Art and Life

Is art patterned after life or does life follow art?  Hmm…deep questions, but we think we might have some insight after Jackie’s decidedly non-American encounter today. You know you’re not in the good ol’ US of A when:

a) you’re talking to two people whose title is ‘Lady’

b) those same two people comment, ‘I’ve been sitting across from this beautiful Pre-Raphaelite’ and they’re not talking about a painting.

Jackie had exactly this experience, and, to make matters all the more foreign, the two Ladies were talking about her! Yeah, she’s the Pre-Raphaelite, and, according to the Ladies, it’s absurd that anyone wouldn’t think of her as resembling a 19th century painting: ‘Oh, I’m sure you hear this all the time, don’t you?’  Well…NO!

Is this Jackie? No, it's 'Proserpine' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1874.

Writer’s Block

So, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m not easily motivated to write blog posts.  That is, until you sit me down and ask me to write something much more difficult, like an article tracing why human dignity often trumps human autonomy as seen through the history of European law and why this is relevant to the euthanasia debate.  Yes, I suddenly feel very motivated to write a blog post.  I almost feel motivated to dust and polish the leaves on my houseplants.  It’s not that the topic is so very difficult–I think I’m just struggling with some good old-fashioned writer’s block, so what better way to open it up than writing (something else)?

Since it’s been a while, I’ll just give a little update on what’s going on in our day-to-day lives.

Christopher is, of course, busy with work on his dissertation which is coming along slowly but surely.  If you have any questions about divine kingship in Ezekiel, he’s your man!  He also spends several hours a week working on various projects for the Scottish Council for Human Bioethics as well as preaching periodically at church.

My first priority and greatest source of fun throughout the day is a funny, little, nearly-toddling, nearly-one-year-old who requires not a little of my attention and guidance.  Alternately, I occupy myself with various odd-jobs: most significantly, editing/writing for Harper Collins and for the last several months, writing press articles for the above mentioned bioethics council (no, I’m not writing that article for my own amusement).

Julian will celebrate his first birthday in two weeks.  He enjoys “reading” books, going for walks and swinging at the park.  (Sounds kind of like a personals ad, doesn’t it?)

Like most people, we are all desperately anxious to see winter melt into spring.  As our previous posts indicate, this has been a particularly cold, snowy winter for Scotland and we can’t wait for the luxury spring will afford of more opportunities out-of-doors, and hopefully, more interesting things to blog about. 🙂  Until then, happy February, everyone.


How many other ways can you spell ‘snow’ phonetically?  I can think of one, well maybe two if we include King James English phonetics.  Since mid-December, we’ve had record-breaking days of snoe here. One long-time local told me it’s the most that she’s seen since ’79, that is 1879.  I knoe; the Scots have incredibly long life-spans!  Ha. Here are a few pics that shew that Edinburgh is lovely in snew and that we’ve enjoyed it.

Sunset over the Pentlands, hills south of the city

Salisbury Crags with the castle in the background

This is New College, University of Edinburgh, the daytime home of toiling, wannabe academics.

The blog lives

We had thought that a fitting resolution for the new year would be ‘abolish the blog’, since we haven’t proven to be faithful bloggers.  The idea was that this virtual reality needed to meet its maker, go the way of all flesh, rest in peace, kick the bucket. Add your own idiom; you get the picture.  But, since some people do read our scattered musings, we have bequeathed another year of existence to ‘Bits ‘n Bobs’. Three cheers!

We begin the new year by inviting you to join us in Edinburgh, courtesy of Nivea, yes, that’s right, the body-care company whose slogan is ‘beauty is confidence’.  I’m not sure what the connection is between Scotland and Nivea–both are creamy?, fresh?, leave a greasy residue?  Doesn’t matter really because the important thing is that you enter the sweepstakes and win.  Best of luck…I think you’ll really need it since, I’ve just realized, the contest is probably closed by now. Oh well. Try again next year.


Christopher wrote earlier that apparently the Seattle area gets more rain than Edinburgh.  Here’s yet one more confirmation.

Every Monday morning I help lead a community-based Baby and Toddler group through my church.  This week I was talking to a Scottish dad who, some time ago, lived in Seattle for a year.  He was at Boeing, doing a helicopter operation training program.  When I made a comment about how comparable the climates are he said, with a slightly wrinkled nose, “Yeah, but in Seattle it rains all the time.”

St Andrew’s Day

Yep, today is Scotland’s national holiday; it’s also the birthday of my first cousin once removed  who, interestingly,  bears the name of the saint.  Unfortunately for Andrew (my relative), he is neither a fisherman nor a spinster.  However, if you are, then today’s your lucky day because St Andrew is the patron saint of both.  I suppose that the people who should most celebrate St Andrew’s Day are unmarried women who earn their living by catching fish.  But, then again, who really celebrates a saint’s day because of any religious (or superstitious) beliefs?  St Andrew’s Day, like St Patrick’s Day, is just another excuse for a good party.  If you’re so inclined, check out this link for the scoop on Edinburgh parties in ‘honour’ of the saintly fellow.

