Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Acknowledgements

Many of you will have already received this as an email, but I wanted to share it with everyone else who I don't necessary have addresses for.  I passed my viva, with minor corrections-- which means I have a couple of things the examiners want me to do before they say it's officially done.  I have til 1 January to get them done, but they will be done before then.  I'm not sure yet whether or not I'll be able to do the graduation ceremony in November (stupid univeristy contradictory rules), but either way, I'm practically done already.  

Doing a PhD is not something that anyone can really understand, unless you've been through it.  I can't explain what it's like, how horribly difficult a long, long slog it is, with moments of amazement, gratification and joy.  Even being done is not all happiness and light-- but I am proud of myself, and glad to have reached this point.  These are the acknowledgements printed in my thesis, and I want to share them with you.  Please find yourself in their lines, and thank you.  



Acknowledgements

Although I am passionate about this topic, and it has grown largely out of my whole life experiences, it has been the case more often than not that I despaired of ever finishing this thesis. The fact that I have made it to this point means there are several people who deserve recognition of my undying gratitude.

Thank you, God. There is absolutely no way this would ever have happened if it weren't for You. Everything good in it is praise to You; anything not good is down to me.

To the Theologicans, past and present, your support and fellowship on this long, dark road is most appreciated. I can't wait to celebrate with all of you, as well. You know who you are....

Thank you especially to Carolyn, Barb, and Lynch. More than most, you have been exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. I have no doubt that you were God-sent to me, and my life would be far less without you in it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To my friends on both sides of the Atlantic and, indeed, around the globe, thank you for encouragement, conversation, interest in my life and my research, and Facebook fun. Wherever I am, you will always be welcome.

To my family, thank you for your part in making me who I am. That is part of what has brought me to this point. Especially to my sister, Jennifer Balazadeh, thank you for having the two best children in the whole entire world, so that I can be Cool Auntie Amie.

To Brian Brock, my supervisor—thank you for knowing those things I didn't even know I didn't know about the process and the system, for encouraging me in the worst times, and for getting me to this point. If there were times you thought I wouldn't make it, you never said it, and I appreciate that. I thought it enough myself. I know how truly I have been blessed to have a supervisor about whom I have no complaints.

To Kenny Thom, my long-suffering and very gracious flatmate, I would not have made it in Aberdeen for very long if it weren't for you. You have become like family, and have been better to me than I deserve in more ways that I can name, and I owe you far more than I could ever repay. Thank you.

To the families who have taken me in and loved me like family, you have saved my life—or at least my sanity. To the Cornells, the Kelly-Johnstons and the Beckers particularly, you and your children have made my heart glad when everything else felt miserable. Thank you, and I love y'all.

To my church family at Crown Terrace Methodist, thank you for always remembering me, being interested in me, and loving me--whenever I happened to show up.  Thank you for being the friendliest church family ever. 

To the Aberdeen Book Club, over the years-- there were times when you were my only and best social interaction, and I thank you so much for the friendship and the chance to read good books together.  You've helped form me in my years here, both by the books you chose and your time with me.  Thank you. 

To the coffee growers and caf├ęs, the chocolatiers and wineries of the world, thank you. Without you, I would not have made it through.  Zeste, especially, thank you for your customer service with a scowl.  

To all 'my' kiddos—Machias and Semiah, especially—it is largely for you I have done this. I hope it is worth something. You are the best things in my world, and I love you more than I can possibly express.

Finally, to the men in my life who have helped me become the person I am today: Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, Charles Wallace Murray, Will Stanton, Merriman Lyon, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, and, especially, Aslan.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Famous Alva Highland Games!

While I was in Alva, they held the 153rd (I think) Famous Alva Highland Games.  So of course I went.

It rained.  All day.  And it was cooooold.  I was frozen through and quite damp by the time I left to get fish 'n chips to watch the World Cup semi-finals (Uruguay was playing, and my World Cup crush plays for them).  The rain meant that the crowds were small, and that the Highland Dancing and piping got moved indoors somewhere... I never heard where, though.  I watched all the heavy events, which were interesting considering how wet everything was.  Only one guy even got the caber to flip over, which was disappointing.  I think the contestants were all annoyed with the rain, too.  It can't be very nice to be throwing deadly things around without a good grip.

I still enjoyed watching them, and there were a few I remembered from last year's events.  I also watched all the footraces, the hillrace, and the cycle races.  The hillrace was crazy... they ran all the way up to the top of the hillfoot behind us and back down-- the fastest one in just over 20 minutes!  That would be an all day event for me, and they were running it.  Mad.

