Category Archives: Scrolling Saturdays

Scrolling Saturdays – A Post From the Past

I feel like this is the only subject I have harped on about for the past few weeks, but some of my most favourite posts are the ones I am sharing. This is one of the other posts I was thinking of re-publishing last week. It was originally written 10 August 2005.

I miss Scotland, but I’d also miss the U.S. if I wasn’t here. I know this unequivocally because I’ve experienced it in the past. I spent a year-and-a-half in PA and went home to Scotland in late November 1997. It was a rough adjustment at first. It was also a rather interesting experience. Scotland is a *touch* greener than the east coast. ‘Why’ I hear you ask? Partly due to the 150 inches of precipitation per year we experience. I missed my family greatly, and I spent the first 4 days home telling them they “talked funny”, to be met with the “you sound like that too” defensive rebuttal. I was therefore grateful I had not lost my (alleged) accent.

I also had a greater appreciation for the old architecture in Scotland, and old things in general. I had someone in Pennsylvania tell me, “This house is a hundred years old …” I tried to look awe-struck, flabbergasted — anything really. But in reality, all I could think about was the protected tree outside my church in Scotland that had been around just as long. The irony of the story was the woman showing me her home was from Hull (England) originally. Interesting.

I had been living back in the U.K. for 2 years when I decided to come back to the States, just for 6 months though. I missed something, and I still have no idea what it was. Six-and-a-half years later (at the time), I am still here, my immediate family remaining in Scotland. I was talking online to my younger brother yesterday, a blessing in itself. It’s comforting to talk to him, even if the conversation is the demise of Scottish life with the infestation of neds (non-educated delinquents, aka chavs).

During our casually ramblings, my dear brother decides to flash miniature photographs of my hometown in the Messenger window. My reaction was a lot like it has been in the past when I have seen it in pictures. I felt strange, hollow almost. Something was missing from me for that small moment. And yet, a connection, a feeling of security swept over me. It’s something I know, recognise, identify with — whatever you want to call it.

My night dreams are still based in Scotland with America mixed in for good measure. Sometimes I feel like I am in a country purgatory, neither here nor there. It’s especially noticeable to me if I watch “The Weakest Link” on BBC America and try to answer British questions, only to realise I don’t remember anything, and am so behind the times – 6 years to be exact. So I take comfort in the fact that I have somewhat of a longevity here and watch “The Weakest Link” on GSN, and I am beaten down quickly as I come to the realisation that I don’t know as much as I thought I did. Maybe I should stick with “Jay Walking” on the Leno show. I know more than those people, especially politics and American history. But then again, they never show the smart people.

Anyway, maybe I wanted to point out to myself that it’s amazing the things we all take for granted. But I really endeavour not to. With everything. I promised myself when I got married that I would always tell my husband that I loved him at least once a day, and I have lived up to my own promise, 1826 days later. It’s not a hollow “I love you” that reverberates against tall buildings or sinks in shallow waters. I treasure him, he is precious to me.

So why the introspective comments and serious demeanour of this post? I feel the need to pay homage to life, give it the respect it deserves. And in doing so, proclaim that there is nothing more strengthening or humbling than being that of an ex-pat.

Scrolling Saturdays – A Post from the Past

Surprisingly, I’ve really struggled this week trying to decide which old post to republish. I am caught between a few: a sentimental one, a more-about-me-and-immigration one or the funny one that I love that got like one bloody comment. So, I went with this one.

My Mum and step-dad come over to visit us for the first (and only) time in the States. Ian was 10-12 weeks old at the time. It was a very bitter-sweet visit. I wrote this a year after they were here (I wasn’t blogging in 2004). Without further a-do…

Perfect Moments – 25 September 2005

I’ve been a little reflective lately, and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because September is drawing to a close, and finally weather my little Scottish thermostat can handle is breezing in. Whatever the reason, I have become slightly philosophical.

It’s hard to believe just over a year has past since my mother and step-father were here to visit us for the very first time. Ian was just 11 weeks old at the time. Having them here was really quite a surreal experience for me. I’d never had my Mum stand in my bathroom, and had the opportunity to admire her as she stood and sprayed her hair, or watched her brush her teeth with such a staring intensity I have never known before.

