Fools To The Left Of Me And…

….well you know the rest of the line of that song.

I try to avoid talk of politics but this is getting scary now.

It’s less of a matter of who I want to vote for, but rather who I know I can’t in good conscience vote for. I can’t believe that sentence concerns who will be the next leader of the United States. Unfortunately I believe that will be the dilemma of many voters this November.

I hate talking politics and ignore the banter on social media. I couldn’t bring myself to watch any of the debates this spring because all it involved was everyone trying to one-up each other with insults, jokes and personal attacks. It was a competition to see who’s quips were outrageous enough to be replayed the next morning on radio and tv stations. From what I did see on the news, it appeared most were auditioning a stand-up comedy routine.

Ironically I found myself in several discussions about politics during my trip to Scotland. When people found out I was an American, they were inquisitive. “How did I feel about the political candidates? What on earth are they thinking supporting him? What do you think is going to happen if he gets elected?”

He of course is Donald Trump. All I could do was answer truthfully. I thought the group of people we had to choose from was poor at best. I at first believed Trump’s intent to run was a joke and finally I think this country is in dire jeopardy if this man gets elected. Most simply just shook their heads, and agreed the entire situation looked grim for the US and they didn’t envy the choice we’d have to make. They sympathized with us though they admitted, they too have problems with government.

Over the last several week, Trump is clearly providing daily proof that there is no room for him and his lack of mouth control in the White House. The reality is THIS IS NOT A REALITY SHOW and he is treating it as such. For heaven’s sake, even staunch Republicans are trying to distance themselves from association with him. Former President Ronald Reagan’s son was quoted saying he does not plan on voting for Trump, nor does he believe if his father was still alive he’d support him either. Now I just read the Bush family are voicing similar opinions.

So over the next few months, I’ll going to keep an updated list of places to go if the unimaginable happens. Here’s my starting list:

5 Countries that will welcome you if Trump becomes president.

Maybe the UK will take pity on us soon and extend an invitation.

 

Oh You Shouldn’t Have

My birthday is more than a month away, but I’ve received an early gift. My driver’s license expires this year and I was dreading having to take an afternoon and go to the DMV to renew it.

Given the choice between going to the DMV or the endodontist — I would choose the endodontist because you receive pain meds not only before, but also after the procedure.

bitmoji-20160602140505 (3)For only a $1.00 service fee, I have been bestowed with a great present: my new driver’s license delivered to my mailbox.

The best part is, I got mine before Illinois complicates adopts new policies to comply with federal requirements for enhanced security .

The only bad news is I’m stuck with that horrible picture for another four years.

Worth Every Step

Probably the most challenging part of my trip to Edinburgh was getting around on foot. Without cell phone service or constant wi-fi access, it made getting around more difficult. I know I depend too much on my smart phone, but I would have loved to use it to help guide me around the city.

When I was with my daughter it was easy. I simply followed. But walking around without her meant I spent a lot of time trying to not get lost. With the many cobblestone walkways, and so many streets on inclines I tried to avoid having to retrace my steps. A map may have made things easier, but walking around on crowded city streets trying to read would have created problems too (like getting run over crossing a round-a-bout.) roundabout

What I did find helpful was using landmarks as a way to know where I was. In one direction was the Edinburgh Castle at one end of the Royal Mile. In another, the Palace. And there were several parks and gardens located across the city as well as churches and museums that I used to position myself. There were several bars we used as meeting places. I discovered if I sat at the front table at Whistle Binkies, I could connect to a hotel’s wifi across the street while I waited.

Then there was Arthur’s Seat. For more than a week, I caught glimpses of it looming far in the distance as we strolled through the city. Arthur’s Seat is the highest point in Holyrood Park. The inactive volcano sits over 820 feet above sea level. My daughter and her friends like to bring visitors there for a hike. Those who know me well, know I don’t “hike.” From photos, I knew the views from there were gorgeous and I was willing to at least give it a try.

One day after our leisurely morning cappuccinos, we began walking in the direction towards the park. As we reached the street that bordered the park, I looked up. I thought to myself, “there’s no way in hell I’m going to make it.”  I expected to go part of the way up and then meet them on the way down.

