Our friends Mike and Josie are celebrating twenty five years of marriage this spring. They’ve decided to celebrate with a trip to Scotland. They invited us to come along.
Um, yes please!
We’re making our lists (and you know I’m checking them twice) of all the things we’re hoping to do.
Some are touristy, some not so much.
I will say we changed the dates of the trip for an opportunity to ride the ‘Harry Potter’ train, so there are definitely some touristy things.
Mike is an Outlander fan, has read all the books, and is hankering a trip to Inverness to find some standing stones.
I want to go to the fairy pools and fairy glen at Isle of Skye. (and about eleventy-million things in Edinburgh)
Josie is interested in all things literary, and perhaps Skara Brae.
The only thing YBW said so far is he’s hoping to catch a glimpse of Nessie in her lake. Of course, that means he’s game to do pretty much everything.
We plan to drive some of the (north coast) 500.
I’m hoping for gorgeous grave yards and cemeteries.
Josie and I are interested in finding good quality Scottish cashmere.
We’ve chosen dates.
We’ve booked flights.
I sent an email Monday afternoon with miles of links to explore.
We’re meeting tomorrow for brunch to continue planning. ￼
May is whiskey month, an unexpected a bonus.
I’m sharing this with all y’all and asking for assistance.
If you’ve been to Scotland, or otherwise know it well, and have tips, ideas, suggestions, recommendations, warnings, etc. please let me know so we can add them to the list.
The first day of International Week of the Birthday was also Mother’s Day.
We met Thing 1, Husband N, and Baby K at Naked Mountain for a ‘picnic on the mountain’. Lunch of salad, paninis, chips and assorted macarons served with our favorite Naked Mountain wines.
When deciding if we would spend mother’s day together, I asked Thing 1 if she just wanted to be with her little family. She replied, “I have the rest of my life to spend mother’s day with my family. I might not have the rest of my life to spend mother’s day with my Momma.”
Watching my daughter be her daughter’s mother is one of the great joys of my life.
Thing 2 was working hard all day but sent a quick message in our group chat: Happy mother’s day ladies, work is crazy right now but I will find the time to call each of you.
YBW and I were early for our 11:30 lunch reservations after leaving the new house, so we turned right on Leeds Manor and got to (route) 55 just as a train was coming. We went to the same crossing in the tracks where we took some of our wedding photos and I counted the cars as the train went past. (three engines in front, thirty-eight cars, with an engine in the middle)
On our mini-adventure, we discovered the old Markham station.
I love these eaves!
Across the tracks from the station are these two buildings.
They are obviously currently inhabited, but I suspect during the time in which Markham was an active whistle stop, these were hotels. (will actively begin research when I finish this post)
I stood on the tracks for a moment after taking this photo. My intention to find a spike. As I moved my head to look down, I said to YBW, “Do you see…” and I trailed off as he gently elbowed me and pointed to a spot about six inches from my left foot.
And there it was just waiting for me, ready to be plucked from where it laid on the tie. As straight as the day it was made, the perfect amount of rust discoloration.
I bent down and picked it up and leaned into my husband as I stood. He put his arm around me and held my close for a moment. I pressed my face to his chest and said, “Thank you for supporting my weird.” He chuckled and kissed the top of my head.
International Week of the Birthday is off to an excellent start!
I read about this play and got excited!
I absolutely adore Matthew Perry. Not as much from Friends, but more so as Matt Albie on Studio 60. When I read that Jennifer Morrison (she was Cameron from House and Emma on Once Upon a Time) was also a member of the cast, I was even more intrigued.
Anyway, YBW seemed game,so we’re heading to New York to catch it Saturday in the limited off broadway run.
Not to make a trip for nothing, we decided to make a weekend of it. We’re taking the train up and back and staying in the Village not far from the theater.
YBW’s all, “What else do you want to do?” And honestly, all I can focus on is seeing the play. So anything else is just ice cream! But I am feeling a desire to visit some vintage shops while I’m in the Village.
Who knows? We’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants for this trip! (and I’m not super anxious) The only absolutes are train times and play tickets. I suspect we’ll spend a great deal of time wandering with our cameras.
I’m ready for a mini-break. I think YBW is too. And this is a pretty cool one.
Check out Mattew Perry on Jimmy Kimmel talking about the “F” word in his play.
Chapman Mill is a crumbling ruin standing where Prince William and Fauquier Counties come together. I’ve driven past it countless times. Every single time, I say aloud, “I want to go take photos there.” (even if I’m in the car alone)
Well, Saturday two weeks ago, the sun was shining (for the first time in ages) so YBW and I got bundled up against the below freezing wind chills and headed to the mill.
I got to wear my brand new love YOUR melon beanie for the first time! (Little D’s new mom and I were texting about getting together and I took this photo asking her to tell him I kiss him. But at least you can see my hat so it’s cool.)
When we arrived at the mill site we were greeted by this.
I was livid! THE FREAKING GATE WAS LOCKED!! We couldn’t get all the way down the road to the mill. I will admit to saying one or two bad words…well, perhaps it was one or two bad sentences. How dare you hang a sign to welcome me and then lock the gates? Rude!
But…the railroad runs right beside the mill. So I get it in my head to walk down the tracks to the mill.
Only the moment I walk up the path to the tracks I hear the whistle of a train…I waved to the engineer and he waved to me. It called up all the many times in my life I’ve stood at the side of the railroad and done that. It brought me great joy and in that brief moment, I was a little girl again.
