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Here We Go Again

Seventh time’s a charm eh?

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They say the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

That said, I’ve started a blog. Not for the fist time, no. I’ve attempted to regularly update various types of journals in my life for a long time. Photo blogs, diaries, even my dusty old livejournal account all show my stabs through the years of my attempts to keep track of my thoughts and god forbid, my time. (This  goldfish memory of mine needs all the help it can get!)

After revisiting the results of my most recent attempts a year ago when I was taking a photo a day, I decided to shake off the dust of my old lofty goal.

So without further ado: the random, inane mumblings of a gal born and bred in Tennessee, living in Edinburgh, Scotland. To my friends and family who I may have inclined to share these silly wee words and pictures with, welcome!

 

19th-21st of September, 2017: Amish Kittens, Safari Shenanigans, Memphis

Tuesday, 19th of September

Our first full day in Selmer–we woke up in Henderson at our fantastically homey B&B, had a nice breakfast with our hostess Diana, and proceeded to roll out. But because we needed snacks/wanted to stop in at an Amish place, we popped in at Ada’s just down the road. Because… why wouldn’t you pop in at the Amish place? Homemade whoopie pies, veggie chips, and assorted other goodies in hand, we headed onward to Selmer.

But not before peeping some little third world refugee kitties hiding underneath the porch of Ada’s!

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Returning home meant hanging out on the porch for chat and iced sweet tea provided by the mum (and also layering Haitham up in bug spray, cause bless him, he is a delicious British feast for the bugs). When Dad later on showed me a photo of all the tickseed growing down at the gully, well, obviously we had to go investigate (Haitham and a pack of dogs dragged along in our wake).

Here’s the mum looking pretty as a picture with a posey of coreopsis!

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It was a warm day, again. Haitham was purdy hot–here he is trying to escape to the shade. Bless his Scotland-adapted heart.

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He wasn’t the only one that was warm though–so was the affectionately-named “Spaz.”

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Some time after our wander, we decided to hit up the multitudes of sights found within Selmer. First up, Dad’s office’s new location, which shares its home with none other than the Buford Pusser museum. Here’s Haitham Godzilla-ing all over McNairy County.

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Have you heard the story of ol’ Buford? Well, if you haven’t, I think this picture summarizes the important bits. You can just use your imagination to fill in the gaps.

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After working up quite the appetite learning about ol’ Buford, next up was the quintessential dining fare of Selmer: a slug burger. They’re honestly so much better than I remember them, and chatting with owner and total sweetheart Pat was just a total delight. Although now, looking at this picture, I can’t help but be puzzled by what a “Slaw Dog” is. I guess a return trip to find out is in order!

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With some time to kill, Dad and I took Haitham to one of my childhood haunts: the firetower. Haitham of course was appalled to learn that I was basically let loose here as a wee’un. But so it goes with a good ol’ southern upbringing!

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We returned home to relax for a while before hitting the long road to visit mom’s side of the family for dinner. Since Tennessee is basically the longest state ever, meeting with them anywhere involved a wee drive on both our ends. They were willing to make the effort, bless them, so we ended up meeting along the Duck River for a nice meal. I unfortunately don’t have any photos, as they were taken on Haitham’s camera and so far he is still busy hoarding them all like the picture-taking-dragon that he is.

So here’s another photo of the Spaz, this time giving mom the most adoring face ever.

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Wednesday, 20th of September

Our last full day in Selmer! Time flies when you’re having fun. With some advice not only from our airbnb hostess but also some of my hometown friends, we hit the roads with a gameplan. Our first stop: to see the Experimental Station in West TN, more formally known as “West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center.” Which, although it was another balmly day, was a total treat. A free garden full of quirky bottle-infused displays? Awesome!

Here’s the wee mom enjoying the bottle wall. (Admittedly, I forced her into the victory pose. She may not actually have enjoyed the bottle wall enough to do a victory pose of her own accord!)

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Even better, Haitham got to experience his first real field of cotton. (We now have a little piece at home in one of my jar collections!)

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However, our real quest of the day was just a spell beyond: the Tennessee Safari Park. Something my friends had suggested we check out, and honestly such a delight to experience. This was the kind of questionable, abolutely no-holds-barred sort of fun that one can only have out in the sticks of Tennessee. When describing the safari to my friends back in Scotland, they couldn’t help but shake their heads and marvel at the idea of even being allowed to feed the animals, let alone let one take a carrot from your mouth (more on that one later).

Having paid for the experience and rolling Dad’s trusty automobile (which was just a little too low for the rolling gravel road and may have bottomed out a time or two) through the dry, open fields, we were immediately greeted by a giant Bactrian camel sidling up to the car. We’d seen one in its own distant enclosure in the Blair Drummond Safari Park in Scotland and marveled at its size and two humps, but nothing prepared us for this massive guy rolling up to the car, looking for snacks.

And snacks did he get!!! Holy cow!!!! I could not stop laughing.

