Saturday, August 6, 2011

made it

Hey babe,

Finally made it to the hotel here in Calgary about an hour ago. It's 6:30 am Glasgow (11:30pm here) and I'm about to go to bed. Longest travel day ever. I feel awful. And I forgot my toiletry bag. Grrrr.....

I will call you when I wake up hopefully.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crawfish or Cottage Pie?

Well, it's finally happened. Dave has been accepted to a doctoral program. Two actually - University of Glasgow (Scotland) and Louisiana State University.

After two years of nothing but rejection, this third round of applications was much more successful. What does this mean for us? It looks like a move in the fall is imminent. "Where" is the real question. And I'm supposed to be happy, about this, right? Right.

And I am. Sort of. The thing is, I was so ready for this last year. AND the year before. I practically had my bags packed. But Dave didn't get accepted last year or the year before. He got accepted this year.

But this year we have (deeper) roots. We have (more) friends. We became members of our church. We have church friends. We know the good (and bad) places to eat. We know the roads. We have security. And now we have to say goodbye to all of that. It doesn't make me happy. At least not right now. In fact I'd go as far as to say that it makes me sad.

HOWEVER, I have always, ALWAYS promised myself that I would live life to the fullest and never let fear keep me from experiencing something new. I have never wanted to live in the same place for my entire life. And it's a permanent dream of mine to see as much of the world as I can. I will trade comfort for adventure every time. At least that's what I've always said. It looks like it's time to put my money where my mouth is.

Right now we are waiting to hear from both schools about the funding/scholarships, etc. they can offer Dave. We won't make a decision on where to call home until we have that piece of the puzzle.

In many ways this is awesome. I'm riding Dave's coat tails straight to my dreams. It's just that going toward my dreams means going away from the people that I love. It's a hard pill to swallow. I'm starting now so that hopefully by the time moving day arrives I will have already washed it down with a few buckets of tears.

I'll leave you with some Tom Petty lyrics to sum up my thoughts. He always says it better than I can.

It's time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby grass is growing
It's time to move on, it's time to get going

Friday, December 4, 2009

Death to Misery

I realize I have been off the blogging scene for quite some time, but there's nothing that will break loose an avalanche of words like unanswered questions.  And I have a question.  A few actually.

Why do (some) people feel the need to regularly inform anyone who will listen of the most morbid, depressing, tragic news items that you could possibly imagine?  Actually, I would never even imagine the kind of things I'm talking about.  If I did I'd be writing the script for Saw XIII.  These masters of misery will call you just to ask "Did you hear about that guy who killed his whole family on Thanksgiving?"  Thanks for the update.  I'm just gonna go hang out in the garage.  With the car running. You know, for the tunes.

But seriously.  Am I crazy to be a happy person?  Sometimes I feel like it, as though it would make much more sense to sit in a dimly lit room somewhere and weep while looking at pictures of murder victims and starving children.  Am I heartless or cold for not wanting to know every time another little girl has been decapitated and thrown in a dumpster?  Am I ignorant or uninformed for not reading the kind of nightmarish news stories that keep you up at night and make you not want to take a walk by yourself?

Let me be clear.  I have no desire to pretend that there is not evil in the world.  I do not want to bury my head in the sand, and we should certainly have compassion for people.  But my feeling is that of course  there is evil in the world, but I don't need the details of the latest grizzly crime to know that.  I don't understand how the same people are continually shocked each time they hear a news story about another twisted pedophile trolling playgrounds or a deranged mother abusing her children.

A lot of people like to cite man's capacity to do evil as evidence that there either is no God, or that God simply cannot be good.  I see it as profound evidence of man's need for a Savior.  Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?"  We cannot fix ourselves.  We need more than a proper upbringing or self-help books that instruct us on how to reach our "full potential."  Apart from Christ we don't have any potential.  It is only through his death on the cross that we can be free from sin and the utter depravity that is our nature.

