Wednesday 28 May 2008


I just need to vent a little... and maybe someone out there will be able to tell me what the heck is going on....

I can't see my own blog. Or anyone else's blog, who is with Blogger. I am logged in fine, I can post (obviously), I can edit my page things (like books I've read), I can access every single freakin' thing... except my blog. I can't link to it through my dashboard, I can't go directly there by typing in the address, I can't get to it from external links like on Facebook. Neither can I read my sister's blog, or Barb's blog, or any of my other friends' blogs. Well, almost none of them-- because they are almost all here, on blogger!

I just get a 'problem loading page-- connection timed out error'. Every. Single. Time. For two whole days! (Which, yes, means that I haven't actually seen the one I posted yesterday. I didn't even know if it had posted, until y'all started commenting. Sheesh.) My internet is fine, every other page loads just fine, and there are no other problems at all... just with seeing blogs. Which is highly aggravating!

So I just needed to share that. Because I'm ticked, and Blogger is being of no help at the moment. Bah! =(

Tuesday 27 May 2008

So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish

If I were doing a *Life. Is. Not. Fair* series, this would be the third time's a charm. But I'm not... officially, anyway.

Well, it's happened again. And I don't like it any more this time than I have the other times. Okay, I like the stuff. I like stuff. But if I only get stuff because my friends are leaving, then I would happily do without the stuff. Sheesh.

Yup. Another couple of friends have gone and abandoned me. And left me with some goodies. Which I guess is a parting gift for me, or something like that.

No, the stuff isn't fish. The only fish I have currently is one frozen breaded cod fillet in the freezer, and one can of tuna in the cupboard... and I bought both of them myself. But that's the quote that keeps going through my head when I think about this phenomenon of being abandoned by friends who leave goodies behind with me. Ten points to the first person who can name the source! =D

Why am I talking so much about the stuff? Well, because I don't want to think about my friends leaving. But I will. In relation to the stuff they left me.

What kind of goodies have I gotten? Well, the first time (when the Cornells left me abruptly) I got about two tons of food, a coffee grinder (oh yeah, Rich knows Kenny and I pretty well), clothes for myself and my bubbee, great toys and books for my bubs as well, and I bought off them a computer and desk and chair and roll-out bed and a bunch of other stuff that I can't remember right now. It was quite a haul... but that still didn't make up for my family leaving me (even though I was happy for them, because they felt it was the right move). =( The next time, it was Barb. Mean old Barb, refusing to transfer to Aberdeen to finish her PhD with me. I just don't understand that. ;) But that time, I got linens and electricals and boots and other stuff that I'm forgetting now as well. Sheesh, I have a terrible memory, apparently! So again, good stuff-- but did it make up for me losing my sistah and sightseeing buddy and personal photographer? No, it didn't. This time, I racked up on the kitchen ware-- Corel and Pyrex cooking dishes (with lids!) and another good bit of food and baking supplies-- from Hannah and Cam. But just because I can use those dishes to make good Southern cooking (which we all enjoyed together) doesn't make me miss them any less.


In the next few months, more and more and more of my friends are leaving. I guess it's that time... I've been here for going on four years now, and most of the people that I started with (and who I have gotten to know well over the past few years) are either finished already or are finishing up soon. Even my supervisor and his family are leaving for a sabbatical in the States! I'm not looking forward to this mass exodus, even as I am celebrating with my friends their new beginnings-- babies, jobs, new adventures of all kinds in all kinds of places. At least I'll have loads of places to stay when I want to travel. ;)

And I have to admit... as much as I am dying to go home asap to see my new niece and my bubbee, part of me wants to be around here for the farewells to my friends. Who knows when I'll see them again, if ever? (I try not to think of that too much, actually) I have had one set of friends who left while I was home (that would be Tom and Sarah), and I'm not sure if that makes it easier or not. It makes it easier to be in denial about it, anyway. ;) So while I am not by any stretch of the imagination putting off finishing just to stick around here this summer, there would be some good things about still being here for a few months-- like spending as much time as I can with my dearly departing friends (tee hee), and seeing all the summer films for practically free with my Unlimited Card. Sad, but true. =D

I suppose I should look at all these times of leave-taking and new beginnings and so forth as part of being a pilgrim in this world, as new opportunities to make new friends, as times of celebration for having known and been blessed by these relationships for whatever amount of time. It's not easy, though. It's still hard. I don't like it. Even though I am as much to blame for the leaving people to pursue my own calling, I hate the good-byes. And I hate how never-ending it feels, like this cycle will never be broken, and I'll forever be saying hellos (and putting time and energy and emotion and effort into making new friends) as well as good-byes.

