OK, I’ll Adult: Scotland 2019 first 3 days…. seriously.

Last post was getting to the airport in Ireland and missing our plane because Kevin was a Royal Dick… what I left out was that he screamed at me the entire trip to give him directions off the Maps App and I was ALWAYS late with a turn because the silly thing was’t fast enough. UGH. I was in tears and by the time we got to the rental car drop off, I was also FURIOUS. Ok.. we finally got our flights redone and they didn’t charge us a dime to fix OUR mistake… and we sat around until the flight came. I had, by this time, already notified Brian (in Scotland) that we had missed our flight, I was pissed, and when we would arrive with the new flight info. We got to Glasgow with our bags and got a taxi to the hotel… and what a WONDERFUL man we had driving us. Chatty as all get out, informative, and SUPER cheery. Even Kevin had to say something nice! Arrived at the hotel JUST as Brian was about to walk out the door… he had been waiting for us. We got our rooms and while all that was happening Brian chatted us up a bit. I reminded Kevin we needed to do laundry as we had a place here in Glasgow to do it and the time… but he was adamant we would be able to do it on the 10 day, SUPER PACKED trip. With everything that was going on, Brian offered to take us to the laundromat and we consented. I got all into the laundry bag and we went back downstairs (I had already told Brian I would NOT be going with them as I needed time to become a nicer human being). Brian asked me again if I would go… but I declined. I went upstairs to the room and just chilled. About an hour later I texted Brian and stated I had been given enough time to decompress and was a nice person again. I think Brian kept Kevin out for about 2 hours… and when Kevin walked into our room he was happy, said the laundry was going to be folded and delivered to our hotel for just 30 pounds Stirling , and he had a present for me… He then brought out 2 umbrellas! I can NEVER thank Brian enough for not only getting Kevin to BUY umbrellas.. but to have him CHEERFUL about it.. AND giving me the much needed time to get myself together… PRICELESS.

I’m just going to put a lot of awesome pics up now because in 10 days we saw a TREMENDOUS amount of Scotland. The incredible part was, except for Culloden, we were never in a rush to get anything done. I’ve added a bit of info about each day after the pix for that day. We packed a LOT into the time we had, but honestly, it wasn’t too much. Just steady and ALL day. We started at 0700 each morning and ended around 7-8 for dinner each night.. sat up chatting until about 2300 and then bed.

The first day we were in Glasgow as well as the next morning. We left in the afternoon to start the tour and the first stop was the Kelpies. From there we got on bicycles and rode 6 km to the Falkirk Wheel which is an incredible feat of engineering https://www.ice.org.uk/what-is-civil-engineering/what-do-civil-engineers-do/falkirk-wheel. The next day we traveled a long time with a few cool stops.

The 17th we headed out to a roadside stop at the back side of Stirling Castle for a 15 minute photo break. Then we road on to a little town called Pitlochary (which has a dam with a set of salmon leaps so the salmon can go spawn). We had lunch here and a bit of sight seeing.. then on a LONG drive with a few roadside stops to stretch the legs and get pix…. until we got to Eilean Donan Castle (BTW, Graham’s grandmother lived at Eilean Donan Castle in the late 1930’s!). After a good bit, we took off again to Skye and spent the night in Portree. I’ll leave it here for today. I have been working on this for 5 days now.. trying to get the photos together and then I realized I have them all, in date order, in my photos somewhere in cyberspace (but I have a thing to click on and they all come up instantly). So, now I will do these bits (depending on how much I have to say on a given set of days) as I figure out just how much is on each day. Some of the days were really packed with excitement and some were a lot of driving. A few EPIC events I will make a separate post about because of the significance of the adventure. The next post will be of one of those… Hiking the Old Man of Storr…. TTFN

Being Alone and Loneliness Revelations

I am alone today (started this blog post on 4/1/2020). Being alone and loneliness aren’t mutually exclusive, but today I am pondering on my past experiences and my present day… April Fools Day during COVID 19 lock down… LOL The thing that really has me pondering isn’t the fact that I am alone. I am alone quite a bit. What got me cogitating is that I am alone and not searching.

This was just before taking my first Highland Way led Scotland trip. From the left: Kim Caldwell (Tour Guide and musician Brian Caldwell’s wife) Tom and Kathy Grand, Raquel Franco, Dina Morocco (who introduced me to the band) and me. This picture is at O’Sullivan’s Escondido most likely it was a Sunday evening too. Pub night…

By searching, I mean, I wasn’t delving into that part of me that NEEDS to belong. As in the picture above. Dina and I didn’t belong in this group. It took another year for us to finally admit it… but we joined in because we were allowed… and then were alone in a big group while desperately trying to fit in.

I was alone during this entire outing with Kevin… until I started playing with my new camera. The camera syncs with my phone so I can take remote pix.

I was fiddling about in the house yesterday. Trying to decide what to do. As it was rather cold outside, I was reluctant to go out and sit on the cold, damp ground and finish my weeding. Graham and I had a good lie in followed by a robust breakfast (we finally got some eggs!) and some idle chat until it was time for Graham to go do his volunteer driving/deliveries during this COVID 19 thing. Shortly after he left, I finally felt motivated to do stuff. I went outside and did some gardening for the downstairs neighbor. I was happily mumbling to myself…

Babbling to myself became a normal course of how I dealt with things in California. Especially since December 18th, 2017 (of which an entire blog post will be forthcoming) and it irritated the hell out of Kevin. Graham, on the other hand, also babbles to himself and finds it completely endearing! What I then realized, as I concluded my outside activities for the morning was; I hadn’t been babbling to myself much at all since moving here. I used to do it all the time…. including when in the same room with Kevin. This habit came about because Kevin, purposefully and with malice, would make me wait if I asked him a question or started talking to him. He also would purposefully just not answer me.. so I started answering myself. This was one of the more insidious behaviors that no one ever witnessed him doing (and therefore, when I told folks about it, I was looked on as being nuts because Kevin was such a nice guy). Sometimes he made me wait for 20 minutes or more. It got to the point that I was the only person remotely worth talking to. So here is where I can start to differentiate between being alone, and being lonely.

