ewein2412: (christmas)
IrnBru seems to be inextricably linked to Christmas here for some reason, and ice rinks, so my holiday photos run in an endless loop of ice and light and bubble-gum flavored soda. Or whatever the heck that flavor is.

The supermarkets are ready!!

irnbru

And the ice rink at Dundee. Every. Single Item. on this menu just cracks me up.

dundee hockey menu

If the ice rink cafe is closed (which it often is at 7.30 a.m. when we turn up for Sara's lesson), you can still get IrnBru in the vending machines:

irnbru machine

We spent a lot of time at the Dundee ice rink in December, because the Ice Skating Club was gearing up for their winter extravaganza, Shrek on Ice (Sara was a soldier). Here's the background. I stared at it for a long time, trying to figure out which mythical country it was supposed to be, till suddenly I recognized the castle. It's EDINBURGH.

shrek on ice backdrop

OK, moving on then? Here we are back at home. I have ordered old-fashioned glass bulb Xmas lights from Noma, the oldest worldwide distributor of Xmas lights, est. 1926. These lights are so freaking beautiful they make me cry. Not a single picture I can take does them justice. But anyway here's our tree with just the lights on:

xmas lights

... And here it is fully decorated:

xmas tree dark

... And here it is in daylight, with Playmobil Christmas Tree Village added by Mark (at my request):

xmas tree & village

It is a SCOTTISH Christmas Tree Village, with a CURLING POND. Surely someone is drinking an IrnBru in that chalet.

xmas tree village

... Interior of chalet:

chalet

AND THE CURLING POND. (though the figure in the back is an ice skater):

curling pond

Sara's contribution, created in Home Ec. Even our gingerbread house is Scottish - yes, that is a Saltire!

gingerbread house

Have a happy holiday season - don't worry, we're enjoying it without IrnBru despite the pressure.
ewein2412: (snow)
he has been explaining to me that he has made up a catchphrase to describe what it's like when you make a come-back, or pull through to unexpected victory as a dark horse:

"I call it, Last one down the stairs, first one out the door."

-----------------------------

We had this conversation over breakfast:

Mark: Is it racist to call someone pink?

E Wein: No, it's a political slur, not a racial one. It means "a bit red," so with some very liberal or even Communist political political views. Communist countries get called "Red" because their flags are red.

Mark: What's a Communist?

E Wein: A Communist government tries to share out everything so there aren't any rich people or poor people, but it doesn't usually work that way.

Mark: What's a Gossip Communist?

------------------------------

After I had finished laughing, and explained what a gossip columnist was, Mark added:

"Speaking of Communism, what was the problem with Calvinism?"

...

he is 10.

Indeed, musing upon it, I suspect that the term "pink" in whatever context he heard it may have been a SEXUAL slur rather than anything else... And I am pretty sure that whatever he knows about Calvinism he picked up by reading the introduction to one of my Calvin & Hobbes collections.
ewein2412: (verity no text)
on their way home from Cubs, Mark and his mates were discussing where they are going for their october holidays. Mark said he was going to France, and that it's been quite a while since he has been to France.

He came into the house singing "The Last Time I Saw Paris."
ewein2412: (verity no text)
collected sara from music camp today... It is here, and it is LOVELY, but it looks even more like a respectable Officers' POW Camp in real life than it does in the pictures (the kids sleep 12 to a suite, 3 alcoves with 2 bunkbeds in each and an aisle between them about a metre wide). When I arrived the whole place was filled with the incredible sound of a piano quartet playing something GORGEOUS and classical--don't know what, pretty sure it wasn't Mendelssohn, but it reminded me SO MUCH of the scene in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp where Candy goes to visit Theo in the prison camp, and the German officers are all listening to Mendelssohn, and Theo won't speak to him, that I got ALL CHOKED UP and had to blink back tears as I chatted to Sara's wind band conductor.

Fortunately the pianists then switched to "Give My Regards to Broadway" and Sara kicked me. "SHUT UP ABOUT COLONEL BLIMP, MUMMY."

honestly.
ewein2412: (Default)
the Free Hotel is ROAMING. You can move it to any property you own at the beginning of your turn and collect Hotel Rent if someone lands there. (But you can't move it if you're in jail.)