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These animals know exactly what’s up. They know your car holds buckets of goodies, and they know that if even if someone rolls up one window, if they circle around they may sneak into another open one on the other side. Eventually despite all our laughter we realized these (now two) camels were eating all our hard-earned buckets’ contents, so were soon shouting “Go!!! GO!!!!” and rolling up all our windows to escape the persistent beasts.

Honestly, it was like the fluffier version of Jurassic Park!

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We were also perplexed by the presence of so many empty buckets already littering the sides of the road as we entered. “People just chucked ’em when they were done,” was one suggestion. However, we soon learned the truth as a gigantic camel ripped the bucket right out of my hands!! Here’s one right after prying the bucket from Mom’s poor, defenseless hands. Tricky buggers, those camels!

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One by one we all learned the hard way that these animals and their big brown eyes were not to be trusted. Mom and I both lost to different camels. Haitham lost to the creature below: a common eland! I managed to catch it in its lippy act.

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Somehow though, he didn’t even have the decency to look ashamed!

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I think the real treat for me of this entire spectacle was rolling up to this giraffe at the end of the safari enclosure. Dad had managed to hold onto his bucket, and we rummaged just enough of the camel-spilled crumbs in the car to provide a wee offering to this guy. She swooped her long, elegant neck down my way and very gently scooped up the remnants with her freakish giraffe tongue. It was awesome! To think that at Blair Drummond we felt so lucky to even peep a giraffe looking suspiciously out from its enclosure before disappearing back inside within moments. Here, we rolled open the sun roof and the camera shutter was positively flying!

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Naturally that wasn’t all, though. Once we’d pulled the car out of the “safari” bit I spotted a sign for slices of carrots inside the gift shop, specifically for another giraffe outside. Hygiene aside, Dad couldn’t resist feeding it with his mouth when a sign nearby challenged brave-hearted safari attendants to try it out.

Here’s Haitham getting a little giraffe lick to his beard. Just look at that tongue! What the actual heck.

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What a day, y’all! Thanks again Mom & Dad for the special treat–we had such a jolly good time with y’all. ❤ Can’t wait to see you both again!

Thursday, 21st of September

Our last morning in Henderson rolls around. Diana, our total sweetheart of an airbnb hostess, had kindly made us an eggy casserole to send us on our way (and then painstakingly wrote out the recipe for us as we sat chatting in the morning). We discussed our plans for the rest of the trip while also keeping an eye out the window. I’d noticed a mostly empty hummingbird feeder outside the morning before; despite its contents, a determined little hummingbird was still defending its treasure. I’d only mentioned spotting it in passing to Diana, but lo and behold, attentive and excellent hosts that they were, she and her husband promptly went out and filled it up–so we spotted our little friend first thing in the morning! Ugh, cute little stinkers–how I miss them in Scotland!

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We hit the road before the morning got completely away from us–our GPS set first for Memphis for a pit-stop, then onward to Arkansas right across the river. Along the way we decided obviously stepping foot on Beale Street was the thing to do; also, we needed to pick up some bourbon to bring back with us.

Of course no stop at a liquor store would be complete without seeing some Jesus on the horizon.

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After our bourbon stop, we headed towards the downtown area. I don’t think it’s a place I’ve ever actively sought out myself, having only traveled to Memphis deliberately for the mall, museums, or airport departures. I thought it’d be a shame if Haitham didn’t get to experience it even in a small way, and sure enough we did. We trekked along Beale Street marveling at just how touristy it was–nothing authentic or original to the place to be seen. However, when we’d walked less than a few blocks away to reach our lunch stop, we were immediately in a sketchy, run-down neighborhood, one in which our big cameras felt incredibly conspicuous. A man across the street began shouting something as us from a distance; we nervously picked up the pace. The man eventually caught up with us despite our efforts to ignore him as we waited at a stoplight. “We’re not all bad,” he said to us after apparently freaking us the hell out for no reason at all, and tossed some “God bless”es out as we walked away.

I would say lunch was totally worth it though. We got some portobello BBQ burgers (closest thing to veggie BBQ I could find!) and the most amazing banana pudding I’ve ever had. As we headed back to the car after, we stumbled upon the hotel that MLK was shot at, now preserved as a civil rights museum. I wasn’t expecting to see that at all.

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We had no issues retreating back to the car and it was only a few more hours’ worth of travel when we pulled up in the tree-lined, quintessentially American neighborhood Jessica lives. (Haitham totally ate it up; admittedly it was really stinkin’ cute.) Upon pulling up a wee lass ran out to greet me–how big June has gotten, who last I saw at age 3!

In no time at all we had lugged all our stuff inside (June attempted pulling in my massive suitcase, which was probably about 10x as heavy as she is) and all the gifts that I’ve been accruing were slung every which way and direction. Unsurprisingly the one Haitham complained about taking up the most space in the suitcase was the biggest hit–a face painting kit for June!

In no time at all the wee artiste was doing her thing. I even went to dinner with a massive rainbow on my face, as you do. Dinner happened to be at the restaurant I’d spied on Roadside America, and true to their description, my fried pickles arrived via tiny train car running all along the walls. Amazing. And those fried pickles tho. Mmmm, mmm!

