31 October 2008

Today's Mixed Bag of Weather

Today was classic Aberdeen weather. Bright sun along with rain/sleet either at the same time or in quick succession. Just thought I'd share a few moments I captured today. The rainbow was the brightest I'd seen in a long time. And it was complete. Very cool!

Side of the rainbow closest to us.

Sun fighting with the clouds. 
Bright sun against dark clouds.
Close up of above photo. It was so cool how the sun was lighting up this spire along with the autumn colors.
Other side of the rainbow.

28 October 2008

Gotta be a First

I am pretty certain that we have never before done what we did today. But before I tell you what we did, let me preface it by saying we woke today up to the first snow of the 2008-2009 winter season. Let's hope it's not a glimpse of the winter ahead since it's not even November yet.

Knowing last, night that today was going to be potentially cold and snowy, we cranked up the electric storage heater we have in the "lounge." (For those of you unknowledgeable about these heaters, the idea is that they store up heat in bricks during the night and release the heat in the day....all of which we have actually recently learned is not entirely true...but don't get me started!) This heater is new within the past couple months, and although we had one just like it when we first moved in, the landlords replaced it. Never did know why, but now that we have the new one to compare it to, I think it is because it had a broken damper by which to release the heat. The new one you can clearly hear it opening and closing, the other one just kinda had a steady release all the time no matter what you set it on.

Anyways, I digress. We have had the heater on somewhat off and on the past month. Initially it had this horrific burning/chemical smell radiating from it which my sensitive nose did not think was so nice. So after a few days it seemed to be burned off and haven't really smelled it since....until today. We had the thing cranked up to high over night. And wouldn't you know it, this morning the lounge stunk something fierce. I couldn't stand to be in there for more than a couple minutes at a time. So I pulled out the instructions/manual that came with the heater. I thought I had read them before. Apparently I didn't read, or missed, the WARNING section. Come to find out, the fumes can be dangerous, especially for those with prior respiratory problems. I'd probably fit that, at least for the past year. When you first get the thing, you are to give it a "commissioning" that comprises of at least 48 hours of leaving the heater on full blast with proper ventilation. You see where this is going, right?

So I guess we'd only half commissioned it, but once we got it fully charged it needed more commissioning. The only way to get the stench out and give the room ventilation was to leave a window open all day. After Mark got home he thought it still needed better ventilation and I had to agree since I still couldn't stand to be in there. So we opened more windows, left the door to the flat open in the hallway open, where there was another window open. All, mind you, with the temp being in the upper 30's and us being holed up in our bedroom with another heater on! Gotta be a first for sure. I wonder what the neighbors think as they pass and see our windows open! LOL!

26 October 2008

Bye Bye British Summer Time

Before I even knew what it was, I was longing for British Summer Time. That oh so glorious hour springing the clocks forward, boasting more daylight. But alas, it has ended and we are back into winter time/standard time. (Yes, a whole week sooner than the US.) March 29, 2009 can't get here fast enough! Ah well, until then we'll just have to go back to enjoying Scotland in the dark....and remembering how wonderful the summer light really was.

P.S. The sun set at 4:37pm today.

25 October 2008

Make It Stop!

The winter winds have arrived. (Not sure if that's really what they are called, but it does seem like the winds are particularly bad here in the winter months). Interestingly enough, a couple days of those winds it's actually been mild...upper 50's. Unfortunately these winds bring with them more than the usual sounds of high winds whipping around outside and trees blowing.

In our flat, because we are on the top floor, it also brings a unique sound. A sound I don't care for, especially when trying to sleep at night! It's the noise of the slate shingles (almost all rooftops here have thick slate shingles-guess they hold up better in the continual damp weather) being lifted up as the wind gets under them, and then a loud bang, thump, bang as it slams down again. This noise is repeated in almost a wave-like pattern as it starts on one side of the roof and goes to the other. And it's repeated over and over night and day during the 20-30 mile per hour winds and higher gusts that we've been having. It's one thing to have them during the day, but this light sleeper doesn't do so well to hear this noise all night long. Have a listen. Turn your volume on normal.

This was taken a couple days ago. I was standing at our bedroom window (with the window closed) only a few feet from our bed. It is just as loud in bed, though! We already sleep with a fan, and I continue my habit started long ago of sleeping with a pillow over my head, but it is still loud. It's going to be a long winter if I don't find some way to get some sleep! I am going to try earplugs, but have never been able to sleep with them before. Let's hope I might find a way to learn to. If not, you might find me on the roof with a large bottle of superglue :)

24 October 2008

I Voted Today

Feels weird to have voted in the comfort of my living room. Almost feels weird to have voted for anyone since on the whole I feel rather removed from all things political. Don't get me wrong, we find a few things out from the internet, but generally speaking we aren't in the loop (or should I say bombarded) like we'd be in the States. However, not caring much about politics or politicians (and the drama they both bring) I for one have been sooooo grateful we've been gone during this campaign.

I just hope our ballots make NC's 3rd of November 5pm deadline! Might be kinda close! In any case, our ballots are signed, sealed and secret until they reach NC.

19 October 2008

For Becky (and the rest of you too!)

A friend of mine, Becky, and her family recently moved back to the States after living here for 2 years while her husband completed a degree similar to Mark's. In an e-mail from Becky a couple weeks ago she mentioned how she remembered all the leaves changing so nicely last year. I have to be honest, I was too impressed last year. I just remembered the leaves molding, turning brown and falling off.

