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Archive for May, 2009

Summer?

We could hardly believe it: the weather was hot today!  Clear skies and a whopping 22 degrees (that’s about 75 for you Americans) brought out hordes of sun-starved Edinburghers, and we joined the crowds, trekking to the lovely grounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens for the afternoon.  We even managed a slight sunburn…never thought it possible in Edinburgh!

100_2908 Julian's first experience with grass (that is, the green stuff under his feet). The 'herbaceous border'

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Pomp

Today I tasted the pomp of Scotland.  It tasted like tea, raspberry tarts, cream-covered shortbread, and cucumber sandwiches. It was both lovely and unusual.  Lovely to see the  big hats and colorful kilts, the proper people strolling the green lawn and others sampling the tasties under the shade of sprawling trees, and others still gathered round to watch the Highland dancing.  It was lovely to hear the somber brass band and the cheery bagpipes and drums.  It was unusual because it all took place on the grounds of Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s home in Edinburgh.  And, more unusual still (for an American) because  the occasion was the annual garden party hosted in honor of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.  The party is the official opportunity for the Queen to be present at the Assembly. In other words, it’s a state event on behalf of the church, and, for an American, that’s a bit odd.

The Queen herself wasn’t at the party this year.  Apparently she’s only been twice during her reign.  But, her presence was there, invested in a man whose title is Lord High Commissioner.  For the week of the General Assembly, when the Queen doesn’t come to Edinburgh, the Lord High Commissioner functions on behalf of the Queen. He stays in Holyrood Palace, hosts formal dinners, and hosts this garden party, as if he were the Queen.  At the party, for example, he parades around the grounds with an honor -guard encircling him, gently pushing people to the side so that he only encounters the people he intends to meet.  My friend Calum, by whose invitation I got into the party, said that for this week of the Assembly, the Lord High Commissioner is second behind Prince Charles to the throne!  Fat chance he’ll actually get to be king, though.  All told, it was a fascinating experience that gave a taste of high formality, pomp beyond anything I’ve seen, and something really to “write home about”.

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What would you do?

About three weeks ago an email went around the Edinburgh University Divinity School warning that several mice had been seen in the study rooms.  I hardly thought a thing of it, especially since we’ve had our own mice in our flat.   Yesterday, as I was tidying up my desk at New College, I got to thinking about that email, and I wondered who had been the culprit(s) that attracted the mice.  What uncivilized people, I thought, would leave crumbs and food scraps?  It was then, really, almost at that very moment, I noticed a disappointing deposit behind my bag of sunflower seeds.  One little mouse had left two small items; you might say that he dropped something.  And, on closer inspection, it appears that he left these two droppings after nibbling a hole in my sunflower seeds bag.  I’m actually quite puzzled about how the mouse got onto my desk, as I didn’t realize mice could climb slick, steel desk-legs.  In any case, it’s a real bummer that my sunflower seeds are now contaminated with mouse.   When I’m languishing over a particular problem late in the afternoon, it’s the seeds that get me through.  So, what would you do?  Eat the seeds or chuck ’em?  I think I’m going to salvage as much as I can.  There’s no way I’m chucking all that salty, crunchy goodness.

My desk, minus the seeds and minus the mouse

My desk, minus the seeds and minus the mouse

The offended bag o' seeds

The offended bag o' seeds

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Well, last Saturday morning we said a sad goodbye to Christopher’s parents who had been with us for  two weeks.  We had such a wonderful time enjoying the sights of Edinburgh and the surrounding area, catching up a bit and, not least, taking a week long trip to Paris together to visit some family.  It was refreshing to get away, and ahh…Paris in the Springtime…what could be better?  Here are a few shots of our time together.

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