Dear World

Dear World, 

Do you see me as I am? I'm the little girl who had big dreams - living in Europe (check), being married (check x2) and raising a family (check x4). I'm the woman who worked hard all her adult life. I gave birth to four babies and experienced a miscarriage. For 30 of those years raising children, I worked full-time for the majority of them; remember me? I'm the one who cried and worried myself sick that I wouldn't be able figure out ways to keep them all in University and witness them grab that diploma as they walked the stage.

It's me world who while the children slept, would begin DYI projects in hopes the paint was dry by morning. You need a clown costume, no problem. A trip to House of Fabrics, McCalls pattern 4217 and bring in the clowns. Excuse me world, do you remember son no. 1 when struck with an illness that left him for weeks unable to hold-up his head or walk? Did you forget the 3 out of 4 who had tonsillectomies, and one with the emergency appendectomy?  If that wasn't enough, son #1 fell into the corner of a 4 ft. book case and ripped open a hole between his inner lip and his nasal passage. Son #2 had to beat that with breaking off his front tooth at University with the nerve left dangling. How soon you forget as I didn't even mention the broken bones. One doesn't want to appear too needy. 

But surely world you noticed when I ended a toxic marriage of 22 years. You must have taken note when I packed up my 5, 10, 12, and 16 year old's and we left our family home, the home we loved. With $500.00 in child support each month we had to make it work and we did. We grew strong and happy. Did you notice world that I'm still judged today for what others don't have a clue about. Did you even see that my world became dark and sad and there was finally light?

World you must of smiled when knowing I found an honorable, kind, stable man; a Scotsman. If anything you likely inhaled as you wondered, 'what was he thinking?'

Did you take note of the career I've had; the times I've started over and the many places we've lived? Each new desitnation starting from scratch; re-winding really. Trying with all my might to fit-in and helping my family to adjust. Praying to God we made friends. There were hopes my colleagues saw me as more than my current job title and I'd win their respect. Did you remember world that we moved 5 times in a 12 year span and this last move was a doozy?

I'm the one at age 50 passed my motorcycle course in front of twenty three twenty-somethings. The majority in your world didn't understand why, but for once I knew that didn't matter. Life gets in the way and it's prevented me from important moments that I know I'll never get back. Meeting my first born grandchild as a wee baby or spending special moments with the ones you love. This is when I think my world is stuck on repeat and it'd be nice for a break. 

And now world, I know you no longer see me as the woman full of hopes; the little girl with white blonde braids holding a fishing pole or riding her baby blue second-hand Schwinn. I am no longer a mother of children, let alone four. I am not valued for raising them to adulthood as good people. My accomplishments in the working world and how I have influenced others are blurred. You see me through glasses that are scratched and clouded; you view only my age, the lines in my face, and the eyes that don't sparkle as they once did. You roll your eyes when I ask you to repeat what I can't hear. You don't see me as the 16 year old who loved Steely Dan, the Guess Who, and Joni Mitchell and who obviously listened to rock too loudly. I was that kid who grew-up in a High School band room filled with music. You only know me as the person without perfect hearing today. 

World you no longer recognize me as a daughter, nor feel the pain I carry since my mom died. You only see what you take in today as though I've been this age for my lifetime. I feel myself slipping away, almost invisible

With youth comes inexperience, naivety & in some cases, excessive self-importance; the inability to see that the world does not slow down for any one of us. World, you catch up to us all and although you have favourites, you leave no one behind. I am so much more than the person you see now. I wish these words would clear your vision but I know when I wake-up tomorrow, I'll be viewed as I am for today. 

So world you are on notice. Look into my eyes as this is how I want you to see ME!
( and no jokes about the way I run!)

I'm not 'done and dusted' yet.

Go forth and live responsibly
{see people... really see them}

Thank you x


The Measure of A Bonny Day

Its is dreich day. Staying put in the Milne flat wrapped in wooly tartan throws feels like the only sane goal for this sunless Sunday. What a true waste of a day.

