Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Simple Things

We've got a blackbird family that has adopted us.  Very social birds.  Last year they were friendly, especially the male, and got so they would take raisins from our hands.  He perches on the sliding glass door handle in the morning peeping at us until we open up and give him breakfast.  This year they raised a family in a juniper tree just outside the door in the garden.  We felt quite privileged, actually, and followed their progress, trying to guess what was going on up in that tree.  I got to recognize his distress call when a cat was in the yard and would go out and save the day, shooing the cat away  The kids are gone, and both of the adults are molting.  Tatty looking things with bare patches, old feathers gone, new ones sticking up at odd angles, and they've both lost their tail feathers so look almost silly.

Today I was sitting out in the sun (yes, the sun has finally come out) reading when I heard his familiar peep-peep.  He came right up in front of me, a foot or so away, and peep-peeped at me to get him some raisins.  This was out of his comfort zone, me on the ground in a chair, so I scattered the raisins on the concrete in front of me.  He came close, backed off, came close, backed off, all the while peeping at me with what could only be a questioning tone to his peeping.  Could he trust me?  I must have looked very different sitting at ground level with him than I do sticking my hand out to the rail with raisins in it.  Could I possibly be the same person he was used to?  Peep-peep?  Peep-peep?  He rushed in and took one, then two, then three, finally taking five raisins in his mad dashes close to my feet.  He then waddled (these birds waddle, I don't know what else to call it) off to peep-peep at me from six feet away, then flew off.  I like to think that was a thank you.   

Will he be here next year?  Who knows.  The oldest one recorded was 20 years old, the average is 3.4 years.  Will we be here next year?  Who knows.  Sometimes it takes one of the simple things in life to teach you that today is what we've got and tomorrow is a big who knows.  So dash in and get the raisins while you can. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Almost July!!!

Time flies when you are having fun, so they say.  If that's the case, then we are having a lot of fun!  It's two months today since we arrived and it hardly seems possible.  The gorse has moved on for the broom to bloom, the foxgloves are in their full glory, and we've had at least one hatching of blackbirds, who for a time the parents were feeding raisins right in front of the sliding glass door after taking them from our hand.  We've had a few teasers of warm weather followed by Scotland doing its thing.  All in all back home in our home away from home.

We had the most amazing walk about town around 10 p.m. a day or two before the Summer Solstice.  The light and the clouds and the angle of the summer sun combined for a show that was almost magic.  The picture above was taken facing east and the one below facing west towards the setting sun just moments apart.  The third is taken facing south just a few minutes after the other two.    

There has been much hoopla about the Royals.  The Queen's Jubilee celebration was quite something.  We've nothing like it in the states, so there's really nothing to make a comparison to.  I overhear conversations quite often kind of criticizing the monarchy and its ongoing existence, but there was not much complaining about an extra day off for the Queen's Jubilee.  And poor thing, I felt so bad for her out on a barge on the Thames in the rain waving at folks for hours on end - I was hoping that wasn't going to be the beginning of the end of her reign.  But on she goes, looking lovely and laughing at Ascot yesterday.  I find it all a bit fascinating and keep asking seemingly silly questions about them of our friends.  

All that said, I do miss the new life we had started to carve out in Hawaii.  We'd hardly been there long enough to get settled in before it was time to switch gears and get ready to come over here.  I miss the warmth and the water, but it will be there when I get back.  To have the opportunities we've worked so hard to create for ourselves playing out in real time, I'm not complaining.  I'm just ever so grateful to still be here living them. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

50 hours and two weeks later . . .

Ahhhh, home sweet home. Seems silly, but since we've spent more time in Dornoch in the last three years than anywhere else, it makes a bit of sense. As much sense as anything in the last few years has. We've been welcomed back with open arms by friends, our comfie flat was waiting for us with all our things we'd left behind, Little Man, our begging blackbird, spotted us right off, and the gorse is in full bloom.

The flights over were uneventful, the best kind. We woke up in Hilo at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning and knew the next time we'd see a bed was Tuesday night. Everything arrived at the same time in Glasgow, though I always feels I've left part of my brain somewhere over the Atlantic. The train from Glasgow was on time and not crowded, and two friendly faces meeting us at the train station in Tain were the high point of the journey. All told from waking up to lying down was 50 hours. Cat naps on the planes and the train, but no real sleep. A few days of jet lag and here we are two weeks later, firmly entrenched in Dornoch. Reunited with friends. The garden is getting cleaned up. The golf game is getting fine tuned. The lawn bowling is in full swing. Catching up with the evening soaps. Cheese and oatcakes, scones and jam, soup and a crustie, and dinner at Margaret's. Life is good and we are so lucky.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Weather musings

People frequently ask us if it doesn't rain a lot in Scotland, though I must admit that question has been asked far less often, if at all, since our arrival in Hilo. We were fully prepared, so we thought, to live in Hilo with lots of rain. But there is rain, and then there is RAIN. The average yearly rainfall for our little town of Mountain View is 136 inches a year. The average rainfall for our beloved Dornoch is 40 inches a year. Our last stop in San Clemente had average rainfall of 13.5 inches a year, and prior to that in Pacific Grove it was a little over 20 inches.

So possibly thinking we were prepared for this amount of rain and damp was a bit . . . naive.

Things grow in this climate - the plants, the trees, the flowers. On any given day it is an amazing spectacle to behold. It does make for gorgeous scenery, and the views out the windows and driving to and from town are spectacular. The views indoors, though, rival anything we experienced in what we considered the damp of Pacific Grove. The door to the downstairs spare room quite often has a bit of odd fuzz growing on it. I opened a kitchen drawer one day to find a lovely set of cloth napkins with bits of what might have been penicillin growing on them. We've been advised to strip our bed and leave the mattress open to the air while we are gone to avoid who knows what happening between the sheets. Stan's Merrill's showed up one day with white polka dots on them.