Each morning, as she finished getting ready for the day, I would bound upstairs and drape myself across her bed and just watch her. When I got tired of that, I’d fire question after question at her and keep her talking so much, we’d be an hour or so behind on our plans for our outings. It was so enthralling to me to introduce her to brands and stores I had been accustomed to driving past every day. Or warning her sales tax is added at the till, a dime looks like 5p, and you can legally turn right on a red light (although I wish we couldn’t).

With the exuberance and energy usually only seen in a child’s eye, I showed her the things Bryan and I had accumulated over our then 3.2 years of marriage, Ian’s collection of clothing and blankets, our photographs, and our favourite scenic haunts.

In retrospect, it was such a bitter-sweet time for me. I was so elated they were finally here, and especially able to meet our little Ian, and watch them dote over him; but it was such a difficult time also, because I knew I had to cherish every tiny moment they were around.

Even the most ordinary of things brought me to tears; and perhaps you could be forgiven for thinking it was my hormones trying to kick back into balance. What a blessing it was to stand in my bedroom and stare down into our garden thirty feet below, watching my mother pull up a chair and soak in the sunshine. With his arm around my shoulder, Bryan asked, “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” “It’s not every day you look out your bedroom window and your Mum is standing in your yard.” I cherish those moments, as most would their fine china.

As the house quietened down, and time ticked by, resuming our lives became easier. At the time, I had never imagined how having them here and then watching them leave for Scotland, would have such a profound affect on me.

I made a point of keeping the door to their bedroom closed religiously. The bathroom was more challenging. Out of necessity, I decided to distance myself from it for two weeks. The fragrance of my mother’s body wash seemed to have permeated the entire room, and I found it emotionally difficult to experience the smallest whiff of it. She had left a large remainder of it for me, and admittedly, I only started using it at the beginning of this month.

Wherever my reflections take me, I have learned never to take anything for granted. Every day is a special occasion and calls for our best plates and silverware. And most importantly, there are no perfect days, just perfect moments.

Scrolling Saturdays – A Post from the Past

The following post, written 28th November 2006 has to be one of the most dramatically scary posts (for me) that I’ve ever written. We had just moved out-of-state to Montana two months previous and left to go back to Utah for Thanksgiving at (one of) Bryan’s sister’s house. I was very pregnant and Ian was 2.5 years old. It was entitled:

The Road to Hell

We headed back to Utah on Wednesday morning for Thanksgiving and made it there in record time, even in spite of stopping 3 times. It was amazing to notice how just 9 weeks in the countryside had affected me. I was dazzled by the city lights as we entered civilisation. I suddenly didn’t remember there being so many.

It was really nice to see everyone again and I almost felt like we’d never left, or perhaps we weren’t that far apart after all. We also got some Christmas shopping in and took advantage of the closer stores. It was fun to see old neighbourhood friends and catch up with them. I couldn’t help but feel good when they remarked, “you only have 6 weeks left? You’re tiny!” I certainly don’t feel tiny but I know I could be much bigger than I am [read: first pregnancy = baby elephant nightmare].

We even stopped in at our old home (yes, it’s still not sold) patched a wall where molly screws were showing and cleaned it up a bit. As Ian walked in through the garage door, he stopped in his tracks, “where couch go? OH NO!” Bryan asked, “Where are you Ian? Is this Ian’s old house?” “Oh no – table!” he said, wandering up to the living room sounding utterly devastated, “gone!” Bryan directed him upstairs and again we heard the little worried voice. “Ian’s bed all gone!” It was nice to be back there, but I felt detached, almost like I didn’t belong on the street anymore.

But the fun we’d had together and being with the family again was overshadowed by our return home five days later.

Hours into our continual snow-falling trip back north, we’d been crawling along at around 35 mph, checking for packed snow and black ice areas in the bright moonlight. Without warning, we felt the Explorer veer to the right as we unexpectedly found some of the dreaded ice. Bryan tried to correct it and we slid a half-turn again, this time to the left. I knew at this point there was no way we were going to recover and we spun again, this time in a complete revolution. As we spun around again and again for what seemed like an eternity, my only thought was the hope of not rolling. “We can’t roll”, I silently pleaded, “I’m pregnant. Pleeease don’t let us roll. Ian will be terrified.”

