Friday, June 29, 2007
One other interesting tidbit out of DC yesterday. While the President's so-called "amnesty" bill for illegal immigrants died in the Senate, the divided House was able to patch things up enough to reject a block on their annual automatic "cost of living" pay increase, which this year amounted to $4,400.
It sure warms my heart when Democrats and Republicans can agree.
However, while baseball is nowhere to be found, the Yankees are everywhere. Yes, the logo of that most loved, or most hated, American baseball team can be spotted all over town mainly adorning caps but also the occasional jersey. I'm dying to go up to the offending individuals (am I betraying my bias) and ask them if they really support the team, do they know anything about the sport, can they name one player? The reality is that the Yankees organization has successfully launched the team as a globally recognized brand, like Coca Cola, for whose wearers the emblem is nothing more than a status icon akin to the Nike swoosh or the Ralph Lauren polo rider. Even so, it's enough overexposure to make this Phillies fan misty-eyed on the rare occasion that I've seen an Atlanta Braves hat.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Yesterday, I had wash hanging on the line. Late in the day it started to sprinkle a little, but I've learned through experience here that the best thing to do is leave the laundry on the line because showers on a sunny day last but a moment, blow out, and the laundry will re-dry. Sadly, yesterday was the exception to the rule. The brief shower did blow out only to be replaced an hour or two later by a torrential deluge. I dejectedly gathered my damp clothes off the line late last night promising myself that I would put it right back out on the line first thing this morning. And, oh blessed day, the sun was shining this morning and out the laundry went. Alas today has been a repeat of yesterday evening. Showers have been blowing in and out all morning. My laundry is now wetter than it was when I first took it out of the washing machine. At least then after a 5 minute spin at 1000 rpms, it isn't sopping wet.
So what to do??? I'm at a loss. I keep clinging to the hope that the showers will finally and ultimately blow away since as I look out the window at this very moment to big fat drops of rain I can see that half the sky is the clearest shade of blue you've ever seen. It's teasing me.
Is it possible to laughing and crying at the same time?
As a mother I have now had the uncanny experience of opening my mouth and hearing my own mother's voice emerge. Nothing can prepare you for the moment when you realize that you have become your parents. However, almost as bizarre, but perhaps slightly more amusing, is hearing yourself parroted by your own children. You suddenly become aware that your every action, nay every word, is noted, absorbed, and often repeated verbatim. This has happened, as you will recall, with Addison calling Trey and me by our first names. The most recent example involves our frequent admonition to him to "stop whining", an activity common to your average two-year old. In this video I get Addison to perform a little, but trust me. He says it plenty on his own without any prompting.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Blair is leaving to serve as Middle East envoy on behalf of the EU, US, UN, and Russia. Gordon Brown, his chancellor, is now the new Prime Minister, leader of the Labour Party, and resident of 10 Downing Street.
I find this all so interesting since Trey and I recently watched the movie The Queen, a film about the days surrounding the death of Princess Diana. Tony Blair figures prominently in the film beginning with his appointment as Prime Minister in May of that year and culminating in his leadership role during the days immediately following the princess's death. I didn't realize it, but he was the one who dubbed her "the people's princess", a title which has stuck to this day. In the movie, which is quite good by the way and definitely worth watching, Blair's wife provides a bit of comic relief as the anti-establishment, anti-monarchist unable to properly curtsy before Her Majesty. Over the years, she has been the center of several controversies, and I was amused to discover that as she and Blair left number 10 for the final time she quipped to the journalists present, "I don't think we'll miss you."
I am very interested to see what Blair's departure means for the UK's relationship with the US and especially how that will affect the War in Iraq. Blair was often criticized as being Bush's "lap dog", and now with the 2008 elections heating up and a new Prime Minister here in Britain, I wonder what the global implications will be. Only time will tell.
I haven't posted videos of the kids in a while, so here come a bunch. While this is a short one, it's a good one. It gives you a real flavor for the way the two of them relate to each other right now. Oh, and the matching navy blue jammies were not intentional.
Here's one of Davis doing what he does best, looking cute. One of the things I love about this age is that they express enthusiasm not through words but by kicking their arms and legs. He's started to take a real fascination in objects, so in this video I've put a couple of Addison's toys in his hands, a ruler from the tool box and a race car. Hmmm...perhaps I should dig out some more suitable baby toys, like rattles and stuffed animals.
In this episode Addison removes all of his Thomas books from the shelf, lines them up on the couch, and then flips through one, casually identifying the trains he sees. But the best part of the video occurs halfway through when Trey, the videographer, gets in Addison's way, and in his most commanding toddler voice Adduson says, "Scu me!" Talk about bossy.
Sorry it's so dark. Unfortunately, on the digital camera, the videoing options are a bit lacking. Oh, and if you look closely out the bay window, you can see the ubiquitous bowlers.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
This is the second time in just a couple of weeks that Addison has experienced his first few tastes of disappointment. The other incident involved Trey. They went on a walk together up to Seaton Park and Trey told Addison he could swing on the swings, Addison's favorite past-time. When they arrived at the playground, the swings were gone, evidently away for repair or replacement before the beginning of the summer season. Addison dissolved in tears and kept saying, "Swings broken." He just couldn't quite wrap his little mind around his dashed desire. Trey said he felt awful and totally incapable of fixing the situation.
