Easter 2020

It’s hard to wish anyone a Happy Easter this year but I hope you are able to find small moments of joy.  Teddy took this photograph of me on Good Friday while we walked around the containment pond.  On route we chatted to some new neighbors across the fence, we met a fisherman who caught a foot long bass fish out of the pond!  Whoo Hoo!  We high fived from 10 foot distance – I have only ever seen heron sized minnow snack.  Then we moved aside while a community minded neighbor mowed the walking path with her son so we could walk more easily through the long grass.

I think you can see from the look on my face above that I am struggling to keep being vibrant although the little Zen cairn made my heart happy.  Just like all the vapid celebrities, I have no makeup on and a baseball cap to hide my hair…  As we sat down last night to watch yet more Netflix or Prime, I commented to Teddy that this is probably my worst Easter ever.  Immediately I felt guilty for comparing my luxurious life to anyone else’s this year.  How awful to be in a refugee camp or to be any of our first responders.  As I mused, I remembered my real worst Easter which was in 1970.

We lived in prefabricated metal public housing that was unbearably cold in a Scottish winter.  In the autumn of the previous year, I started getting chest infections consecutively.  My health and lungs had been compromised from babyhood in part from my mum having tuberculosis during her pregnancy with me.   In our community there was no choice of family doctor and ours had many complaints about his incompetence.  My mum pleaded with him to refer me to a pediatrician but he blankly stated that she was neurotic and continued to prescribe antibiotics.  By midwinter my Nana and mum had created a little bed for me in the nook of the fireplace of the living room which was the warmest place in the house.  I woke up every morning with dried mucus covering my whole face like a veil of illness.  My breathing was terrible and I missed months of schooling.

In desperation my uncles gave my mum £40 (a fortune for us) to visit a pediatrician privately.  He also worked for the National Health Service, as do most private surgeons, and I was in hospital the next day.  By this time 6 months had passed and it was almost Easter.  There was no room in the children’s ward so I and 3 other little girls were placed at the end of a Victorian long ward full of ladies with cancer.  I was terrified by the older ladies barely holding onto life and the strangeness of the situation.  The two little girls opposite me were sisters and had been flown in from one of the outer Western Islands.  Was it a twofer or were they both genuinely needing their tonsils out?  It would have been very expensive back then to fly in from Barra.  They were relentlessly cheerful and kind to me in their soft accents from speaking Gaelic.

My mum tried to visit every night after her very long work day and I think I sobbed every visit.  When I was wheeled to surgery, alone, I asked the surgeons if I was going to die.  They removed my adenoids and tonsils – a complaint was made about our family doctor who we still had to see because of no options available.  In those days they made you eat scratchy toast to heal up your throat – ow!  All the food was awful and worst of all – it was EASTER!  Family and neighbors rallied around with an array of chocolate eggs that I could not eat.  All except a little egg box full of Cadbury’s Cream Eggs with a sixpence underneath each from my aunt Cathie and uncle Donal.  I was able to suck the cream out of the eggs even though I couldn’t eat the chocolate.

Eventually I went back to school although I had some home tuition.  I had no voice for weeks and I struggled to catch up.  But I did, and life moved on.  It was so stressful for my poor mum that she had a major mental breakdown after this and never worked again.  I am so grateful for the all the kindness given to us at that time.  One of the greatest sacrifices was from my mum’s colleague’s son who donated his extensive collection of rare American comics to this sick little girl.  Richie Rich and his friends made me so happy.  I still love the gift of a magazine – it feels like a treat.  The taste of artificial cherry that disguised childhood penicillin makes me feel sick, as does the smell of a hot toddy.

Kerry’s egg shaped cyst behind her lungs

In retrospect, I realized that my peculiar egg shaped cyst behind my lungs may have made me sicker than I would normally have been.  It looks like a portent of doom, doesn’t it, but the cyst has shrunk back to the size of a raisin.  There is always light at the end of darkness.  Hollywood endings are rare but we will overcome our current sickness and learn how to make our lives safer.  I had the Catholic Last Rites when I was less than a year old but so far, so good.  Keep faith in humanity.

I send springtime wishes to all of you, whatever your faith or lack of.  Be well.

My simple holiday decor

Many years ago I had a 7ft Christmas tree decorated with endless ornaments, some antique, with snow, a village and a train underneath! Now I can’t maneuver a giant tree out of the attic and some of the excitement of the holiday season has disappeared with less relatives and animals on this earthly plane.  The boxes of baubles make me feel sad, however, so I try to spread them all over the house.  Our bedroom above is decorated in blues, beige and a touch of pink – so are the baubles.

Even my perfume tray in the bathroom has a cat angel – why not??

Teddy has a maritime penchant so the other bathroom is decorated in blue.

Chandeliers are decorated – even the sparkly rocks are festooned in tinsel (Teddy is a geologist)

Teddy’s study (below) has to be decorated…

…and then mine (this sketch was drawn by my employer when I was 21)

Just add a Swedish Horse to add some color to the brass candles with Norwegian candles.  The clock, a wedding gift to Teddy’s parents in 1948, is always at 1.50 pm because the humidity killed the mechanism.

Even the spare bedroom is not ‘spared’…  Teddy painted the landscape many moons ago.

This is my Nana’s beloved walnut glass cabinet brightly lit by a glass container filled with red baubles and lights.