This game does seem to end in all the players having thousands of pounds/dollars and no property to speak of.
ewein2412: (Harriet LOL)
Last night I played the SECOND BEST GAME OF MONOPOLY EVER. Mark has made his own Chance and Community Chest cards, a la Calvin and Hobbes. Monopoly is so much better when your 9-year-old makes the Chance cards.

So, first Tim got the Kangaroo Card, which is the one that says simply, "Kangaroo kills you. YOU LOSE." It was very early in the game so we were kind to him and made him put all his money in the bank but he got to keep his property. We gave him another break when he got "Pay Electricity bill--£2000" by pointing out that since he OWNED the Electric Company he didn't actually have to pay. Meanwhile I had bought Boardwalk/Mayfair, and though I didn't have a monopoly I got the Free Hotel card, which means you can stick a hotel on anything you own, and when Tim finally landed on it he gave up (and I inherited all his property, cool).

I also got the "Sell your Cafe for £2500" card, "Advance to Go--pick up £400," AND I landed on Free Parking which had a ton of money on it in the Kitty, so plunked hotels on my only monopoly, the light blues. Poor Mark didn't stand a chance. He was hoping I'd roll triple doubles and end up in jail but I told him I'd pay to get out--what the heck, I'd just BUY THE JAIL--and then I got a Get Out of Jail Free card anyway. When I pulled "BINGO! yay you won bingo. Get best prize £2000!" Mark pointed out that I had cheated, as he was holding the invisible Time Machine Card which says that I used a time machine to find out what all the Bingo numbers were going to be and therefore I now had to give him all my hotels. This card obviously did not exist and as he then landed on my Boardwalk/Mayfair hotel and owed me £2000 anyway, we declared the game over.

It is SO much more fun to play this way. This was not my all-time best monopoly win ever, though I did end up with more than £8000. The BEST one ever was the first time we played with mark's new chance cards and I ended up owning all the property on the board with hotels on everything.

(incidentally I have also got the Kangaroo Card in the past, so I don't always get this lucky.)
ewein2412: (snowicon)
Perth is celebrating its 800th birthday this year. Uh huh. I live in a city that has had a royal charter for 800 years--as a Yank this pretty well boggles my brain. For Perth's birthday party there is going to be a big parade and both my kids are marching in it--one as a Girl Guide and one as a Cub Scout. I've known this for a while, but what I hadn't taken on board was that the parade is in honor of the Queen's visit.

My kids are going to be in uniform, parading for the Queen!

How did I get here?

NESTING

Apr. 13th, 2010 10:40 am
ewein2412: (osprey nest)
The osprey has laid an egg!

The wildlife center has a gripping blog here (I know, not everybody is as obsessed as I am):

http://blogs.swt.org.uk/osprey/

and I think this is the direct link to the webcam:

http://ifdnrg8.ifdnrg.com/swt_direct

END of public service announcement No. 1.

PSA No. 2:

Sara has done a few more Sims characters including Sofya, Esato, Priamos and Abreha. Now if I can just get her to stick in some links to my books, because more people have downloaded Goewin than read this blog!

http://thesims2.ea.com/mysimpage/uploads.php?user_id=7686535
ewein2412: (smiling Arthur of the Britons)
Sara is EVEN BETTER at timewasting than me. She has made Sims out of all my characters.

http://thesims2.ea.com/mysimpage/uploads.php?user_id=7686535

(She would do a Verity if I let her. But really it would be somewhat indecent to be able to download the Sim before I finish the book.)

I pass along this meessage from Sara to [livejournal.com profile] mhari: "Tell her to upload hers. Hers are better than mine because she made them herself, I think."

panic

Feb. 10th, 2010 10:27 am
ewein2412: (snow)
oh my giddy aunt... me and mark and sara are supposed/scheduled to fly into Newark Airport tomorrow morning at 11.50. Uh huh. Then to drive three hours inland to Central Pennsylvania. I am becoming increasingly apprehensive.

Mainly I don't want to A) land in Newark and be stuck there, B) get halfway to Gretna and be stuck on the Turnpike.

