17 June 2008

I guess this is why we have sabbaths - Janny

It's chilly and rainy. I'm at a tea shop drinking "yogi yogi tchai". Occasionally a drop falls from the tree above me and is a damp reminder of why I'm not out walking somewhere, doing something touristy. I chose to sit outside even though it's cold because it's beautiful. It's a paradise of green and pink, yellow and white. Trees and flowers and birdsong.
Oh yeah, and construction. There's a building going up next door. I look up to see what's making the sawing noise and see a spray of orange sparks as the construction worker cuts off edges of re-bar. The smell of kerosene or something else highly flammable permeates the air.
A helicopter flies by. A bee lands on a flower. Nature and progress together. God giving peace amidst hectic lives.
Life may fall apart again in a few minutes, a few hours or days, but at least I have the memory of the beautiful places I've been here in Scotland. I can't wait to play dominoes tomorrow. Yay!

16 June 2008

couldn't help it

when bad pictures happen to good people

tidbits -kate

Okay, so... what has been going on for the last couple of weeks?

Sorry- um- I was momentarily distracted, I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Glasgow and the two 12-year-olds sitting next to me just started making out... I mean she's on his lap and everything.  I'd bark at them to get a room- but I don't want to encourage them.

First of all, I should note that Ben has been faithfully blogging, however his firewall has been secretly buttressed and for reasons completely beyond our understanding, his fire-wall won't let him log onto the internet anywhere.  The filter's function is to keep Ben from getting caught in a porn-nado... it makes me wonder what's flying through the air around here if his computer has decided that Ben would be better off just staying offline completely... 

My point is, Ben would have plenty to say if he could get online- instead it's up to me.

We fell into a regular groove at the Glasgow city mission.  We can now, more or less, function there with a minimum of direction.  Daniel (one of the staff members there) has decided that we all need to have Glaswegian accents when we return to the US.  He' s done his best to teach me such colloquialisms such as "Aye cannuh be butherred" ( I can't be bothered) or "Hiedyeun" (How- ya doing)  and I in turn have taught him such American winners as "Dude, where's the keg?"  He's pretty good at it.

Janny's favorite day at the shelter is Wednesdays, because that's when they have the "Over 40-s Men's Club"  and a couple of gents taught us the finer points of playing dominoes- a game we got so good at our first time out they accused us of hustling them.

We had the chance to view a "football" (soccer) game at a local pub.  The Euro 2008 series is going strong.  (In lieu of actually having any knowledge of Euro 2008, I shouted "GO BRONCOS!" whenever anything significant happened) Our local friends were all cheering for the Czech Republic team... since no UK teams made the championships.  When I asked Lindsay (a delightful, spirited kick-in-the-head, kind of a girl) why they chose to support the Czechs- she told me the Czechs had the best beer.  And when the Czech team lost, Lindsay told me that her biggest disappointment stemmed from the fact that she had just bought her Czech-team-t-shirt, and now she couldn't wear it anymore.

We've been back to the Kelvingrove museum a couple of times more.  Barnacles still hold the title.

The other day, Ben came back to the "Sallie Ann" (as we now call the Salvation Army)  with a "scooby snack" for Janny.  The scooby snack is an edible contraption made up of layers of pancakes, sausage, bacon, more sausage, a potato pancake- and I think there's a fried egg in there somewhere- I told Janny her breakfast smelled like death.

On friday afternoons, the shelter has the "under 40's Men's Club"  during which they have a wii set up, so we all hang around and go virtual bowling.  And perhaps one of the things I have noticed the most about the guys who play- the staff and the volunteers all do the bowling gesture the way... well the way people actually bowl.  The "clients", however, whenever they chuck the imaginary bowling-ball down the alley- they look like they're punching somebody in the face with a chin-splitting upper-cut.

One of these young men has informed me that I'm officially in the "cool club" because I was willing to split a potato-chip-and-ham-sandwich with him.  Anything in the name of ministry- besides, we're already dying from the asbestos ceiling, what's a little heart disease?

Another young man and I have discovered we share a love of all things geek... specifically we have both played Fable (X-Box) for hours at a time, and we're both crazed comic-book fans.  We burned through an entire afternoon debating Dark Horse vs Marvel,  He's not too into zombie books, but I will convert him... heh heh heh.

