60 years of Vaccinations

LITTLE KERRY’S FIRST VACCINATION PASSPORT

The first prototype vaccinations for smallpox are believed to have occurred in the 16th century but the first vaccine is attributed to Edward Jenner, an English physician in 1796.  The 60 years in the title refers to my own history of vaccination.  They eradicated smallpox in 1972 but I still have the mark from my inoculation.  Can you imagine how brave the first people to accept the smallpox vaccination were or was the sight of death enough for acceptance?  I was provoked to write the post on finding out that people have not been showing up to their vaccination appointments in Texas.  It’s the only free healthcare I have ever received in the USA!  I was so relieved to receive the 2nd vaccination last week – just two weeks until full inoculation.

As a baby boomer, vaccinations have readily accepted by me because most of us saw what happened when you didn’t get inoculated.  Childhood deaths from illnesses that most of us have forgotten were common.  The ravages of Polio were there for all to see in the survivors – limps and calipers or an iron lung.  Teddy had Scarlet Fever twice; his adoptive mum feared for his much longed for life.  She and my mum had their own battle with Tuberculosis or consumption.  My mum was sent to relatives in the country and my mum in law spent months in hospital.  Newly adopted Teddy’s Granny had to look after him while she was in the sanitarium.  It was a strange blessing as they bonded in a special way.  I think he was always her favorite. My mum and I were unable to return back to the USA in 1967 because my mum was diagnosed with TB for the third time.  This time they had an antibiotic treatment – streptomycin – and she fully recovered but mentally collapsed with the end of her American dream.

Vaccination has become a taboo subject in recent times with the much-refuted claim that a particular vaccine can cause autism in children.  Perhaps seeing death and illness in your every day life made it easier for our parents to allow vaccination in previous decades.  I can’t claim to know much about autism but I am certain that it was underdiagnosed in previous years.  Every area in Scotland had a special school where children with mental and physical disabilities were lumped together for what was often a sub-standard education.  It was a necessity when I was a child because at our little Catholic Primary School, we had two full classes of Primary 1 and there were 40 kids in each class.  No teacher would be able to cope with special needs children in addition.  I can still remember a little boy, called Andrew, who undoubtedly had ADD or something similar – that diagnosis was not used then.  We could tell that he couldn’t help himself but it was so upsetting when he disturbed our learning cycle.  The teacher had the patience of a saint.

WHOO-HOO – SECOND COVID INOCULATION!

Vaccinations were staggered as they are today and the last, I recall at school, was for TB when we were about 13 years old.  Both Teddy and I tested positive that indicated that we had TB or the antibodies – both of us had been vaccinated earlier than usual because our mum’s had TB.  Years passed, Teddy and Bunny married and had our honeymoon in Peterhead to meet my new relatives…  A couple of years later we booked a caravan holiday to south of France.  Unbelievably, there was a typhoid outbreak in La Sud and we had to get new vaccinations just before our trip.  We were vaccinated on our bums but then had a 24-hour bus trip to our destination – oh how we ached!

As our vacations got more exotic, so did the vaccinations.  Teddy had to get the Yellow Fever vaccine for a work trip to Africa.  In between all that you kept up with your tetanus vaccinations, especially if you lived in an agricultural area like we did.  Then we moved to Egypt in 2002 and I felt like a pin cushion.  Most of the childhood vaccines had to be repeated as illness such as polio are still endemic in third world countries.  We also had rabies vaccines which I am not sure were entirely necessary but it gave me free rein to work with street animals so another blessing, perhaps.  A tiny kitten nearly killed me with septicemia from a bite, so I guess death is always lurking around the corner in one form or another.  The only thing we didn’t have to worry about in Egypt was terrorist attacks!  You had to be careful on boats in the Nile in case you got Nile water splashed in your mouth.  Bilharzia is a very common disease; my Egyptian friend’s Dad was dying of liver failure caused by Bilharzia, a parasite you can ingest when drink untreated Nile water.

I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT SOME OF THESE VACCINES FOR EGYPT WERE???

