Monday 31 March 2008

A Big Day

Today is my li'l sister's birthday. It's a big one, an important one, and it's making me feel old to have a sister as old as I do. I was going to write a big long embarrassing post all about Jen... but decided she might kill me. So I'll do that another time, when she's not expecting it. For today, I'll just say, Happy Birthday, sis! Have a great day, celebrate like crazy, and don't even THINK about acting your age!

Now everyone go visit her here. If we all go, it'll be like a cyber-party! =)

And just to embarrass her a little bit....

Seattle... well, Everett, actually

Port St. Lucie, Florida... or somewhere close by there

Inverness, we think... Saum got us lost ;)

In a Scottish pub

Hiding on Orkney

She's gonna kill me for this one....
On the train in to Chicago

At the same place she was kissing the totem
Looking good in Inverness
Looking great on Loch Ness


Somewhere in Montana? Wyoming? Um..... ?

Whack! Somewhere between Seattle and Valparaiso

Awwww.... In my flat!
Awww.... Yeah, I'm really trying to make up for that one earlier. ;)

Happy Birthday, Sister!

Sunday 30 March 2008

I'm a Sucker...

I just feel that I need to confess to this: I'll probably be going to McDonald's several times in the next month. I'll be after fries and drinks, at the very least....

We're playing Monopoly, and I can't resist. =)

I'm much happier when I get the instant win stuff, but today I got two railroads. And then two other random things. I mean, you never know. Stranger things have happened. You can't win if you don't play. All those other cliches.

It's not all bad, though. Coke from the fountain at McDonald's is, in my opinion, the best in the world-- outside of the Coke Museum in Atlanta. And their fries are habit-forming. ;)

Friday 28 March 2008

Does This Look Like Easter To You?!

Winter was really mild. I was really glad for that. Until March showed up.

The first day of spring was last week. And Easter. The time of year that we celebrate resurrection, new life... plants bloom, the sun comes out, and everything is full of, well, life.

What did I get? This.

It was crazy. And it all started on the first day of spring...

That Thursday night, I spent the evening packing grocery bags at Marks & Spencer. For those of you who don't live here, you might not know that we bag our own groceries here. You might, if you get a particularly friendly checker, if you'd like some help packing. But generally, you are on your own. So for fundraisers, places like M&S let you come in and offer to give people a hand packing bags for donations. That evening, I spent three hours visiting with people and reliving my K-Mart employee days. It was excellent, actually. I enjoyed myself, and we made a good bit of cash for my friend Carolyn's eldest daughter Kelsey. She's going for two months this summer to work in Madagascar with Blue Ventures. Check it out; they seem like a really great organisation. Anyway, after we finished at 8, I stopped in at the Vue-- not my normal cinema. There was a film still showing there that wasn't showing at my Cineworld. So after that, the fun really began. I left the cinema and it was cold but dry. I walked two blocks and it started drizzling. Great, I thought. At least I don't have that far to go. By the time I had gone another five or six blocks, it had started snowing-- big fat flakes-- and raining-- big heavy drops-- and wind blowing in my face like mad. Plus it was freezing. Literally. By the time I had walked the final seven or so blocks to my flat, I was drenched. The front of my jeans were soaked clean through, and the wind was so fierce that my hair and scarf were also drenched, despite having my hood pulled as close as I could. I was chilled to the bone, and no wonder! Kenny informed me that it was -2C outside-- below freezing, for sure! The coldest it had been yet. Of course.

Friday and Saturday I stayed inside, working away and watching the wild weather. One minute, it was like a blizzard. Twenty minutes later, the sun would be back out. Snow, sun, snow, sun. For days on end, that's what we had. Snow building up on the streets and everything, then enough sun to melt some of it off. What happened to spring?!

Sunday morning, I got up to get ready for church. The sun was shining, so I was hopeful that I could dress up a little for the occasion, even wear a skirt. By the time I was ready to get dressed, however, it was snowing. Again. So I wore pants. And long johns. And wool socks. Not the kind of Easter outfit I'm used to, let me tell you. Luckily it was powdery snow on my way to church, so I was cold and had to watch my step on the slushy, frosty pavements... but I was mostly dry when I got there. Church was fine, but it made me really miss Pulaski First. Crown Terrace has some great things about it, but every Sunday is about the same. Low-key, and... just the same. So it was fine, and good to visit with people, but that's about all. Anyway, we could see that it was really come down by coffee hour, and I had a lunch to be at...

The picture of me, outside my church, is Easter Sunday. Crazy, huh? I walked in that-- more big fat flakes, pretty but very wet-- back to my flat to pick up a big ole jug of sweet tea, and then I made my way over to the Brocks' flat. They live down past uni, which is as far past my flat as my church is in the other direction. A twenty minute walk, easy. I was lucky that at least part of the time, the sun was out. Not that it mattered much... it was so cold! And slippey. Yes, I meant to say slippey, that's not a mistype of slippery, in case you were wondering. =) Anyway, I made it to Steph and Brian's eventually for our buffet lunch. There were a load of us there-- the Odles, the Prathers, the Ramirezes, Lo and me... and the kiddies, of course. We ate, and talked, and watched the weather. It was nice to hang out with folks, and this was a different group than I'm usually with, which made things interesting. I headed home about four, and I honestly don't remember what I did the rest of the day. Watched tv? Read? Snuggled up by the fire? Who knows. The main thing was, I stayed warm.

On Monday, it was still so cold and snowy out that this is what I did all day:

Yup, that's right. Snuggled up with hot water bottles. The nice velvety purple one is thanks to Kenny-- part of my Christmas gift. The blue fuzzy thing at my feet is the other one I have... and as my feet are always cold anyway, and heat rises, and all that stuff, I needed it there. Put my feet on top of it, and all of it on top of the blanket, which I then wrap back up and around my legs. It keeps the chill out a bit, thankfully. Especially when I'm at my desk... but that's another post entirely. The weather was worse on Monday than it had been any other day, partly because it was consistently colder than it had been. How can that be, you might ask. I wondered that myself. Global warming, my foot! But I had to get out that evening, despite the snowy, icy, slushy, slippey, awful pavements. Despite the below-freezing temperatures. Despite the snow and wind and generally yuckiness. I had to: it was book club night. But not just any book club, no sirree!

Sara Conrad was back in town.

Who, I hear you asking, is Sara Conrad? Well, only one of our original book clubbers, and a great lady. She is in town for a couple of weeks with her son, who is visiting Alex, Carolyn's youngest. The boys were the best of friends, so Sara came back to visit. And for book club! How awesome is that?! And, since it was Steph's birthday this week, and she was hosting, we had a little dinner for us *original* gals... those of us still around, anyway. It was lovely. Steph, Carrie, Carolyn, Sara and I ate and sipped wine and laughed and just generally enjoyed each other's company for nearly two hours. I cannot even begin to describe how great it was. I'm at that point now where I am not really interested in meeting new people or making new friends... I just want to keep my head down and plow through my last bits of work. And enjoy the friends I already have. So spending a very pleasant evening with *old friends* (which is funny, since I've only been in Aberdeen three and a half years) was amazing. Worth the snow. Worth the wind. Worth the cold. Worth almost wiping out on the pavements. A few times. Worth it all. Totally. And then we had book club! Which actually only added one person to our group, as everyone else bailed. Or something. But that was okay, cos we all like Betsy. =) And I honestly like book club a whole lot better when there are only five or six of us... so I was loving the whole evening. I recommend reading 'The Age of Innocence', in case anyone is wondering. After all that, Betsy dropped me off so I didn't have to walk home in the vast frozen wasteland of Aberdeen at 10pm, thank goodness!

The rest of this week-- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday-- I have pretty much spent planted at my desk. No cinema. Little tv. Lots of sweet tea. And coffee. And chocolate... but that's another story. Only one day I got out-- Thursday I went to the post office (Jen and Mom, keep an eye out for parcels next week) and met Kristianna for coffee. And got Subway for dinner. But other than that I've been chained to my desk. Which will be discussed later... I'm tired of staring at a computer screen. Occupational hazard, I suppose.

So, all that random run-down of my Easter week and a bit... I'm not sure there was much point to it, except to make you miss being here in Aberdeen for our winter weather. =) It's still pretty cold out. And today it was cloudy and rainy... but at least it's stopped snowing!

