August 31, In Retrospect

In Retrospect posts are about looking at the pictures taken on a particular day of the year. Welcome to August 31, through the years.

2008, Glasgow Scotland. Definitely looking at all the architecture, walking everywhere, dragging the camera.

Kelvingrove Park 163 Around Glasgow 280

2010, Glasgow Scotland. Photographing things through the window, overlooking the crescent park during the day and giving us great views of the moon, as well.

Lynedoch Crescent D 453

2011, Hayford Mills Scotland. T. would watch as D. walked away to work, eeling his way along a narrow footpath, to cross the motorway, wending through neighborhoods, to eventually end up in a business park in Stirling.

Hayford Mills 048 Stirling 93

2017, Newark CA. We had been down here for just over a month, and were enjoying the summer fruit, much as we’ve been doing this summer.

Peachtree 29

-D & T

Glasgow Botanical Gardens – Happy Birthday!

Glasgow Botanic Gardens D 60 HDR

Glasgow Botanic Gardens is turning 200 years old! It certainly looks like they had a fabulous day for it (their Twitter feed has some video and pictures). On a day like today is supposed to be here in California, we’d probably not have visited the Botanics, as they tend to be much warmer inside than out. In Glasgow’s fog and dreich, though, we’ve loved being inside, looking at all the flowers and statuary.

Enjoy your weekend!

-D & T

{the people that walked in darkness}

Lynedoch Crescent D 242

when you walk through the storm, keep your head up high,
and don’t be afraid of the dark

At the end of a storm is a golden sky, and the sweet silver song of the lark –

…Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain
though your dreams be tossed and blown –

Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
and you’ll never walk alone… you’ll never walk alone.

Charing Cross 264

To the people still walking in darkness, and waking in darkness, and whose spirits are flattened beneath the hideous orangish glow of sodium lights — hang in there.

Lynedoch Crescent D 241

And to those who are buckling down for wind, sleet, storm and blizzard this weekend — see you on the other side. Stay warm!

Kelvingrove Park 213

January 31, In Retrospect

Watercress 1
Onion Caper Bread 6

January 31, 2008, we’d been in Scotland for about 5 months. We were getting a veggie box, which routinely came with odd things in it, such as watercress. We’d never really had any prior to this experience – maybe it was in a sandwich or a salad or something, but we’d never just had it. Cress is dead easy to grow, but you’ve got to be careful to keep the stuff it grows in just wet enough, but not oversaturated… it can smell, oddly, a great deal like wet dog if done wrong. (Bet you wonder how we know that, huh? Hydroponic gardening is kind of an exact science sometimes…)

We were still trying to keep our sourdough bread going, in 2008, with a crock of starter, so our baking was frequent and we’d end up with some interesting creations in an attempt to make use of the sourdough. Onion Caper bread: quite tasty!

Glass Painting 2

A year later, January 31 2009, was a day for T. to paint some glass. These are still with us, somewhere. Many of the painted glass jars ended up being given away in the form of gifts, as we tended to recycle jam jars for bath salts, cookie dough (layered attractively, just add eggs, oil and milk), cocoa mix, and the odd (sometimes VERY odd) experiments in jam making. (Rhubarb does not lend itself easily to much that isn’t strawberry. Unfortunately.) Sometimes we miss doing as many “home living” experiments. One of the nice thing about Scotland was uninterrupted stretches of time when no one wanted us or cared what we were doing (an entire city, largely, happily indifferent to us) and so we could get up to some interesting exploits, like…

Apron for Laura

Fast forward to 2012 and we’re making aprons for our friend Laura. Somehow or other, a group of us in Chorus bonded over being vegetarians, and got aprons or pins or shirts out of our mutual (to many of our Scottish friends) goofiness. This butternut squash is performing – a lovely alto like our friend Laura – and Veggie Girl is her name in lights on the stage. Don’t even know how we got to discussing, “What vegetable describes your personality?” but T is still bewildered that Margaret believes herself to be Bok Choy… Meanwhile, that same day we took this picture, we went out to Chorus rehearsal – but popped out for a cuppa tea in Merchant City and took what’s turned out to be one of our favorite pictures of a cold night in the Shopping District – the movement and busyness and vitality of Merchant City, captured for all time.

