The Scottish Saltire

The Scottish Saltire

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Brothers

My father had two younger sons (different mothers) who were never told who their biological father was. Dad told me about them when we got to know each other in 1995. I think my Aunt Carmen was the only other family member who knew about the two younger boys. One was raised by his mother and her husband (who, of course, will always be his dad). The other was given up for adoption. They both grew up in Santa Rosa and Dad was able to keep track of them as they grew but out of respect for their mothers he never approached either son. Since my dad named them both as beneficiaries in his estate we needed to find them and inform each of them of their pending inheritance. The only information we had were their mothers names. The estate attorney ended up hiring a private investigator to do the job. It only took him a couple of months to find them both. Paul is about 3 years younger than I am and still lives in Santa Rosa. Daryl is about 15 years younger than me and now lives in Folsom, Ca. So now I have cousins named Daryl and Paul and brothers named Daryl and Paul!

Daryl and I talked for a couple of hours on the phone the other night. What a nice guy. He has taken this all in stride. As he says, it doesn't change who he is or his relationship with his family. But he's open to the new situation, too. He and Paul met several months ago after the DNA results came back. Daryl says they look a lot alike and even have some very similar mannerisms. They are both accountants, too.

Wow, just as I finished the last paragraph my phone rang. It was the other brother, Paul! We talked for about an hour. He was just as open and friendly as Daryl was. I had called each of them a few days ago and left a message on their voice mail letting them know who I was along with my phone number. I was kind of glad that neither one was home when I called. That way they each had the option of calling me back if they wanted....or not. But they both did. So now we have at least met over the phone. I hope to be able to meet them both in person some day. In the meantime, they both asked about pictures of Dad. So, once I get settled, I'll copy what I have for them.

I told them both about dad and what a genuinely nice man he was and that, even though he didn't get to raise any of us, he loved all of us. I was just lucky enough to have been able to find that out firsthand. To this day I don't know what moved me to pick up my phone in 1995 and reach out to him but I am so glad I did. To my younger brothers he will forever be just a name and a picture. But, lucky me, he was My Dad.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Down To The Wire

Well, I'm almost there. The shipping company is coming tomorrow afternoon to get my boxes. Lucy is rescheduled to fly on Thursday morning at 8am. The sale of the car happens later that morning and then I fly at 3pm that afternoon. I have a few errands to run tomorrow morning and I'm going to try to get in for a haircut on Wednesday. But that's it!

Sherry's family got together last Friday evening to throw me a little going away party. There were about 25 people there and we had a really fun time. I've been coming to Pittsburgh every year for the last 10 years to be here for Steve's birthday in September (he turned 17 on the 18th!) so I've gotten to know the whole family over the years and I've also gotten to see all the kids in the family grow up. Everyone was very welcoming when I got here last February and I can't express how much support I got this past spring when I was facing surgery. It makes me very happy to know that Steve is growing up in the midst of this huge close-knit extended family. I'll miss them all when I leave.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Calgon, Take Me Away!!

This has been a very frustrating day. Let me back up a little. The paperwork that I had gotten done for Lucy before I left Tucson doesn't apply for Germany so I took her to the vet 10 days ago to get the proper paperwork completed. It should have been easy enough. After all she already had her rabies shot and her microchip implanted by the vet in Tucson. Just have the vet here in Pittsburgh fill out the right forms, make a flight reservation and go.
Famous last words! Turns out we need an actual rabies certificate for her to enter Germany, not just the info recorded on the health certificate by the vet. The other glitch was that the microchip scanner that the Pittsburgh vet had wouldn't read Lucy's chip. Dr. Muliken said I should call Dr. Stern in Tucson, have him send a rabies certificate and find out the brand name of the chip so I could rent the proper scanner to send with her when she flies. That should be easy enough. Yeah, right. Dr. Stern said he thought we had already left and had purged the file. He had nothing to give me. Said it would probably be easiest to just get her another rabies shot. He was able to tell me the chip manufacturer, though. So I took Lucy back to Dr. Muliken for another rabies shot with certificate and ordered a scanner for the chip through an online company. I then had to FedEx all of Lucy's paperwork to the USDA in Harrisburg for authorization. The vet there stamped it A-OK and FedExed it back to me.

