Monday, February 28, 2011

hers was a life beautiful.

It's been two years today since Ryan Alea was unfettered from her bonds of this earth, and it hasn't gotten any less surreal that she's really gone. Nor has this day hasn't gotten any easier to deal with.
Miss you, RAY.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I most definitely indulged in a guilty pleasure today. The last couple days have been beautifully full of spring's promise of warmth, sunshine, and light jackets. I had to walk a mile or two to deposit some cash in the bank, and on my way back I ducked into a shop. This is no ordinary shop. When Jeremy and I first plucked up enough courage to enter one day we reveled in what we saw--we finally understood what it the metaphor meant "like a kid in a candy shop." We were the kids, and it was no metaphor--we literally were in a candy shop. No joke. This tiny wee shop has thousands of different candies and sweeties stuffed into it, protruding from shelves, hanging from the ceiling, behind glass cases--everywhere you look, there is something deliciously delectable to behold. Not only that, but they serve hot drinks and ice cream as well. Today I popped in not for any of the elaborate chocolates and truffles, nor the simple and well-known candies--I went in for the simplest of spring and summer treats. A single dollop of pure vanilla dairy ice cream with a flake stuck in it. I first tasted this heaven-in-a-cone in a coastal town in Northern Ireland (Molly or Adrian, if you're reading, can you help me out with the name of that wee town?) about seven years ago (has it been that long?!) and ever since I was smitten with the simplicity of it. The ice cream is just regular white vanilla soft-serve ice cream, and the flake is made by Cadbury and it's kind of indescribable if you've never had one. In my opinion, it's not the most amazing treat by itself, but stick it into a cone of soft-serve and you've got something completely different.
So there you have it, I indulged today. It was delicious, and it made me even more excited about the imminent weather change. These ice cream cones are usually called a 99 flake or something of the sort, because you normally only pay 99p for it. I paid £1.30 for mine, but you know what? It was totally worth it. I even managed to snap a photo with my phone before I completely devoured it for you lovely readers to enjoy--though I highly recommend enjoying one of these lovelies with sense that it not sight at some point.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

unexpected change of plans.

So I've finally updated my photo of the week for this week, I apologize for not getting up on Sunday--I've given you lovely excuses in the commentary on this week's photo, go check it out.
This past weekend was actually quite nice. I thought it would be a disaster because I had the whole day on Saturday to get work done because Jeremy was working a double and I had plenty of reading to do, and as I discovered the web-based program that lectures at UoE use to put up PDF readings and what not was down for the weekend. Again. So I had all this time to myself, and could not do what needed to be done. So after wasting a little time puttering around the internet I realized that a student is not my sole occupation, that I have a flat that has been embarrassingly neglected in the cleaning quarter for quite some time. So I cleaned. And you know sometimes when you begin to clean, you just keep thinking about more things that you could clean and tidy, and you end up enjoying it? My family used to call it beaver fever when I was young, I'm not sure why--I think it was because beavers seem the kind of animal that would enjoy tedious cleaning what with all that stick-gathering and dam-building they do. But yeah, I just kept going and cleaned pretty much our whole flat--the soundtrack to the cleaning-montage consisting of Johnny Cash and Mumford & Sons. Whenever I get 'the fever' I try to clean as much as I can, because I still remember how I usually feel about cleaning--which aren't typified by amiable feelings.
So with a clean flat, and a happy-but-tired husband at the end of the day I felt quite accomplished, even though I got zero of my reading done for the weekend. (Yes, WebCT was down on Sunday too.) And I was able to invite guests over for Monday night, and didn't have to worry about cleaning all day before they came.
Then Sunday I discovered that through Gmail you can use an internet phone that allows you to call both landlines and mobile phones in the States for absolutely free! So I spoke with my dear one, Chelsea Rose, for over an hour--and it was so good for our souls. Then Jeremy called his parents (a few times, and finally got through) and we spoke with them and his little brother, Jesse, for almost three hours! It was wonderful to be able to talk without worrying about money or time. It was great to hear their voices.
And even though yesterday was definitely not part of the weekend, last night we had Kevin and Ally Aiken over for dinner, and was so wonderful to spend time with friends, just talking and catching up--and of course enjoying some tasty home-brew (shout-out for the ginger beer they brought for me).

Even though this weekend began as a potentially-wasteful change of plans, it ended up being more fruitful than I could have hoped for. And better for our hearts than any amount of academic reading could have been. So here's to an unexpected change of plans.



Friday, February 18, 2011

a mountain summer.