After my Scotland trip I did a solo mountain backpacking trip (also a blog all in its own right)

Yesterday (4/1/2020) I realized that I wasn’t constantly thinking about Graham when he was gone. I accepted that he was doing what ever it is he has to do and I had zero worries about any of it.. not when he was leaving, what he was doing, or when he would get home. It just didn’t worry me! I was alone, but not lonely because I am now at peace with who I am and my worth in this World is not tied to the opinion of someone else! It was then, around 1300, as I started working on planting seeds for the veggie garden into the egg cartons I had been saving, that I realized I had been lonely in California. I was doing so many things, being a version of me here, another version of me there. I lost track of living and just kept doing… so I didn’t have to admit I was lonely.

Like a stark, black and white photo, I finally let go yesterday. It wasn’t a huge revelation, but a passing thought that, WOW, I am not lonely anymore! I can be alone and be happy in my space. Happy in the moment. I am finally free from the paralyzing fear that Kevin will come home and yell at me, give me the silent treatment, or even worse, start in on a topic of interest to me and then proceed to tell me how stupid I am. I am finally free of all the plotting and scheming to figure out how to leave before Kevin got up and come home after he was in bed. It nearly killed me I was so exhausted. Not just physically, but mentally too. To feel so isolated and alone in a public space was part of how Kevin made me feel, but I HAD to go out and live that loneliness because to stay home was FAR worse.

The last cooking party Lynn and I held.. just before I left for a Scotland vacation in the summer of 2019

I have grown so much in the last 3.5 years. I have made some egregious errors, alienated folks I really thought highly of (and have since realized they are fighting their own demons and I wasn’t alienating them at all.. it was their choice to become distant), made new friends who uplifted, encouraged, supported me, and believed me. I have changed. I am a much kinder and gentler me. I still have some things to work on, but in a short 3 months, I have stopped being angry (I still get angry, but now it is a passing emotion that has a moment and then I can send it away…most of the time). I don’t have to be angry all the time anymore. I don’t have to defend myself. I can express how I feel to Graham and he will listen. I’m getting better at not reacting… and just being in the moment (GOD I hate that term.. and self care, and a few other buzz words for just being in a good place). I’m still working on expressing myself in ways that don’t have me stammering, crying, short tempered. I am now able to say I am X emotion right now and I need to work through this. Please bear with me as I figure out what I am upset about so I can express myself to you nicely.

One of my Chinchillas I had to leave behind. Fortunately, Kevin likes then and takes care of them.

And, 2 days later, I am finishing this blog post with Graham yet again gone on his volunteer rounds. I have been alone most of the day and another revelation happened… I was trying to build a drystone wall and WANTED Graham’s help. I don’t need him, but he is supportive and kind and a good companion. Even when we are elbow deep in a frustrating polytunnel build. No truer test of a relationship could happen in the first 3 months… and on top of that, Social distancing (ANOTHER term I REALLY hate… it is Quarantine/physical distancing). I find I am smiling ear to ear again… because I am not lonely. I am alone, and I am very Ok with that. Long time coming… to be happy in my own body.

Summer 2019 Lighthouse hike

Off to work on the blog post I have been working on for a week now… about the Scotland 2017 trip. Pictures are the issue… but I have JUST discovered what I need is in my Pictures icon on my computer… DUH… I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed on occasion! TTFN

Triggers and Building a Polytunnel

Well, we are on day 6 of social distancing where we can’t be with anyone other than those with whom we live. What a CRITICAL test of a relationship! Kids are being home schooled and parents are now having to acknowledge just what kind of little shits they have raised… Hopefully, they will now understand just how difficult a job the teachers have and make changes! When the kids go back to school, the teachers SHOULD have FAR better pupils… but then again, the teachers have ZERO ability to enforce correct behavior. So unless the parents.. OMG… rabbit hole. Back to today’s topic.

I have been living with my Knight Graham for a tad over 3 months now. It is almost exactly as anticipated. There is NEVER 100% awesomeness because of how the mind works. There are some little things that are both endearing and irritating have cropped up to which I have either decided to work around or I said something and we have come up with solutions. In all of this the World has gone to complete SHITE in just 2 months. Australia, the ENTIRE continent, was burned to a crisp and Koalas are now functionally extinct… sort of https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/animals/2019/11/no-koalas-arent-functionally-extinct-yet. The Confounder in Chief decided to tweet the USA into an almost WWIII with Iran, and China decided it was a GREAT idea to allow foreigners to LEAVE a country with a fast spreading, novel virus, newly mutated, and previously unknown form of Corona Virus! Thus it spread across the Globe and we saw the first Pandemic since AIDS (which wasn’t given that title because it… well that is another rabbit hole) and the Spanish Flu of 1918. https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/the-spanish-flu-pandemic-of-1918/

New Years Eve 2019/2020

My life here in Scotland has been idyllic… to say the least. I had some trouble at first because of all the past things needing to be processed.. grief, anger, sorrow.. the usual stuff as well as getting REALLY sick 3 times… until I took heed of the Universe and took myself to bed for 3 days and then rested for another 3 weeks. In that time I identified several “triggers” that made me reactive (from Kevin’s emotional abuse of 28+ years). As each one popped up, I would react badly… and immediately regret it. At first I didn’t feel Ok telling Graham why I was upset because it wasn’t his fault.. and he so badly wanted me to be happy…. One night we were watching a 1970’s series called Survivors set in the UK during a pandemic outbreak where most of the folks in the world were killed (yep.. Graham has an UNCANNY knack for knowing what will happen… Maybe because he was a police officer for over 30 years!). I wasn’t keen on the series, but I was OK until one episode where a man killed a woman and then let a mentally challenged young man be charged with the murder.. and without anything but circumstantial evidence, they convicted the young man and executed him. As soon as the kid had been shot, the perpetrator confessed but the head cheeses wouldn’t tell anyone because they needed the guy for labor.. so OMG.. I was FURIOUS. I was so upset I almost SCREAMED. I was LIVING PTSD. I had, previously, told Graham I didn’t really like the series as the world was FULL of nasty folks and I don’t like watching that shit on TV. This night I told him that if they killed the kid I would no longer watch. I would be happy to put the series on for Graham, but I would go read a book or something. Yep… it happened. Graham insisted that the world was like this and it was just a show…. and I had no need to get so upset… there was more to it, but to be honest.. I don’t remember anymore because we dealt with it and moved on… but it made Graham relive his past and his PTSD emerged… he came to bed later crying his eyes out because he couldn’t bear to see me cross… All I needed was a night of sleep to process everything… but DAMN.. I felt like shit. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072572/

The next hurdle was me getting frustrated multiple days in a row with the printer and computers. Graham and I REALLY needed to get some stuff done and it wasn’t cooperating. Here, I need to insert some Kevin info. Kevin is a hardware engineer by degree and a software GURU because that is what he is good at and what all his employers utilized him for. He is REALLY good at it… Ya know when your dating someone… they sometimes seem like they are trying to impress you and you kinda doubt all they say? Well, not so with Kevin. He is FUCKING BRILLIANT (one of the reasons I really fell for him… because I am FUCKING BRILLIANT too) and time after time, when I was in a room with him, he diagnosed a computer issue over the phone (I am not talking the usual, easy peasy IT stuff…) and got whomever it was off and working again.

The epitome was when IBM East Coast (he was working for them at the time, but in Austin, TX) called and said they needed Kevin. No one else would do (I think it had to do with the project.. but also with his skills). They wanted him to go to Maine (I think) and fix everything because they had a deadline and EVERYTHING was broken.. you know the type of hysterical OMG that happens? Yep. We were at home and Kevin got on the phone with them. I heard him state over and over… “You have a bad cable.” They WOULD NOT take that as the answer… so they FLEW HIS ASS out to Maine from Austin, TX. Yeppers… when he got there, he called me after the day of work.. and it WAS a cable… but because Kevin was SO FREAKING INCREDIBLE.. they KEPT HIM! For the next 6 months, I saw Kevin about 3-6 days a month. when he was ALLOWED to come home and pay bills, etc. Because of this and several other episodes of equally spectacular “saves,” Kevin got a reputation that we found out about when Kevin was sent to Wisconsin for a trade show. A young man came to the recruiting booth for IBM and asked to see Kevin Cousineau. Evidently, the young man knew someone who knew Kevin or word got around .. like playing telephone… and Kevin was summoned to help this guy. Kevin asked how the kid knew of him and the guy answered, ” I was told that you are the GURU GOD of broken machines and I wanted to meet you!” So, LOL… from then on he was known as the Guru God of Broken Machines… and it stuck with him throughout his career (I made him a t-shirt in 2017… )

Why was all that necessary you ask? Well, because Kevin was the know all be all of computers (Oh, BTW.. he couldn’t do IT stuff for SHITE) … he made sure to make me feel like the biggest IDIOT in the world when I couldn’t figure things out on my own computer. He would belittle and berate me, get nasty and tell me I was stupid… you get the picture. And now, back to the story… when Graham came up behind me and offered something to try.. I ABSOLUTELY LOST IT ON HIM… and he was really taken aback and said, ” I was only trying to help.” I felt like such an ass. I got to a point where I had to just leave it for a bit.. and I went to do other things… as I was doing stuff in the bedroom.. I lost it and started crying. I don’t want to be that person anymore and Graham was just trying to help… it was a suggestion and not an attack on me. So I was putting things away I think, and I was morose… and sniffling.. and I stood in front of Graham and I sure I looked like a dejected child who was told they couldn’t play with a favorite toy… Graham was super beside himself and asked me what on Earth was bothering me and the story came out about the trigger. I made sure he knew he wasn’t the reason I had abdominal behavior and that I was really sorry I bit his head off. One of the hardest and best things I have EVER done.

Then came the electronics in the kitchen… Graham has always charged his pipe batteries and phone in there.. but he also almost NEVER cooked for himself (though he can cook and is a good cook…). I cook ALL the time..and one day I came in and there was also a reading light (for our music stand) plugged in and I had ZERO room to start a meal… I unplugged it all and was setting it off to the side when Graham walked in and asked what was going on.. By this time, I was able to tell him when and what I am upset about… So, I said it REALLY bothers me to have all this stuff in the kitchen… I had been trying to “live with it,” because he has ALWAYS done this…. but the kitchen is my sanctuary and I CREATE in there. A few things DRIVE ME NUTS: Not rinsing the soap off or using the dishrag to “dry” the dishes (it’s a UK thing), Using the dishrag to clean the floor or other equally GROSS things. Putting dirty stuff on the CLEAN side of the sink (I found cooked, leftover potatoes on the dish drying area …. WITH all the drying dishes… ARGH… ), and using knives on hard surfaces (well, Graham also uses the kitchen to “fix” things and I have found GLUE all over it), and clutter that is NOT of a kitchen nature.. hence my issue with charging the electronics. In my defense, I had JUST, the day before, set up a charging area for ALL the electronics but he didn’t want to use it… So, after a few days, I noticed he had moved the pipe charger to the wall near the bedroom door but out in the hallway… where it was VERY trip-able. He was at work the next day, so I found some weathered lumber and started to MAKE him a charging stations RIGHT there…. perfectly great place.. but NOT on the floor as a tripping hazard… LOL… EPIC FAIL because the wood is SUPER dense and I couldn’t get the screws in with a screwdriver.. and NO ELECTRIC drill either. He came home to my “project” and asked… I said it was supposed to be a surprise and what it was… he was tickled.. and said he DOES have a drill, but it was in the car having been in the tool box we were using as a prop (before COVID 19 shut everything down)!

