Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Tense Saturday

I don't believe there's been a tenser 30+ minutes.  

Even after it was announced as a false alarm, adrenaline still pumped, hearts still raced.  It was a surreal day.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Skye Shenanigans

My friend Marcie and I just booked travel to Iceland during one week of our spring break.  It has been on my bucket list for some time so I am really looking forward to it.  I'd better hurry up with Scotland already!
So when I last left you, we were at Neist Point.  The wind was just too much for me to make it down to the lighthouse, so I was left with about an hour to get myself into trouble.  
First off, our guide told me that there were some good views of the lighthouse if I could make my way around the cliffs and get myself far enough around to see them.  I started my trek off to the right and got about 50 feet when I ran into a very muddy spot where the rain accumulated making a little stream down the hill.  I tried my hardest to find my way around it, but pretty much wherever I went I found deep muddy patches.  With all my work trying to keep out of the mud, I walked myself right into one that was so deep it covered my whole foot, up to my ankle.  It wasn't just mud either it was BLACK mucky mud. I tried to wipe the mud off my shoe by dragging it around in the grass but it didn't help.  One shoe was blue and the other was black.   It took me weeks (after getting home) to get them clean and even still one is slightly grayer than the other.   
 With not much else to do other than deal with it, I decided to leave the lighthouse behind and head off in the other direction, back on the road we had come in on.  It was a nice stable road.  We had passed quite a few sheep while driving in and I could see them on the road out.  After a ways, I looked up to the rocks above me and there was a very large sheep looking down at me.  
 I took its picture and it starting coming down the hill.
 It got closer and then started to "baaa"at me,
 And then all of a sudden, it jogged down the hill right at me.  At first I chuckled, and then  I realized it was coming after me.  The sheep chased me down the road for a bit.  Finally, it stopped, turned around and headed off in the other direction.  I've never been chased by a sheep before!
I continued on my walk for a ways.
It started to get very dark and cloudy again.
 But I managed to see some sheep that didn't want to attack me.
 This baby was just darling.
I turned around to walk back to the van and the rest of tour.  And that's when the rain started.  At first it was just big drops and within minutes it was coming down in sheets, and the wind whipped.  I was maybe 15 minutes from the group.  By the time I made it back, everyone was waiting warm and dry on the van and I was sopping wet...with a black foot.  Mike hadn't even realized I hadn't made the trek down the lighthouse.  "What happened to you?" he asked when I sat down next to  him in the van.  
We drove for a bit and stopped in Dunvegan for lunch.  We walked in to this little cafe, me looking like the creature from the black lagoon and freezing, and ordered warm soup.  While we waited I tried to ring myself out in the bathroom.  
 We found a cute bakery across the street that had the most amazing desserts.
 Mike got a chocolate cupcake
 and I got one of these truffle balls that was the size of my fist.  That made me feel better!
By the time we left, I was mostly dry and enjoyed the remainder of the day.  We continued our drive around the Island stopping for some quick photo ops every so often.
 Skye Museum of Island Life in Kilmuir - some restored, some built new to show a common township of thatched cottages.
 We also made stops at Staffin and Trotternish for some pretty views AND some sun!
 Kilt Rock in Trotternish.
 Phew, that was a whirlwind first day on Skye!


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Schnell! Schnell!

Vince's post about his German language progress awhile back had me reminiscing about my foray into foreign language learning.  Like most public school kids in the US, my quest to learn a new language didn't start until my freshmen year of high school.  At that time I was given the option of taking Spanish or French, and I choose Spanish as I thought that would serve me better in Southern California.  The first semester was vocabulary building/memorizing and I did quite well, earning an A in the class.  The second trimester did not go as well, the teacher I had went out on maternity leave AND verb conjugation started both didn't bode well for my language learning performance and I ended the year with a D...and the requirement to take it over again in order for the language class to count.  I had to wait until semester 2 of my sophomore year to retake the class.  Again, I did well with the vocabulary but the verb conjugation still threw me for a loop.  I think I got by on the teachers sympathy and earned a C by the skin of my teeth.  I spent my junior year in Spanish 2 never really getting over the verb conjugation hurdle and ended the course with a C and the (wise?) decision not to continue to Spanish 3 in my senior year.
Once in college, the foreign language requirement reared its ugly head again.  Shying away from Spanish due to my previous difficulty, I registered for German 1.  Again, the first semester I had a fabulous professor, a great group of classmates, and was able to build up a large repertoire of German vocabulary.  When semester 2 came along, there was again a new professor.  The one I had was substituting for the tenured professor who had been on a leave.   And once again, we had to conjugate verbs.  That's where things fell apart.  German 1 was as far as I got in college and I left it at that, filling the requirement.
During the first semester, we learned the German word for "hurry up" - Schnell!  We spent most of that semester shouting "Schnell!  Schnell!" at each other because we found it so amusing.  That habit flowed into my life outside of the classroom and after some time, my friends found it annoying and thought for sure I was making up that silly word.  Then over winter break, we went to see the movie Shining Through, which takes place during Nazi Germany.  At one point, while running through the streets of Berlin, Melanie Griffith shouts, "Schnell!  Schnell!" to Michael Douglas.  We all looked at each other with wide eyes and giggled right there in the theater.  I showed them!
Anyhow, I started up a Spanish class again at the start of the year as it is something I'd really like to learn.  I'm just not sure languages are my "thing", but we shall see.  It's hard to speak to my students' parents in memorized vocabulary words and not-conjugated verbs.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Lost and Found

