Monday, October 31, 2011

Train trips and Zombie Hank Williams

I think I'd have a lot more interest in traveling around America if I could do it easily, quickly, and inexpensively on trains. Truthfully, I just really don't like driving. Maybe that's because I've never owned a car whose buttons all worked or whose doors all opened, or maybe it's just because I am a bad American. There is just something so fabulous and romantic about embarking on a train trip -- from the station, to the trolley service (which will forever remind me of Harry's first trip to Hogwarts), to watching the cows and castles whip past as you fly through the countryside. I just love trains.

Highlights of this working trip to Eaglescliffe, England:
- Traveling First Class on the way down. Somehow, the 1st Class Advance ticket was cheaper than coach, so there was no question. It involved free wifi, tea, sandwich, crisps, and a brownie. Also, a bit more legroom. Apparently I looked like a college student rather than a deserving 1st class traveler, however, because the trolley-woman was horribly rude and condescending. The rest of 1st Class was filled with retired couples on holiday. No screaming babies.
- A screaming baby behind me on my coach trip back to Edinburgh. I have slightly more pity for the mothers of screaming children, now that my friends are mothers. But shouting, "Jordan! Stop it! What is wrong with you?!" will not make your infant quiet.
- A huge man reading D&D 'zines in the seat next to my assigned coach seat on the return trip. When he started also picking his nose and biting his nails (loudly), I changed seats. (#snob)
- A great gig in Eaglescliffe, playing a solo set, then playing accordion and singing with The Lovesick Cowboys. They began as a Hank Williams Tribute band, but now, as they joke, they only sing half-Hank Williams songs. It was funny to hear their proper English accents, followed immediately by the "Lovesick Blues," but great people and great music made for a great evening. I love a band that is not afraid to invite an accordionist they've never met to join them onstage.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I do I do I do I do I do believe in spooks.

Boo! Did I scare you? Let's talk about ghosts. Last night I joined David and his MBA class on a Ghost Tour through the Old Town of Edinburgh. I absolutely love a good ghost tour. I'm not quite up for a sleepover at Waverly Hills or anything, but I'll go inside a locked mausoleum at midnight in a five-hundred year old graveyard surrounded by the old City Wall. Especially if it's occupied by a poltergeist.



The best part about Ghost Tours is that, truthfully, they are Architectural/History Tours cleverly marketed as "paranormal" because what kind of nerd would pay for a history lesson (besides me)? There are plenty of ghost stories in a walled, ancient city with a past like Edinburgh's -- plague-infested with thousands of years of hangings/battles/religious zealots. (Don't worry, Mum, I've gotten my plague-booster shot.) The history lends itself to tales of murder and mystique, so you are tricked into learning Scottish History via tales of blood and spirits.



This leads me to a bit of advice if you ever go on a ghost tour: I've been on just about every ghost tour in Edinburgh over the past twelve years, some small groups, some large groups. If I know one thing, it's that if you go in to the tour as a believer, you will have a fabulous time. If you go as a skeptic (or worse, go WITH a skeptic, or, ugh, a whole group of them!), then it's a silly, miserable, long, boring tour. It's much more fun to believe, at least for the hour you're walking down the closes, cobblestones, and graveyard paths. Don't think about science or alternative explanations. Think about ghosts.

Last night was pretty fun. I had been on that particular tour before (the City of the Dead Graveyard Tour), but this tour guide was exceptional. We learned at the end of the tour that he is an archaeologist by day and comes by his love of history honestly.
I did feel kind of bad about him having to deal with a massive group of students who had been, um, "celebrating" for hours, shall we say? He dealt with the hecklers well though. It reminded me of some bad pub gigs I've played when you spend half the night responding to "Freebird" requests. The crowd was in cheerful spirits, but they just didn't believe!

You gotta believe, people, even if deep down you know it's just silly. It's more fun that way. "I DO believe in spooks!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pretty pictures to make up for the whiney-complainy blog...

