Monday, May 30, 2011

Sweet Revenge

Once again, Rebecca decided to be foolish and attempted to scare me several times with dear Winston. She put him outside the bathroom door, on my bed, and, her personal favorite, in my chair before dinner. Of course, I didn't take this sitting down (pun intended). No sir. I lay in wait until the opportune moment: when she foolishly signed into her Facebook account on my laptop and then didn't sign out. This is when I struck.

Of course, it only lasted for about a minute before she noticed it, but that was enough time to get the screenshot I needed. I seem to have won again. Game. Set. Match.

If you don't understand what in the world is going on, refer to my previous post on the subject: Meet Winston

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Getting Crafty!

I decided I wanted to create something special this summer, so I got online and ordered a tapestry pillow kit like the one that Granny has been working on. Hers is part of a set of 6, and each is a depiction of a different day of creation. She's on day one, and it's looking really neat. My design is by an artist named Gustav Klimt, and it's pretty quirky and modern. Here's a picture of how the completed product will look (fingers crossed). 
Check it out! I've done about 20 stitches already!

"Hey, I have a good idea. How about I pose like I'm actually sewing, and you stand on that chair and take a picture of me. That will look cool."


This project is pretty expensive, but I think it will be worthwhile as long as I don't completely destroy it. I don't have much experience sewing, so this is a new adventure for me! I did make a quilt last summer, which was easier than I expected and super fun. It's so relaxing to just turn on a movie and do something crafty. I really think I should make a habit of having little projects all year round. That way, when I want to relax during school, I can still be doing something productive, as opposed to just lying around watching Youtube videos. Plus, the accomplished feeling I get when I complete a project is so satisfying (I can hear Becca's dad's voice in my head saying "so satisfying that what?" but I am not going to answer because he's just being sassy). Also, if you will take a gander at the coffee table in the picture, you can catch a glimpse of Granny's tapestry. She is almost finished and it looks to be the comfiest, classiest pillow in the whole world.

P.S. Pray take notice of my yellow pants. I bought them at the Banana Republic Outlet, and I'm excessively proud of them. Firstly, they were 50% off. Secondly, they're yellow. Thirdly, they are cropped trousers, which are all the rage in Europe at the moment. Yes, that's right. Europe. Which is where I am. I'm basically as chic as they come right now, or something like that.

It's been a long morning.

I think one of the worst feelings in the world is the feeling you get when you get in the shower and then you realize that you still have socks on.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fairy Hunting

This morning the rain let up, and we even had glimpses of sunshine, so we decided to go to the Fairy Glen to see if we could spot any real Scottish fairies. These elusive fairies are infinitely cleverer than humans and you will only ever see them if they decide to show themselves to you. I did see them rather frequently when I was younger, but for the past few visits I haven't seen any.


Is that a fairy? Oh, no, that's just Granny. Granny didn't see any fairies either.

 No fairies at the waterfall. We contemplated diving in for about point five seconds. It was that same sort of thought process that I go through when I'm on the edge of a very high cliff and I'm inclined to jump, but then I think, "Oh wait, I might hurt myself."


Sometimes you have to climb across the river to try and catch a fairy. They are very quick, you know. But Rebecca didn't get this one because she was too busy posing for a picture. She needs to sort out her priorities.


Did you know that fairies wear bluebells for hats? It's true, they do. That's why they look so magical. Definitely a clue that we're getting close.

Oh look, a fairy's home! We are hot on their trail!


 Fairies use poppies to make their skirts. I would love to have a poppy skirt. In fact, I think I would love to be a fairy. I would love to live in a beautiful moss-covered home and be infinitely clever and wear bright, soft dresses and have tea parties and sing magical songs all day. That would be my ideal set-up I should think.

People put pennies in this magical tree for good luck. Fairies are attracted to shiny things, so fairy hunters often use coins or mirrors to inveigle* them out from their homes. I didn't see any fairies here though. But can't you just see the magic?

Fairy hair! We must be getting close. One reason fairies are able to sneak around is that their magical abilities enable them to blend in with their surroundings. This particular fairy must have lived in a tree covered in moss just like this.

Fairies use dandelion seeds like these to sleep on. Can you imagine sleeping on a bed of dandelions? I should think it would be the world's comfiest bed.