I guess I should just stop making friends, stop caring about people, stop being in relationships at all. That's the only way I can think of to keep this from happening, to keep from being heart-broken and devastated at no longer seeing my friends on a regular basis, to not cry regularly over the people I miss.

Yeah, right. Like that's gonna happen! =D

Monday 19 May 2008

Life. Is. Not. Fair.

I started to call this *It Just Ain't Right, Take Two*, which also would have been appropriate, but this seemed, I don't know, better. Or more right. Something.

Anyway. I know that life is not fair. I know that we can't always get what we want (but sometimes, we do get what we need... which is not the point of this post). I know that missing out on things is character building, and God works in mysterious ways, and blah blah blah. I know all that. But still, it doesn't make things like this easy to swallow.

My sister is lucky. I mean it. This week, she was nearly $1000 lucky. That's pretty dang lucky. Me? I'm not lucky. And it's just not right. I mean, listen to this:

Jen would often forward me recipes from The Pioneer Woman. She's got some good stuff. Check it out, seriously. So one day, I got hooked on her Confessions, especially about her cowboy love story (another case of *life is not fair*, and *where the heck is my cowboy?*, but that's not the story I'm telling right now). I've now been reading her highly addictive blog-- life on the ranch, plus cookery, plus photography, plus whatever else she feels like writing about-- for a few months now. For longer than my sister. She only used some of her recipes, occasionally. It took her a while to start reading the real stuff, as well. So I was there first. Remember that.

Well, two weeks ago, the Pioneer Woman celebrated her two-year blogaversary. She does a load of give-away contests as it is, but she had a boat-load during the blogaversay (my word, not hers). Stuff on each of her four areas. I entered every one. One a day, for a week. But I didn't win. *sigh*

So then last week, she has another give-away on her cooking part. And I enter. Again. Of course. Because I always enter, even though I never win anything. Then I wait. And wait. And wait. For, like, three days. Which is forever, when I'm waiting to see if I've won a fantastic KitchenAide mixer dealie. Forever, I tell ya.

Then, one day, I'm innocently chatting away on Yahoo Messenger with my sister. And I decide to check in on PW and see if there's a winner yet. Lo and behold, there is! I see this:


I say to myself, self, that's your sister. Even though there are probably hundreds of Jennifers who entered, I just know it. Then I read on, to see Jennifer #7880's entry (the topic was favourite fast food). Not just any Jennifer now-- it's Jennifer B. And I say to myself, self, that's her. It is. I just know it. So I read on, because I can't stop myself, and this Jennifer B. #7880 just loves Mrs. Winner's chicken biscuits, apparently, which she can't get in her neck of the woods. Dang. That settles it. I go back to my IM conversation with my sister, and say

MEAN!! How could you not tell me?

What? She says, all innocent-like. I just tell her to go to PW. Now. Mean.

She's all, like, oh, wow, did I win? Nooooo, I say. Of course not, I say. Sheesh. Mean.

And STILL the excitement from her winning this fantabulous expensive piece of culinary equipment wasn't enough to send her into labour. Oh well. But that's not the point.

The point is, I'm happy for her. Really. I am. But I'm jealous. Not that I could have brought that monster over here, anyway, but... I wanted to win. I never win. At least I get a consolation prize-- her old pistachio green KitchenAide (thanks, Jen!). So that's something. This time. But I am just not the person who wins, who gets things handed to her, who things just work out for. I know that I wouldn't be where I am, doing what I'm doing, or even be the person I am today without God's help. I'm not trying to slight that at all, or say that I've done everything on my own. That's just not true. But I do feel a bit like the labourer who has been working all day long, and then the guys who only worked an hour get the same pay as me. I struggle with that, when I work my bum off and get nothing-- like my financial aid situation, where I applied for everything I could find, and got squat. And other people I know just seem to have money thrown at them. Not literally, of course, but it feels that way. Not just money, but lots of things feel this way to me: jobs, opportunities, even silly contest prizes. Of course I am happy for my friends who get all these great things, and I know that they don't get everything they want, either. But when I see things work out so easily and effortlessly for other people, and never for me, it gets frustrating. I know that God loves me, and that things will work out-- and that the fact that I do have to work for what I feel called to, and what I want, will make me stronger and appreciate it more and all that. That it's not a sign of His favour or disfavour to get or not get these windfalls or whatever you want to call them. I know that. But sometimes, it's hard. It makes me feel... like there must be something wrong with me, with my walk with God, even though I know that is ridiculous. *sigh* I guess we all have things we struggle with, and apparently this is one of mine.