Sometimes I write things on here that would be better kept in a journal. So to make up for that last rant about credit checks and mobile phones, how about a few photos that show why living here is just so beautiful?

East Lothian sunset:

View of Georgian smokestacks from my window while sick in bed last week:

View from the farmers' market by the Castle:

Old Market sign down the street:

View from the Water of Leith Walkway up towards our flat:

View of the extra-thick hot chocolate from the Italian cafe I frequent:

Culture shock: credit checks.

We tried yet again to get David a mobile phone last week, this time using the company we've already got broadband service with, and we were informed that our credit check failed. I'm sorry, but I'm as obsessive about our credit scores as I was about my GPA (Yes, I was THAT girl, and anyway, isn't your credit score like a grownup GPA?). Our credit is most excellent, and certainly good enough to get a crappy Virgin mobile phone. Besides, we're already Virgin customers and had clearly passed the broadband credit check. "I'm sorry, that's a different part of the company. This is mobile phone department. Our credit check is different."

Another interesting fact: when you move to a new country, you start fresh with some companies. It's like we haven't existed in this country until six weeks ago, and no amount of Here's-my-drivers-license-and-previous-eight-addresses will convince them to look up your United States address, despite the fact that they use the exact same credit bureaus we use at home. Somehow the broadband department in Virgin had no problem using a US address, but the mobile folks just won't do it.

What looked like was going to take "five to ten minutes," as we were promised by the overly-kind salesman, has now taken four trips the store, multiple hours of nonsense, and several frustrating phone calls -- and STILL all we have is an expensive pay-as-you-go phone.

On the up side, I can now actually get in touch with David and don't have to leave him notes and hope he finds me. It just costs me 50p a text and even more per minute to call him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A box from home!

There are very few things as comforting as receiving a package from home. Despite having to pay a hefty-tariff, I was very excited to see a you've-got-mail slip in my letterbox last week, followed by delivery of an equally hefty-sized box. My parents are the best.

It was partly filled with mail from home and some business stuff I'd asked them to send, but it also contained treats!

Contents of awesome box from home:
- about eight pairs of tights (why are tights called "pairs" anyway?) varying in colors and patterns
- socks for me!
- socks for David!
- measuring cups that are both metric AND imperial
- tennis shoes

The purple and black striped tights made an appearance the day I received them, as I wore them with a black miniskirt to meet David for a post-exam drink. I am pretty sure I received some questionable looks from several people in David's programme, many of whom probably already think I'm an eccentric nut, but that's okay. If you can't embarrass your husband, who can you embarrass? Besides, David didn't actually seem all that affected by my wardrobe choice. It may be time to bust out the orange stripes...

Should anyone else out there care to surprise us with a package, just let me know. I've gotten really good at writing thank you notes in the post-wedding chaos.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Exams and The Quest for the Best Nachos.

I'm growing concerned about David's graduate school programme. His first exam was ... wait for it ... OPEN BOOK. I don't know about you, but I haven't had an open book exam since middle school. His economics exam was a bit more intense, at least according to the Facebook statuses of his more-concerned classmates, and he did put in a fair amount of studying for it. At least he SAID he was studying. Here is evidence that that he may have also taken a fair amount of Snickers breaks:


Still, despite my joking around, he's definitely put in a good amount of effort and work (and not just on Angry Birds). Also, he seems to actually LIKE his classes, which disturbs me because his textbooks look as boring as can be (says the hippie-liberal-arts-major).

* * * * * * * * * *

You are probably wondering how we celebrated International Day of the Nacho. I shall tell you. First, we went to Tex Mex II in the New Town, which was absolutely fantastic. Delicious margaritas and perfect nachos. They were baked, not microwaved, and they weren't at all shy with the toppings, which included guacamole, beans, sour cream, a few cheese, butternut squash (a seasonal variant, perhaps?), jalapenos, and salsa. We are thinking about having David's birthday party here, since my secret plan to take him to Sweden for the weekend doesn't quite fit in with his school schedule.