In a foreign land

To our faithful, small readership who celebrate Thanksgiving today:  Happy T-Day.  To the rest who come across this post when the T-Day stuffing has been swallowed by the Christmas mayhem:  Happy surviving the holiday zoos.

In thinking about Thanksgiving 2009, I am once again tempted to paraphrase Psalm 137:4 as follows:  “How can we celebrate Thanksgiving in a foreign land?” Of course, the answer is, “With turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, cranberry sauce (smuggled from the USA), pie, ice cream, coffee, etc.”  Ah, but somehow a Scottish turkey lacks a fowl quality. Oh, man, sorry for that bad pun!  In any case, here are three indications that we are in a foreign land.

Seen on the side of a truck:  ‘Underground Moling Services.”

Sign on sidewalk:  “Abseilers Working Overhead.”

Newspaper headline:  “Binmen Plan Christmas Strike.”

What would you do if you opened up your bag of fresh broccoli for dinner and found a little slug happily feeding (sliming?) away inside?  Sorry, folks.  No picture this time.  I couldn’t get that thing out of my sight fast enough.


This last week many corners of the world celebrated the one year anniversary of Mr. Obama’s election to the White House. No doubt many also cheered as their favorite initiatives and candidates pulled out victories, both expected and surprise.  On opposite corners of the country, WA and ME voters leveled opposite verdicts regarding the hottest topic in the States, and I don’t mean whether black is still the new black.

In Edinburgh last week, Jackie, Julian and I walked to church in the rain for the first time in over eight months.  Far more than merely noting Scottish weather patterns, I mention this because it marks the first time Julian has had such a lovely experience.  There really is nothing like trudging into church with wet cuffs (or wet nylons, right ladies?).  Of course, Julian didn’t do the trudging himself, but he finally got to witness it first hand. We trust that as the winter months creep by he’ll have plenty more opportunities.  The other reason last Sunday’s rain deserves mention is that it disproves the assumption that Edinburgh is as soggy as our motherland, WA.  Maybe you’ve not erred with this assumption, but we have. And now we know from experience that, between Feb and Nov, western WA takes on more water than Edinburgh.

The irony of last Sunday’s rain doubled as the rain followed us both to and from church but also into our flat.  As you can see below, our living room welcomed the rain so readily that the wall paper gave way. (Yes, the ceilings are wall papered!) The dime-sized hole let in nearly a gallon of water.  All things considered, a gallon isn’t all that much water, but when an eight-month old, newly crawling explorer finds nearly a gallon of water puddling in an attractive green bowl, that gallon covers a lot of floor space!  Too bad there’s no picture of Julian’s face in the second after we turned our backs. I imagine it would have shown conniving glee as he realized that his chance to wreak havoc had arrived.

With no certainty for what the coming week will bring, we can only hope it doesn’t bring another torrential rain storm. At least we know there won’t be any more American elections.

See the damaged ceiling?


Guarding the buckets from the would-be capsizer

Two bits

Well, based on the comments and hits on Jackie’s last post, it will be tough to offer anything as interesting.  So, here are two random things of (potential and/or marginal) interest from Edinburgh.

Picture 9Random #1:  This week the University of Edinburgh will honor musician and activist Annie Lennox with an honorary doctorate. Lennox is renowned for her solo stuff but also for her work in the group Eurythmics. If you like her music and you appreciate the causes she’s advocated, then maybe this honorary degree is well-deserved. Maybe.  But who buys a CD or goes to a rally because the musician or speaker has a doctorate?  Earlier in the year the university recognized Archbishop Desmond Tutu with a similar degree.  I actually caught a glimpse of the archbishop as he paraded through the New College courtyard to his chauffeured Jaguar sedan…yeah, my touch with fame! But Archbishop Tutu has at least been a part of change that is hardly controversial.  He helped combat apartheid in South Africa and has worked tirelessly against social injustice.  But Lennox?  Well, she’s made some good music and sold millions of records and supported rights for certain members of society.  But a lot of people have done that.  Next thing you know an American president is going to win the Nobel Peace Prize after nine months in office and a lot of great promises.  Oh, wait…Picture 12

Random #2:  Old issues of LIFE magazine are available at books.google.com. Ok, so that’s not a phenomenon limited to Edinburgh, but I discovered it last week and have been periodically amused by the old advertisements.  Here’s one I came across today, not at all the most interesting, but it gives a taste of what’s there.  I wonder how silly today’s ads will seem in 40 years!

Picture 14