Also, Mark has new snow boots but they are waiting for him in Pennsylvania! WHAT TO DO????

wish me luck.
ewein2412: (Harriet LOL)
Mark's comment, walking home from Cub Scouts tonight:

"I've really accomplished a lot today!"

His new accomplishments include:

1) Singing "Donald, Where's Your Trousers" to an audience of 50 nine-year-old boys, and

2) Drinking Irn-Bru for the first time.
ewein2412: (e Wein)
--Brother to sister: "Sara, have you climbed up on the roof of the shed yet?"

--Wife to husband: "Whose Hurricane Pilot's Notes are these, yours or mine?"

--small computer nerd: "I've just discovered a new font!"
ewein2412: (Default)
Mark: "It's not my fault I fell in the snow. But it is my fault Sara fell in the snow."

--------------------------

[livejournal.com profile] steepholm asked if there was any chance of a Frost Fair. Not quite yet.

These pictures were all taken between about 3.15 and 4.15 this afternoon.





The pictures above were taken from the Queen's Bridge, looking upstream toward Perth Bridge (built 1766). I like the first picture better but the second gives a better idea of the extent of the ice. The river really is solid ice between the bridges (it's backing up against the Queen's Bridge). Here's the pile up at the Queen's Bridge, looking downstream:



Several times, in flood, I've seen the river reach the top of the arches.

The next picture is downstream of the Queen's Bridge:



The light really was gorgeous!

So then we crossed the river via the railway bridge and circled back up river via Perth Bridge. This one is taken from Perth Bridge, looking towards Perth, about an hour after the first pictures were taken:



And this one is of Perth Bridge itself, a little upstream of the ice. The reason it got so dark is not just because the sun went down--also the haar came in. (That's what they call sea mist all up and down the north coast of Britain. It's a Dutch word, I think.)



--------------------

Me and Sara wanted to pay tribute to my awesome snowflake gingerbread cookies so we arranged them as a map of Great Britain!




(The little comet at the top is Orkney.)

---------------------

the rant continues!
ewein2412: (stella potens et mira)


hahahahahaha Scotland DOES grind to a halt when it snows more than 4 inches!

It was -11 C / 12 F here this morning--really unheard-of cold for these parts. Fortunately all five of our guests and visitors have arrived and depart by train.



We spent all day Sunday (the morning after this stuff got dumped on us) building with it. It was PERFECT for packing. This barricade was made to protect the baby apple and pear trees from our toboggan run, but it was Mark's idea (of course) to turn it into a GIANT CATERPILLAR:



Meanwhile me and Sara were building an igloo:



We did not finish it because the next day every single drop of moisture had been freeze-dried out of the left-over snow and it had turned to powder--we could no longer pack it. I have never seen fallen snow change its nature over night like this.

So I could not make Too-Ticky's snowball lanterns as I'd intended, but managed to excavate a row of runway lights in the haha at the bottom of the back garden:



------------------

My recorder group went busking on Christmas Eve and we all had ICICLES hanging off the ends of our instruments. Fortunately after about an hour and a half of this torture, a trio of bagpipes set up down the street from us and turfed us out.

O__o

Dec. 22nd, 2009 12:45 am
ewein2412: (pint o' mordred/Dr Who)
my daughter is making me watch the whole second series of Merlin with her. OMG you guys it is so incredibly BOOOORRRRINGNNNNNNGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DO NOT UNDERSTAND!!!!!!!

the dialogue, the acting, the plot, the characters (or lack thereof)... it makes me want to slit my wrists. also, I find most of the actors very unattractive to look at (the girls are pretty enough, but they're ALL SUCH DRIPS!!!!!)

i really, truly DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

:ppppppppppppp

!!!!!1111!!!
ewein2412: (osprey hair)
the kids have swine flu and the ridiculous cat has SET HIS TAIL ON FIRE.



oy vey
ewein2412: (Default)
The kids are both down. Actually, that's not entirely true, Sara's already up again. As usual their "flu-like" symptoms seem to last no more than two days, and Sara had an identical illness about 6 weeks ago. I made the dorky mistake of checking Sara's symptoms on the national pandemic database--just cause we were both so bored on monday--and got swept up in an online diagnosis which ended in Sara being authorized for antiviral treatment and given an official authorization number. (We both went... WHAAAT???) Unfortunately (or fortunately) all the collection points are in England, so we were instructed (by the Deus Ex Machina that is the National Pandemic Online Hotline or whatever) to contact our GP, which we did, feeling rather foolish. And so it was confirmed that Sara has had flu-like symptoms for two days and should stay at home drinking cough syrup and paracetemol. Which is, of course, what we were doing anyway.