Later that evening, we met up with some friends for a night out in our lovely neighborhood. We had to let them in on Nacho Day, which we celebrated again by trying out a different restaurant's nachos. They were average. To be fair, the nachos at Tex Mex II were so superior that this place didn't stand a chance. If we'd gone to the second nacho place first, we would have enjoyed them more. They were good -- nachos are always good -- but I could have made them at home.

Friday, October 21, 2011

International Day of the Nacho.

We've done a surprisingly good job of talking ourselves out of takeaway meals. It's amazing what you can do with a mostly-empty pantry when you give up the idea that you need to have different foods for every meal. Chili six times a week? Omelets when there's nothing but eggs? Roasted brussels sprouts? Butter noodles? Big pat on the back for us.

But today, in honor of International Nacho Day, we are celebrating. Mission: Tex Mex.

I'll post with our findings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nachos#International_Day_of_the_Nacho

We are going to try out this place because it's called, well, Tex Mex.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Band Practice in Scotland.

During a fun rehearsal on Tuesday afternoon, I discovered a few differences between American band practices and Scottish band practice.

First of all, we spent the entire afternoon working on two songs. It's not because anyone in the group was slow or anything. (They definitely still use the same three chords over here as they do back home.) We just kept working on "the arrangement," something that isn't always the focus back home.

Or rather, back home we seem to do more work separately, then come together to sort out the details. For example, when Peter has a new song, he'll send an MP3. Then we all listen and learn our parts separately and work on dynamics during band practice, playing it a few times to get the feel of playing it together. Still, we must have played those songs twenty times at rehearsal on Tuesday, something I know has NEVER happened during an American rehearsal I've been involved with.

Somewhere in between is probably best. Still, I didn't grow weary. The music was good, and it had been so long since I'd played with anyone, it was a welcome change from playing the saw in my office.

The other difference between American band practice and Scottish band practice: I was offered a cup of tea first thing. And after a quick break, more tea, this time with biscuits (cookies) was served. I can really get behind this tradition. So proper! No Wild Turkey before Scottish band practice. Or maybe I'm just playing with the wrong band...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gargling with whisky.

Today, I am embracing illness, forcing myself to stay in bed and recover what whatever ailment I have woken up with. I am super-sleepy (result of several weeks of not being able to go to sleep before 4am), and my throat hurts.

I've already Skyped David from two rooms away requesting tea, which may explain why he has decided to go study at school rather than home. I am pitiful.

Back home we have a cabinet full of over-the-counter drugs. Here we have some multi-vitamins and a small bit of cough syrup from when David got sick a few weeks ago. I gargled with salt water.

Whisky should dull the throat pain, but the only whisky we have in the house is 20-year-old Laphroaig (whitewhine!)
. It just doesn't seem right to gargle with that.

Apple-cider vinegar it is. Bleagh! Although I bet gargling with whisky would yield a much more interesting blog.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Recipes that don't really require any measuring.

It's been soup and boots weather here. You know what I mean -- when you start craving chili and digging out your red cowboy boots. I've become quite the domestic diva lately, seeing as I spend my days writing (and running errands, but chasing down the cable guy isn't quite so romantic, is it?) and David is at school twelve hours a day. While I'm busy trying not to spend money, I have been souping.

Some recipes that we live by, done without any real measuring because 1) I don't have patience for that and 2) we only have one measuring device and it's in millilitres, which is only useful for measuring liquids, and only then after doing a lot of math.

Potato & Leek Soup
5-6 potatoes, peeled if you're ambitious.
1-1.5 leeks, depending how long your arthritic fingers can chop.
1 spoonful of salt
A few shakes of pepper.
2 quarts of water (a little less than 2 litres, so either imagine a coke 2-litre, or eyeball it based on how large your pot is)
A few pats of butter (optional).

Cut everything up fairly small (sliced or cubed) and throw it all in a pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes or so. Mash it up and adjust seasoning.