Tuesday 25 March 2008

The Sun'll Come Out....

Tomorrow! Or at least I hope so... it's been a freezing, snowy and wet several days. And I've gotten waylaid by weather and social events and working... so I'm a day behind in my one-a-week posting. But a real post'll have to wait for the sun to come out again, or at least until tomorrow, ha! Sorry... but check back in, I'll even have photos! =)

Happy Easter!

edit: This is for you, Jen! ;)

Monday 17 March 2008

Random Thoughts

I realised that I am cutting it close on my one post a week resolution... so this is a stop-gap measure only. I have ideas for things to write about, but I don't have the energy or time to take them up just now. So here is a random collection of things I've done and things I've thought recently.

Spring Cleaning: is it really 'spring' cleaning if the weather is still horrible outside? I have been distracted and unable to focus for the past few days, so I decided that yesterday was The Day. I went through and cleaned my room-- repacked old stuff, reorganised my boxes, got things straightened up. I expected it to make a difference in my outlook; I didn't expect it to actually do any good to my room. But I was surprised at how I somehow made more room for myself... or at least made it feel like it! If you've been in my room here, you'll know it's basically a glorified closet. So even the illusion of space is nice. Whew.

Cheating: is it cheating on my Lenten fast from my internet addictions if I respond to friends requests on Facebook? I haven't been on for anything else, and most of the email notifications I just delete without even reading. But I have received a few friend requests, and I logged in to accept them. And then closed out, without so much as a glance at all the other things that must be piling up. I just hate when I send one out, and then months later it gets accepted. It makes me think that that person must not really want to be my friend, if they had to think about it for so long. I didn't want my friends to have to wait and wonder and worry. I'm so nice. ;) Oh, and I did send a message to someone through Facebook... a friend from college, who I have not seen or heard from in close to a decade (eeek!) poked me. I couldn't believe it when I saw the name... and as I don't have any other way to contact them, I logged in and sent them a message. But basically that's just email, right? And I would have emailed them if I had known where to send it. So is this all really cheating? I don't think so. I think I'm doing very well. =)

Bananas: Why do their skins get thinner as they ripen? What happens to them? Does it get absorbed into the fruit somehow? Evaporate into the atmosphere? Slough off like old skin? What is going on there?

Postage: I'm sick of the cost of postage. Well, the postage to send things overseas, anyway. From the US, you can't even send me stuff by surface mail anymore... it all has to come air mail. Which is more expensive. And I can't send things to you that weigh more than 2kg without paying an arm and a leg. It only costs an arm if it's under 2kg. I can send stuff surface mail (delivery times of 4-6 weeks, if I'm lucky) for half the cost of air mail (which sometimes arrives within a week), but is it worth it to wait that long? And even then, it's not cheap. Why must they gouge us so badly? This is just not fair.

Internet: Our internet is currently out, as I'm typing this. So I'll post this whenever it comes back on. I love our internet, because we have wireless broadband, and it's free with out phone plan. But I hate our internet, because it goes out a lot. I don't think it's the fault of the internet, and I know it's not the router. It's our crappy cheap-arse service provider. Sorry for the language, but they really make me angry. It just... disappears. And sometimes it doesn't even show that we have a phone connection, which is what makes me sure it's our provider. Our phone service is usually okay, but it has its moments, as well. And its bugs. I love technology, and without the internet I wouldn't be able to keep in touch with most people... and sure wouldn't be posting these deep and thought-provoking blogs, ha. But when it doesn't work.... Grrrr!

Tuesday 11 March 2008

In Like a Lion...

I remember learning this little saying about the month of March as a kid-- and this March it is proving it is true!

Our winter here has been, thankfully and surprisingly, pretty mild. It's been chilly, but nowhere near as cold as consistently as I have come to expect. And we have had very little of another little joy I associate with winter here-- wind! It has been said that the wind in Aberdeen is a lazy one: it can't be bothered to go around you, so it goes straight through you. Boy oh boy is that the truth! Sometimes, it's so strong that I can't move forward against it... I just lean into it, and then topple over when it dies suddenly. =) There have been disturbing stories, as well, about the wind blowing people into traffic when it gusts up and I have been on the receiving end of those gusts, so I believe it! I try to stay as far from the street as I can, just in case.

