Sometimes You Win. Sometimes You Lose.

“Endurance is patience concentrated.”

∼Scottish essayist, satirist, and historian

Hi friends! Today’s post is a departure from my usual focus on Scotland. Instead, I want to write about my trip to Florida with my sister this past week. So with that said…

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. For me and my dear, long-distance sister S, this past week was a bit of a loss.

S and I started going on “adventures” several years ago. They are not really adventures in the truest sense of the word, they’re really just sister get-a-ways. But that’s what we call them. Our adventures have taken us to the coast of South Carolina, the mountains of Tennessee, to destinations in the Great Appalachian Valley, and this past week, to the Gulf Coast of Florida.

For months we had anticipated our beautiful Emerald Coast vacation. The area is a favorite spot for me and Mr. C and I was so excited to share it with my sister who had never been to Florida. I had arranged our flights, our rental car, and for our stay in a cute townhome that Mr. C and I had rented in the past. Everything was all set. We were excited and anxious for our week of sisterly seaside bliss.

Boy, were we about to be let down!

Because instead of enjoying the soothing sounds of surf and seabirds, we ended up being treated to a solid week of a gutting/renovation project of the townhome next door. (To be fair, the property owner did tell me about the construction. However, the foreman had told her that they were finished with the noisy stuff.) They lied. Every single day from 7:45 am until 5:30 pm…WHACK, BANG, WHIR, SAW, HUM, BUZZ, SLAM!! Because the two homes are attached, there were moments our apartment actually shook from the brute force of the men at work. We couldn’t spend time on our decks or even leave our slider open because the cacophony of the construction was so intrusive. I have never in my life been so stressed on a vacation or so ready to depart early – especially when we’re talking about the beach! We notified our landlord, of course, and she sincerely apologized and offered a discount to help ease the pain. But I’m not sure even a full refund would take away the disappointment of having our quiet beach week “ruined” by that never ending racket. I really wanted to be an adult about it because sometimes you-know-what just happens and there’s not a damn thing you can do but try to make the best of it. And I totally get that it’s insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The world has much bigger problems than our vacation woes. But I was angry at the situation nonetheless. I’m still pretty angry.

My bond with S was born out of a rather catastrophic experience. Eight years ago, while visiting me for the first time (and on her first vacation in years), she suffered a terrible fall that landed her flat on her back between my car and the curb. Within half an hour we were in the E.R. and by 8 am the following morning, she was in surgery for a devastating pilon fracture of her tibia. S spent the next few days in the hospital in a hometown not her own and in a state of grogginess from the hard core pain medication. Even today, she cannot remember key details of the experience that I have related to her.

Disappointment, sadness, stress, and fear were just some of the emotions that we both faced in the days after. First, of course, the utter disappointment of interrupted plans and the sadness of seeing her in such agony. I was stressed about how I would care for her in my wheelchair unequipped home and she by her loss of independence. We feared not knowing how quickly she would heal and how she was going to be able to continue to work to pay her bills and how she would care for her two small children. I wasn’t even sure how Mr. C and I were going to get her home. There were more than a few tears shed during that time.

S ended up staying with us for two full weeks before we were able to return her home to her children. It was a long two weeks and by all accounts it was a terrible time. Except that strangely, it wasn’t. Because two sisters who were really more like friendly, long-distance acquaintances, bonded. It sounds cheesy, but that experience gave us a whole new love and appreciation for each other. We started out as sisters and we ended up as friends.

Life is pretty unpredictable, as I know you know. Sometimes you outright get the lemonade and sometimes you just get the lemons. Twice now together, S and I have been given lemons. When I think back over the last eight years with her, though, from the time of her injury until our goodbye hug yesterday morning, the lemons aren’t really the memories that stand out to me. It’s the laughter. The laugh-til-you-cry, almost wet your pants kind. It’s the way we can be stupid and silly with each other – completely ourselves. It’s the times we have shared a prayer together. It’s the way she teases me for my vacation “low points” and for frequently “pulling a Wendy” (yeah, I do funny stuff sometimes). It’s that time I asked her to stop humming because she was getting on my nerves (she’ll never let me live that one down!). It’s a hundred little moments that when added up, make for one big happy memory.

Hm, perhaps we didn’t lose so much this past week after all.

Cheers,

My Plaid Heart In the West Indies: Castillo de San Felipe del Morro

Greetings!  How is everyone?  My goodness, can you all believe there are only 14 days until Christmas?  How the days do fly by.

Friends, today I would like to share something a little different with you.  The day after Thanksgiving, Mr. C and I along with his parents, took a Holland America cruise to the Eastern Caribbean.  It was a new experience for me on two counts.  First, because I had never been on a cruise.  Second, because I had never traveled farther south than Houston, Texas or the Florida Panhandle.

Our journey began in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where we embarked on our seven-day sea adventure. We sailed first to Turks & Caicos, then to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and finally, to the Bahamas where we spent a day on the cruise line’s gorgeous private island, Half Moon Cay.  Then it was back to port in Florida, another great vacation in the books.

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Docked for the day at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

One of the greatest highlights from our trip was our stop in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.  I had done a little research beforehand and knew that if I only had time to see one thing while I was there that it would be the 16th century fort, Castillo de San Felipe del Morro (or simply, El Morro).  After all, you guys know I’d never let a good castle go to waste!

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Bass Rock

Hello, my friends.  How are you guys today?  I’ve missed you.  I have been away on holiday with Mr. C and his parents, off the grid and making memories.  But I’m back now, ready to catch up on all the things you’ve been up to and eager to share some of the best moments from our trip.  For today, though, I’d like to show you a tiny island located in the outer part of Scotland’s Firth of Forth, where the river meets the North Sea.  This island is called Bass Rock and it is a beast of a thing!

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Rising to a height of more than 300 feet, the rocky island is a steep-sided volcanic plug that dates to the Carboniferous Age – arising a whopping 300+ million years ago.  At a distance, the surface of the rock can appear white, almost as if covered in a dusting of snow.  This is because of the presence of the world’s largest colony of Northern gannets.  In fact, in the peak of their nesting season, it is estimated that more than 150,000 of these sea birds call Bass Rock home!

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St. Abbs

Welcome back to all!

My fellow American friends, I hope this long Memorial Day weekend and unofficial start to summer finds you among family and friends, barbecues, and a cold one or two. In our fun, though, may we not forget the reason we celebrate this important holiday – maintaining gratitude in our hearts for the sacrifice of our soldiers and remembering always that we are only a land of the free because of the brave.

To those who gave all…

thank you.

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So today we are going to head down to the county of Berwickshire, along the southeastern coast of Scotland to the pretty little fishing village of St. Abbs.

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Pretty Pittenweem

Hi Readers,

I hope everyone is doing well!  Today we are going to jump in our car and head about fifty miles to the northeast of Edinburgh to a delightful little village on the Firth of Forth.

You know how sometimes in travels you happen upon a place that is just as pretty as a picture?  Pittenweem, Scotland is one of those places.

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Mr. C and I unfortunately didn’t have a lot of time to spend in this sweet village and there were some things we missed seeing (like St. Fillan’s Cave – the hideout of the Irish saint with the glowing arm – d’oh!), but this place is most definitely going on the list for a revisit in the future.  In fact, we are considering making Pittenweem our home base on next year’s trip.  (Is it next year yet?  No?  Crap.)

Located in the East Neuk of Fife, Pittenweem is a real charmer.

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