Glasgow Merchant City D 36 HDR

This January 31, we’re spending the day recovering from D’s nose surgery. You don’t want photographs…

-D & T

November 5, In Retrospect

Vallejo 94

November 5 is a strange day, in Retrospect. In the UK, it’s Guy Fawkes Night, which means that pretty much anybody with something to burn or explode is out, burning or exploding. Here in California, though, it’s pretty tame, as evinced by the picture of the California hills (2012), which D. took from the car on the way back from a Novato. He took this shot to demonstrate how utterly boring his drive there was. Notice that there’s a small flock of sheep upon the hill. It was quite reminiscent of Scotland, actually.


Hayford Mills 160

In 2011, we were living in Hayford Mills / Cambusbarron, outside of Stirling. It was a Saturday, and still a teensy bit sunny, so of course we decided to take advantage of the weather and read outside on the porch. You can see how bright and sunny things are – and also how much insulation was needed to manage being outside!


Cranberry Orange Bread 3

In 2010 we apparently we had a party of some sort, involving tootsie rolls, tea, and cranberry-orange bread. This was probably in preparation for going out to see fireworks.

Glasgow Fireworks 2010 012010 Fireworks

And, in 2009 we also went out to see fireworks, down near the People’s Palace, from a bridge over the River Clyde.

Glasgow Fireworks 2009 D 822009 Fireworks
Glasgow Fireworks 2009 D 842009 Fireworks
Glasgow Fireworks 2009 D 772009 Fireworks

Of course, in 2008 we got our first real taste of Guy Fawkes Night by watching the neighborhood hooligans burn things, when we lived on Kent Road. Below is a shot of a mattress and a shopping cart / trolley being burned … on the grass, in the neighborhood park.

2008 Guy Fawkes 4Because mattresses and shopping carts need to be burned, apparently.

This November 5 we’ll be … not burning anything, nor watching any fireworks. Perhaps we’ll make some cranberry-orange bread, though, and sit upon the deck, in the sunshine, wrapped up in blankets.

-D & T

“They looked up, and twenty years had passed.”

Kent Road Flower 24

This is a week for remembering.

Twenty years ago today, we reached the end of one story, and began another.

The previous story began when T. was a college senior, avoiding 8 o’clock and a very BOOMING-VOICED PROFESSOR who just thought he was the Universe’s ultimate gift and knew it all. T. couldn’t stand his homophobic, misogynistic self (perhaps he wasn’t truly homophobic and misogynistic, but Walt Whitman certainly seemed to bring it out of him…), so though her usual habit was to be on the front row of everything (a holdover from having squinted her way through three years of school before anyone noticed she needed glasses), she slunk to the back in self-defense – the back where Mr. Man in Black, a seriously Goth/shaved hair/eyeliner/myriad earrings/gravelly morning voice wise-guy type sat with his feet propped on the desk in front of him. Despite being so far away from said professor, he would, nevertheless, Hold Forth from the very back row – while the whole class turned and craned and looked at him. So, while T was avoiding the professor and his big, stupid voice, she had Mr. Man next to her, assertively booming up toward the front, and attracting everyone’s attention.

She was not happy.

The professor really was a piece of work, and as a result of the myriad arguments, and other less academic concerns (READ: Eight A.M. when one is nineteen is REALLY early. Some of us love our sleep) Mr. Man frequently absented himself from those 8 a.m. classes fairly regularly. Being brilliant, however, it didn’t matter, he was still making the grades. (Also, the professor had taught at Oxford, and the British educational system is structured so that professors only rarely show up to teach – they have lecturers for that; professors research. So, our professor – minus his lecturer counterpart – was missing class about as often, too – it was really insane that quarter. Anyway.) Once Professor Blowhard showed up and announced an exam, through sheer chance (yeah, right) T ran into Mr. Man and advised him the impending threat to his grades. He wrote his number down (in eyeliner) and suggested she phone him and he could pick up her notes. …and, of course, D. and T. ended up chatting and chatting and ignoring all other responsibilities to chat some more.

Awww.

A year and a half of chatting, and D and T decided not to end the conversation. And, so, twenty years ago, on a Tuesday afternoon in a skateboard park, with a pop bottle tab for a ring, D&T promised to keep talking… and then, went back to work. Because, bills, people. No one who gets married in their barely twenties actually has, you know, money.

To celebrate the sweeping romance of those twenty years, on Monday, they went to the endocrinologist. As one does. Because, lab tests and appointments wait for no man.