On Fridays, there's also the women's glamour and beauty- during which Lorraine does nails and facials- however, getting the girls out of their hiding places has proven to be somewhat difficult during the days- so far we've maxed out at 2 takers in a day- that's not including myself and Janny- we get our nails done every friday- and then we are walking advertisements for Friday afternoons when we're serving meals in the evenings.

While in Iona, there was an unnatural amount of sunshine- and a very natural amount of wind- consequently we three pale-blondes quickly developed both sun-burns AND wind-burns.  By the last day there, Janny and I had begun wrapping our heads in our scarves to try and preserve our tender cheeks- we looked like terrorists.

Speaking of zombies-  Ben has proven to be quite a cook.  He baked an entire chicken a couple of weeks ago (the Sallie Ann staff said we might as well have it... it had been in their freezer for months)  He did an amazing job- right up until he started dismantling the little decimated corpse post-meal in the hopes of making soup out of the leftovers-  with his greasy fingers buried in the mutilated chicken, I told him he reminded me of a zombie, mid-carnage.  He then posed for a few zombie pictures.  "GRRRRR MORE BRAINS!"

Speaking of Iona, by the time we returned to Glasgow, we were so holiday-ed out, we decided not to go to Loch Lomond the following Saturady- instead we sat in the Sallie Ann for 2 hours and took crazy photos of ourselves with the "photo-booth" program on my Mac- laptop.  

I'm sure there will be more in the following week, but that should suffice for now. 




Holiday in IONA!

So, I know it's been a while since we wrote anything-  In truth, as seems to often be the case- we're so busy doing we aren't really writing.  We went to Iona this past week. an island where St Columba brought Christianity to... um whoever wanted to listen?  Actually Ben would be more apt to describe the mechanics of that history- There's a famous abbey on Iona where perhaps one of the earliest and most important Christian texts was written- the Book of Kells, which currently resides in Trinity College in Dublin.  Personal note- the tattoo on my arm is actually based on a design from the Celtic knotwork in the Book of Kells.  I was so excited to learn that this island is where my ink was originally designed- that I completely forgot to note any other historical facts regarding the place...  other than the island was regularly sacked by vikings, and it's also where the design for the traditional "Celtic Cross" was thought up- the design of the cross with the circular pattern around the center of the intersecting arms- funny thing, it was actually an accident- the stoneworkers made the arms of St. John's cross too long, and the collapsed under the weight shortly after it was erected in front of the abbey- so they added the circle to support the disproportionately long arms... anyway, one of the more enjoyable aspects of Iona was the sheep- we couldn't stop taking pictures of the sheep- following the sheep, laughing at the sheep- and this blog won't actually be a proper blog- it's actually just an appetizer- and an invitation to check out the new footage that we have on you tube of Ben- with a sheep/ram- and it's a lot more innocent than it sounds. Cheers, and I'll try to write more later tonight

08 June 2008

Saturday night in Glasgow

Team America totally owned that dance floor!


-Kate & Janny

07 June 2008

we have video!

okay- the video I tried to post 2 or 3 blogs ago is up on youtube!

Here's the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZLi8T7DWlU

hope it works

06 June 2008


So, as Ben has already stated.  We did in fact go to the Kelvingrove museum, (What Ben didn't mention about the museum is the fact that we all learned entirely too much about barnacles while we were there- namely, barnacles have the largest penis-in-relation to body size... of all God's marvelous creatures!) And we did in fact go to Mosaic.  (What Ben didn't mention about Mosaic was that while we were there we met a lovely Nepalese woman who was trying to get her visa in order to go to the United States and continue her studies in biogenetics... and upon hearing this, I tried to pimp Ben out to her for the sake of procuring her a green card marriage... and take my word for it... the girl was HOT)    We are rounding out our second week here in Glasgow and the entire experience is already dripping in misadventures and shenanigans.   Here are some stories that you haven't heard yet:

Monday was technically my day off from the homeless shelter.  After we went to the museum and returned back to our illustrious digs- Ben and Janny were off to work the evening meal shift at the homeless shelter, and I was off to check my e-mail at a local bar... where I was determined (and told my companions as much) to strike up a conversation with a stranger... seeing as how we were here in Scotland to "love on" the people.  I set out at a steady clip along the same path that I travel maybe 3-4 times a day... a path that took me by a bus-stop that rarely boasts any takers.  This particular evening, however, I noted as I passed a young woman- perhaps in her early 20's, dripping off the bus bench- and I mean she was downright soggy-  so incredibly drunk she was singlehandedly fumigating the entire city block with her breath.  She slurred something at me as I walked by- and in true Denver form, I ignored her and kept walking.  The once glance that I did spare her as I marched past conveyed to me the extent of her situation- in as much as not only was she drunk, she was also sporting a shiner of epic proportions.  Her left eye was 17 shades of purple.  However, I am used to seeing people with dents in their heads- and nobody can blow off a drunk like a Denver paramedic. But about half a block away, I stopped, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I had promised myself that I was going to step outside of myself and talk to someone tonight, furthermore, I was immediately mired in a moral dilemma of epic proportions-  the details would be laborious and verbose- suffice to say it had to do with when to embrace and when to refrain- it was very ecclesiastical (turn turn turn).  Anyway, thats how I found myself retracing my steps, plopping down on the bus bench and saying to my profoundly inebriated new friend 

"So... what happened to your eye?"  (There were probably better ways to start that conversation- but it was so RIGHT THERE I couldn't think of anything else to talk about.)

"Ach," she mumbled "Ah feel."

("Oh, I fell." for those of you not fluent in Glaswegian)

I resisted the urge to inform her that I know bull%$#t when I hear it, no matter how it's pronounced, and let that whopper slide for the moment. Namely because she was off and talking- and I didn't understand another thing she said.

A few people passed us- mostly men on their way to the shelter for the evening meal, and my companion hollered greetings at a few of them.  Who noted my presence with some curiosity and distrust- since we had only worked maybe one meal shift at the shelter thus far- they didn't recognize me.

I didn't really know what to do.  She seemed content to sit there until judgement day.  I watched the traffic whizzing by us with some dismay- worrying that if I left her alone she might stumble into traffic or get assaulted by any number of people who would have access to her in this public place.  3 people were murdered in Glasgow over the weekend, 2 of them solo women.  If we had been in my town, she would have gone to detox and I would have been checking my email by now.

"So...," I said, "Are you hungry? Do you need something to eat?"  figuring I might as well get her off the street and take her by the mission where she could get something in her stomach. 

"Oh, aye."

We stood, and she had to grab my shirt and yank me away from the curb, as I had made the classic american mistake and looked left instead of right for oncoming traffic.  I paused to consider the irony of that moment, and we were off.  Enroute, we paused so she could water the pavement while I kept watch for potential trouble, and then she tucked her arm into mine as though the yellow-brick-road guided us to our destination.  Passersby eyed us warily, the weight of their assumptions crashing into us as they took in her blackened eye, obvious intoxication, and our combined shabby clothes. I felt my indignation twist my mouth into a sneer, and I silently dared anyone to say anything to us.  She eyed the strangers with the same expression and summarily dismissed every disdainful look with

"F&%k 'em"

Once we arrived at the shelter, we found the doors locked- since no one was expecting me to show, and the workers always lock the doors while they're preparing the meal.  So the two of us ended up posted up on the pavement by the door, and it was my turn to feel unwanted and out of place as the crowds of homeless and "undesireables" gathered.  They eyed me with more questions and even some hostility- wondering where their friend had picked me up and what my angle was.  I wanted to explain something- say something- but I realized there was nothing I could say that would be right... that wouldn't insult.  So I sat with her, on the chilled concrete, and waited for the doors to open.

After I had deposited my company at the shelter (who it turns out, was a well-known frequenter of the place) I headed out again to check my email.  And ended up the quite unintentioned team member of a bar-trivia team.  I was just sitting there, minding my own business and a trivia game broke out.  The couple sitting next to me introduced themselves, and the next thing you know we were agonizing over obscure british pop-bands and movies from 1984, all in the hipes of winning 25 pounds (about 50$)  We were fairly confident in our superiority- and certain we were going to win, until the last question of the 3rd round: What was Miss Piggy's last name?  

"!?!?!?!?!" said everyone in the entire bar.

We all turned blank faces towards each other, since when did Miss Piggy have a last name?  Isn't it "Piggy"?

Being the overly competitive american that I am, I kept trying to surreptitiously crack my lap-top open and wikipedia my way into fame and fortune- but the next table- a couple of elderly, drunken Australian ladies- kept glancing our direction as though they were on to me.  Finally, one of them laughingly stumbled over to us, leaned over and hollered a phrase that will haunt me for the rest of my life...

Now, anytime I am stymied and cannot think of any answer to any question asked of me, I will forever be harkened back to that evening, in that bar, as an international crowd of strangers transcended cultural prejudice and animosity- banged our heads against a universal wall and yelled at one another: