Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Travel Blog and the Latest Edition

OK, I finally finished a post for our first day in Scotland. I've decided to create a travel blog on Blogger because I'm too impatient to figure out how to upload pictures and things like that on Wordpress, where I originally put my travel blog.

So, since the posts are so long and there are other things I'd like to talk about in between travel stories, the Scotland trip will be on Wandering and Rambling. I also copied the stories already on the Wordpress site onto this blogger site.

Now I'm totally exhausted from creating links, updating photos, and cutting and pasting posts into the new blog. But Wandering and Rambling is up-to-date.

I'll keep working on more Scotland posts. Next up, Islay and the first 2 distillery tours.

Some of the Islay Landscape


Bruichladdich (Brook-lad-ee)

Bunnahabhain (Boon-ah-ha-behn)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Q &A

OK ladies, here are your questions! I can't wait to read your responses.


1. You’ve won a contest to go on your dream vacation. Where do you go?
2. If you could take a potion to change one thing about you, what would you change?
3. What was your favorite Halloween costume?
4. Which reality show would you be on?
5. You have a friend who’s thinking of adopting a rescue dog. What advice would you give her?

1. You’re on a time machine. Which period in history do you want to go to first, why, and what would you do there?
2. You’ve won a shopping spree at a bookstore. After the mysteries section, where would you go and what would you get?
3. If you could set up your own graduate-level literature seminar, which writer, time period, or genre would you choose and what would you teach?
4. If you could sit in on the taping of any tv show, which one would it be and who would you most want to talk to?
5. You won an apartment makeover. What would you want to see done?

I am working on write ups about the trip but they are taking awhile, obviously. I think when I get one done, I'll probably put it on my travel blog, Wandering and Rambling because they are really long. But I'll let you know when there are new ones there.

I'm having to do a lot of them by memory because I was so worn out every night that I didn't even write in my journal. That's not like me at all. Instead, I have a lot of bulleted lists of things to trigger my memory--or at least I hope they'll trigger it.

But right now, I'm in a food coma from a dinner out with some of Al's co-workers from out of town, so there will be no more writing. But there's always tomorrow.

Monday, March 26, 2007

We Interrupt These Posts . . .

Just a quick break from Scotland posts. I volunteered for Newt to interview me, so here are her questions with my answers. If you'd like to be interviewed, just let me know in the comments and I'll post some questions. It's pretty good blog fodder and you get to know your blogging friends even better.

So, here we go!

1. Warrior Lass in Scotland today or 100 years ago? And why?

I think Warrior Lass would like 1907. She would fight for women’s right to vote, causing a ruckus everywhere she went. She’d march into “Men Only” establishments and join women such as Emmeline Pankhurst and other suffragettes around the UK in getting arrested and protesting. She’d battle for human rights by starting her own magazine where she would push the envelope and ask questions and encourage social change. Women would admire her and men would fear her, while still finding her alluring. She would go back and forth between wealth and poverty as she would spend her money on her publications and giving it to good causes. Then, she would probably end her days on a sheep farm up in the Highlands, still not afraid of hard work but longing for the serenity of a pastoral life.

2. Lunch with an author. Who do you pick? Living or dead is ok.

Ya can’t ask an easy question, huh? Hmmmmmm. I could say Shakespeare and know once and for all if he really wrote all those plays. Or I could talk to someone contemporary, such as JK Rowling. But I think, at least today, I’d like to have lunch with Jane Austen. She’s brilliant, with a sharp wit and a discriminating eye.

