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Life as a Scot in California

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Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

My Scottish Audio Blog

Posted by berkeleyscot on April 16, 2012

I’ve not been keeping up this blog because I’ve been doing audio blogs for the Scots Language Centre.  If you are interested in what the Doric sounds like, the link is:


Posted in Oormargit, Scotland | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

What I have in Common with Partans

Posted by berkeleyscot on October 10, 2010

My Facebook friend, Gordon , from Boddam in Aberdeen-shire, is an Inshore Fisherman. He documents his fishing activities with videos and photos, which he posts on Facebook.

Recently, Gordon posted a video of a fellow crab fisherman cutting the crabs’ tendons (you need a Facebook account to view this). At first, I didn’t know what he was doing and didn’t realize the crabs were alive. He made slicing movements with his deft knife and tossed the crab aside to work on another one. The pile of crabs grew and I thought were dead because they were not crawling over each other.

I mentioned this to Gordon and he responded, “They’re nae deid!  We hiv tae cut their tendons or they’d fecht ane anither!”

So the crabs were hamstrung and rendered ineffective and cripple, but the catch was intact. I don’t know if they felt pain, but I did not see them move again.

Watching this reminded me that the tendons of my right leg are also cut. This was done to me when I was four years old and it was done because it was done to children with Cerebral Palsy. The overall intention was to help me walk better. There are many websites, which give information on this procedure. Here’s one.

I don’t remember the surgery, but I was in stooga from ankle to knee for 6 weeks afterwards. I still went to school. Mam pushed me there in a hurly chair.

I remember being in great pain and when the stooga was cut off, the doctor declared there was gangrene in my right ankle. I remember there was a big black, smelly hole. The Doctor poured some kind  of liquid into the hole and I fainted when I smelled sizzling flesh.

The surgery was a disaster. My ankle healed after the gangrene, but I cannot bend it and rather than walking more easily, I drag my foot.

Like the partans, I canna rin awa, bit I dinna get intae fechts aither…

Posted in Disability, Scotland | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

4 Months No Blog

Posted by berkeleyscot on April 5, 2010

In my last blog I said that I was considering giving up blogging. My 4 months’ silence would suggest that I have, but my blog is back.

I’ve been living ‘virtually,’ for most of the winter. It has been colder than usual for longer than usual and I’ve been arthritically stiff more than I want to be.

So I spent a lot of time on the Internet. I joined Face book. I found old friends already there and I made new friends. I found a page there that is devoted to ‘The Doric,’ the mother tongue of the North East of Scotland, where I am from. It has been a delight to converse in my ‘comfort language’ and to see the growing interest in Sots dialects.

In December, I celebrated my 60th birthday, quietly, but very pleasantly, at home, with Richard. There really was nobody else to celebrate with, but good friends sent cards, telephoned and sent email greetings.  I’m not without friends. They’re just not here. But, because so many use the Internet, it doesn’t matter where they are. We communicate more frequently than we did BI. (Before the Internet)

We took in the New Year, on Face book, with a friend in Peru. We were all listening, via the Internet, to Robbie Shepherd presenting BBC Scotland’s New Year Party from the BBC Scotland studios in Glasgow and toasted 2010 at ‘The Bells,’ even though it wasn’t Midnight either in California or Lima.

So the year 2010 and my 60 years means we have been in California for 32 years. That’s over half my life. Is it strange that, while I became a US citizen in 1991, I never became an American? I consciously use American vocabulary, but my accent hasn’t changed and I’m still asked where I’m from.

We didn’t come to stay. We came for two years only.  I never left my culture behind and I didn’t adopt a new one.

I’m beginning to wonder if we stayed too long? I can’t think of anyone who would miss us if we weren’t here and I can’t think of anyone who is longing for us to go back.

But I do notice that I’m missed if I’m not communicating with my Internet friends.

We tell each other what our local weather is like, what our plans for the day are. We share personal information.

We don’t plan to meet face to face. But, if we did, we’d talk to each other the same way as we have typed.

Some people differentiate their Lives On Line and Real Life. I see no difference. Real time passes. I communicate with real people.

I shop online, I bank online, and I find information online. I say what I want to say online.

This is Easter weekend, 2010. There was a winter storm and so we stayed indoors and I stayed online.

