayed with friends who live inside Dartmoor National Park, enjoying daily visits to just a few of the amazing sites in the park. Great food, great conversation, great sights but the bloody heat nearly put my husband in hospital with heat exhaustion. (OK, I didn't fair so well in the heat either; my little heart thingie reared it's pointed little head and reminded me that even though I've quit smoking the little heart thingie is still hanging about).

Small whinges compared to what the Mrs half of our host couple are enduring. While we were there she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She goes in this week for tests and scans to find out what stage. Does she smoke? Not anymore. But the cancer isn't a smoker's lung cancer anyway, it's an adenocarcinoma tumour and the doctors used the magic word - 'curable'. After all the years of counselling patients and their loved ones I found myself utterly speechless and all I could think of to say was 'OMFG how unfair is this?!' Helpful the first time for a lung cancer patient to hear but not repeatedly.

It brought back memories for my husband too. As a two-time testicular cancer survivor he was able to pass on some very helpful tips to our friend. His cancer fights were 'successful', he's passed the all important ten years clear mark. But he ticked all the not-so-good boxes (delay in seeking treatment after onset of symptoms, age at diagnosis, metastasised to his abdomen after first round of chemo, etc) and so we have it always in the back of our head that the cancer could come back any time. He looked at our friend the day we left and said 'I'm sorry to welcome you to the Cancer Club', and I looked at her husband and said 'You and I are in a special club too.'

Being the spouse or partner of someone fighting cancer is quite simply a total bitch. You read everything there ever was printed or published online about the type of cancer your loved one is fighting; you think about all the time you don't have. You go through periods of all five stages of the classic Kubler-Ross grief cycle, and you hate that sometimes you want to blast your loved one to the moon for...

For what? Getting cancer in the first place? How is that their fault anyway, so you feel like a total heel for being angry.

For what, being irritable/grumpy/weepy/clingy-especially needy/depressed/disinterested in eating-sleeping-talking/sick for days after a chemo session? Well crikes, you can't blame your loved one for any of that, so you heap more guilt on yourself for being worn out with the struggle to be a rock for your loved one.

Cancer sucks. It sucks the life right the hell out of a family and circle of friends. It renders the articulate speechless; the compassionate incapable of maintaining the 24/7/365 patience needed. Cancer strips away EVERYTHING in its path, changes EVERYTHING, makes EVERYTHING peripheral to the fight.

So as you are packing the car for the 600 mile drive north to Scotland you don't have a scooby what to say. Somehow it doesn't feel right to say 'Wow, thank-you so much for having us down, we had a wonderful time!' to a couple whose life just changed forever and not in a good way.

The heat in southern England was bad and is worse this week - neither of us handle heat well at all. But my husband and I wish we live in the same town to be there for our friends. But we had to pack the car and head north, where the weather is cooler enough to be bearable for us and beckons us to the patio to BBQ while laundry flaps with the stiff breeze. Where the bathroom awaits the new vanity and hand wash basin. Where the potatoes we planted are flowering but the tomatoes lost the fight. Where the daily life events continue...it all happens at the same time.

27 June 2013

I miss very, very little about the USA as it has become under GW and Obama but there are no words to express how very much I miss my son an grandson. If I could I would scoop them up and bring them here to live with us. Things in the UK aren't all that much better than in the States but at least here we'd be together as a family.

Family is the greatest lottery win ever and no amount of email, Skype, snail mail, or telephone calls compensates for not being in the same post code.

Crusty cheated my beautiful boy of a real father and that is impossible to forgive while he refuses to take responsibility for what he's done. He used Fox as a weapon and a chain and that is consumate evil.

Using a child as a weapon or to chain someone to another is evil. Period.

This is for my son, and now my grandson. (Love you Fox and 'Bas!) I've had this song playing in my head for the past couple of days.

[ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/beautiful-boy-lyrics-john-lennon.html ]

Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster's gone
He's on the run and your daddy's here

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It's getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait to see you come of age
But I guess, we'll both just have to be patient
'Cause it's a long way to go, a hard row to hoe
Yes, it's a long way to go but in the meantime

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It's getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

21 June 2013

A couple of days ago we went down to the Glasgow offices of the immigration service and I was granted permanent settlement in the UK. We've been stressing over this since I got back to Scotland with my probationary permit (granted in June 2011) to live in the UK with my new husband-the immigration rules changed during my probationary period and for a while there it looked as though the UK government was going to apply those changes to those of us who'd arrived on probationary permits. Since the changes are draconian, we were really worried my permanent status would be denied and the stress was shredding us!

