28 September 2009

It's Time for an Update!

Two weeks without blogging and it feels like maybe 2 days. Okay, slight exaggeration, but the past two weeks have flown by, been full and wonderful and tiring. Thought that maybe I should write about some significant and also random things. So here goes, in my fav, bullet point style:
  • I've been home all day with a man who looks like he was in a pub brawl or domestic dispute. Your choice. Said man claims to be my husband, but looks more like a creepy man I can't look too long and hard at without scaring myself. Poor guy has a swollen eye that is half shut. Due to it being a "bank holiday" (more on that later) he hasn't been able to see a doctor to find out what in the world is going on. I think Mark was just jealous I had the day off work and decided to poke himself in the eye so he could stay home "sick" too. In all seriousness, we'd really appreicate your prayers that his eye would heal soon and he would stay HEALTHY. Mark's been sick waaaaaay too much this year and really can't afford much more time away from his thesis.
  • As mentioned, today is a lovely, random day off work. They call them "bank holidays" or "local holidays" but in all my digging I still can't quite figure out why they have them. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about time off work, it's just counter-intuataive to this American to have a day off when you aren't actually celebrating something. At church another member and I were discussing various cultural differences regarding holidays and I brought up this point. He was surprised we didn't have "local holidays" (each city or town here has their own days and they don't always coincide with the neighboring towns), but only really national holidays. I mentioned the fact that when we have days off we are usually celebrating something. He sort of took offense at this. I think they just celebrate the seasons instead. There are two days off in the spring, one in July and one in September (and of course ones for Christmas). Note to self, be careful how I talk about this in the future :)
  • I received an orchid as a gift (same time as the chocolate on the previous post) and while I have been known to have a green thumb, I've been leary of killing the orchid. It's my first so I've had to do some reading and talking to friends to make sure I'm doing everything correctly. 

  • Turning 31 was MUCH easier than turning 30! I'm grateful. I had a delightful and restful few days on and around my birthday. Thanks for all the birthday wishes, cards, gifts, etc. Mark obliged my one birthday wish and took me to Dunnottar Castle to get some photos of the castle as the sunset. Too bad the clouds creeped in. But, I did get these and the one below, so the evening wasn't a total disappointment. Just means we have to go again to get the shot I'm looking for :)

  • It's been a full few weeks of welcoming new students/families to the University, both at work and also personally amongst my group of friends and our Aberdeen Women's Fellowship. I look forward to this time of year, so I've enjoyed the opportunity to meet new folk and help them settle in to Aberdeen.
  • The nights are quickly becoming darker and longer. The longer summer nights are but a faint memory. There is nothing exciting about this except that it signals that the time for us to go "home" for the holidays is creeping ever so closer! We are both now under 2 months to go before being back on US soil! (I say both because we are leaving about a week apart. Mark will go early for 2 conferences while I stay behind and work and then we'll be reunited on the Monday before Thanksgiving.)
  • While many in the US have been drowning in buckets of rain, we've had two weeks of very little rain and large amounts of sunshine and fairly warm temps. It's been those days that I am reminded of why I love it here. On one such Saturday afternoon/evening, Mark and I hopped in the car and headed for the hills of Aberdeenshire so Mark could do some fishing and I could (what else) photograph! Here are a few favorite photos from the adventure....
 Mark's in the lower left getting his gear ready and Bennachie is the hill range in the background, with Mither Tap being the peak farthest left. We still need to hike that before we leave.

Beautiful purple heather in the glowing evening sun.

I love me some b/w reflections and lines.

Bennachie again, with maybe Oxen Craig in the distance? I was drawn in by the golden fields as the sunset on them, constrasting with the darker areas around.

More glowing sun on flowers. 

More amazing Scottish scenery. Had to go slightly off the beaten path for this, but well worth it. I like the new header version even more (though the header doesn't do it justice, in my opinion). Mark really liked this version, though, so here it is!