The winter, as I said, has been pretty mild, but so far March has been wild! It's been colder and windier than the rest of the winter all together. And yesterday was the worst. It was horrible! And we got off easy here; down south in England and Wales they were hammered with gale force winds, lashing rain AND flooding. I just had cold, rain and wind... but that was more than enough, thank you very much. I wish I could share with you just what it's like, being out in that... but I can't. I guess you'll just have to imagine, ha. I have a few of Barb's pictures from when we spent one very windy day out around Torry Battery last June, and I think there are some pictures that might do it justice. =)

Yes, I'm wearing a hat in June-- it was so cold that day, but nothing near what it was yesterday. And the sky wasn't this blue at all. It was all grey and rain slanting in sideways and miserable. But I don't have a picture handy to show that... and these pictures only give you a very dim glimpse as to what the wind was like. Imagine this, but worse. Seriously.

I can only hope that the second half of the phrase is as true as the first... so I'll keep you posted. ;)

Saturday 8 March 2008

A Photo Tribute for Women's Day

These are just some of the amazing women in my life... and I am so blessed by you all! For those of you who aren't pictured here, it's only because I don't have photos of you. Thanks for all you are, and all you do!

Gentlemen, Your Attention Please!

Do you know what today is? Yes, it's Saturday-- but 8 March is an International Holiday that, for some strange reason, the US doesn't celebrate or recognise anymore. I hope that after reading this, however, YOU will. =)

Today is International Women's Day. Yippee!

What does that mean, you ask? Simply put, today is the day set aside to honour women-- not because of some particular role they fill, but for all that we have done, and all that we are, as women. It began as a political event back in 1909, pushing for women's rights, and since then we still have a lot to commemorate and to push for. Women's rights have come a long way in the West, but it's not that way everywhere. We tend to not want to think about how badly off many women are in many cultures (and sometimes even within oppressive traditions in our own), or about how much women have given to bring us to where we are today. I'm not talking just about the Madame Curies or the Susan B. Anthonys, but about the nameless millions of women who have worked and supported their loved ones and countries through wars and tough times, who have fought for better conditions for themselves and others, who have tirelessly and often thanklessly done what needed to be done, whatever that might be and wherever it might be needed. This isn't just a thing of the past; it is still going on today-- in our homes, our churches, our communities, our businesses, our country and our world. Even if the rest of the year our contributions are underpayed, underappreciate and unnoticed, it seems right to me that one day a year we get a chance to be recognised. This shouldn't be 'just another holiday', even if it has degenerated into a Valentines/Mother's Day kind of celebration. I have heard tell that in some countries (like Russia, for instance), women are given flowers and chocolate-- even by complete strangers! Not that I would complain about that, ha!

Perhaps it's because I'm an academic and a theologian, thus putting me squarely in the middle of a male-dominated world and tradition. Perhaps it's because I'm not a wife or a mother, and am strong and independent and single. Perhaps it's because I am a feminist in many ways. But it seems to me, gentlemen, that too often you fellows take girls like me for granted, or worse, don't notice me at all. Obviously you who are reading this, my friends, aren't like that or you wouldn't be MY friend, ha. But what about the other women in your life? Not just your sweeties or your mums (they already have holidays to recognise them for those roles)-- but your teachers, your colleagues, your friends, your sisters, aunts, and cousins? There are lots of women out there doing amazing things, and not always in the spotlight, so to speak. So I want to encourage you today, and over the next couple of days as you read this, to do something to make them feel special. Take a moment and let those ladies know that you appreciate them. And why you appreciate them.

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you courtesy of True Aim. =)

Friday 7 March 2008

Going Bananas!

Or more accurately, my bananas are going... off, that is. This always happens to me, and then I have to find good recipes to use them up. Not that I mind so much, actually. I easily eat a banana a day (I don't know if this does much for keeping the doctor away, or if apples just have a better agent, ha) and have found some nice recipes to put them in... as well as some fun little videos. I love fun little videos, in case you hadn't noticed. =)

So first off, we have the best banana bread recipe I've made so far. I keep trying new ones from different books and such, but this one is my fave-- very dark and moist, with a good flavour. It's from *The Fanny Farmer Cookbook*:


3 ripe bananas, well mashed
2 eggs, well beaten
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan. Mix the bananas and eggs together in a large bowl. Stir in the flour, sugar, salt and soda. Ad the walnuts and blend. Put the batter in the pan and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the pan to a rack. Serve still warm or cooled, as you like it.

