Sunday, 19 September 2010

Some of the Latest Adventures

I received the comment (thanks to you all for the feedback) that my last blog didn't include enough personal information so I thought I'd take a few minutes and get caught up with a some things.

I'm almost as tired of talking about my leg and telling you there's no change as I am of living with it all and the pain that goes with it! I'm at the point where I don't know if the treatments are helping or hindering the healing process. Two weeks ago the nurses brought up the necessity of my having my circulation checked and maybe having to wear pressure bandages. They think the leg is not healing because my circulation isn't good enough. I am not happy about the prospect but we have an appointment to have a Doppler test on Monday the 27th which apparently measure this. 

Coincidentally, that same week that they had told me I would need this test, I got a notice--yes a notice, not a request--that I had an appointment set up for a mammogram at the Health Centre here in town. We had tried to get the Doppler test on the same day as the mammogram since it was set for 9:00 a.m. but they couldn't get the specialist in that day so I had to have it set for the following Monday. I had thought it would be a good idea, if I were going to get my bosom squeezed, I get squeezed elsewhere on the same day but it wasn't to be. They tell me the Doppler test involves having your blood pressure taken in both arms and both ankles at the same time, among other things, so this is why I said that about being squeezed. I don't know what else it involves but I'll just say this: I sure hope I'll be able to predict the weather after all this! Ha, ha, got to keep the spirits up....

Robbie had raised the suggestion that we might take advantage of the time off--and as a treat after the tests--to go to the movies. I have been trying to get out to see Toy Story 3 since it came out. I've already missed the latest Shrek movie so I didn't want to miss this one. It sounded  like a good plan but then we found out that this last Thursday the 16th was the last day for it to be shown in the local cinemas. Therefore, we had to change our plans and Robbie took a half day of his flexi-time and came home early, around 2:00. 

I'm the kind of person that likes to get to the theater early and I'd rather sit and wait a while for the movie to start and have my pick of seats than to have to climb over people or not having a good enough choice of seats. Although, lately, every movie I've been to has been sparsely attended and that hasn't been a problem, I still like to make sure I give myself plenty of time to get my seat. 

Shopping center where Vue is located way on the other side!
The nearest cinema (the Livingston Vue)  is very badly laid out, I think, especially if you're in any way disabled. I'd hate to think what the poor people in wheelchairs have to do because there are only about 2-3 rows of seats on the floor that are practically under the screen. To get to the rest of the seats you have to climb up stairs and in some of the ones I've been in they don't really have a lot of hand rails. It's very uncomfortable for me but, again, I'd hate to be even more handicapped than I am. Not only that, but it never fails they put the movies I want to see wayyyy, wayyy, back at the end of the complex so it seems you have to walk miles down the corridor to get to it. 

So, as you can imagine, and as I've said, I like to take my time and get there early. Our movie was scheduled to begin at 4:20 so I wanted to be in the theater by 4:00. Robbie had mentioned taking his auntie with us so knowing she's even more tottery and slower than I am, I thought if we left the house by 2:30, picked her up, started out by 3:00 we would get to Livingston by 3:30. Since we'd have quite a hike from even the handicapped parking spots to the cinema this would give us time to get to the Vue by 4:00 and give us time to pick up popcorn and drinks and get to our seats in time. 

Good plan, worked out with military precision, you might think, but Robbie threw a monkey wrench into the works and we had a bit of a row about it when he decided he wouldn't ask auntie to come after all. He claims he only said that because he thought we might go Wed. instead of Thurs. and since on Wed. evenings he takes her up to visit their cousins, he would have to take her with us instead. I pointed out that he never said anything about Wed. when we talked about it and I had even asked him at the time what he was going to do with her while I was at my usual Thur. evening clinic appointment. Oh well, every military operation has its communication breakdowns and so did this one.

Because we didn't pick up Auntie and we still left the house at 2:30, as you can imagine we arrived at the cinema way too early, although not early enough to actually either eat an early dinner or a late lunch. We settled for coffee and ice cream at the little snack bar at the cinema.  Well, I had a coffee and Robbie had tea. I knew I was going to have popcorn with the movie and Robbie had had lunch at work so it would tide us over until after my appointment and we had our usual trip to McDonald's. 