Back home it was time for Jessica to face the music and the wee artiste to flex her abstract muscles, this time making a… was it a puppy face? I’m not really sure, but the mustache really brought the whole thing together, for sure.

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Oh yeah. Them’s some good lookin’ gals right there!

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16th-18th of September, 2017: Onward Ho, to Nashville!

Saturday, 16th of September

At around 7:30 AM Edinburgh time, after our early rising and hasty last-minute preparations for the trip, Haitham gave me a sudden warning: “The bus’ll be here in 5 minutes,” he stressed (being a tense traveler at the best of times). Grabbing my stuff I bolted out the door to the street where he joined me a few moments after.

It was only when we were on the bus maybe one stop away from our flat that Haitham’s eyes widened and he blurted, “I left my carry-on.”

“Are you serious??” was my eloquent response, whilst thinking, I am gonna hold this one over his head forever!

Next thing I know he’s off the bus and running for his bag back in the flat. I have a nice, peaceful ride to the airport and find him waiting for me when I arrive, having decided on the taxi to get him there fastest (and indeed it is). With all our things present and accounted for (heh) we passed through security unimpeded and prepared to wait for the next few hours.

We had a smaller, older model of aircraft that didn’t come with any in-flight entertainment on the back of the seats. However, it did offer screens along the aisles that I could just crane my head enough to see. “It won’t be that bad,” I said, “I mean, they’ll play any new-ish movie and that’ll be great!”

Wrong. Somehow our flight had been bought out by PBS–which decided that the only movie worth showing for the entire 7-hour-flight was Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Not even the original movie, mind you, but Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. Which Rotten Tomatoes give a generous 20% rating to. For the curious:

Honestly. I didn’t even plug my headphones in and somehow it was still just the worst. Of all the movies, American Airlines!!! OF ALL THE MOVIES!!!

Somehow though we both survived the flight relatively intact, shooting off back in time as you do when you cross from Greenwich Mean Time to Eastern to land. We had a brief layover in JFK airport which proved to be just the worst experience possible, with absurd levels of employee-not-givin’-a-fucks. But that’s another story for another day I guess (and one I would rather forget). The good news is we made up for the experience by watching the new Power Rangers film on the second flight… an improvement on Wimpy Kid with it’s 44% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Hours later and post Power Rangers madness, we began to peep the distant Nashville skyline. Seeing the iconic Batman building filled me with anticipation. Almost there!!

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Upon landing in Nashville the ever-present waves of heat rolled in. Even in September it was ridiculously warm–unseasonably so as Dad would tell us later (at least I presume he did, I may be making that bit up). Our next undertaking was locating the Alamo car rental area, which in no time at all had us suited out with a Toyota Camry that felt more like driving a small boat than a car–only gained as some other dudes stole a spiffy, smaller Kia Soul from underneath our noses. (Perhaps if we’d gotten that one the fate of the doomed Camry would have been different–who could say!)

After my getting behind the wheel and a slight impasse (where I patiently faced off another car who happened to be in the correct lane while I stubbornly sat in the wrong one waiting for him to hurry up and move in the parking garage), we were off. Luckily for me even though a bit of dizziness lingers on from my VN, I didn’t have too much trouble figuring out which side of the street I should be on or my directions, although I did chant constantly, “Right is right, right is right, right is right!”

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do eh?

And then just like that, as I was struggling to park the boat in Andrea’s front yard, my old friend came hurtling out of her house shout-singing in welcome as she does! It was really happening!!! I was home again. Although Nashville did feel like a foreign beast of sorts, the heat, Andrea’s presence, and driving all felt like coming home. We celebrated by catching up, playing with Andrea’s cat who appears to have doubled not only in sassiness but also adorable chubbiness since last I saw her, and eventually ventured out for pizza before retiring for the night.

Here’s a photo of Andrea communing with her spirit guide, Frank.

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Sunday, 17th of September

Because jet-lag is a bitch, Haitham and I slept deeply but still woke up around 5 AM. When I could toss and turn no longer, I invited him to join me on the front step of Andrea’s place, where we listened to the birds in the foggy, humid morning air. Haitham was immediately surprised by the presence of a cicada emerging from its grubby shell on the porch step–a phenomenon he’d never experienced before in the U.K.! I demonstrated how you could hook its shell-claws onto clothing and explained the best thing to do with ’em was to hook ’em on unsuspecting victims. (We ended up taking the shell home with us. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

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Sitting on that front porch in the quietness of morning, we experienced more wildlife than we had in an entire Scottish summer. Cardinals flitted from bush to tree; a wren scolded the neighborhood from its perch atop the neighbor’s house; a woodpecker drummed a solo into the bark of a catawba tree. Haitham tensed up when we spotted a couple of grey squirrels running around, pointing urgently. (The guy loves squirrels.)