  •  While we are sad that Jack is not back (until January), it's been nice to welcome other old friends like Gibbs and gang, as well as Office-mates back into our home.
  • Planning a surprise get-away weekend for my dear hubby has proved challenging. He knows we are going way this weekend to celebrate his birthday (and just to give him a much needed break after working so diligently the past couple months), but he doesn't want to know where we are going. I, however, keep forgetting that he doesn't know and have had several near misses of spewing vital information. I will be glad when Friday gets here and I can share my secrets!
  • I'm sure I could go on and on, but in the interest of your time and mine, mabye we should call it a night. Hopefully it won't be another 2 weeks before I write, but we'll see!

15 September 2009

Word of the Week

I love that even after 2 years here I am still learning more things about the culture and language. Thought I would share with you today's word of the week.  I was just reading the box of some chocolates we were given to us recently. On it there was the word "moreish." I've heard this word at work and gathered sort of what it meant, but never fully appreciated it until I looked it up on an on-line dictionary. It is an adjective used of food in British culture to describe when something tastes so good you just want more. And just so you can see the word in context, the box states, "...this delicious assortment of moreish chocolates captures Throntons quality and craftsmanship in an indulgent moment."

No wonder it was on a box of chocolate. I like this word.

06 September 2009

A Wedding: Scottish Style

I was fortunate enough to be able to go to my first Scottish wedding this past Friday. It was of Pip and Alec that I took photos of on Saturday. Mark was bummed he had a NT conference on campus to attend so he was unable to join me for the festivities. And I had some girl friends unable to go as well, so this post is as much for them as the rest of you :) We've all been wondering how a Scottish wedding compared to an American one. And while I do realize that even amongst American weddings there is diversity, and assume the same is true of Scottish ones, I thought I'd still share what I observed as different in this particular Scottish wedding compared to the multiple American ones I've attended.

For starters, it poured all day the day before. Like for over 24 hours it just kept coming down hard and steady. Things were flooding, roads were closing, train lines stopped. I kept waiting for Noah and his ark to go floating by. I think everyone participating in the wedding must have been praying overtime, because around 20-30 minutes before the wedding the sun came out!! It was so great to see again and that way the bride didn't have to get drenched going into the wedding.

In Scotland many more weddings are conducted on Friday's. Often on summer Friday afternoon's on campus there are weddings taking place at the chapel. I'm unsure why this is such a popular time to get married, but it is. All I can figure is that everyone gets plenty of days off work so it isn't such a big deal for all of your guests to take a day off to participate in your wedding activities.

There was, of course, the traditional piper (bag piper, that is) outside the church playing signaling to all wedding was about to start. Sorry, no photo. Couldn't bring myself to be a tourist this time.
Another thing you would notice quickly at most weddings here are the hats. Many women, especially the, er, more mature generations, would be wearing hats. At this wedding there weren't too many worn, but some of the weddings I've seen on campus have had nearly all ladies in hats. 
They did have the bride side and groom side, but the ushers didn't properly escort anyone to their seats. Just more of a "go find your own seat" approach. I noticed that even when the bride's mother went down the aisle no one really escorted her. There was an usher with her, but he just walked behind her. 
The dad still escorts the bride into the ceremony, and the groom with groomsmen were waiting at the end of the aisle. However, the bridesmaids and then the minister followed the bride in! (You can just see the bride's sister and maid-of-honor in the back of this photo.) Isn't Pip beautiful?! Her dress was amazing and I'm not sure if I've ever liked a wedding dress quite as much as I liked hers. Might have even liked it more than my own (which I loved). But I digress. There were no ringbearers or flower girls. Not sure if this is standard or just this particular wedding.
Another thing that caught my attention was how there were two groomsman (his brothers) and 3 bridesmaids, but the other two bridesmaids didn't actually stand up during the ceremony (just her sister). (Note large purple hat on bottom right.) Also, decorations much more simple. One large arrangement at front of church and then small arrangements hanging from the columns on either side of the stage (though not sure they are pictured in any of these photos.)
As for the ceremony. It was definitely a worship service, which was great. Lots of singing which I have seen at some US weddings. The thing I found most interesting was how quickly into the hour or so wedding they were pronounced man and wife and got to kiss. There was the giving away of the bride, a song, Scripture reading, and then the exchange of the vows and rings (which the minister [his dad] had and gave to them), the kiss and lots of people taking pictures. Then we kept singing. Then there was a charge or sermonette from the other minister [our church minister, he's pictured above]. During this charge the couple, as well as their attendents, sat down. I liked that idea as usually everyone gets tired of standing and this keeps anyone from wanting to faint. I wish we had done this! It is probably easier to listen and concentrate on what is actually being said. Then again, that might be why everyone gets videos to watch later :)