I guess I do know the answer to one of my questions.  I am not crazy to be happy, because my hope is in Christ and the knowledge that while I was once completely dead in my sins, by grace I am now alive in Christ.  In James 4, this life is described as "a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."  Let's use this "little time" sharing the Gospel with spiritually dead men rather than perpetually mourning for physically dead ones.

"I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
'O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?'"

1 Corinthians 15:50-55

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I made this cake recently.  It was a cookies and cream cake.  I was proud.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Never Knew That About Me

I know I have already written a ton about our trip and I promise this is the last trip-related blog.  But this one might just be the most important of all.  Matter of opinion I guess.
Anyway, the trip was valuable to me in so many ways.  Not only because I got to experience the history, culture and way of life in two European cities, but because it taught me some things about myself that I never knew.
1.  I am not a city person.
I have never considered myself to be metropolitan or anything, but I did think that if necessary I could be content living in a big city.  Now I'm not so sure.  I didn't like the constant roar of traffic and always being surrounded by people.  I got tired of having to navigate the Underground/Metro and squeeze into germ infested subway cars with dozens of strangers and cling onto any bar available to keep from falling into someone's lap.  I didn't like having to wait at crosswalks every two minutes.  I didn't like how the huge buildings blocked out so much of the sky/sunlight in places. There were other things but you get the gist.
2.  I am infinitely more impressed with God's creation than man's.
We saw some incredible architecture on our trip.  We visited Notre Dame and Westminster Abbey, Versailles and Hampton Court Palace, the Louvre - places that have inspired awe in people for centuries now.  After all that, I don't think those places hold a candle to the stars on clear night, or sunset on the beach, or coral reefs or a misty morning in the Ozarks, or the Buffalo River or mountains or the Northern Lights.  You get the point.  I looked at those cathedrals, and I just kept asking "Why?"  I understand they were built to be so extravagant because church leaders believed that God inhabited the building, so they wanted it to be beautiful.  But I just can't comprehend how anyone can look at creation and still think that they can construct something that is going to impress God, a building that would be worthy for Him to inhabit even if He did live within the church walls (he doesn't).  I mean c'mon.  Be serious.
3.  I love my country.
This trip made me realize just how much I love America.  I love American culture.  I like the fact that our history involves cowboys and indians, slavery, baseball, the blues, moonshine, disco, etc.  And I don't care that we don't have centuries-old buildings and cathedrals.  I like driving to work as opposed to taking the subway.  I like American people.  I just like it here.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ladies and Gentleman, this train is now ready to depart. Stand clear of the doors.

Day 1

We took the chunnel from Paris to London and I had another scare with my train tickets since they were also in my married name meaning that they differed from my passport. Luckily I had no problems. The high speed train went under the English Channel and all of the tunnels on the way were making my ears pop horribly. I was stuck sitting across from an English guy who started snoring about two minutes after he put his sleep mask on and had his legs way over into my space. I finally just kind of kicked him and he startled awake and put his legs where they belonged.

Anyway, when we got to London we hit the ground running. While we were waiting to check into our flat we had lunch at Sorrento. It was this little place recommended to us by Nick, the front desk guy at our apartment building. It was GREAT. The food was super cheap and the homemade spinach and cheese quiche I had knocked my socks off. The lady who ran the place was so friendly and kept calling us all “darling.”

Then we headed to Westminster Abbey and got there just in time to attend the Evensong service. It was interesting and I enjoyed hearing the boys choir sing. Time well-spent in my opinion. We had dinner at The London Pub and all ordered fish and chips. We managed to squeeze in Westminster Abbey and fish and chips in a pub all in our first few hours in London.

Day 2

We took a train to the Cotswolds today since the weather for the rest of the week looked iffy. Part of the movie Stardust was filmed in the Costwolds. Anyway, it rained a little on and off while we were there but it was nothing much. We got off the train in Moreton-in-Marsh and walked around there for a while and then headed to another Cotswold village called Bourton-on-the-Water, which I thought was prettier. They both had lots of interesting shops and we had lunch at a traditional pub called The Black Bear. They had a fire going and it was fun to listen to the locals talk. One guy was saying how he had to fire a girl because she’d been e-mailing her boyfriend all day. It was comical. Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain a lot so we’re planning to visit The British Museum.

