Monday, 30 July 2012

St. Andrews Part III

Surfers coming up from the sea.

The courtyard of St. Mary's College (the school of theology at St. Andrews University) has this wonderful doorway in it.  It reminds me of the door created by Aslan at the end of Prince Caspian.

This thorn tree in the same courtyard is said to have been planted by Mary, Queen of Scots.

St. Mary's also boasts this incredibly old and beautiful tree.  When Nathan and I visited St. Andrews, we seriously contemplated transfering, because the school of theology is just so lovely.  Oh, and there are good theologians there, too.

The entrance to the theology department.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

St. Andrews Part II

On our second day in St. Andrews we did a lot of sight-seeing.  We saw the castle, the mine and counter-mine, the cathedral and St. Rule's Tower.  The day was COLD but also beautiful.

In the midst of all the sight-seeing, we paused a moment in the castle gift shop/museum, mostly to catch our breath and get a little warmth.  Just as we were gearing up to go back outside, we ran into a small group of several women and about seven or eight children.  We struck up a conversation with one of the women and she told us she was with a homeschooling group, and they were sight-seeing themselves, even though they were from Scotland, not far from St. Andrews.  They had been studying the Scottish covenanters, so they decided a field trip was in order to see the cathedral torn down after one of John Knox's fiery sermons.  Trudy said, "Oh, you're in luck because here's one of the Covenanters!" indicating me.  The woman looked a little confused, so I explained that I'm descended (both biologically and spiritually) from the Scottish Covenanters.   You should have seen the look on her face -- completely surprised and pleased as punch!  She said, "Oh, I've got to tell the others and our tour guide!" and immediately went off searching for Mr. Scott,  (yes, that was actually the name of her tour guide) and pulling us along after her. 

Mr. Scott was apparently an expert on the Covenanters, so this woman introduced us, saying, "Mr. Scott, you'll never believe it, but I've met an American Covenanter!"  He also was very pleased to meet such an unusual speciman, and asked about my background.  I told him I grew up in the Reformed Presbyterian Church and he immediately indicated that he was familiar with it.  This has happened before, but almost everyone who thinks they know the RPCNA is actually thinking of a different denomination, also called reformed and presbyterian.  So I said, rather skeptically, "Oh, are you familiar with it?"  And Mr. Scott said, "Oh yes, while I was in the airforce I was stationed in Cyprus, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church had started a couple of Christian academies there."  So they had!  I told him my parents had taught in those very schools in the late 60s and were at that very moment living in Cyprus and working at a RP church.  The homeschooling ladies were all abuzz with excitement, and Trudy and I were enjoying ourselves immensely as well.

After a few more minutes of chatting the ladies asked if they could have a picture with me to show that they really had met an American Covenanter.  As you can imagine, I was more than happy to oblige!

We finished the day's sight-seeing (you can see the pictures in the last St. Andrew's post) and then went looking for an Indian restaurant recommended by our cab driver when we arrived.  Let me tell you, that cab driver knew what he was talking about.  For 10 pounds each we got a platter of appetizers, an entree apiece (Tikka Misala chicken), a HUGE garlic nan, and dessert.  It was amazingly delicious, especially after spending the day out in the cold rain.

This American Covenanter went to sleep quite content that night.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Sabbath Child

We celebrated Z's 5th birthday yesterday.  Z was born on a Sunday, and now we have come full circle, back to another Sunday.  "The child that's born on the Sabbath day is fair and wise and good and gay."  Here's a little trivia for you:  Apparently it was common belief in the 17th and 18th centuries that a child was born on the same day of the week on which it was conceived.  A little Puritan trivia: More than half of Jonathan Edwards' children were born on Sunday.  Just imagine the gossip going around Northampton.

Anyway, our Sabbath child turned 5 yesterday.  We were awakened at 6:45 by the sound of Z doing wind sprints from the kitchen to the the living room and back again.  Over and over and over.  The kid was excited.  We celebrated that evening with the supper of his choice -- hotdogs, chips, cucumbers (from our own garden!), tomatoes, baked beans, strawberries, pineapple, grapes, and, of course, cake and icecream -- games, and presents galore.

We played a little Twister and Yahtzee before supper.  Z was trash talking the entire game of Yahtzee, and, to give credit, he was on quite a roll.  Every time he rolled a bunch of sixes he yelled either, "Booya!" or "Piece of cake!" or both, if he was particularly excited.  But, he couldn't pull it off in the end, and was beaten by his mother, although he did manage to beat his father.

In the middle of the game I suddenly "realized" that I had had a Yahtzee (5 of a kind) and forgotten to record it.  Nathan said I had not had a Yahtzee.  We went back and forth about it until Nathan finally convinced me that he was right by pointing out the fact that we had each recorded the same number of rolls, so I couldn't have had a roll that I did not record.  I was so sure!  But he was right.  After the discussion ended it was my turn and, lo and behold, I rolled a Yahtzee!  Weird.

After the meal we had cake and icecream.  Z requested a Green Lantern cake, which I gamely attempted.  Fortunately, Z now says the cake was his favorite part of his birthday.  And then presents, presents, presents! 

He looks a little zoned out, but he really was having a good time.

Eating the icing off Green Lantern's feet.