As a consequence of the stress we let a lot of things we could have-should have been doing to settle in as a married couple slip. The garden especially suffered the immigration limbo with us. We did manage to do over the kitchen but held off on the bathroom and lounge saying 'if we get the Indefinite Leave to Remain we'll do (insert needful thing here)...'

Well, immigration limbo is over. I can apply for British citizenship next year and likely will do so, but the ILR is forever if I chose not to take on dual citizenship - we walked out of the Glasgow office and took our first real deep breaths in two years.

Interesting story, we live about two hours north-east of Glasgow on the edges of a semi-rural farm market town and don't have a car. We walk or ride the bus everywhere because everything we need is either a short walk from the house (I really love how close the grocery is!) or a fun, short, cheap ride on a clean double decker bus-how great is that?! Once or twice a year we hire a car for two weeks, spend a week with friends in Devon (southern tip of England) and then the next week toting home multiple bags of cat litter, cases of tinned goods, and the brown coal we use in the overnight winter stoves to heat the house while we're sleeping. It's worked for us.

So we had thought we'd hire a car for the trip to Glasgow and then head down to Devon. Until we really thought, lol! It dawned on us both that owing to the time of the appointment we'd be driving through a typical business commuter day in an unfamiliar large Scottish city. Semi-rural Glasgow ain't.

I got online and found out that we could buy first class train tickets at a HUGE seniors discount; the savings on the train tickets alone was the cost of hiring the car (including the related insurances, etc), parking fees, and that really appealed to us! The not having to try to drive in Glasgow traffic sealed the deal, we were even able to reserve our seats when we booked. Ah, the few perks of being over 55:)

I packed the application and paperwork, a huge picnic to get us through being on the road for over 15 hours, and the next thing we knew we were on the train to Glasgow! We arrived with three hours to spare before the appointment so we toured the Style Mile, the Argyll Arcade (where the combined bling in the windows will blind you, it's a huge and picturesque jewelry shopping mall to put Rodeo Drive and Fifth Avenue completely in the shade!), and Buchanan Street. We picnicked in George Square then caught a cab to the appointment.

That done (what a relief when we were told my application was approved!) we caught a cab back across the River Clyde to George Square where we sat for an hour polishing off the picnic and marvelling that this really was the first day of the rest of our lives. Ultra bonus was that we were the only people in the reserved first class coach home, we had an amazing time enjoying fruit cups, tea, and the gorgeous Scottish summer scenery. Got into Dundee, caught a double decker back to Angus, and crawled exhaustedly into bed.

The next day (Wed) we went through the house and listed the things that really needed attention, lol, what a list! We'd really let things slip around here in the tension of the wait for the day I could apply for permanent status.

My husband is something like a new man. The release from worry the UKBA would decide to send me back to the US has him singing in the garden as he cheerfully tackles two+years of neglect. I'm stuck in making the placemats and kitchen curtains I've been visualising since August 2010; the cat is thrilled with the new Roo Loo (a huge plastic storage box refashioned into a cat litter tray-no more piddling over the side, our giant Siamese-Abyssinian cross now has room to do his business properly. He's very happy).

Oh heck, the laptop batt is in the red! Hopefully there is enough umph to post this update.

25 March 2013

I hate when this happens and it used to once or twice a year. I woke up about 45 minutes ago from a dream about the ex.

I lay there for about 15 minutes trying to put it out of my mind but also trying to figure out what the hell that was about...

I dreamt I was with my son travelling somewhere; Fox was about ten, we were travelling by car and having a wonderful time. Crusty was with us but he was being pleasant, fun to be with the way he very rarely could be.

Everything was blurry around the edges and looking back now as I sit here in the very early minutes of a Scottish dawn I realise that part of the dream was, well, dreamlike. Or like a misty memory of something that never happened enough to really be a memory. That part of the dream didn't have the crystal clear clarity most of my dreams have but instead was soft focus, the colours seemed to have no defined edges but were bathed in a sort of buttery yellow light.

But then Fox was gone and the edges sharpened...it was night (I sensed around 8:30pm or a little later) and I was headed somewhere on foot to meet the real Crusty-the Crusty who seemed to have a supernatural ability to drain all the 'happy' colours of Life from everything around him. The ground under foot was that grey-black mud and gravel mix you find on the industrial side of town, hard packed so the going was easy enough. I came up on a garage and there was Crusty shutting down his tool box as though he had been expecting me and was packing it in for the night.

We chatted unpleasantly-and now that I think about the bitterness with which we 'communicated' in the dream that woke me up I realise how so like our usual conversations when forced to be together for some reason all the 18 years we were together and no-one else was around to see how much we loathed one another deep down inside, how angry we both were, and how very much we blamed the other for all the unhappiness.