Still, though. Congrats, Jen! I can't wait to use that monster when I get there..... =D

Thursday 15 May 2008

It Just Ain't Right....

This is my friend Lizzie (on the end, next to my friend Carolyn). She's having a baby soon. Yay!

We had a baby shower for her last night at church. It was grand! I made tiramisu (from scratch, and yes, it was fantastic), and everyone else brought desserts, as well. We had music and visiting, photos and food, gifts and games. We had to taste and name the baby food, submit names for the baby, and guess how big mummy's tummy is. We used toilet paper, which I think gives a little too much leeway. We should have used yarn... because maybe then I wouldn't be in this predicament.

I mean, I know I am, um, curvy. I have big hips. And I'm not the most slender of girls, sure. But still... it just ain't right. Lizzie, she is eight and a bit months pregnant, and she's ten squares around. I am not at all pregnant, and I'm nine squares. How is that fair?!

That's just wrong. Seriously. But at least I won the prize for that game... Costa coffee! So something good came out of that embarrassment. I am never, ever again going to be tempted to compare.... =D

Other than that, it was a fun time. Lizzie was surprised, we got to celebrate her, and the boys watched the Big Game at the pub. A success all 'round, I'd say. Except for my girth.

Oh, and here are the pictures from the cookout last weekend:
Iain, Cam, and Sean making fire... trying desperately to keep the little grills going in the windy dampness. They succeeded, thanks to a run to get more charcoal and lighter fluid. =)
This is Jayne, Hannah, and me. See the big glass Jayne has? We kept 'em full of wine. Yum!
What a good lookin' group! That's me, Lizzie, Hannah and Jayne.

The whole crew of the evening... Ben, Iain, Sean and Cam in back; me, Lizzie, Jayne and Hannah up front. And the wee Reynolds one, just waiting to come out and play! =D

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Grinning Like a Fool

Yes, yes I am. And have been for a few hours now. I just can't stop. I was getting ready to curl up in bed and finish my book, but I just have to share this. I just have to. You wanna know why I'm grinning like this?

This is why:

Oh yes. I saw Speed Racer today. And it was totally the best cinema-going experience I have had in quite a while (since U2 3D, I'd say). It was just... a really good summer flick. The colours and cinematography were funky and fantastic. The effects were phenomenal. The story was exciting and touching and fun. The music was awesome, especially when the theme popped up here and there. The casting could not have been better. It had all the best of the anime show and its nostalgic datedness, but in a good way. Honestly, it made me laugh out loud, and cry, and clap and cheer. I. Loved. This. Film.

Here's the trailer, in case you haven't seen it yet:

I even stayed til the very, very end of the credits... just for the music. The revamped theme song. I just grinned and grinned, and couldn't help myself. It took me back, that's for sure, and I loved it. No, it probably won't win any awards... but I have never seen a film quite like it. It was like watching the original... only live! Honestly. You have to see it to believe it. I loved it. Can you tell I thoroughly enjoyed myself? My summer film season is now officially kicked off, and in right fine style, too! Live anime... who woulda thunk it? ;)

Now I want to know what Josh thinks about it... he's the biggest Speed Racer fan I know. Josh, wherever you are, I hope you liked the film! =D

Monday 12 May 2008


For many things, there are both good forms and bad forms. In the past three days, I have had both here in Aberdeen. Because I like to end on a positive note and thus not spoil the rest of your day with negativity, I'll tell you about the bad grilling first.

