Monday, September 30, 2013

Local scenery

Have you seen a castle today?  No?  Well I have...when I went to the dry cleaners. It's just right there, amidst all the shops and regular, everyday life. Here's what it looked like.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

First things first....

Did you get the flag? Did you know it was Scotland? I thought I was being all like, "Take a guess on this, people!" but then realized a day later that I actually said "...back to the UK" in the description of the title.  So you had one of four choices: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I hope you chose wisely. I know I did. Scotland is amazing, and I'm here to tell you all about it. Of course I know it won't always be great - and that will be shared as well.  But right now Scotland and I are enjoying our honeymoon, thank you very much.  And just like the friend you are, you're stuck hearing all about my new relationship.

You'll notice some change in my spelling, as some posts will be written from a computer purchased in the UK.  So, for example, I type "favourite" without the 'u' and spellcheck automatically changes it for me.'s another: colour. I didn't type the 'u' in that either. I think there will be some funny business with the letter 'z' as well.  So it's not me posing as a Scot.  It's my computer, and I'll alternate between this one and my US one. 

So you want to know all about it, right?  Where should I begin?  Well, you should know that Scotland isn't a huge place.  It is 30,414 square miles, which is about 2,000 square miles smaller than South Carolina, or about 6,000 square miles larger than West Virginia. And since Americans are so adept at geography, let me put it another way: South Carolina and West Virginia are number 40 and 41 in the ranking of states by area - and as most Americans know, there are 50 states.  So there are only 10 states smaller than Scotland. Does that put it into perspective?

There are about 5,314,000 people in Scotland. If you look at that ranking of states again - this time by population - then Scotland compares to Minnesota, which is 21st on the list of 50. 

There's not a blog big enough to describe the history of Scotland - it's beyond anything I'll ever be able to cover.  It's certainly nothing I can summarise, and definitely nothing for me to compare to the United States to provide some perspective.  The only commonality America shares with Scotland in regard to history is past 'issues' with England. Otherwise they're vastly different by virtue of age alone.

Everyone always thinks of Scotland as cold and rainy.  So far, that's not been the case.  I've been warned over and over about the winter coming (it's like Game of Thrones without the three-eyed ravens and the carnage) but I can't see how it could be much different than winter in Missouri or Oregon, so I'm okay with winter coming.  Because of the location being so far north, I'm told there's about a month of extremely short days in the winter.  Conversely, the summers here have incredibly short nights.  As it is now, I'm seeing daylight by 6:15 am and it's staying light out until after 7:00 pm. If I head up to the northern part of the country (a short drive - about 60-90 minutes) I can see the aurora borealis.  Not too shabby.

You're probably wondering about the castles.  Everyone thinks there are castles all over the place here.  There actually are a lot of castles - like right in the middle of contemporary life there can be a castle, just there like any other building.  Some are museums, some are converted to be used for other functions, and some are preserved and/or restored.  Many are just ruins and are open for exploration. Obviously there are huge ones - estates with acres and acres of land and giant, storybook-like castles.  But there are also many smaller ones - small in terms of what we think of when we consider a castle, that is.  The smaller ones are the ones that pop up and they're randomly about, wherever you go.

Another stereotype is that there are men in kilts with bagpipes on every corner.  The kilt part is kind of true - men wear them here as formalwear, such as to a wedding or other formal event - think 'tuxedo'. But there are also casual kilts...there are ones to wear to sporting events, for example.  And there are ones that are in-between formal and casual - I saw a man in one at the antique mall on Sunday, presumably coming from church. I don't see them every day, though. I'll tell you more about kilts in a future post, because there's so much more to them than the average American realizes.  As for bagpipes - I've heard them coming from the weddings that were held at the resort we stayed at when we first arrived, but those are the only times. They do offer it as an instrument to learn at Son 2's school, but he's not planning on taking that up anytime soon.

