Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Our first lunch with delicious pizzas by the river

F drinking from an ancient water fountain.
This road led on to a market in which I bought a very sweet straw hat.

One end of market-- magnificent structure

The streets of Verona

Fran outside the set to 'Aida'-- note the sphynxes!

The Whirlwind

Port Quinn, Cornwall

The past two weeks have been an utter whirlwind and the following series of posts will be a quick recount of all the exciting things we've done on my post-dissertation holiday.

First: dissertation is finished! Hall-le-lu-jah! Most likely failed, but it is d.o.n.e.
Second: Italy!! Verona and then Lake Garda in Malcisene. Beyooteefool.
Third: Quick time in Bursledon
Fourth: Journey from Bursledon to Cornwall and the stops on the way: Birmingham, Bath, Bristol, Glastonbury, and finally, Port Quinn.
Fifth: Our time in Cornwall
Sixth: To come... Regatta in Bursledon and finally our trip back home to good ol' Edinburgh!!! [Be home Monday!!!]

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Casa de Guiletta, Verona, Italy

The square of the famed Juliette's house

The (in)famous balcony

My boyfriend fondling Juliette's boobs

Apparently you're supposed to touch her boobs for good luck. Romeo and Juliette is probably my least favorite Shakespeare play, but it is intriguing to see her supposed house and the supposed balcony and its very easy to imagine a Romeo scaling up the side of that wall to touch Juliette's hand from the balcony. Italy is far too romantic for its own good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

From A to B and the Small Joys of DIY

This is F and his Mema (GanGan) when we last visited in early June when she took us through a radiant poppy field

Yesterday F and I drove down from Edinburgh to Birmingham to visit his gran. The trip normally takes 5 hours: it took us 8. Here's why: first a road through the Scottish borders was flooded and we had to backtrack. Second, one of the rear blinker lights was out. In an impromptu stop at a station, we pulled off the rear light and changed it all by ourselves. Whoop Whoop for feeling manly and for small senses of accomplishments. Third, F was sick and we took a long break as driving for 5 hours is tiring. [Sigh for endless car rides] Finally and most exciting, we broke down on the highway. The exhaust pipe disengaged and suddenly a very bad noise came from under the bar. At 11. 17 p.m. we pulled over on the M6 and after a call to the AA, a guy arrived within 10 minutes! While waiting F and I sat on the mostly empty motorway and contemplated playing highway chicken-- where you run to the median and touch the post and run back. In the end we decided against it and split a Yorkie instead. The guy temporarily fixed the car so fast, we arrived at F's gangan's just before 1 am.

However this meant two things: 1 the car had to get fixed for gudz so we put it in the shop for the day, but 2 and most sadly we miss the opening match day for Wigan as the car is out of commission. Sadness. However, by this time tomorrow we will be in Verona. Looking forward to some TLC and QFT [have I just made that up or does it exist-- Quality Fam Time] with all of the Goodisons. Huzzah for family vacations and parents who are nice enough to let the GF tag along.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Today I came home to find that Felix had not only missed the litter tray and gone in a another corner, but he had proceeded to roll in it. sodden in pee. such a boy.

Dear Avett Brothers

Dear Avett Brothers,
You're coming to Glasgow and going to see you would be like a bit of home as you're from Concord and I'm from Waxhaw and that basically makes us family. But somethins changed. Maybe its fame and money and stuff, but now the what you sing isn't as personal and funny. You're not the same guys that did Doc Watson covers when I was back in highschool. Listening to you now is a bit like putting soy sauce on my butter beans. Do you remember when I used to write you love letters? Or the time at the NC State homecoming where everybody left after you played cuz no one wanted to see the 'final act' as you were so good. And the police man yelled at us cuz they didn't want us jumping fences to dance in the standing section? If you get around to coming home, lemme know. Its a tough call, but I think I'll give you a miss in Glasgow as I and Love and You broke my heart real bad and I'm just not ready to meet up again. Give me back those November Blues and I'm yours, for ever and ever and ever,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Notes so far on Felix and Indy Relations

I've learned alot about bunny interactions within the first week. When we introduced Indy to Felix she seemed to like him, but once he was on 'her' territory she straddled him and pinned him down-- it was so graphic, I was worried she'd hurt him. I threw her off the poor guy 2 or 3 times. This was a mistake. Rabbits need to assert dominance in order to cohabitate. Today Indy pinned Felix again and though I was really upset at first, let it go. However afterwards instead of pooing all over the place, they sat down peaceably next to each and lounged in the most adorable way ever. I've learned rabbits need to sort out who's boss, and this isn't an unpleasant thing for them-- its natural and leads to a more harmonious relationship.

Felix is incredibly happy. He flops and rolls on his back in a way like a dog rolls in the grass. However he is definitely not as smart as Indy. He spent five minutes yesterday trying to get at the water bottle from the outside of the hutch while the spiggot faced inside. He'd drunk from it a 100 times before, but no... He also messes with Indy when she's obviously NOT in the mood. He chases her around the hutch until she rolls up in a corner and begins grunting. That grunt means, stay away, I'm angry, keep it up buddy and I'll bite. Does it bother him? Not a bit. He snuggles right down next to her, like an annoying little brother that wants affection, and begins to groom her back. So sweet!

Indy and Felix have adopted a habit of spooning which should be illegal as its so cute. [I must have used cute about 1000 times in this post!] However, Indy still isn't keen to let Felix into her cage [different from hutch]. She wags her tail and most bunny websites tell us rabbits don't wag their tales. Its a lie: they do, and it means I'm seriously annoyed --go away. I think its more to do with an infringement of territory than irritation by proximity. But Felix is a trooper and doesn't give two hoots about Indy's territorial behavior, and its obvious more than anything, he just wants to be near her. Today while I sat cross-legged, they curled up between my feet.

Will post pictures soon. I'm not allowed to have them in my room, and its easier to get pictures inside than outside. Once we go on holiday will have the freedom to let them indoor rabbits for a while.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

Lamb. Its so embarrassing. Growing up, I never had lamb, but since coming to Edinburgh I've been introduced to this meat at Sunday lunches. The awful thing is, I now crave lamb. I know I should only eat mutton-- but they don't sell it in stores here. You have to pre-order it and spend hundreds of pounds getting it delivered. But thats not the worst thing. The worst thing is I believe its wrong to kill a baby animal before its full-grown and had a happy life, and I still eat it. In every sense of the word, a guilty pleasure. I can't wait for the day when I can order mutton from these guys: These lambs lead basically a wildlife on the Isle of Harris (Scotland) for two years and only then are they killed. Fran has this idea to start a meat company called 'well-loved'. Organic and fairtrade isn't enough. This is beef, sheep, pork, chicken that has lead a good, happy life-- been treated well and fed appropriately with loads of space to run about.

Others on the guilty pleasures list:
- lamb: by far and away the worst one I possess
- red meat: but not red meat, like raw meat. you say medium-rare, I say hold the medium. blood is specifically associated with life and worse than that, its just bad for you: Gen 9: 4-6 and why its bad
-sparking water: this one is just annoying because I have to carry it up 4 flights of stairs and I order about 10 2-liter bottles at a time. Its completely unnecessary. I should just drink plain water..
- cheap beer: I wish I had standards
- Lady Gaga. Not as bad as it was, but definitely still there
- the royal family: esp. Kate Middleton. [hides face in shame]
- to catalogue (and sometimes buy) dresses I can't afford. Like this one: J Crew
- or maybe just clothes in general: H&M.
-or maybe not. maybe its just the ridiculously fun: cowboy tepee
-James Franco in Tristan and Isolt
- well, James Franco in most things. Like Your Highness
- the Harry Potter movies. The movies are tremendously bad-- they were only made for fans. The books are another story, but the movies, definitely, yes. Definitely a guilty pleasure.

How bad are your guilty pleasures? I will differentiate between pleasures and habits. My bad habits are an entirely different list!

The Not-So-Sensible Way of Confronting the Future

When I applied to colleges, I remember loads of people making huge lists-- applying to 7 or 8 different Universities just to make sure they got in, even if it wasn't one they really wanted. This annoyed me so instead of being sensible and spreading my net broadly, I only applied to places I wanted to go: UNC, Davidson, and Hillsdale, UNC by far being my first choice. And I got in to UNC.

My senior year of college when everyone goes through the --ah what are we going to do this time next year-- I determined I wanted to go to graduate school, but whats more, I only wanted to go to graduate school in Edinburgh. It was the first place that had really felt like home since my time in Singapore. I had a church I loved and that continually lavished me with family. I had good friends whom I'd known since first year who were keen for me to live with them. It was a degree that would help me pursue a doctorate if I wanted or enable to me to get another job-- either teaching or one in a museum. And best of all, Fran was there. And I got in to Edinburgh.

For this next year, I did the same thing again. Instead of casting my net widely and applying to loads of places for a Phd, I only wanted to work with one lady-- I really had no interest in anything else. Of course I worried I wouldn't get it, but I didn't bother with a contingency plan, which, is v. unlike me. Somehow, I was at peace whatever would happen. And then I received my offer.

Oddly enough, in this way, I see the Lord's goodness to me. Rather than doing the sensible thing and applying everywhere, I've only done what I really wanted to and trusted in Psalm 37:4-- that if you delight yourself in the Lord, he will give you the desires of your heart. I'm not sure how well I've fulfilled the first half of that verse, the Lord certainly has granted the latter half, though I be so very undeserving.

Durham University

This is me outside Durham Cathedral when I studied abroad in 2009
This is the University, which used to be a Castle, one of the first William the Conqueror built after the invasion
Although not a very good picture, this is the interior courtyard of the University. The ivy crawling up the wall reminds me of magic.

I received a tremendously exciting email last week. During the spring, I finally figured out what I'd love to work on-- magic and the supernatural in Medieval Romances, focusing on the how such a Christian society, indoctrinated in the views that magic is evil, loved and incorporated magic and the supernatural within their stories. The only person to really tackle this subject is Corinne Saunders who happened to be at Durham University. I finessed my proposal and sent it off pleading to work under her. She sent me an email a little less than a month after I had turned it in telling me herself she'd be pleased to work with me this fall! Just now I have a conditional offer which means I have to pass my masters first. And at this point, even though its due very shortly, I'm not so sure that will happen. Keep me in your thoughts and if you want to see how super-awesome and well-renowned my advisor is check out her profile page at Durham University-- >here.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

-This week I finish my MSc dissertation- woo hoo!
-On Friday we leave for Birmingham to see Fran's Gangan.
-On Saturday we go see Wigan play at home and then head to London.
-On Sunday we depart with Fran's family for a full week in Verona: my family vacations were at the beach or the mountains. Over here its so cheap, once the kids are older loads of people just go to Spain or France or Italy. So cultured. My goal in Verona is to read Shakespeare work associated with the city. Apparently there's lots of sailing, tennis, and hiking where we'll be staying. All in all, v. excited!
- On returning, we spend a few days in Birmingham then a few days in Bursledon
- We then head to Cornwall for a week with Fran's family. My goal there is to work up the courage to go surfing.
- On Saturday September 3 is the Regetta in Bursledon: come!!
- After that, we head back up to Edinburgh after a 3-week hiatus, where I will resume my post as a nanny and later that fall I'll begin to commute to Durham one or two days a week for this PhD.

During this time, one of my goals is to learn to knit. Determined. I really want to learn how to make Mrs. Weasley sweaters as Christmas presents.