Overall London has not been quite as interesting as Paris because it is much more modern than Paris since much of it was destroyed in WWII. The attractions are much more spread out here so it’s not as walkable as Paris either, but we are still having a fantastic time.

Day 3

Today we went to The British Museum. It was much more enjoyable for me than the Louvre because everything was in English, and it was FREE. Can’t beat that. The highlight for me was listening to a talk by one of the museum staff about the pictures in the portrait gallery there. I also found the mummy section really interesting. After that we had lunch again at Sorrento and it was delicious once again. Then we walked to Oxford Street and went into some of the shops there. Dave wanted to go back to some of the shops around The British Museum so we did that. I went into the museum to use the bathroom and ended up getting a really cool necklace from one of the shops there. The design was moulded from some Byzantine earrings from 600 A.D.

Anyway, then it was off to the grocery store to shop for dinner. We ended up having Cumberland sausage with mashed potatoes and crumptets with clotted cream and jam for dessert. I have decided I am a fan of crumpets. You should try them. They’re sort of like English muffins only more spongy, so jam, honey, etc…soaks all through them. Yum.

Day 4

We tackled the Tower of London today. It was pretty cool. I think my favorite part was seeing all of the graffiti that prisoners had cared into the walls while they were held there, many of whom were tortured and eventually executed. The crown jewels are also housed at the Tower and we got to see them, which was quite interesting. It was packed with school kids though, which did take away from the atmosphere. Dave felt like many of the displays were hokey, but they did bother me as much as the drovers of elementary-schoolers. Even so, it was definitely worth visiting.

When we finished at the Tower we made our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral and were disappointed to learn that we had to pay to get in. So, we had to be satisfied with what we could glimpse from the lobby. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around and visited some shops. Then we went back to the flat to regroup and figure out where to go for dinner. We finally decided on a pub called The Plough that was supposed to be good but when we got there it was packed so we started looking for somewhere else. After a good bit of walking we ended up back at The London Pub (where we had dinner our first night in London). At first we were a little disheartened to be there again, but the fried chicken sandwiches we got tasted amazing.

Day 5

Today we started with The National Gallery then had lunch at a pub called The Shades. It left a lot to be desired. The waitress was Russian (we think) and didn’t communicate well and the food was sub par. On our way there we ran into this big march going on that had to do with the G20 Economic Summit that is about to take place in London.

After lunch we went to the National Portrait Gallery. My favorite part was seeing all of the original paintings of the Tudors. It was raining outside when we got done there so we decided to pop into the Portrait Café for some tea/coffee and scones. I really enjoyed that. I think tea might become a part of my daily routine when we get back. We’ll see. We left there and it had stopped raining so we started making our way to St. James Park. That was where a hungry squirrel actually started climbing u my leg thinking I had food in my hand. I was a little freaked out at first but then wanted to get a picture of it but it didn’t work out. That was cool. Then it started hailing/raining on us. Luckily that was short-lived. We decided that it might be worth making a trip to Harrod’s since the weather was less than favorable. I am so glad we did. I now know why it is “the world’s most famous department store.” It far exceeded my expectations. I have never seen so many of the finer things in life in one place. It was really fascinating. There was no limit to what could be purchased here. Ask me and I’ll tell you more about it. We did end up buying some bread, cheese, and pasta sauce from the Harrod’s food hall and had a nice spaghetti dinner at the flat. Tomorrow it’s Hampton Court Palace. Hopefully the weather will be a little better!