Kent Road Flower 20

Okay, so we’re not the most romantic people ev-ah, but honestly? There’s nothing intrinsically romantic about relationships. They’re work. Even one’s relationships with one’s favorite shoes are work – you polish them, you keep them out of mud and water, you re-sole and re-heel as necessary. In return, the shoes look nice on you; they keep their grip on the pavement, they ornament your steps. It’s a relationship, of sorts. There’s nothing inherently fuzzy or starry-eyed and sparkly about not slamming a door or kicking someone in the shins, when you feel they could so richly benefit from this behavior (and, doing so would so richly enhance your feelings). There is nothing effervescent about explaining something to someone who doesn’t get you, in unloading the dishwasher when someone said they’d do it, and doesn’t, in wiping up after someone else cooks, and cleaning the shower after someone is sick in it (oh, one memorable winter in Glasgow …ugh. Let’s draw a veil). Sometimes, not even the love that you have nurtured is enough. Sometimes, a relationship is all only bloody-minded, jaw-clamped, relentlessly civil, grimly optimistic… work.

Fortunately, if you keep chatting, it all gets easier. Listening, more than speaking. Opening hearts, and not just ears.

Twenty years. Twenty – when some of our friends didn’t even make it to ten. My God, we have been blessed. Thank you.

In Retrospect – Bagels, ALA, Mongolian Food

Because looking back across the years is A Thing around here, we give you a short video of D. making raisin bagels. Five years ago today, this is what we were doing with our afternoon. (We’ve since decided that poking a hole and stretching the bagel is a better method – but, hey, we were just getting started way back then!) Lately, the siren call of poured fondant is sounding again, and T’s thinking of re-imagining a recipe for Strawberry/Blueberry cheesecake. But, since there are peaches in the house, this might have to wait…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wishiwerebaking/3663172988/ is the video as hosted on Flickr.

Four years ago today, we were at the American Library Association, in Washington, D.C. for T. to receive an award (the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, for Mare’s War). This reminds us of the hundreds of people, and the ease with which we got lost, wandering around the huge conference center. This year, the ALA is in a massive conference center and hotel in Las Vegas… whoever had the idea that people should flock to the Nevada desert in the middle June… should rethink. Next year the ALA Annual meeting is in SF, and T. has decided that sounds much more reasonable.

ALA 2010 007

Three years ago, we were in Glasgow, wondering about the Glaswegian version of Mongolian food (and this restaurant’s choice in matchbooks). We’d visited the restaurant during a break before performing Pirates of Penzance (which we blogged about at the time and again back in January, when we found the video footage of the performance).

Khublai Kahn Restaurant 10

And today, we’re enjoying the break in the heat, here in California. Even at D’s office, which tends to be twenty degrees warmer than at home, it’s a balmy 25°C/77°F, and at the house it’s 20°C/68°F. The weather has remained mild and breezy for days now, which is really helping the soil to stay moist during our infrequent watering. The strawberries are producing, and the asparagus is …deciding that maybe it will come out of hibernation. Maybe. T. is working on a novel revision, D. is tinkering with things at work (and waiting for his final batch of papers for a course he’s teaching), and life is just moving along. Our worm bins are coming along nicely, we’ve solved the mystery of our birdseed being scattered in piles on the patio (the Blue Jays take turns tipping over the feeder! Politely! We have such odd wildlife around here. Oh. And we’ve been gifted with a mockingbird as well. Nothing like hearing him at 4:30 a.m., staring to greet the dawn with the sound of a cell phone), and in the garden the gourds and squash are limping along as gardens do in their first year (the soil really is horrible, having been neglected for so many years). Ivy is trying to grow through the lawn with the clover…

Just another typically disorganized summer at the Hobbiton. And, how are you?

-D & T

In Retrospect – Mid-June Crossroads

Apparently June 23rd is a big travel day for us. No idea why (maybe the lengthening summer days, ending with Solstice), but we’ve tended to bounce around towards the end of June over the past few years. (The small voices in our heads point out that, well, we’ve just plain bounced around. Ahem.)

When we travel, though, we like to try to capture something interesting about the pit-stops along the way. Airports are the perfect crossroads, the perfect jumping-off places to any given city. Filled with slightly unremarkable art exhibits and city information, they give the traveler a chance to find where they are, and what’s unique about it, before they wander off again. Sometimes, the traveler is a little less… left of center than average, and then they end up finding pretty much only the “weird” in any place, instead of what’s carefully being pointed out… For instance, in Glasgow, “interesting” took on a whole new level one day, because, we found Good Housekeeping. Who knew Michelle Obama would be on the cover of a Good Housekeeping magazine in another country? Why does anyone care? Why do they even have Good Housekeeping outside the U.S.? Good Flatkeeping just doesn’t have the same ring…? (Additionally, why are there still even magazines with titles referring to keeping house?! Unless they put back Heloise Hints, there’s nothing about housekeeping even in there. But, we digress…)

Miami counts as a very brief stop in our “crossroad” travels in June, as the first thing we did when we got out of the airplane was to arrange tickets to leave. Truly, coming from Scotland and arriving in Miami, in June, to the boiled-flannel heat and humidity was the worst idea, ever. We have no idea how the Scots, who reportedly love to vacation in Florida, can do it – it’s such an enormous and awful weather change. And yet, most Scottish folk we met told us that they have been to or plan to visit Florida – and a large number of them own condos there. Not something we and our humidity-avoiding selves could do, no.