Eating everything in sight.

We promised Z that he could stay up and catch lightening bugs, so at 9:00 we headed out of doors to wait for the flashes of yellow to begin.  We waited, and waited, . . . and waited!  Absolutely nothing.  We didn't see a single firefly, so Z went to bed with nothing in his jar.  But he did get to stay up until 10:00, so that was probably treat enough.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name . . .

Yesterday we narrowed our choices down to four, and then decided to sleep on it.  The top four names were:

1.  Syrophoenician Woman (a.k.a. Syro or Sy), after the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7.
2.  Epiphany (a.k.a. Phin), after Epiphany, SD, a significant town for Nathan (you should ask him about it sometime!).
3.  Hendrika (a.k.a. Hen or Henny), after The Cow Who Fell In the Canal by Peter Spier.   She has kind of a bovine look, with the black and white markings, and a Dutch name seemed appropriate since we got her in New Holland, SD.
4.  Mama Jo Binski (a.k.a. Mama Jo or Binski), after Abe's nickname for me.

It was quite a difficult decision!  I liked #1, a dog name I picked years ago, but the nickname (oddly enough) seemed a little masculine.  I also really liked #3, since that was one of my favorite books with Z when he was little, but the nickname didn't thrill me.  So, we finally decided on #2, since she seems very much like a "Phin" to us -- small, sweet, with just a little bit of rascal mixed in.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Best Buffy Line

"It's not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy, it's the man."
                              -- Angel in "Amends" (season 3)

Hitchcock Happenings

We had a very happy 4th of July.  Nathan went fishing, and Z and Eden and I went off in search of fireworks.  We all came home and spent the evening setting them off.

Last night we had our good friends Trudy and Kimlyn Bender spend the night with us.  It was their last night in Sioux Falls before they headed off to Texas.  Their entire house had been packed up, and with no beds, they came and spent the evening with us, which was wonderful.

This morning, after I very sadly said goodbye to Trudy, I got a phone call from Nathan.  He said, "I found a Boston on Craigslist.  It's all white with black ears.  Want to go get it?"  Somewhat stunned, I agreed to go take a look.  The puppy belonged to a couple in New Holland, SD.  It turned out that they belonged to the CRC and were obviously a wonderful couple (they'd been taking care of foster children for 34 years!).   So, 20 minutes after we arrived, we left with new puppy in tow!  The kids were both thrilled to come home to the surprise!

She's nine weeks old on Sunday and will probably be a bit bigger than Lu.  Her markings are atypical, but she's all Boston apart from that!  She doesn't have a name yet, but as always, I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 2 July 2012

St. Andrews, Part I

Oh my goodness -- I'm so sorry about Eden! But so glad she's with you and of course is being well taken care of. What do you think it was? No fever today?

I did see Becky yesterday. She came up to me and at first I didn't recognize her because her hair was very short and purple (well, more of a plum shade, actually). But as soon as she said her name I did recognize her. Unfortunately, she was giving her paper at the same time I was, so I couldn't go and hear her present. But we had a nice little chat, which was fun.

My paper went fine and I had good feedback, although it was a very small crowd. One guy asked me to e-mail it to him (a theology ph.d. student here at St. Andrews). Most of the questions concerned Bonhoeffer, which of course pleased me.

Kennedy Hall, where I presented my paper.

Today I went to a morning session of papers and we've spent all afternoon seeing the castle and the cathedral. Amazing! There was a tunnel dug under the castle once during a seige and it's still there, so down we went. Parts of it were very low (you probably would have had to crawl, if you fit at all), but we braved it. Then we went up St. Rule's Tower in the cathedral. The stairs were the original stone that just wound up and up and up! But from the top we could see the whole town, including the Fairmont hotel far away in the distance. We walked a really long way to get there!

Cathedral ruins.

The cathedral was torn down by zealous reformers, inspired by a fiery sermon preached by John Knox in the castle next door.

Trudy in the cathedral graveyard.  It was rainy, windy and COLD!

Cathedral artifact in the museum.

Castle ruins.

The counter-mine, dug by castle defenders to stop those hoping to invade the castle through a mine (tunnel).

It got pretty tight in there.  Apparently one way they advanced the mine was by burning dead pigs.  Their fat burns hot enough to crack solid stone.  Fun place to be, especially once the fighting started.

Going up, up, up St. Rule's Tower, which is part of the cathedral. 
During the castle siege, the attackers brought a canon up these stairs, in order to fire upon the castle from a good height.

We made it!  You can see the castle there in front of the sea.

Looking down on the ruins of the cathedral and the cathedral graveyard. 
St. Andrews stretches out beyond.

Another view from St. Rule's Tower.

We are now about to seek out a warm restaurant with good food. The weather here is COLD. 40 mph winds today, the high couldn't have been more than 45 degrees, and spitting rain/sleet all day. But, as Mitch says, it's more Scottish that way! On our way out of the cathedral we saw a bagpiper dressed in his kilt getting ready to play out in the wind and rain. He was just warming up, so the sounds he was making were awful, and I kind of giggled. He saw me and also burst out laughing and said, 'My fingers are so cold' . . . with a German accent! We laughed and then he said, 'I'm the most Scottish German you'll ever meet!' Very funny.