In the dream he was going to drop me off at a transport point and I remember looking at him at one point thinking how typically careless of my welfare he was because in the dream, he'd been the one to cause me to be there with him for some terribly important (to him) reason that I for some reason couldn't say no to yet had caused me great expense (I remember being concerned for how I was going to get home because travelling to meet him had nearly emptied my purse) and he clearly didn't care that he'd inconvenienced me, and plainly wasn't at all concerned for how I was going to get home.

At this point in the dream I was sitting in his car (a nicely restored 70s Olds something that somehow smelled mouldy and felt 'not quite right') watching him play in the parking lot with Baer and thinking how truly unfair it really was for him to blame me for all the misery HE caused all of us.

And then thinking how despicably unfair it was that Baer seemed so damn happy to be with that bastard when Baer was MY dog. Yet here was MY dog wriggling with happiness at being with Crusty...

And then I was sitting in the car with Steve B who was telling me how Crusty had suffered when we broke up, he seemed to be chiding me for hurting Crusty so badly. I sat there sullenly thinking how typical that one was too, considering everything Steve B had put his family through back in the day.

But then Steve said 'You won't know about this, but he hit his head,' and I interrupted to say 'I heard' sarcasm thick in my voice as I remembered the way Crusty used to cut me out of the loop when he'd be hurt at work, remembering the time when he'd been terribly injured at work and was taken to hospital but didn't call, didn't send anyone to bring me to the hospital, just showed up hours later at the house with terrible injuries.

In a split second flash I had a memory of a real event in this bizarre dream I was having; I saw myself looking, appalled at the damage I was seeing on the ER xrays, the emergency room mash-up 'repair' of Crusty's leg, the 'home care' sheet the ER sent with him noting the two weeks hence appointment with a second class orthopaedist whose car park stayed empty. I knew I needed to get him to a real doctor because he was in danger of losing his leg. 

FLASH and we were sitting in the Human Resources office and I was being very clear with the HR drone that either they made a sooner appointment with a first class orthopaedist, or I would-waving the clearest xray and at one point looking the woman in the eye and telling her if my husband lost his leg I would hold her personally responsible. She got us an immediate appointment with one of the best orthopaedists working in Dothan at the time. 

FLASH and I was driving us to the doctor's offices-Crusty's leg swelling up around the ER bandage and turning a much worse shade of purply-blue a scant 18 hours since the accident.

FLASH and I saw us sitting in the orthopaedist's exam room looking at two sets of xrays-one from the ER and one the orthopaedist had done within ten seconds of having his first of many looks at Crusty's clearly dying leg. Hearing the doctor saying I'd been spot-on about the extent of the injury and telling Crusty he was pretty sure he could save his leg but wasn't at all sure about his toes. 

But in the end he saved leg and toes and Crusty recovered without so much as a limp. And never once thanked me for being the one who insisted he get proper and immediate treatment. 

But then that lack of gratitude typified our relationship. He always forgot my birthday, Christmas, etc. When my hurt and disappointment would become obvious he'd look at me and say 'It's the thought that counts' and I'd bitterly retort 'Yes. Exactly'

And then I woke up fully awake and mentally gasping; I lay in the last bits of dark thinking 'WTF was that all about, and dammit, why was my dog acting as though I wasn't even there?!

Paul has a head cold and was finally sleeping soundly without gasping for air, first good sleep he's had in a couple of days and I didn't want to disturb him. I got out of bed and sat on the window seat thinking about that weird dream.

It was snowing when I got up and came to the window, then as I watched it turned to a 'wintery mix'. The snow started to sparkle again and so I knew the temperature has dropped even lower than it was last night. The dark became the grey of a Scottish winter day for all it is a mere week from April, there will be no sunlight again today as the UK is locked deep into a cold spell so profound it caught nearly everyone by surprise. It's as though we've all been shoved into the deep freeze section of the fridge-freezer, people are dying, out there in the cold and in their houses, I thought, remembering the news I'd looked at before going to bed last night.

And then it hit me and I had to write it down here on the blog I've got so awful about maintaining (more on why in another post, there is a reason).

Baer died 16 Feb 2001. And I really hadn't heard about any head injury Crusty had at work after our particularly acrimonious divorce. Too, Crusty's younger sister had totaled that Olds in '78 swerving to avoid a dog in the road. Then I remembered hearing Steve B had been killed in some typically sordid Steve B sort of misadventure but had never been able to confirm it.

So who knows, is Crusty dead? it wouldn't be the first time I've had a weird dream about someone and later found out they'd died right about the same time I had the weird dream.

