25 June 2009

Lisa's Visit!

Before any more time passes by (and before my parents arrive on Monday!) I wanted to share some pics from my time with my friend, Lisa. Lisa was here for a whole week and it was so wonderful to catch up and have leisurely time together. Usually we fit in 6 months worth of life's details in an hour or two's phone conversation. Not easily done!

Lisa is one of those friends that you thank God has been in your life and is still in your life. She and I met I think at the end of our 8th grade year. Her family started attending the church my dad pastored. I'm pretty sure we became friends almost immediately and spent many formative moments together in youth group, high school and the tennis team together. When we chose rival Christian universities to attend (equally in the middle of nowhere, I might add - her going to Taylor and me Cedarville) we still kept in touch and hung out as often as possible on breaks at home. Life has taken us in very different directions in terms of jobs and cities, but unfortunately we have shared allergies together! While mine are mainly food issues, hers are environmental that trigger bad asthma. What's crazy is both of us got them about 5 or 6 years ago. We joke it was because we grew up near a nuclear power plant! Through all 15 years we've been friends the main source of our friendship has stemmed from our love for the Lord and our desire to serve Him in whatever we do in life. That has looked different for both of us, but that is the beauty of the Body of Christ. Friends like this don't come along too often, nor do they usually remain, so I praise God for Lisa! Lisa, thanks again for coming, listening, freezing (hah!), and just sharing in our lives here. We so enjoyed it and will forever miss your company when watching The Office again.

To see more photos and see a video with a piper at Dunnottar click the below slideshow.

21 June 2009

Summer Solstice Sadness

First things first, Happy Father's Day to all the father's out there! And Happy Father's Day (again) to my dad, truly the best dad a daughter could have. I love you and can't wait to see you in a week!!!

The longest day of the year is upon us (and nearly over in this part of the world). The official start to summer has surprisingly been a mild and sunny one. I wish there were more like it here. To show you just what the longest day of the year is like here, I will show you this (not so great picture) I took at 3:15am after a trip to the loo. Not sure how I managed to even think to do this, but all the brightness streaming in the windows awakens my mind more than I'd like some nights. In any case, I think it actually seemed brighter than this but it is generally what what it was like.
According to this website, this photo would have been taken about 15 minutes after civil twilight (when it first starts getting light) and about an hour before the sun actually rose. All in all, you gotta love the fact that today we 20 hours and 16 minutes of visible light! Unfortunately, it is all downhill from here.

18 June 2009

Knight for a Boss

It's not often you get the chance to work for an individual who has been knighted by Her Majesty the Queen, but I can now say that I have :) Granted, I've never met the man, but his office is just on the other side of my building and I've heard him speak a couple times so that should count for something. The University of Aberdeen's Principal (yes, that's his title, not president), Professor Sir Duncan C Rice was knighted this past weekend as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours. Interestingly enough, these birthday honours don't take place on Queen Elizabeth's actual birthday, April 21, which she shares with my mother (though, my mom is much younger!). The Queen's Official Birthday is the day that it is celebrated by the nation. Sounds like this tradition started in the early 1900's by Edward VII who moved the celebrations to the summer in hopes of better weather.

17 June 2009

Flying High

For about a year and a half now I have been trying to capture the beauty of the seagulls when they are soaring on the wind, especially when it's blowing strongly. To see one of my earliest attempts, see an older post "Ode to the Seagull." Like I explained there, it is fascinating to see these large birds soar against the sky (or sometimes dark clouds) and then have their white bellies gleam as the setting sunlight hits them.

Last night I decided to take advantage of the sunny evening and photograph some flowers in our garden that have recently bloomed. I did that for awhile and then realized the seagulls were doing what I just described above - gliding on the wind. So I turned the zoom lens upwards. I very quickly discovered what I had previously, it is hard to take a clear shot of these guys! But persistence, manual focus, and some 100 shots later, I ended up with a few that were clear. The birds, as you can tell, were even kind enough to fly right over me at times. I think our neighbors must have been laughing at me because I am sure I was a sight to see standing there with my camera waiting for them to quit circling other areas and come back to me!
One thing is for sure, I will more fully appreciate any photograph I see of a bird flying. It's harder to take than it looks!

14 June 2009

The Amazing Race - Part 4

Monday, June 1 st was our anniversary. When we finally made it out of Zurich (in case you missed that from the slideshow captions from Part 3, we had a very difficult time finding the right road because of confusing signposting), we had a nice drive through the countryside back into Germany. We enjoyed a stop at Lake Titisee before arriving in time for an afternoon nap at our hotel in a small German village outside of Freiburg. After a very busy trip up until that point it was nice to have a relaxing evening together.

The next day we packed up and headed north to Heidelberg for a quick 3 hour tour of the castle and old town, including lunch. I could say a lot more about this, but I'll let the slideshow/captions do the talking.