This was what it will look like soon… I will revisit it AFTER the F*&^%($G Polytunnel is up…

Back to the actual reason for this post… I have been realizing and mitigating triggers as I find them MUCH better since the initial crabby stuff… but on day 6 of building the polytunnel.. I COMPLETELY LOST MY SHIT at the end of the day. Building things and fixing things with Kevin was SUPREMELY unpleasant to say the least. He belittled me, made me feel STUPID, put me down, BELLOWED at me, and almost every single time I was in TEARS if not at the end.. periodically throughout the project! I got to the point I would NEVER ask him to assist me and then I would be in tears because I needed help for some things… just another set of hands.. but I couldn’t ask for help because it was like asking the Devil himself to assist (when I did HAVE to, he would evil smile, sometimes laugh, THINK he knew what was needed and then proceed to tell me how BADLY I engineered something, try to take it all over, sometimes starting over.. and OFTEN, after getting more than half way through.. realize I WAS FUCKING RIGHT and KNEW what I was doing… and we would have to redo the whole thing again… The trigger for me is when he would say something like, “NO, we will just get it done.” Which happened when I was LONG past needing to call it quits.

The morning went by very well.. until we discovered I had misread the instructions and left off a piece on each door. No biggy.. we were just going to add the extra piece.. when we discovered Graham had put one on upside down… ARGH.. but we decided to leave it in place because the hardware holding it on was a BITCH. THEN, I discovered that the spike wouldn’t reach the ground… (when Graham was measuring for the hardware, I did see it looked a bit long for the mark.. asked, but he said it was 9cm… and because I no longer have to control everything … thanks to Graham.. I thought, well, he double checked, so it must be right)… and realized the measurements were WAY off… The kicker.. it wasn’t at 9 inches either.. so I am now FRUSTRATED, MIFFED, and decide to say.. everyone makes mistakes and this one is EASILY rectified.. if inconvenient and a pain! Graham, on the other hand… started to lose it. He was REALLY frustrated and started muttering and cussin’ a bit.. not bad and NOTHING like what Kevin did… but it was time to quit after we fixed the boo boos.. and instead, I agreed to carry on. We were both in a state by the time we finished fixing the issues.. and went for a cuppa when I realized… my fix was NOT even and the spike would NOT go through… ARGH. So Graham had gone up & I decided to fix it.. and then I checked his which was FAR more perfect, but needed a little fix.. and then I went up.

We fitted the back door.. realizing that we had it opening INSIDE.. and we had PURPOSEFULLY wanted it to open outwards.. ARGH but not a deal breaker.. and after we thought about it.. we now don’t have to worry the wind will yank the door out of our hands… It wasn’t easy and Graham had a great deal of difficulty holding the door level so I could drill it into place. We could have swapped.. but after 4 days of building stuff with him, it was painfully obvious that power tools are not his strength! LOL Then we couldn’t get the screws in.. and so I had Graham try to hand tighten them.. he is VERY strong and it is something he does well.. but even he couldn’t get them tighter.. We opted for a LOT of duck tape to cover potential areas that might rip the plastic cover. Then we started on the second door.. and Graham was EXHAUSTED by this time and COULD NOT hold the door level. I tried to shim it to help.. and it was working until I had to put up the ladder… which necessitated moving ALL the rocks we had placed DAYS before (some are around 60 lbs). Some other little thing happened and it ended up that no one was holding the door in place and it fell. I said.. “That’s it! We’re DONE.” To which Graham replied, “Oh come on honey, let’s just get it finished.” and I was TRIGGERED…. but not gone yet… we needed to move more rocks… and Graham ended up moving one and another fell on the back of my ankles.. TWICE… then I TRULY LOST IT. SCREAMED “THAT’S IT!!!!! WE ARE DONE. GO AWAY, Just go upstairs and start the kettle. I’ll clean it all up.” I REALLY needed to be ALONE before I was completely inappropriate. I KNEW I had been triggered but was powerless to stop my reaction.

Graham, bless his soul, helped clean up.. which actually, while a nice gesture… was completely aggravating because I JUST NEEDED TO BE ALONE. He started up to start the kettle when I noticed a small issue with the spike… so I just stayed down to fix it and then went up. I was STILL in such a state I just NEEDED to be alone… It wasn’t anything Graham did… I NEEDED TO BE ALONE. Graham was to be at a meeting at 5pm.. and was going to go to the CoOp for some supplies (IF they had them). I told him I would walk down… his usual selfless nature kicked in and INSISTED he could do the 2 things.. and I was obliged to tell him I needed to go away and be ALONE for a bit so I didn’t bite his head off. This necessitated me telling him about the trigger and why I was having trouble maintaining my composure.. I assured him it wasn’t his fault, but it WAS my reaction… and I just wanted to work it out. Plus, I LIKE to go shopping for groceries… and it was a treat given that we are only allowed one person to shop now and Graham is paying for everything at the moment (another trigger I am REALLY trying to .. not ignore.. but DEAL with). He was, understandably, upset.. and looked like a kid who just got in trouble for stealing a cookie… We both left at the same time. I got my 1 mile walk in AND the groceries (good thing I went too.. they had Strongbow Dark Berry Cider and I NEEDED some) AND got home before Graham.. so I decided to do one more thing FOR ME.. and planted a rose that I found in a pot in the back garden… into the rose area in the front garden! I was just putting all away when Graham got home and saw all the things I had dumped on the stairs in front of the door.. he was concerned and called out (he couldn’t see me as I was around the corner). I saw he had purchased some flowers before he saw me and put them behind his back… He offered them to me for “being such an arse.” One could NOT have asked for anything better… (Kevin NEVER offered an apology and NEVER said he was sorry.. except the one time.. which is another blog I have already written).

A good night’s sleep eluded me. I got 7 hours… but it was all dreams that were weird and my knees ACHED (the bed isn’t big enough and I am REALLY struggling) to the point of keeping me up quite a bit. The next morning we needed to put the remaining door up and all the bottom rails and some of the battens. I was tired and cranky and really had to MAKE myself be pleasant. To top it off, we had ZERO eggs and made do with porridge (oatmeal for the Americans), fruit (strawberries, blackberries, and pineapple), ad a slice of bacon…while delicious… it was a reminder of what we CANNOT do right now. I KNEW I was cranky and told Graham as we started… but DAMN. I was short with him a LOT. He was quite good natured about it though and it really helped keep me from blowing up. We ended up spending 6 hours on the damn thing AGAIN. I think it was a bit of exhaustion, the instructions were vague, and we were just DONE building this thing. We called it quits before we were done in.. and fortunately, Graham had cooked the dinner earlier.. so all we had to do was heat it up (oh, we BOTH had some for a snack earlier) and eat. We wanted to watch something uplifting but finding FREE movies is next to impossible nowadays… and we ended up watching #5 of Bodyline (a cricket movie/documentary) and I went to bed after. Another NOT so good sleep despite having taken Unisome… and we got up to do it all again.

I was in a better mood to start, but Graham wasn’t doing well and I didn’t realize it until WAY past me getting seriously irritated. I barked at him a lot today… yes, today, 3/20/2020 and he was concerned he was unable to get a handle on what we were doing today. Once I realized.. I made accommodation to allow for frustrations as they came up…. and the rest went as smoothly as it could.. with both of us checking with the other frequently to smile, kiss, and generally uplift each other.. and to cuss at the polytunnel… we were BEYOND done… We stopped twice for a respite.. and the last one REQUIRED a dram for each of us. All that was left was to tighten and batten the last side (the front). Well, there are 2 more steps, but as a team, we decided that the last 2 things can be done even in a raging storm and we would NOT do it today! To top all that… our second stop was a rather longish one.. because we had to call down to the place we do our Open Mic (now cancelled until all this COVID 19 shit is over) and order our dinner.. THANK GOODNESS for delivery services of food. We ordered a special of the day.. a burger with bacon, fries, and some chicken wings. We went back to finish the work on the tunnel and it went quite well actually. We cleaned up as we went, took down the washing and brought all of it in… then realized we got it done by 1630! Time for showers and relaxation…. OMG did we need it! We sounded like an entire old folks home groaning and moaning and bitching about how we had muscles we didn’t know we owned … hurting and our inability to move with any speed.. and, and, and.. LOL You get the picture. We had 45 minutes before dinner would arrive and we were STARVING… so I started to finish this blog post… and dinner arrived!We DOVE in and devoured it in about 10 minutes flat. Both full to the brim. No dishes to do either! Now we are both on the couch… I am finishing this an Graham was dozing (not on purpose) until I finish. It is now 1920 and Dougie will be having another mini concert at 2000.. so we will probably do some out loud reading until then.. watch the last of the cricket series and go to bed. Well, actually drop dead into a place that holds our bodies until we, miraculously, wake up in the next day… and the FUCKING polytunnel is essentially done. All that is left is to trim the excess plastic, loosen the inside bolts so we can stomp on the rails to tighten the whole thing, tighten them backup… and DONE! Well… then I need to build the dry wall back up PROPERLY to ensure the thing is solidly in the ground… and build the stairs at the back. All EXTRA but necessary.. and can be done AT OUR LEISURE… all this would have been a LOT easier if we could have taken a day off in between. We are EXHAUSTED… but it is a good exhaustion…

TTFN folks.. we are knackered and want to listen to Dougie in 20 minutes. Time to sit with some alternative analgesic (alcohol) and the hot water bottle… and try to stay awake long enough to go to bed and wake at a little after dawn.. which is at 0600 now…. THANK YOU time change. Why can’t they LEAVE it on this time??? Enjoy your evening folks…

Back to the Story: Ireland 2017

The highlight of the year to this point was my personal journey to fix me. I had so many wonderful memories that paring them down to a few stories for this blog was challenging. If you go back and re-read them, there are many times I said I had more to tell but needed to do it in another post! Tomorrow it will be a stormy day here again, we are on mandatory social isolation (meaning we are allowed outside ONCE daily for exercise and to the store for essentials… nothing else), and Graham and I are STILL wondering, “WHERE THE HELL DID THE DAY GO?” This post may have to go in a few sections as the entire journey was revelation after revelation and I had so man discoveries personally and just because I was in Scotland and Ireland…. We went to Ireland for 4 days….

When I booked our trip, I was trying to use the holiday to reconnect and get our relationship back to “normal.” When I made hotel reservations I made it for 1 bed… thinking that MAYBE, just maybe, after 21 years of ZERO intimacy (and I mean ALL forms but mostly sex), that we could use it as an excuse to put what ever the issue was (we had been to counselling before the turn of the century and Kevin got to a point after only a few sessions…where he WOULD NOT discuss what ever the issue was.. and the therapists told him they couldn’t help if he was unwilling to discuss “it”)… behind us and start from scratch.. as it were. I also wanted to drive on the left hand side of the road… so I made the car reservation IN MY NAME ONLY so Kevin couldn’t make me be a passenger. Well, when we landed and got the car, since HE was paying for it.. and they ASKED if HE wanted to be on the paperwork so HE could drive.. I said no and he said yes.. so the misogynistic Irishman put him on it… the women behind the counter KNEW but didn’t help me… And off we went. I drove most of the way to the hotel and during that time… I was so FREAKING nervous because every 30 seconds Kevin would YELL at me to WATCH OUT, GET OVER, GET MY ASS ON THE ROAD… and other equally unpleasant things (we were in ZERO danger of me having an accident BTW). We got close to the hotel and didn’t know where to park, so went a street or 2 over, parked and went on foot looking for the hotel.

Proper Dublin Pub Crawl started.. nope.. not here!

Our hotel was VERY nice and we DID get separate beds (I had called and changed ALL the reservations as soon as I found out Kevin’s parents were coming). I have a long standing ritual when traveling internationally… I get off the plane and take a 2-4 hour nap and then get on with the day. I DO NOT suffer from jet lag EITHER direction. Kevin tried to bully me into doing other things because HE knew best.. his total number of international travel encompassed one trip to Ireland for a job interview and one trip to Spain (that I BADGERED him into because of the event it was .. not going into it.. irrelevant to any part of this story). Both were about 4 days in duration. I have traveled all over the world more than a dozen times and often as part of a military operation. I think I am able to say I am an expert in how I travel… We started the entire thing on the wrong foot.. this was a side trip to “placate” me for the parent thing.. and now I can’t drive for the entire trip… and and and and… To top it all off, Kevin is VERY bad at traveling because he suffers from motion sickness. Because he is miserable, everyone else must be too. I took my damn 4 hours nap BTW!