In spite of knowing we were doomed to the embankment, I didn’t once think we were going to die. I knew we’d be okay; I just feared rolling and all of us being suspended in mid air. The thought of being upside-down for what could have been an unknown amount of time and being 34 weeks pregnant scared me, and then my instincts turned to my little family. We had far too much loaded in the back to tumble too. It could have gone anywhere, specifically, it could have really hurt Ian.

As we’d been hurtling towards the snow-packed grass Bryan jammed the steering wheel as far left as he could in the hopes of not heading towards the side of the road side on. As we spun around on the road for the last time, Bryan called out, ”hold on!” I couldn’t help but think about how SUVs were notorious for rolling over. I thought it was inevitable, especially since we had just passed a white pick-up truck on its side surrounded by emergency service vehicles just a mile or two earlier.

Amazingly, we went down the embankment backwards and spun around again in a complete circle, the engine stopping dead. We were now down in the ditch but facing the road.

Silence.

Although Ian’s film was still running in the background, all I could hear was my own breathing. I glanced back at him, remarkably, his eyes were still fixed on Cars, but he was gripping the side of his car seat. “Ian okay?” Bryan asked. “Yeah” came the tiny reply. I couldn’t believe it. Had he really not noticed we’d been spinning out of control and Mummy had been freaking out?

I remember seeing a Semi and a car pass us by as we were careening towards the grass. Amazingly, they made it past the area with ease. I also noticed they kept on going. Didn’t they see us?

I resigned myself to the predicament and thought we’d be stuck there in the dark, having to wait for a tow truck to drag us back up to the road. As I was catching my breath, I suddenly realised my ring finger on the right hand was hurting, I’d been gripping the door handle harder than I thought. Bryan caught his breath and gathered his thoughts. “Okay, let’s try and get back up to the road.” He pushed the low range 4×4 button and maneouvered the SUV up the slope and amazingly it co-operated.

We sat at the side of the road for a few moments and all I wanted to do was get out of the beast and compose myself. But paradoxically, I was much calmer than I had expected to be. I knew I had to keep my emotions low, hoping I wouldn’t spark the onset of labour, so I took deep breaths and relaxed as best I could. The baby obviously knew I was in distress and proceeded to move around and kick for the next 30 minutes. What a relief that we were all okay, especially our littlest boy.

Knowing it was probably the worst area to be sitting, Bryan waited for the traffic behind us to go past and he grabbed the torch (flashlight) and checked there were no leakages or damage to the vehicle. Thankfully everything was fine and we slowly made our way a little further north to the next rest stop a mile away. There we changed and fed Ian and commented how lucky we’d been. A few more hundred feet up the road, the ditch was steeper and narrower and we probably wouldn’t have made it out of there, and would have inevitably rolled. I was most grateful the SUV was okay, having us all stranded out in the middle of nowhere with limited resources (and now no signal on the phone) was not a thought I wished to entertain.

Just before we pulled out of the rest stop (just a public bathroom), we did what in hind-sight we should have done before we left Utah: we offered up a prayer of thanks and asked for a blessing of safety. I felt assured that we would make it home, I had no doubts. Making it home was the only option; there was nothing around to stop for the night. All we could do was keep going.

Although it took a long time for the roads to improve, we slowly made it to Missoula and then finally home further south. Missing our record travel time to Utah by a whopping 4 hours, we eventually pulled up the driveway minutes before midnight and almost 12 hours later. Although my allegiance to our new home is patchy at best right now (after being back in the old one), I couldn’t help but feel relieved when I saw our house. All I wanted was to lay in my bed, relax and get a good night’s sleep.

My lingering stress was broken by Ian as he ran into our living room. “A-ha! Couch back!” Despite the fatigue, I couldn’t help but smile.

On leaving for Utah, we’d lowered the thermostat in the house to 50ºF (10ºC). Walking in there it was surprisingly comfortable. A few minutes later, the chill set in and it was suddenly unbearable. We quickly changed for bed and shuttled Ian into our bed too. I ran to the bathroom and removed my contacts and snagged a Vellux blanket to throw on top of us while we heated up. As I ran back into our room Bryan said, “Ian, tell Mama what happened.” “Da car was spi-nnin’ an’ spi-nnin’ an’ spi-nnin’. A fast. A fall down an’ in a water. Oh no. Stuck.” So he had noticed after all – although I’m not really sure where the water element came from, but his little mind had registered that we’d been in trouble.