3. Describe the perfect date night with your hubby.

It would be a gorgeous fall day, when the trees are at their peak. He’d call from work and tell me he’s off early, so let’s go for a walk on one of the trails in the state park. He would’ve already called Paradise bakery or Wheatfield’s and had a picnic basket put together and he would’ve already stopped off at the wine shop to pick up a bottle of red wine or maybe one of those 4-packs of White Star champagne. We’ll ride in the Miata down to the park south of town and work up an appetite by walking one of the trails, stopping periodically to enjoy the silence and the views. Afterwards, we set up at one of the campsites and start a fire. We sit on a blanket in front of the fire, eat the dinner, drink the wine, and then he’ll pull out marshmallows! So, we’ll feed each other s’mores and share chocolate kisses. We’ll sit in front of the fire a little longer, me resting up against him, sometimes talking, sometimes not. We’ll stay until the fire is just a faint, red glow of dying embers, not enough to keep the chill of the fall night away, then we’ll head home.

4. A shopping spree at one place - what store do you pick? What do you get?

That would be a hard choice. Would I choose yarn, shoes and bags, cooking stuff, a bookstore, a music store . . . I think I’d have to go with Pryd’s Old Westport in Kansas City. It’s full of kitchen stuff and I can spend hours in there just playing with all the different utensils. They have everything from tools to kitchen towels to cookware to tea and coffee sets, kind of like a restaurant supply store and William Sonoma all rolled up into one. They even have a pie shop downstairs. Shop, eat a piece of pie, shop some more, could it get any better?

5. Dinner and dancing with Gerard Butler or your trip to Italy. Which do you choose?

Can’t I have dinner and dancing with GB in Italy? No? Have to choose, huh? Well, this is going to surprise you, but I think I have to go to Italy. First of all, I would make a complete ass of myself if I actually met Mr. Butler. I’d ramble and babble and trip over the foot I would inevitably put in my mouth. Plus, what if he’s a real jerk? What if he’s just like any other guy? What if I’m disillusioned? I don’t wanna know any of that. Just let me sigh over the pictures and the movies, that’s enough. But if he just happened to be at some little cafĂ© overlooking the Tuscany landscape, who am I to fight fate?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

What to Expect

Part of the fun of traveling is learning and trying to fit in. I’ve learned the hard way, so I thought I’d spare you the embarrassment by telling you some things that will happen when you visit Scotland.

You will feel like an idiot as you stand with an open hand full of coins and the bartender just takes what you owe out of your hand.

You will have to repeat yourself and ask others to repeat themselves. It’s not English, it’s dialect.

You will almost get run over when you try to cross the street because you didn’t look right first.

You will sit at a table in a pub, waiting for a server who will never come—order at the bar.

You will stare dumbfounded at the bus route sign, not recognizing any of the names of the stops.

You will get on the bus anyway because what the hell, it’s going in the direction you want to go.

You will get car sick at least once while riding in the Highlands.

You will try haggis—oh yes you will.

You will go into a kilt maker shop, then walk right back out again when you see the prices.

You will keep pushing the “start” button on the shower and wonder why it won’t start. Then you will see the “shower” label by the power switch outside the bathroom door.

You will not have a good hair day.

You will eventually stop saying, “Boy, it’s windy/rainy/cold” because it just is.

You will decide a cheese platter for dessert is a brilliant idea after you taste the amazing cheeses.

You will buy a wool, cable knit sweater.

You will start calling soccer, “football.”

You will feel like an idiot if you try to answer questions in a pub quiz.

You will not be sure how to answer when the server asks a) if you want your tea/coffee white, b) if you want white or brown toast, or c) if you want still or tap water. [a) with milk, b) white or wheat bread, c) bottled water without bubbles or water from the tap]

You will get used to ordering your Coke or water “with ice.”

You will wish you spent more time on the treadmill to prepare you for all the walking you will be doing and all the stairs you will be climbing.

You will start referring to things as “wee” and “lovely.”

You will go into every Scotland souvenir shop and look at the same trinket in every store but still not buy it.

You will wonder how soon you can go back to such an amazing place.

Friday, March 23, 2007

First Things First

Please go over to Mom's blog and wish her a Happy Birthday! And while you're surfing, go over to my brother's blog and read a nice tribute to her. He's such a good son.

