Category Archives: Scotland

Living in Scotland, issues and people and places.

Collecting

OK, the worst thing I collect is paper. I’ve gone paperless on bills but they still are duplicated in the mail even though I have asked utility companies and banks to quit that practice. Now I like to have leases and corporate forms organized on paper and will learn more about scanning and the “cloud” when I feel my personal privacy and safety will not be compromised. It would sure make my desk look better!

I collect cookbooks and have since I was seven years old. I concentrate on the best ones and buy out-of-print copies for wedding couples and used ones for me when I can, and do recycle some through the local book mailbox. Give one, take one was always my motto staying cheap in my 20’s at pensions in Europe.

Collecting excessive clothing, shoes, jewelry is a no-no, I’ve never been interested in it. I’ve recently started buying a couple pair of silk long underwear to wear underneath slacks and shirts as they’re so warm and comfy but for the first time in 20 years I now have stacks of catalogs in the mail that only they could have sold my name to other companies. More paper. Oh, I do not collect husbands. They just show up when we’re grown up and we stick. I’m sending mine off to the family ranch today as I’m not well enough to travel.

When I was born my parents decided to get a tree ornament for the holidays every year, of course for my younger brother and sisters as well. Each had an initial and date. I’ve lost many of them over the years but a few remain.

My husband and I met over 16 years ago and will be married for 15 very soon. I wanted to renew our vows but that will have to wait. Two months after we met I found two rustic wooden stocking ornaments. He chose the blue, I took the green. Over the years his has been a Scottish bagpiper, me the national flower of Scotland, the thistle.

He is a trout (tried fly fishing once with his brother, nothing, I ended up fishing for steaks at the local Whole Foods) from the western rivers and I am a bear on a sled. He is an old bi-plane with Santa on top and I am another, a moose lying down atop my plane with lots of presents to give. Last year we were hand-knitted finger puppets, now on our tree. He is on the front door wreath as a cow, I am a horse, and our dog Zoe is, well, a dog.

My husband is a lasso-tossing snowman, and another snowman from the mountains with me as a reindeer standing, in an apron, with a tray of cookies. Cooking implements from copper pan to whisk, all ornaments over my life.

This story has and will be told. My folks put each of our ornaments in a box to send off to college. These are yours. Young people who are married or planning marriage like the history and tradition I love to share. Why would I always seek out a 40 year-old out-of-print book by James Beard (Theory and Practice of Good Cooking) as a gift and reference cookbook as a wedding gift? Don’t buy them all, thanksgiving is for 60 and I need enough in the marketplace for gifts!

I talked to my brother by phone yesterday and told him I’m taking my husband to the airport today to see his family for Thanksgiving. He asked, isn’t that the airport he won’t let you walk into because it has a used bookstore before security that has cookbooks? Yep. My brother and I are each spending the day alone over 1,000 miles away but with a shared family recipe. He was invited here but demurred this time. He’s seeing a football game. I’ll be watching The Mind of a Chef or reruns of NCIS.

I’ve never made or wanted to make turducken but I decided on chicken saltimbocca, chicken, s&p, sage. Chicken is pounded flat, seasoned, then add a slice of prosciutto, roll tightly, brush with melted butter and dredge with seasoned flour (chop a leaf of sage in the flour as well) and roll in bread crumbs and bake for about 45 minutes. I suggested that at a certain time of day brother and I lift a fork of my “pigchicken” and have a toast. Happy Thanksgiving to you! My husband just relayed the dog to me early morning and about the box of ornaments given every kid, said “this is yours, good riddance!” Perhaps.  Then again perhaps I’ll send our old dog Zoe to my brother for company! He’d love that. Dee

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3 Amigos + Life Coach

Equal what, exactly? I returned home the day after Dad’s funeral to a room full of flowers. These folks had never met him or knew of his life or career, they just thought he raised a pretty good kid, though I’m no longer a child by any means. I can tell you that he had 58 years of practice and that is how one gets to play at Carnegie Hall.