But the morning passed on and we had shit to do. After a failed attempt at getting breakfast at the exceedingly busy Sky Blue Cafe, we bailed out and got some grub at Andrea’s local coffee haunt. Avocado and feta on toast, coupled with a little tub of honey that the server popped onto the side. (How did he know???)

When we pulled up to our next stop for the day in front of the Titan’s stadium and alongside the Cumberland River, I saw a figure emerge from the shadows and was elated all over again. Somehow I’d almost forgotten that my friend Elliot had agreed to join us on our next jaunt of the day. Seeing him was such a blast from the past–it completed our little quartet just perfectly!

Before long we were all saddled up in our respective kayaks, issued by Cumberland Kayak, and were peacefully paddling downriver. It was hot, but there were turtles to be seen, and before long we passed the enormous presence of the General Jackson with enormous paddles churning by–amazing to see, but obviously something that required some poses/waving to onboard passengers. You can see Andrea demonstrating the former below.

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Here’s the whole gang, and my gigantic round face–complete with the Nashville skyline!

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After the short but sweet kayak, it was time to hit the streets of Nashville, something we’d skirted around on Haitham’s prior visit. I could offload tons of photos of our wanders, but will focus on a highlight or two… like this incredibly cool Segway tour we saw zooming by.

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(I honestly can’t say anything with regards to that one, because we had a segway tour of our own booked for Salt Lake City!! Still, you have to admit they look pretty hilarious.)

After some wandering down the hot streets, we wandered briefly down Printer’s Alley where we found this little delightful bar. At around 3 PM it was relatively abandoned except for the bartender, who Andrea quickly made friends with as the two discussed cocktail techniques and mixed drinks etc. In short order a round of bourbons were ordered (shoo-wee!) and drank, and we hit the streets once more.

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We even saw some famous figures. None of us stopped to chat though.

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We eventually made our way to our last stop of the night: Rosepepper Cantina, where I would be meeting with the rest of my nearby gang. As I waited for a table to be made ready for us and glanced at the clock, about 6:55 PM, I felt a brief moment of panic and thought, What if no one actually turns up? What if no one likes me and is too nice to say???

Luckily for me, I have some excellent damn friends. Within no time at all they began to trickle in–long-time friends from Selmer, my posse from Cracker Barrel, friendly faces from university–my most favorite people all made the time to pop by and see me. I’m so lucky with them! Even more so when Andrea busted out some homemade cupcakes.

Afterwards, after a brief detour to visit Anna’s new home and see her new pupper, we returned to Andrea’s house for hookah, beer, and the kind of chat you can only get with an excellent group of people. I only wish I’d had longer with ’em, but time (and travels) wait for no gal.

❤  ❤  ❤

Monday, 18th of September

My last morning in Nashville–and what better way to do that than with a determined return visit to Sky Blue Cafe?? After a short wait this time, I can now safely say I know what those folk were queuing for–the pancakes. Nutella and banana, anyone?

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After our hearty breakfast and lengthy goodbyes, we hit the road in the ol’ boat. What we didn’t know was that along the way to Henderson to check in to our airbnb, the ol’ boat would meet an untimely demise thanks to a split-seconds hesitation and two goons both looking the wrong way at traffic. Though we were shaken up, a bit bruised, and even sported some airbag deployment burns, we (and the guy driving the other car) were thankfully all okay. Within an hour or two we’d dusted ourselves off, spoken to the fuzz, called Dad and Mom who like the troopers they are headed off to pick us up, and even gotten some questionably southern directions from the police. (Something like: You know Clear Lake? No??? How long you been away? Okay, you need to turn at red light #1…)

After picking up a second car (in a delightful shade of blue), and checking in at the fantastically nice Diana’s AirBNB in Henderson, we headed back home to Selmer. Here’s a face of one of our rescuers in front of my childhood home, now complete with Yoda stringlights: you can see the other rescuer ducking behind the windchimes!

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After a nice, quiet dinner of one of the two Italian places in town now, we headed out once more to Savannah, where there happened to be an agricultural fair going on. Although we almost couldn’t find it at first, eventually after some navigational duress we saw the looming Ferris wheel on the horizon.

And what a fair it was!!!

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We chose this particular night mainly because the other two days, the event were lackluster, or we would be busy. Luckily for us, this particular day showcased a tractor pull. Needless to say, Haitham got some real cultural enlightenment that night. Spooky fair rides; funnel cakes; accents Haitham had only ever heard in movies; and massive tractors roaring and pumping out exhaust.

What a great night. 5 stars Savannah, TN!

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11th-15th of September, 2017: Sunsets, Drunks, Pots, and Things

Oh ho, lookie who forgot to post this before her flight to the good ol’ U.S. of A.! Yep, it’s me. Well, here it is… the run up to holidays!

Monday, 11th of September

After work I popped off the train at Waverley Station to shuttle off to Krista’s place; although I’d been instructed that I need to only check on wee Pubols once while she was away, I couldn’t resist a second chance to make sure he was okay before they returned from their holidays. Of course he was fine and in fluffy good form. I hit the streets again on my way home, but ended up taking the straight-up-the-hill Royal Mile route. Via my heavy bike it’s a real workout, but damned if the sunset didn’t absolutely make up for that. Here’s St. Giles Cathedral in the evening light.

