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

November 13, In Retrospect

View from Skypark 81 VShips 6 View from Skypark 82
Schuh Boots 1 Woodlands Road 2 Woodlands Road 93 HDR
Lynedoch Crescent D 481 T's new Grandma Shoes Deep-dish Pizza 1

It’s been a very long while since we’ve done a post “In Retrospect.” Looking back through the pictures taken on November 13, we find … Glasgow.

It’s so strange, having spent 5 years there, to be back in California. It’s particularly strange because most of the photographic documentation we have from our lives comes from being forced to adapt to digital photography. When we got to Scotland, developing film was just so expensive that we didn’t take many pictures, and ended up moving to digital within about 4 months. So, our memories are largely slanted towards what we can see, rather than what we must have been doing in our lives before Scotland.

We both still miss being there, in so many ways, but it’s only made more acute by looking in on “a day” from the past and seeing pictures which don’t include any of that previous history. What were we doing, before this day in 2007? We must have done something, but those records are on paper, packed in a box somewhere, inaccessible to us at the moment (having no bookcases means that the journals are still in boxes).

We can look back at the blog history, and the email, to see that we were preparing for Thanksgivings by baking all sorts of things, but the photographic evidence is somehow more impactive than having to dig through email and blogs to find out what we were doing, back then.

-D & T

May 1, In Retrospect

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It’s been awhile since we’ve done one of our “in retrospect” posts. Actually, it’s been a long while since D. has devoted much attention to doing posts of any sort other than “links” posts for classmates, and we’ve determined that … well, that’s about enough of that. So.

The two photos to the left may or may not have been taken on May 1, but were at least scanned into the photo scanner on May 1, which is close enough. They’re photos from one of our favorite places: Palm Desert. No, not Palm Springs (that derided mecca of matching pastel track suits and golf widows), but of the desert proper. Palm Desert is fantastic because it’s a really small town, stuck way out in the middle of nowhere, and it has a series of hot springs with pools. We love to swim, and are particularly enamored of being able to swim in varying temperatures of mineral water. We have happy memories of this place … including the memory of renting a hotel room which was absolutely saturated with cigarette smoke, and which we fumigated with some absolutely horrible incense (nag champa) in an effort to combat the stench. T. will claim that D. just can’t relax and take a vacation, so awakened them at 3 in the morning to drive back to the Bay Area. This is a lie. It was all about the stench. Truly.

Kelvingrove 394
Kelvingrove 398
Kelvingrove 399
Kelvingrove 402

When we first arrived in Glasgow, we discovered Kelvingrove Museum. It’s the second-most-visited museum in all of the United Kingdom, and we really understand why: it’s a fabulous place. Some (*cough*, Mrs. B. *cough*) say that it’s not organized properly, but we’ve found that it’s an enjoyable place to visit, particularly on a rainy day, or on a Sunday when there are organ concerts. We’ve spent many happy hours at Kelvingrove. It encourages you to linger and investigate, to explore and try to understand the past. It has bits which are obviously for children, and is mostly a teaser for history: it says, “there was all of this stuff going on, please continue to investigate.”

The museum used to belong to one guy (Lord Kelvin) and was his town home. It’s very hard to fathom something so immense just being somebody’s house for occasional use, particularly when you consider what’s packed into it today. Its collections far exceed what’s on display, as is the case with so many museums, but if you’re good (and have a silver tongue) you just might manage to work your way behind the scenes and see some of the things which seldom make it to the public eye. It’s not just a museum, is the point: it’s someplace which collects rare items so that they’ll be preserved for further study.

Kelvingrove Park 47
Around Glasgow 64
Glasgow Uni 92
Kelvingrove Park 72

Adjacent to the museum is Kelvingrove Park. We particularly enjoyed wandering through it when we lived in Glasgow, as it’s a great example of an urban park. Fountains, ponds, ducks, roses, and the floral gardens make it memorable for most. Additionally, fabulous views of the University, and a quiet space in the midst of all of the chaos which is Glasgow were what made it a haven for us. Also, the random cat.

Around Glasgow 67
Around Glasgow 69
Around Glasgow 71
Around Glasgow 72
Artichoke

Of course, around Glasgow there are any number of interesting (and odd) things to see. 19th century iron cobblers’ forms? Yep. Just hanging out on the side of the road somewhere. Randomly-painted doors? But of course! Antique, blown-glass windows? Certainly! Glasgow is such a hodge-podge of the historic and the modern. We’re glad to be out of the noise, and away from the students (if we never hear someone singing at 2 a.m. again, we’ll be quite happy), but we truly enjoyed “Glesga” while we were there. Glasgow has so much, bodged in randomly amongst the detritus. You just have to really get in there and look to see.

If you ask anyone from around here what they think of Glasgow, they’ll either love it or they’ll hate it, and that love or hate depends upon whether you love it or hate it: everyone seems to have this love/hate relationship with “the filthy city.” It’s huge, it’s a conglomerate of a bunch of neighborhoods, each of which has its own character and history, and it’s truly its own place. Only if you’ve lived there would you be able to truly understand what Glasgow means, which is to say that Glasgow is an unique experience. Neither entirely good, nor entirely bad, Glasgow has been… an experience.