After more singing the couple, their attendents, and the ministers went to the back room to sign the marriage register while everyone else stayed put and listened to two songs sung by a duet. It felt kind of weird not to have the couple there for so long. Finally they came back, think we sang one last song and had a prayer, and then they got to go down the aisle. Slightly anti-climactic (in my opinion) but joyous nonetheless as you will see below.

Below is my personal favorite photo of the day for it's artistic quality. It paid to be on the back row and have the glass window looking into the vestibule at my disposal. Despite the sunny look, it was drizzling again at this point. In the words of another guest, the day was very "changeable." I love that Scottish description of the run/sun/run/sun/rain/sun pattern on many days here. It embodies the "you can never be quite sure what will be happening in the next moment weather-wise" reality.

I think they were scheduled to do photos outside, but because of the drizzle kept them inside. Seemed very typical. Bride/groom ones, family ones, wedding party ones. Do you see that dress? Lovely. And while we are on clothing, yes it is very traditional and typical of the gentlemen to be in kilts (wearing the tarten plaid/colors of one side of their family) with those socks/shoes and a tux-like suitcoat. Oh, and wearing the traditional sporran which is possibly the Scottish version of a "murse." Awesome. I also noted that the men's lapels were unopened thistles, which is the Scottish flower/national emblem.
And wedding party ones.
Just to give you a better idea of the kilts. Mark was disappointed Alec wasn't wearing a dagger in his sock like you sometime see. This also is a good place to mention other men (other than the groom) at weddings will be in kilts (again sporting their personal family tarten, though at times maybe they just have whatever pattern they like most). Definitely the wedding party men, male musicians and many other male guests who are Scottish.

I was sad that I never got a chance to say congrats to the couple afterwards, but the tea/coffee/sandwiches/cakes (which means, sweet baked goods, not THE cake) reception through the "hall" was jam packed. Plus I think they were still taking photos and maybe even braved a few outside at some point.

The partying would have continued later in the evening with many of the guests attending a ceilidh. Maybe even a dinner? To read more about another friend's wedding experience (though more just the reception experience since she says that usually only family and close friends attend the actual wedding ceremony. I think that because this was a Christian wedding maybe it was different?) go here.

So think that is it. All in all, it really wasn't too different than what I've experienced at American weddings. I'm thankful Pip and Alec invited the entire church to attend their ceremony so that I could celebrate with them, but also gain another cultural experience.

05 September 2009

You Know You've Adapted to Aberdeen if....Part Two

So today is our 2 year anniversary of arriving in Aberdeen. In some ways it feels every bit of the two years. In other ways, it feels much shorter. In honor of said occasion, I thought it only appropriate to bring to you the sequal to last year's one year anniversary post. So here they are in no particular order:

You know you've adapted to Aberdeen if.......

1. You actually go out of the house without a coat more often! (I must be finally becoming more Scottish and used to the cooler air. That or it has indeed been warmer this year.)