I took some photos, of course.  They are here

The videos, in case you didn't notice, are in no real order.  I just stuck 'em in places.  =)

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Alva Thesis Retreat, Take Two

Study, study, study.  In Alva.  Thank you, Paige, for the loan of your flat while you were away! 

It worked well for me in January to be away for a few weeks, and to just work somewhere different.  I hoped it would work that way again, especially after being so frustrated with the whole robbery and losing my work fiasco.  I debated about not going, but I'd already bought my train tickets before the theft, and I couldn't see wasting the money (they were, of course, non-refundable cheap tickets).  So off I poddled to Alva for two weeks. 

I didn't get completely done, but I did get a lot accomplished.  It's funny how just a change of scene can work wonders on motivation and focus, sometimes.  The weather wasn't great, as it was rainy and cloudy most of the time... but there is a great park just a couple of blocks down that I took my books and notebooks to when the sun came out.  The university even loaned me a netbook to use for two weeks.  Granted, I made them feel bad enough about having kicked me out of my office right at the end of my time when I needed a place to work the most, and laid it on thick about then having my laptop stolen in the break-in... they couldn't really do anything but loan me one that was sitting around unused, could they? 

Anyway.  I worked a lot.  I drank coffee and ate snacks and sat in the window and watched the World Cup and read in the times when I wasn't working.  It was productive, and it was refreshing to be somewhere other than the 'Deen for a bit.  Thanks, Paige!  I owe ya.  =) 

Where are the photos?  They're here

Monday, 27 September 2010

Quite a Week That Was

One Monday, I had decided I wanted to get my hair all chopped off.  It had been growing for nearly three years, and that was long enough.  I grow it out so I can donate it to Locks of Love, and I usually try to get it cut while in the States so I can get a nice salon cut for free.  This time, though, I couldn't take it any longer.  So I made an appointment at the salon across the street, Mokoko.  It wasn't cheap, but I had a 40% voucher. I figured it was worth it to get rid of the mane.  I booked in for Thursday. 

Then on Tuesday I went to have lunch with Lynch.  She got an hour break from work, and we went to Subway.  It was not a great experience, and I'm not all that sad that they are still closed for flood damage months later.  I'll go to the one in the Hub if I ever have sub cravings again. Grrrrr.  Of course, it was good to hang out with Liz, as always.  Then I went home... and couldn't get into the flat.  I thought the lock was stuck, as we've had some trouble with it sticking before.  The door was loose in its jamb, but it wasn't open.  And I couldn't get the key to turn for anything.  I texted Kenny, and went down to sit in the cafe at Morrison's while I waited for him to get off work. 

Three hours later, I went back to meet Kenny at the flat.  He couldn't get in, either.  Eventually he had to just shoulder the door in.  We both just thought it was the lock, and he'd bought a replacement a while ago, just waiting for the time we'd need it.  There were some random weird things, but nothing really seemed amiss yet.  We just thought from all our shoving and shoulder and pounding to get it we'd knocked some stuff loose.  While Kenny got to fitting the new lock, I went in to check my email in the lounge. 

Wait.  Did I leave my lappy in my room?  Did I move it?  No... it was here... and where's Liz's lappy?  Oh. No. Kenny... we've been robbed! 

It was horrible.  We lost three laptops, both of our diary/filofax/organisers, a gold chain, a wallet with US store cards, a digital camera, and a thumb drive.  But on the thumb drive and on my hard drives (well, mine and Liz's I was borrowing) was all my thesis work.  All of it.  Six years.  I was freaking out, to say the least. 

I only ended up losing two weeks' worth of work, because my latest draft had been sent to my supervisor two weeks prior (duh), and I had that in my outbox still.  So at least there was that... but I had to cancel my UK chequebook (which was a hassle and may be contributing to my current visa problems), change all my login details everywhere, and am still trying to get address and contact details back for everyone (if you want me to have your address and phone number, please email them to me).  It was a nightmare.  The police came 'round and took our statements, we had to give our fingerprints for exclusion so they could dust (they didn't get anything), and the insureance... well, that's another nightmare in itself.  Kenny got two new locks installed while I was away the next week, plus a baseball bat.  Well, it's not a real baseball bat-- it's too short and too light.  But it's close enough.   So we're prepared now. 

Then two days later I got my hair chopped off.  And then I left for two weeks, to go to Alva and write as if my life depended on it.  In a way, it did. 

Photos from the haircut and from prior to knowing I'd been robbed and just thinking I'd been locked out are here and here.  As always. 

I do recommend donating your hair to Locks of Love if you have ten inches or more to cut.  I do not recommend getting your flat robbed.  Not that you have much choice about that, really.  We didn't.  I was only gone for two hours... boooo. 

Sunday, 26 September 2010

International Potluck

At my birthday party, an idea was born: to have an informal international potluck.  There were a couple of us sitting around talking about food, all of us from different countries, and we decided we wanted a chance to try them all for ourselves.  A couple of weeks later, we did just that. 

Noelle hosted us at her flat, and Natalie brought along some of her floorball friends, and then there were the usual suspects of Lynch, RitaB (and her mum and sister, who were visiting), and me.  We ate well, let me tell you.  The devilled egges I took disappeared quickly, and that was just Lynch!  We all brought things from our home country, or from a country that we had adopted as home (in Nat's case).  Oh my life.  Good food.  So much good food.  And leftovers.  Yum. 

I think this should happen at least once a month.  =D

Oh, and photos here.  From 32-52.  Don't say you aren't warned-- these will most likely make you hungry. They do me!  

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Private--Open Today!

There is a house at the corner of College Bounds and Meston Walk that has a great garden.  It's a private home, and usually the gate is closed.  One day, however, I happened by and the gate was open-- today only!  Come in and look around!  Private Gardens Open to Public Today Only!  Well, you don't have to tell me twice!

It was lovely.  I wandered around, taking photos, and got to talking with the homeowner, who was our working the flower beds.  He was lovely, too, and obviously enjoys his gardens.  They have a great location-- directly across from King's College.  I have recently found out that they rent out the 'servants' quarters' or downstairs to students-- there are seven or so of them, and you have to be interviewed and prove you'll get along with the others in order to be considered.  If you want to live on campus in a gorgeous setting, there is no better place than that.  Want to see?  Here you go.  They start at 180 and go until the wicket gate.  

There have also been plenty of opportunities for me to take pictures of blooming things, which I absolutely love.  Many of them are in that same album, and many of the others are here.  Enjoy!  I sure did.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Thomas

For many of you, this is old news.  You heard it back when it happened, either on ViewFinder (this is the link to this story on my photo-a-day blog) or Facebook.  For the rest of you, and for posterity's sake here on True Aim, I'll say it again.

We lost Thomas, our older sweet kitty, pretty suddenly.  He's had some health issues over the past year or so, but didn't seem to be doing too badly, considering he was sixteen-- and had a very annoying younger brother.  Kenny and I had taken him to the vet on a Friday night, they kept him overnight, and called Kenny back on Saturday to put him down.  We miss him a lot around here.  Still.

Especially Dillon.  He whines all the time now, and wants to be right where you are-- even more than before.  It's sweet when he wants to be all cuddly... but I can't do anything without him right there.  In the kitchen.  In the bathroom (I shoo him out first).  In my bedroom (when he's fast enough to race in before I can catch him).  In the lounge.

The problem is, when I was trying desperately to finish my thesis, he kept wanting to be on my lap.  Where my laptop was.  That doesn't work so well.  Now it's times like now, or when I'm reading, that he's really in the way.  Once he settles down beside me, I don't mind so much... but until he settles, he's a pain.  Quite literally.  He has claws, and dang, they hurt!

Kenny keeps threatening to get another cat to keep Dill company, but I'm not sure I can handle another.  I can barely handle this one! 

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Girlie Nite

I go to the cinema a lot, as you probably know.  I don't go to the theatre very often-- largely because I don't think about it, because they often have cheap student tickets available the day of.  Oh well.

I always enjoy it when I do go, typically at the instigation of friends who have spotted something that can't be missed.  This time, thanks to Lynch, it was The Vagina Monologues.

I admit, I was sceptical.  Because it's an episodic presentation, I had seen (on other shows) a few of the Monologues.  One or two I thought were okay;  one or two others... not so much.  But it was a girlie night out, and Lynch had seen it before and recommended it.  So I was in.

I was impressed.  It won me over.  I wouldn't say it is for everyone, but I would encourage everyone to give it a try.  It was all kinds of things:  irreverent, hilarious, crass, moving, sad... varied doesn't begin to cover it.  My favourite ones were not the crass ones but the thoughtful ones.  And I would see it again.

My one big problem with the night was the crowd.  I don't know if it was just because some people were uncomfortable (she said 'vagina'! *titters*) or because they had already had more than enough to drink before they got there, but the crowd was annoying.  They laughed at everything.  Even the things that weren't funny.  Even the ones that were, for instance, reflecting on being present at the birth of one's grandchild or one's experience in a Bosnian rape camp.  Still they laughed.  That made me quite annoyed... but that's not the fault of the show.  Or the actresses-- although one of them probably didn't help sometimes.  Joyce Falconer plays on my favourite Scottish soap, River City, so there were plenty of in-jokes for people who follow the show, and she has a very thick Aberdonian accent to boot.  She opened her mouth and the local ladies laughed.  Even when it wasn't funny.  She did play it up at times, but even so... it was still an aggravating crowd.  I should have been prepared for that, though-- there were signs on the way in warning that the show might contain offensive language.  Really?  In a show called The Vagina Monologues?  Might be offensive sometimes, or make people uncomfortable?  Laughter will cover that, and make you not look like a prude.  Laugh a lot, then.  Just to make sure. 