However, since that e-mail (and in an effort to be content and enjoy the little things of life) I have been trying to take notice of the beauty of the trees, and my surroundings in general. I mean, we really do live in a great part of the world! So, in an effort to 1) give Becky glimpses of her foreign and yet familiar "home"(we miss you!), and 2) so we can forever look back on the Aberdeen autumn on campus ourselves once we're gone, here are some photos I took on my lunch break yesterday (while working at the Old Town House). (And if you make it to the bottom, you can even hear the sounds!)
The wonderful King's College building/crown that is so dear to our hearts!
The ivy that grows on the New King's building.

(The) High Street -- the main road running through campus complete with a wealth of old buildings.
Meston Walk...the road I get to walk down (nearly) every day. My favorite part of the walk! It's almost magical to be going through the little tree tunnel.
Above and below are both private homes on campus. Below is one of the original Old Aberdeen homes that used to have a thatched roof on it. So cute! I also really enjoy walking on the path past these homes.
Bishop Elphinstone's "tomb." The story goes it was built too big so they had to leave it outside because it wouldn't fit inside the chapel! So this is outside and his actual casket/remains are inside. Very odd.

The High Street again looking the opposite way (from the Old Town House). Below you can tell they were getting ready for a wedding!

18 October 2008

Swan Video

Here's the swan flight practice I mentioned the other day. I wasn't able to capture it all. They didn't give me much warning! If you look closely you can see them running on the water. Also, if you look beyond the water you'll see Mark walking by.

17 October 2008

Quality Customer Service

Can I just say that Geico just thrilled my soul? Maybe that's a little over the top, but I just about could have jumped through the Skype microphone to hug the sweet lady who took my call....before the phone even rang on my end (after pushing the obligatory correct department, of course) she answered. When I was debating about paying on-line versus bothering her with punching in the numbers, she cheerfully said with a sweet, not-over-the-top southern accent, "We're here to help. Anything we can do." Really, companies like that still exist?! She even said she'd walk me through paying on-line if I preferred. It took all of 4 minutes on the phone. That, people, is amazing customer service. And that is one thing I miss!!!

Though, to be fair, I was helped rather promptly and thoroughly by someone today from our electric provider. And when I called 2 weeks ago I also had someone very kind and thorough. Neither were annoyed with my questions about how in the world our storage heater worked (that's a long story I won't bore you with!), and both offered to go ask someone else...and then came back to me. So much better than the typical "I'll transfer you" we hear so often.

So here's to two excellent companies! I hope others (ahem...BT, for one - remember, this time last year we were still waiting for a phone?) take notice and work on such cheerful customer service!

16 October 2008

It's High Time....

....I get back in the blogging saddle...hopefully I still have one or two faithful fans out there!

This past Saturday Mark finally got his birthday gift from me: a half day fishing trip to a local fishery. We had planned to go the day before his birthday, but the weather was dreadful the whole day. Thankfully it was worth the week long wait because this Saturday was an amazingly perfect Scottish autumn day!
Here's Mark working his magic on the fish...well, trying to anyways? (Unfortunately it wasn't a great day at the loch, though Mark assured me it was still better than a good day at work. He's a fisherman through and through!)

It was a gorgeous place out in the country with small mountains (hills?) in the distance. Probably the most amazing thing was the stillness of the air when we arrived at 8am. It made for great photos.

So while Mark fished, I photographed. We were both doing things we loved so everyone was happy! There were 3 white swans flying in and out of one of the ponds, as well as 8 juvenile swans who weren't so little, just not yet white. I had quite the photo session with them. I tried to respect them and they tried to ignore me or turn their backs on me as often as possible. I was proud I never once got hissed at, though did get some mean looks, especially from the one I think was mamma.
One of the neatest things I've seen in a long time was watching take off/landing practice of the young swans. The lead swan honked, waited a moment, then took off running on water, barely got up and then landed....all with his brothers and sisters in succession right in a line. The coolest. But it got better. Then the lead started a line to head back across the pond. He swam slightly ahead of the others and they trailed in a perfect line. They took a few minute breather and repeated the exercise. I got some video of it, but have yet to download it. I'll try to put it on here at some point. In the meantime, here's one of the older swans taking off. They literally run on the water. I never knew that!
I also saw two of the swans chillaxin' with one foot hanging out behind them. Not sure what that was about, but it made me smile.
After exhausting my options at the fishery I hopped in the car and headed to Fyvie Castle about 15 minutes away to try to snap a few more shots. Part of the time I walked along a loch. When I stopped to take in the scene and enjoy the peace and quiet, I heard faint honkings that kept getting louder. I then got mobbed by tons of ducks. I think they thought I had bread! I hated disappointing them, but all I could offer was a moment of fame on blogger.I'll leave you with two of my favorite shots from the day.In the below photo, see what I mean about the stillness? The reflections of the pond were great!

P.S. (or should I say N.B) The new header is also from that day. I tried hard all day to find a suitable fallish banner photo.

05 October 2008

The Birthday Boy

My coffee-lovin, UGA college football fanatic, new testament scholar, and sweet dear love is another year older today! If you get a chance email him, write him on Facebook or leave a comment here and wish him a happy birthday!

I love you, Mark! I'm so grateful God has given you life and new life in Him--and that I get to share it with you!

03 October 2008

Where Have You Gone?

We are still here and are still alive.  I am glad at least one of you noticed we'd been away from the blogosphere (you know who you are!) :) I've been on a blogging sabbatical -- probably not a year long leave like profs get, but an extended leave of absence. I've been off work this week due to some extra hours I had built up from working longer days, etc. It's been a refreshing week of organizing the flat, being still, listening to my Lord, attempting to make new goodies for myself (always an adventure), and trying to just not be so busy. I've needed it. More than I realized. Still not sure I am quite up to posting all the various thoughts running through my mind and heart. Maybe some day.