Posted in Living, Scotland | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

The Beginning of My 60 Years (2)

Posted by berkeleyscot on May 2, 2009

I was born on December 27 1949 in Cuparstone Nursing Home, 34 Great Western Road, Aberdeen. It had been previously known as Cuparstone House. I was the last baby to be born there.

Cuparstone Nursing Home was founded in 1934, It was owned and run by Miss Mary Stewart. It closed in 1951. Here’s a link from the Scottish Archive Network.

The property had originally been owned by Archibald’s, a furniture company. So, was I born in a furniture shop window?

On my last visit to Scotland, in 2002, we went to Aberdeen and photographed it.

34 Great Western Road

Posted in Living, Scotland | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

There’ll be Sair Herts

Posted by berkeleyscot on April 2, 2009

I grew up in a fishing family in the North East of Scotland… Everyone who knows me, knows that already, I suppose.

I am very saddened by the latest tragedy in the North Sea, off the Moray Firth Coast.  A helicopter, carrying oil rig workers back to Aberdeen, from a rig, crashed into the sea. To date, no survivors have been reported.

It used to be wives waiting at the quay for news of their men lost at sea.

Now, where do the wives and families go to wait?

As Alex  Salmond said, “There’s great wealth in the North Sea, but there is a huge cost in extracting it.”

Posted in Accidents, Scotland | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

OorMargit is back!

Posted by berkeleyscot on March 31, 2009

Aye, I’ll be transcribing interviews for the Buckie Fishing Heritage Museum.

Posted in Buckie, Scotland | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Thank you Eric Asimov!

Posted by berkeleyscot on February 12, 2009

This was then…

And this in now!

Fellow Scots have been calling to celebrate the absence of ‘e!’

Slainthe Bha!

Posted in Living, Scotland | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Burns’ 250th Birthday

Posted by berkeleyscot on January 25, 2009

The late Andy Stewart sings Birthday greetings on YouTube.

And this is to share with everyone, in light of our new administration:

“A Man’s a Man …”

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a cuif for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
But an honest man’s aboon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

Posted in Scotland | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Whisky is NOT Whiskey, but We’ll Agree to Call it Uisge Bheatha!

Posted by berkeleyscot on December 8, 2008

In the Dining section of the New York Times, Wednesday, December 3, Eric Asimov, food and wine critic, had an article, ‘Spirits of the Time. Highland Friends to Warm the Nights.

The first sentence reads: ”Unlike vodka and gin, rum and tequila, whiskey is serious business.”

Yes, it is serious business, especially when you call single malts from Scotland  ‘whiskey.’

There’s Irish whiskey and Scotch, which is ‘whisky.’

It’s on the label on the bottle. ‘Whisky.’

Some of us infiltrated Eric’s wine blog to protest. We didn’t know where else to go and we were upset.

Eric had used ‘whiskey’ in a similar column last year and we thought we’d explained his mistake to him.

Eric claimed it was an editorial decision to use ‘whiskey.’

Seems that the American spelling of whisky is whiskey, but that does not mean that a single malt from Scotland is a whiskey. It’s a whisky and should be so honoured.

But it was time to lay the matter to rest and Eric and I agreed that whisky or whiskey, Uisge Beatha is the water of life.

Slainthe bha, Eric!

Posted in Living, Scotland | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What I’d forgotten about Buckie

Posted by berkeleyscot on November 30, 2008

One of my closest friends, in Buckie, recently celebrated her 60th birthday.

This birthday deserved more then the usual card, so I decided to send flowers.

Her birthday was on a Sunday and I thought I’d arrange for delivery on the Friday before, because she’d be busy with family and guests over the weekend.

“I’ll call the flower shop in Buckie on Wednesday,” I decided.  Buckie time is 8 hours ahead of Berkeley, so I called early in the morning to be sure of talking to someone in the shop before they closed for the day.

No one answered. The voice mail didn’t identify the shop and I chose to not leave the order with my credit card number.

What I’d forgotten about Buckie is that the shops close for half-day Wednesdays!

Apparently this is because of the Shops Act of 1912, which regulated working conditions of shop assistants and restaurant workers.

Half-day closing on Wednesday is far more civilized than trampling a store employee to death to get in the shop.

Buckie looks good!

Posted in Buckie, Living, Scotland | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »