Thursday, February 24, 2011

Scotland Part Deux: (Insert Sleazy Highland Romance Novel Title Here)

When we last saw our heroes they had just fled Glasgow, high on the after effects of the worlds best cookies ever eaten, headed towards the mystical, mythical, and every so romantic Scottish highlands. One of them was enjoying the challenge of driving on the wrong side of the road while shifting with his left hand. The other spent her time wondering just how and when they would be sucked back in time to meet some steamy kilt-clad highlanders and forced into unplanned marriages for dubious reasons. Nevermind that she was head-over-heels for the 21st century American sitting next to her, that's just what happens in the Scottish highlands, people. She reads, you know. Only the best literature, of course.

The first part of their journey took them along the banks of Loch Lomond, and oh, my lovelies, were those banks ever bonny. So bonny, in fact, that the aforementioned reader-of-high-literature began to helpfully squeal every time the loch came into view "That's Loch Lomond! Like the song, honey! LOCH. FRIGGING. LOMOND!" Her ever patient husband took it all in good spirits, patiently refraining from strangling his giddy-but-insane new wife. He even pulled over to photograph the moment, and managed to stop said wife from jumping into the magical waters of the Loch in the process. Luckily the weather obliged, and it was suitably dreary and glum for such a momentous Scottish moment.
Oh you take the high road and I'll take the low road, but I went to Scotland before you, suckah!

Luckily for our patient hero, their path soon led away from those magical waters and into other freakishly beautiful scenes. His young, giddy wife, having finally exhausted her repertoire of Scottish/Irish/Pirate folk songs (they all blur together after awhile, don't they?), eventually ceased her giddy humming and began her giddy photographing. She did not require him to pull the car over....much, but took on the challenge of taking 4 gigabytes of digital images with the gleeful determination of one possessed. Possessed with the spirit of a 200 year old Scottish highlander about to steal them back in time for swashbuckling romance and kilts? My dears, one can only hope! 

Look closely, I'm sure there's a time traveling Scot in there somewhere.

Come on, highland romance novel guy, it's like you're not even trying to abduct us.

It must be admitted, at this point, that our protagonists had only the vaguest idea of where they were going that day. Beyond the general direction of "North and West", they merely hoped to get more than half way to Durness before night fall. Thus it was, with a glorious freedom from having any idea where they were, that the two stopped for lunch at the small cafe in the tiny town next the the gorgeous old church pictured below. The cafe, unfortunately, did not merit a picture. The extra strength mustard on the sandwiches and the rich, creamy hot cocoa that came afterword, did. Unfortunately, our diners were too overcome with the joy of warm food to be bothered with picture taking. (Also they thought photographing their hot cocoa would make them look kind of crazy.)
Top right: Old Church, Top Left: Old Dead People. Not Pictured: Intense Scottish Mustard on rye.
The afternoon passed in much the same way as the morning had, with giddy squealing, patient driving, and much taking of digital photos. And then there was this.

Do you really need a caption for this awesomeness?

Unwilling to leave Eileen Donan and the prospect of it being a gateway to that time travel she'd been waiting for since the frigging plane landed, our heroine decided that they would stay in the nearby village for the night, eat dinner from the local pub, and otherwise wait to be abducted by eighteenth century men in kilts. Her obliging husband quickly found them a suitable bed-and-breakfast and then ran to the pub for "anything with french fries". Oh how I wish our dear honeymooners had thought to take the camera down for what happened next. Alas, when her bridegroom returned, victoriously with his french fries, and pulled her outside for what would turn out to be one of the coolest things our lovely young bride would ever see in her life, she left the camera on the bed. And thus it is, my dear friends, that I cannot show you any evidence of how creepy/romantic/unreal that castle looks when it is lit up at night under a sky of stars reflected in the waters of the loch. I cannot even tell you, my lovelies, because it was just that amazing. 

So, did sword wielding immortals of the clan MacCloud come tearing across the stone bridge and drag our two heroes into some swashbuckling adventure as per highland-romance tradition? Given that the bridge groom not only has a growing collection of swords but also the ability to handle himself in swordplay....stay tuned, dear ones, stay tuned! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What you don't need to know, can still annoy you.

Look, I love my husband, okay? A lot. More than that, even. It's pretty crazy how much I love him. And yeah, you probably don't need to know this. And that's okay. I'm just putting it out there and walking away.

But before that walk-away, which I am about to do, let me just tell you something else you don't need to know.

People, I recently learned how to fold an origami heart with a neck tie on it. Like, totally. Why did I learn this important life skill? I have no idea. But it is awesome and you will be jealous. It's sitting here on my desk, looking at me, with this I'm-too-sexy-for-this-desk type attitude. And it is too sexy for this desk, people. It so totally is.

You know that movie with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp where everybody eats chocolate and there's some kind of plot revolving around chocolate while the chocolate is there looking chocolaty next to the chocolate that you want to roll around in with a Johnny Depp made of chocolate? Well that pretty much describes my last weekend. Sort of, you know, minus the Johnny Depp. But the chocolate? Oh yes, darlings, that part was there. Spicy Aztec, orange infused, dutch processed, 60% cacao, semi-sweet, white chocolate with peppermint extract, mini chocolate chips, and melt-in-your-mouth milk chocolate truffles of awesomeness and glory. And that, my friends, you totally needed to know.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Scotland I: The Curse the of Great Glasgow Noodle

I should have taken more pictures in Glasgow. I just wasn't sure how to do it. The picture that could hold Glasgow's awesomeness is simply too big for my little camera.

