It is a truth universally (?) acknowledged that things always look better in the rear view mirror. Our Glasgow flat certainly looked better after we left it; empty, most things retain an elegance lacking when stuffed with one’s scruffy possessions. Fortunately, no one can look at this picture and see the coughing boiler, the mowed patches left in the carpet after the moths ate much of it in the corner of the bedroom (OY. We think the undercarpeting must be wool; the stuff on the floor is cheap acrylic like most rentals have), the flaking paint and exposed nails in the windowsills from the damp, and the memory of trickles of condensation down the walls, the stained and leaking kitchen ceiling – which happened a WEEK before we left! – and the still faintly horrific memory of mushrooms beneath the toilet.
All in all, things are better in the country, where T. sits in her tiny and very yellow office, and snickers at the sound of annoyed sheep. Here, we expect spiders the size of the Isle of Man and perhaps the occasional bunny attack (there are at least three of them taking up residence in the hedge next to D’s office), but not much else in terms of soot, water, and dust and molds, thank goodness. We are warned that “well, the weather gets to be… testy,” and the burn rises and floods the road sometimes, leaving only one way in/out of the village (which is fortunately uphill). We’ve already experienced the loudest thunder we’ve ever heard in Scotland here, as storms sweep down the braes from Ben Lomond, but the rain comes on quickly, and goes away just as fast. We’ll see how long that lasts. So far, T. spends a lot of time simply looking out the windows in the kitchen, staring at the wind moving the leaves of the trees and the clouds. It’s not as if there weren’t trees and sky in Glasgow – but not like this…
Meanwhile, we’ve discovered that we have some of the best bred friends and family, ever. We’ve received three “congratulations on the new job/happy new home” cards from some lovely and polite people, and a beautiful plant arrangement that was hand-delivered right to the movers as they unloaded the truck. We have some astounding friends and family – thanks much, Jacque and Graham and Cooper and Anne and Tam!
After a solid week in, during which T. got a new revision request and D. walked to work every day, and realized his tree-lined shortcut wouldn’t work in really drippy weather (which comes about every fourth hour), we finally got back to the bliss of unpacking. The kitchen is almost perfect, and we’ve taken over a small closet and reinvented it as a pantry/dish storage place. We thought, many times as we had to move all the boxes, that we had too many things. A massive “turfing out” trip to Oxfam and we’re still left with the same conclusion: for two people in one wee house, we still have too much stuff.
If there’s a “fault” in all of this, it’s having simply too many loving friends and family members who give us things. (Who’s going to complain about that? Not us. Thank you, Mom and Dad.) Now, didn’t your mother always tell you that you didn’t give away or throw away a gift? (Oh, hush, you regifting people. We already know about you.) We heard and obeyed, just like with that thing about clearing our plates… and, years later, we have, in this country:
- A ceramic watermelon bowl, which the maker said was a just-for-fun Family Camp project twelve years ago (and we never see watermelon here)
- Nine lamps – granted, our first few flats were very, very dim, but… nine?
- Fourteen flour/sugar canisters, a few of which we even bought ourselves,
- Crud Clothes™ – 2 boxes of stained, ratty, holey clothes for cleaning, yardwork, cooking, and everything else. T. recently admitted to our friend Jacque that a couple of good aprons would have eliminated the need for this — but neither of us grew up with aprons, so…
…as you can see, the list goes on. Thus, the sale is on: two futons, a bed, and a kitchen table set is on the auction block, for cheap. We hope the Stirling U students will be interested. Selling is not what we had planned on doing, but realistically (and psychologically), it seems a good idea to go lightly through this world, so that the next (inevitable) move* won’t be so hard.
We’ve even got some aprons, and made plans to get rid of the Crud Clothes™. Eventually.
Cambusbarron is a wee village, and in many ways, Hayford Mills isn’t really even part of it. (As a matter of fact, we were informed of this. We are officially on the outskirts of a village of a couple thousand. We’re our own bedroom community neighborhood.) Anyway, we’ve determined that it was time to meet the neighbors, so we’ve walked around town over the weekend, and visited the library – which is just a little bigger than our living room and kitchen combined — and last week we auditioned to join a local chorale. The auditions weren’t exactly an unqualified disaster from start to finish, but close.
It really doesn’t hit you how precariously your independence is balanced until a bus or train is canceled or delayed — and then you realize that you can’t just jump in your car and go where you’d like. (Well, technically, you could take a cab wherever … but with such a prohibitively expensive price, you’d have to have an amazingly good reason.) We were meant to go to Dunblane Cathedral last week for our audition – and the train was canceled. When we arrived, we found that it was the end of the line, and there was no indication when the next train would be available. We hurried up the quarter mile to the cathedral, grateful it wasn’t raining on us, and then proceeded to walk through the graveyard, around the building… and around… and around… trying to find the church hall. No signs, of course, and the church, where change ringing rehearsal was going on, was locked (not that people yanking on ropes to swing massive bells could have heard us shouting or knocking anyway). T. was practically sweating bullets by the time someone found us – a good half hour late – peering through a glass door into a dim and deserted corridor. While D. gave a creditable showing for himself, singing Faure’s Libera Me with increasing confidence; T. squeaked and cracked through Pie Jesu, knew she was doing dreadfully, and tried to withdraw gracefully. No such luck – she had to sweat it out to the end. A lovely gentleman asked if we’d like a ride home, and we gratefully took it – D. ambivalent (as usual); T. still wringing wet with nerves and unhappiness. Neither of us expected to get in, so did some juggling to our schedules and happily embraced the idea of rejoining our old chorus in Glasgow. Combining that with a biweekly visit to our chiropractor made sense (it’s nice to be able to keep ONE doctor), and we ordered our scores for Elijah and planned accordingly…
…only to discover that we’d made it into the smaller chorale after all. T. is, frankly, shocked.
Anyway, it’s nice to be wanted. The other chorale’s major work this next Spring will be Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, in the original Russian, which will be definitely challenging. The City of G. Chorus’ major work and last concert in June will be Mendelssohn’s Elijah, which T. has been looking forward to singing ever since she was very small and her parents sang part of it at church. Earlier concerts, reference to Glasgow’s large Polish population, will cover Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater in Polish. We’ll have Eastern European languages all around in Scotland next year.
We’ve gotten a lot of really introspective and interesting email about the article on ethics and atheism we blogged about awhile back. You people are seriously deep, and we had fun kind of thinking in tandem with a lot of you. We’ll have to do something like that again.
Meanwhile, we continue to settle in – our internet remains limited, but that just means there’s more time to work, right? Hah, yeah, right.
One last thing we can’t seem to get over: sheep! We can watch them from the windows of the kitchen, the office, the library, and D. gets to walk past them on his way to and from work. We really do live on the outskirts!
-D & T
*The next move is, indeed, inevitable. D’s PhD hasn’t been submitted to committee yet (his supervisors are giving it “one last read-through”), which means that his viva voce exam won’t be until sometime in November or December. That means that any corrections to be made won’t be finished before the end of the year, and that his graduation won’t happen until next June. What that means for us being in Scotland, though, is that we won’t be able to apply for “post-study work” visas, as that program is being cancelled as of February of 2012. Rather, we’ll be extending the student visas for as long as it takes to graduate, and don’t have any idea whether we’ll be able to extend beyond that point because it seems that the UK doesn’t really want people to work here. Chaos, indeed.