Robbie bought our tickets in a machine in the lobby because the place was pretty deserted. There was just the nice girl at the snack bar and a couple of employees loading the candy machines. It seems that in the cinemas I've been to so far over here they bring in a supply of pre-fab popcorn from who-knows-where because I've never seen a popcorn machine or had the pleasure of the smell. Another thing they offer over here is "sweet" popcorn which is just popcorn with sugar on it rather than salt--at least that's what I assumed when I tried Robbie's once. The popcorn eating during a movie tradition isn't as popular here although at least they do have it. Most people here, if they eat anything, would rather eat chocolates or candy. 

One other thing that piqued our curiosity was 
a new "VIP seating" they were exhibiting in the lobby. For an additional fee on your ticket you can sit in these new "VIP seats" they had sitting there. We never found out how much more the fee was because we weren't very impressed with the "VIP seats". The only difference we could see from the regular seats was a very deep holder to put a drink in on the seat arms and they were made of black leather (ette?) rather than cloth. At the prices the tickets were regularly for any more I would expect a "VIP seat" to massage me and feed me and maybe even do my hair! 

Since the theater was as empty as it was, we just got our 3D glasses ourselves from the basket and walked back to the actual screen and were the only ones in there for a long time. Robbie said we could have upgraded ourselves and sat in the VIP seats which were in the row just behind us and no one would have known the difference but we were honest and, besides, I'd climbed as far as I wanted without  aid of Sherpas!

As we sat there Robbie started to remark about the fact that the cinema was foolish to show a movie with just two people in the audience--they must be losing money by doing that. I said that I was just the Vue corporation was doing just fine and that I hadn't given it a thought. With a roll of my eyes and a sigh I realized that this was a perfect example of the divide between men/women/Scotsman/American/Robbie/normal people that I have to deal with! Here I am, sitting there feeling special, rather like the Queen, having a command performance for just the two of us and here he is worrying about whether the theater is making money! The crosses we have to bear!

I won't go into the movie itself. If you haven't seen it yet, go, or if you can't go to the theater to see it, definitely rent it when the DVD version comes out.
I thoroughly enjoyed it as much, or maybe more than the other two. And it wasn't just the 3D effects. After a while you actually forgot about that. I had even been told not to bother to pay the extra price for the 3D but we really had no choice because it was the only time we could go. The story itself was very touching and  the scenes where the boy goes off to college gave me flashbacks. I got emotional at the end and it's not a good thing to be crying behind 3D glasses!

Anyway, good movie, good to get out but with all the walking I had to do to get to the cinema and then back to the car and then my appointment after, where the nurse had to do quite a scraping of some of the "slough" (dead skin), I was hurting by the time I got home and didn't hardly sleep at all that night. I had to take it easy Friday and over the weekend because I still feel tired and not caught up with my sleep. 

I was disappointed that I had to put off a visit from Abigail, one of the lovely women from the church Friday but I really wasn't feeling like being social at all. Hopefully she can come over Monday and we can have a good talk. She's a very Godly woman and is one of those rare people that seem to transform when they pray. Which shouldn't be too surprising because I think she leads a very God-centered life. 

Well, that's the latest from my personal life. The biggest news here that can't be escaped on TV, radio or newspapers is the Pope's visit--the first time in England since the Reformation. He also visited Scotland and drove through Edinburgh and had a mass  in Glasgow but it wasn't as historic because John Paul II had come to Scotland back in the '80's.  I really don't have anything to report on that myself because his visit didn't impact me in any way shape or form, other than, as I said, being all over the media as the leading story. Being a secularist society you can imagine the range of stories good and bad that this has inspired but I think the oddest and my guilty favorite was an opinion piece written outlining the security built into the Pope-mobile and it would be a good idea to supply such a vehicle to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan because they would be better than what they have now and could be built cheaper too!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week and a Happy Birthday to my wonderful Mother Friday the 24th! I'll be thinking of you when I'm getting squeezed! No, I'll hopefully be able to call you and remember the day better than that! Love you Mom!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Is the Scottish reputation for being “dour” justified or is it a myth?