More Scotland:

I decided that striving for organization is too stressful and if I wait until I'm organized to talk about my trip, then I never will. I'll give you a quick overview, then I'll post some longer stories later.

It was an exhausting schedule, but we saw and did so much that it was worth it. The tours started as soon as we landed. We packed Willie's van to the brim with people and suitcases. The poor person who sat in the last seat in the back took his life in his hands because around every curve a suitcase would come sliding off the pile and into that person's head. And there are a lot of curves on Scotland roads.

We did 2 distillery tours that first day, which should have been a sign to me of what the days to come would be like. But jet-lagged, excited, and a little car sick, I wasn't in any shape to pay attention.

We saw 14 distilleries in 9 days. Well, I saw 11 because I escaped one day to Inverness with 2 other women. We were teased about our "shopping" day, but we spent most of it just sitting in a cafe by the river, eating lunch and drinking tea. Lunch was a luxury on this trip.

The trip we signed up for had 2 free days--one in Inverness and one in Edinburgh. However, by the time we got there, those days had been cut and filled with more distilleries. It was, after all, a distillery tour, but I've never been good with things being black and white. It's a distillery tour, so you can't do anything else? No historic places? No castles? No time for shopping? Apparently not. But we've been promised that it will be different next time.

It is understandable, though, that we didn't have time for these extra things because Willie arranged some amazing tours. We only had one tour with a pretty 20 year old who knew her script well and had no idea she was talking to people who had been drinking and collecting scotch longer than she had been alive. She did a good job, she just had a tough crowd. The rest of our tours were given by distillery managers and owners and the tour fees were waived, mainly because they knew they would easily make it up on the amount of whisky we would buy. I'm not sure I have the guts to admit how many bottles of whisky we bought. Let's just say that they we contributed greatly to the Scottish economy and that I'm going to have a lot of fun shoe and purse shopping in Italy.

I said this was going to be a quick overview, didn't I? Well, too late for that, so I'll try to do a quick rundown instead:

We went to Glengoyne and Auchentoshan the first day and spent the night at the Anchor Inn in Tarbert. The next morning we took the ferry over to Islay (first trip ever on a ferry!) and went to Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich and checked into the Lochside Hotel in Bowmore. We went to Bowmore on Saturday, then Ardbeg on Sunday (both nice enough to open on days they are usually closed). Sunday morning we were supposed to go to the Isle of Jura to tour the Jura distillery, but there was no one there to show us around--it's a small island, small place, and in the middle of changing distillery managers, I think. So, with the morning free, we went to services at the Round Church in Bowmore. On the way to Ardbeg, we stopped and took pictures of Laphroaig and Lagavulin, who were closed on the weekend.

Monday was a travel day to Grantown-on-Spey. We stopped in Lochfyne to shop at the whisky shop, then headed up through Glencoe and Fort William, then over towards Inverness. We invaded The Garth Hotel and got ready for the next round of distilleries.

Tuesday we went to Glenfarclas, where the owner George Grant gave us a tour and provided us with a lunch. After that we toured Tomintoul distillery. Wednesday went to Forsyth to see how stills are made, then we toured Speyburn, then we went to the Gordon McPhail shop in Eglin for a megatasting, then we went to Royal Brakla. Tired yet? On Thursday, everyone else went to Balblair, Glenmorangie, and Dalmore. Then, on the way to Edinburgh on Friday, we stopped at Glencadam. Saturday, our flight got cancelled because of snow in New Jersey, and the earliest they could get us back would be Tuesday. We found a hotel that had enough rooms (not an easy task) and got checked into the Airport Hilton. Then we had 3 days to explore Edinburgh and way too many pubs.

Oh my gosh, I have so much more to tell! The food! The cows! The sheep! The ales! The wind and rain! The scenery! The people! The woolen shops! The bottle for the van! But I've rambled enough for one day, so I'll write more later.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Home Again, Home Again

Warrior Lass has been replaced by Worn-out Lass.