As I clambered into bed to escape the frigid cold air in the room, the sheets and my pillow were equally an uncomfortable ice bath against my skin. My teeth chattered as I lay there huddled in the fetal position trying to get warm next to Ian. Hours after I’d fallen asleep, my dreams were still on the road driving home – I couldn’t escape it.

Amazingly, with just 5 hours of sleep, Bryan went off to work and Ian and I got the rest we needed. I have never been so grateful to lie in my bed and be woken to a bellowed, “Mama. Wake UP!” – Dead on eight o’clock.

I’ve been wandering around this morning, going through my daily routine but there’s a different feeling in the air – at least for me. I feel a lot more reflective, staring at inanimate objects around the home and feeling a little detached from it all, but definitely grateful for what is suddenly much more important. As my eyes have scanned my new home – looking at what was left out before we left – my thoughts have wandered with them. There are the thank you cards for the baby shower I had and for the upcoming one on Thursday night…a future event that I may not have attended. The answering machine showing two messages, one from the JC Penney catalogue store in Hamilton telling me my pillow cases had arrived for pickup. Pillow cases. Suddenly they don’t seem quite as important. My kitchen could do with a good wipe down, but in spite of my usual over-zealous nesting instincts for extreme cleanliness, it suddenly doesn’t matter. I’ve scanned our empty walls and suddenly don’t feel so rushed to have our pictures hung up on the wall. It’s just pictures after all.

Lessons learned from not driving the mountain passes are that they are more likely to be plowed and much safer than the draw of I-90 – something I wish we had known prior to leaving on our trip. Next time, ask a seasoned local. I am definitely much more reluctant to make that drive again for Thanksgiving in the future, and would obviously prefer that the holiday be moved to a much more relaxing April.

A Post Script: What is even more remarkable, just two days ago (14 Feb), Bryan was driving with Ian to pick me up from the dentist’s office and out-of-the-blue he blurted out, “Daddy is that the ditch that we rolled down?”, pointing to a generic ditch. It was fifteen months ago now, and he’s never mentioned it before now. We thought he’d regressed it…

Scrolling Saturdays – A Post From the Past

This post was sitting in my Drafts and I completely spaced it.

The idea behind Scrolling Saturdays is to post something from your archives, from when you perhaps had a smaller readership. My blog was just four months old at the time; this post I wrote two days after my husband’s birthday. It gleaned 24 comments at the time. Woot woot.

03 November, 2005 – “That Man”

I’m in a reflective mindset again. Whatever the reason, I can’t help but marvel at the fact that I have a wonderful husband. It was his birthday on Tuesday (tchoosday), and throughout this week, I have been reflectively contemplating him: his character, his strengths, his mannerisms. Him.

First and foremost, I’m grateful to his mother for raising him the way she did. I have a wonderful man at my side because of it.

I often wonder if most would pass by Bryan without a second glance, unaware of how remarkable he really is.

He has such strength of character and a strong resolution to always do the right thing. He’s smart. He’s funny, mostly without trying. He has been through a lot in his life, and in spite of it, has become a better person for it. He commands a quiet attention when he publicly speaks or teaches a group. He puts others’ needs first before his own and includes everyone. Despite his incessant teasing, he has a love for everyone and shows it in his actions. He is a natural-born mediator and is at his best when he is resolving concerns and situations. He has an incredible ability to draw others to him, and because of that, people confide in him a lot. He isn’t afraid to try something new, or take risks. He has a very sensitive (and kind) heart. He is by all means the definition of complete selflessness. He is always looking to improve his surroundings and is never short of a new well-thought-out idea. He was born to sell anything to anyone, and by his own admission could “sell ice cubes to Eskimos.” He loves me completely, for who I am and what I can become. He never tires to please me or make me feel wanted and appreciated. He really is the one person that understands me completely. He is my husband … and he has no idea how important he is.