Saturday, July 24, 2010

Time and Time

When we first got here, the trees were bare, the daffodils were poking through the ground, and there was the smell of coal fires in the air. Then came the bluebells, the fluorescent yellow of the gorse, and the foxgloves. Now it's the rosebay willowherb (I had to look that one up, but it's one of my favorites). Too soon it's going to be the heather on the hillsides, which is going to mean fall is coming. There has still been the smell of coal fires in the air on any given day. The baby sheep that dotted the hillsides when we first arrived are gone, for the most part. Likely went for a last ride in the Livestock Lounge. =:-O The days are going by far too quickly. I kind of like telling time by flower rather than month.

Along the lines of the odd things I find interesting has been the time difference. I've been on a rather schizophrenic schedule, having to keep my work computer on Arizona time (I have the greatest job in the world, by the way), but living my life on Scotland time, so the fact of the roundness of the Earth plays with my mind every day. I start work at 8:30 in the morning, 12:30 in the morning in Arizona. I've got half my work day done and they aren't even awake yet. I'm going to bed and they're just back from lunch. The planet we are on, for as small as the internet and email and whatnot have made it, is .... There isn't a word for it when I let myself ponder the size of it. And without a sound, a few weeks ago it started tilting, telling the rosebay willowherb it was its turn, the heather to gear up for its turn, and the trees to get ready for a long winter snooze. On we go.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Wild Ride in a Stolen Car

The friend of a friend of a cyber pal said I should meet up with this bloke for some golf. Being the golf whore I am and knowing he had a car, I arranged a round with this American fellow whose name shall be withheld in case the authorities read this. Would that make me an accomplice?

We arranged to play at Golspie, my other club. Two other chaps joined us to make a four ball. Mr. X arranged to pick us up in front of the house at 9:00 a.m for the 15 minute drive up to Golspie. We were waiting... and waiting. He drives up at 9:20 in a huge white people mover van. We loaded up and off we went. I rode shotgun while my two mates climbed in the back. Mr. X takes off, one hand on the wheel, one hand holding a steaming cup of coffee, one hand adjusting the radio, and one hand emphasizing points as he talked. Well, it seemed like he had four hands.

I asked him, "Why did you rent such a large vehicle." He replied, "We needed it because we are traveling with my wife, kids, and mother and father in-law. But there is more room now that we left mom in Dublin."

"You left Mom in Dublin, where did you get the van?"

"I picked it up in Dublin," he replied as he took a sip of coffee and passed a tractor and Vauxhall as we neared a curve.

"But Dublin is in another country. They allowed you to take the car on the ferry across to Troon?"

"No, they said I couldn't bring it to Scotland, but I did anyway," he replied as we tailgated a delivery van before passing it on the bridge across Loch Fleet.

"So we are riding in a stolen car?"

"Well er..."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

One of the things I was thinking when I started this thing, this blog, was to help any fellow travelers with some do's and don'ts. Part of the packing process was going through my bathroom stuff, weeding out what I could surely buy over here and what maybe I would want to double up on just in case. I did pretty good on the doubling up on. They don't carry my favorite face goop. Haven't seen Dr. Pepper chapstick. Good call. They do carry Pantene, Secret, and Crest. Good call. In going through my things, I knew I could get Band-Aids and a thermometer, so those are carefully packed away in a box in storage in San Clemente. Bad call.

The thing is, when you need those things, I have learned, you need them now. Not later on when you can pick them up at the store. Cut your finger? You need a Band-Aid. Have a fever? You need a thermometer. New shoes give you blisters on your Achilles? You need Band-Aids.

So, tomorrow, when town opens back up (this being Sunday and Dornoch basically shuts down on Sunday), I'll be picking up Band-Aids and a thermometer, probably a good way to ensure that I won't be needing them any time soon. But if you should come visiting and find yourself in need, we'll be happy to share.

Monday, July 5, 2010

An Anniversary Redux

Hi ya. The 4th of July marked two anniversaries of sorts. It was the halfway point of our time in Dornoch for this year. It is also the 32nd anniversary of the day Julie and I met. So thank you, my love, on both counts. The joy you have brought is properly boundless.

To celebrate we went to our favorite restaurant in town, The Sutherland House. It is our favorite for a couple of reasons. First, it is approximately 40 feet from our front door. No parking hassles. No mad dashes to make our reservation (booking) on time. Total commute time door to door is 30 seconds. Secondly, they have Tennants 80 Schilling on tap, Julie's favorite beer. They are the only place in town that carries it. We have scoured the Highlands and have only found it it a couple of places. The also serve Tennants Ice Cold, my lager of choice, and enough single malts to keep me busy. Did I mention it is only a 30 second walk home? Thirdly, the food has been outstanding. They have a haggis starter that is fantastic. A layer of haggis topped by a layer of finely mashed neeps (turnips) topped with a layer of mashed tatties and the bottom of the plate is covered with a drizzling of cream. Really nice! My favoriete main is the Glenmorangie Chicken. A chicken breast wrapped in bacon, broiled and topped with a light whiskey sauce. It comes with veg and mashed potatoes and new potatoes. Go figure. Lastly, we love the Sutherland House becasue of Margaret, the owner. When we arrive, whether just for a beer or dinner, we get welcomed like long lost friends. Hugs all around and "Julie and Stan, come sit and tell me what you've been up to." When Margaret heard Julie's tales of doing laundry, the dryer cycle sounds a bit like a 747 taking off, only louder, and it shakes most violently, she insisted that we use her clothes line. "Just come in the back yard, everything is there." So on laundry day, if the weather is not properly foul, I trundle over and hang our laundry in Margaret's back yard. I love my clothes hang dried.

Last night at The Sutherland House we met up with two retired principals and two opthamolgists from North Carolina. I heard them debating on whether to try the haggis. I couldn't let it pass after one gent turned his nose up and said he could never eat that, much like my daughter did when she was 3. He sounded like he was being asked to eat fecal material. I walked over and tried to set them straight. They ordered some haggis to share. Julie and I had finished dinner, so we HAD to order the sticky toffee pudding and wait to see how the boys got on with their haggis.

We got to talking. They were on the typical American golf tour, "If this is Tuesday this must be Carnoustie." They were on the fifth day and sixth golf course and having a good time. Dornoch was their favorite course so far. We told them our story and they were so envious. A couple of them saying "I wish I could get my wife to do that, but that would never happen." And one of them actually proposed to Julie!

Well, I thank my lucky stars every day and, touch wood, I hope the next half of our stay is as good as the first.

Oh, they loved the haggis.


So, yesterday was a lot of things. It was the 4th of July. It was our anniversary. We met on the beach in San Clemente 32 years ago. And it marked the halfway point in our adventure. I just don't see how that can be. In some ways, the day we boarded to plane to come over seems ages ago, but the time we have spent here in Dornoch has flown by. It has, as I think both of us hoped, but dared not believe it would, become home. We are comfortable. We are happy. We are sleeping well. One of us has hay fever. We have gotten to know people. We see people on the street, at the market, in the little stores, and say hi. Or hiya. We even have a few folks we hug when we see them. I can't come up with a word that describes what a joy life in this tiny little town has been. I just hope the next half goes a bit slower.