Monday, October 29, 2012


Autumn is in full swing here in Edinburgh. The air is crisp, and the days are getting shorter. The change in seasons, both dramatic and subtle, is fascinating to me.  In Los Angeles, autumn comes and goes without much notice. 

So here are a few pictures of the seasonal cheer. This first one is from the shop at the Royal Botanical Gardens. They have a whole corner dedicated to wreaths, garland and ornaments made from dried fruits and spices. It smelled heavenly.

Here's a close up- If I had loads of disposable income, I'd buy enough to deck the whole house out with citrusy-cinnamon goodness, but I've had to significantly cut my 2012 garland budget to accommodate the financial strain of moving overseas. I thought I'd try to make it, but I am afraid I would just end up with several dozen half rotten oranges on a string... Maybe I'll go back to the Royal Botanical Garden's shop and buy a mini ornament or something, so I can enjoy the smell without the hefty price tag! 

Outside, the leaves on the trees have all started to change into shades of yellow and fiery orange...

and then fall, leaving the branches sparse. I imagine, in a few weeks, they'll be naked.

It is perfect soup weather. I enjoyed this delicious bowl of vegetarian Harira soup from Ecos, a little Moroccan cafe down the street from my flat. The combination of tomato, cinnamon, lemon and chickpeas makes for a very hearty and satisfying autumn meal.

And, of course, it is the season for apples! A couple of gal pals and I went to an apple festival last weekend. I was picturing apple crafts and apple cider, apples in pies and covered in caramel, apples in buckets for kids of bob for... you know, a proper celebration of the crisp sweet fruit we all love! Instead, there were two plastic tables, one with a variety of apples displayed with tags telling names and origins, the other table had a few paper plates of sliced apples to sample. It was fairly underwhelming, but also very sweet. And the older ladies that tended the tables know their apples! I think my friends and I all liked the Golden Pippin best. Not only does it have the cutest name, it was also the smallest and the crispiest of the bunch.

And as a autumnal treat for the boys, I got them a toy turkey. It makes gobbling sounds whenever it is touched, which is quite entertaining for them when they are swatting at it, but can startle the pants off of you when you accidentally lay down on it ;)

Truth be told, this toy is not intended for autumn... it is a Christmas toy. I guess turkeys are a 'symbol' for Christmas here in the same way they are for Thanksgiving in the US. But, since our kitties are still quite American, I thought they ought to get their turkey early.

Autumn also means Halloween, but that will get a post of its own (since I believe Edinburgh is the most Halloweenie place I've ever been! I mean, it can feel spooky here in the middle of June, so I can't wait until Samhaim!) but there are also other holidays and festivals that mark the season. Last night, Matthew and I were snug in our flat and heard a series of loud booms! From outside our window, we saw this happening on top of Calton Hill-

The burning the effigies of demons on top of Calton Hill, Dushurra festival 
It was the burning of effigies for the Indian Dushurra Festival. It was amazing! What is it about burning things in the night on top a hill that is so exciting?! The effigies didn't make the loud booming noises though, that was the accompanying fire works display. I tried to record a bit from our bedroom window...

So, I'd say that autumn is off to a great start! I hope you are all enjoying the season as well!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Matthew: A Rear in Verse



or peering through doors.

Playing the green,

or checking the scores.

 A stroll through the mound

or by water that's flowing

on colorful ground,

and near things that are growing.

sometimes clear,

and sometime blurry.

Sometimes he's moving in such a big hurry!



 while having a chat,
heading for school,

or with a boxed cat.

 Quite often, it seems, I see Matt from the rear,

at times he is far, 

and others he's near.

I'm not sure of much, but one thing I know...

I hate to see him leave, but I love to watch him go!

(Thanks for being a good sport, my love! And thanks for your derriere extraordinaire!)


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Change of color...

A few days ago I snapped a picture of Edinburgh Castle (well, part of Edinburgh Castle) as a silhouette against a fiery sunset. The picture was pretty dramatic (not due to any of my skills mind you, just because castles and sunsets ooze drama!) But, I got to playing with the colors of original picture and I ended up with a few others that I liked for various reasons. All I used here was the simplest editing tools on iPhoto- I can't wait to learn how to use PhotoShop so I can really play around with images! (And its about time, since Matt got it for me last Christmas.)  Anyway, here they are... what do you think? 