He played the capitals of Europe leading the 7th Army Symphony. When he was switched to hospice care he only received oxygen and morphine. He was able to sleep, finally. My brother called to say he was waving his arms about, trying to tell him something, and I replied “hon, he’s conducting!” He was, what we will never know.

So of my three amigos two are happily married. One gave me roses and a note. The other stopped by for an hour and marveled at the paintings and photographs on our walls. His eyes are not good and he had to find his way home to get a magnifying glass to see the number on our door.

The third is my tough case. He “allowed me” to make him breakfast. They all knew my husband would not be back from work for another 30 hours so they tag-teamed to give me company during my grief.

Then he showed me his domestic environment. He’s divorced and dating. I said if I was a younger gal (late 30’s, 40) and visited his home I’d be scared to death. It’s too neat. He’s never used the kitchen sink, oven, stove or washer/dryer.

As a friend I offered a few suggestions. Toss an empty pizza box on the kitchen counter. Pour out half a beer (I gave him an expensive dark ale I was going to use for a French stew) and mangle the cap and leave both on the coffee table.

I made good on those. Third is to find the handprint kindergarten ash tray I know his son made, buy a cigar, let it burn a bit to leave some ash, and leave it out. Now he needs saving by a good woman.

Today he’s reading the paper in a public place, watching the snow fall. He says he has a date and he’s going to get everything pre-made at our local grocery. What??? I can teach you how to make a roast chicken, mashed potatoes and roasted heirloom carrots in ten minutes!

I brought him the pizza box and a beer. Now he’s going to order dinner. He says he can’t cook, but I think he doesn’t want to mess up his sink, oven, stove or laundry to actually make a meal for someone he wishes to impress. I asked him to say “You are my life coach” and he replied that he would help me with any advice I needed.

No, sir, that is not what I meant. It’s one thing for me to take the dog out early in the morning, another for him to be sitting there reading the paper, alone. I am d’Artagnan to my aging Musketeers. Cheers! Dee

ps The flower arrangement I love most is whimsical. My florist said keeping a florist means you have someone who knows you and what you like. The “roses” are baby flowering kale. For my Scottish pursuits there are heather and thistles.

pps My husband must be awake by five. Oh, DogMa is going to hate that. It’s snowy and dark. D

 

We Have Light

I’ve only gotten a tabletop tree for the past few years, to use our ornaments. Much is missing including tree lights and many ornaments that must be in storage.

My husband has always been here to bring home the small tree. This year I lost the lights so got two clamps and spotlights from above and below. He is away at work so wants to make sure I’m not burning the place down!

We’ve some cool items. A Texas snowman with a lasso. White deer in an apron, standing with a tray of cookies. Santa in a Scottish kilt with bagpipes and his other as a thistle, the national flower of Scotland, for our cherished time there.

I’ve a copper pot and a whisk from the old days, and tagboard ornaments kids gave to me after a holiday play I coordinated as a fund-raiser years ago. There are two wooden planes from a nearby air museum, and the two wooden stockings I bought us two months after we met.

There is a recycled glass star from the eco-center down our old street, and a mitten from there, handmade for the dog, that I’m missing. The dog Zoe does have a few ornaments and we also have a fake teeny mouse in bed under a blanket in a half walnut shell from a dear elderly friend for which mice ornaments are a passion.

I did it all myself. Even the lighting solutions. Husband said to go buy lights. No, I’m not taking 100 ornaments off now. I already had to clean up enough pine needles for one day.

Leaving Wednesday for Thanksgiving, I look forward to seeing family. When my dog and husband return we will have a few days with which to look forward to sharing time and meals and walks together. Perhaps even a Star Wars marathon! He saw this when he was a kid, it took meeting him to introduce me. I like it, but he knows every line and the differences between original and remake.

I wish you a happy Thanksgiving. I know it’s all about tradition but I try to do something new every once in a while. Have a happy! Dee

 

 

It’s About Everything

Yes, that’s life, as Frank Sinatra sang it. Many people concentrate on one facet, whether it be sports, math or English literature.