Yes, we're back. No, I didn't want to come back. Yes, they dragged me back, kicking and screaming. No, I didn't blow out my liver. Yes, I had a wonderful time.

There will be more to come, but right now I'm decompressing. There's tons of laundry to do and lots of sleep to catch up on. We got in Tuesday night, 3 days later than we had planned. And I almost succeeded in not showing how happy I was about that.

Thanks for all the comments on the last post, especially the good thoughts about dealing with MS. I did really well during the trip. I had one afternoon that I had to bow out to take a nap, but then again, everyone else did that too, or at least wanted to.

The only bummer during the trip was that I didn't get a chance to meet any fellow bloggers. That was my fault because I let myself be dragged into all the group activities instead of peeling off on my own, and I'm sorry about that. But I will be coming back. If we can get tickets for as cheap as we did this trip, we'll be back more often. There was an American bartender at the Scotch Whisky Society, and I thought, "Hmmmmmm. Maybe I should go to bartender school? Could I get a job and move to Scotland that way? Hmmmmmmm."

Anyway, here are a couple of pics of the trip to hold you over until I can organize my thoughts enough to start talking about it. Al took all the photos.

Arriving on Islay from the ferry

There are more sheep than people on Islay

Bruichladdich bottles

Bunnahabhain stills

Edinburgh seen from the Princess Gardens.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Band of Hope

March 5--11 is MS Awareness Week.

I've written several times about living with MS. I was diagnosed a year ago (Feb. 2006) and am still learning how to live with it. I'm one of the lucky ones with a mild case and have been told the chances are real good that I may never have any dibiltating symptoms. "The chances are good." That's the caveat--chances--because there is no predicting this disease. We know that some things, such as extreme heat and cold, will make symptoms worse. But a full relapse that feels like your body is just giving up on you is hard-to-impossible to predict.

A lot of people ask what exactly MS is. There are standards answers, as stated on the MS Society website:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) isn't fully understood, but many believe it's an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, or CNS. The CNS includes the brain, the spinal cord, and the optic nerves, and it's surrounded by a fatty tissue called myelin that protects the nerve fibers and helps them conduct electrical impulses.

When a person has MS, he or she loses myelin in more than one, or multiple, areas. The resulting scar tissue is called sclerosis. Sometimes the nerve fiber itself is damaged or broken. When myelin is destroyed or damaged, the nerves can't conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain as well. This breakdown is what produces the symptoms of MS.

I like to explain it another way. You know those large, orange extension cords you use outside? When that orange coating (like the myelin) wears away for whatever reason, the wires are exposed. The cord still works, but sometimes it may short and it may not run as well, but it still works. If the cord gets several of those worn away areas, that's just more opportunity for the cord not to work as well. And eventually, that cord may stop working all together because the wires have broken and the connection can't be made. That's when nerve damage occurs--things like the permanent tingle in my left foot, for example.

There is no cure. There have been amazing strides made towards a cure, and there are amazing advances in medication, most of them slowing down the progress of the disease by 40%. The MS Society website does an excellent job of keeping us informed on what research is out there, what advances are being made, and where the government support stands.

Many state chapters will be holding an MS Walk and/or an MS Ride in the spring. I'm planning on joining in, but there is one thing I can do today.

This is the MS Band of Hope. It's another rubber bracelet, which I know seem to be everywhere, but it is a good tool for MS awareness. I've had a few people ask me what my bracelet is for. On a personal note, I like wearing it because it says "Hope" and I like to be reminded that somewhere people I don't even know are working on a cure.

I have 9 child/women and 10 men's bracelets. If you would like one, drop me an email, and I'll send you one through the mail. I won't be able to send them out until after I get back on the 17th, but I will get them out that week of the 19th.

Knowledge is power. So, I like doing my part to keep everyone in the know.