I know both of these experiences are just the first in a long string of disappointments that he will experience in life, and that brings me to my own most recent disappointment. Today was the day of our return flight home. When we originally booked our flight to Aberdeen last year, it was cheaper to buy round-trip tickets rather than one-ways. At the time we thought we would be coming back for a visit in the summer, but as time went on, we realized it was not going to be possible. Instead, we are coming home at Christmas for a nice long visit, something we are all looking forward to very much. I think about it every day. While I've known for a long time now, that we were not going home today, the thought of those empty seats flying back to the US is a little hard to swallow. Both Trey's and my homesickness goes in cycles. Sometimes we don't even notice it, and then other times it's so strong you can taste it. Right now, we're tasting it partly because we're missing the warm summer weather we've always known, partly because we've been here so long without a trip back, but mostly because we just deeply miss our loved ones.
So in these moments when it is easiest to turn inward and wallow in self-pity, I turn to the life-giving Words of our Savior, the God of all comfort, the One who watches over us here in far northeast Scotland at the same time that He's watching over all our family and friends across the pond. "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12.9)
Disappointment manifests itself at every age. It is part of life in a fallen world. It is a lesson that our young 2 year old is already learning and one that we will continue to wrestle with ourselves. As I look out the window this morning at the pouring mist (yes, it pours mist here) which has been with us for three days straight now, I turn my gaze upward and say, "When I am weak, then I am strong."
Friday, June 22, 2007
I just hope that we can employ some of Addison's new-found handyman skills around here. Both Trey and I are hopelessly helpless when it comes to home repair.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Today the sun rose at 4:12am and will set at 10:08pm -- 17 hours, 55 minutes, 42 seconds of daylight. It's truly remarkable to go outside at 11:30 at night and still see light in the northern sky. It hit me the other day, though, that the first day of summer is actually rather melancholy since it marks the beginning of the days becoming shorter. When December 21st arrived this year, we knew the days were getting longer and the darkness would dissipate. The flip side is that every day of summer gets a little shorter than the last, leading us one step closer to the dark days of winter. It's an odd cycle. Although the contrast in seasons is hardly noticeable temperature-wise, the difference in the amount of daylight is astonishing. While I truly love these long spring and summer evenings, I may be in the minority when I admit that I find something warm and cozy about the dark winter nights as well. There is incredible beauty in each season.
Happy summer everyone!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Dog lovers enjoy bringing them to the many beautiful parks here in Aberdeen and letting them run free without a lead (leash). I have to confess that it makes me nervous at times because you just don't know if you can trust a strange dog; however, we've never had a problem. They all seem fairly well behaved. Sadly, the bigger problem seems to be the owners who do not always pick up the presents their dogs leave behind. A little warning...always look where you walk!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Last year at this time, Trey, Addison, and I spent a week vacationing down in Cape May. We had 2 keys to our French Turret Suite, and Trey would joke with me that the caretaker of the keys when we left the apartment was the "Keeper of the Privy Seal", a reference to the founder of the University of Aberdeen Bishop William Elphinstone.
All joking aside, however, he is a pretty remarkable man. Amazingly, despite his illegitimate birth in 1431, Elphinstone became one of the leading minds of his day and the father of Scotland's third medieval university, the University of Aberdeen. He was educated in France and then returned to Scotland as chief officer of the diocese of Glasgow. He then went on to found the University of Aberdeen wooing scholars from all over to teach at his new institution, a real departure from the norm of that time in which only priests typically were educators. He was very concerned to train lawyers, statesmen, and clerics, as well as physicians, establishing the University's distinguished tradition for cutting-edge medical research. Perhaps most important of all, however, and fairly unknown by most, is Elphinstone's contribution to printing. He introduced it to his nation realizing the significant impact it would have on all areas of scholarship.
The video above is footage that Trey took the other day showing Elphinstone's monument resting in front of King's College Chapel. Although a fairly recent tribute to the great Bishop dating from the beginning of the last century, it is as imposing and stunning to behold as the Chapel in front of which it rests. And despite all efforts to find out just what "The Keeper of the Privy Seal" did, it appears to be a title of distinction with little work involved for its £1200 per annum compensation. Hmmm...I need to find that kind of job.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
This entry is done especially in honor of my brother Nathaniel, who was completely fascinated with the lawn bowling that goes on across our street at the Northern Bowling Club. He would sit on our couch and stare out the bay window at the bowlers or even go across the street and press his face against the bars of the gate watching their games intently. In such manner he was able to figure out the rules and strategies of lawn bowling and one evening some ladies from a women's league told him he could join them if he put on a skirt. He seemed tempted by the offer.