As we prepare to leave this island, we’re looking backward, remembering how we got here, and who we were back then. We’re wondering what it is that we want out of life. We’ve lived in so many places, now, and have found things we love about them all. What is it we’re seeking? As others ask the question we realize that we don’t really know. The next adventure? Just to prove to ourselves that we aren’t going to be so busy working that we forget to live? Just to escape responsibility, in the form of children? ☺ Does anyone, ever, really know what they want out of where they’re going, unless they take the time to stop… and ask themselves?

In the interim of answering some of life’s deeper questions, we have a short-term plan: we’ll be living in Kilsyth, the town that introduced curling to Scotland (what a claim to fame!) for a few weeks, and will stay there until our passports finally make their way back from the UK Borders Agency (they told us this morning FOURTEEN WEEKS. They had better be exaggerating. If we have to miss niecelet’s graduation…). At that point, we’ll pin down our plane tickets and will return to California for a break of several weeks. We’re still awaiting a job offer from the company based in the Dutch Antilles (and will update you as we know details), but fully expect them to come back with something which means we’ll presently find ourselves on yet another island – this one much more like Arizona, but surrounded by the blue Caribbean. The vast majority of our belongings will eventually make their way to California and go into storage until we send for them, and we’ll be living out of 4 suitcases for the foreseeable future.

Life remains undefined, at this moment. The past holds countless gems which we treasure. We can now put them away, knowing that the future will hold even more.

-D & T

February 7, In Retrospect

bathroom sink cabinets in showroom 4
Yellow.2.Knit.Top.1 Yellow.2.Purl.Bottom.3

February 7, 2007, found us deep into the renovation of our condo in Benicia, picking out cabinets and fittings. The floors had been torn out and had begun being replaced, the place was in chaos, yet we were honestly thinking that we’d be there forever … or, at least another few years, to enjoy living through all of the dust! D. was working as a technical instructor, teaching people various programming languages. T. was busily writing, trapped in a single room away from the builders. That month also saw us finishing up some interesting knitting projects, such as this yellow hat … which was made for an adult who begged and pleaded with D. to make her one. It’s a baby hat, but she just had to have one for herself.

Tacos 1 Tacos 3

Two years later (2009) found us living in Glasgow, Scotland, making Tacos. Between the two points, we’d finished the remodel, rented out the condo, sold everything else we owned, and moved to Glasgow. D. had finished another Master’s degree and had embarked on a PhD. A La Carte had been published, and Mare’s War was four months from being released. We were living in a converted church, a block from the largest reference library in Europe, with no idea where we’d be in two years.

Flash forward another two years to today, and the end of the PhD is in sight, we’re contemplating selling everything yet again, and moving … again. And contemplating buying stock in a box company…!

A scientific fact – recently humorously discussed on NPR – is that human beings can’t go from Point A to Point B in a straight line. Unlike birds, with their magnetic senses, blindfolded, a human being makes a staggering line of loops and circles. That has some parallel to how we live our lives. In many ways, not being able to see what’s coming next feels like being blindfolded, but the good news is that even as we’re making crooked loops, we’re circling our goal… and eventually, we end up safely where we started from. We don’t believe we’ll do that geographically, as there will be transportation involved with people who actually can see where they’re going, but we do live in faith that metaphorically, at least, this will work to our advantage. A person walking blindfolded eventually circles and ends up back where they started from, and so we, too, will find our way “home,” where ever that will mean next.

-D & T

Reflections

Reykjavik 30

Not much to photograph here in gray Glasgow, just the heel-end of the year, with short, dark days, brief, public spats from the packs of feral children roaming the neighborhood who have been out of school for far too long, and finally, at long last, the end of the ice.

…let the people rejoice.


Not the type of folk who make resolutions spanning more than a single day, we nonetheless are looking behind, to the past few years in Glasgow, and looking ahead, knowing that our time here is ticking down. T. has finished reading for her award and is in the process of clearing the living room of an excess of several hundred books, so that we have fewer to pack when we go. The question of “where to next” is a pulsing throb in our bloodstreams, as D. prepares to buckle down for that last dissertation (or, thesis, if you’re British) push, and then the mind-boggling task of networking, interviewing, and hoping to find degree-related employment. (There are no guarantees on this.) We are relishing these last days of laziness before we straighten up and get serious again.


‘Tis the season… and we kind of hate to turn on the TV or the computer, there are so many ads this time of year for …regret. Regret about what we’ve eaten during the holidays, what we’ve purchased, or where we’ve gone or what we’ve done. (They’re called something else – fitness center ads and all kinds of sales, generally.) It’s strange to be part of a society so highly motivated by guilt and regret. This time of year especially, it’s easy to get wrapped up with what went wrong in the last twelve months — and God knows, there was a lot — but one of the nicest things about us leaving our safety net back home and moving is that, whatever else goes wrong, we know we at least took a chance… took a leap, and did entirely what we wanted to do. So, in the name of getting a fresh start in a new year, we wish you hope and courage for new beginnings. We hope you claim the promise of the unspoiled shine of a brand new year — and do something with it. Take a chance. Take a step.