So, we reach 2021 and by some miracle scientists were able to create a vaccine at Warp Speed.  There hasn’t been much time for trial but it is a global pandemic of unimaginable scale.  Almost 3 million people worldwide have died of Covid-19 but the true number is probably much higher.  Herd immunity is a long way off, so turn up for your vaccine appointment!  My eyes have gone square from looking at the TV and Internet too much during this weird time but I loved this funny video that I found some months ago.  Yes, cat fur and hot dog water sounds just fine to me…

Outstanding Blogger!

My friend Ruth, aka rkontheroad, nominated me for Outstanding Blogger Award.  I am always honored to be nominated for an award and this one was new to me. Ruth’s blog Musings from the Mountains is full of the most fantastic photography.  She has had an amazing life, living around the globe and now settled in Colorado.  Our lives have segued in some ways with our love of travel, writing and volunteering.  Thank you for the nomination, Ruth!

Ruth’s questions for the nominees

1 Why do you blog?

At first, I created the blog to provide a conduit to my book, Memoirs from Cairo on Kindle.  Once I started to connect with other bloggers, I shared travel posts and eventually very personal posts about my mental illness.  One friend advised me not to share so much but I felt it was therapeutic not just to me but to my readers who felt less alone with a stigmatized illness.


2. What themes do you blog about?

Generally I blog about travel (fond memories), mental illness, fairy stories, fashion and my ancestry.  There is no real rhyme or reason, just following the strange patterns in my head.  I enjoy vlogging too, especially during this Pandemic.  After a while it feels like other bloggers you connect with are real friends – and they are.  We find each other through shared interests, passions or beliefs.


3. What do you like to read?

My favorite genre is fantasy/science fiction.  When I was younger, I read most of the books in our local library, even other genres.  I have belonged to book clubs over the years and I like that it introduces you to books you would never have chosen.  I feel it is my personal mission to introduce people to really good science fiction and fantasy.  My choice one year was The Martian and everybody loved it!   My illness or perhaps my medication for (OCD, depression and anxiety) sometimes affects my ability to concentrate and read a whole book.  It is a real loss in my life but I read other blog posts or article of interest on my laptop make up for that.  That’s why I am on/off with blogging – I have to have the muse.


4. Who or what is a person or event that has influenced your life?

I had to think long and hard about that question.  In truth, it was my mum.  My mum also had a mental illness and a bad relationship with alcohol.  Although she has been dead for 18 years, she still affects my every step.  I loved her and she loved me but we both resented each other at times.  I admired that she had immigrated alone to the States in her early 20s, traveled from east to west.  When she returned to Scotland, alone with me, she worked as a private detective for an agency that got taken over by the famous Pinkerton agency.  Life was much harder after her major breakdown and it has probably molded me into a caretaking person.  She was a beautiful, smart and kind woman whose illness/alcohol use made her narcissistic and critical at times.  That contrasted hugely with the funny loving mummy that I lost.


5. What’s one thing that’s important to you in your non-blogging life?

This was easier – my husband.  We have been married for over 38 years and had our ups and downs.  For the most part we are a very good match and really make each other laugh.  He is incredibly supportive of me and I know he always has my back.  I always wanted to marry someone who was genius smart, good looking and incredibly funny.  He still makes me laugh so much that my body farts without control which makes me laugh louder.  Despite that he still thinks I am his baby bunny…albeit with digestive problems.

Teddy on a fjord in Norway in the 90s

6. If you could go back and choose a different career, what would you do?

Speech Therapy.  I longed to do something in the para-medical field.  My family were very insistent that I spoke clearly with a neutral accent.  No slang dialect was allowed in our house.  At high school I joined drama and debating clubs and realized the pleasure in making your voice heard.  I was rather shy as a young teenager and the whole school was asked to write an essay for a Glasgow wide competition.  I chose to write about social equity, corruption in the Catholic church and other ambitious topics.  My teacher asked me to read it aloud in class and I blushed red.  At the end the whole class applauded – it was overwhelming and eye opening.  I came second in the school competition to someone who wrote about Scottish Nationalism, a very popular subject at the time.  The English principal whispered to me that I should have won.  The topic cost me dearly as one of the rigidly Catholic assistant Headteachers refused to give me a referral to college.  Our bank manager gave me one. This is why it would have been a joy to help people use their voices to the best of their ability.