But the worst part of this bad dream that woke me up at 0517am Scotland time?

In the dream that sorry son-of-a-bitch never once asked after Fox.

Looking back on the dream, he acted as though Fox never existed; he acted as though he'd been emotionally detached from everything really-the vibe I got from Crusty in the dream was that he was angry towards me for something he couldn't quite put his finger on, and to be honest, that attitude of blaming me for his mistakes would be typical of Crusty.

In real life there were times he'd be so disengaged from Fox and me that I would lose it and scream at him that I felt so much like a single mother I wished he would give me a divorce so I could get on with my life raising Fox without the burden of Crusty making things so bloody miserable. I used to beg him-either be a husband and a father or let us go. At which point he would become scary-he would point a literal or verbal gun at Fox's head, or mine saying he'd kill us if I tried to leave. 

The verbal pointed guns were worse than the actual few times he pointed the .41 at my head. He threatened to take Fox away from me and give his mother custody. My ex-mother-in-law was a total bitch (and I can say that because I knew her), her main thrill in life was to belittle her in-laws so badly there were several of us who refused to be around her. Hell, even her own brother refused to be around her until my ex-father-in-law's funeral in '08. (Google your ex sometime, you'd be amazed at what comes up. I did it in 2009 and found out my ex-fil died, and that Crusty got an SBA loan after Hurricane Ivan took out his Gulf Breeze house. Knowing about the loan made me so angry I've never been tempted to Google Crusty again) I knew the reason Crusty made that threat, I even called him on it a few times:

'You don't give a damn about Fox, you're just saying that because you know I'll do anything to protect him from that soul-crushing hag! You don't love us, why WHY won't you let us go?!' 

I had this 18 years long fantasy that I finally got him to go for a paternity test. I could visualise us in the doctor's office getting the results, the dumbfounded look on his face when he was told the cold-hard-truth that he'd been treating his own son like shoe-scrapings...I clearly saw my fist connecting with his glass jaw and the shock on his parent's faces when he dropped and I told them all to go to hell when they said how things would be different now that they knew Fox was really 'one of theirs'...Gah, what a horrid lot they all were. 

Tomorrow Fox will be 31. My beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy.

If that was the ghost of Crusty in my dream this morning, he hasn't changed and went into Death the same self-centered bastard he was in Life. Why did he even bother to show up in my dream, was it to show me that he got my dog and found his car? Dammit, if that was the ghost of Crusty, couldn't he have finally learned something, couldn't he have shown up to say 'Please tell Fox I'm sorry I was such a stupid rat-shit bastard'?

And why, if he's dead, didn't he go straight to Hell for what he did to Fox, WHY?! How in the bloody hell could God have possibly forgiven Crusty for what he did to the point that He permitted Crusty to come gloatingly demonstrate that in Death, Crusty got his car back, and the icing on Crusty's cake being MY dog was happy to see him, IT'S NOT FAIR! In my dream this morning, Crusty was STILL angry with me although he couldn't recall exactly why he was so angry-HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT'S HOLY IS THAT RIGHT-THIS TOTAL SHIT GETS A PASS, WTF??!!

Why in the hell did that worthless POS have to show up in my dreams to show off he'd been reunited with his moldering car he mourned every day we were together-OMFG how he'd spent 18 years whingeing on about his stupid sister wrapping HIS precious car around a tree instead of a St Bernard in the road-and to show he'd been met by MY dog-the dog he cut off pet insurance for so I had to use grocery money to take to the vet in his last illness, the dog Fox and I loved so much we didn't begrudge the hunger for knowing Baer was getting medical care. That dog, MY dog, the one who died and was missed, is missed still; the dog that Gator mourned until the day he too went to the Rainbow Bridge after weeks of trying to save him from the contaminated food six years later. At least I didn't see Gator with Crusty and Baer, that helped. Some. But still.

Crusty gets a pass and doesn't even have to finally say 'I am so sorry for the way I shredded yours and Fox's lives'?! How the hell does that work?

Yeah, I can see why I needed to write this down although there isn't going to be a moment of insight here. No way to turn this around-either Crusty croaked and God in His infinite mercy proved apparently it really is infinite, or I'm afraid that's what will happen and my anger came through in my dream-I'm deeply angry at the thought that bastard isn't going to have to answer for the sheer horror of those 18 years with him and the horrific, desperate years after, and because it's so close to Fox's birthday I'm subconsciously raging again at the thought he'll get away with what he did.

Well. Wait a sec...