Little Side Note: I may not be posting or reading and/or commenting on everyone's blogs for a while. I leave on Wednesday for Scotland and am busy, busy, busy! I'll try to check things along the way at Internet Cafes, but if I don't talk you before then, have a great couple of weeks. Love, Warrior Lass

Thursday, March 01, 2007

More Snow

When all was said and done, we got almost a foot of snow. And the drifts were a couple of feet. Al said that he wants our next house to be on top of a hill so that shit blows downhill into someone else's yard. Oh, if only it was that easy.

We spent over 2 hours shoveling and snow blowing. Once Al had our driveway and sidewalks cleared, he started on the neighbor's driveway and some of the road in front. A plow had come through sometime, but it only went one way down the street--south, so that all the snow piled up on our side of the street. Even with a clear driveway, we wouldn't have been able to get out, so he had to plow the street, too. Later that night, our neighbor came over and thanked Al for helping out his boys with the driveway. They were impressed with the snow blower. You know, we laughed at oursleves for buying such a big one, but boy, are we glad did. We are the envy of the neighborhood!

Al went back to work today. It took him over an hour to get there, and it normally takes 30 minutes. He said there were lots of cars on the side of the road and that the roads are still pretty bad. We might get another inch this afternoon, but sun and warmer temperatures by this weekend. Then flooding and mud and all that fun stuff. Aaaahhhhh, winter in the midwest.

Here are few pics for ya:

A cleared driveway, but where do put any more snow?

Al snow blowin' the sidewalk. Aaaahhhh, the joys of being on a corner lot:

That's the street just to the left of the sidewalk:

There's a sidewalk in there somewhere:

And we didn't even get the worst of it! Other states are getting double what we got, not to mention the poor people in Alabama who had their lives destroyed by tornadoes. We got off lucky compared to all of them.


OK all you bookworms and bookworm-wannabes (you know you wanna be one), here's a quiz for ya. Thanks Michelle for having this quiz on her blog so that I could take it too.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

For some reason, it doesn't look like the red bars showing the categories I was highest in has come thorugh.The results weren't too surprising, though. The first three categories had long red bars, but nothing on the last two.

What kind of reader are you?

In Like a Lion

It's March 1st and we're having a blizzard. Well, I'm not sure it's actually classified as a blizzard, but it's bad out there. It's so bad that even the base is closed except for mission essential people. So, Al, not being mission essential, has a snow day, and that should make him really happy. You'd think that, wouldn't you? Instead, he's a caged animal. He walks into the kitchen and stares, then he walks into the family room and stares at the tv, then he walks to the front windows and stares outside, then he walks back into the family room, then back to the kitchen, and the cycle starts all over again. I know what's happening. He's thinking of so many things that he wants/needs to do that he can't decide on anything, so he does nothing. Been there! I almost said, "Welcome to my world," but I didn't think that would help.

He was very happy when I carried laundry upstairs because now he had something definite to do--he'll help me fold laundry. But that didn't last very long. So, now he's vacuuming the upstairs. It just amazes me how when he has free time to do anything, he cleans, which should make me ecstatic. You'd think that, would you. Instead, I feel like it's some unspoken commentary on my lack of housekeeping skills. But today, I'm going to ignore those feelings. I'm going to be a supportive, helpful wife and let him clean all he wants.

I did take a couple of pictures of the snow. However, I didn't want to open the door to do it, so these are out my back window. Notice how the snow is over the bottom rung of the fence? And we still have at least 3 hours of this storm. We could get another 3 or more inches! All the highways in eastern Nebraska are closed because of slick roads and whiteouts (so much blowing snow you can't see anything in front of you).

Well, I hear my very polite dryer going off. When the clothes are dry, the drier signals with a delicate and melodic "ping, ping, ping," which is so much better than the ear-splitting EEEHHHHHHHHH buzzer of the old dryer. More clothes to fold! Another task for Al! Hmmmm. I wonder what else needs to be cleaned.

*Update* An hour later, Al opened the garage door to take a few pictures. We are snowed in! And it's still snowing!