YBW decides right then it may not be the safest course of action since the sides are steep and there really is nowhere to go but down. I was like, but the train just came by, this is the safest time. We split the difference and I just stood at the path crossing. Honestly, I didn’t want to go down to the mill by myself, I wanted to share that experience so it worked out OK in the end.
I absolutely loved this curve in the tracks. I think the railroad is so elegantly beautiful for being something so well constructed for such hard core usage.
You know I had to look for spikes while I was up there. And I found some, just lying around in the rocks. I love how a railroad spike and rocks create these natural sort of collages.
There were three such collages, but this is the particular spike I picked up and carried home.
The mill really is quite compelling. In a hauntingly sad yet beautiful way.
I’m eager to return when the gates no longer lock me out. The wheel is still there on the other side of the mill. You can see Broad Run, which is a lovely. The view from the interstate is even more beautiful than this view from the railroad. I’m keeping my hackles up, but I’ll be checking back more frequently as the weather warms.
When we left the mill site, we drove down along the tracks just to see where they went. This was the opposite way of home, but we were on an adventure! We were out with our cameras to shoot things that moved us!
I loved the way this railroad crossing sign looked behind the overgrown grasses.
Lastly I got on my knees in the middle of another crossing to shoot the tracks from a different point of view.
The mail carrier who had to wait for me to get my shot and get back up out of the way before he could drive his truck over the crossing didn’t seem terribly impressed by my attempt to create art…of course he had a job to do and I was just out shoot stuff.
We decided to go back out today with our cameras. I’ll leave my warm beanie at home today because instead of upper 20s wind chills, we’ll have upper 60s temperatures today! I might even wear a dress depending on where we decide to go shoot.
Spring is kicking down winter’s door today and I intend to take full advantage of it!
Here’s a quick vid about the mill and it’s restoration. (My advice to you is: mute the music.)
Christmas Eve at the Cathedral was magical!
We made a quick stop at the space window before going downstairs to see the nativities.
Once downstairs, we kind of went out separate ways.
I spent a moment of prayer in St Joseph’s Chapel (My favorite space in the entire building.) before moving along to the creche exhibit.
YBW said he felt a bit jaded, that because we go each season, he feels as though he’s seen them all. I don’t feel jaded in the least. Though I do feel like these nativities were not as lovely as some we’ve seen in the past. Precious few moved me enough to photograph them.
I especially liked this one from South Africa made of fabric and glass beads. No donkey and camel in this nativity, but the lion and zebra sure came to celebrate baby Jesus!
Thing 2 came to find me and asked if I’d lit my prayer candle yet. I hadn’t, so she took my hand an led me through the gorgeously colorful mosaics of the Resurrection Chapel to the Cathedral Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage. This is the teeniest little room with a spiral stone staircase, a few wooden chairs along the wall behind a small kneeling alter in front of the candle table.
I hugged her tightly and told her this was where I always lit my prayer candles. She nodded and whispered that she just knew it.
She had been there before she found me, I could see the freshly lit candle and sense her presence. She sat in the corner behind me and I kneeled for a moment before using her candle to light mine.
God is in us. Always. There is no need to be in a house of worship to feel that connection. But in that moment in that tiny dark room I felt it more keenly than the way I carry God with me every day.
Perhaps it was being there with my baby. The one I always pray for in that particular room?
We left the Cathedral for the ellipse where the National Christmas tree was waiting for us.
Thing 2 and I drove past on our way home from the Nutcracker earlier that week. Honestly this tree has the prettiest lights I think I’ve seen in my entire life. But none of the trees were lighted this Christmas Eve afternoon. (Pourquoi pas?)
Thing 2, of course, was all about the trains. Thing 1 and I dug around for pennies and we took turns tossing them into baskets on the trains as they passed by. (We made more than we missed, go us!) Thing 2 mused what the change was used for. I teased that it was to pay the electric bill so the trees could be lit. Then she decided she would want to be one of the people who worked there with the trains. She could keep them running smoothly and gather up the change on the grass and hand it to all the small children standing along the fence so they could try their luck as the train cars went by. Thing 1 and I agreed that it would a great job for her.
Finally, we were tired and ready to head home. YBW got this shot of us walking together. (I’m on the left, Thing 1 in the middle, and Thing 2 on the right.)
This is what we do at my house before 6:30 on a Saturday morning. It’s been fourteen years since I had a four year old in my home.
I forgot how early they wake up!
My sweetie, little D needed someone to look after him while his daddy went to a holiday party last night. So I picked him up at school yesterday (after spending an hour visiting former colleagues and students) brought him home where he and Thing G and I watched all the ponies episodes off the DVR then when Thing C came home we ate little D’s favorite dinner: “Apoachlay” (that would be Chipotle to you and me). We played a little while then he went to bed.
Sweet dreams, little D.
This morning at 5:30 my bedroom door opens and little D comes across the room he says: Hi Robynbird! Hi YBW!
Then he climbs in bed for a snuggle and the first thing he says is: You hot Robynbird. (My skin was warm from being under the blankies and his feet were COLD!) He accidentally kicked the blankets on the other side of him and said: Oh! I sorry, YBW.
I told him YBW wasn’t in bed, he was downstairs on his computer.
He said: We go see him.
I said: Not yet, let’s snuggle for a minute.
A minute was not a lie…we were up and he was raring to go. (But he had to be quiet because Thing C and Thing G were still sleeping.)
So trains it was.
YBW and I built the track and little D drove the train all around.
Then he ate two huge bowls of cereal then got dressed. It wasn’t much longer before he got picked up to go to swim lessons.
Did I go back to bed?
Why not? You ask.
Because I’m an idiot.