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Archive for October, 2008

A Bit Anticlimactic

Well, thanks to the 15 folks who participated in the first installment of ‘Trivia: Random Questions of Fun’.  I’ve been waiting to post the answers until a time that I could also post pictures. The time has come, and yet it has not come. (Hmm…how’s that for a riddle?!)  Now, this very moment, is an excellent time for me to post the pictures of the Black Treacle and of the Grey Objects.  But, since our computer is on the fritz (not even booting up!), I can’t access the pictures, and there’s no guarantee of a quick fix.  So, lest I disenfranchise those 15 obliging souls who eagerly await the answers, I’ve decided to give the answers. It’s a bit anticlimactic, but, alas, who said life would always be thrilling? So, for those uninformed about British food names, Black Treacle is molasses.  Many close guesses; many others that totally failed.  The prize for best answer goes to Jake for his poetry quotation.  And, for those uninformed about what hides in our freezer, the Grey Objects were mice. Yep…two mice.  They didn’t actually enter the freezer willingly…or consciously, for that matter. No, I killed both mice myself, bludgeoning them with an otherwise uninteresting book called ‘Reading the Latter Prophets’. I put the poor beasts in the freezer to demonstrate my hunting prowess to Jackie, who, as you would expect, swooned. Unfortunately, the swooning was due NOT to admiration of my bravery but to the rather shocking sight of seeing two, furry critters frozen and nestled together in the plastic martini glass that became their grave. If you want to see the pictures, pray that the computer is soon restored to good health. Well, even if you don’t want to see the pics, please pray for the computer (and our patience in the process.)

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Little update

I guess things have been a bit on the quiet side for us lately.  I know some of you are dying for the answers to Christopher’s tantalizing questions, and I assure you, he will write soon to relieve your suffering!

Speaking of Christopher, he is making good progress towards a new thesis proposal.  In fact, I believe his goal is to email his newly formulated ideas to his adviser some time today.  Many thanks to those of you who’ve been praying for progress and encouragement on that front.

I am continuing to look for other work opportunities, but in the meantime am grateful for the income that the Lord has provided.  I have been a little encouraged at least that most of the student spouses I have talked with who are also looking for work have had a lot of difficulty.  It would seem there’s a bit of a work shortage in this town, and remembering that, we are even more mindful of God’s kindness in giving me the work He has.  And, I’m especially grateful that this week and next, my work is going in the direction of events catering and barista work rather than the cafeteria shift I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.  It’s a really nice change of environment!

In other news, most of you probably don’t keep up daily with foreign currency exchange rates, but I confess, we watch them rather closely.  We have been noticing with increasing excitement as the dollar-pound exchange rate continues to drop.  To give you an idea, at about this time last year, the exchange rate was $2.11 to 1 British pound.  About the time we got here, the rate had dropped to around $1.75 to a pound–we thought that was pretty incredible!  Well, things have continued to get better for the dollar (or is it worse for the pound?).  Yesterday when I was walking home from work, I passed a sign on the sidewalk advertising the day’s exchange rate as $1.49 to a pound!  We’ve read that that’s as low as it’s been for six years.  Anyway, it’s just kind of a nice surprise when we’ve been counting on our dollars only going half as far as they would in the states–for the time being at least, they’re stretching 25% further than we’d expected.    We’ll see how long it lasts!

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Pictures of our “hike”

Here are a couple pictures from our hike last week with our church.  We’re still trying to figure out the best way to post pictures, so I apologize if this is a frustrating format.  Again, just click the pic to enlarge.
P. S. From the Statman: Meall Ghaordie falls into the class of Scottish mountains called munroes; a munro is any mountain over 3000 feet. There are 284 munroes, and Meall Ghaordie is #93, which means 92 munroes are taller.

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The One That Got Away

For several days now I’ve been meaning to take the camera on my walk to the Uni.  We’ve enjoyed generally sunny weather, and, when the weather is clear, Edinburgh offers some really terrific views.  From the top of Calton Hill (which I cross when I take route-B; more on my routes to the Uni some other time) I can see out across New Town to the Firth of Forth, across the Forth to Kirkcaldy on the north, and, when it’s exceptionally clear, maybe even to Norway on the east…ok, not quite that far, but you get the point.  Calton Hill affords an expansive view of the city, and I need to get some shots soon before the weather turns into fog and dreariness.  For whatever reason, in all my intentions to take the camera, I never considered that I would want to capture Edinburgh by night, but tonight, as I left New College, I wished I had that camera. Oh, the view was marvelous.  To the west were the remnants of yet another dying day. Where the sun had disappeared over the horizon, only soft oranges and warm purples remained.  To the north were the dazzling lights of the bustling city. And, most impressively, to the east was the (nearly) full moon rising just over the spires of an old building.  From my vantage, it looked as though the moon risked being speared by the spires. The sight stopped me still.  For a moment I drank in the unexpected beauty; the next moment I started kicking myself for forgetting the camera.  Maybe tomorrow.

Other news #1: Jackie worked five days last week, and she’s scheduled for five this week.  We’re grateful for the work. God is meeting our needs.  But, we’re praying for a different job–something more suited to Jackie’s experience, interests, and gifts. Do pray with us if you think of it.

Other news #2: I’m on the road to a new thesis proposal. More on this when I can more neatly summarize the ideas that currently are making for a very messy room in my brain.

Other news #3: I have two trivia questions. 1) Do you know the American equivalent of ‘black treacle’? 2) What’s grey, about 2 inches long, and recently left our freezer for the dumpster?  I’m asking these questions primarily as a teaser for a future post, but also to gauge our readership. If you know the answers, leave a comment. Can we get 10, 15, 20 comments?