    When traveling abroad, I try very hard not to shop too much.  Between baggage fees when flying and lugging bags around from place to place, I hate to add weight to the bags by shopping too much.  What I do like to find is something the place is known for, and if that is too big (or expensive) I find a little something that will simply be a good reminder of my trip.  When I traveled to Portugal I really wanted to come home with tile and pottery, but talk about weighing things down.  Instead I bought a handbag made of cork AND a Portuguese rooster.  The bag made it home safely, but the rooster somehow didn't.  I had packed it inside the zipper pouch of this neck pillow I had brought on the plane.  I brought the pillow for the flight to/from, but ended up never using it because the seats I sat in had adjustable headrests and were more comfortable without the pillow.  I found a some space inside the pillow to keep the little statue safe before tossing it in my suitcase. But upon returning home, unpacking, and returning to work it occurred to me about a month later that I didn't remember unpacking the pillow or the little rooster.  I figured the pillow never actually got packed, and must have been left in the room.  That was 2013.
   Flash forward to 2017 in Kona, Hawaii.  A couple of days into visiting my mom, I had taken her car for some last minute gift shopping after dropping her off at her physical therapy appointment (she had knee replacement surgery on her other knee this November and is on the mend).  I got done a bit early, so went back to the house to put things away.  As I was driving into the garage I noticed a yellow neck pillow sitting on the workbench area in the garage.  When my mom drives the car, whoever is in the passenger seat has to get out of the car before she drives in because she has to get too close to the workbench which is why I hadn't noticed it before.  It took me a moment, but then I did a double take.  "That looks just like my pillow," I said out loud as I got out of the car.
   Sure enough, my "lost in Portugal" pillow was sitting on a workbench in Hawaii.  And still inside the zipper pouch was the Portuguese rooster wrapped in tissue.  When I asked my mom about it she said that I had left it at her house the last time I had been there.  She had bought it for me for Christmas just before going to Portugal and had assumed I didn't like/want it after leaving it there. I'm not quite sure how it made it's way from Portugal to Hawaii without me knowing about it...maybe it fell out of a pocket I hadn't checked.  Who knows!  But now my rooster of luck and happiness is sitting on a bookshelf in California.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Mele Kalikimaka

It's been so long since I've written (I won't even bother explaining beyond being busy takes the writing right out of you sometimes).  Anyhow, I'm in Kona for the holidays this year.  Here are a few fun/random photos...
 Pololu Valley Look Out - Near the northern most tip of the Big Island (Hawaii)
The first two days of my visit had rain and more rain.  Once it cleared up, things were beautiful and left two of the volcanoes (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa) with snow on them.  
It is just beautiful!
A cattle egret that visits my mom's backyard every so often.
 Sunsets from the house.
 The Hawaiians are such jokesters!
 Sunset at Rays on the Bay
 The hula girl hibiscus, which is my favorite of them all.

I hope everyone is well and had/is having a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Skye

After spending a few days in the busy city of Edinburgh, our time on the Isle of Skye was quite a change.  What a beautiful place!
Once on the island, we stopped for a lovely view of the Cuillin which is a mountain range. The Red Cuillin are on the left of the road and the Black Cuillin are on the right.  The Black Cuillin are higher and rockier than the Red.
 The light wasn't ideal, but you can see how dark the mountains on the right are compared to those on the left.
 Home for our time in Skye was the town of Portree.  Portree is the largest town on the island (at around 900 people).  With a small harbor and colorful shops and homes, it is a pretty little town.
The dark clouds and blue sky kind of followed us around during these days.  At least they gave the pictures some color.
This was the view a few steps from our hotel.  I kept finding my way to this spot every time I walked out of the room.

We spent two evenings in Portree.  Each morning we woke and met the driver/tour guide at the van and left the town for the day.
One of the highlights of our time on Skye was to visit the Neist Point Lighthouse which is at the westernmost point of the island.  It was a beautiful drive across the island (Portree is on the east side) and the weather mostly held up.  We stopped at a few photo ops along the way.
It was very green and there were a lot of sheep!  The weather was iffy on the drive.  Some rain, a lot of clouds, and some sun.  It seemed to change every few miles.
Once we arrived at Neist Point, the blue sky started to peak out.  We climbed out of the van, pulled on our jackets and headed off for a hike down to the point.
You can see the walkway hand railing in the left of this picture and then the path to the lighthouse towards the sea.  The wind kicked up a bit as we walk away from the van.  By the time we got to the walkway, it was whipping.  It was blowing so hard it literally pulled my jacket off of my body and my camera strap away from my neck.  As I had mentioned, I was still have a tough time with my allergies and was not able to breathe through my nose. The wind was blowing into my mouth, and I couldn't breathe.  I tried several times to keep going, but kept having to turn away from it.  I was never able to make it down to the bottom, which is my only regret on the trip.  Those who kept going said that once they got to the path and changed directions, the wind was much easier to take.  I was so afraid that it would be bad the whole way down and back up again and didn't want to risk having to move into the lighthouse if I wasn't able to get back up the hill.
I spent the time wandering around and taking pictures of the view.  Unfortunately, my time unsupervised found me involved in some shenanigans...which I will share in the next post.