Youth is, indeed, wasted on the young. Older doesn’t necessarily mean wiser but in my case, it works. I had a great family and was taught so much.

When every experience from being bullied to volunteering for a soup kitchen line to cooking school, helping feral cats and adopting four rescues over the past twenty years, I had an education that rivaled my formal education and career. Yes, I also credit my two favorite priests, Fr. Cap and Fr. John, both gone now.

They wove meaning into the fabric of my life. I learned about how history and traditions make us who we are, to accept people we don’t know and, above all, respect, appreciation and honesty.

Through my parents, relatives, teachers and friends I’ve learned much. And my husband teaches me physics lessons while listening to country music on the car radio on long drives. Do you know what’s coming out of that smokestack? No, dear. I can tell by the color……….

Also, having a pet can make a difference. There’s a real responsibility and I’m shirking mine now as I’ve taken her out for “last chance” and she is not by my side. She wants me to lift her up to the bed for her beauty sleep. She’s gorgeous and just turned 84 in people years. She has no hips so cannot jump up by herself. If I slept 20 hours a day I might look that good.

A pet is a grounding experience, especially without a child. So is music, the written word, writing a blog or Haiku or poems.

My husband’s gone for work but I still read cookbooks and make my own recipes and wish for him to come home soon to try them. Yes, my hobbies are cooking, writing and shelter pets/feral cats (spay/neuter). I have had perhaps my last shelter pet, hopefully not, because a dog gets me out to walk and meet people and other dogs. Zoe is old but fine.

Life is about everything and how playing touch football on a dead-end street or softball in our back yard was so special as a kid. The neighborhood kids called on us early and asked for Dad. Mom said they had to wait until the end of dinner. Dad’s only rule was that everyone got to play and play fair. I remember one kid picking up his little brother and running him from first to second base, a tree, and home (we didn’t have that much space) and everybody won because were all the home team. Even toddlers got to play on Dad’s team.

Honesty, integrity, a sense of fairness for everyone, life is about everything. Cheers to you and your family, Dee

What Are You?

I was asked that by Patty S before I was eight years old. I didn’t understand the question. I’m six years old. But what ARE you? I’m a girl in the second grade.

No, what ARE you? I’m XYZ. What are you? Oh, I’m Catholic. It’s the first light bulb that ever went off telling me there were different religions, different anything. It opened up a whole new world, like when I met my first Jewish, and African-American friends after we moved to a larger pond. Early on, when the college students were gone we were a village of 400 people. All white, all Catholic or Protestant. There were a few Jews, sons and daughters of College professors. They went to a different school. I didn’t even know they existed until college, all Italian and Irish Catholics.

When my parents wed, the date would be nearly 60 years ago the Catholic church allowed my mother to marry a Lutheran as long as all children were raised in the Catholic faith. They didn’t make us kids promise anything, and the Lutherans can actually sing a tune.

My husband is from another faith that thrives in the South. It doesn’t derive powers from God via the infallible Pope, but through individual ministries. His parents and family do not like that we eloped for a civil ceremony (13 years last week) and do not practice any religion.

Late at night I was watching an early edition of The Tudors, before England established its own church against the Pope. That was the 1500’s and you know about Ireland.

About eight years ago we lived in Scotland as it had interdependence and its own legislature. Below our flat there was a parade going to an historic soccer match, I won’t tell you the team names but it was basically Catholics vs. Protestants.

The parade started with young girls, with a walking police escort, then young boys with mounted police, women had police cars and men following behind had what we call SWAT Teams. Trucks, guns. Everything to help prevent mayhem at the field. We were on the 2nd floor looking down and wondering what our world had become.

That’s when I think of religion, what it has done to the Jews of Russia, actually 20 million people of all religions in Poland, Germany, France, the British Isles, the US and Japan. Then I think that my fear of flying makes TSA take me in for a naked scan, checks my fingerprints for bomb residue all while my husband holds my purse, laptop and shoes. Imagine looking like you’re Muslim.