Considering that I firmly believe I actually have seen the real Heaven I have to say that after getting all of the above off my chest, I can see there is no way Crusty was in Heaven by the looks of what I saw in my dream-if he's really dead. After the first part of the dream when we were together as a happy family (again, 'happy family' moments were rare because Crusty had a way of draining all the happy right out of a moment), the colours in the dream were shades of black and grey with the exception of Baer's blue collar and fawn-white coat. Even the light from the street light was grey.

That's not Heaven. Maybe, just maybe, Purgatory. But definitely not Heaven. So if my dream means he's dead, he's not in Heaven. Since I don't believe there are furloughs from Hell, I'm going to have to see it as Purgatory. That would make sense of the car, the appearance of Steve B, the drained-of-colour aspect, and most of all, Crusty's lack of remorse and my sense that he was blaming me but couldn't quite pin down how this was all my fault again.

And that, I can live with. So perhaps there is going to be a bit of insight here. OK, let's see-I'm pissed but have moved to the point where if God has given him Purgatory instead of Hell, I can live with that.

If he's dead, God has forgiven him to a point-he didn't go straight to Hell which he would have if his soul was completely irredeemable; now he has a chance to spend his time in Purgatory sorting out why he's there and that, I can Live with. IF he's dead and in Purgatory, God has found a way to find forgiveness-I should too, and hey, how cool is that, God's mercy really is infinite and like the vision of Heaven He granted me the night my father died, this vision of Purgatory is gratefully received as the gift it is-a message that Crusty found forgiveness possible if he will only take it, and a message that God isn't sleeping (not impressed with that, btw, Eminenza, you should have known better that God never sleeps).

Given that if he's dead and in Purgatory, he's not making a great start of it if he is reunited with his car and MY dog and is still blaming ME for HIS problems. But he has time. Lots and lots of Time. I just hope if he gets another chance at Life and is reincarnated, that if he sees me coming on the street one day in that new chance at a Life, he crosses the road and never looks back!

Because I don't ever want to see him again, in this or any other life, dammit. And I want him to stay the hell out of my dreams in this one, too! Mine, and Fox's. Forever. His boogeyman days in my family's life are over. His soul may have been found redeemable in God's eyes, and I can learn to accept that, but I don't want to ever have to deal with Crusty again, and I damn sure don't want my son to.

For that, Crusty would have to had said to our faces: 'I'm a totally bastard for what I did to you both, I ruined your lives because I was a selfish, self-centered piece of...' and he didn't, not if he's dead.

So, no second chances to revert to type - God, please, if he's dead and one day You let him have another go at Life, keep him the hell out of mine and my son's! We deserve a break too, You know?

And no more bad dreams! Please?

08 January 2013

Roo the foster cat became Roo, permanent member of the family in late August 2012. We took him down to his would-have-been furever home only to discover he doesn't play well with others. His feelings towards our friends' three cats were made quite clear; despite strenuous efforts to integrate him into what would have been a completely fabulous home, we had to admit at the end of a week that Roo was never going to accept being part of a pride.

So now he lives with us in Scotland, and his new blog can be found:


The link opens in a new window, and like the other two blogs I manage (this one and the one for greatly missed Mozart and Gonzo) comment moderation has been enabled. Also, anonymous posting has been eliminated as an option-spammers, what'er ya gonna do, sigh.


So far the New Year is off to a fair start for us. Father Christmas was pretty good to all three of us, efforts towards our house moving are coming along, but yes, it is STILL raining all over the UK. Another sigh.

The constant rain has caused no end of problems across the Union-floods, crop losses, travel delays and outright stoppages with landslips and slides, and roads and rail beds washed away. The temperatures have been unusually mild as well, if it weren't for all the rain I could be out in the garden turning the soil, etc, in preparation for the spring garden...'cept the garden just beyond the window whereby I sit isn't the garden I need to be preparing for spring. Critter populations that ordinarily would have been frozen off slither and flit all over what vegetation persists; it is a depressing vista thanks to rain and mildness.


FORGIVE THE FOLLOWING IF FOUND INCOHERENT AND RAMBLING. Sometimes a good venting is wanted when one is coping with the challenges of expat-cum-bi-national life. Be assured that in spite of the way it reads, it is good humoured. One hopes. Perhaps you, gentle reader, might read this post aloud to gain a full sense of the essay...

When I came over to Scotland in 2010 I did have some apprehensions about a few things, this current house being one of them. Paul had lived here for a rather long time (since late '96) and to make things even more 'interesting', he was a lifelong bachelor and retired historic building conservator-oh dear. Retired, potentially territorial and knowledgeable to boot...

