Monday, April 25, 2011

The OC, Final Thoughts

We are cozily nestled in our cottage in the Highlands, but I did want to wrap up some final thoughts on life in the OC. Southern Orange County was a great place to grow up …in the 1960s, but as with everything it has changed significantly both physically and in attitude. The physical changes are quite disturbing. Eight lanes of freeway in each direction, mini malls and mega malls seemingly on every other corner, and people, people everywhere. Did you know that there is not one producing orange grove in Orange County? The namesake of the county was sold out for a plethora of big box stores, fast food restaurants, and houses made of ticky tacky. Progress? Though the wall-to-wall people and bulldozed hillsides that now grow condos are alarming, what is far more disturbing is the attitude. A couple of cases in point.

The total lack of environmental consciousness. Preserving open space is a code word for land that is not economically viable to build upon. We will preserve this swath of land between our housing developments until we can find a way to build another BestBuyCostcoOldNavyChilisJackintheBox.

The sense of entitlement is distasteful. I am entitled to drive an earth-hating, 4-wheel drive SUV because I can. And if you have a Range Rover, then I am entitled to an Escalade that is just a bit bigger. And if I get an Escalade, then you must have a Hummer. I am also entitled to obey the laws I choose and to ignore others if they don’t suit me. The City of San Clement has built a wonderful walking path that runs along the beach for the entire length of the city. It is quite well used and is generally quite pleasant, but I am entitled to walk my dogs and have them urinate and defecate everywhere and I am entitled to not clean up after my animal if I so choose, even though the city provides cleanup materials, free of charge. I am also entitled to take as many of these crap bags as I want because they are free. To heck with the common good, this is about me. While driving I am entitled to use my turn signals only if I choose to, but if my car is larger or more expensive than yours it is not required. I am entitled to drive like an ass if I want and even more so if I have a Rick Warren Onward Christian Soldiers poor, poor, persecuted me bumper sticker on my Escalade. While waiting to make a left turn with 5 other vehicles, an Escalade with a Rick Warren Onward Christian Soldier, I am better than you bumper sticker passes all of us on the right, moves to the head of the line, cuts in front and makes a left turn. It is alright because I am going to Rick Warren’s Easter at the Bren and I will be forgiven for being an asshole.

But the winner in the I am entitled and better than you sweepstakes occurred on the residential streets of San Clemente. While pulled to the side of the road to make a phone call, I witnessed a woman in a wheelchair on her way shopping. She was using the street, as there were no sidewalks on that street. She had the audacity to be in the road when the driver of yet another earth-hating vehicle was using the same road. So, instead of letting the woman in the wheelchair pass by, he honked his horn and waved his arms (he was not saying hello) because this wheelchair-bound woman had the gall to use a street at the same time as him. Evidently people in wheelchairs are less entitled.

I think we would all be better off if I don’t return to the OC.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dornoch in April

Is darn cold! I had forgotten about that. Or maybe the time in Hawaii thinned my blood. I know I lost a layer of blubber while we were there. It's not snow, and it's really only rained once. It's just cold enough, low 50s, that I don't layer enough to be comfie when I go out. The learning curve begins again.

But we are here. The hillsides are green, the trees are blooming or budding. The daffodils and tulips are everywhere. There are lots baby sheep, but still lots of sheep moms so fat and furry they look like hay bales from a distance. Or without my glasses. The gorse is starting to bloom and the yellow fields of canola oil flowers are getting going. They will be almost electric yellow in a few weeks.

Stan took the car back to today, so we are carless in the highlands again. We made a couple of market runs, he took his bike in for a tune up in Inverness, and we picked up my bike from some nice folks in town that lent it to me last year, though I was so thoroughly jet lagged we put it in the back of the car and drove it home rather than me ride the mile in the wind. I was so tired I thought I might get blown over.

The drive to get the bike took us on the road where I actually do ride the bike, a single track road of about 3 miles or so, dotted with a few houses but mostly fields of sheep or grass. We had to pull out (or the other car did) in the passing area for 3 cars and I commented on the traffic. Snort. After the 8-lane freeway madness of Orange County, I thought 3 cars meeting on the single track road at 5:30 in the evening was traffic.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

All I can say is ...

Yay!!!!! The 18th of April is almost here! We are off, heading for home. Or at least it feels that way. After our first trip in 1998, all subsequent trips to Scotland have been accompanied by a feeling of coming home, for whatever odd reason. Genetic memory, ancestral memory, or I'm just crazy. Whatever it is, I've got it. And I'm going home. I had fully expected this sensation to decrease somewhat over time with the number of visits we've made, but it has only increased. It's in my bones, Scotland is, and I'm going home.