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Tuesday, 12th of September

I showed up to work with a bit of a gray cloud hanging round my head. That’s because we were doing the dreaded stocktake. I just knew that I would be dragged into the chaos and for some reason I couldn’t dredge up a lick of excitement (probably understandable if you’ve ever happened to do a stocktake in any shape or form before) towards it. Luckily for me though, I was mostly left to man the fort whilst my managers, bless them, took the brunt of it. (This is me giving myself a high-five at my good fortune!)

On the way home from work I was treated to some in-line entertainment in the form of an extremely inebriated Scot who was attempting to make friends with everyone on the carriage, except one guy who made the mistake of sitting across from him at one point. He then alternated between wanting to fight and not wanting to fight, taking off his shirt, falling on his ass, complaining about/being confused by the presence of so many bicycles, and somehow… miraculously… not knocking over a single drop of his Buckfast. Honestly, the Scots know how to hold their drink, even when they’re having a lie down on the train seats. (That bottle is open by the way!)

As I was leaving on my bike he was staggering round trying to gather his things. I thought there’s no way this bloke can make it out of the train station before me. And yet, upon my exit, who did I clap mine eyes upon but the wee drunkie already staggering around, still with bottle in hand, just outside the doors. So we can add teleportation to his list of skills!

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Wednesday, 13th of September

Lesson #451 of life in Edinburgh: if there is a good ol’ fashioned self-service laundromat round here, I sure as heck don’t know where it is! I learned this as a result of our washing machine kicking the bucket, conveniently only after it had managed to drench a load of clothes with water. So lucky me, on my day off I had to drag a heavy, sodden bag to some poor gals in the “laundrette” as they call them here, where I then explained nervously, “Don’t worry, it’s nothing weird!”

I did manage to successfully drive to the laundrette though y’all! First semi-confident drive I’ve had since my diagnosis several weeks ago. Thank goodness for any recovery at all, honestly!

Anyway, I didn’t take any photos. So here’s a photo of one of my pottery disasters, what I call “Chicken After the Nuclear Fallout.” I think it’s safe to say I chose the wrong glaze y’all (but I still can’t stop laughing and I will plant something in that puppy!).

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Thursday, 14th of September

How hard is it to complete work when your holidays start in less than two days?

So hard, as it turns out.

Here’s a photo of the rest of our pots! Minus my oil burner. I’ll try to remember to snap a photo of that one sometime soon. All in all, we’re pretty pleased. Sure they’re a bit garbage, but they’re our garbage.

Friday, 15th of September

fucking finally.

Here’s a photo of a Japanese maple centerpiece with some fall foliage color around it that Mel and I made yesterday. Because I didn’t take any photos today, too busy glancing at my watch to see if it was time to go home yet!!!

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7th-10th of September, 2017: Boring Videos, Bowling, Errands, Blackberries

Thursday, 7th of September

For some reason, unbeknownst to me now, I decided to take a video from the train window on my ride home from work. God knows why actually… having watched it once more now, I can confirm that this is probably

the most boring video you will ever see.

Friday, 8th of September

Following work H & I met up with our mates Dave and Amy, some of our favorite folks in Edinburgh who I continuously feel lucky to have around just because they’re absurdly lovely. Amy had suggested we dabble in some bowling nearby our flat, following that up with a meal nearby. Despite my googly eyes, we had a great time catching up in between rounds. Haitham won both of two with resounding bowling fury–leaving me perplexed. Who was this man, supposedly so uninterested in sports, absolutely shunting the balls left and right and killing it?

Amy & I were roughly even in scores, but poor ol’ Dave seemed to take up the rear–he was a great sport about it though, as he tends to be in life! I couldn’t help but pat myself on the back for managing as well as I did with my VN (although, the re-pinning machine did seem to conveniently only glitch out and knock over some additional pins when it was my turn, so we’ll count that as my handicap)!

Afterwards we had some fantastically spicy ramen at a joint called Maki and Ramen down the road. Somehow we were all surprised when our “Hell Ramen” was actually hot as hell. (What are we like?) Here’s Dave tossing back the rest of his ramen, honestly a feat in itself considering I left all my soup behind so as to retain the lining of my esophagus. He may not have won bowling, but he certainly won my respect!

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Saturday, 9th of September

Shoo-wee, what a day!

In order we did the following:

  • Popped in to visit the fantastic Mr. Pubols, fluffy rabbit extraordinaire
  • Purchased a new, massive piece of luggage for our trip back to the States even though I had joked I didn’t want to be “one of those girls” who had suitcases that looked like they could store bodies [have not tested to see how many bodies could fit inside said suitcase]
  • Picked up our now fully fired pottery–some disasters, some triumphs as expected!
  • Home, nap
  • And then back out to do some last-minute… well… travel things! We’ll leave it at that.