There is always a learning curve when we move someplace new. I have a feeling, though, most of the curve is going to be happening while we are in Scotland. I just hope two tubs of DampRid in the car are going to be enough . . .

Monday, April 2, 2012

Time Flies When it's Raining

Well, here we are, three weeks from going back to our beloved Scotland, our Hideaway in the Highlands, our Home Away From Home, our . . . .

But wait. We are in Hawaii. Our new home base. Car transported and registered, drivers licenses with rainbows on them, all our things (such as they were) out of storage, and voila, Home Sweet Home. And we are leaving? Yep. The gypsy life is alive and well.

So far, for the three months we will have been here by the time we leave, it has been a good move. Me getting laid off and losing our health insurance just prior to moving was a bit unnerving, and has proven to be a bit expensive (the care was superb, insurance or no), but living here has been a wee slice of heaven. The pace of life when one of you is retired and the other unemployed can't help but slow down considerably. Long days on the beach, snorkeling with the most amazing variety of creatures, stopping for fresh vegies at the farmer's market once a week, and watching out the window as the sun lights up the giant whatever tree that is outside the bedroom window. The idea of going back to work full time is not an attractive one (I have found part-time work, so I'm halfway back to reality). There *is* the issue of gas being $4.73 a gallon. But I digress.

To really top off our first few months here our kids had visits planned. We so wanted them to see what it was that drew us here, how pretty the place is, and how different from any place we've lived in just about every way possible. Sadly, moreso for one than the other, they were met with biblical amounts of rain. And clouds. And mud. And more rain. One of them dealt with me being in the hospital, the other with the Crab Episode referred to in the previous, much funnier post. We aren't at all sure we convinced them we aren't crazy.

Today, the day after the second child left for home, it was 86 degrees, blue sky, puffy white clouds, long day on the beach, snorkeling with the most amazing variety of creatures, stopping for fresh vegies at the farmers market, and my tree lit up as if by magic by the rising sun. Nature's version of some kind of a joke, I'm sure. I'm not sure the kids are laughing.

Read at Your Own Risk

Dear Bite Me Fish Market and Restaurant,

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for the meal my wife and son and I had in your establishment the other day. It was truly a memorable meal. My son had a fish sandwich that I am sure he did not enjoy as much as I enjoyed my Crab Benedict. The Crab Benedict was a meal that I continued to enjoy for many days after.

The continued enjoyment began that night in our hotel room at Uncle Billy’s Kona Beach Hotel. I woke up in the middle of the night to a violent bowel movement that really made me feel special. From 12 midnight until 3:00 a.m. I painted the toilet bowl every 20 minutes. And then to really put a crowning finish on the night, I began to projectile vomit with a taste like licking the bottom of a crab pot. Nice!

It was a really memorable moment for my son, who had never had the pleasure of seeing his father naked. Boy, did he get a show as he saw a naked, 58-year-old man spewing from both ends, wonderfully backlit by the bathroom light. Hawaiian memories to last a lifetime.

By 8:00 in the morning the tide was stemmed enough to make the 2 hour drive back across the island to the comfort of my own toilet. Regretfully I had to forgo a 36-hole day of golf paid for by my son because the golf carts were not equipped with their own toilets. But because the golf had to be delayed, don’t think the excitement ended. The drive over the Saddle Road, a winding thrill ride, was fantastic. After a stop at a sandwich shop to cleanse my colon one more time, and to very smartly pilfer copious amounts of toilet paper, we headed over the mountain. As we passed through the military training area I felt an all too familiar rumbling in my loins and had to have my dear bride pull over the vehicle so that I could give a convoy of our nations finest a full view of me peeing out my butt. What a special family time as my wife and son got to watch me in all my glory defecate in the full presence of our military. I call it the Bite Me Salute.

We did eventually make it home where I had the grand finale with peeing out my butt and projectile vomiting AT THE SAME TIME. What fun! And all the while tasting stale fine dining off the bottom of a bait tank.

To show you my appreciation I was going to send you a turd in a box, but since I haven’t been able to make a turd for 4 days I can’t do that. Since I may be the only person around to be able to crap through a screen door, I will have to wait until my next visit to express my gratitude.

Just a helpful suggestion... have the cook pay attention to the miserable shite he puts on the plate instead of trying to hit on the waitress.

Until my next visit... Bon Apetit!.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Gypsy's Life For Me

Or maybe that's pirate's. Whatever it is, it's coming to a conclusion. Of sorts. Today our meager belongings in our 5 x 10 x 10 storage unit are being reboxed, rewrapped, insured, and prepared for their ocean voyage to the port of Hilo, Hawaii. The game plan at this point (and bits of my life have been all about the best laid plans going astray), is for our things to arrive within the same time frame as we do, which is January 15th. We have booked our 1-way tickets, and that was a bit strange, and we have booked our car a spot on the Jean Anne leaving San Diego January 11th, scheduled to arrive in Hilo on January 18th.

Our final pit stop in this gypsy journey has been Nevada City. It's really a nice little town. The folks are friendly, the trees in their fall plumage are beautiful, and the place we are in is lovely. Too bad we bought the line in the flyer about being walking distance to town. That has stuck in our craws, but que sera, sera. It's only for 6 more weeks. And it is a bit cold (my feet are not happy). Then off we go to Mountain View, just south of Hilo, a place I can leave cans in the cupboards, bandaids in the bathroom, shoes in the closet, and where my feet can finally get warm. We are hoping that Mountain View will be a place we can settle in and call home. As settled as we can get before heading back to chilly Dornoch in April. I am keeping that bit of news from my feet at the moment.