So what if you came to visit me and we could run away to this Scottish gem a bit further afield. This beauty makes me think of Ernest Hemingway if he had a Glaswegian accent.
photos 1-6 credited to Location Scotland

You're welcome to invite a friend or two to come with but be weary whom you invite. If the Queen of England comes to stay, history states that no one thereafter is allowed to sleep in the room where she slept. That's prime real estate going to waste I tell you. I wonder if laundering the sheets is allowed?

When you get peckish, I will go for a' Pig in a Bun Run'. You have your choice between Scottish bacon, or local sausage on a white or whole wheat 'softie' (bun). If you keep the fire stoked, I'll bring you one of each with brown sauce. 

After tea (in Scotland tea means your dinner; I know I'm equally confused) we'll go for a drive to one of my favourite country homes located on the outskirts of Ellon. If we pass the Queen, simply wave and act natural. 

This my friend is Haddo House, a 1732 Georgian property.  It was in 1857 that Queen Victoria slept here after she informed the Gordon's that in 12 months time they had better have her room ready. She arrived with a gift, a white marble bust of her likeness. Said bust still rests on a fireplace mantel here today. I think Victoria was onto the ultimate of house warming gifts. 

Just so you understand, let me recap the prioritising of Scottish estate homes and castles - every one is measured by the calibre of its tea room and the 'fancy pieces' on offer. 

The Haddo House tea room gets the savoury scones seal of approval. A large pot of tea served with a smaller pot of hot water & scrumptious baked goods equates to the ideal pause after the 2 hour guided tour. 

After our well needed walk around the grounds, I've come up with a thought; it's approaching week no. 5 since the Lord of the Milne Manor was laid-off from his recent position. I say, 
"when the chips are down, it's bloody time to eat them". 

Buckle up we're off to the local chipper! 

Thank you for taking the time to visit me here in Scotland; as always, wonderful to see you. 
For this new week one thing is for certain, I need to think less about food.

Haste Ye Back


{go forth & live responsibly}
I'll put the kettle on


The Luckiest People

I can't really call myself a blogger anymore. I'd blame my shortage of creativity on the lack of sunshine however if you were keen to the summer weather reports here in the UK, we've had 50% more sunshine than a normal summer.  The blame should be place on the guilty culprit called noise. The eruptive roar of the chop saw and the ear piercing 'wheee' of the electric drill; all very necessary so complaining is sadly counterproductive and my better-half knows I do love complaining.  

photograph by ayse_k_
Scottish husband and I are still adapting to life outside  the 'ever-so-convenient' United States and without the (adult) kids. It's been 2 years this month since our move to Scotland and one year since we moved into the flat we purchased. A 115 year old granite building in need of total refurbishment.  The Mr. and I are chief contractor, plasterer, plumber and everything else in between. For those of you that have lived in a construction site, I suspect you will understand when I say, I hope to never again. Any hopes of keeping a home fit for habitation have been given up on. A sane person would never stop by my home for a cup of tea without first a vaccination and a full face dust mask 

photograph by ayse_k_b
Today instead of wandering the highlands on our day off, Mr. Milne is doing his best to fire up the boiler and restore some warmth without leaking radiators blessing the flat below us. I often have those inward discussions that this too shall end; it's all about the journey I remind my doubting self. The practical Dumbwit knows this to be true, but the hysterical 'what's the use of dustingDumbwit loves to rear her ugly head.  I have to periodically clear the plaster dust clouds from my brain and remember it's not all about making a home, its about living the experience. 

If I could encapsulate what I've learned  in these 24 months of living on this side of the North Atlantic it would be in one word - people. I image this to be no different than what any of you experience with your journeys; whether you've lived in various places or purely the journey through everyday life. The more we experience, the more we understand people. In some cases, we don't understand them at all and have to let it go. I've learned that even though you are family it doesn't mean you are involved with each others lives.  I've been fortunate most of my life to have family close and living abroad has strengthened those bonds and weakened others. It's been a lesson of learning about people; sorting out those that don't 'really' care and those that do.  The rare ones that care without wanting anything in return. 

I could write a book about the strong character of the Scots. Their pride and appreciation of where they've been and how they got here; the strong and honorable love of tradition and history. Their lack of materialism, their genuine spirit and the simplicity of day to day life. Women don't seem to size up each other at introduction and you don't sense that fear of competition. No one cares what side of town you live on, who your personal trainer is or if you wore Prada or Primark.  Fun is had with ones imagination. The kind of imagination you had when you were a child but you never fully lost it. 

My sweetest friend Megan Gair grew up on in the Shetland Islands. 200 kms off the north coast of Scotland. When I speak of the spirit of the people of Scotland, Megan's loved ones have everything I'm speaking of all rolled up into one closely knit family and community. From her mother's 60th birthday party, to her sister Kate's hen party, you can judge for yourself if these people are the kind of folk you'd love to get to know and perhaps share a nip of whisky with. I say nothing represents what I'm speaking of louder than Megan's family and friends.  They are my kind of people!

Megan and her mum May
I hear the song from Chariots of Fire don't you?

Kate's Hen Party
 So it's not all easy-peasy in the land of tartan and tweed but my frustrations are trivial. The water is good and the whisky even better but the lack of ice in my coke I can't come to grips with. To navigate grocery store aisles that are as wide as  a bowling lane is not my 'cuppa' either. Getting through the check-out takes what seems like hours after listening to the checker & the customer exchange niceties. "Fit like? "Nae good. Uncle Angus took ill a fortnight ago while he was a wah. Why he didnae die I'll never know. He was aff his heed; whit a numpty that poor loon."

Somehow, one doesn't seem to mind the total disregard for the ever nagging Father Time. People smile more, and are genuinely more happy. When that sun does come out, it's as though you've given the people of Scotland the greatest gift of all and they are grateful for it; I am grateful for them. 

Has the move been worth it? Yes, but I don't want those who have been following my photographic ride (instagramfacebookto think it's not without sacrifice. Living in Scotland could not be more beautiful but life far away is served with a huge slice of surrender & I'm quite sure  it's not for everyone.

So Monday - Sunday what is different? 

  • electrical cords to anything - hair dryers, lamps, etc. are longer due to lack of outlets. You have to reach further  
  • a post office is not like a liquor store; they are few and far between. A postal worker is a 'postie'. 
  • free parking - virtually non-existent even in front of your own home if you live within the city.  
  • hamburgers do exist but juicy ones are extinct.  
  • 95% of homes are heated with a gas or oil boilers & 99% of expats don't know how to operate them. 
  • thanks to cobble stones, shoe repairs shops do a bang-up business. I've had the heels of my shoes done every 4-5 months.  
  • foil, trash bags, food storage bags, you name it, are all thinner. Call it greener I'm not  convinced? 
  • sales people actually say those two magic words, 'thank you'. 
  • hi-ya is Aberdonian for hello. 
  • not everyone plays the bagpipes. 
  • to have your teeth cleaned by a private dentist (not NHS) is £30.00 (about $50.00).  
  • a hen party is a bachelorette party & the crazier you dress the better.  
  • all  electrical outlets have their own on & off switch. It's when it is turned off that my Yankee laziness shines through.  
  • a 'leave-do' is a your co-workers throwing you a party to send you off to your next job with well-wishes and a hardy hang over.  
  • beer by the ounce is far cheaper than a soda (pop for us West Coasters).  
  •  wives do not complain about their husbands and not a lot else either EXCEPT the weather (rightly so!).  
  • we should all own stock in self-tanner sold in Scotland. There is population of orange people, mainly the twenty-something's. 
  • most Scottish foods are based on a dare.  

Whilst I typed away, Mr. Milne has restored heat and restored my faith in his undying DIY abilities. I can wield a good paint brush, be he's the one willing to tackle where he's not gone before. I guess we both have done some tackling in our own way.  

Tipping my cup of tea to you and cheers from Aberdeen.

{go forth and live responsibly}
clear the cobwebs