We are a good couple-we are good for each other and have a great relationship. But oh dear. He WAS pesty the first couple of years with his constant critiques of my housekeeping, and territorial-OMFGsh, I'd clean and organise the kitchen and he'd slip in after to rearrange it. He followed me around as I swept, mopped, vacuumed and 'gave instruction' on the proper way to utilise the broom, the mop, the vacuum.

Best to not get me started on broom, mop, and vacuum. Leave it at I finally got a real broom in 2011-June to be exact. I got a functional mop and bucket in January 2012 (no, seriously), and it took until August 2012 to get a real Hoover upright vacuum cleaner to replace the 20+year old 'wet-dry' canister vac he'd been so proud of. That the new Hoover runs circles around and he has finally agreed is actually a wheezer good only for cleaning the ash and debris from wood stoves and garage.

My husband is a Scotland wide acknowledged expert on British (and historical Scottish ones in particular) buildings. His knowledge is so immense he's constantly on call to any number of architects and engineers who ring up asking for a consult. He does know his stuff.

As a consequence we've butted heads frequently on any thing to do with house reno, and oh bloody hell, garden too! Oh wow, just wow, I would pick up the scraper and sandpaper block to get started prepping the kitchen walls for paint and he would lay a finger alongside his nose, tilt his head, and say 'Leave it to your Pauli' as he gently unwound my clenched fingers from whatever tool I was clinging onto. He 'caught' me taking the lawn mower and clippers out the garden several times and stopped me there as well.

He finally came right out to say this was his house-he knew what and when was best...

I finally came right out to give up and leave it to Pauli.

Which drove (drives) me just a bit mad.

I'm an early morning person, he is not-no housekeeping until he's up and in his study-ARGH!!

I'm a trained and certified three US states Master Gardener, trust me he is not. He actually throws the grass clippings (oh wow) into the recycling bin that goes out the kerb for council binman pick-up every other week. No, really. He wanted to prune the rowan IN AUTUMN and I finally had to prove the wrongness of that to him by pulling up a Royal Botanical Gardens page on the Internet and frankly I'm still not sure he really believes me. ARRRGH!! I might however leave him to prune the buddleia, I'm sure the new owners will thank me. Profusely. Pruning at the wrong time will kill anything even if climate refuses to cooperate with the plan by freezing over for a nice few months. That buddleia is tempting...

I owned and used proficiently all manner of power tools but I am not welcome to use the power tools. I swan he thinks I'm going to run the drill or saw through my hand. (SOBBING now) I am quite the DIYer, and not being able to throw up a shelf when needed. not being able to create what in the States is known as a pantry and here is known as a store cupboard PUT ME RIGHT THE BLOODY HELL OFF COOKING/BAKING/MEAL PLANNING...not being able to prep and paint, likewise put me off; not being able to vacuum at 0800 every morning, not being able to start a load of laundry...

Oh hey, while I'm on it, he is a prodigious and fast paced hill-walker, for a long while there I could barely manage the gently sloping streets of the market town we currently live in even at a crawl. (Hey, I was really quite unwell, now that's sorted I'm well on my way back to fitness!) Not sure I'll ever catch up to his pace at hill-walking though. 

Oh wait, to continue the whinge session, permit me, please to whinge about the laundry situation in Scotland. (BTW, I'm certain it is the same down in England and Wales)

OMFGsh, doing laundry here is crazy-making! They call it the washing. I'm willing to make adjustments but I will never learn to call it washing. It's LAUNDRY, dammit.

Several of the UK news feeds carried a story about the British habit of stringing wet laundry across the house over racks called airing towers, and how that habit has led to increased asthma and eczema break-outs owing to mould and mildew build-up from the constant humidity. The constant humidity is, btw, owing to the reality that these people persist in keeping their homes at a temperature conducive to damp (read bleedin' cold, these people find 60F acceptable as an indoor temp, oh la, can you say mould? I know I can!). In combination with the outdoor constant damp from all the rain and from the lack of sunshine the past two years have added up to a huge uptick in asthma and eczema complaints.

Yes, for two years running all four seasons here in Scotland have been consistently grey, wet, and 'mild' with temps from 40F to 55F-very few more or less days. No wonder we all have cabin fever.

And owing to the recent unconscionable price rise in heating oil, natural gas, and electricity, a lot of people are keeping their homes even cooler now-50-55F+extra layers of clothing is becoming the norm. Plus (God give me strength) even if they have extractor fans (known as vent fans in the States) they are reluctant to use them as intended (you know, to extract humidity from the kitchen/bath/utility room). Few households have the luxurious, considered-to-be-extravagant laundry appliance known as a tumble dryer (you know, that wide mouthed machine that dries clothes by hot tumble?), and those that do are using them with even less frequency owing to the price rise.

