Friday, November 8, 2013

Goblins on Skye!

The heavens did open up and pour but I slipped on a skirt, dabbed on a bit of make-up--not too much I was thinking, the Skye folk who invited me for cider and bonfire may be somewhat earthy and did I want to look like an American floozy on first meeting?--and through the deluge I drove the two miles to the 1702 House on the Glen, next to the ancient Skeabost Bridge. I usually walk the old drovers path to this spot and have wanted to see the house, not knowing I had already been trading e-mails with the owner of the mysterious dwelling. There was also mention of a pig's head, which made me a bit nervous, vegetarian and all...

I saw no bonfire and was somewhat dismayed because I was assured this would happen even in the sod and soggy night and it was my landmark. It appeared I had reached the right abode when a young monk clad in brown habit opened the door and seemed to recognize me, calling me "Foofy", referring to my e-mail address. I was brought a cup of highly boozy Steaming Bishop (say that five times), amidst the raucous flurry of two teenaged Blues Brothers and a couple of masked and hairy ghosts. The atmosphere was enveloped by a bellowing Tim Curry humping out his declaration, "...cuz I'm a uh! trans-vestite-from Transylva-a-nnnyaa-a-a-a!" Oh dear, why didn't she tell me it's a belated All Hallow's Eve party? was all I could think momentarily. On second thought, Guy Fawkes rambled through my mind--dismissed, with no evidence of an effigy. Bonfire Night--of course!--with overtures of Hallow E'en for tardy revelers.

After what seemed like several trainloads of enchanted teen girls gliding down the bedeviled staircase, and a friendly encounter with a beguiling older monk resembling the younger, and a longer exchange on the sofa with an Englishman as ignorant as I was on the party theme, the wild black and oranged hostess tumbled down the stairs into the decadent candle-lit room and recognized me for what I was--the only American in the room, looking like a wet blanket in normal duds and ironically too little make-up for this crowd--what was I thinking!

I was chatted up by a Blues Brother who insisted he was a twenty-five-year-old writer and I spent a half-hour with this fifteen-year old enjoying the repartee, happy I could keep out of the wandering flood of painted people who all looked a bit lost and resurrected from the vasty deep. I'm not a lover of parties, where I usually end up talking to someone as happy as I am to endure the alcohol-induced madness from a corner.

With Rocky Horror Picture Show blasting through the darkened and ravaged building, I meandered out into the unsubdued rainfall to find the bonfire, where I expected apparitions to more naturally arise. The blaze brought me into contact with ghoulish grimaces and deathly shrouds, and I imagined? incantations of weird sisters, howls from the waving trees and prophesies from water spirits crying out from the nearby maniacal River Skeabost--" shall come to me..."--and I felt fingers on me and they convulsed with spectral delight of flesh to be had.
  I somehow made my way to the room where I might find food and looked suspiciously upon something that looked like pumpkin pie. "Haaa-ve some pie," a whispered inducement blew into my ear, and with wide pupils staring intently at the offering, I could only mutter, "It doesn't have pig's head, does it?"

 I did find the ill-fated pig sans body as I was grabbing for some gory licorice treats, and I photographed his mutilated remains out of respect for his demise and  posterity.

Later, a man without his mask was looking almost normal as he ate his chili. He looked down at me and grinned weirdly: "Welcome to Skye!"

Friday, November 1, 2013

Where’s the beef…er…coffee beans?

There are a few rosehips in Bernisdale that I didn't filch
Just now having my breakfast after being up for almost three hours: My favorite oats with milk, pure yogurt (no additives, no pectin, the real stuff and cheapest in town), berries, flaxmeal, nutritional yeast (getting better all the time, eh carnivores?), with decaf. Now here we’re coming to the point.   

When I went to the bank in Portree to get cash for my rent, the exchange rate between the British Pound and United States Dollar was 1.73.

Being on a limited budget, as so many of us are, I have always gotten my great deals at thrift stores—so-called, because they add a bit of thrifty spice to our lives. I have to hand it to my ex-little town of Garden Valley, Idaho, for Granny’s Closet and Ruth Richter, who started Granny’s at the Senior Center. Her idea of thrift is to make great donated merchandise affordable for anyone and her prices are mini-mini-mini, even compared to thrifty stores in the U.S. Call me spoiled.   

So…I walks into the “charity shops” in Edinburgh and they have some nice products, mostly clothing, and I need things, not having been able to bring all items to the UK. But…everything is priced so much higher than seems righteous. No problem, I pay up and feel grateful.   

I arrive on Skye, October 8, and my first stops are the three charity shops in Portree. Again, I am shocked at the prices, but acknowledge the service that offers me wonderfully warm fuzzies and some small bits and pieces of necessaries. That’s the rub…small…I no see my much shopped-for (every day for three weeks) hair dryer, coffee grinder, toaster oven, light for over the kitchen sink, space heaters, blender, and household things that other people might be looking for, like toasters, small vacuums, and irons. What’s up? Maybe we need one more shop for appliances and small household stuff.

Luckily for me, I’m one of the most snoopy folk I know—comes from being a reporter, maybe, well no, might be that’s why I was a reporter…anyway, I creeps up to the attic in my charming croft house on Loch Snizort Beag, and hurray—I find a blender with attachment for coffee beans, in a box, so not even dusty. Point being made, finally: Where are the decaffeinated coffee beans on this isle? All this trouble for no fresh, whole beans…harrumph…and nosy me in this kitchen with my grinder attachment. Call me if you’ve seen them.   
Snizort Free Church of \Scotland

So here I am, having settled for at least the six undesirable months on Skye after years of having this dream of living here, after being warned off by Scots living in other parts of Scotland—“it’s too rainy”, “the cold, dark winters are hell”--and after being screwed by my ex, who failed to deliver the money. Talk to me in April if you want to say I told you so.   

Meanwhile, every day I awake to look at the curtains and ask, “What am I going to see out there today?” Each pull on the rings promises a surprise, because no day is the same. The clouds are masters of transformation, turning mist into magic and rainbows that hopscotch through layers of celestial suds and froth. My loch is a bit different, with no land mass breaking up the smooth flow of ebb and fill, but it glimmers and reflects the opposite Monet hills and the pretty Skeabost hotel with its jetty that was once filled with emigrants. It is a peaceful loch giving gentle support to the flocks of migrating and local bird life. The sun makes appearance for lengthy hours or peak-a-boos, but always gives a show of hues for Skye glam.   

One moment of one morning sky on Loch Snizort Beag
Amid the tempest, sunny autumn warmth, or skin-plumping vapour, my daily walks have produced some fun encounters with local residents so there will be ample material for Angel on Skye. Til then, floreat.