Slowly we climbed. Children and small dogs passed us by. Most of the trail was narrow and rocky. Occasionally I’d envision myself slipping off the side as people passed us in the opposite direction. My daughter, who was still recovering from bronchitis, needed to stop every so often to clear her airways. This helped me out immensely. Every time she stopped to cough, I was able to catch my breath. Unbeknownst to me, I actually had a real use for the hiking boots I bought for the trip.

At a certain point I started thinking about calling it quits, they pointed out that we were about to take the last segment up. I had made it to the summit! As promised, the views from the top were beyond spectacular.

We rested, cooled down and took some pictures. While the way back down was less taxing on my breathing, it did take more muscle control to walk downhill rather than slide. The last thing I wanted to do was take out a row of real hikers on my descent.

Once we reached the bottom, my daughter’s boyfriend asked if I felt a sense of accomplishment? I truly did. Exactly a year earlier, a walk through the grocery store caused me great pain due to the lingering effects from treatment. Just that I was able make this trip, but also climb a mountain (ok, it wasn’t a mountain, but a really tall hill) was remarkable. I was feeling pretty good about myself, as we toasted cheers with our first pints of the day. I never felt more deserving of an iced cold beer in my life.

reached the topI was still feeling pretty good when I fell asleep for the night. Getting out of bed the next morning was a different story. I paid for that triumph for several days, but it was worth every painful step.

 

PSA For Recent HS Grads

You know that piece of paper you received at commencement? It probably came in a hard-covered booklet. What ever you do: DO NOT LOSE IT!

Forget about holding on to your hat, hold on to that piece of paper.
Forget about holding on to your hat, hold on to that piece of paper.

Years ago, I needed a tech license for a job. In order to receive it I had to bring a copy of my high school diploma. This was 24 years after I graduated from high school. I asked if my college diploma would suffice, (because I knew where that was.) The answer was no. It had to be from high school. If I received a college diploma wouldn’t I have had to graduate from high school or received my GED? And if I somehow miraculously completed four years of advanced education without a high school diploma, surely I’d be even more qualified? Between several moves, and a basement that flooded twice in our first home, I feared mine was lost forever. Luckily I found the slightly moldy document packed away in a box.

Recently my daughter needed hers for a part-time summer job. Again, the college transcripts she provided to show pertinent courses she had taken wasn’t enough. It took two searches through plastic bins of photos and memorabilia to find it. Hers was only from 5 years ago. The last she saw it, it was displayed on a table at her graduation party. In an uncharacteristically organized move on my part, I had placed it in a bin with other senior year items so I could eventually make a scrapbook.

So, recent grads, do yourself a favor and keep that document in a safe place, because you never know when someone is going to make you prove you were there. Your pictures from Homecoming and Prom won’t enough.

I am amazed of how much importance is given to a document that I could easily replicate using card stock, a die-cutting machine, a printer and an embossing gun; all supplies leftover from my scrapbook days. Heck any crafty ten-year-old with a computer could do the same. So really what does that piece of paper actually prove? That you showed up and met the minimum requirements to graduate?

Don’t get me wrong. Making it through high school is a major accomplishment. Academic requirements for graduation are more stringent than ever before. And good grades are extremely important if you’re college bound and hoping to get into a good school. Competition is tough, but your official high school transcripts and what’s on them are what get you into college, not the piece of paper that simply says you finished. It’s just crazy that someone would place such importance on a piece of paper when we have almost instant access to electronic records.

See, and you thought your diploma just a nice photo prop!

 

 

 

Want A Side Of Fries With That?

In August, my oldest packed as much as she could cram into two overweight suitcases, (much to the chagrin of the baggage handlers) and went off on a new adventure. She currently calls Edinburgh, Scotland home.  She’s not only furthering her education, but is satisfying a serious case of wanderlust. While it’s difficult to have one of your children living almost 4,000 miles away, social media apps make it seem like it’s not that far. She’s a night owl by nature, so even with the six-hour time difference, we usually can communicate instantly.

In March I took a pretty spectacular trip across The Pond to visit her new home. The Pond is what those in the UK call the Atlantic Ocean. I like that because it gives the impression that it’s only a short distance,  just a hop across the pond. I spent two weeks in the flat she shares with two roommates. Being able to live like the locals gives you a better impression of what’s it’s like to live there.

