Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm thankful for...

Obie (usually)
my family that is far away
all that love
my friends from a long time ago, and my friends that I have just made
our good health
my new job
my passport, my visa
central heating
the view from my flat
the sound of Linus' meow
all the good books I'm reading
the health food shop down the road
the chippy and the liquor store on the corner
my bathtub
my eyes, my heart, my voice
my time
the smell of the pumpkin pies baking in the oven right now
the election outcome
my safety
tap water
people who are dedicated to making the world better
the endless possibilities!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2012

You go, Glasgow!

One has a lot of options when choosing how to spend a day in Glasgow. There are museums, pubs, parks, galleries, clubs... all this things you'd expect to find in a good-sized European city. But, being a touch macabre, Matt and I opted to spend the majority of our Glaswegian day in the Necropolis, or The City of the Dead. It is the final resting place to over 50,000 buried persons, so it has earned it's name! (It is neither here nor there, but this cemetery's population is about 5 times of that of my hometown.)

The Necropolis is on top of a hill dotted with old gnarled trees (of course) and the tombs in some places seem stacked on top of each other. 

It is not a particularly hefty climb up, but once you reach the top, the views stretch out over the whole city.

Some of the tombs are elaborate, some of them are cracked or tumbled to the ground. All of them have seem a lot of weather.

We saw a tomb for a Tennant, and we saw the brewery for Tennant's beer that borders the lower section of the cemetery. Not sure if it's the man responsible for the brand, but if it is, he sure didn't get too far away from work.

The headstones went on and on. Row after row...

Predating the majority of the cemetery is the monument to John Knox, supporter of the Protestant Reformation and father of Scottish Presbyterianism. I don't know too much about the man, but he does seem to be a bit... what's a good way of saying it... dour.  Below, I am inappropriately dancing about and waving flags on his monument, which I am certain he would not appreciate. Although I think it's pretty safe to say he did not appreciate the activities of most women, considering he wrote a book titled The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous Regiment of Women. Lest you find my dancing too disrespectful, let me tell you that this is not the grave of the late reverend. He is buried in Edinburgh, outside of St. Giles Kirk, beneath a perfectly ordinary parking spot.  And you can blame Matt, not me, for his decapitated state in this photo!

So, what is the tallest monument in the Necropolis, the monument of John Knox, anti-Catholic and champion to Presbyterianism, looking out upon?!

This huge Cathedral. The Glasgow Cathedral was built in 1197. (I repeat, 1197.) And it has never been burned down or sacked or blown apart or anything in all those years. It is in remarkable shape...  

... even though it was heavily covered by scaffolding! Maintenance aside, it was very cool to roam about a Cathedral that has the same roof, even some of the same doors, as it did nearly 1000 years ago.

And whether or not you agree with any of the ideology, you've got to admit that when it comes to building impressive structures, the Catholics knew what was what!

The Glasgow Cathedral (Called St. Mungo's to the parishioners) has an extensive series of underground  chapels, altars and tombs. Matthew posed me for this photo in the Blacader's Aisle (seriously, he told me right where to stand and this is what I get!)

And deeper down below the nave, is the tomb of St. Mungo (or St. Kentigern, but his friends all called him Mungo) who was believed to be buried on this exact location in 603.

We didn't hang out in cemeteries and underneath cathedrals all day. We also took in Glasgow's beautiful architecture...

I'm kidding with this picture! Really, this picture aside, Glasgow is beautiful. I am just teasing since I've heard there is a competition between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Rumor has it that it goes something like this: Glaswegians think that Edinburgh is snooty (enlightened), pretentious (artsy) and expensive (expensive). Edinburghians (although no one really calls them that) find Glasgow to be gritty (edgy), plebeian (working class) and rowdy (rowdy).

But back to our lovely day in Glasgow...

It's where I found the TARDIS!

And my first clootie tree! Clootie, in Scots, means cloth. And there are little bits of cloth tied around this tree's branches. I did a little asking around and I found out that clootie trees have been around since the ancient Celts. Usually, they were trees that grew beside some sacred waters, a spring or a well with some significance. These waters and clootie trees attracted pilgrimages and were part of a healing ritual.  A  person would bring along a scrap of cloth, dip it in the waters, and tie it on the tree. If you made the pilgrimage to rid yourself of an ailment, you  might use a bit of cloth that was grotesque as representation. If you were making an offering to the spirit of the well, or making a hope or prayer, you would use a bit of beautiful fabric.

Most of the clooties on this clootie tree were brightly colored ribbons and even a few bits of silk. It was growing beside a iron a fountain.

We also saw another kind of special tree. A Christmas tree! The workers were setting it up in George Square, along with thousands of fairy lights and other decorations. We may have to take another trip to Glasgow in December to see it all lit up!

Matthew and his trusty iPhone led us to the banks of the River Clyde. Where we got to do some birdwatching and then stomped across the pedestrian's suspension bridge (trying to see if we could make it sway).

We grabbed some nourishment at a little pub in the city centre. After spending most of the day walking around town, around graves, over rivers and around trees, I was pretty darn drookit (drenched) and for the first time in my life, I used a hand dryer in the loo to warm up and blow dry my hair. I am getting to be pretty hardcore.