Now I wanted to go on a PROPER pub crawl and I wanted to hear LIVE music IN a pub… so we went on a walkabout… ate when it felt right, shopped a bit.. and here is when another control issue came up (it will have relevance later, when we get to Scotland). Kevin forgot to take the umbrellas from the back of the car before we left California… so he REFUSED to buy new ones when we got to Ireland. I had read an article that said buy them in country and dispose of before going home (buy a cheap one as they don’t last) but Kevin INSISTED we take ours from home even though I had to figure out how to pack them (and didn’t because HE said he wanted to take the ones from the car and would take them out when we got to the airport.. I wanted to PACK the fucking things BEFORE we left). Brian (tour guide for Scotland) indicated that an umbrella was ESSENTIAL when visiting Scotland.. so I took him at his word.. after all, he was born and raised there… I digress.. I was ON A MISSION to get an umbrella… and Kevin WOULD NOT purchase any.. not even one for me… I had little ready cash as I did not have a robust account.. and had JUST lost my job 3 days prior… so I just got miffed and didn’t get one (I would have if it had been 2 years later.. I would have told him to STUFF it). So now we are in Dublin.. it starts to rain, and I have ZERO wet weather gear… I am HUNGRY, looking for a suitable pub.. and Kevin is just plain being an OGRE of the first order.

About the cutest bird on the planet and VERY difficult to photograph… moves at lightening speed!

We ended up going to a couple of pubs friends in the states told us about… but I got to go in ZERO pubs with live music! WTF??? I found a TON of them.. but Kevin was so UNPLEASANT about it.. I just resigned myself and never went into one. I also wanted to visit the oldest pub in Ireland.. or Dublin.. don’t remember which… and Kevin was disinclined to walk that far.. OMG… we walked FOREVER if HE wanted something… FUCK ME… So we ended up having a good time (well I did.. ) anyway in the 4 pubs we went into and had a drink (and we ate in one of them too). We went into the O’Sullivan’s Dublin and had a drink. Left there and went to another pub (at this point.. I cannot tell you where we went.. because we walked a LOT between each pub and until the shops closed, I went looking for gifts to take back too) where we had a meal and were asked if we minded sharing a table with a single gal (this is what I LOVE about countries NOT the USA… folks will share a table ALL the time if there are available seats). We had THE BEST conversation on all manner of topics including politics and religion! The pub had live music but not until 2100.. and I didn’t want to wait.. because I had more pubs to crawl to! Ok, lest you think this is a drunken stagger type activity.. a PROPER pub crawl.. the Irish way… is to walk all over the city and go into a pub, have a single drink.. lots of gab, and then walk to another and so on… until you either CANNOT do anything but stagger home or you are tired and go home after a few pubs… The idea is to have a pint of something (or a dram), spend quality time talking with your mates.. or in our case, with interesting folks from other places, and then go to another pub and do it again. We ended up going to a total of 4 pubs… and it took about 5 hours (because we did a lot of shopping in the first 2 hours). Got back to the hotel as it was getting dark.. at 2300 hours!!!

We got the this castle too late in the day to go inside.. but the outside and grounds were STUNNING

We left Dublin the next day to head to Galway, where we would spend the night after having gone to Ned’s pub in Spiddal. On the way, we went to a place my favorite bar tender, Sean Fegan, sent us to…. Newgrange. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get tickets for a tour of this neolithic structure but we did spend a couple of hours at the museum and on the grounds. Oh.. Kevin was driving too… we then went on a tour through Mullingar and saw some really interesting things just from the road. Evidently they had just concluded a contest for scarecrow making.. and it is a world famous event… we saw some of the entries at a farm on the roadside. Had a LATE lunch at a local pub in Mullingar and continued on to Galway. After a few hours, Kevin asked me if I wanted to drive as he was getting tired.. I sniped at him that OF COURSE I wanted to drive.. he wasn’t supposed to be driving at all but he made sure that he could… yes, I did say that to him. So we pulled over and I started to drive. withing 2 minutes I angrily pulled over to the side of the road and literally bit Kevin’s head off and told him that since he couldn’t keep his fucking mouth shut and he was going to CAUSE me to have a wreck, he could just fucking drive for the rest of the fucking trip! Ok, so this is what precipitated my unseemly outburst… I was THRILLED to drive but as I pulled out, Kevin GASPED and panic grabbed for the door handle/panic handle. He then proceeded to shout at me to get his side of the car out of the grass (mind you, the roads in Ireland are SERIOUSLY narrow), yelled at me to STOP or nearly had a heart attack every time a car passed going the opposite direction, and (yes, all this in a short 2 minutes) not just flinched, but literally jumped out of his seat every 5 seconds while vociferously gasping or sniping at me. As I got out of the car to turn it over to Kevin.. he had the MOST MALEVOLENT smile on his face that actually SCARED THE SHIT out of me….

Gorgeous church but I’ve no clue where… LOL

We finally got to the hotel in Galway… it was marginal at best, but clean…. dumped our stuff and charged off to Spiddal. Got there and met Ned but there was some sort of school competition and almost all the session musicians were out of town.. so only a few at the pub. we spent the evening listening to some wonderful music.. and then.. I got a little brave and started singing softly in the corner of the pub (we had seats literally in the corner). I know a traditional Irish ballad that not many know… and I had always sung it a capella (now I can play my guitar and sing at the same time) over the last 20 years… ALL OF A SUDDEN… the pub got SILENT.. someone was shushing them (now.. this had been done before when one of the musicians sang a traditional Irish song in a traditional manner… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean-n%C3%B3s_song ). Ned’s brother was leading the session and was shushing everyone so I could be heard…. so I inner voiced myself and said, Well SHIT… guess I gotta sing louder now… ” And I was BRILLIANT! I made nary a mistake and it was AWESOME (later Kevin said he had gotten the attention of Ned’s brother and made sure he knew I was singing.. I cry BULLSHIT on that one).