These are the plans just now, and I have a whole stack of reading to tackle within these 3 weeks. Of them include:
-One Day, David Nicholls: set in Edinburgh on the street Fran used to live on.
-Night, Elle Wiesle. Recommended to my by my mama, on an experience in WWII.
-The Caged Lion, William Manchester: a biography of Winston Churchill on his early years. Have been wanting to read more about him for years now.
-The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera. This has been so quoted and referenced in popular culture, I find this a large deficit in my education.
-For September, my goal is to read all the Medieval Literature I haven't yet, but ought to.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gifts from Holland

As a thank-you, Sophie and Fleur brought me gifts from Holland. One was a mug with a church on it, and the other a set a six tea-spoons with designs on the handle. A house, a windmill, a sailboat, a mug of coffee, a teapot, and a meal of mashed potatoe with sausage on crowning it- a v. common dish in Holland, I'm told. Unlike spoons for collecting, Sophie and Fleur assure me that these are very popular in Holland and people use them every day to stir their tea and coffe or eat dessert. Along with the mug came a tiny Dutch shoe which I've resolved to turn into a Christmas ornament. All are by a company called 'Blonde' and its apparently the Cath Kidston of Holland-- they assure me v. fashionable, and I can now take pride in being internationally cultured, though no thanks to my own efforts.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Mist of Arthur's Seat

this is a picture of Arthur's Seat from my bathroom window

One of the wonderful things about living in Edinburgh is that even though you are in the midst of a city, you are never very far from some wilderness to calm and pacify the soul. Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park are just behind the Palace and a focalpoint of the city, not least because the view is incredible.

I love Arthur's Seat best when it is shrouded in mist like this and wish I could climb it right now. Once F and I climbed the Crags in full-mist, some bits even free-handed, and the solitude in the mist was entirely profound. I felt like great things could happen there.

The mist shrouding Arthur's Seat reminds me of shrouded Mount Zion representing the presence of the Lord. When Moses ascended to receive the 10 Commandments, the description of it reads: 'Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.' Ex. 19.18.

Tremendous things happen in the mist: 'Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was' and 'on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud'. In that cloud, Moses asked of the Lord 'Please show me your glory' and the Lord covered Moses's face with his hand until he passed by; and then he took his hand away, and Moses saw his back. From this thick darkness Moses descended with 'two tablets of stone, written with the finger of God,' tablets bearing instructions that guided this people for thousands of year, and continues to guide them today.

In this mist, God proclaimed beautiful promises: 'I will show steadfast love to thousands of those who love me'; 'And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.' 'I will dwell among the people of Israel and I will be their God.' 'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.' The closing lines of the book still sing of this: 'For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and the fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.'

My favorite description of Moses on Mount Sinai is when 'the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.' I find this so intimate, no less because of Moses's reaction: He descended bearing the 10 commandments, but he 'did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.' The people of Israel couldn't look at him directly for 40 days because of this. Such beauty or perhaps such holiness results in a visible physical reaction.

These are the things I think of when I see Arthur's seat shrouded in mist. Not least because of the promise that accompanies it:

7 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all the peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all the peoples,
the shroud that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take
away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
Isaiah 25. 7-8

Friday, August 5, 2011

(Self) Righteous Wrath

Allow me to be a complete nerd and complain. Pouring through sources on a topic that is far from clear (indeed rather opaque) and the outrageous pride of this one scholar to assume that he has all the answers and excludes a set of 'lays' from a cannon because they fail to conform to his notion of 'romance.' Please! Perhaps he ought to re-evaluate his definition and allow the material to shape his definition rather than force the definition on the material. So narrow minded. So proud. So completely pretentious. I don't even want to consider if he's right his style is so nauseating. List of angry expletives: #%$@ $@#% @*^% @$%& #$% @ &%$

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Felix's Felicis

Dear world, this is Felix.

A tender moment.

The Kingdom of Felix.

Felix is a 3-month old sooty fawn lion head rabbit. The main question is, why? Why did you get another bunny? The short answer: a fit of madness.