There's much more to come, so stay tuned.  And if you think I haven't messed up with the language here, you're so very wrong - I totally have and will share it with you in future posts. I'll give you a sneak peek:  One incident involves me telling someone that I've only got one pair of underwear and have worn them four times in a row. Another includes giving a baby the finger, and yet another has me using two words in a sentence that implied I have a porn career. So yeah. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where in the world IS she????

Can you guess where I am?  I'll give you a hint:

There's more to come.....

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Daily Show, Texas, and a breakfast taco walk in to a bar.......

Anyone who knows me will also know that I’m a huge fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  I admit to watching it daily – or should I say Daily? – therefore you can imagine my joy when, this week,  he spoke specifically about Austin, Texas – and it was in context and actually correct.

So you may have heard that Kim Jong-un is targeting a few select spots in the US for his nuclear hits, one of which is Austin.  How is this good?  It’s fodder for my blog – how can it not be good?  Anyway, there was a story on a major news network about it, which is included in this clip.  If you are impatient, skip to 1:48 in the four minute clip. Go ahead…I’ll wait here.

What Jon Stewart says about Austin is so true – and I’ve addressed it in a previous post.  Austin is very un-Texas when considered in the context of the rest of the state.   Now that I’ve been here for a couple of years, I “get” Austin.  I like it and embrace it. (Probably because it’s like a warm and sunny Portland.)   So it cracks me up that Comedy Central and the writers at The Daily Show “get” it too.  I recently hosted friends from St. Louis here for a week (it’s great to be the destination for spring break – to have spring break-like weather) and I loved being able to show off Austin as well as Texas.  It occurred to me that I’m beginning to acclimate…it feels like home here. 

My home is really “in” to itself.  For example, here’s an actual menu item at a restaurant.  You’ll notice that this restaurant is a large national chain.  (Please, if you live anywhere else and you notice a customized menu item from this chain, make sure you tell me.  I’m not writing this to make sh*t up.  If this happens elsewhere, I need to know.)  That being said…the last two places I have lived (in the US) have not had so many state-specific references.  I’ve never had a Missouri Burger or an Oregon Wrap. 

Once again, it’s a uniquely Texas thing.  As far as I can tell, there’s nothing different about this taco – look at the picture.  But Texas DQ restaurants are calling it a Texas T-Brand Taco.  You can bet that it’s selling more than the regular taco (despite probably having the exact same ingredients.)  But that’s the thing…once you’re here, you want to be a part of it – you want to immerse yourself in Texas.  And unlike the way so many other places treat newbies, Texans actually want you to enjoy it as well. 

And while we are talking about food in Texas, can we discuss breakfast tacos? Oh. My. God.   Such a wonderful, tasty treat to begin your day.  Don't get me wrong - I love donuts as much as the next gal.  But about 30 minutes post-donut is not the best feeling.  However, 30 minutes post-breakfast taco will find you aching for more. 

I did a bit of amateur research on breakfast tacos – I’m not going to blindly pretend that Texas has the market on this concept.  But based on what I’ve found, it looks like we just might actually have the market on it after all.  And if I base this on what the New York Times had to say in May of 2010, I actually live in the city that “owns” it.  (That, and if you go by what my fabulous niece Sarah and her equally fabulous husband Zach have to say.)  But since you can’t contact Sarah, here is what NYT had to say:

Depending on where you go, there are a couple of variations on what to have on your breakfast taco.  For me, it always contains a minimum of bacon, egg and cheese.  If the restaurant offers refried beans, there’s no better way to hold your inner taco business together than a slap of refried beans in your burrito.  Since I’m not a spicy food kind of gal, I’ll always pass on the salsa…but there are plenty of folks who swear by a dollop of salsa on your breakfast taco at 7:30 am as the very best way to start your day.  No matter what you order, you’ll always get it wrapped in foil and you’ll always pay under $2.00 for it.  

So now that I’ve touched on one meal, stay tuned for my thoughts on the others.  It involves meat, barbeque sauce, meat, cole slaw, meat, bread, and more meat.  Oh, and some meat, too.