What am I? I’m an older white woman, happily married to a wonderful husband and owner of an old, terrific dog. We live a quiet life and are nice to family, neighbors and friends. I do not wish to enter a religious debate, but love my favorite priests, Cap and John. RIP, friends. What are you? Dee

 

Places

Places I’ve lived, visited, places made and changed my life.

I was born in one state and lived there, except for a few years, until age 29. At least 12 places that included babyhood, childhood, school, college, and work.

Another state with two residences in middle school and high school. Another with two residences as an adult. Another state, two residences with my husband.

Another state for a few years with my husband and dog. Yet another for a few years with both dear ones.

That’s about 20 homes in my life. Oh, I must include one posting overseas. That makes it 21.

Visiting will take longer. I just wrote my grade school principal (they sent an email) and thanked him for the base of my education and my excellent teachers, mainly in music and math, and general education, people who inspired me to be smart and not be shy and sit in the back of the classroom.

I believe it is important to thank the people who shaped your life, parents, teachers, mentors. ‘Tis the season. Dee

ps Years ago I bought this hand-made door hanger with a moose, a bear and an evergreen tree. My husband hates it. This morning I went to storage and found our stockings and two jingle bell wreaths for the inside and outside of our front door. He is so glad I got rid of the moose! (shhhh, it is in our closet awaiting repatriation after Spring and July 4……)

pps It was difficult to be a girl and be seen to be smart those days, or be more successful than a boy in any athletic endeavor. It was probably tough for guys as well as they were A/V and seen as geeks. Small school, everyone tried to fit in. Luckily I had teachers who egged me on, and we keep in touch.

 

Blackbird, Bye Bye

Pack up all your cares and woes,

Here I go, singing low, bye bye blackbird

…… blackbird, bye bye.

Last post, they’re selling my posts. I never wanted or got a nickel from them, I will be removing them from WordPress.

I don’t know how to do this as I’m a writer and not a techie, that’s probably why they allow people to steal my words and sell them.

To my readers, I salute you and will be back on other than WordPress. Thank you for being with me and inspiring me these few years. The grandmother who died before I was a year old sang that song to me, to get me to go to sleep. It’s that time. Dee

 

Vacation

There’s no possible way we can ever use the vacation days Jim has accrued. He’s just started a new job at work and once he gets into it, there’s no way to get him to go on vacation and November and December are pretty verboten for time off.

So where do we go? He may have a week off mid-August but I don’t want to travel to somewhere like Europe then when all the kiddos are still out of school and it’s a backpacker’s heyday.

So I’m looking into driving vacations and short, inexpensive flights, trying to stay away from triple digit heat and deserts. I’ll work on it over the weekend as I also have to make plans for the dog because she’s a pain to travel with. Even when hotels will take her, we get a crummy room, can’t have her stay there alone, so our meals are compromised as we can’t take her there either. A week driving into Sonic, forget it. That’s no vacation, eating with the engine running in an air-conditioned car with the dog in the back. And even if Sonic’s burgers are OK, their bathrooms are horrendous.

If you’ve any suggestions for the trip, probably in the Western states or Pacific NW, just comment right here. Thanks! Cheers, Dee

A Thistle Relative?

This is what I found today, looks like thistle. I have to find the name and look it up for you. It reminded me of Scotland and a Brit stopped cold by it at the grocery and we both marveled at it. Yes, it’s a weed and I spent $4 for it to remind us of our days in Scotland.

This is what we do when there is no green grass, snow is still melting and the only entertainment is viewing ducks, geese and cranes. Cheers, Dee

Rabbie and John

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain…”

Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”

The Bard and John Steinbeck shared common themes, especially in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”

We are the Mouse. We are Scotland. We are persecuted and may have to give up our territory, as did Scotland but they’re getting it back. Let’s see if the Stone of Scone comes with their renewed independence.

As for us, we are cats. We always land on our feet. Dee