Day 6

We started out today thinking that we were going to Hampton Court Palace, but after buying our train tickets from one of the self-service ticket machines we were told that there were no direct trains going to Hampton Court that day because of engineering work. So, we got a refund for the tickets and took the Underground to Hampstead, a suburb of London. It was a really pretty place and we got to walk around for a bit in Hampstead Heath, a huge sort of park/nature area there.

We had lunch there a visited a few shops. Then we hopped back on the tube to London and shopped for our dinner. I guess supper of pesto pork chops didn’t quite satisfy us because after about an hour we were determined to go and find dessert somewhere. We managed to find a place nearby called Patisserie Valerie where Dave and Will scored some ice cream and I got a big slice of double chocolate cake, which I now wish I hadn’t eaten because I feel disgusting. Oh, and before we went shopping we went back to The British Museum because there were a few more rooms will wanted to see. We got to see the Rosetta Stone. It was much bigger than I expected it to be.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re going to try for Hampton Court Palace again. I can’t believe tomorrow is our last full day here. It’s pretty sad really, although I am looking forward to seeing Pip. And it’s probably best that I stop being a complete glutton sometime in the near future.

Day 7

Today was our last full day in London. Our flight leaves from Heathrow tomorrow at 12:20 p.m.

We went to Hampton Court Palace today and it was really enjoyable. The weather was good, it wasn’t crowded and the gardens were magical. I could have wandered around in those gardens for days. We brought sandwiches along for lunch and ate them on a bench amongst a tone of daffodils and flowering trees.

It was really fascinating to walk the same halls as the Tudors and so many other English monarchs. I got a picture with Henry VIII that I will treasure. ☺

We got back to London around 5 p.m. and wanted to make the most of the time we had left so we walked around the Covent Garden and Soho neighborhoods. It was really lively and very pedestrian friendly. It’s the only area I’ve seen here that remotely reminds me of Paris. We eventually stopped for dinner at a “ristorante Italiano” called Piccolo Diavolo. It was excellent and the wait staff were actually Italian and super friendly. I had mushroom risotto and Dave got a lamb streak. Will went for chicken cordon bleu. It was all very good and the tiramisu I got for dessert was the best I’ve ever had. Overall it was a great experience and a fun way to spend our last evening in London.

Now we’re all back at the flat packing. I am sad that the trip is ending, but it has to of course. It will be nice to get back to friends, family, Pip, and spring weather in Fayetteville. I am already thinking about our next adventure – hopefully to South America or British Columbia.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Je ne comprend pas.

     After spending around 30 hours in airports or on planes, we finally emerged from a metro station and surfaced in Paris. It was no fun at all dragging my huge suitcase through the metro.  Anyway, we had a little trouble finding our apartment, but some kind French ladies let me use their cell phone and we got there without much difficulty after that. It was in a fifteenth century building that I understand used to be a brothel. The stairs were extremely steep and narrow and the place was tiny, but it was home in Paris and we came to really like it. It was within walking distance of nearly all of the major attractions in a really colorful pedestrian neighborhood called Le Quartier Montorgueil.


     Here's the breakdown of our time in Paris.  I'm just going to copy what I wrote in my travel journal.


Day 1


     Today we visited the Louvre and Notre Dame. The Louvre was enormous and overwhelming. Most of the signs explaining what each item was were in French, which was frustrating. It's hard to be interested in something when you don't know what you're looking at.  I did get to see the Mona Lisa.  I also found the part of the Louvre where you can walk around in what used to be the moat and see the palace's original foundations quite interesting.Dave and Will were like kids in a candy store.  My favorite part of the Louvre came right after we left and I bought a "pain chocolate" and ate it in the Tuileries Gardens outside. 

     Notre Dame was amazing, but I think I liked St. Eustache even more.  St. Eustache is a cathedral really close to our apartment that we wandered into yesterday after getting settled in at our apartment.  The ceiling seemed higher, the carving more intricate and the organ bigger. While we were there I got scolded by a French man for looking through a prayer book that I thought was a guest book. All of the writing was in French! I didn't know.