7. What would you rather be doing right now, instead of writing your answers to these questions?

Despite the pandemic, there is nothing I would like to do other than answer the questions.  Scots are like the Dutch – they don’t do anything they don’t want to do! I have kindly demurred many awards, mostly because I have already been nominated for them.  This was a new category and I was delighted that Ruth asked me.  To be honest, the pandemic has stopped me talking to so many people.  I chat briefly at the grocery store but my Scottish accent sounds like Klingon behind a mask.  This post has given me the opportunity for a wee gabfest, as they say in the old country.  On a final funny note, I phoned one of my neighbors, during our deep freeze in Texas, to ask if I could take out her wheelie bin.  In her New York accent, she queried, “What now?” and I had to go through all the alternatives – big green thing for the rubbish, yellow recycling, trash can, garbage.  It was hilarious – and that was without a mask…

In turn I would like to nominate

Bonjour from Brittany

Tanja Britton

Mabel Kwong

Pit’s Fritztown News

Our Crossings

The rules for this award:                       

  1. Provide a link to the creator’s original award post.
  2. Answer the questions provided.
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate up to 10 bloggers.
  5. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination.
  6. Now let’s continue to support and cheer each other throughout 2021 for the Outstanding Blogger Award!

My questions are these –

1 What continent are you from and how does that influence your blog?

2. What is your least favorite place in the world?

3. What do you enjoy most about your blog?

4. How is the pandemic affecting your writing, if at all?

5. What other species would you like to be (including alien)?

6. Are you a geek or non-geek?

7. What would you like to happen in 2022?

Please feel free to demur this nomination or not!

Pest Control moved in…

This tiny little bug is commonly known as a junk bug or aphid lion – ain’t she cute? Teddy was admiring our fire bush when he saw this wee pile of debris moving.  If you click on the red link to junk bug you can read a hilarious article about this ‘voracious predator’ – it is about the size of the half-moon on your pinkie.  She is a gardener’s friend; the debris on her back is the remains of aphids and other plant eaters (her victims…).  This little dusty bundle is her larval stage and she blossoms into one of my favorite insects, the delicate green lacewing.

Henrik Mackevicius, Pixabay

Teddy and I get so excited when we discover a new animal in the garden no matter how small.  Below is Leo (DiCaprio), one of our many spotted Anoles.  He loves to sit at the prow of the deck and display his bright red throat flap to attract a mate.  There is so much lizard sex going on in our back yard that we should rename it Studio 54.  There are tiny babies, pregnant moms and horny teenagers (none of them are social distancing).

A few weeks ago I found what looked like bird poop in the garage and I was curious.  It was unlikely that a bird had gotten into the garage which is usually closed and then I saw another poop on the front porch.

The black section is full insect bits and the white part is uric acid (pee)

As I was taking in the groceries, through the garage, this week I spotted a small cockroach struggling in a spider web.  Briefly, I wondered whether I should put it out of its misery but when I went back for the rest of the groceries the roach had gone.  Then I spotted her – we have a five striped Skink living in the wall of the garage.  Woo hoo!  She is now called Skinky because I have no imagination.  They eat cockroaches – what more do you need?  My neighbor has one on her front porch and after I told her how useful they are in our bug ridden swamp, she named her Skink, Tiger.

Jan Haerer, Pixabay

Can you tell that the pandemic quarantine is beginning to wear on us?  My psychiatrist forgot to put in my regular refill for Xanax, WTF!  I panicked briefly then I put my big girl pants on and am back in a Breaking Bad situation with a drawer full of meds.  My friend was laughing at Teddy and me when I shared with her that I refused to share my prescription-only painkillers with him.  She felt that it was a perfect senior couple moment – she’s right!

 

The Last Cat

Rest in peace, baby cat

I can still remember the first moment I saw Toffee, 16 years ago. Her mother, Mrs Stripe, came through the hedge at our villa in Egypt closely followed by two 6 week old kittens, soon to named Toffee and Treacle. Toffee was a dark tabby and Treacle, coal black. I sobbed and laughed because I feared that I had scared Mrs Stripe away forever after trying to trap her. It was almost as though she said, “See, this is why I couldn’t be trapped, I had kittens to wean.”

Toffee was precocious and adorable. There were little dusty footprints all over our walls because she propelled herself with a back legs leap to chase everything from lizards to ping pong balls all over our Cairo house. The stairs were open plan and she would talk to us from the half landing, through the wrought iron banisters, with her head on the side. We called her ‘Little Eee‘ and thought she was the cutest little kitten.

When we arrived in Houston from Cairo, with three wild cats, I can remember the look of joy in Toffee’s eyes. “Mummy and Daddy are here with us!” Of all the cats she settled into our tiny one bedroom apartment with delight after leaving a luxurious four bedroom villa with gardens and staff. Eventually she settled into our forever house. That first Christmas in Houston was magical because we had snow and a ham dinner!  Right to the end of her life, Toffee had a fetish for ham. I told her Allah was watching but she paid me no heed. Perhaps she was a pagan or Copt?  For the last three years she has been a spoiled ‘only’ cat after the deaths of Mrs Stripe and Zhenny.  Katniss joined our household for a short time and Toffee enjoyed their shared solitude.

Toffee had a serious illness at the beginning of this year and the writing was on the wall. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a feral Egyptian cat would live to 16 years old with almost perfect health. After a short but serious illness we made the sad decision to have her put to sleep on Tuesday 20 August 2019. That morning, I gave her an overdose of cat Xanax and Tuna. Her eyes started to dilate then she got the munchies. In between, she kept jumping on the couch to purr and cuddle with her mum and dad, each time stumbling a little more. Then we took her to the vet, feeling no pain. Her death was quick and we took her home for a quiet wake.

I laid her on her Tempur Pedic cushion, wrapped in her shroud and favorite blanket, then cuddled her for most of the day. She was so undomesticated that this was the first time in 16 years that I could hold her to my heart and tell her how much I loved her. Teddy dug a deep grave in our terrible forest soil. The heat index was about 108 degrees. With both people and animals, I can’t bury them until rigor mortis has set in, so Toffee sat in our living room until night fell.  On reflection, it would be a tad speedy to bury a human any earlier…(some dark humor there and watch out, Teddy.)

Our hearts are broken, especially knowing that this was the LAST CAT. We cannot endure the worry of who would look after our animals in the event of our deaths, which will be sooner rather than later.  I have always had a pet so  feel bereft but also feel guilty about enjoying a litter free laundry room and a smell free house. We can go on vacation whenever we want but what we would do for one last cuddle or vocalization.  As much as we enjoyed the other 10 pets we have had, Toffee was truly the best cat.  Sweet-natured, loving and unique.  My health has not been great in 2019 with a sad family funeral in Scotland and now Toffee’s passing.  I hope she is enjoying catching neon colored lizards over the rainbow bridge and some kindly angel releases them, as Mummy did so often.

Isn’t there always an anti-climactic reason to laugh?  The next day we noticed that an animal had dug up Toffee’s grave but hadn’t got quite deep enough.  With a sigh, I put all the soil back and put a board over it, sprinkled with vinegar.  That night we set out the camera, baited with an apple.  A raccoon and baby possum visited, as did armadillos.  We couldn’t get the armadillos on camera but turn the sound up to enjoy the summer cacophony that we attempt to sleep through.  The most raucous noise is the frogs and the high chirrups are the armadillos.  The  baby possum has the starring role.

At least we will never be alone…

Bibles?

It is always my birthday, the day after our anniversary…until I get a new husband.  😈 After we got home from my birthday dinner, I received this series of texts from my friend who lives a few doors down the cul-de-sac or, as we call it, the ‘hood’.

You can’t make this stuff up – God Bless that auto-correct!

Kerry with ‘bibles’ in elegant negligee and Walmart slippers.

San Diego Mugshots

…and to another brilliant segue by Kerry – from Folsom to San Diego. There is a lovely little seaside community in San Diego called Seaport. As I was walking about I noticed this fancy schmancy shopping and dining center, The Headquarters at Seaport. Even more intriguing was that this was the original San Diego Police Headquarters built in 1939. What a place to work with magnificent views of the water! As the city increased in size they outgrew the original headquarters and here we are today. Amazingly they kept the original 8 block cell intact with some of the mugshots of the prisoners. This is a link to the history and architecture of The Headquarters.

Since I went to San Diego to research my ancestors, I looked with cautious trepidation at the mugshots. Was one my relative – not to my knowledge? What an interesting bunch they were. Such a mix of ethnicities and most of the crimes seemed relatively minor.

Block of 8 jail cells


The cell blocks themselves looked better than most youth hostels I frequented in my youth. You had a bed, toilet and sink all to yourself – wow! I bet there was even hot water…


As fascinating as it was, I was left with a feeling of sadness that so many of them were drug addicts. How little life changes over the generations. At least they had reasonably sized jail cells with the smell of the ocean just outside the door.

Holy Tulsa!

Stained Glass in arch of Holy Family Cathedral

I am posting yet more photographs of the lovely Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa. Guilt is weighing heavy about brow-beating the church secretary into opening the cathedral for me… A therapist would have fun trying to figure out why a lapsed Catholic spends so much time in church!

Organ in cathedral

As I mentioned in a previous post, they were servicing the organ and I would have loved to have heard it in a mass. These old architects really knew how to create fantastic acoustics. The colors in this cathedral particularly appealed to me. I adore the color lilac but my mother hated it, as did my mother in law. Perhaps it was the association with mourning?

Cross and Flowers

I wandered around the exterior of the church and this cross was in the side garden. Trespass is an unknown concept to me; it is either my native blood or growing up in Scotland where there is no true law of trespass. Mr Trump was very upset that ‘anyone’ could walk across his precious golf course…

Finally, this plaque in honor of the Year of Mercy touched my soul. Not sure about my indulgence though with the whole brow-beating thing going on…

Boobs, burgers and snarkiness

This post is a bit all over the place but let’s begin.  I went for a mammogram last week at the insistence of my new gynecologist who is determined to sort out my dodgy hoo-ha.  He has suggested that I take a genetic test to see what cancers might lurk in my future – not as much fun as the Ancestry genetic test.  He has put me on estrogen – top and bottom.  Y’alls know I live in Texas, the land of strange modesty, and when you go for a mammogram, the female nurses delicately slip off part of your robe and pull out each boob.  This time I said, “Look, I was brought up in Europe.  If you don’t mind I am just going to take off the robe and stand in my knickers”.  She laughed and said that in Sweden women just sit in the waiting room breasts akimbo.

She asked me why I was having a mammogram and said I was a little anxious about HRT.  Turned out she is on the same treatment as me and she told me that 98% of women, diagnosed with breast cancers, had not been on HRT.  That said, however, I bet many of them had been on the contraceptive pill.  Then she asked me about my ethnicity and was a tad surprised about the Native, North African and other exotic parts of my DNA.  She noted that I was slim and my skin was in good condition.  In her opinion, people’s eating habits in America had much to do with their health and I have to agree.  It shocks me to see queues of rich people waiting at McDonalds for their lunch (they have a choice).  I would no more eat a fast food burger than fly to the moon.  I do eat processed food from time to time but try to lean towards clean and organic food.  Perhaps there is a tad too much vodka in my life…I’m not perfect!

So…on Saturday I went out early to take some of my fancy dresses to a resale shop.  They only wanted one of them and gave me $4.55 for a dress worth close to $100.  On the way home I gave most of it to the fireman with the charity boot – what a waste of time but he was a handsome guy!   I called Teddy to ask him to get washed and dressed so that we could go out for lunch.  When I got home he was still in his pajamas.  Normally this would raise merry hell but the HRT has a curious calming effect.  FINALLY, after many baleful looks, we got on the road.  We went to a local foodie place that served a perfect lunch.  I had a delightful glass of Albarino from Spain – just faintly pink and dry, followed by a miniature appetizer.  It was four little chickpea fritters with two delicious salsas.  You could taste each individual flavor.  Teddy had a crab and avocado sandwich with micro cilantro (weird but lovely).  To finish we each had one scoop of yummy ice cream about the size of an egg.  That is a perfect portion for lunch unless you are a marathon runner.

I have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone and it drives Teddy crazy that I don’t answer his texts (all the more reason not to…)   He asked me if I had seen his text.  No, was the obvious answer but I got out my phone and looked at his text.  It had been sent from a new ‘dragon?’ app where he just speaks into the phone and it sends the text.  I texted, “Good for you, asswipe”, his face was a picture especially when the female computer voice nicely enunciated asswipe.  He then spoke into the phone saying, “I am not an asswipe” to which dragon lady responded, “I – am – not –an – asswipe”.  By this time I was really laughing but became hysterical when the phone auto-corrected his text to “I am not a Muslim”.  My laughter ricocheted from one end of the restaurant to the other.  As you know, I am not bigoted but just love those autocorrects.  I am just grateful that most people can’t understand our Celtic accents.

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!🐤🐰

PS   The mammogram showed that I have benign stuff (that’s a medical term) bilaterally. Don’t you panic when it says anything other than negative?

The HRT is turning me into a snarky teenager…

 

Modern Tulsa

Hyatt downtown Tulsa

I love the sharp edges of this contemporary hotel building contrasted with the bright, cold sun and autumnal leaves.

The shadows are so vivid in this shot, just before sunset.

Vivid blue flowers with silver umbrellas

Building reflected in stripes

Symmetry

This final image made me laugh out loud. If you look closely at the Petroleum Club of Tulsa, you can see that there is a Thai Spa. Do you think they get happy endings?

Look closely…

Alternative Facts

Look at that face! How could Kerry tell an alternative fact?


I have been known to tell a few… Then I had to go to confession and tell the priest, “Father, forgive me for my sins. When Nana wasn’t looking I ate two spoonfuls of soft brown sugar out of the pantry”. I think I got an ‘our father’ and a few ‘hail marys’ for that one and looking back wondered how the nice priest managed not to laugh. The bad priest was all fire and brimstone and that’s not an alternative fact. In our household, it was a sin to steal food unless you had asked. The only exception was the fruit bowl and one December I ended up with hives at the doctor’s office because I ate a full bowl of clementines at once. God just decided to leave out the middle-man and punish me directly.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if priests were able to write funny little books about what children say in confessional? The adult version could outsell 50 shades of Gray and even the Bible… (I am visibly cringing as I write this, looking out for the bolt of lightning). As I got older, I stopped going to confession because there were too many sins. My mum said to me once, about boyfriend #4, “Are you having sex with him?” “NO!” was my outraged alternative fact. I don’t know why I lied told that fact since she caught me and was just curious. My GP asked me if I really needed the Pill for my heavy periods or was I having sex – my red face gave the game away. God has since punished me with a dodgy hoo-haa, a mental illness and myriad other health issues…

I had stopped watching the news for a while when I was feeling blue but now I actively enjoy watching Sean Spicer get angry as he tries to defend alternative facts. He seems to magically transmogrify into Melissa McCarthy and I keep waiting for him to start pushing the podium into the press corp. That girl needs an Oscar for that skit – how did she look so much like him? Even he laughed when asked about it. What sins has he committed to get that job???

People from Scotland rarely mention an appalling fact about our ILLUSTRIOUS LEADER. His mother was born on one of our outer islands where the residents were almost exclusively from a strict Protestant cult faith. If you did anything other than read the Bible and attend church on the Sabbath, you were shunned. Curiously all the Catholics and Protestants lived on separate islands – you can’t make this stuff up. Perhaps Mama Trump left for America because she couldn’t stand the restrictions but I imagine she is twirling in her grave about the various alternative facts. It is important for you to note that the population comes from a very small gene pool… That might explain many things – limited vocabulary, short attention span and generally daftness.

Here is a little puzzle for you – am I telling alternative facts below?

Our FANTASTIC, AMAZING President is going to make American white great again. We will have a TERRIFIC wall through ecologically fragile areas to protect us from the NASTY Mexicans who have made our lives miserable. Global warming is just a story – let’s open up all our coal mines and use even more fossil fuels. Why don’t we build a pipeline carrying CANADIAN fossil fuels and build more GREAT refineries on the gulf coast? They are so lucky to have close proximity to a FANTASTIC Cancer Center in Houston and we can all use it because we will have an AMAZING health care system. Finally, I am so grateful that our cabinet is full of old wise white MEN, some with TERRIFIC links to Russia.

God knows how many novenas I will have to say for those whopper alternative facts… PLEASE make my day with a comment. I will respond in the style of Sean Spicer (castigation or obsequiousness).