Still, I would recommend it.  And go with people you like-- I was there with Lynch, Aleithia, and Jay.  Lynch said it was better the other time she saw it, but having nothing to compare it to, I quite enjoyed it for the most part.  Not exactly the kind of thing I'd have probably said even five years ago.... I'm a changed woman now.  Not just because of the show.  =)

Photos can, as usual, be found here: from number 11.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Flyicide

Bzzzzzzzz...splat!

This was my life for about two weeks.  Suddenly, there were dozens of huge, fat, slow black flies in our lounge windows.  Sometimes they were in our kitchen window, as well, but mostly it was the lounge.  No clue where they were coming from.  I even stuffed the chimney full of newspaper, as Kenny thought that was where they were coming from.  Didn't help.  At the time, I was in the lounge a lot as I was feverishly finishing the thesis.  Or working on it, anyway.  I was already stressed.  It didn't help that these flies were making me even more twitchy.  I was cursing and couldn't sit still... they were making me mad.  Crazy.  Insane.

We didn't have a flyswat, either.  Just a rolled up pieces of newspaper.  And lots of smears of dead flies on the windows.  And carasses on the floor.  I swept up dozens every day, from my murderous rampages.  I couldn't help it.  It was justifiable flyicide, I swear.

We found out months later that it was because there were dead pigeons in the gutters around the flat above us.  Did they get in through the lack of skirting board?  I don't know, but that's what I suspect.  Cos they weren't getting in the chimney, once I blocked it up.  Still, they eventually died out.  Thank God.  I couldn't take much more.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Thesis-Writing Picnic

We haven't had as great a summer as last year, but we've had some wonderful days.  This was one of them.

I honestly can't remember what else was going on, or why I was dressed up.  Maybe it was just because it was so gorgeous... either way, I wound up meeting Liz at her office in the afternoon.  I loaded up some goodies-- coffee, kool-aid, chocolate, snacks-- and took two blankets down so we could sit in her office back garden to study.  It was way too nice to be inside.  So we sat and lounged around in the secret garden, soaking up the sun and the coffee, and even getting some work done.  It was so warm, we actually had to move to the shade after a while. I've been jealous enough of Liz's office, but this was the final straw.  Luckily she's nice enough to have let me work in her attic office as well as in her back garden office.  Not to mention Khyber Pass nights in the common room....

Monday, 20 September 2010

New Title

It's not 'Dame', but I'll take it. 

From now on:  I'm known as The Doctor.  You can call me The Doctor. 

Hahahaha.  I love a good Doctor Who reference. 

But seriously.  I passed my viva this morning, with minor corrections.  So it's not completely and totally officially over til I get those done, but hey.  Close enough. 

Finally. 

And no, I don't want to talk about it right now.  I want to go to sleep.  It's been a long day.  =D

Thanks for the party, Beckers and Lynch!  And thanks for your support and prayers and celebrations for me today, everyone. 

Sunday, 19 September 2010

A Haiku

Sunny hillfoot walk
like poetry in motion
inspires this 'hi, coo!'


I wrote this haiku for Paige.  Because she said I should.  When we were walking along the path at the base of the Hillfoots from Alva to Menstrie, to see the Highland Coos.  I mean, cows.  It was our last day in Alva for the Eurovision trip, and we were enjoying the nice nearly-summer weather and the middle-of-nowhere nature.  I took quite a few photos, which you can find here.  It was a great way to round off our weekend out of Aberdeen.  It's always hard to come back to the Granite City for this. 

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Pleasure Princesses

While at Paige's place, there are far more touristy places we can get to than from Aberdeen.  Since we all four have Historic Scotland memberships, we decided to take advantage of that fact, and we headed out to spend the day at Linlithgow, formerly the royal pleasure palace.

It was fabulous.

They have the oldest working fountain in Scotland (or maybe all of Britain, I can't remember for sure), and it's a wedding-cake style with loads of carved figures.  They also have lots and lots of staircases, some of which now lead nowhere.  We definitely got our exercise that day.  The view from the top is worth the climb, though.