The day ended at Barrowland-- where Matt and I danced the night away in the second row of the totally wonderful Alabama Shakes show. Man, I knew that girl could sing- but I had no idea she was such a rocker! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dream Pig

I've been dreaming about pigs lately. Like, all night, every night. At first I didn't pay it much mind- I usually have pretty wild and vivid dreams. But then it got to be a little too consistent to ignore the pigginess of it all. Why on earth do I keep dreaming about pigs? Maybe it's because I met those adorable piglets on Craigie's Farm last week, or maybe it's because I'm obsessing on this sound designer that I heard of that has a show based around the life of one pig. Or maybe because of some other symbolic reason...

I turned to my trusty interwebs and did a quick search for the symbolic meaning of pigs in dreams. Site after site mentioned gluttony, filth and even chauvinism. Typical. Dream symbology is a bunch of hooey. Like we all have the same associations for the same things. I don't know a whole lot about my dream brain, but I can pretty much guarantee that I don't have any of these associations with pigs.

I get little lovey heart aches for pigs. I find them cute- even the big ol muddy ones! But more than that, I find them vulnerable. They are an animal that has been used (some may say abused) by humans since domesticity. We humans even play upon that vulnerability (Babe Charlotte's Web were both wildly popular) but don't change our actions or attitudes towards pigs.  

But am I dreaming about pigs because I think they are cute or because I feel protective of them for some reason? Am I just concerned for all pigdom? I'm going to keep thinking on this pressing topic for a while, and maybe I'll get back to you all.

In the meantime, I encourage you all to follow the advice from the image at the top of this post and Dream Pig! It was created by Nicolas J. Nawroth (a.k.a. the instigator of awesome) who totally summarized the feeling of my piggy dreams in his clean and cheerful design. You can check it out on his blog nSquaredDesign, or you can shop for it and his other great designs at his Zazzle shop.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Camera play on Arthur's Seat

Oh, Happy Day! I just got some good news, and Matt and I just have a wonderfully fun and productive weekend- full of dining with friends, sipping Prosecco, kitty cuddles, impulse response sweeps, hiking up Arthur's Seat, family Skype dates, brunching at French bistros, grocery shopping, and laser tag (a few of those activities only involved one of us, I'll let you sort out which).

 So all is happy and wonderful here! And I'm about to go take in some Christmas pretties about the city (they are already starting to decorate!) and pick up my reserved copy of The Casual Vacancy from the central library... so the day is going to get even better!

But before I go, I want to share a few pictures from our hike up Arthur's Seat. We took soooo many, and I'll post far more than I ought to here (my brother always suggests that I 'edit' more and only post the very best, but I can't choose! I want to show them all!) Yesterday was so clear and crisp and the views were amazing... and it was the perfect time to play around with all the different settings on my camera. (I was going to write a bit about the geology and history of Arthur's Seat, but instead you can just look at the pictures. If you're interested, I've included a few links at the end that share all you need to know about the dormant volcano in the middle of Edinburgh.)

On the way to Arthur's seat... 

...we passed under the most vibrant trees!

seriously charming trees...

 and we passed by your average 12th century abbey 

and Royal Palace... you know, just a normal day in Edinburgh.

Until we finally arrived at the foot of our destination! Arthur's Seat.

A quick stop before our climb ;)

and up we go!

It's steep and rocky!

and a little other worldly! (and I found an awesome "foliage" setting on my camera. I took about 15 pictures of these plants)

including several close ups...

others were inspired to paint lovely vistas

and we kept climbing up and up ("why'd you use the flash?")

until, we reached the top

we got a unique view of the castle

And Matt said, you go over there and I'll stay here and take your picture. So that's what we did. 

After the climb, I was warm enough to take off my jacket! And I sat there a bit, just hanging out with the birds.

...high above my city!

Then I said to Matt, You jump and I'll take some pictures where it looks like you are flying above the city. The first one turned out...OK

The second was a bit better...

But the third one... it was unbeatable! 

Then I started using the miniature setting and snapped this strange little gem

but it's hard to make that setting work when there are people in the shot.

So I went back to my regular setting. I think this should be Matt's new Facebook profile picture and I told him so.

I went up to two girls and said, would you mind taking a picture of us? And they didn't mind. 

Back to mini!!!

Oooh! Then I told Matt to put out his hand and make it seem like he was holding up the Castle. I wish I could make the Castle stand out more... (When am I going to learn Photoshop?!) But look at that fancy edge blur I did in iPhoto! 

Heading down. We saw the Palace from above.

And Matt helped me get through some muddy patches.

Then he said, let me have the camera, and I gave it to him, and he took this picture. And then he said, you should make this your next Facebook profile picture. And I just might.

Then I asked him to try to take a picture of the two of us. He took 3. This was the best one. 

See? It was such a fun day! I'm guessing that only blood relatives made it through all these pictures (and their incredibly exciting explanations). But, if you got this far through the post, you definitely earned those links I promised. So go here and here to read about all about Arthur's Seat.