Here’s Haitham checking the wheels of two competing luggage models for their structural integrity. I swear I don’t know where I found this guy, y’all. (We got the blue one after a coin-flip/my preference for the color blue won!)

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Sunday, 10th of September

I’m still taking the train to work, which luckily hasn’t resulted in bike disasters recently. Even better, I made a wonderful discovery after work today. Having quite the wait after work on Sundays, something like 45 minutes, I decided to wander up and down the length of the track to stretch my legs while waiting for the train.

And what did I clap my eyes upon at the far corner but a massive blackberry patch all coming into fruition! Huzzah!!!! Yes, I stuffed my cheeks with reckless abandon until the train arrived. Freakin’ yes don’t mind if I do!

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3rd-6th of September, 2017: Thrones, Buns, Snails, Drams

Sunday, 3rd of September

Got a ride to work with the ol’ boy in the morning, managed to snag a lift to the train station in the evening. When I arrived home Haitham was out, which meant one thing: Game of Thrones time!  (The boy refuses to watch. *sigh* I guess we all have our flaws don’t we? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) I can’t believe I forgot how much I was enjoying this damned show. Too bad I have so much catching up to do.

Ah well, that’s what a long flight to the States is for innit?

Monday, 4th of September

After work I stopped by my gal-pal Krista’s place to have a meet ‘n greet with her enormously fluffy rabbit, Pubols. (I think I’ve got his Latvian name right. He’s named for this if I remember correctly, which obviously is the science-backed best name for a rabbit there could be.) Our visit was not only to catch up, but also to get a feel for things as Krista was going out of town for a few days and asked me to pop in and check on the fluffmonster while she was away. As if that was something I would say no to–free rabbit time?? Yes, please!

Pubols is a total charmer with such a great, chilled-out personality compared to my little hellion Bigwig. Here he was after being delightfully surprised with a ginormous container of food, which he noisily procured some pellets from. I tried to get a video of the sound of his delightfully loud crunching, but it didn’t take on video–shame, because it’s absurdly adorable!

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Tuesday, 5th of September

Will I ever stop being enamored with snails? Maybe one day… but today is not that day, folks. Found this eensy weensy little guy hanging out on the smallest of parsley plants at work today. He was so tiny I couldn’t even get him in focus with my mobile camera!

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Wednesday, 6th of September

Another day off. At Haitham’s urging, I ended up back to the doctor today to re-inquire about my mysterious illness/top up on meds. I got a kind doctor-lady, the same one who checked out my knee actually, and she gave me a thorough exam by peering into my ears and checking my eyeball response. The verdict? It could take up to 6 weeks for a full recovery; my eyes still “twitch” much like a drunk person’s do which explains my continuing symptoms; and I have fluid in my ears.

C’est la vie, eh?

If y’all think that could stop me from having a proper fare-thee-well to my American mate Ben before he heads back home, ya better think again. We met at one of my favorite places in town, a joint called the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. There are two locations in Edinburgh, one wholly members-only, and then this one which has a ground-floor, public-access bar called Kaleidoscope. Basically the SMWS works with distilleries all around the UK (and now even one in the States!) and gets limited-edition casks; they bottle them up with only numbers signifying where they’re from, and no names except what a taster gives them. And from the names I’ve seen I think it may well be the Perfect Job: here’s some to give you an idea…

Airy Angel Fairy Cupcakes

More Reviving than Smelling Salts

Killer Bee Rum Punch

More Layers Than Shrek

You get the idea. Anyway it’s a fabulous place if you like whisky and want something a bit more unique than the drams you can find in the shops, as most are limited editions and only certain numbers of bottles available before it’s gone for good. If you don’t like whisky, however, I wonder how you managed to stumble into this wee place at all!

Here’s a photo of a bearded whisky guru speaking The Good Word to two American gals.

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30th August-2nd September, 2017: Ear Lowerings, Wood Wasps, and Goats

Wednesday, 30th of August

And so another day off comes and goes. However, still ridden with my short-circuiting ear nerves, I decided to mostly lurk about the house in a Gollum-like-if-he-slightly-inebriated fashion during the day mainly cleaning and catching up. Also worth noting: having finally gotten a referral from the NHS for a physio appointment, I booked that shiz for my return from the States. Maybe they will tell my why my knee is so crunchy!

I did venture out a little before 6 PM to take part in a rare event: Clarissa Gets a Haircut (Right It Was Really Just a Trim But It’s Still A Big Day). As most salons are more than this penny-pincher finds reasonable for the odd trim (30 pounds for a haircut?! what the), more often than not I just don’t go. However, luckily for me I know a fantastic gal who works for a salon in town that does weekly “model” sessions (aka some youngster learning the ropes does the job) for the low price of 10 quid! And what better time to get a trim than right before my hols? I ended up with a gal named Rowan (a great name if you like plants or Scotland at all) who was so focused on my questionable hairs that she ignored me closing my poor eyes for most of the trim. Lucky me!

It was a perfect cut really. The kind that no one will notice but yourself, but when you do, you feel so nice. So bravo to Ms. Rowan!