Yesterday was such a gorgeous day that Trey thought it would be perfect to get outside and film the bowlers at their craft. And if you listen very carefully with the volume turned all the way up, you can hear their Scottish brogue between the North Sea wind gusts.
Once we got home Davis conked out. Unlike other children who get fussy or run fevers after their injections, Davis sleeps like he's had a night of hard drinking. Three and a half hours later he woke smiley and happy, the sticks but a distant memory.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
This morning the sky is a brilliant shade of blue and we're all squinting at it like moles who have been underground too long. But the current temperature? 44 degrees...sigh. I had been warned repeatedly that the winters here were bleak and depressing and that summers were mild and glorious. I have found it to be EXACTLY the opposite. The winters were dark but cozy at the same time. They were not freezing cold like people said. In fact we never even accumulated more than an inch of snow. And so far the summer -- OK, technically it's not summer yet, but you know what I mean -- has been disappointing, cold and drab. I long for a beach blanket in Cape May and a good summer read, the smell of sunscreen, sand, and sea air. True, I can smell the sea from here, but I assure you that a warm sea breeze smells quite different from a cool one. Trey keeps telling me it's going to warm up and the sun is going to come out. July and August are the glory months they say, whoever THEY are. We'll see...
In the meantime, I have laundry to hang. Got to take advantage of this sunny day while it lasts.
PS Before you think to yourself, "Be thankful for the cooler temperatures. The heat here is just oppressive and you can't even go outside," let me tell you that I LONG for that kind of heat, the kind that sticks to your skin and makes you feel like you're breathing underwater, but if I couldn't have that -- and in Aberdeen I can't because I think their record high here EVER has been 82 -- I would settle for a day in the 60s where I could wear a pair of capris and short sleeves instead of wool sweaters.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
And so now begins the new challenge of running around after a boy who has been held at bay for a week by a cast. By the end of his time en-casted he was running. I can only imagine how hard it will be to keep up after him now that he is completely unimpeded.
Way to go, Davis!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Score one for the historians, antiquarians, and for all those who love the old medieval town!
Friday, June 8, 2007
Today, since we still had the car, we went to Dunnottar Castle and got some great footage out on the cliffs. Believe it or not, it actually cleared while we were there and the wind wasn't too intense. I've compiled the clips into a little video montage set to none other than the theme to Braveheart. Corny? Maybe...but also thoroughly fitting. I'll wager a tear might even come to your eye.
Our trip to Edinburgh was a great success. The car we got this time was a roomy Vauxhall wagon with a third row of seats that could be collapsed to create a large trunk perfect for our double buggy. We were able to find the Embassy with no trouble and ample parking was available. It was so refreshing to walk up to a building flying Old Glory outside. After we took care of Davis's US documents, we drove through Holyrood, which is the residence of the Queen when she stays in Scotland (except for the time she spends up by us at Balmoral Castle, of course). We didn't visit the residence itself. Instead we drove through the property which is like the Highlands in miniature right in the middle of the city. It's rugged and beautiful and Trey was dying to climb the mountain. Hopefully he'll get a chance when we return to the capitol in July.
Our last order of business was a quick trip to the National Library of Scotland where Trey needed to consult letters for his research. Once he was done perusing the manuscripts, we found a great playground nearby so Addison could get out a little and swing on the swings. The boys did amazingly well considering the 6 hours of driving to and from Edinburgh and then all the driving we did in the city. I'm always pleasantly surprised by their travelling resilience.
In 6 weeks' time, Davis will receive his passport, and then we will start the process to secure his visa.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
I got an urgent appointment at our GP's office for this morning. The doctor couldn't see any evidence of a break, but since he wouldn't bear weight on his leg, she felt we needed to go to the Children's A&E for evaluation. So Trey and I piled the kids into the double buggy and trudged the 45 minutes up hill to the hospital. There they x-rayed Addison's foot and could find no evidence of a fracture. The doctor felt that it could possibly be sprained or so slightly broken that it was not showing up on the x-rays. He decided to put a "walking" cast on Addison's leg to give it an opportunity to heal. Next week we go back to have the cast cut off, and they will x-ray the foot again at that point. If it is broken, then evidence of healing should show up on the x-ray. If not, it was probably just a sprain and should be fine.
The good news is that once we got home Addison was finally willing to walk on his leg. It has slowed him down just a tad, making it slightly easier for me to keep up with him, but no doubt he'll figure out how to run on this cast in no time.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Friday, June 1, 2007
So what exactly causes the haar? It generally occurs between April and September when pockets of warm air come in contact with the cold North Sea. The air at the bottom of the pocket is cooled by the ocean and becomes "saturated" beyond what it can hold. Remember cold air doesn't hold as much humidity as warm air. The excess moisture is released as vapor. Add some wind and the mist intensifies and spreads inland. The haar is usually thickest at the coastline and lessens as you move further inland. Today on our walk along the beach Promenade we could look to our right over the city and see beautiful blue skies and then look to the left and see a cold, gray day over the North Sea. In fact, we couldn't really see the lighthouse to our south or the Bridge of Don to the north.