The rest of the trip was enjoyable and we packed a lot of Ireland in, what was essentially a 3 day tour with 2 nights in Dublin. Then… we had to leave to meet up with the Scotland crew. WHAT A CLUSTER FUCK. Started with Kevin getting grumpy because he had to travel by air again (always a dick when traveling… partly because he’s an ass to start with.. but I DO understand that motion sickness is unpleasant… but when you ALWAYS forget your motion sickness meds…). As we pulled out of the parking structure (Kevin was SERIOUSLY miffed about having to pay to park.. WTF??? Who doesn’t expect to have to pay to park in a metropolitan area??? )… it was RUSH hour.. and by that.. I TRULY mean RUSH hour… the cars were NON stop and we could NOT get out and across 2 lanes to take the road we needed. BUT… instead of going right and AROUND the block to get into the proper traffic lane.. ASSHOLE decides to take a different route because.. “I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING… ” he roared… I called his bullshit on that one and said something like.. “Oh REALLY??? Since you’ve lived in Ireland for 3 days.. you KNOW how to get to the airport so we can drop off this car AND get our flight.. seeing as we have MAYBE 15 minutes leeway now???”

Yepper.. you guessed it.. we got the car dropped off… along with 20 or 30 others wanting to do the same… and got on the shuttle.. and the tickets said British Airways… but our actual flight was on Limerick… so we got dropped off at the wrong terminal.. RAN OUR ASSES off to get to the correct terminal and stood in line with 20,000 of our closest personal friends also flying that day… and MISSED THE FUCKING FLIGHT!!! I messaged Brian we would be coming later (he had everyone’s flight times.. and told him we had missed the flight and I was seriously upset).. and we proceeded to get our flight changed. To be honest.. that was THE MOST WONDERFUL experience… the gal was SUPER polite, got Kevin calmed down in about 30 seconds flat AND we got to check out carry ons for free! Finally got on the flight and got to Scotland, took a taxi to our hotel in Glasgow and met with Brian… and with that, I’ll end today’s abuse of the keys (I have noticed, that when I am rehashing unpleasant parts of my story, that I REALLY type aggressively… LOL as evidenced by Graham wondering what the hell I’m typing.. I also go REALLY fast.. )… it is 25 minutes past 1800 and I have intruded on Quality tine with Graham… I’ll get all of you caught up on Scotland another post…

Same Language But WTF?

Scotland and the UK in general have some pretty easy language differences like aluminum vs aluminium. We American’s don’t say it wrong.. we actually spell it differently… like color/colour. Since I am a bit of an Anglophile, I do know a few of the terms that one should NOT use and some that are just fun to use. One can find any number of terms tourists might encounter (https://www.greatvaluevacations.com/travel-inspiration/phrases-to-know-before-visiting-scotland ). Knowing to say trousers and not pants (in Scotland, pants are underwear) is fundamental and easily found online. What they don’t tell you are the everyday stuff.. some easier than others. I’ll list what I have encountered thus far (in the 3 months I have lived here). I’ll give the American term followed by the UK/Scotland term. I’ll add more as I run across them. There are a few from when I first arrived that I can’t remember. Twice in fact.. once when Graham said something and I had to ask what it was and reverse that once… LOL

  • Crescent Wrench = Spanner
  • Q-Tip = Cotton Bud
  • Zucchini = Courgette
  • Cilantro = Coriander
  • Eggplant = Aubergine
  • Crisco (the solid stuff you use for pie crusts) = Veggie Suet
  • Pet Door = Cat or Dog Flap
  • Bathroom = Loo, Toilet (and if you have to go… you go piddly wee)
  • Appetizers = Canapes
  • Socks/stockings/leggings, etc. = Hosiery
  • Pantyhose/Nylons = Tights (Stockings in Scotland are held up by garter belts)
  • Garter Belt = Suspenders
  • Suspenders = Braces
  • Dreary Day = Dreich (dreek)
  • Stream = Burn
  • Tylenol = Paracetamol

Some things are just plain cute like Dish washing soap is called washing up liquid and laundry soap is washing liquid. Hanging the laundry is putting the washing out. Go potty is have a piddly wee…. LOL Just about everything is an Arse Mongle here… it is a term of endearment as well as an insult… People don’t go to the hospital or stay in the hospital here.. they are in hospital or go to hospital. The surgery is a clinic and a theater is a surgery suite in a hospital setting! And the favorite frustration blast of words is For Fuck’s Sake. they go to the cinema and not the movies or to the theater… A theater is for live plays and musicals.

Woo Hoo It’s Stopped Raining!

Another day I am too busy to reflect… though I did download more pix for the next blog post about the amazing Ireland/Scotland trip. I woke up for the 3rd day in a row… having been fitfully sleeping since about 0400 because was COLD. Graham is usually a FURNACE and I tried to get warm by shimmying up to him.. but he wasn’t anything but a normal warm and it didn’t help! We sort o f woke up at a bit after 0600 and Graham got up for a coffee and he made me a hot water bottle. As soon as I got it I drifted back to sleep for a bit.

Got up and it was SUNNY!. Well, to be honest, we knew it was going to be because we looked at the forecast. Graham went off to work to clean out the garden there and I went down to get my hair cut (been driving me CRAZY for a few weeks now). I felt good enough to JOG down! Mind you, it is seriously downhill the entire way and my jogging is a glorified shuffle at this point. Got my hair done and then went to the Co-Op to get milk, eggs, butter, and flour. The truck with supplies had just arrived and they had only unloaded a few things, so I went to visit Graham at work (his work has shut to all visitors so he was doing a huge revamp of the seriously overgrown garden). I tired to get him a coffee on the way, but the Chocolate factory had shut for the duration of this COVID 19 crisis and the one place that was open has shite for coffee (according to Graham..since I don’t drink coffee, I’ll take his word for it). I rescued some slate from the grounds for use in my artwork and chatted a bit with the head cheese. Then I went back to the Co-Op. I was able to get almost everything… and some extras I had forgotten I needed (friend’s birthday is Sunday and he requested a fruitcake.. AAACKKK… ), but ZERO flour. So, I loaded up my backpack and went back to tell Graham he would need to drop by for flour on his way home. I gave him a list of what was needed and walked back up the wretched hill home.