The long answer: Indy can no longer be an indoor rabbit and we have to move her outside to a hutch. At first I worried, but the more I thought about it, the better I reasoned it would be. Not only will she get to be outdoors (and weren't all bunnies made for that?), but she can dig in the straw and have a bit more room to run. Indy being indoors had human companionship for the most part, so I couldn't bear the thought of her going outside in a hutch all by herself for ever. So the best solution was to get her a companion as pretty much everyone recommends that bunnies should live with other bunnies. And the best pairing is neutered male and female relationships as same-sex tend to get aggressive. Fair enough, but this meant neutering Indy. I'd been thinking about it anyway, because it prevents cancer and lessens moodswings, but I didn't like the reality of it at all.

For a while, Fran has compared me to Indy. Indy is sweet and loveable, but tricky: you have to read her really well and sense when she doesn't want to be touched or if she's in a grumpy mood and would rather be left alone. On the other hand, she'll dash about the room and jump into your lap and nose your face and just make you feel like the world is a good place. Its kind of like the poem:
'There was a little girl, who had a little curl
right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very very good,
but when she was bad, she was horrid.'
My family has quoted this at me for years, and I'll admit unashamedly its true for me and Indy. (Especially if it involves no food and little sleep!)

If I'm like Indy, then Felix is just like Fran. This bunny is so laid-back! He's easy going and friendly, curious, but easy to please, adventurous and fearless, and generally just adorable. (You can take this analogy as far as you dare...) Felix means 'happy' and like Indy, is also the name of (a British navy) ship. I've only had him for 24 hours so I can't really tell loads about him, but I'm pleased and think that once Indy recovers from her operation, they'll be a perfect pairing.

Bunny Woes

I've done it. I've gone and sent little Indy to the surgery and had her spaded. It was an emotional morning. I was praying that morning for some people and realized I was more worried about Indy's surgery than I was about who I was praying for! Awful moment of self-realization. [working on these flaws.] I knew the surgery should be just fine, but still. The pain after it would be awful to see. The doctor was excellent and I felt really confident in her ability and overall I liked the vet clinic. We did see a German shepherd who was gorgeous and so friendly to humans, but went absolutely mental when he saw another dog. It made me think of AFP.

When we got back to see Indy just shuddering, it was terrible. She could barely limp into her cage, but wouldn't let me touch her. She just lay in a corner and stared at me from a drug-induced state. At first she wouldn't eat, but finally lettuce held sway, and its the only thing she's eaten in the last 24 hours. Even today I glimpsed her shaved underbelly and shuddered. Its hard to see something you love in so much pain, even if you know it's good for them. But its worse knowing that I caused it. I've been reading through Isaiah and it seems that there could be a spiritual metaphor there, but will spare the explicit analogy. If I'm this upset over a bunny, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to have kids.


Me outside Forsyth's Tea Room

Fleur enjoying her scone

This picture sums up Sophie so well

Sophie is here to visit! I am so very pleased she is here visiting. She is visiting to find herself a room for next. She is finding a room for next year because she is going to be at Edinburgh for a Masters! I'll get to have her for one whole year. Unfortunately timing is miserable, because I'm just one-week shy of my dissertation deadline. Fortunately, she brought her friend Fleur with her. Today we went to Forsyth's Tea Room for a lunch break.

Forsyth's Tea Room was recommended to me by a Professor at Chapel Hill and it is indeed a marvel find. It is just by John Knox's house on the Royal Mile, down a wee close, with a lovely sign over the doorway. We waited for her to open up, and she saw me standing in the alley, and beckoned us inside to wait as she pulled out all the delicacies for display. The lady was in her 60-70's and had light mauve hair, and had the frilliest, best grandma apron I've ever seen.

We each ordered a 'traditional high tea' which included a sandwhich, tea, and fruit scone with home-made strawberry jam. Incredibly delicious. She chatted to us easily and complained of the 'ruffian's' who stood in the doorway smoking and asking for money and driving the customers away. They sat on her doorstep, and she nearly called the police! Busy lady, as we waited for our food, she had about 4 other customers come in and prepared it all herself.