First, let me give you the dictionary definition of the descriptive word :



 [door, douuhr, dou-er] –adjective
1. sullen; gloomy: The captain's dour look depressed us all.
2. severe; stern: His dour criticism made us regret having undertaken the job.
3.Scot. (of land) barren; rocky, infertile, or otherwise difficult or impossible to
1.  morose, sour, moody. See glum. 

To make it more clear, just think of some Scottish images: Gordon Brown, well, ok, yes, he was in a lot of ways the personification of the word. Also think of these: 

I must admit, I was a bit stopped in my tracks and delayed writing this when I found a really good newspaper article written by a “native” that will gives an excellent glimpse of how people here really think on this subject. I really thought that said it all and what more could I say? 

Well, all I can do is tell you what I personally have experience with the people I’ve met so far and the man I’ve been living with for almost three years now. For my part, I don’t think that the “dour Scotsman” as a description is valid today. Sure, you’ll find a few sour people around but you can find that sort anywhere in the world. And, we all have our cranky moments anyway, no matter how perky, bubbly and optimistic you are.

So, all that aside, I have to say that most of the people I’ve met and in the most surprising places, have been lovely, friendly and kind. There are a lot of smiles when you meet people and most are very welcoming without prejudice. They also have an excellent sense of humor and really know how to party (even without alcohol). They like to chat, converse, sing, dance and laugh. They enjoy having a good laugh or what we would call teasing, they call “taking the mickey” sort of a gentle making fun of. But they mostly like to make fun of themselves and really hate to blow their own horn. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to compliment themselves or each other.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the dour reputation is that I don’t think they have been taught or encouraged to pretend or put a good face on things. Usually, what you see is what you get. If they don’t feel like smiling they won’t and they don’t feel the need to put on a mask although they do hide their feelings inside so it’s sort of a dichotomy.  I’ll use my Robbie as an example: he always said he’d rather not smile than go around with a phony smile. Plus he likes to put the worst possible spin on things rather than brag about something. He’s explained this to me as the “tall poppy” syndrome that I guess they teach them early. If you poke you head above the others and think you’re better than anyone else you’ll soon get cut down to size—at least as they think.

It can be quite frustrating, though, because when we go out together he sometimes looks like the most miserable person in the room. When I question him on it, he’ll say, yes, he is having fun or yes, he is happy, or yes, he is having a good time. I always reply, usually with great emphasis: “Well then will you PLEASE tell your face?” 
Taken at Robert's niece Pauline's 30th birthday party Sept. 3

Yes, as I said they do like a good party. We attended Robbie's niece's 30th birthday party last Friday, Sept. 3rd. As with most all parties, she had what's called a "disco" which means either a DJ or a music machine that plays songs, sometimes with karaoke. They love to karaoke over here. Every birthday party I've been to so far is in a hall with a dance floor, disco and a buffet. It really is like being in a disco or a club and just as difficult to visit or converse but that's not really what it's about anyway. I did enjoy being out and I did like seeing family and people I hadn't seen in a while but it was loud and hard to talk. Oh well, it wasn't my party anyway. I had to sit for part of the time with my leg on a chair and that got to be a little uncomfortable. Still in all, I'm glad I went but I wish I could have gotten Robert et. al. out of there sooner!

So, as I said, I don't think it's fair anymore to call the Scots dour. Probably the most dour person I know is my own husband but he's really a marshmallow inside. Probably most of them are!

So, as I said, that's my experience since being here. I really can't say if people here are different with each other and just being nice to me. Another thing I've always tried to do is live by the Golden Rule and treat other people like I've wanted to be treated and try not to be crabby or rude so whether that makes a difference to the way people react I can't say. I really do think, though, that the people here have had a bad rap in the past. If you want to meet some really welcoming, friendly people just come here sometime and visit!