A June afternoon in Schiphol is just … an ordinary, passing-through, although we haven’t been there in many, many years. We used to fly KLM every time we went to Europe, even tried to save up our frequent flier miles, but, when we hadn’t flown in awhile … they expired our miles. We tried to phone, and would have had to pay a per-minute charge to even tell them why they’d lost our business…! KLM gives new meaning to the idea of customer service. 😐

These final shots are from …Detroit. Do we even remember that we passed through Detroit, once upon a time? When? Why? You know, it’s very bad when you vaguely remember the place, and only really remember it because of some survey they asked for us to take (yeah – ask people survey questions when they’re jet-lagged. That’ll be coherent). If not for the pictures, we’d not even have a clue that we’d been there. Sorry, Michigan. We’ll have to give you a better viewing at some point, outside of a crowded airport.

November 20, In Retrospect

Charing Cross 375
Lynedoch Crescent D 225
Finnieston 126
Sign - Never Leave Safe

Ahh, 2009. By this date we’d encountered our first Bonfire Night, and the charred circle in the grass – which was a permanent scar and was only camouflaged by the snow a while later – was the aftermath. Bonfire night can be such a fun, neighborhood night; despite frigid temps, cold, and fog, tons of people are out and about, chatting around a bonfire, watching the fireworks, catching up with the neighbors. It’s not always that PG, but we’ll just discard the memories which include herds of thugs, emptied bottles and noisome puddles the morning after…

By 2009, we had been living in the flat on Lynedoch Crescent for about 7 months, and still loved the area. We hadn’t yet had more than a dusting of snow that winter, although the darkness was certainly moving in on us by then. D. was still slaving through his schoolwork and working at Skypark, and encountering many things T. on his walk to/from work that T. wished he wouldn’t photograph (he had an “abandoned mattress” sighting thing going until T. finally convinced him to stop). A strange concept, to American minds, was the concept of delivery people leaving things safe. Apparently to “leave safe” means it’s OK to drop off a delivery next to the door or somewhere out of the way, and some people object to this (as evinced by the sign). We thought many times of putting up just such a sign, since often delivery drivers wouldn’t bother to ring the bell, and instead would just leave boxes outside of the flat…in the rain. Yes. Color us cranky.

(We’re grateful for our covered porch on this date in 2012, because the postman here does the same thing… as we don’t use the front door much, we often miss seeing his little leavings. T. periodically opens the door just to check, and this morning, found a pile of packages on the stairs. Since we have both a cow bell AND a doorbell, T. is wondering how she could have missed him heralding this latest delivery!! :sigh: People are doorbell averse, the world over, it seems. And, apparently also averse to taking just one more step to ensure that the packages are out of the wet. :grump:)

Paisley Abbey 07 Paisley Abbey 12 HDR
Paisley Abbey 14 Paisley Abbey 18 HDR
Paisley Abbey 23 Paisley Abbey 24

On this date in 2010 we were just getting ready for our first concert in Paisley Abbey. What a phenomenal space! If you have a chance to visit the Abbey grounds someday, do. We recall this concert differently; we sang the Fauré, and T. remembers mainly fretting about the treble pitches (it’s so glorious a sound, in a cathedral with an orchestra, but so easy to hear echoes and go flat). D. recalls it all as wonderful, even though the organist’s wee harmonium kept slipping from him as he pumped the bellows, so he arrived at a space several feet away from where he started by the time the concert was done (that was amusing to watch). We were also, T. recalls, late to the dress rehearsal because we got lost, and both of us were freezing and slightly soppy, on account of the wind and the icy rain (there was sand underfoot, we recall, for the ice). Ah, precious memories. ☺

The past steps into the present — we sang with our church chorus this past weekend – twenty singers vs. the ninety-eight we had at Paisley – and yet, the feeling of being part of something bigger than oneself remains. It’s comforting, that wherever we are, music is the same. In this way, we continue to piece together bits of who we were in the past with who we are now. And the wheel goes ’round again.

-D & T