We popped into the local kirk, which is also lovely (except for it's bizarre metal spire, that's supposed to represent the crown of thorns but is, in fact, just plain ugly).  Even better, there was a rehearsal going on for the National Youth choir (or something like that... I can't remember their exact name).  It was amazing.  They had a great repertoire-- many of which I knew, which made it great, of course.  =)

We ruled that palace, we four pleasure princesses.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Eurovision in Alva!

After our day spent in Narnia, we went back to the wee flat for fish 'n chips and ice cream and wine... and EUROVISION!!

If you are not familiar with Eurovision, then I'd say you haven't yet lived.  It's an international European song contest.  Each nation has their own contests to find the song they are going to enter, and then there are qualifiers, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finally, the Finals.  The country that won the previous year hosts the next year's contest-- this year, it was in Norway.  My flatmate was there.  We looked for him in the crowd, but didn't see him.  Anyway.  Each country performs their song, and everyone at home phones in to vote for their favourite.  Then the popular votes from each country are paired with 'professional' rankings from each country, to decide how many votes each act receives.  After all the performances, they actually go through calling every country to get their votes, and keep the tally live on tv.  It's all very exciting.  And someone wins.  And then they sing again.  And then that's it until next year.

It really is quite an experience.  If you ever live in Europe, or any of the other countries that aren't in Europe exactly but are included in the mayhem, then you must watch it.  Or just check out some of the previous entries on YouTube.  You won't regret it.

This was our second annual Eurovision party--both times held in Paige's flat, although last year it was in Aberdeen.  She was thrilled that last year's winner got to perform again... as you can tell by the excited expression on her face.  We all could hardly contain ourselves.  It was good times, for sure.  As always, the photos can be found here, at the very end. 

This is the 2009 winner, who Paige loves:


This is the 2010 winner, who actually deserved to win:


Seriously.  Check out some of the videos out there.  You won't regret it, unless you are looking for actual good music.  But for a laugh, you can't beat them!  =D

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Narnia, aka Stirling University

Who knew?  ;)

The three of us girlies in Aberdeen went down in late May to visit Paige in Alva-- largely so we could all watch Eurovision together (more on that tomorrow).  Since none of us had really seen much of her new uni, we forced her to take us on a tour-- which was great, because she hadn't seen most of it, either.  =)

Stirling University is a fairly new Scottish university, all things considered, and the architecture leaves much to be desired.  The setting, however, is breathtaking.  We'd all noticed it on the bus between Stirling and Alva, but none of us had wandered around it.  We had gorgeous weather, and needed to be home in time for Eurovision, so it was a perfect day to wander in the great outdoors on campus.  The postbox says it's Narnia, and we believed it!  We found lots of gorgeousness, hidden glens and cottages, tumble-down cemetaries, and more.

After spending time out on campus, Paige showed us around her office and her building.  They have a great collection of Scottish art... which wasn't there.  Ha.  They had several things up in other places, and we got to enjoy it.  Plus Paige showed us the window she gets to design in the entryway with all the other art, when it's at home.  And her office... dang.  Bunnnies galore cavorting just outside, and a view of the Wallace Monument.  Lovely.  Makes being in the office not so bad when you have beauty and distration so readily available.  ;)

And we had a good time with each other.  Although I'm sure you can't tell that from the photos.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

What Not To Wear?

Right, friends.  I need some help.  What should I wear to my viva?  My sister has told me I dress like a grandma.  Luckily I've got friends with great fashion sense who give me clothes they don't wear often.  So I have choices... I just don't know what goes together, or what goes with me.  So I need your help. 

Here are the options (or mix and match between what I put together, because I can't be bothered to take photos of every single permutation):
 These trousers are a little itchy.  They're linen, but they feel like wool.  And they show off what my grandma always refers to as my 'child-bearing hips'.  She means it as a positive thing.  I think.  I would not wear them with a shirt tucked in like this, though... that was just to show the trousers. 
Those are all the same trousers... just different shirts.  Obviously. 
Please ignore the fact that I'm wearing a green tank that doesn't really go with everything.  I do have different colours, and will match them appropriately to whatever I end up wearing.  I just couldn't be bothered with changing all my undergarments everytime. 
Modelling is obviously not my calling in life. 
I'm not really as mad as I look... the dang cat kept getting in the way and knocking over my camera.  It's not easy to do this all with a self-timer. 
This is a skirt.  A long, slinky, floor-length skirt. 
Yes.  I need to iron half these things.  I just couldn't be bothered doing it first, and besides, the iron and board are in Kenny's room.  So pretend I'm nicely pressed, please.
Same linen trousers as above, but different brown shirt here and below. 
These are fuzzy velvety trousers.  I like them.  They feel nice. 
That skirt is purple.  Like, a very nice plum.  It's lovely, although it doesn't come out so well in these amateurish photos.  That photographer isn't getting a pence for them. 
Clothes sizes crack me up.  This skirt is a 12, and it fits better than some of the 14s and 16s above.  And that's not because they are too big, either.  Weird.
I also have an orange shirt that matches this:
For this and the next dress, I do have sweaters to wear over them.  It's not quite that warm here anymore. 
This is probably my favourite dress I've owned in years.  I love it.  Love it, love it, love it.  But that doesn't mean it's right for this.  I just have to make it an option.  =)
Ignore the jeans;  it's the top I'm adding into the mix.  Cos I like it. 