     After Notre Dame we headed back to our neighborhood and shopped for our dinner. Most everything in the markets here is sold in very small quantities because people here shop for their dinner every day. Well, time to eat!


Day 2


     Today we visited Versailles. My favorite parts were the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, and the gardens. Marie Antoinette's apartments were also interesting. The food in Paris is amazing. There are patisseries with the most delectable pastries around every corner and the bread is second to none.  Interestingly, people here really do walk around just munching on big, long baguettes.  Will and I are determined to get crepes from one of the crepe stands. They look heavenly. Paris is much different than Edinburgh or any other city I've visited. It is more work to communicate and frustrating at times, but it is a truly amazing city.  I've gotten pretty good at saying "Je ne parle pas Francais" (I don't speak French), "Je ne comprend pas" (I don't understand) and "Parlez vous anglais?" (Do you speak English?).  It is hard to be somewhere that we are so obviously out of place, but I think it's good for us.


Day 3


     Today we started out visiting the Musée Carnavalet, a museum about the history of Paris. It was something Will wanted to do. I was pretty bored there, but that's ok. Then we wandered around for a long time trying to find lunch. We ended up buying some pork chops from a market we passed and sat on a bench and ate them. After that we headed to the Ile St. Louis and walked around.  Dave and Will got some ice cream from Berthillon while we were there. 


     We finally made it to the Eiffel Tower this evening. It really was beautiful. I didn't really expect it to be that impressive, but I was kind of enchanted by it.  Maybe it was just because it meant, "Wow. I am in Paris eating a crepe and gazing at the Eiffel Tower." It was also great for people watching.  We ate hot dogs on the Champs de Mars and waited for the Tower to light up.  Not just any hot dogs either.  These had baguettes for buns and cheese melted all over them.  I also finally got a chocolate crepe, which was as tasty as it looked.


     One thing I have learned quickly is that it is all go all the time on the streets of Paris. Even if you don't know what you're doing you learn to walk fast and act like you do.


Day 4


     Today we took the 9:45 a.m. train to Provins (that we nearly missed). It was a really fun day. The town, located about an hour outside Paris, was very medieval.  We climbed on top of the ramparts that used to surround the city. We also visited the Tour Caesar which used to be the home of the Counts of Champagne. It was scary how narrow some of the staircases were. Definitely not somewhere I would recommend to claustrophobics.  Oh! And I accidentally jumped out and scared someone while we were in the Tour Caesar thinking that it was Dave and Will. Luckily she laughed about it. We had a hearty lunch of "saucisses frites" (sausages and french fries) with English mustard, which about killed us.  That stuff is strong, and I mean strong.  It was a great day and a welcome break from the constant hustle and bustle of Paris.


Day 5


     Today was our last full day in Paris. We take the train to London tomorrow. We started the day by going back to St. Eustache because we hadn't gotten any pictures of it yet. We also decided that we should go see the Arc De Triomphe so we headed in that direction on foot. We walked for a LONG time to get to it - much longer than Dave had guesstimated. Luckily Dave and Will were both very impressed with it and kept saying how "epic" it was.  I got a "crêpe sucrée" (sugar crêpe) on the way so I was satisfied. We also visited the Forum Les Halles today. I think it's supposed to be France's largest mall. We spent a little time poking around in souvenir shops on the way to the Arc. We ended the day by going to a historic restaurant called Chartier. It was a great experience. The restaurant was in a beautiful old room that reminded me of the inside of the Titanic and the food was good, simple, and reasonably priced. And the waiter was really nice and helped us translate the menu. Chartier was definitely our style and it was the perfect way to wrap up our time in the City of Light.


     Paris was an incredible city.  Just to walk around was fascinating, but I have never been anywhere that made me feel so frumpy and uncool.  The people there are so fashionable and very few of the women are overweight.  I did notice a lot more bad breath and body odor than I am accustomed to, however, and smoking is apparently still hip in Paris because we saw a lot of it.  Anyway, tomorrow it's on to London!




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