From there we were counting the hours until we had to get on the airplane, but we had about 1 hour to spare. We saw on the map that Worms was about 10 miles out of our way, so we made an even quicker stop there to see where the Diet of Worms took place. There was a large Luther Monument that we spent some time looking at. Our favorite photos are the two below.
This is to immortalize the words that Luther supposedly said as he left the Diet of Worms, "Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me! Amen."

We had an uneventful trip to the airport, flight home, and trip to our friend's flat in Glasgow for the night. Before we hit the clouds on Wednesday on our way back to Aberdeen we saw the Scottish Saltire in the sky. What a nice welcome home.
Here are the rest of the photos from the remainder of our trip (click to view larger/with captions):

12 June 2009

The Amazing Race - Part 3

I am determined to get through these pics from our trip! Here are some photos from our 3rd full day away, which started off in Germany and ended in Switzerland. Lucerne was just about all I was hoping for, and in many ways even better. Mark and I agreed it was the favorite part of our trip even though we were there for about 5 hours. When we arrived late morning it was a little overcast, but as the afternoon wore on the clouds kept parting showing us more and more of the alps in the distance. Very cool!

Below is Kapellbr├╝cke meaning, "chapel bridge." It is the oldest wooden bridge in Europe, though it caught fire in 1993 so much of it has been restored.

From the bridge
Swan from where we ate lunch
We strolled along the river for awhile and I loved this flag flying in front of the mountains.
Just before we left we walked under this huge monument thing (kinda looked like the arc de triumph) near the train station. Mark asked me to take a few shots. I'm glad he did because I like how they came out.

I feel like these are very much just the tip of the iceberg of our day in Lucerne. We spent the night in Zurich, an altogether very interesting experience. You just never know what you are going to get with "hostels" :) But after the amazing sunset I think it was worth it! To see more and read more, click on the slideshow.

Switzerland - Day 3

05 June 2009

The Amazing Race - Part 2

I have a few minutes since Lisa obviously needed to get to bed early after travelling so much. I can't get Facebook to cooperate, so we are trying out Picasa web albums slideshow (see bottom of post). Here are a few others photos from day 2. On Saturday we left my cousins and headed to Triberg, Germany set in the picturesque Black Forest. The drive was so scenic and the town of Triberg didn't disappoint either. They are known for cuckoo clocks, and this tourist shop was known as "House of a 1,000 Clocks" or something like that. There were at least that many ticking clocks in there, though I never heard one actually cuckoo.

Triberg is known for it's cascading waterfall. We enjoyed a scenic and steep hike up to the top of the waterfall.

Germany and Switzerland both were filled with tons of tunnels because of the many hills/mountains. Some were even fairly long. I decided to do some experimenting with my camera settings and motion photography since I haven't really done any of that (other than moving children!) We liked this one best out of all of them (edited of course to make even more dramatic), though viewing it here at low resolution it doesn't look quite as cool as it does large and clear.

I think if you click on the slidshow you can view it larger and with captions. Enjoy!

03 June 2009

The Amazing Race - Part 1

We enjoyed a fantastic 6 or so days away from home! Thanks for your prayers. We were safe and I was healthy.

Not sure how much or how quickly I can share the many things I'd like to share. My good friend, Lisa, arrives this Friday for a week of fun and catching up. I can't wait!

Mark and I totalled up today that we have driven around 1,100 miles in Scotland, Germany and Switzerland in a week's time. Whew. It was so worth it, despite the number of times we got lost and frustrated over Germany's poor signage on some roads (actually, Switzerland wasn't all that hot at times either). Somehow, by God's grace, we always ended up where we needed to be. We also enjoyed getting the car up to 155kmh or so -- roughly 100 mph on the Autobahn . (Don't worry, moms, it wasn't for long!) You can't drive that fast in all areas (nor would you want to!), but we thought that wasn't too bad for our Ford Focus rental.
Last Thursday night as we drove to my cousins house in the middle of no where in Germany (very lost I might say with darkness approaching and few who spoke English) I was thinking about how it was like we were on our own Amazing Race adventure. I love that show. My respect for the contestants driving in other countries and trying to communicate with those who don't speak English went up ten-fold. My respect for missionaries (or any expats) living in non-English speaking countries also increased immensely. Makes me grateful we live here! Anyways, the first "leg" of our journey in Germany didn't go so hot and a 45 minute drive took closer to 2 and a quarter or 2 and a half hours. Not fun. However, we did survive and arrived before my cousin sent out the search party.

For sake of time, I've included three favorite photos of mine from the trip. Go to Facebook to see some more photos from our time with my cousin and his wife/son. I will try to link the album here some day, but can't figure that out right now!

I leave you with God's handiwork over Zurich. I barely edited this photo....just stunning colors that night!