So.  What's the call?  What should I wear?  And what should I never, ever put on again and find a new home for immediately?  If there is something like that, I need to know it.  I can take it.  Just be nice.  =)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Muppet References Galore!

I can't help but sing when I'm on the move...

'Moving right along, dug-a dun dug-a dun, footloose and fancy-free...'

I was singing this to myself a lot on the way to and from my Edinburgh mini-break.  And then on the way home, it was this one:

'Someday we'll find it, the Rainbow Connection--the lovers, the dreamers and me.'

The photos might not be great, but the views truly were.  Whether it's from bus window or train window, wherever in the country I'm headed, Scotland takes my breath away with its gorgeousness.  The skies, even when cloudy and rainy, are always dramatic.  When the sun comes out, the colours couldn't be more vibrant.  And it's always green.  Always.  I love the beauty of this wee corner of the world.  My pictures of it are here, if you want to see what I'm talking about.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Mini-Break and Maxi-Dog

Way back in May, I took a long weekend for a mini-break to stay with Paige.  This time, though, she wasn't in Alva... she was in Auld Reekie.  The Capitol.  Edinburgh.

Nope, she didn't move.  She has a friend at Stirling Uni who lives in Edinburgh, and has a monster dog.  Hazel.  She's seriously scary... or her tongue is, anyway.  It's faster than the speed of light, I swear.  Other than that, and her need to tear up with her teeth every growing thing she sees, she's a sweet puppy.  So Paige was there flat- and dog-sitting, and as she had just finished a major presentation for uni, she was totally up for a weekend of some fun.  And Papa John's pizza.

Oh, Papa John.  I wish you were here in Aberdeen.  But you aren't.  So I have to go to Edinburgh to get you.  Paige and I had a perfect plan:  delivery.  Because they SAY they deliver.  And there are two different branches.  It's a big city, sure, but not that big, surely.  Ha.  How wrong we were.  They don't deliver to where we were.  Pretty much if you aren't in a one-mile radius of their store, you can't get delivery.  Which is flippin' ridiculous. Our dinner plans were thwarted by their dastardly delivery deviousness... so we went to Waitrose and bought a for-two curry dinner.  It was delish.

The next day we were determined to get our pizza.  We spent the day in the city, at the Elephant House for coffee and studying and wandering around.  Then we walked out to where the PJs is... about a fifteen minute walk from Princes Street.  Not too bad.  The plan: get our pizza take-away to-go and then get a bus back to the flat.  First part worked fine.  Got our pizza (two of them, actually), and headed back to a bus that would take us home.  Part two didn't really work out so well.  Apparently you aren't allowed to take food on a bus.  Really?  Because I see people eating on buses all the time.  But this driver wouldn't let us on.  Grrrrrrr.  Here we are, walking around the capitol in the chilly May evening with two big pizza boxes, not to mention all our other bags.  Now what?!  I was ticked.  Seriously ticked.  Paige decided we'd just get bags to put the pizza in... which we did.  At Whittard's.  She bought a pretty reuseable bag that fit her pizza, and got the sales person to give her the biggest plastic carrier bag they had, which *just* fit my huge pizza.  On the bus we got.  Finally.

By the time we got to the flat, the pizza was no longer hot.  But does that matter?  Not so much.  PJs is just as good cold, and we had a microwave to zap it if we wanted it hot.  What did matter, however, was the fact that they forgot to put in the garlic butter dip. WHAT?!  Oh good grief.  I could not believe it.  On top of the rest of the disaster, that was the final straw.  Papa John, you have some serious making-up to do to me if you want me to love you like I used to.  I'm so disappointed in you.

Other than the pizza debacle, and the monster dog, we wandered around the nice suburb where we were staying.  There's a big private school there that Hogwarts could have been partly modeled on.  And there is a big park with a pond and lots of water birds and a gorgeous view of the city.  We saw swans, and mallards, and other birdies whose names I don't know.  We enjoyed the sunset, and the walk.  It was lovely.

Mostly we just hung out and laughed a lot.  It's just what happens when we get together. 

All of the photos can be found in my All Around Amie site here.  (If for some reason you can't access it, let me know and I'll send you an official invite.  Hopefully it'll just let you in.)