Carrot Coriander Soup
1 spoonful of vegetable oil
1 onion (sliced)
7-8 medium sized carrots
1 small spoonful of ground coriander
2 pints vegetable stock (a little over a litre, or use an empty ben & jerry's container to measure)
a large bunch of coriander, chopped. (For you Americans, coriander is a fancy word for cilantro)
salt & pepper to taste.

Heat up the oil and cook the onions and carrots for about 3 minutes. If you cook it longer, the soup will be sweeter, which maybe you like, but I don't really.
Stir in the ground coriander and throw a bit of salt and pepper just because. Be dramatic.
Add vegetable stock and bring to boil. Then simmer until the carrots are tender.
Mash it down a bit (or use a fancy hand blender).
Stir in the fresh cilantro and serve.

I like to make sure there's a fresh baguette on hand. Soup is always better with crusty bread.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mandatory funding for public media?

In the UK, residents need to pay a TV Licensing Fee in order to watch television. Seriously. No, it's not cable you're paying for -- you pay a private company for those services. It is the LAW, that you must pay for a TV License if you watch live broadcasts, even if you only watch them on your mobile phone.

Not surprisingly, the TV Licensing folks are pretty suspicious and doubtful when you tell them you do not, in fact, have a television. We, por ejemplo, do not own a television, nor do we watch any live programming on our laptops. I had to send in a "Declaration" swearing we are exempt, and I'm hoping that's the end of it. I've heard stories of them knocking on doors and looking through windows just to be sure no one is just trying to cheat.

The funny thing is that I would probably willingly PAY the license if it wasn't mandatory. Apparently, the fee basically funds the BBC programming, and I love the BBC. I particularly adore the radio dramas, but truthfully, aside from Twitter, the BBC is usually my first sphere of news -- even though I generally listen to the BBC News via WFPL.org.

On that note, I just made a non-mandatory-just-because-I-feel-I-should donation to Louisville Public Media. Perhaps you, too, should take note that American public broadcasting is constantly in danger of losing its funding. I'm guessing the chances of passing a LAW making it mandatory to pay for public radio if you own a radio is, well, out of the question. (Ah, the ol' Public Goods Game.) So maybe everyone should just donate to your local public radio station from the goodness of your heart? In honor of your freedom?

Cue Lee Greenwood (because you will NEVER hear this on WFPK).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Afternoons are the Best.

Sunday afternoons are my favorite. If David had been in town today, rather than off windsurfing in the Highlands, today would have been just perfect. It was still a great day of wandering (always disguise your errands as a "long walk"). Mostly I spent today on a bench at the Stockbridge Market in my neighborhood. An afternoon of eating, people-watching, and reading cannot be beat. Later, I ran into a friend at the coffeeshop, laughed a bit, and wandered around the neighborhood. Lovely and quiet afternoon.

A few photos from my wanderings:

Circus Lane. Doesn't that just sound like a street where you'd want to live?

St. Stephen's Church. Usually I walk down Circus Place from the New Town, but today I wandered towards the church.

Fancy panoramic of the Market. Click on it to make it bigger.

If you don't already have it, enjoy an MP3 of "Sunday Afternoon" for free, in honor of lovely, lazy, love-filled Sunday afternoons.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday: Markets and Masons.

This city is so beautiful. I love that turning a corner and seeing The Castle is every bit as intimidating and amazing as when I first saw it at age nineteen. This morning, I got a hot chocolate and croissant from the farmers' market by the Castle and sat for a while, writing and people-watching. I didn't buy any produce though. I save actual shopping for my Sunday market trips.


Later, as I wandered around, I was distracted by a curious sign. Remember how I love the Masons ... well, entry into their lair for only £1 and no-questions-asked PLUS vintage coats? Yes, please!

Once inside (they let me in, suspecting nothing!) I browsed the stalls full of costume jewelry and antique bug collections, but was more interested in what kind of secret meetings take place in these chairs. Take not of the imposing pipe organ. Maybe I can get a job playing the organ at the Freemason Lodge. Any masons reading this? Hire me! I can keep a secret. (And I can play the organ.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

I let two strange men in my apartment -- no big deal, right?