This year was going to be treeless because it doesn’t seem like Christmas without cats ripping off ornaments or peeing in the ‘snow’.  Then I felt compelled to decorate a tiny little tree and I love it.  I hope you have enjoyed my homespun little tour – it doesn’t have to look like an interior designer was involved for it to feel like the HOLIDAYS!

 

Merchant City, Glasgow

This is the Tron Tower in Glasgow’s Merchant City.  Tron is a Scottish word for a weigh beam, essential for all trading cities. It is derived from the old French, ‘troneau’ meaning balance.  This general area is still called Trongate.  The original building was a Catholic Church ‘Our Lady and St Anne’ constructed in 1525 which later was ‘Reformed’ as a Protestant church. The tower was added in 1628 and is all that remains after fire in 1793.  A previous devastating fire in 1652 destroyed much of the Merchant City buildings – most of them had wooden frames. Glasgow had various peaks in its history but much of the wealth came from trading tobacco, cotton and shipbuilding.  Daniel Defoe, in his book ‘A Vision of Britain Through Time’, wrote –

Glasgow is, indeed, a very fine city; the four principal streets are the fairest for breadth, and the finest built that I have ever seen in one city together. The houses are all of stone, and generally equal and uniform in height, as well as in front; the lower story generally stands on vast square dorick columns, not round pillars, and arches between give passage into the shops, adding to the strength as well as beauty of the building; in a word, ’tis the cleanest and beautifullest, and best built city in Britain, London excepted’.

Let’s not forget, however, that this wealth was built on the back of African slaves.  I doubt there is a country in the world that does not have a dark history.

This rather sinister building is the Tollbooth Steeple built in 1626. It was attached to a later demolished town hall, court and jail.  Public hangings and other ghastly punishments were a spectacle for the medieval locals.

Glasgow Cross, between High Street leading to St Mungo’s Cathedral, Gallowgate and Saltmarket.

Interior and Exterior of the old Glasgow Fruit Market

When I was a child this was still the bustling Glasgow Fruit Market.  The father of one of my first school friend’s worked here.  Every day I looked with interest in her lunch box to see what exotic fruit she had.  Now it has been transformed into a bustling, glamorous event space with bars and restaurants.  On the day I visited, there was a craft fair in the middle.  One of the artists, a man of my age, noted that I had a silky voice with my mutated transatlantic vowels.  A silver tongued merchant methinks…

Alleyway or Wynd. Good for ‘winching’ on a dark night. Google it in Glasgow dialect…

I graduated from college in this very building in 1980 – Glasgow City Halls.  I always feel a tinge of regret when I think about my graduation. Family issues made me choose not to continue with a post graduate qualification. In time I could have lectured at my alma mater. One of my fellow students did exactly that with lower grades.

He spent two years wallowing in unrequited love for me because I thought he was gay and he didn’t make his intentions plain. Maybe this is the ‘troneau‘ in life. He got the dream job but not the girl.  Speaking of dream girls, I have a new admirer at work.  He thinks I am too beautiful to work with the masses.  It is hard to know how to respond but perhaps I should retire to my brown recliner throne and have Teddy bring me sugared plums?

 

My heart is broken

stripe rip

Mrs. Stripe playing with mum in the dappled autumn sunlight.

Life has been very challenging recently and I hoped that three bad things were enough but not so. Last week we had to have our beloved Mrs. Stripe put to sleep at the veterinarians. I had mentioned previously in a post Mrs.Stripe and the pharmacy that she had severe muscle deterioration in her hind quarters which along with arthritis was causing her pain. On the last visit we shot her up with everything available and it was lovely to see her vibrant spirit emerge when she was pain free. The medication stopped working despite doubling the dosage and she was struggling to breathe through snuffling from an unrelated allergy problem that we could also not treat. Teddy and I talked about what we best, especially given that she was at least 15 years old and a feral street cat. We both agreed that we couldn’t bear to see her in pain and she finally made the decision for us.

I was sitting on the sofa, the night before we took her to the vet, and for the first time in her life she sat on a human’s knee. I looked at her in astonishment but she just settled down like she had always done it. The heat emanating from my knee must have soothed her poor little joints but I had no doubt that she was saying, “Please make the pain stop”. It was a sad day at the vets and almost all staff was in tears both at our sorrow and losing such a special patient. Even in her last days she played with her knitted catnip Spiderman, mewed plaintively for treats and even seemed to smile. She often made us smile see the post Resolution No 1 – wash more.

The house is in mourning and her daughter, Toffee, who is 13 years old, is wandering around the house crying. Zhenny, our other cat, has retreated into closets; occasionally giving us the odd cuddle but mostly biting us. We have euthanized many older pets but Mrs. Stripe was possibly my favorite. I became very mentally unwell when we moved to Egypt and when I caught glimpses of her in the garden it lighten my burden. She is probably half Egyptian Mau but has a bit of European Ginger which gave her fur the most gorgeous Titian highlights. She was exquisite and I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. I had no intention of looking after her until she had an injury. See my original post about our first meeting – Mrs. Stripe. Right to the very end of our posting in Cairo I wasn’t sure if she wanted to come with us – she was essentially a wild animal. One day she just made up her mind to stay in the house and we had to rush to get her neutered and vaccinated for the trip to America.

The veterinarian placed her in a beautiful blue shroud and we have buried in her beloved garden. Like most immigrants from third world countries, she loved her adopted new land and the odd new creatures she observed such as skunks and raccoons. She loved us and we will always love her. RIP Mrs. Stripe.

Mrs. Stripe's shroud on her favorite ottoman

Mrs. Stripe’s shroud on her favorite ottoman