Here is one of Mother Nature's best ideas. Those sinister-looking plants there on the left are stinging nettles, and they are quite irritating when you're in the middle of nowhere and you brush up against one of them. So this seems like a rather unkind thing to scatter everywhere around footpaths. But you see the nice, friendly looking plant in the right corner? Those are dock leaves and if you rub the leaf on the sting, it soothes the skin and makes it all better. Isn't it wonderful that these two plants are neighbors?

Well unfortunately we didn't find any fairies this time. I like to think that we got pretty close though! I could certainly feel the magic in the Fairy Glen, and sometimes the susurrus** of the stream sounded remarkably similar to the tinkling laughter of the fairies. One thing that you have to be careful about when you're hunting fairies is that sometimes they can be rather tricky. On the footpaths through the woods, there are so many little byways branching off that you have to be quite careful that you're going the way you want to go. Fairies make these extra paths in an attempt to lure overly curious people, especially children, away from the beaten trail. Once you leave the main trail, you are lost forever to the real world and kept prisoner in the magical world. That's why you have to be careful with magic. Fairies aren't always as pleasant as they seem.

*Inveigle /ɪnˈve gəl/ verb: to entice, lure, or ensnare by flattery or inducements.
**Susurrus /sʊˈsɜr əs/ noun: whispering, murmuring, or rustling.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flourishing the brush, and so on.

Today was yet another rainy day. Because of this, Rebecca and I spent several hours painting in the kitchen. We painted to a variety of songs, mostly chosen by Rebecca, whose content greatly affected the mood of my painting. Mostly it was the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack with a little bit of Shakira.

Unfortunately, the sketch I had been planning to paint today was of the ocean and the sky, and it just so happened that I left my blue paint at home, which was rather silly of me. Of course I would leave a primary color, and not my green or yellow ochre or brown.

Look at my sad paints. They miss their blue buddy. Next time Granny and I go into Inverness, we will find a new blue tube to join them, and then hopefully I can get down to business. I really like using acrylics. First off, they're incredibly easy to control compared to watercolor. I tend to get watercolor all over the place, especially in the places I don't want it to go, like on my clothes. It also gets the paper all soggy which makes my spirits soggy. Another fun thing about acrylic is that you can create all sorts of dimension by glopping* as much paint on as you like and then sculpting it into ridges and swirls and whatnot. These particular paints are Winsor & Newton Galeria acrylics. This is a bonus, because that is a really classy brand name. People will look at that and automatically know that my skills are akin to those of Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and all the greats.

I decided to go with a rather colorful picture of the Cromarty lighthouse. Here is my sketch.

Here is Rebecca, using a palette of watercolors to create her abstract opus, a splendid work which I entitled Ambiguous Body Part 1. I anticipate a whole series of paintings which will most likely elicit monumental advances in the art world at large. Her stroke technique in conjunction with her original color choices and daring use of the brush bristles as part of the piece begs the question: what will she do next?

Here is my painting. It is still incomplete, as my creative cogs were disrupted by a tempting game of Bananagrams. I wasn't quite sure what I was doing with the sky, but it turns out to be a rather stormy night, I think. I will finish it tomorrow. I might work on the sky some more first, just to make it a little darker. My real predicament is that I can't decide if I want to make the lighthouse pure white or more of an off white, and I don't know whether I'll do much shadowing. Honestly, I don't have much idea of what I'm doing, I mostly just like playing around. I figure just because you aren't good at something, that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep doing it, especially if it makes you happy!

*Glopping /glapiŋ/ verb; present participle of Glop (a) to concentrate a gummy, amorphous substance into a protruding mass; (b) a rapid movement, similar to galloping, which one often does when one wants to get quickly to another location and doesn't mind looking rather silly.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Meet Winston.

He is a seal. I named him Winston because he looks quite stern, and Winston is quite a stern name. When I walked into my room this morning, I found him resting just like this on my pillow. My dear, sweet sister Rebecca thought it would be a funny joke.

Well, my dear, it was not. An unprovoked, sinister attack like this begs revenge, revenge of the worst kind. 
I will not negotiate with terrorists.

Sweet dreams little sister.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The First Walk around Fortrose

I would describe today with two words: blustery and BBC. This morning I went on a walk down the beach to the point, where there is a wee lighthouse overlooking the Moray Firth. It was very cloudy, but the sky wasn't just plain grey. There were these incredible, subtle layers that even my clever camera couldn't catch, and they just made me want to paint and actually paint well. There were plenty of noisy waves clamoring for attention, making the water look all dark and moody.