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Thursday, 31st of August

What’s that saying… the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Here’s a story: a few days ago when I was lamenting to my coworker Ben about my train disasters and how I’d been late a few times as a result, he said, “Why don’t you take _____ stop instead and cycle the rest of the way. It’s only 30 minutes, and it’s all downhill so it’s fun!”

Lo and behold, when the conductor waved off with a stern shake of his head my attempt to board the too-full train with my bike this morning, I recalled his wise words. I jumped on board a different train heading in roughly the same direction and hopped off again at my stop. Sure enough, as I cruised down an incredibly steep hill I thought I was in luck. Unfortunately for me, Google maps had other ideas. Honestly I don’t know how people managed in what I imagine is like the Stone Ages of technology, without maps or communication to guide them in an instant. Google for some reason kept pinning my starting location somewhere else, nearby but totally wrong; after a lengthy struggle to figure out just where I was, I began a route nearby, only to see a bend in the road and a sign pointing to what looked like a busy motorway. Panic began to set in as I realized that not only was I super mega lost, Google was failing me, and I was running late.

Even writing this it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But I may have had a little snivel/pity party as I wandered around the downtown area I found myself (funnily enough one I had even been to before), wondering just how I was going to find my way to work after all this nonsense.  After I gathered myself together and sent a few explanatory texts to work, I asked directions of a kind man  in a city council truck through his open truck window as he idled at a stoplight. His directions got me back to another train station, where I boarded and resumed my first train’s path with no problems whatsoever.

As that train was approaching a stop and I sat mentally bemoaning my googly eyes and the disasters they were causing me, a lady stood up, unfolded her cane, and tapped her way to the door on the opposite side of where she would need to exit. The train conductor spied her before the doors opened and mentioned to her she was on the wrong side. “Oh! Thank you,” she said cheerfully as she maneuvered across the aisle to the correct door.

And that, children, is your (and my own) lesson for the day. No matter how bad things may seem to be at any given moment, probably someone out there has it worse, and is also dealing with it in a far more dignified manner than you.

Here’s a photo of a wood wasp. I saw one today, though this photo (and finger) is not mine. The end!!

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Friday, 1st of September

It’s September, y’all!!! Which means my hols are officially WITHIN THIS MONTH. Holy guacamole am I ready for that. Too bad my eyes are still troublesome–no matter, I am planning on recuperating the hell out of those bad boys in the 15 days I have left till America.

That said, for some reason today I decided (mainly due to lack of time, it seems) that I should drive myself to work. This was surprisingly fine for my drive in the morning on my way in; however, the ride home was a complete nightmare as I struggled to focus my double vision the entire ride home. I managed to focus on things to my left and in the distance, but things immediately in front of me were simply out of the question. Honestly it’s amazing to think I made it home, one eye shut most of the ride, without any mishaps.

As such, when H invited me out to see a 3D movie with one of his friends who was in town, I politely declined. ಠ_ಠ

Needless to say no photos were taken today, so here’s another one from H’s vortex of photos: me appreciating some fine landscaping in the Garden of Cosmic Speculation.

Saturday, 2nd of September

Today Haitham and I ventured out of the flat for a romantic rendezvous. The setting: Gorgie Farm! Which just so happened to be celebrating its 40th anniversary with a big Farm Fest. The joint, being an adorable little farm nestled right into the somewhat *ahem* questionable Gorgie area, is something we honestly don’t take advantage of enough considering it’s just around the very literal corner from us (and it has goats).

There’s a song about Gorgie that the footballers like to sing to help you get a feel for the area:

In your Gorgie Slums
You rake in the bucket for something to eat
You find a dead rat and you think it’s a treat
In your Gorgie Slums

Pretty classy stuff. Anyway, we traipsed off to Gorgie where we were bamboozled to realize that every single parental unit of toddlers under the age of 5 had the same idea as us. There were wee’uns everywhere. After we made the rounds to see what animals were about and getting some food in the cafe, we sat and took in the spectacle for a while: from the wee girl who was having a blast doing some seemingly endless solo seesawing; to the slightly older girl who inadvertently kicked another wee boy in the head whilst on the tractor; to the boy with the backwards-facing baseball cap in line for the slide (who let him do that? come on now).

But we did feed the goats. Best bit? Yeah, definitely. And we even managed a cheeky wander along the canal that evening. Who can honestly complain!

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26th-29th of August, 2017: Pizza, Pottery, Hot Pots, Plants

 

Saturday, 26th of August

What a day! Despite my recent diagnoses of vestibular neuritis and my desire to remain curled up in bed for about a month, the show does go on. Despite my funky middle ear I arrived with Haitham for the second part of our pottery course today; glazed eyes, meet glazing pots!