So then the next day (yesterday) Mark started complaining of aches and pains and they BOTH stayed home from school. Mark gave me a bit of a fright mid-afternoon when his temp spiked to 103 F. But he was perfectly coherent the whole time, and we stripped him down and dosed him with Calpol and ice water, and he was fine. He is home today as well, poor guy, complaining mostly of headache, but not otherwise very poorly.

But--BUT. As I was tapping away at the computer this afternoon, I got a message from Sara's school (this being her first day back) which begins thusly:

"As you may be aware a significant proportion of the school have a viral illness which may or may not be Influenza A (H1N1), also known as 'swine flu'. Those pupils who have developed symptoms during the day have been sent home, many more have not come into school."

And so they are instituting their Pandemic Actions Stage 1, meaning they are going to Practice Social Distancing "as far as is possible in a school"--and are shutting down all clubs in and out of school, after school activities, etc. from tomorrow.

And there was me being so off-hand about the whole thing!

Incidentally, the huge advantgage of having kids who never, ever watch TV, is that they really enjoy a day of slobbing in front of the TV when they're sick. It's like a special treat. They watch the dumbest stuff--In the Night Garden and Bits & Bobs. Bet that doesn't mean anything to any of you unless you're in the UK and have a toddler in the house.

oh BTW for those of you who KNOW WHO YOU ARE, I have found a brief Morgause/Medraut/Lleu fanfic. eeeeeeeeeeeeh
ewein2412: (Dancing Creme Egg)
223 pages of sheer randomness a la Mark's demented brain.

He wants me to warn everybody "It plays itself. You don't need to play." I do, however, suggest that you watch it right thru to the end for full appreciation.

ALMOST AS GOOD AS THE L.E.D. SHEEP!!!!

ewein2412: (Default)
As in Sara is having to play field hockey, since there's no quidditch team at Imperial Academy. I have actually had to buy a hockey stick (hopefully now that the first half term is over I will not have to BUY so much stuff). I keep telling her that she may even grow to like it once she works out how to hit the ball. She, like her parents, is not what my brother used to call "sportious."

Mark is on his midterm break and Sara is not, so he and I went to meet her for lunch and wandered around town afterwards. It really has got to be the most Hogwartian location for a school EVAH. The place where you buy the uniforms locally is even more Land-That-Time-Forgot than the one here in Perth; it is a local department store called Valentine's (yes, that's it's real name), where you basically go in to the separate departments and ASK for what items you want, as they are all stored in drawers and cupboards. Next door along the main street is the local sweet shop where you can watch them making fudge through the plate glass windows in the back. This place is called Gordon & Durward, again, no lie but that's it's real name, and they actually do sell a selection of handmade chocolate frogs and hedgehogs and spiders. The schoolkids do not shop here. They call it "the expensive sweet shop" and buy their goo in "the Tuckie," which is Their Shop. It is the size of a broom cupboard and is situated across from the school gates; basically it makes its living selling hot soup and penny candy to the young Jedis. (oy, I am getting my imaginary schools confused now.)

It is two weeks since my birthday, and also two weeks since Mark's midterm holidays began (they end on Monday). I had an excellent birthday weekend, with a long, elegant lunch at the Dunkeld Hilton, originally an Edwardian country house which stands amid gorgeous parkland right on the edge of the Tay--of course it was pouring with rain that day, but that made it all the cosier. In the evening we had a mini-bonfire on the patio at home. We have bought a fire basket. So now we can sit in the summer house with the fire basket burning just outside the door, and toast marshmallows, and it's like being at camp.

The day after my birthday the festivities continued with a long afternoon of lunch and antiquing with Jane Yolen, Debby Harris and Sara--Sara was terribly shy and sat with her nose in The Devil's Arithmetic the whole way through lunch. It would have been rude except that Jane had written the book, so actually it was kind of sweet.