I don't understand health and safety regulations over here. Currently, there are two men from Scottish Gas in my living room. One of them has his nose in our fireplace, and the other is sitting on the couch mumbling as he stares at a tablet. Neither looks like Dick Van Dyke.

It is supposed to be a routine yearly inspection, but I'm told it will take "two to three hours." This makes me fear our first gas bill. As if gas weren't costly enough, factoring in two employees for three hours for every flat in Edinburgh (or the country?) seems it would surely double the price.

At the same time, why doesn't the gas company back home come around yearly and do a health and safety inspection? Or is that why I hire a company to service the furnace and AC? Do we just privatize and not-make-mandatory such inspections?

I could turn to Google, I suppose, but philosophizing on the blog is more fun. Plus, I'm stuck here for two to three hours, and I've got to do something to look busy. I don't think the gas inspectors would appreciate yodeling practice.

Also, why is the company called "British Gas," but gasoline is called "petrol?" Oh, I have so much to learn!



Also, in case I disappear, here are the most likely suspects:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What I miss.

Things I miss, in no particular order: my dishwasher, my Mom, wooden spoons, my drier, my Dad, Mexican food, Louisville friends, chocolate chips, my piano, my garden.

Things I do not miss: my car, my health insurance premium, TARC, teaching too much, mowing the lawn, the gym, TV, high fructose corn syrup.

Give and take, you know?

Here's a great Danny Flanigan song called "What I Miss" that is now stuck in my head. Have a listen and maybe support a fantastic Louisville songwriter too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dinner at the Balmoral ... mmmmmmm....

Yesterday I mentioned that we'd only dined out once since coming to Edinburgh. David has packed his lunch every day, and I've subsisted on toast and tatties for six weeks now. I would gladly go another six weeks of home-cookin' if it meant I got to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant a few times a year.

One of my favorite things about David is his love for the sensual. That's not me being provocative. That's me talking about hedonism, specifically: food. He loves food as much as I do, and he appreciates a three-hour meal as the focal point of an evening, rather than a preface.

I restrained myself from taking photos of last night's dinner (sorry) because it just didn't seem appropriate. It wasn't a stuffy atmosphere or anything -- quite the opposite. It was relaxing, spacious, and quiet. Still, when I'm at the Louvre, I like to soak up the art, not take pictures of the Mona Lisa. That's what dinner at The Balmoral's Number One was like.

Beautifully plated and perfect portions, the meal left me full and sans heartburn. Even better? They knew we were vegetarians (thank you to Billy and Linda, our wonderful dinner companions, who warned the chef of our little "condition") and did not judge us -- at least not to our faces. Instead, they'd prepared a complete vegetarian menu from the amuse-bouches on wee spoons served on a rectangular plate of slate, through at least six or seven other courses, each of which was creative and tasty. It was so nice to have vegetarian restaurant options aside from "pasta and seasonal vegetables."

My main course was a Jerusalem artichoke with walnut gnocchi and various other sundries, while David had a risotto he was reluctant to share. The soup, salad, palate-cleansing yoghurt course, and "Terrine of Milk Chocolate, Apricot, Basil, Melon Sorbet, Malt Crisps" (the dessert that I was reluctant to share), followed by another larger slate plate (I love saying that -- "slate plate slate plate slate plate!") full of gorgeous candies, were all perfect complements to our fantastic company.

There really is nothing better than a good meal with good people, except perhaps live music. Fortunately, we all talked about concerts and music throughout the night, so it was a perfect compromise. Thank you to our wonderful new friends for the invite ... we will surely remember that meal forever.

It's going to be really hard to cook another baked potato tonight.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Restaurant Dreams Coming True.

Here is an impressive statistic: David and I have only eaten ONE meal at a restaurant since we arrived here.* That's pretty mindblowing for a couple of food-loving yuppies.