Thinking all was fine, I left on Friday for Virginia (I had a great time, by the way). When I got home on Monday afternoon the scanner had arrived so I tried it out. Nothing. Tried again and again and again. Nothing. Called the company and was assured that it should work. Perhaps I should take the scanner and my cat to the vet (for the third time in a week) and let them do it. So back we go to Dr. Muliken. She can't get it to read, either! By this time I'm starting to panic a bit. It's Tuesday and Lucy is supposed to fly on Thursday. The only option is to implant another microchip that this scanner will be able to read. It won't read the ones that Dr. Muliken has so she called another vet clinic here in town and explained our dilema. After getting past the idiot at the front desk the vet there said I could bring the scanner over and see if it would read their chips. If it did he agreed to see us that evening and put in the new chip. So Lucy and I hop back in the car and drive over. I scanned one of their chips and Viola! It worked. So now we just had to wait for the vet to squeeze us in. He was very understanding. Problem solved, right? Not so fast. Now the chip number didn't jive with the paperwork. And there wasn't enough time to resubmit it to Harrisburg. Thank goodness Dr. Muliken has a good working relationship with the USDA vet. He said yes, we could just add the new chip number to our paperwork along with the number of the unreadable chip. As long as the scanner could pick up one of them, we were OK. So yesterday I had to take the paperwork back to Dr. Muliken so she could ammend it in her hand writing. Talk about cutting it close. I needed to have Lucy to Delta Cargo by 5am this morning and I finally got all the paperwork square at 3pm yesterday. Whew! OK, close but OK.
We're not done with this saga yet, but let's start on the other.....

When I got in my car yesterday morning the power steering made a god awful noise. I know enough to know that it needed power steering fluid so I added to the full line and all was fine except that then I heard a strange tapping coming from the engine. I texted Paul and he said to first check the oil. That was fine so he told me it might just be a sticky lifter and to "take it out and run the piss out of it for a few minutes and it might clear up". It did. Thank goodness. I'm selling the car in a week. It's always run great and I sure didn't need any problems now. I went about my business for the day but later in the afternoon I noticed smoke or steam or some kind of vapor coming from under the hood. Shit, that can't be good. I needed to leave for the airport at 4:30am so I had no choice but to get the car to a mechanic right then. Yep, power steering fluid leaking onto the exhaust. They couldn't do anything right then but if I wanted to bring it back in the morning.....But, but, I have to go to the airport at 4:30am! Fortunately, Sherry let me use her car to take Lucy to the airport this morning and said she would follow me down to drop the car off when the mechanic opened at 8am.

So I got up at 3:45 and Lucy and I were out the door by 4:15 along with all of our hard fought paperwork. I'm worrying about my car all the way there but I tell myself I'll get Lucy on her way and deal with the car when I get home. When we walk in the door I pull out the golden paperwork, hand it to the guy, and lift Lucy (in her kennel) onto the counter. He then tells me that I am missing the "acclimation statement" from the vet AND that her kennel is not big enough for international travel. Fine for domestic travel but not for international. The acclimation statement just says what tempurature limits the animal can handle (DUH! It has to be written out?). The bottom line was that Lucy wasn't going anywhere today. (this is getting pathetic, isn't it?) So I haul her back out to Sherry's car and we drive home feeling VERY frustrated. I crawl back into bed at about 5:30am to try for a couple more hours of sleep before I have to take the car in. Sherry followed me to the auto shop and, of course, they said they would call me when they got to it. I was so hoping that it was just a loose hose or something similarly simple and maybe, just maybe, they could get it done before my Dr. appt at 1:30 this afternoon. Yeah right....Sherry let me use her car again and they called while I was on my way to the V.A. There is a hole in the steering line and they don't really want to tackle it so I should have it towed to the dealer. Oh great! What else? Is a moose going to jump out in front me? Is a meteor going to hit me? Just shoot me now, please! There's nothing I can do until I get back from my appt so all I can do is grit my teeth and say, "Thanks, I'll have AAA come get it this afternoon". So that's my shitty day. Tomorrow I have to go get the stupid acclimation statement from the vet, go buy a bigger kennel (in Sherry's car again) and rebook Lucy's flight for Monday. The car is at the Mercury dealer now and, of course, it got there too late for them to look at it today. So they'll call me tomorrow. Please, please, please, let tomorrow be a better day than today!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seventeen Days And Counting

I leave for Germany in seventeen days! I bought a one way ticket for October 2nd. There's not too much more to do to get ready. Sherry's next door neighbors are going to buy my car and they have agreed to wait to do the transfer until the day before I leave.