The past two weeks' inactivity is threefold, due to: 1) the arrival, as a birthday present, of a Sony Vaio Netbook. Whee-ooo! It has taken a while to get it up and running to my satisfaction but I am getting used to the smaller keyboard now. 2) Obsessive work on a book proposal that needs to be done asap; and 3) Mark's midterm holiday (and Sara's started yesterday, but I have today clear because Mark is on a canoeing course). This is some of the stuff that Mark and I have done together: picnicked at Scone Palace; climbed the 11th century Abernethy Round Tower; lay in the sun in Drummond Castle Gardens; bicycled along the beach at Tentsmuir and saw a seal and climbed on the WWII defenses; and none of it is further than a half hour drive away from our house (actually, you can see Scone Palace from my bedroom window, how about that).

I want to sing the praises of and recommend Jane Kurtz's new book, Trouble, illustrated by Durga Bernhard. It is another exuberant dual language English / Amharic picture book produced in conjunction with Ethiopia Reads. You can order it directly through them for $15 plus $5 shipping and handling; they do a nice service where if you send a gift list along with $20 per name they ship them on the date you specify along with a special gift note. The contact address is books [AT] ethiopiareads.org.

More soon.
ewein2412: (Default)
No, nothing dire has happened to me. Between March and September we had a very steady stream of guests—never more than ten days between them—and then of course we were in PA all of July, with limited internet access. So, just very busy. Also, getting a lot of work done—some work-for-hire, as well as the POLISHED and severely chopped (but still 101,000 words) ms. of The Sword Dance. Which I have now dared to send to my editor.

I finished that up on Friday, and now am hoping to have a bit of a lull. We are going to plant some apple trees.

Sara has been installed at Imperial Academy for the last month and is working hard. Actually, it is hard not to draw parallels to Hogwarts—the setting is incredibly beautiful, as the school is ringed by moor and mountain, and the buildings are all very sweepingly Victorian Gothic. Sara is not going out for quiddich, nor for the school's PIPE BAND (that's pipe as in bagpipe), who perform at local flying shows and the Edinburgh Tattoo, in full regalia.


sara in uniform, first day of school

(hmm, I notice looking at this picture how BIG her blazer is!)

What she has joined so far is the riding club, the kayaking club (which they practice in their itty bitty ancient swimming pool—the poor thing got lost trying to find it on the first day because the building is labelled "BATHS" not "Pool"), and the "French Cinema Club." This last just cracks me up: I picture a smoke-filled room full of twelve-year-olds in black berets. So far they have watched a live-action Asterix film.

-----------------

In bird world, the ospreys have all buggered off back to Africa. The chicks from the RSPB site at Loch Garten have been radio-tagged, and if you are as obsessed as me you can follow their migration progress here:

http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/tracking/lochgartenospreys/index.asp

I managed to watch the first chick fledge at Loch of the Lowes remotely from Pennsylvania and an hour later my wireless link packed up. I picked up the wildlife center's blog post the next day via my niece's Wii link, but she couldn't get the webcam pics, and I wept to think that it would be three more weeks before I got back to Scotland and could see them again. After four visits to the local Staples, each a 15 mile round trip from my grandmother's house, I finally got my laptop functional again in time to catch the second chick make its virgin flight.

But then my uncle took me osprey-spotting in his little boat in Great Egg Harbor Bay in New Jersey, and, well, my wounded spirit was mended. I actually lost count of the ospreys we saw. Lots of families sitting on nests, clearly females with not-quite-fledged chicks, with the male nearby (the nests are all on purpose-built pole platforms). The best view was of a male, female and 2 chicks all perched together and honestly no more than thirty feet away from us. The last one we saw was a male perched on a pole and clutching a gigantic fish—his family was on a nest rather further away kicking up a racket—and he flew over our heads and across the bay carrying the fish. They shift the fish round in their talons to head into the wind to reduce drag as they fly!




pictures by my uncle Craig... note bloody fish!

Well, I will stop there before I get too twitchery. The Raptor Show continues in our front garden, as we recently got to watch a female sparrowhawk devour a woodpigeon AS BIG AS HERSELF right outside the study window.

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