2. The US date structure of mm/dd/yy looks odd to you and you've come to prefer the dd/mm/yy UK version. (It's honestly challenging to think of the date in US style any more. It took a while for this one to come, but now that it is here, it is pretty engrained in me. Except for our birthdays, I still think both sound better in the US version.)

3. More Scottish phrases/words/sentence structures have worked their way unknowingly into your vocabulary. (I was shocked nearly 2 weeks ago when I was talking to some American friends and I phrased something in a very Scottish way unintentionally. After I said it I looked at them and said "Wow, that was really Scottish. I would never have said it like that in the US.)

4. Related to the above: You can't even always remember how it would be said in the US because you are so used to hearing it said another way. (This scares me as I think about going back to the US!)

5. You've come to greatly appreciate the fresh air and actually look forward to opening your windows to let that air circulate.

6. Roundabouts are your friend.

7. It doesn't scare you nearly as much to play chicken with another car in the middle of the road that is only one and a half lanes wide.

8. "Wee" has replaced "little" in your vocabulary.

9. The seagulls finally annoy you nearly as much as they annoy the locals. (See last year's post at the bottom. Though, there is one exception -- when they are soaring in the wind.)

10. You can understand an increasing amount of doric conversation. You can even sometimes speak a little.

11. You forget at times that you live overseas because things are so familiar and comfortable to you. (It's nice that this has happened in some areas of life. Too bad it's not in all areas.)

This is more of a "You Know You've Lived in Aberdeen Too Long if..."

You get pretty excited when you go to someone's house and they have a real TV with real channels and you get to watch it (i.e. you aren't watching a "film" or show on your laptop).

How you know you've got more adapting to do:

1. You do not at all care for the lack of using "cups" in recipes.

2. The sides and backs of food packaging with various values and percentages still means nothing to you because it is all in grams and litres, and uses different words, like "energy" and "kilojoules." (What the stink are kilojoules?!)

3. The weather still amazes you. (How in the world can it change so quickly! In the blink of an eye?!)

***For further cultural musings and probably more entertainment, visit our friend's blog whose one year anniversary of arriving was yesterday.

02 September 2009

Photographer for a Day!

Yesterday I got a taste of what it might be like to be a photographer for a day. I kinda liked it :) Every year our university holds an Open Day, like a preview day other institutions hold. Not sure how many visitors actually came, but we were expecting somewhere near 5,000 and we might have exceeded that. So this is a huge event. When my co-woker who is in charge of the Open Day asked us all what we'd like to do to help, I threw out there "be the photographer," not really knowing if the marketing team I work with would go for it. But, they did! So after some of my usual secretarial duties were completed I pounded the pavement with my camera and bag. For two hours I stalked visitors and my colleagues (yah, they probably won't be big fans of that!) with my camera. I'm not sure that I got any super-fantastic shots worthy of being reproduced anywhere, but even if we don't use any of them, it was a wonderful experience and I'd like to think I learned a lot. Here's a shot I took yesterday just for me :) I found the bobbies also pounding the pavement with our huge promotional banner (that's beyond just banner, let's say billboard) in the background.

Since I had the camera in tow and it was a phenomenal fall day (yes, it is already beginning to feel/look like fall -- boo!), I thought I'd cross another thing off of my "to-do-before-leaving-Aberdeen" list. And that was take photos of the gi-normous hydrangea bushes. Here are two of my favorites I pass while walking to work.
Do you see how full these things are?!

And, then I saw these lovely orange flowers that I've been noticing everywhere lately. They seem like some type of lily but I'm unsure what they actually are. I loved this old rusted fence.

And why let the photography stop when I was home? Here is the progress on the building across the street. What a mess! At least it is quieter. I think they are putting in gas lines.
My experience as a photographer continued with lots of editing of photos. I was of course looking at the Open Day ones, as well as finishing (finally) Ian and Lauren's and Alec and Pip's that I just took on Saturday. It was a full, fun day of photography. Now back to the normal routine :)