 Here is my Granny's cute little house. I just love it. It's cozy and slightly eclectic with all kinds of paintings on every wall, including a couple of mine from middle school art class. My room has a lovely view of Aunty Bunty's garden. It has huge windows and lets in plenty of sunlight, so in the day we don't even need lights. She has a grandfather clock that was built in 1775. Yes, that's right. It's older than the United States.

These are gorse bushes. I love them. They're so sunny and beautiful, but they're also really tough and can withstand all kinds of weather.They really perk up the countryside. If I wanted to be a flower (not that I really do) I would want to be like a gorse. In reality, I'm probably more like a dandelion or something, but a girl can dream, right? That's the thought-provoking take-home question for today. If you were a flower, what would you be? Just think about it. 

I loved these sea gulls. They just glided on the wind, and this particular gull hung in midair in the same exact spot for at least half a minute. When I got to the point, the dolphins were out. Yes. I saw dolphins. It was hard to see them at first because their fins blended into the waves, but once you kind of trained your eye, they were easy to spot. There were a bunch of people there, and the majority of them had fancy cameras with foot-long lenses and tripods and all sorts of gadgets. I felt really silly trying to take a picture of those dolphins with my dinky little camera.

This was probably the best idea in the world. What a perfect place for a chair. I sat here (the cushion was a little damp...) for about ten minutes, being buffeted about (a very British word) by the wind. If you look at the grass, you can tell how hard the wind was blowing. When I got back home, I faintly resembled Aslan. You remember the bit where I mentioned BBC? Well, that basically describes the rest of my day. I sat down with Rebecca, who had just come home from work (at a nice little hotel in the village), and we watched Ever After. Then we had dinner. Can I just say, Scottish sausages are empyrean. This is my word of the day, by the way. It means "belonging to or deriving from the highest part of heaven." I learned it from a book I'm reading called The Man Who Was Thursday by the English wordsmith G.K. Chesterton. If you like incredibly wordy prose, anarchism, or rogue elephants, then I would highly recommend it. Anyways, Scottish sausages. Then ice cream and a bit of carrot cake that we bought yesterday, followed immediately by more BBC, Dr. Who and Top Gear in particular. I think I will end this post with one of Chesterton's many masterful observations: "He walked on the Embankment once under a dark red sunset. The red river reflected the red sky, and they both reflected his anger. The sky, indeed, was so swarthy, and the light on the river so relatively lurid, that the water almost seemed of fiercer flame than the sunset it mirrored. It looked like a stream of literal fire winding under the vast caverns of a subterranean country."
And one more: "I don't often have the luck to have a dream like this. It is new to me for a nightmare to lead to a lobster. It is commonly the other way."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Job hunting, among other things

I have been very busy today, and was very successful at many things. Here are my small successes of the day:
1. I successfully got my bangs to cooperate with the rest of my hair.
2. I successfully helped plan meals for the weekend. Granny is leaving for London in the morning, so Rebecca and I will be fending for ourselves.
3. I successfully rode a broken old bike from Priscilla's all the way down the pasture hill and to Granny's without killing myself, the school kids, or the cows.
4. I successfully purchased a carrot cake and a chocolate cake from the local bakery for only 5 pounds 10. 
5. I successfully filled out an application form for the Marine Retirement Home, and successfully delivered it to the superintendent there without embarrassing myself or coming across as a stupid American (hopefully). 
6. I successfully walked down the beach without getting sandy feet.
7. I successfully carved a small chicken for supper.
8. I successfully completed a rather boastful blog entry.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Start of the Voyage

I am currently sitting in the Boston airport, waiting to catch our flight to Heathrow! From there, we will take a coach to the Gatwick airport, and fly from there to Inverness. It's been a pretty eventless trip so far, thank goodness.
Since getting home from school, I've been learning a very important lesson in a very wonderful way. The lesson is to enjoy where I am when I'm there. It's a tough thing to do sometimes. There will always be somewhere else I could go, or someone else I want to see, but that's not the point. I was really sad to leave Addison and Becca and Brooke and Tessa in Provo, and I would love to get to see them. But I was also really happy to be going home, because my home and my family are so beautiful. And now I'm leaving that beautiful home, which I'm sad about, but I'm flying to Scotland to spend two months with Granny Kate! I could spend my time counting down to when I go to the next place, or I could spend my time completely immersed in where I am. I could spend my whole time in Scotland wishing that the summer would fast-forward to August 2nd, (when Addison is visiting!), but I'm not going to!  Because I am determined to get as much as I can from everywhere I go. I can't do that when I'm constantly focused on other places I want to be.