Sunday, January 27, 2013

Burns Night (x2)

Burns Night, held on 25th January, is the birthday celebration of poet Robert Burns' life and poetry. It is celebrated in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and includes haggis, whisky, and poetry reading. This year, we celebrated twice.

Celebration #1:

We gathered at the Brewers for Haggis Pizza Night. My friends Rachel and Liana created masterpiece pizza with a bechamel sauce, a layer of tatties (potatoes), neeps (turnips), haggis, and of course, cheese!

Before eating, Jesse kindly read, "Ode to a Haggis," the poem traditionally read before eating Burns Supper. After about 5-6 slices each, the time came to read "Tam O'Shanter" aloud as a group. In our best accents, we traded off reading lines about Tam and his horse Meg, and their haunted adventures home from the pub. Topped off with a warm chocolate brownie dessert, it was a  wonderful North American effort at a Scottish holiday.

Celebration #2:

Our Scottish (plus one English) friends invited us to their Burns Night celebration. Garrick and I felt very honoured to be included, and were even asked to read a piece of Burns' poetry aloud, while wearing a tartan hat. This meal was more traditional, with Haggis, neeps, and tatties served on a plate with a whisky sauce drizzled over the top.

Haggis with neeps and tatties
The haggis, wrapped in a sheep's stomach,  was brought out on a platter and set in the middle of the table.  Our friend Robbie sliced the stomach open during this stanza from "Ode to a Haggis:"
His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!
After our feast, Disney's "Brave" played while we enjoyed Chocolate Whisky Truffles and Cranachan for dessert. Thanks to our gracious hosts and friends for an evening we won't soon forget!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

We're home.

I've been unpacking our trip to the States over the past few days. It's pretty easy to do when 4am is the new 7am. Yep, jet lag strikes again! Sometimes experiences can't be put into words, but I'll give it a go.

Our families are amazing. We had a car, a charged Starbucks Gold Card, 5-Star B&B's (thanks to our parents), meals, and hospitality provided every day of our trip.

Our friends are amazing. People drove to random spots at randoms times to share life with us for just an hour or two. We left each meeting feeling full in our hearts and bellies.

After three and a half weeks, we drove back to Sea-Tac Airport and enjoyed the views and Ivar's Clam Chowder to fuel for the long journey ahead.

Is it possible to have a perfect travel day? I think we got pretty close. We weren't charged for our over-sized luggage, including my 88-key digital piano, we had an entire row to ourselves on each plane ride, and our lift home from Glasgow pulled up right as we walked out of airport. (Shout out out to Micah Snell!) Finally in St Andrews, we opened our blue door and plopped onto our couch. Home. It felt good.

I began a new job the day after we arrived! I'll admit I doubted my decision to start something new completely sleep deprived,  but I actually felt fairly normal. I am now an Administrator in the School of Modern Languages. It's a permanent post and after just three days in the office, I'm thankful and excited!

Garrick is back to his desk, his languages, and his writing. And, his stationary bike! Longer, warmer days are coming when we can once again cycle without freezing.

Happy 2013! We're looking forward to another year in Scotland!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Home for the Holidays: Part II

Drive. Eat. Drive. Eat. Drive. Eat. That's what we've been doing. But, there is something very meaningful about our driving and eating. We're seeing our wonderful friends and family and engaging in encouraging and happy conversations. It's gone by quick and so will this blog.

We love the St Marie's! We rang in the New Year playing Settlers and watching King 5's News Years at the Needle! We're thankful for this pair and their newest addition, Simon. We plan to live in the same town someday, hopefully. :)
Happy 2013! We enjoyed a sunny walk around Green Lake with Mark and Julie and then some brews at the Diamond Knot. That evening, The Herms baked gourmet pizzas invited us to share in the feast. Dr Herms taught Garrick at NU and he and his family lived in the UK while he got his PhD. We had lots to talk about!
January 2nd was much like the 1st. Cinnamon rolls at the Snohomish Bakery with the Johnsons and then Chicken Pad Thai with the Rodlands!
The 3rd?  We met Garrick's mom at work and then she took us to lunch at 3rd Place Books! That evening, we met up with old friends from church, The Sparks and The Skipsnes'. What fun couples!

Friday the 4th, we enjoyed lunch with my aunt, grandparents, nephews, and mom, and then Indian food with Garrick's family! We shared our highlights from 2012 and goals for 2013. Inspired, we walked across the street for some gelato. :)
Saturday? Coffee with mom and dad at Starbucks! My parents are the best. Then, Sushi with students from youth group and after that, an amazing Pork Shoulder dinner with The Gunhus', Andersons, and Diellos. These couples were in our small group for over a year and we picked up right where we left off.
After attending Life Community Church on Sunday, we had our second helping of "Mexican" food. Taco Del Mar housed us and our friends after church. The students are grown up and doing great and we connected with Pastor Mike, Kristin, and Lucy! Then, it was off to Snohomish for Garrick to watch the Seahawks and me to meet up with my beautiful  sister and cousins for coffee.

My family has good genes. Seriously. I love these ladies! After a combined family dinner and a funny and sometimes confusing game of Telephone Pictionary, it was off to bed to prepare for another day.
Monday morning after a little sleeping in, Papa Jim and Grandma Ethy took us out to lunch! After childhood stories and soup, it was off Lynnwood to see Garrick's cousin Travis, his wife Stephanie, and baby Avery. We haven't seen her since she was born! Then to a new cool spot: Indigo. Brad, Marissa, and Ryan have a knack for choosing great Happy Hour spots! And here we are:

These people supported us the year before we left and they are still the same, genuine, hilarious friends!
Up early the next morning it was off to the Embrys, another family who lived in the UK while getting a PhD. Dr Embry taught us at NU. It was special to meet their newest addition, Lewin!
Then? Dinner with my parents! Time with them has been life-giving. There's nothing like vegging out at mom and dad's! Plus, we really like them.
Wednesday brought time with Rachael! Friends since 7th grade, we've shared many memories! Time with this girl was much needed.
Now it's Thursday, and today we visited my old office, sorted through boxes of our stuff, and enjoyed Teryaki with my family. I guess this hasn't been short. Sorry. But I wouldn't cut anything out!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Vacationing in a place I once lived...

brings conflicting emotions. Driving past our old apartment yesterday, we noticed that the new tenants have kids and have hung a welcome sign on the door, under #44. Snohomish High School has been renovated. Even our parents houses have changed. But, many things remain the same. I-5 is a bottleneck, the sunset over Lake Washington is breathtaking, and the Snohomish Bakery's Cinnamon Rolls are blog-worthy.

I think I've felt an unspoken pressure to choose. St Andrews or Snohomish. Both have wonderful qualities and some things that I'd like to change. But, I've learned that I have two homes. Two places where I feel at peace. Driving through the Snohomish Valley on a sunny day and smelling fertilizer will always remind me of our wedding, playing soccer, and learning to drive.

But, standing at the edge of the North Sea, smelling the marine air has also become home. Many times I've walked to the sea, to reflect, to pray, or to find treasures. Once a new and unpredictable place, it now grounds me.

I feel blessed to call two places home, and know I'll probably add a third or a fourth, or even a fifth throughout my life.