Ahhh, a classic! It still makes me laugh. I need to get that film.... =) Next up of the recipes is what I have baking right now: banana and raisin bake, from Hamlyns of Scotland Porridge Oats. (The recipe came right off the back of the bag, yay!) It sounds good for you, right? I mean, oats and banana and raisin, what could be unhealthy about that? Well, read on! ;)


250g (10oz) Porridge Oats (you can use Quaker just the same)
150g (6oz) margarine
100g (4oz) soft brown sugar
75ml (3T) golden syrup (basically, pancake syrup)
2 soft bananas, mashed
2.5ml (1/2t) cinnamon
50g (2oz) raisins

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Melt margarine. Add sugar and syrup. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the dry ingredients. Add banana, and mix thoroughly. Turn mixture into a well-greased Swiss Roll tin (I don't have one, so I just use a cake pan and it seems to work fine). Bake for 20-25 minutes; cool and cut into squares.

Gotta love Sesame Street... and I have to work the Muppets in somewhere; it's always a good time for the Muppets! Kids love the Muppets, and kids love cookies... which leads me to my final recipe of this post-- banana spice cookies! These are from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, and were a BIG HIT at my book club in January.


1/2 cup margarine or butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 t baking powder
1 t vanilla
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t baking soda
1/8 t ground cloves
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Beat margarine with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add about half of the flour, the sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, soda and cloves. Beat till thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour. Beat in bananas. Stir in nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons 2" apart onto a greased cookie sheet (yes, the batter is supposed to be thin). Bake in a 375F oven for 8-10 minutes or till edges are lightly browned. Cool cookies on a rack. Frost with Butter Frosting (below). Makes 60.

Butter Frosting (I made half the recipe, and it was pretty close to enough)

1/3 cup butter or margarine
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 t vanilla

In a bowl beat butter till fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the 1/4 cup milk and vanilla. Slowly beat in the remaining sugar. Beat in additional milk, if needed, to make of spreading consistency. Tint with food colouring, if desired. Frosts tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch cake layers.

Well, that's all I've got for now. I'll leave you with the munchies after all this talk of good food, and with one of my favourite childhood Nickelodeon memories... after Danger Mouse, of course. This is the first episode, and it's only five minutes. Proof that bananas are as good for you as spinach... enjoy! ;)

Wednesday 5 March 2008


Okay, I know the video is random, but it's funny and it kind of relates-- this song has been running through my head on and off since Sunday.

Why this song, you ask? Well, because I have been running a fever since Sunday. Not a very high one... right around a degree (which, incidentally, puts me just about *normal* for most people, ha). It's annoying me. I don't have any other complaints, so I don't feel sick (except for headaches, but those come from staring at books and computer screens and stressing and not drinking enough coffee and....)... but it does affect me. Makes me feel more tired than usual, and kind of glazed over (not in the good way, like a Krispy Kreme doughnut, either!), and I have to work harder to keep focused on anything. So work is moving pretty slowly. I called the doctor, and since it's not very high and I don't have any other specific complaints, they can't work me in until next week at the earliest. Gotta love socialised health care, ha! Anyway, I've been taking paracetemol, which brings it down for a while, but it always goes back up. I had a similar problem at Christmas, but then it ranged between a degree high and a degree low-- at one point, we figured out that an ME would have found I'd been dead for about an hour. =)

Basically, I'm just griping. Just thought I'd share. And I'll leave you with one more song that's been running through my head, as well... for the same reason as the first, and because I just like this guy. Well, his music, anyway... his personal life is another story. But enjoy, just the same! =)

Monday 3 March 2008

One Down....

In a brief AI update, there is now one less *cheater* to worry about-- the Britney-touring pop-group member turned wanna-be rocker: bye-bye, Robbie. Better luck next time.


And would someone vote for our young David for me? I can't vote, not being in America and all. But I sure do want him to win. =)