Actually I had a pretty good time despite feeling a bit “Wait, what am I supposed to do now?” or “Oh my god this is just a fucking big mess, welp hope it turns out okay!” with the whole process at times. Certainly this youtuber that Haitham watches makes his glazing look much easier. Then again, this guy is a total pro who makes some absolute stunner pieces. (Also, I knocked some lady’s tiny pottery piece out of her hands into a bowl of transparent glaze. I stammered, “Oh my god I’m so sorry… I’m… I’m sick!” as if that would clarify my clumsiness, at all. Ha!)

Here’s me, glazing my triumph, a chicken. And below is Haitham doing some glazing whilst surrounded by birds himself. One of them to his right was celebrating her 60th birthday by doing a “60 things 60” event the entire year. Which actually sounds pretty dern awesome and impressive when you think about it. One of said events was of course our pottery lesson. The only other one Haitham overheard was that she was going to a Formula 1 event. (Naturally that one got his interest!)

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After the drive home in which we discussed how eager we were to find out how disastrous our pieces turned out, we had a quick respite before once more hitting the road to Glasgow. There we met up with Haitham’s friends for a leaving do, as two of them are moving down to warmer climes (Yorkshire!). We had a fantastic pizza and some great chat. However, when they tried to pry us out to a booming, base-thumping bar after, my head’s instant pounding lead us literally straight out the door again. Not that we minded–we’re much too old to hang out at places you can’t even hear each other these days!!

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Sunday, 27th of August

Despite Haitham’s friends urging me to take the day off tomorrow to join them for one of their own’s baby-naming events (she’s already named as it turns out, but you need some excuse for baby-related revelry sometimes!) I trusted my gut and headed in to work the next morning. As it turns out it was just me and one other colleague, I felt justified in my non-hooky-playing decision.

After work, I stumbled my way into town to meet some friends I haven’t seen a while, and for my first ever hotpot!

Here’s a photo of the madness below. As I showed up before everyone and seated myself, it was only when others showed up and said “Actually, it’s in the basement where they do hotpot” that I was saved from thoroughly embarrassing myself! We traipsed downstairs to the brightly-lit, steamy underbelly of the hotpot world, which I took a photo of because I found all the pillars of steam quite interesting!

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Hot pot, as it turns out, is basically a do-it-yourself thing sort of like those places where you select what you want and they grill stuff in front of you. Except with hot pot, they bring out a steaming bowl of broth on a hot plate your way. You select what you want to stuff in that bad boy from a menu, and they bring it out to you on a huge platter. Lucky for me, I wasn’t the only one veggie, so me and a visiting American gal shared a pot all to ourselves that we quickly stuffed full of mysterious mushrooms, opaque slices of seaweed, whole bundles of ramen (that I then had to eat all to myself and was promptly stuffed) and then some.

It was delicious. Totally recommend–although, as a hot-pot newbie and neuritis-sufferer, I found myself having to dedicate a lot of time and focus on not melting my food rather than chatting with my friends. Maybe next time I’ll be a pro!

Monday, 28th of August

Hahah, look what I just discovered. That’s right–I can use my wordpress powers for making snail slideshows.

If this isn’t using my powers for good, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, I decided recently that given my absurd love for snails, I should at least figure out which ones live around these parts. There’s two or three that I see constantly around the nursery, so let’s break it down:

  • Cornu aspersum – Common garden snail (brown/speckled shell)
  • Cepaea nemoralis – Grove snail/brown-lipped snail (pretty brown spiral shell)

And the third mystery snail, who I found inside the plastic wrap of a houseplant. You’ve got to admit he was pretty adorable though.

You’re welcome!

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Tuesday, 29th of August

The undercurrent of my days since getting vestibular neuritis has been just trying to do normal stuff without majorly fucking up. Since I’m not driving while I have my beer-goggles on, getting to work has consisted of hopping on a train with my bike to cycle from either end. However, that in itself causes a bit of a problem, as more often than not my train that gets me to work on time is too full of bikes. I have to wait for the next one, around 20 minutes after, and arrive to work 30 minute late. Today was one of those days. Then, I have to try and keep my weary goggles pinned on whatever task is at hand during my work hours, trying not to look absolutely insane by squinting, shutting one eye, or just having a quick sit-down behind the cover of the potting bench where no one can see me.

After my already long day, I went home and had to prep some dinner of vegetables and hummus–normally a quick, easy dinner. However, my eyes were feeling particularly exhausted and unresponsive by the end of the day, and when my hand slipped on the knife I immediately nearly shit my pants, raising both hands in the air as the reality of what I’d just done hit me. I peered at my fingers, wondering how many I’d lose in the resulting catastrophe of blood and gore–sure enough, blood began to well up on a (tiny) cut on my forefinger. Cue panic mode and a whirlwind of plasters around the room as I tried to just find that one bloody size that fits Jesus why are they all massive!!! 

Lo and behold, I’m totally fine. Still it spooked me, realizing that I could have been a lot worse because of my inner ear. It’s never a good feeling in the first place realizing you nearly fucked up–but in my case it felt like some added levels of scary and stupid!

Anyway, here’s a nice photo of some rudbeckias (Black-Eyed Susans) I took during work today just to counterbalance the drama of the day!

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