I completed all the needed paperwork for Lucy to go to Scotland with me before I left Tucson. But, of course, we need different paperwork to get her into Germany. So I had to start from square one. I've had the necessary papers filled out by the vet here in Pittsburgh and I FedExed it to the USDA in Harrisburg today to be authorized. When I get it back later this week then I can make her travel arrangements. I'm going to send her a week before I go. Nikki has agreed to pick her up from the Frankfurt airport when she arrives.

How funny that Lucy was born in Germany 18 years ago and now she's going back. I don't know how much longer we'll have *The Bitty*. Her diabetes is well controlled but ever since she had a minor surgery to remove a fairly large cyst from her neck last December she has really slowed down. Before that nobody would have ever guessed her age but, even though she came through the surgery just fine, since then she has slowed down considerably. Now she acts like an old cat. Add to that the fact that she has something going on with her left eye that may be or may not be some type of cancer. It doesn't seem to give her any pain and the only way to know for sure what it is would be to see a feline opthamologist. Because of her age and her diabetes I asked the vet who did her health check to do some extra bloodwork to check her glucose level and her liver and kidney function. Her glucose level came back fine and her kidney functions are really good considering her age but there is some enzyme in her liver that is elevated. The vet called the lab today to ask them to do another test on Lucy's blood sample that will tell us whether it's being caused by a thyroid condition. If it is we can probably control it with medication.

Given all of this, some people might not go to the expense and trouble to take her to Germany. Some might think now would be the time to throw in the towel but I'm not ready to go there yet. Yes, she's old and she doesn't always get her ass all the way into the litter box (I have to put puppy pee pads down in front of her litter box) but her diabetes is under control and the other things are still just maybes at this point. She sleeps a lot and moves slowly but her appetite is still good and she is still as needy and affectionate as ever. After 18 years together I'd rather go on the assumption that she's still got a few more years left in her. So I'll buy her a plane ticket next week and then find her a good vet when we get to Germany.

I'm going to Virginia this weekend. One more chance to hang out with my cousin for a couple of days before I leave. I'm sure there will be no drinking or tomfoolery involved. We'll probably just watch the Home and Garden channel on TV, play with the dog and maybe make a couple of trips to Walmart. Yeah, riiiight.....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Woman's Suffrage

My thanks to Amy for this email......

After your recent blog post, I thought you'd like to see this. I remember hearing about Iron Jawed Angels a few years ago but never got around to seeing it... maybe I should do a screening.

---------- Forwarded message ----------



This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.
Remember, it was not until 1920
that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.
The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed
nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking
for the vote.
(Lucy Burns)
And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.
Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing
went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of
'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above
her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping
for air.
(Dora Lewis)
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her
head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate,
Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.
Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging,
beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the
'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917,
when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his
guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because
they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right
to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their
food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.
(Alice Paul)
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
http://memory. collections/ suffrage/ nwp/prisoners. pdf

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because...why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use,
my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Michael and Me

Michael was here over this past weekend. We had such a good time together. He landed on Saturday morning and after a brief stop at the house to drop off his bag we headed for Cleveland, Ohio, of all places! It's about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Pittsburgh and that's where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located. W were so excited we were like a couple of kids on a really cool fieldtrip. The Hall of Fame did not disappoint! We spent 7 1/2 hours wandering through all the nooks and cubbies of all 6 floors, studying all the exhibits and absorbing all things Rock and Roll. We saw a couple of really good films on the history and social impact of R&R and a 60 minute film about all of the Hall of Fame inductees. The music in the films was fantastic. It was impossible to sit still in our chairs. The whole day was fabulous. I'm glad I got to go with Michael. It was a great experience for just the two of us to share.

On Sunday we went to the National Aviary here in Pittsburgh and then to the Carnegie Science Center to see the Titanic exhibition. They were both pretty cool and we enjoyed the entire day but the highlight of Michael's whirlwind visit was definitely our trip through Rock and Roll history.

He flew back to Seattle at noon on Monday. It was a short visit but any time I get to spend with one of my kids is wonderful. I love to be with all three of them together but just as important to me are the times when I get one on one time with each of them.