Even our one meal out was pretty tame. It was for Rosh Hashanah, so we had a good excuse. But all we did was go to the Italian restaurant around the corner and SHARE a tortellini dish. I'm not sure that even counts.

Tonight, however, we have a dinner date at The Balmoral Hotel. There's a Michelin-starred restaurant in the stunning hotel on Princes Street, and I don't think I've been more excited about something here since the first time I saw Edinburgh Castle. I'll report back, but I will probably restrain myself from taking photos of the food. We are meeting up with some friends of my parents, and I need to behave like a good girl.

Now, I'm off to put a few ribbons in my hair before meeting David for a pre-dinner cocktail. I'm thinking ... gin. Yes, gin. I'm THAT mature.

*not counting the two baked potatoes we have had from The Baked Potato Shop. Those were snacks, anyway.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fasting and consuming all in the same day.

I was guilt-tripped into fasting for Yom Kippur. I know that's missing the point, but I do not like to bested in Judaism by my Methodist husband, who had decided to fast. I lasted until I heard the University-sponsored dinner we were attending wasn't until 7:45. Sunset, my friends, was at 6:31, and if you think I'm waiting another hour and a half plus some to allow for catering mishaps (dinner wasn't actually served until almost 8:30), then you've never seen me hungry. Anyway, I always get a migraine during a fast, so I should have known better. Believe me, I atoned.

To distract from my hunger, and because not having eaten meant that clothes would fit better, David and I went shopping on Saturday. We meandered in and out of approximately four thousand different stores, from the quaint thrift stores ("charity shops" as they are called here) in our neighborhood, all the way to Jenners. Jenners is like Macy's, without the good sales. David tried on a gorgeous coat made by some man with a nice name, and both I and the salesman tried to talk him into buying it. He abstained.

We also popped in Anthropologie, with the anthropological task of trying to figure out why in the world I like a store that is clearly just Urban Outfitters for women over thirty. (But I do. I really, really do.) Also, I wanted to show him that cute hat I found there last week. I felt used by their evil displays (antique books, friends, antique books!), and luckily, David whisked me out of there with the promise and speedy delivery of a fancy coffee drink before I spent his student loan money on a £448 coat. I'm convinced that price-tag was a misprint, anyway, as we'd seen a similar one in a charity shop for £12.

Honestly, I much prefer fancy grocery stores to fancy department stores. Currently, I'm working on making up for lost calories. Time for second breakfast.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Arts and Crafts Day at School.

I thought David was getting an MBA, but apparently they had arts & crafts day yesterday in class. It was some sort of competition that involved teams making greeting cards, which seems more like kindergarten to me, but what do I know? Anyway, David's team had a clear advantage because he is the only man I know who can make a 5-point bow and wrap a Christmas present better than Macy's ... with his eyes closed. I prefer gift bags.

I think somehow a rumor spread through the class that he is the heir to a greeting card company, a rumor which is most certainly my fault. I may or may not have said those exact words, but you know how the grapevine is, right? What I meant is that David's mom is the Queen of the Texas Scrapbookers (I made that title up completely), and she makes the world's best cards and scrapbooks. She even has her own embosser that goes on the back and says "Caldwell Card Company." David may have learned a little something from her about making greeting cards.

Of course, his team did not take advantage of his penmanship and innate skillz because David, weirdo that he is, actually likes being the accountant and trader.

Now that I think of it, perhaps he should take his accountant and trading skillz back to Texas and turn the Caldwell Card Company into a Fortune 500 company (that's a good thing, right? buzzwords!) and then he would indeed
be an heir to a greeting card fortune. I'm still waiting for him to tell me about that secret West Texas Oil Money. He swears there isn't any, but I saw "Dallas."

Here's a picture of his University at night. Doesn't that just look like what college should look like?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

iSad.