1. The Original- no trickery here. Just pointing and clicking... Pretty nice, I think.

2. Total saturation- I liked this one because it looks fake and fantastical, and when I see it I start to come up with stories in my head about a imprisoned sorceress casting enchantments so potent that the skies turn into water and fire!

3. Sepia- This one makes me think of Wuthering Heights... I don't know why, really, since that story takes place so clearly on the moors, not rocky hilltop, but the colors evoke a Heathcliff kind of mood in me. Romantic, violent, passionate, and haunting... 

4. Black & White- Makes me think of Dracula. Maybe not the most imaginative association, but black & white is classic for a reason (as is Dracula, for that matter!) This one feels stark and lonely and quiet... and a bit ominous.

Do the simplest of color changes make you see a totally different picture too? I am sometimes surprised how just looking at something in a different light can change it's whole story to me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"I don't even own a TV"

I've heard people say that my whole life. Friends and acquaintances that could proudly tout their televisionary independence. I've gone through peaks and valleys when it comes to TV watching. I've had crappy little TV sets that only carry 2 or 3 clear channels and I've had gigantic flat screens with complete cable packages. I've killed a whole day vegging out in utter laziness and I've had months where I've watched nothing but a rented movie or two.  But I have never been totally weened off of the boob tube. Until now.

So, what do you do to pass the time when you don't have a television? I mean, no screen-based entertainment at all (this includes internet people... no Hulu, no YouTube... I swear, I've had much more dramatic withdrawals from our lack of internet access than I have from not having a TV, but I digress...).  You go out, right? To the pubs! Or on a chilly evening stroll.

Right. But what about the evenings in? When its dark outside, you've finished dinner, and the chores are done... but its not quite time to get ready for bed? Then what do you do??

Well, you uke.

Or put together puzzles.
(this picture taken the morning after a crazy night of puzzling.)
Or knit.
(and unravel it all... and knit again... and unravel it all...)
You mess with the cats

You do a little finger pickin'

You bake apple/pear pie
(sans recipe... Tried to make it 'healthy' so I used minimal sugar. It was quite tart, but easily remedied by adding copies amounts of vanilla ice cream)
You stare at the ceiling

or out the window.

And, of course, you read.

At least, that's what we do! And for the most part, I don't really miss TV at all (although it would be nice to get the broadband hooked up so we could stream a show or two, I mean, I didn't move to the UK to stop watching Downton Abbey!) Most of all,  I'm getting used to the quiet. I had the habit of turning on the TV just as background noise, and I find I am happier without the constant bombardment of chatter and adverts. And Matthew and I are having some delightful fireside chats... OK, that took it a little too far, but we are a lot more present with one another, if that makes any sense!

I'd love to hear what any of you do when you're not plugged in- in case we run out of ideas here we can steal yours!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Many pictures of Craigmillar Castle

We spent a lovely autumn day at Craigmillar Castle. 

It is a very castle-y castle

with lots of old stone crests

and old bedchambers

that had latrines and closets.

where the roof is gone and the stone is covered in soft green mosses.

we had our run of the place. we climbed down. we climbed up.

up. up. up.

and stood on top of a castle under blue skies. 

we played in the Lord's Hall, where the acoustics were warm and bouncy 

and the windows made the views outside look wavy and old.

Matt played inside the fire place,

and bunnies, loads of bunnies, played in the field outside

it was warm enough to take off our jackets

and clear enough for us to see Edinburgh, 3 miles away

this made us happy, toothy people.

we met the current king of the castle, who has marked many of his favorite territories with his poop.

we discovered back passageways

and official garden markers

and Matt posed for this picture, which is my second favorite picture of the day.

This is not my favorite, but I still like it.

I got a bit mesmerized by the Octoberness of it all. 
Its been a while since I've experienced a proper October, with October air.

my shadow had a fun day too.


and here is my favorite picture of my favorite guy from a favorite day...