The insanity of the so-called modern British clothes washing machine will be covered in a separate post. Leave it here by saying I fail to see how a 'normal' washing cycle that requires over two hours to complete is somehow 'green and eco-friendly'. No, it's ludicrous and surely NOT economical. Particularly when the damn things use so little water to wash a load that to get the load clean and soap free the laundress must run the F'ing thing three times. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! No wonder these people have asthma and eczema, they are walking around in dirty and soapy clothes because they are so backwards they run a short cycle (1.5 hours as opposed to 2.5-3 hours) ONE TIME ONLY, and then wear those clothes four or five times. 

Stringing laundry across the house on several airing towers puts a huge amount of humidity into already humid homes and it really, truly (trust me on this because I've seen it for myself) takes as much as 7 days to get a pair of jeans dry enough to wear.

Now, we heat house and water with wood, and in so doing our house is actually less humid than most even with four airing towers going at once. But it honestly still takes 2-3 days to dry anything unless it is 'airing' right next to the wood stove. Next to the stove it can take anywhere from 6-12 hours. For jeans as much as 24.

oh. my. stars.

And the outdoor clothes lines over here? OH MY GOODNESS!! Talk about your waste of space! They set slender, single poles at different points of the 'garden' (yard, don't get me started), run a single line of rope pole to pole, and call it a washing line.

Growing up in America this was known as barely one step above the inefficient 'poor man's clothes line' consisting of a single cotton (thereby saggy) line between two trees, which was of course the step up from the truly poor man's method of spreading washing over a shrub. God save us. Here they think it's an appropriate way to hang out laundry. Year round. In the rain. Do you know, they even use fork-ended poles to prop up sagging lines? No, really. God, PLEASE give me strength.

No wonder my great-grandparents emigrated to America. The willfully ignorant backwardness is appalling at times yet there is a equally appallingly large segment of the population utterly convinced they are superior in every way. The longer I am in the land of my ancestors the better I come to understand why they upped sticks for America, and that although not even one generation separates me in truth from Great Britain, I am in many ways an American. Why my mother returned to this is beyond me when confronted with the absurdities. More on this later in a different post, I do love it here and fully intend to continue on. This post is venting. Mostly. Bi-nationality has its advantages and disadvantages. Now on with the whinge!

Supposedly they do this because of the humidity. In reality they do this, near as I can figure, because they have NO FLIPPIN' CLUE-and do not want one!

I've been doing laundry for nearly 50 years. I've done laundry from top to bottom and side to side of North and Central America, in arid and humid climates. Trust me, these people are clueless and know it and don't have the slightest interest in EVER learning a better way. Perhaps what is most infuriating (I know, sad, right, to be so wrapped up in proper laundry doing) is that because Paul insists I don't have DIY skills (grrrr) I can't go down to the lumbar yard and buy the timber (and a post hole digger, why do these people not own post hole diggers, I do not get that!) to build a proper clothes line. I honestly weep to recall my proper clothes lines in America.

Sigh. The most concession I have been able to force is a 'rotary' dryer. You know, the single pole umbrella style line that you can stand in one place to peg the laundry to the four lines before you then spin to the next set of four? That's a rotary dryer. Limited space but they do work even in all this damp if the laundry is staggered and spread out enough to permit air circulation.

Which would be great if A-Paul would hammer the pole seat into the ground and stick the bloody pole into the ground so that on the rare warm and sunny day I could hang out laundry, but because we're moving he is reluctant to do because he insists he must cement the seat in and he rightly doesn't want to have to do that when we're moving in a few months. Which by the way he's been saying since Spring 2012. When the rains began in earnest and so B-it's pointless to erect the rotary dryer since anything hung on the damn thing would take up to a full week to dry on anyway.


Please add your voices to my fervent prayers that a lunatic with more money than brains appears at our door in a couple of hours and buys this house so we can move! The house we've found is not perfect but it is so close to perfect for us that I'm in a real fever to move. Huge, level garden with an unobstructed southern exposure, move-in condition and (sob) with a lovely store cupboard in the BRAND NEW (and really gorgeous modern) kitchen. The shower room is pretty deluxe too. No extractor fans (wtf is with these people?!) in kitchen and bath, but that's a relatively inexpensive re-fit.

Best of all? Paul and I have had several frank (but not fraught, that's why we make such a good couple) discussions and he agrees the new digs will be OUR home, not HIS house he has decided to share with a wife.


02 January 2013

!!!HAPPY NEW YEARS 2013!!!