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Catching Up

Over the next few days, I'll try to post about all the things that have happened in the past five months or so.  There have been a lot, but I just haven't taken the time out to share them here.  Partly that was due to the fact that I was pushing to get done with my thesis, and I just didn't take time out for much of anything.  Since submitting, it's been due to my brain being mush and me not wanting to look at the computer for long enough to compose even a short post.  However, I have nothing better to do now, so I'll get back to it.  =)

I won't be putting pictures in very often, because I don't have them on my computer.  They have been uploaded various places, burned to cd, and deleted from my hard drive.  I will put links to where they are in my Shutterfly share site-- All Around Amie.  If you can't access it, let me know and I'll make sure you get an invite from that site itself.  When it gets to a point in time where I have photos on my lappy, I'll put them in again. 

Onward and backward!  =D

Friday, 10 September 2010

Dear Faithful Readers

Hello?  Anyone out there?  *crickets*

C'mon, y'all.  I can see the three of you.  Hello!  Echo...echo...echo...echo

Ha.  I'm such a joker. 

No really. 

Faithful friends and readers, thank you for not giving up on my entirely.  If you are reading this now, you've at least not deleted me from your blogroll.  Thank you for that.  I have had loads of things I've done that I wanted to write about, and loads more things that I *should* write about... but I just haven't had the energy or presence of mind to actually sit down and write.  Maybe it's just a by-product of being done with the thesis-- I have writer's block now.  Better now than then, anyway! 

Anyway.  I just sent out this letter to all my email contacts, so if you're already read it, please feel free to skim or ignore or whatever.  But I just wanted to update everyone on what's going on and what's going off and what's coming up and all that jazz.  So here's the short version of my life right now:

Hi y'all,

I realise that I haven't written an update in years now.  I also realise that I've been very, very remiss in emailing pretty much at all.  For that, I do apologise.  It's not that I don't miss you or think about you or pray for you... it's just that I've been very bad at letting you know that.  Partly I blame writing a PhD thesis.  Partly I blame Facebook (which is where I mostly keep up with people, so if you're on there and want to keep up with me, please find me!).  Partly I blame the time going by faster and faster as I get older so that I hardly notice it's past.  Mostly, though, it's just that I've gotten really bad at taking the time.  I am sorry. 

This note, however, is to let you know that I'm actually finally nearly done with my PhD!  I know, it's been six years.  You can hardly believe it.  Me, neither.  I submitted the monster of 100,000 words (give or take a few) on 2 August, and my viva (defence) is in ten days.  TEN DAYS!!  That's 20 September. Thank goodness it's not the 19th, as that's 'speak like a pirate day'.  I'm betting that would be a little awkward.  ;)  So yup.  A week from Monday at half ten in the morning my time (so the middle of the night for most of y'all), I will meet with two readers-- one from my university and one from another university-- to find out my fate.  I'm nervous, of course.  Who wouldn't be?  But it'll be fine.  I keep telling myself that, anyway.  It'll be fine. 

What happens after that, however, God only knows.  I have hoped to stay in the UK and work for a year or two, and then figure out where I want to go next-- that plan seems to be in some trouble, thanks to the UK bordery agency still not having dealt with my visa extension that I applied for back in April.  Technically now I'm illegal-- but they've had all my documents and application (and my passport, of course....yikes) since then.  I'm not sure if they'll count that against me since it's not my fault or not, so I'm trying to find out whether it will be a total waste of my money to apply for the post-study work visa once the university cuts me loose.  If I haven't heard back from the original visa application by then, that is.  I really want to stay here a while longer... it's home now, after so many years, and I love it.  I have been more myself here than probably any other time or place in my whole life.  I have friends here who are more like family.  I have an unlimited cinema card, and I don't have to have a car.  It fits me, and I'm not ready to leave.  However, I do realise that I might have no choice.  I might get my April visa denied, in which case I won't be able to apply for the other from here.  They might not accept my new application because of the delay in the other, but still would keep the huge application fee.  Financially, it seems safer to just come back to the States... but that's not where my heart is. 

Friends and family, would you please pray with me?  About my viva, that it goes well and I'm not so stressed out that I burst into tears?  Because that isn't unknown.  I know, you're shocked.  I never cry at anything.  =D  And about what happens next, mostly-- not for any specific outcome, but just that I would have a peace about whatever it is that I should do next.  Because right now, I don't have peace about any of my options, for different reasons.  I have no idea what to do next, and I don't feel like I really have 'choices', since so much of what will or won't happen is constrained by things completely out of my control.  I know that God is in control, and that things will work out-- I just don't know how.  And I've been in the dark on this for a loooong time.  I'm really struggling with that now. 