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We get around

For the four+ years of our marriage Saturdays have often offered opportunity for adventure, and our four Edinburgh Saturdays have been no exception.  Week one we stopped in at the local food co-op looking for bulk flour.  While we didn’t find the flour, we did get three new (fiction) books, four baking apples which we made into apple crisp, and an hour-long conversation about politics and social justice with the director of the co-op.  Week two we explored buildings in Old Town (contrasted with New Town which was built in the late 1700s) and a five-mile, self-guided walking tour of neighborhoods we hadn’t yet visited.  Week three (last week) we strolled through the Princes Street Gardens, collecting fallen rose buds on our way to a farmers’ market where we expected to find booths of inexpensive produce. Instead we found carts of meat–beef, lamb, pork, venison, and not your ordinary supermarket meat, injected with hormones and preservatives, lingering for days on the shelves.  No, this meat was fresh off the beast, pure color, presumably pure taste.  It was all we could do to look and not touch, and to smell the delectable aromas of samples and not taste.  In retrospect, it only makes sense that in October, in a country of 7 million sheep, most farmers would sell fresh meat, not fresh produce.  

Yesterday, though, we encountered an adventure to top them all: hill-walking with a group from church.  If you’re like us, you don’t immediately find much that inspires excitement (let alone adventure) in the term ‘hill-walking’.  Sounds more like an activity for a lazy Sunday afternoon, doesn’t it?  Well, that’s what we thought before we walked up the ‘hill’ known as Meall Ghaordie.  Before the walk, we thought, ‘What’s a hill to us sturdy Washingtonians? What could be so interesting, not to mention challenging, about a walk that climbs less than half of what we climbed in August with a 40 pound backpack?’ Just prior to the walk, as our Scottish friends donned hiking boots and gaiters I confess that I enjoyed a bit of an internal scoff, thinking that those kind people had no idea what a real hike was like.  Within twenty minutes of walking, I learned the importance of the waterproof boots, and by the time we arrived at the hill’s summit I had a new respect for hill-walkers.

The hike itself wasn’t the real challenge; the elevation gain of about 2700 feet in 3 miles was intense but not exhausting.  But the terrain was like nothing we’ve ever experienced.  With the nearly daily rainfall the ground is super-saturated; it’s soggy and slippery and stinky. There were stretches in which every step filled my shoe with cold, mucky bog-water.  More than once I sank up to mid-calf, and on the descent I slid a good 15 feet…on the whole right side of my body.  That was the terrain. Then there was the wind and the rain. I don’t remember ever experiencing such strong wind; Jackie nearly blew over at the summit.  Though the base temperature was at least 50 F, with the wind, I’d guess it was close to 35.  As we nibbled on lunch at the summit, I wanted to talk, but I couldn’t both talk and chew.  And, I wanted to eat more of my lunch than I did, but getting warm by walking was more important.

We enjoyed the adventure of our first hill-walk. We also enjoyed chatting with folks from church.  It was good to make more new friends and to feel ourselves growing into the community of Holyrood. Oh, and for the record, I broke a cardinal rule in conversation with a Scot; it’s a rule that I knew well, a rule that Jack and I have rehearsed more than once. Still, I broke it and in so doing offered myself as the butt of a good joke. The rule is: never ask a Scot about his/her pants.  Yet, at the beginning of the walk, just making casual conversation with Lorna I asked if her pants were waterproof. Sigh. She looked at me with a bit of shock and awe that I would ask about her pants, let alone if they were waterproof. And then she just laughed and playfully told her boyfriend I deserved to be pounded.  I can’t blame her. I would probably do the same if someone asked if my underwear was waterproof, wouldn’t you?

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New Week

Well, this week the temp agency offered work Jackie M-F, seven hours/day.  We’re grateful.  It’s not glamorous and hardly mines the depths of Jackie’s skill.  Wiping tables, serving cafeteria food, and loading industrial dishwashers is a far cry from the distance-ed program at the Seminary.  Still, it’s employment, which means bread on the table, and, just as importantly, passes the time interestingly.  Apparently there are other bright spots:  unlimited orange and grapefruit juice throughout the day, coworkers who sing and whistle and dance while serving food, and a free lunch. 

Other news #1: We’ve settled on church–Holyrood Abbey Church, a congregation of the Church of Scotland.  In our pre-Edinburgh conversations about selecting a new church we agreed that, apart from the basics, our most important criterion was distance.  We wanted a church within a short walk, and Holyrood is just that: ten minutes (max) from our door to the pew–that means ten minutes going down our sixty stairs, winding through the neighborhood allies, crossing a busy intersection. Not bad. The folks have been most warm. The preaching is sincere and hearty.  The music/hymns have been almost entirely new; not counting last night which was a special service and concertedly traditional to fit the occasion, we’ve attended five services and sung only two previously-known songs.

Other news #2: We’ve hosted our first guests.  Last night after church, we walked back to our flat with a fellow American couple. He’s doing an MSc in Philosophy with hopes of a PhD next year.  They both attended Denver Seminary and recently worked at an orphanage in Peru.  Popcorn and apple pie (from a terrific recipe that we just discovered) kept the conversation flowing, and we have now officially shared our little flat with folks other than ourselves. Will you be next?

Other news #3: I’m searching for a new thesis topic. As of last Tuesday I’ve been topic-less.  After reading an excellent dissertation that covered much (most?) of my proposed topic, I decided to abandon my intentions to explore the relationship between Ezekiel and Leviticus. (I know, you’re muttering, “What relationship?”)  It’s a bit of blow, as I’ve been anticipating a fascinating study for these many months, but, in the spirit of Polyanna, I’m glad 1) that I encountered this hiccup at this stage, rather than in a year’s time and 2) that Ezekiel remains an under-studied book and thus there are plenty of interesting threads to explore.

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