Onward.

Happy New Year.

August 25, In Retrospect

2000 Alaska 112 2000 Alaska 057 2000 Alaska 058

Yet some more photos from 2,000, taken in Skagway, Alaska. I think Skagway was my favorite of the whole trip, just because it was so much smaller, and we got a chance to get away from the other tourists. We’ve not been on a cruise since, and doubt that we will, if only because hanging out witn 2,000 other tourists doesn’t let you see that much of the way things really are.

Sweet Potato Bread 4 Lynedoch Crescent T 32

And, after a long patch of not taking pictures on August 25, here are two taken while we’ve been in Glasgow. These aren’t from the same year – the orchids were in 2009, and the sweet-potato bread from 2008. Funny to think that we’ve already been in this current flat for a whole year, and, despite its foibles, we really do like it here.

-D

August 24, In Retrospect

2000 Alaska 151 2000 Alaska 153
2000 Alaska 155 2000 Alaska 114

Funny: the only pictures we’ve taken (apparently) on August 24 were way back in 2,000, on our cruise to Alaska. I doubt that’s the truth, really – I think that that’s the day the film was developed, because these pictures are from Juneau, yet some pictures which are from the 25th are from Skagway, which we visited prior to Juneau, as I recall.

Wish we’d been shooting high-resolution digital, way back then. Alas, we were shooting “APS” format film, and have since lost the camera somewhere.

-D

July 12, In Retrospect

Two years ago at this time, we were just finishing our time in Tallinn, Estonia. It was a rainy day there, so there weren’t too many pictures taken, as visibility was poor. We took a tour bus around the town, listening to the commentary until we got tired of being slightly damp. We’d just finished our first full year in Glasgow, and were enjoying a bit of a break in the midst of D. writing his Master’s dissertation / thesis. We loved the red-tiled roofs, and the mixture of old Europe with modernity we found in Estonia. We also enjoyed seeing a different ethnicity and realizing that, yes, Estonians are a different ethnic group, despite being fair of skin and hair. For Americans, it was a big difference; that’s just now how it is in Ye Olde melting-pot of the U.S., and it’s rare to see such a strong set of features repeated across such a large group.

Last year at this time, we were just wrapping up our trip to Oban and Mull. It was, again, a rainy day, yet we’d enjoyed some glorious days of absolutely stunning sunshine and marvelous company. We weren’t quite ready for the return to rain, but we at least felt that we’d gotten a decent amount of sunshine, and had experienced a taste of The Islands.

This summer as D. buckles down for this last year of the PhD – data analysis, writing, rewriting, more reading, and more writing – we’re thinking back on our time, here in Scotland, wondering where we’d like to end up. We really have no idea what doors will open, so we’re trying not to hope we’ll end up anywhere in particular … but we’re sort-of looking around, saying, “where have we enjoyed being?”

Just about everybody we know or meet asks us whether we’ll be going “back home” when this is done. We think … we think we’re still up for an adventure, but perhaps one which doesn’t include quite so much rain, nor quite so much cold, nor quite so much darkness. On the other hand, we’re also told that one gets used to the snow: our Norwegian friend claims that, “they know how to deal with the snow, there!” And with full-spectrum bulbs in just about every room of the house … well, we’ve come to deal with the darkness, if not the rain or snow.

And the Norwegians believe in hot tubs. And saunas.

So, where will it be? Probably nowhere which has bagpipe bands practicing in the firehouse, due to rain. But possibly somewhere just as small, and quaint, and quiet. Or not.

-D & T

June 7, in retrospect

Dolomites D 304 Dolomites D 305 Dolomites D 306
Dolomites D 307 Dolomites D 308 Dolomites D 309
Dolomites D 310 Dolomites D 311 Dolomites D 312
Dolomites D 313 Dolomites D 314 Dolomites D 315

June 7, 2009 found us back in Glasgow, wondering why we’d only bought a single book of postcards from the Castello del Buonconsiglio, in Trento (on June 3). Such a fabulous castle, and we only bought a single book of postcards (which we still have, being greedy that way). Rather than send the postcards out and lose them, we planned to photograph them and turn them into our own postcards (via Moo.com). We still haven’t done so. Perhaps it’s time to make some postcards again?

When we first came to Glasgow we sent out postcard after postcard, trying to stay in touch with people back home. We’ve stopped, though, for some reason. Probably because we’ve run out of postcards, for one thing, but … somehow, it just doesn’t seem necessary: we connect with people via email and skype, and have somewhat adapted to living away from home. I miss the postcards, though, if only because they’re such a personal thing – they’re a reaching out in a very tangible way to someone far off, saying that they’re important enough to compose something in ink, on paper.

Expect a postcard, people. Moo.com will be sending us a package soon, and then we’ll be dangerous.

-D