I had walked about 2 miles for the day, got upstairs to the flat and had a cuppa… just as it started to rain! WTF? Then it was SNOWING!! 10 minutes later, my cuppa finished, the sunny skies were again blazing away (as well as blowing a hooley), so out to the garden I went!

I spent 3.5 hours in the garden and just as I was finishing the last 6 inches of what I made as my “goal” to finish, Graham came home with news. He had worked his arse off all day at the garden at work to be told, as he was calling it quits at half past 1500 that Corporate had decided to accept his retirement (he put in to retire end of March back in November but had seen HR a couple of weeks ago to tell them he was available for “on call” fill in if they needed it. He was told that would be very much appreciated and to please supply the head cheese with his availability each month). In other words, he got made redundant (fired for the USA folks). The head cheese said that Graham could just end his work that day and done. He didn’t have to come back. WTF??? HOW RUDE!!! Poor Graham was LIVID. What a way to treat someone who was the longest employed member of staff (at just over 3 years… kinda tells ya something about the company) and just last week the new schedule came out and he was scheduled though middle of April!

We had dinner guests coming and I had to take a shower as did Graham. Graham got a phone call from a long time friend (over 40 years!) that he received a CD we sent and they chatted for a bit. A couple of other calls came in and Graham had a bit of time to vent. I made a baked custard and got everything else ready to just finish in 5 minutes when the guests arrived. We had a really good evening… we concluded the evening about 2130 and then poor Graham let it all out. He had every right to rant and rave which I sat and listened to and then just held him as he cried his eyes out. He felt like a used Kleenex tossed aside like so much trash. We finished an episode of Call The Midwife and I went to bed whilst Graham took some time to cogitate and ruminate on the events of the day. He came to bed a bit later having decided to pack up all his work clothes to deliver to the company the next morning. I gave him my blessing for such a small act of “up yours”.”

Today, 3/19/2020 was a STUNNING day and we tried to tackle the erection (putting up for the Americans) of the Polytunnel. This was quite the adventure (Graham had done quite a bit of work before I moved but I could see in the pictures that a LOT of leveling had yet to be done) and we only got 2 stakes leveled and measured in 3 hours of HARD digging and raking of mud and dirt. I’ll continue that story another day as I am now needing to go get some clothes on to go have dinner at a young couple’s house (coworkers of Graham’s that we adore). We are having fish pie I think! Another 1.5 miles round trip walk to add to my already completely blitzed, overworked, and seriously hurting body… LOL

Just a quick note

Not inclined to dig deep today. I started the day with lees time lazing in bed and I got into the garden.. for all of 10 minutes before it started to rain buckets. I REALLY wanted to be outside. I didn’t get there yesterday and didn’t sleep well (couldn’t get to sleep and then didn’t sleep well). After breakfast I posted some long overdue pix on Facebook (my cooking album.. has recipes too) and then I needed to put the long overdue letter to my folks onto a thumb drive so I could send it. I could have printed it all out LONG ago, but I wanted the URLs to be there so they can go look at some more things I have done over the years we haven’t communicated (another LONG story and VERY relevant to this blog… another day). Got that done and realized, after a few phone changes, that I don’t have their address! Got it off the internet.. go figure.. and didn’t have to pay for it either.

A Driech day

I REALLY needed to go for a walk… I piffled about the last 2 weeks and wasn’t having it again. I put on clothes, backpack, and got some cash and told Graham I would be back in about an hour. Walked to town (the easy part) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-49480309 to the chemist (pharmacy for the US folks) and picked up a month’s supply of Valtrex (brand name, not generic of valcyclovir and VERY expensive) at ZERO charge (because that is the NHS!), headed to the post office and got a padded mailing thing for the USB drive (cost me 3.48 pounds sterling) and sent it to the folks (debated putting my name on the return address… but did in the end anyway).

View from the post office, Tobermory

Then went into Mell’s to see about some bacon.. but she had none and off to the Co-Op I went. They had snap peas and rainbow trout on sale and it just so happened I am having a dinner party tomorrow.. so BOOM! Dinner done. I have wild rice at home already and I will do a traditional American baked custard for dessert (custard here is warm pudding). I ended up purchasing a head of broccoli for dinner too.. and then I got a few other things to the tune of 39 pounds (there was a bottle of whisky and white wine that was about 20 quid together). They were out of caster sugar so I got golden caster sugar. I forgot to get eggs.. argh. Sent Graham later and they were out of eggs and flour (they had flour when I went but I didn’t think I would need more). https://www.tastesoflizzyt.com/baked-custard-recipe/

Got back home and posted a bit more on my Facebook cooking album then got up and started making bread (made Olive Garden style garlic bread sticks) and blueberry muffins with a raspberry & whipped cream frosting (I’m not sure it will work well because I pureed the raspberries) and nuked some pasta we had in the freezer as well as the broccoli. I am, as I type, REALLY trying to wait a bit longer to unmold the muffins.. and DEVOUR one.

Well, never using that recipe again… or rather, never substituting cream for milk. I also got lazy and didn’t put in the lemon zest I wanted to.. bad decision. The muffins came out with a bread pudding like consistency and NOT a good combination with the raspberry whipped cream… I’ll try one without the whipped cream tomorrow… and put the raspberry whipped cream on something else.. because it is YUMMY. Graham will give his opinion later.. he’s still stuffed from dessert. And now I must sign off as I am 30 minutes late for Graham and Karina time…