Today was, for me, the dreaded day. Each year, us PhD types have to undergo twenty minutes of hell-- namely, trying to prove to the head of the department and the postgraduate officer (or some variety of professors in formal roles such as these) that we have done work this past year, we do have some idea of what we are talking about, and yes, we will finish. We all hate these days, and pray that they will not be as bad as we expect. Sometimes, God answers those prayers. For me, last year He did not-- it was not a pleasant experience, as I was pretty much told that they (the two powers that be, that day) did not see any way that I would possibly get done in any kind of reasonable amount of time. And this despite the fact that both my supervisor and I were pleased with my progress, and felt I would be done. It was horrible. So this year, I have been refusing to think about this interview or to let myself worry. I'm too close to being done to let those stuffed shirts tell me what I am or am not capable of. I tell myself that often enough, thank you very much. So I wasn't nervous at all. I didn't really want to go, but I wasn't dreading it, or feeling any signs of nerves.

Until I was sitting outside the door to KCG10. That's when I started shaking, and my heart started racing, and I felt like I was going to pass out. But then again, that could just be me and not the nerves at all. It was this time last year, after all... but that's another story.

I was nervous. Despite all my big talk that I wasn't. Now I was. I didn't want to get grilled, and to come out burnt. Eeek! But this year, God did answer my prayers. Thank you, God, for small miracles! It went so much better than I had expected. My two assessors were supposed to be Professor Schaper, from the Old Testament department, who was notorious last year for really raking people over the coals. I did NOT want to be one of those people. But apparently he's not that way to us girls-- he is very polite and encouraging. God knows why he's hard on the boys and easy on us, but who am I to complain? So that was good. I was also supposed to have Francesca Murphy, who I have had every single year so far-- and she is NOT easy on us girls. I don't think she's easy on anyone. So when I walked in and it was Phil Ziegler instead, I was quite pleased. He was very polite, as well, and talked so fast it made me giggle at the thought that he was more nervous than I was. I'm sure that's not true, but it was still funny to me. Whatever works, man. It helped. Brian was there, as well, to back me up and support me-- or to tell me off, if there were any problems that we hadn't talked about yet, I guess. But so far that's never been the case. Whew. So they asked me a few questions, like what my last chapter is about, and what other than that I have left before I'm done, and whether this last bit is all theory or all practice, and about how I think the whole thing might hang together. I answered as best I could, a bit tongue-tied due to my sudden attack of nerves and a little incoherently on the things that I haven't gotten all worked out myself yet. But they seemed happy enough, and there wasn't anything I couldn't answer at all-- and no one called me a liar when I said I would be done. So that was a plus right there. Whew. I signed my little assessment paperwork, and I came home. And collapsed on the sofa. I would say I was well done last year, slightly charred, even... this year, a nice medium rare. Much, much better all round, but still not the most pleasant of experiences. I think the cow would rather be alive, no matter how tasty it will be once grilled. =D

To end on the positive note, here's my happy grilling story. I went away with my book club on Friday for a mini-retreat (which is another story), and came back on Saturday to meet friends at ASDA for a barbecue on the beach. Hannah and Cam are leaving Aberdeen in about a week, and they wanted to have one nice night on the beach with food and friends. Since the weather last week was so fantastic (another story, as well), it should have been perfect timing. Except that Saturday decided to be chilly, and then the harr came in. Stupid harr. It's this really lovely thick misty fog that comes in off the sea, especially when the weather has been warm. All the nice lovely warm air goes up, and the cold misty foggy air comes rushing in under it. It's seriously like pea soup, it can be so thick, and everything gets damp. But if they wanted an Aberdeen experience, they couldn't have done any better! ;)

I met Hannah, Cam, Jayne, Shawn, and Iain at ASDA, where we did our shopping for the evening. We bought little mini grills, and loads of meats and crisps and wine and a few salads. Nothing too healthy, just some slaw. =) Then we walked down to the beach and found a little stone pier to camp ourselves on. It was pretty, but the longer we sat, the more the wind chilled us to the bone. So we drank wine, to keep warm, of course. We had to. We would have frozen otherwise. Honestly. The boys grilled and played with the fire (a feat in itself, to get the grills going in the windy dampness), and the girls sat on the blanket talking, drinking, and eating crisps. Ben and Lizzie showed up in the midst of the fun, which added to the fellowship. And they brought Doritos and guacamole. =) It was really a lot of fun, even though our lips and fingers were blue. I was flat exhausted from the night away on Friday, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world! Grilled steak and chinese ribs and sausages and turkey breasts... yum. When we could stand the cold no longer, we all walked home. I swear, it's lucky I didn't get pulled over for drink walking (as opposed to drink driving, as they call drunk driving here)... but all that wine did keep me warm. Warmish. Something like that. It was quite the Aberdeen summer event, and thank goodness Lizzie and Ben had their camera there! Sadly, my internet tonight is being persnickity and won't let me download the copies they sent. So I'll have to post them later in an edit, when I can get them. For now, picture this: the cold and grey north sea behind, with the tide going out; limited visibility due to the lovely thick harr coming in; eight of us perched on the little ledge while the camera perches on its makeshift tripod in order to snap our lips frozen nonetheless in sincere and real smiles. Makes you wish you were there, doesn't it?