We landed in the rain, and sloshed out way out to the rental car. The Awesomeface paused only a moment when he realized he'd be driving a stick-shift, on the wrong side of the road, in the rain, in a totally foreign city. He took to it like fish to water, of course. There is a reason I refer to him as "The Awesome One" and it is not limited to his excellent taste in women.

And with the help of our fabulous rented GPS, which spoke to us in a delightful Scottish accent of course, we found our way to the guesthouse where we had reservations for the night. Oh, how I loved that little guest house. Oh how I loved sleeping again at last.

So it was that our first truly conscious experience of Scotland was at night, in the industrial beauty of what must be the most under-appreciated city I've ever visited. Glasgow is gorgeous, people. The buildings are a strange hodgepodge of turn of the century architecture and modernism. It's all running with soot and rain. It's like Urban Decay, only it's not really decaying. And at night, everyone is drunk. Okay, not everyone. Just everyone we ran into. That may be due to our decision to go out searching for sustenance so late at night. The guidebook mentioned a noodle joint, and by golly I wanted noodles! Speaking of, I fear I will forever be haunted by the memory of those noodles. They were, hands down, the best I've ever had. Some Asian-type lemon sauce stuff and big fat noodles of joy and triumph. They have ruined me for all other noodles, my friends. I will never be the same.

Then, because Mr. Awesome had officially mastered this whole Scottish-driving thing we went for a drive through the city. We didn't even turn on the GPS, we just drove, wildly guessing at the meanings behind the traffic signs and managing not to turn the wrong way down one way streets. Somehow we ended up near an old church with glowing stained-glass windows behind a row of trees lit with twinkle lights. It was sort of magical and weird, because no one was there but us. And then we saw the old blue "Police Box" nearby and understood. If the TARDIS is in the neighborhood, strange things are bound to happen.
Listen, it's the TARDIS. You should be grateful for any picture at all, blurriness be darned.

The next day we checked out of the quietly efficient guesthouse where the cardigan clad owner had cooked us a lovely warm breakfast, and drove to the huge shopping mall where we wandered about looking for various necessities before commencing our honeymoon road-trip. First and foremost, neither of us had packed a coat or a jacket for our week-long sojourn in Scotland at the end of September. Friends, we are awesome at traveling (see the "Duplicity of Airlines" post, below). Also we needed cookies. And again, the cookies were mind-blowingly good. Seriously, Glasgow, what is with you and the crazy good, haunt-you-forever type food? Huh? And these were just from a little place in the mall. Like the Scottish version of Mrs. Fields...if Mrs. Fields baked unicorn tears and fairy dust into her cookies because I'm telling you those cookies were freaking awesome, dudes. Freaking. Awesome.

And then we turned North and West and drove out of the city and into the lush, green, misty beauty of the Scottish highlands. Did I immediately commence serenading the Awesomeface with old Scottish ballads learned in my youth and savored up for just such a moment? Dudes, we were in Scotland. Of course I did.

"Oh ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye!"

Did somebody say Loch Lomand? Oh darlings, that's totally coming up next.

Oh bonny Portmore, I'm sorry to see 
such a woeful destruction of your ornament tree
For it stood on your shores for many's the long day
till the long boats from Antrim came to float it away.
And the birds in the forest, they bitterly weep
sayin' "Where shall we shelter? Where shall we sleep?"...

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone
say could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Sky...

Twas there that we parted 
in yon shady glen
on the steep, steep side of Ben Lomand
where in purple hue
the highland hills we view
and the moon comin' out in the gloaming...

Why yes, I do know several verses to these songs, and a few more ballads besides. Stop looking at me like that.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In which I contemplate the unthinkable

Murder, my friends. Cold-blooded, premeditated, and carried out with relish. It's true, my lovelies. I am considering the imminent demise, at my own fair hands, of my Facebook account.

I'll make no pretenses here, for what would it serve me to pretend I had any real feelings of warmth left for that gossiping, flagrantly indelicate bore? How often must I listen to that hussy telling me that someone else has broken up/had a child/gained a few pounds/planted a row of beans in an entirely fictitious garden somewhere in "Farmville." Honestly, why is any of that my business? Oh, and the way that bore of a social-interloper has of bringing up people from my past, about whom I have not thought in years, with the idea that somehow we ought to be friends now, and share such intimate details as how glad we are that it is the weekend! My dears, it is rapidly approaching my limit of social grace.

And yet I have let the relationship linger, on life support as it were. Thinking that perhaps this nosy little twerp who keeps poking me (unprovoked! I swear!), was somehow worth the trouble. Because, of course every so often the little blabbermouth comes out with something funny, some mild unprepossessing status update that I can truly enjoy. Heaven knows, these rare outbursts of usefulness are quickly smothered among the mundane, pointless, and (most annoying of all) pointedly coded status updates that serve no useful purpose to anyone, as only the author cares about the subject or even, in the latter case, understands the references. Ambiguity is fine, when used to good purpose. Ambiguity for ambiguity's sake, or merely for attention, smacks of conceit.

And so we come, mes amis, to the crux of the matter. Dare I go forth, flouting social expectations and modern conveniences of communication, bravely marching into the unknown of limited online social interaction, and stab that publicly indecent, gossipmongering voyeur right through the heart? Or will this be another empty threat levied against the strange privacy-free virtuosity that has become our social world?

I cannot say, my dears. I cannot say.