Thank you all so much for your support, love, and prayers over these past few years in Aberdeen.  It has been hard and not always pleasant, but it has also been wonderful and challenging and surprising.  I have learned a lot, about my research, of course, but also about myself.  I can't believe this road is almost over.  I seriously doubted over much of the past two years that this day would ever come.  It felt impossible-- yet here I am.  Thank you for walking it with me, even when you haven't heard from me.  I would love to hear how things are in your world, though, and if there are ways I can be praying for you, please do let me know. 

I'll let you know what happens in ten days.  =D

love,
amie

Thursday, 22 July 2010

And the Winner Is...

I know you are all dying to know what name I choose for my moose friend.  So here's the answer.  Despite many great suggestions, and some that made me absolutely howl with laughter (Moosie Howser, for instance, and David Carmooseo, from my sister), I have thought on it long and hard.  The name that has stuck with me, and seems the most fitting is...

Amoose-bouche! 

For those of you who aren't familiar with where this name comes from, amuse-bouche are a single, bite sized hors d'oeuvre. You can read more about them here.  Considering my love of food, my love of travel (including Paris), and my wee companion, it just seemed such a fitting name.  Becky, you never cease to amaze me with your talents.  =)  I'll get in touch with you about your prize when I have a little more free time... in a week, after I submit. 

Thanks, everyone, for the great suggestions!  And please don't be too disappointed if you didn't win.  =)

Saturday, 19 June 2010

It's Unani-Moose!

The moose has won.  My new companion to me, the soon-to-be Doctor.  Ha ha.  Seriously, though. 

Everyone, please welcome... wait, what's his name? 


That's the question now.  Each of the three of you who voted get a prize, cos I like you.  I'll get with you about what you'd like.  Thanks for your votes and your insights. 

Now, for two weeks, I'll leave open voting for a name for my moose friend.  Voting will close on 3 July at noon est (5pm my time).  He'll remain just moose for the meantime.  Vote in the comments for a name for him, and the winner (based on my own choice alone) will win some kind of fancy-schmancy prize.  Again, we can chat about that when you win. 

Put on your thinking caps and turn on your creativity-- name my moose!  =D

Thursday, 17 June 2010

20(1)0!!

I've had writer's block, knowing this was a milestone post.  200 posts!  That's not too shabby.  Already more posts this year than all of last year.  That's both great and sad, depending on your point of view. 

Since it's a big one, I decided I'd use this opportunity to ask for some help, and do a contest!  The prize will be negotiated with the winner, but it will be something Scottish.  Cos I live in Scotland, of course.  So think about what you want-- cadburys? cheesy t-shirt? digestives? marmalade? tartan scarf? If you win, we'll talk.  =)

Here's what I need.  I need an Inca John.  I need a Flat Stanley.  I need a travel buddy. 

I have a couple of options, and I'd like to put it to a vote.  I also might need a name.  So there will be two parts to this contest-- the first to vote on my travel buddy, which winner will be chosen randomly from all the entrants, and the second one to name him or her.  That one will be merit-based, and my decision will be final.  I hope you can deal with that.  =)

So here are the contestants.  Voting starts immediately, and ends on Saturday at noon EST (which is five pm for me, in case you're wondering).  After the lucky companion is chosen, then I'll post a new contest to name him or her!  Yippee!  I'm so excited! 

Number One: Woody

So Woody already has a name.  He actually talks, too.  No string, you just whack him.  I do love cowboys. 

Number Two: fuzzy bear

Boy or girl? I don't know.  Lots of room to develop personality, I guess. 

Number Three: moose

A gift from Jen and Saum when they were on holiday in Maine a few years ago.  I just think s/he's cute. 

Number Four: Fairtrade Christmas gift boy

Paige got me this wee loon for Christmas because I had been talking about needing a companion.  He's not been with me, or earned a name yet.  This could be the time. 

Number Five: sonic screwdriver

I realise this one could be tricky, but I've liked the idea of a Doctor-themed companion for ages.  Or would I be the Doctor's companion?  Either way.  It's an option. 

I have to have a buddy picked by Saturday so they can accompany me to Glasgow to see Paul McCartney on Sunday.  I mean, what better way to start our travel relationship?! 

Thursday, 20 May 2010

May Babes

There ain't nothing like 'em...
That was then... when the Auntie's job was to get the screaming Mya to sleep (hence lots of shots of sleeping Mya, and some of sleeping Auntie!)  These are now-- in goodies that Auntie has sent, so that I'm still kind of in the pictures:  ;)
Happy Second Birthday, Mya!  Auntie Amie loves you lots!