Another bank holiday for Scotland. I've Googled and can't find a good answer to the question as to why we Scots enjoy an extra bank holiday of 2nd January, supposedly we are such hearty party-ers that we need the extra day to recover. Not buying it, there is a better reason that has been lost in the shuffle.

The banks are open. Most stores are open. But the atmosphere will be relaxed and I for one appreciate that more tranquil easing into a New Year.

I see the US has managed to avoid lasting damage from falling off the fiscal cliff overnight, and have put aside their one-ups-manship for a few brief minutes to vote and approve a plan whilst muttering dire asides to handy press. As usual. New Year-New Me clearly doesn't apply to politicians. They should see what we see, those of us down here amongst the people.

Frankly 'It's' all the same here in the UK. Scotland is beginning the independence campaign in earnest now; I do wish both sides of the issue would produce something more meaningful than 'Vote NO/YES because it will be great for us to stay/leave the Union!!' No, really, so far neither side has taken it further than vague promises of how great it's going to be-the very real issues are not being addressed and anyone from your next door neighbour to the leader of the NO campaign are accused of scaremongering if they dare ask a question.

The YES campaigners are on track to embarrass the hell out of everyone as they continue to insist everything will be just fab should we Scots vote ourselves out of the 300+year old Union but they keep insisting 'of course we'll stay in the EU after independence', 'of course we'll keep the Queen', 'of course we'll continue on the Great British Pound Sterling and the Bank of England will continue to back us'.

Except...the EU has made it clear repeatedly they will force an independent Scotland to reapply for member state status. The Scottish First Minister and his team continue to embarrass those of us tempted to vote YES by going on camera and insisting the EU is wrong and of course we'll be a member state, we'll be in a negotiating position from within, not without.

*In spite of the fact that England is moving closer and closer to a referendum to get the hell out of the EU, and most Scots don't want to stay in the EU anymore than an Englishman. My word, uncontrolled immigration of Europe's criminal class on top of it's impoverished masses into the UK is destroying it-we MUST leave the EU for our own survival.

*Will we become a Commonwealth country, really, when even in Jolly Olde the Republican (anti-monarchy) tide is rising? When Scottish apathy towards the Royal Family has rarely been higher than it is now? Pockets of Royalists can be found but in the main what I'm seeing in the streets of Scotland is a profound indifference-when the Royals make an appearance in Scotland you don't really see a large crowd, and what crowd you do see is made up of mainly women and children.

*It is only in the First Minister's fevered imaginations that we could continue on with the Pound Sterling-the Bank of England has, like Brussels, made it clear that an independent Scotland will not enjoy a currency backing from the BoE. Should we actually achieve independence and manage to remain a member state of the EU we will be forced onto the bloody, bleeding Euro. OH HELL NO!! No to the EU, and HELL NO to the floundering Euro-I wants me GBP Sterling in me purse, thank-you very much.

Personally I would prefer not to have to be considering these things-I'm a British Federalist who believes the United Kingdom properly agreed is still a world beater. Survival and prosperity of all citizens of the Isles depends on us working together-key word TOGETHER, thou gentlemen of Westminster!

But naturally the enmity between Scotland and England requires an end to the Union because oh no, my boyos, we cannae have a civilised, mature discussion and renegotiation of terms, it's bloody all or nothing. Cutting off one's nose to spite one's face is beyond stupid. I cannot believe I made it across the pond only to be landed up in the middle of an Independence vote run by near-utter incompetents, I really can't.

The English aren't making it any easier with their sneering condescension, their apparent comfort at taking our oil and whisky revenues whilst assuring us we are getting so much more out of the Union bargain, why the English people are worn down and overburdened by the weight of Scrounger Scotland (meanwhile of course we contribute billions more than we get in return)...The English don't even go out of their way to express their contempt for us because it's clear we're invisible to the English, including Westminster-if I hear 'One Nation' one more time I am going to London and personally projectile vomit in Eddie's direction. The Union does not begin and end in Westminster or within England's green and pleasant borders, Sir!

The Scottish anger at the continued sniping and disrespect is growing. WE ARE NOT ONE NATION! The Union is FOUR NATIONS, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. We must recognise and celebrate each other. Surely we must stand together or we truly shall all hang separately, how on earth is this a difficult concept to grasp?!

The thought of a clearly English Westminster seemingly intent on alienating Scotland whilst asset stripping it does make me (and many of my fellow voters) want to vote YES just to wipe that smug look off their faces.

But oh dearie me, the thought of voting YES with the current group of numpties in charge is terrifying...

Bloody swell, 2013 looks more 'fraught' than 2012.

God help us because clearly we haven't the brains to help ourselves!