Apple, Apple, Apple. Everything is Apple today. But guess what? I'm pretty sure everything was Apple yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. And I like it. When was it that I was snuggled up on the couch with David watching the iPhone4S video with my jaw hanging down while David giggled at me, laughing as I nodded at the screen in excitement as Siri reminded that guy to grab the present when he got home? Just this week, right?

It feels weird to be sad about a celebrity death, but this case feels more important -- sort of like Benjamin Franklin died or something (don't you think Benjamin Franklin would have invented the iPhone eventually?). I keep wondering what is NOT going to be in the world now just because of stupid cancer.

It also reminds me of that line from that cinematic masterpiece, "Talladega Nights," where Ricky Bobby says, "No one lives forever, no one. But with advances in modern science and my high level income, it's not crazy to think I can live to be 245, maybe 300." Surely, if that were true and it applied to anyone, that person would be Steve Jobs.

Wanna know a nerdy secret about me? When I was eight, I won "Best in Show" at the Kentucky State Fair for a computer program I wrote and designed ... on my Apple IIC. It was a color image of a piano that played a song on the screen. Maybe I'll get my dad to post a screenshot of that masterpiece. It's not quite on par with Logo Turtle, but it cinched my love of computers and all things Apple.

I don't feel guilty or tricked by my love of a company. I know they are big business, but I just love their products. I also love the attitude of form AND function. Plus, Steve Jobs just always seemed like a really good person. Maybe he had the best publicist in the world, but I like to be a bit more optimistic about humanity.

Anyway, I think David would probably understand if I went out an bought an iPad today. You know, retail therapy for my grief. In lieu of flowers... ?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baguettes, Cobblestones, and Chianti.

After a long day of reading a good book in a coffeeshop (it's for a freelance job I'm doing -- I know, I know, you hate me), I popped into the cheesemonger's shop for some fresh eggs. I'm not sure why the cheesemonger sells eggs, but they are farm-fresh and cheaper than the grocers. Next, I walked a few cobblestone streets down and bought a hot baguette from a charming French bakery. The rest of the evening will consist of making a quick soup and and pouring a glass of chianti from Valvona & Crolla just in time for David to come home from school. Life in Scotland is kind of fantastic. Can you tell we've spent our weekends exploring delis and specialty grocers?

Also, look what I found in the cheesemonger:
It's still spelled wrong, but it's spelled less wrong than most. Next time I'll have a taste and report back to you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dreaming in Centigrade

My high school spanish teacher was always telling us to stop translating and start thinking in Spanish, and only then would we have a chance at fluency. It's hard to force yourself to think like that. I'm pretty fluent in Scottish, so that's not an issue now, but there are a few other differences I'm trying to adopt.

Let's talk Celcius. It makes sense. Zero is freezing. One hundred is boiling. It's all very metric, and I like that. Unfortunately, I just don't know what "16" feels like. I'm trying. Really trying. I changed my weather apps to centigrade, and I try to use the vernacular when speaking to a local. But I'm still always translating ... I know the equal pallindromes as guidelines. 16C=61F and 28C=82F. Then I sort of guess from there.

Yesterday I went to a swimming club (on the grounds of the school that inspired Hogwarts! but that's another story...) with a friend here, and I weighed myself. David and I had been wondering if we'd lost weight or if not having a drier was just making our pants too big. Anyway, I think it's a little bit of both, but I'm not sure because I weighed myself in kilograms and stones. I think I might just leave it that way and not do the conversion. You know, THINK in stones ... stop translating...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Reminiscing about Elvis.

I've played a lot of saw lately, mostly because I don't have a piano or a guitar here (yet). Also, busking in Old Town with a saw is a nice way to earn money for fancy cheeses. Anyway, I got to reminiscing about some of the fine folks who have graciously allowed me to play the saw with them. I'm feeling more nostalgic than creative today, so I thought I'd share this video of me playing the saw with Elvis.

Fixing things and gardening.

Wee Angus running through Dages Paint! Have y'all ever flipped a house before? I am sort of doing that, except that it's a renta...