9.24.2013

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

25 comments:

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

Just adore you!! Your fortitude and love of the most important things seen through the daily whirl around you. A post full of charm and gratitude. Cheers to the people of Scotland and to you, dear Deb, Graham, and Buffy! OX

Jo Farmer said...

Love your blog Deborah and it reminds me of why I came home... bringing my husband with me. Not sure how long you'll be in the UK but sincerely hope that I get to meet you before you do...
Love and bestest
Jo x

DolceDreams said...

Deb,
I am SO happy that you are blogging again, to really hear about your adventure ...Can't believe it has been 2 years, where does the time go??? You seriously need to write a book, with your writing and your experiences all over, it is sure to be a best seller...once you get the reno's over with :)
I am an email follower !

That party....to die for! Looks like you have a fabulous group of ladies to play with!

xo Nathalie
p.s. do you still have your place here???

quintessence said...

What a wonderful chuckle and reality check on this Sunday afternoon. So nice to see you out and about in the blogosphere. Raising my glass to you and your adventures!

Marsha Splenderosa said...

I can actually hear you speaking these words, Deb. God, you are honest, and I love that. I think we all benefit if we live a different lifestyle, out of the country, or out in the country, for awhile. I know I did. Yes, it's the people. That's why I miss and love you. So happy to see your post, it took precedence over the Houston Texans football game for a bit. Please do this more often!
much love, my friend...

James said...

So glad you are enjoying your expat life. Be well and safe.

Lisa @ The Lisa Porter Collection said...

I've finally realized after all these years that when you write and I read, I need time to think. You always get my wheels turning.
You are so right, and Barbara sings it best ~ "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world!"
I would give just about anything if I could act like your "people" at least once a day. What good medicine!
Xoxoxoxox Lisa

halloween masks said...

thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff you post.

Pigtown*Design said...

Oi! Hi-ya is Cardiff-speak, too! And because every other person in Wales is an Evans or a Jones, they refer to people as Evans-the-post or Jones-the-motor... even today!

Numptie - best expression ever, followed closely by "what a muppet".

Happiest day ever? When I saw some micro-wave popcorn at Tesco!

And please, don't even get me started on the ice. I had my mother send me regulation-size ice cube trays, and when I visited Andy and the children last year, they ceremoniously pulled them out of the freezer for me, to show that they remembered how to make ice!

xoxo

Mise said...

You're back, Deb! I scoured all your photos and noted that you don't seem to have met my Scottish in-laws yet, or perhaps, very wisely, you waited till they had popped out for a raspberry gin before pressing the camera button.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I have a long list of American/England differences too - so long I have been dragging my feet to post it. I LOVE your last point - haggis definitely came to mind. Your photos are so fun! Looks like a great time. And you are right - living abroad makes you learn a lot more about people. Good luck on your house!

My Notting Hill said...

Now that looks like fun!!

Hope all goes well w/the house. I'm sure it will feel better when it's all said and done.

If you're noticing the lack of light, maybe you'd enjoy one of those SAD light units. My son uses one and finds it very helpful.

pve design said...

What an adventure. I love living vicariously through you and your witty comments - love your accent too.
pve

Karena Albert said...

Hi Deb, so good to see your post, You are giving us a lesson in humanity, respecting others and their cultures. Your friends seem so down to earth and genuine!

xoxo
Karena
Tom Scheerer Decorates:
Book Giveaway!

helen tilston said...

Hello Deborah
So lovely to see you fitting in so well with Megan and her family and friends. I can just imagine the laughter.They must love having you amongst them and I can tell you now they will not let you return to America.
Helen xx

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

I love seeing a post pop up from you, no matter when!If only I could learn to be as carefree as your friends.

You are blessed to have met such lovely people!

*Chic Provence* said...

Hi Ya Deb!

What a hoot your friends are... and your place will be done one day.... you are coming through this!!

xoxo

Kit

Shelley said...

Oh, the adjustments to a new land! I live in long underwear, trip over extension cords and periodically dream of American-style convenience. But the people here are lovely. Mind, I am selective and the first hint of one-upman-ship gets a person booted out of my life. I like real people for friends, people who understand what is actually important, those who understand that friendship isn't about competition. I am settled here for the duration, I think. I've come to love just about everything but the weather and so long as I can escape to a really warm place for a month or so, I figure I'll survive. Were it not for Bill's wanderlust, I'd be trying to figure out where to buy a little cottage on the continent... A summer home sounds delicious to me, particularly with autumn rushing in! (She says, pulling her cardigan sleeves down around her wrists for warmth). Good to hear from you! Living in a building site must be very hard; I suffer through the re-decoration of single rooms, so you have my sympathy! Hopefully it will all be worth it when it's done. Though, sadly, in my experience older homes never really stay 'done'. Maybe you don't want to hear that :- <

Jennifer Durham said...

I absolutely cannot believe it's been 2 years since you all moved! Living in an older house is a never ending cycle of renovations it seems. At least our house in Maryland was - I lived with no toilet upstairs for over a year. Good times!

buy art paintings said...

you guys are so funny!!! so much fun!!!

Barbara said...

Hi Deborah! Love, love hearing from you and your life and travails in your new country and apartment. Yes, I've lived amid construction for ages, one must make some major adjustments! But it all comes together in the end. :)
Also loved your list...the last one made me grin...your dentist is only $50??? Wow. Mine is double that.
I adore your friend Megan et al. What fun!!!
More, please.

Anonymous said...

The lady tipped over in the sack with her feet in the air makes me laugh every time I look at it. I love your blog, I have Scots in my blood and would dearly love to vist, and see where my grandfather came from, Oban. Don't worry, the reno will be over. I lived thru' 3 with little kids, and now the memories make great stories that everyone rolls around laughing at. Or maybe it made us all go mental.

Francine Gardner said...

So thrilled to read you! What a gorgeous fun post! I enjoyed it immensely, Scotland is going to be on top of must visit priority list.
Not to tease you, but I am setting up an outdoor lunch, a perfect, warn sunny glorious fall day

24 Corners said...

Oh Deb, I'm so sorry I missed this post when you first posted it. I hope things have settled down a bit at the flat...after two house-buildings, I can't for the life of me imagine living amidst all the construction craziness...I tip my semi-retired hardhat to you.
Your descriptions of the Scottish folk and their Scottish ways is absolutely charming...it's like Mayberry in a way, with a tartan twist, sounds like heaven.
When I moved to Seattle from L.A., I felt the same way about the ladies here...no sizing up, very warm and friendly, and completely genuine...it was an enormous comfort and eye opener (sadly, L.A. had crept in a bit here, it's become a bit 'sizey' now).
Hugs to you all, hang in there...it will be over soon and you'll have your wonderful Scottish lair to cozy up in and enjoy...it will be lovely!!!
XOXO J~

Barbara Stevens said...

Och aye, I did enjoy reading this! You perfectly captured the Scottish folk with their pragmatism and their HUGE sense of humor. May's birthday party cracked me up. It reminded me of stories of my granny from Glasgow's bus holidays with her life long girl friends. These "girls" were in their 60s and inevitably one of them would switch everyone's dentures ( those awful Scottish teeth due to the national obsession for sweeties) so that each lady would wake up and put the wrong teeth in! You have to love people that don't take themselves too seriously.