Seriously. It was a great night. I love that kind of grilling!

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Oh, Chicken!

Several years ago now, I spent one summer as a day-camp counselor. It was awesome, and most of the kids were great fun. I had a blast with them, and probably learned as much hanging out with them as we hoped they learned from us. One thing I did learn, and which stuck with me for quite a while, was this phrase from Cory. Instead of saying *shoot* or *darn* or *great googley moogley*, he would say *chicken*!

*Oh, chicken!*

*Holy chicken!*

*What the chicken...?!*

It cracked me up. I shamelessly stole it, and used it regularly. It still pops up in my phraseology from time to time. Like last week, when I went to make the peanut butter stew recipe from Masimba. I went to the store, and bought a whole chicken. I got it home, and then... what the chicken?!

Awww, chicken! I should have looked at this more closely at the store....
Do you see 'em? Those little feathers still sticking in here?
I mean, seriously. You buy a chicken at the store, you don't expect to have to clean the chicken chicken yourself, do you?!
I was totally grossed out. I don't want to eat those chicken feathers, but I didn't know what the chicken to do to get rid of 'em, either!

So what did I do? I called the *I can de-liver and gut a chicken in 3.5 seconds* guy-- Masimba. (What do you call it when you clean 'em out? Either way, he can do it... I've heard stories.) I just wanted to know if I could take all the skin off in some relatively easy way. He told me to do this:

Cut that sucker in half. And the skin'll just peel right off. Well, sort of.
Ewwww... that is one chickened up chicken! Tee hee. Now, I'm a beginner at this, so there is probably a less time-consuming and messy way to do this. It took me forEVER. But it mainly worked. I just couldn't get the skin off the little ole wings, and this piece:
I hate that piece. It's gross, and thick and nasty. It's practically feet, for crying out loud! I mean, chicken! I took some scissors and butchered that poor leg til it all came off.
And this is what I wound up with. Nice, pretty skinless chicken breasts and legs and thighs and... well, everything but the wings. The rest of the bones and wings I boiled up and used to make soup. This good stuff I used in the peanut butter stew, which turned out very well. If you want the recipe, let me know. Don't be put off by the name-- it's yummy. Chicken yeah it is! =D

Just watch out for those feathers there, buddy!

Friday 2 May 2008

My Happy Day

We had sunshine today. And warm (for us) temperatures. So after my class, I went out to Seaton Park to enjoy it, 'playing Barb' (which means taking loads of pictures, hee hee).

I love the daffodils. And the greens of spring... everything just seems to pop. I never think about 'green' as having as many varieties as I notice this time of year.

The flowers were gorgeous. I love the yellow ones best, but the purples were really lovely. And that tree, with the leaves just coming out? They are a nice minty colour... I hope you can tell in the photo.

The two on the left are from the River Don. The two on the right are from some random peoples' gardens along my walk to and fro from the uni, along King Street.

The first photo here is also from some random garden on King. The last one is a tree peeking over the wall between the street and the playing fields. The two in the middle? I just love how these happy little flowers pop up everywhere... even between the daffodils. =D

These are a couple of other things that made me happy today:

I didn't wear these flip-flops out today, but I did wear sandals... and got to show off my painted toenails, and my tattoo! I love my tattoo, and thought it was cool that it matched these flip-flops. And there's me, all smiley and happy. And I'm laughing now, at how you can see the reflection in my glasses of my arm taking the photo.

I hope y'all have had a good day, as well! =D

EDIT: I get so annoyed... this ends up looking different on the post page than it does here... so I can't really even get the photos lined up with their captions right. I'm gonna trust that y'all are smart enough to figure it all out. ;)