One of the first things I needed to learn was the differences between chips, fries, and crisps. What we in the States Mr Potatoconsider fries, those in the UK call chips. When we hear chips we expect to see something that looks like Lays BBQ. When the English and the Scottish order chips they are expecting fries and when they are jonesing for chips, they’re looking for a bag of crisps. Then you have restaurants, that must just want to complicate life, also offer American fries, as well as chips. Here in the US, we consider American Fries disc-shaped pan-fried potatoes. Don’t even get me started on tatties. I never would have imagined, ordering spuds would be so difficult.

Fish and chips with mushy peas.
Fish and chips with mushy peas.

I learned that a typical Scottish or British meal is often accompanied by spring peas or mushy peas. Every shop has their own way of preparing and seasoning (or not seasoning) but I would have liked a little more variety. Spice them up, mix them with another veggie. I don’t not like peas. but I can’t understand how they became an official side dish. How about some mushy carrots once in a while?

One oddity I noted in almost every bathroom were the sinks. There typically are two water handles, one for hot, one for cold but also two faucets spread several inches apart. So hot water comes out of one, the cold water naturally comes out of the other faucet and never shall the two meet. This creates all sorts of problems starting with choosing if you want your hands ice-cold or scorching hot. I imagine to converse water, the handles must be held in the on position or the water stops. This prevents you from rubbing your hands together under running water. I mentioned this to my daughter who tried to explain. People used to close the drain, fill up the sink with a combination of both hot and cold water and submerge their hands to wash. I can buy that explanation for sinks in older homes, but many of the restrooms I stopped in were renovated. Unless my hands were on fire, I cannot imagine what would ever persuade me to submerge my hands into a germ-filled sink, used by dozens of strangers a day.

coins
Learning to recognize new currency isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Dealing with foreign currency was a little challenging. Before I left, I exchanged US money for Pounds. Armed with a thick stack of twenties, tens and fives I figured I’d be ready for any small purchases. Then I realized most of the change comes back as, well, change. I discovered that attempting to retrain a brain this old to recognize a whole new set of coins and know their value isn’t as easy as it sounds. To complicate it, they have one and two pound coins, rather than bills. After recognizing US coins by their color and size for half a century, every time I saw the new coins, my mind kept trying to assign value based on the images I knew. To keep things as easy as possible I tried to use just only paper money. It finally occurred to me that I was lugging around several pounds of pounds in my bag. Whenever my daughter was with me, I would simply hold open the coin section of my wallet so she could quickly dig around and take out the correct coins. I felt like a 5-year-old trying to buy a candy bar with my allowance. And every time that happened I thought to myself, “When we get back tonight, I’m going to study those coins and try to remember what they are by sight.” And every night, that didn’t happen. I wouldn’t think about the money again, until I went out the next day and bought something.

Mind you, none of this things are complaints, merely observations. Not that I had any doubts, but I found Scotland a beautiful country and I fully understand the attraction of living there. I hope to share more of my visit in upcoming posts.

 

King Of Writers

A little over a year ago, my daughter suggested we order tickets to a show. David Sedaris was appearing at a historic theater a few miles away. I had read several of his books and remember enjoying his brand of humor. Having just completed chemo a month earlier and was recovering from another surgery, I was ready for a night out.

image
I’m sure he says this to all the girls, but it was exciting to meet him nonetheless.

His show did not disappoint. It was the first time in almost 7 months that I truly laughed. Uncontrollable, hysterical, make-my-eyes-water laughing at his sarcastic, dry-witted, inappropriate stories. On the way home that night I decided to re-read all of his books I still had. I forgot how much I adored this strange little guy. Continue reading “King Of Writers”

It’s NOT Pink Eye

For the past two months I have suffered terribly from allergies. The nasal stuffiness has finally subsided, but for the past month, my eyes have been under attack. Because I’m so miserable, every few days (ok, maybe daily) I voice my disgust with all of those lovely trees popping and flowers blooming and my husband says, “Maybe it’s pink eye.” And I reply, a little more annoyed each time, “It’s NOT pink eye.”

Two kids, ten plus years of running a daycare; I know a case of pink eye when I see it and this isn’t it. Continue reading “It’s NOT Pink Eye”