As February plods along, and I keep spying comments from my friends back in North Carolina about how beautiful the weather is there right now, I cannot help but reminisce about last summer. The summer I thought I might be leaving the Carolina mountains for good, the summer that saw so many memories made and much laughter heard. I didn't know it then, but it was the beginning of my realization, my realization that I love those mountains, and those forests and creeks--they had become part of who I am.
I've never been a huge poetry writer, I tend more for prose myself, but last summer I was incited to compose a poem. When I did rarely write poetry it was usually about longing for somewhere I wasn't, the occasional nature poem, or something about Jeremy and me. But this came out of no where, and I had to write it down, then I honed it, perfected it, and ended up loving it. It was like nothing I'd ever written before. It's one of those poems that you've written and you vaguely recognize the people in it, the feelings, and the surroundings, but it's not quite you--it's like your life in an alternate reality, if that makes sense. A poesy-version of your life.
Well, all this talk of spring and my recent discovery of my belonging to that place has made me remember that poem, and I thought I would share with you all. So without any more explanation, here it is.

Carolina Mountain Song

I’ll keep these memories in a mason jar, this sweet Carolina summer.
We make muggy memories while sipping sweet tea that clinks with amber ice on the porch,
The glasses in our hands sweating as much as we are.
But we don’t care much because we have each other, sweat and all.           

Our salty skin sticks together in a brief embrace.
The heat may restrain the physical touch of our promises,
But cannot hinder the way his eyes linger, like a honeybee over a new flower, on my face; my chest,
Breathing, glistening in the summer sun, as a river of salt runs down my dress.

Gloaming in the mountains has descended, and we revel in her mystery.
A vividly pale beauty that encompasses every color and none at all in one glance
The mountain song wings through the trees, touching every oak and pine
That air finds its way to us and plays us her music, sweet like summer strawberries, beneath the fading light.

The sun hides her face behind the ridges, but the heat doesn’t seem to notice
Pinks and purples color the sky in shades only found on a night like this once in your life
They creep across the misty mountains with otherworldly shades and shadows.
He tucks a dark curl behind my ear and sings a song meant for only me and these mountains.

Orchestras of lightning bugs are lightening up the twilit trees against a craggy blue,
And the smell of rain is fragrant on the evening breeze.
Oh, that breeze! Our own little piece of heaven
In this humid heat you could cut with a knife.

“Well… it’s a nice night for a knife fight.”
He says in a drawl more southern than my red gingham dress.
His green eyes meet my blue ones and we laugh and sigh together
For our last sweet summer in high Carolina.

by Caitlin B. Foreman 

Well, hopefully that can tide me over a wee bit until spring really does make herself known here in Scotland, and until I can go back and appreciate the summer dusk of the Carolina mountains once again.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

i heart faces.

So I've decided to enter an photography challenge as another way to get back into snapping photos all the time, and as a way to interact with other photographers as well.

This week's challenge theme is 'Red' in honor of Go Red for Women. I chose this photo of Carlee I did for her senior portraits, because it embodies so much of what I think women should be--confident, fun, and not afraid to be silly and laugh at themselves--and that's definitely Carlee. So here you go. I'll probably be doing this every couple weeks or so, there are new challenges each week.

Enjoy. :)


a few of the things...

that made my Valentine's day full of joy...

My husband bringing me home two dozen red tulips.

 ...and chocolates! Which I shared with him of course. I secretly think he bought them more for himself than for me, but he generously makes sure I eat as many as I want then he'll swoop in and eat the others. :)

The way the afternoon light illuminated the tulips when set in front of our window, and how I'd forgotten how much I love tulips until he came home with them.

Getting to spend a special day with my guy, mo leannan. And getting one of those rare photos with both of us in it--that we both like.

Sitting down to and enjoying a dinner of steak with bleu cheese butter, bacon-spinach mashed potatoes, and lemon-butter asparagus tips, and the look on Jeremy's face when he put the first bite in his mouth--it was apparently still really hot. I'm kidding, it's so rewarding cooking for Jeremy because he loves everything I put in front of him.

I appreciate Jeremy every day, but it's good to have another day in the year to remind us to tell each other again how much we mean to one another.

I am so thankful to have been blessed with a husband like Jeremy, I couldn't have asked for more. I hope everyone else had a great Valentine's day as well, regardless of whether you've found your perfect other half to spend with whom to spend it.


Sunday, February 13, 2011


What do you get when you combine vintage military buttons, pure scottish wool yarn, and 10mm crochet hook?
Well, if you're me you end up with this scarflette! I've been wanting to make one of these for a while, and I finally saw some gorgeous wool in a yarn shop on Victoria Street called K1, then I found the buttons in a thrift shop less than a block from our flat. I love how versatile it is, there are so many things you can do with it, these are only a few I'm sure.
I've been working on socks for a while now, and this project was a nice quick job to relieve the tedious work of crocheting said socks, it only took me maybe two hours to crochet, and most of that time I was also watching a movie or multitasking in some way, it could go way faster. What do you think?

Oh, and I also updated my photo of the week today--that should usually happen on Sundays from now on.


Friday, February 11, 2011


I was asked today if I could choose any citizenship to have in the world, what it would be. My answer was actually quite surprising to me, and will be to anyone reading this who knows me well. I thought about it, and replied,
"If you had asked me this six months ago, I would have undoubtedly said Irish, Scottish, or British. But today, honestly, I'm an American and I'm quite happy to be. I'd take dual-citizenship, sure, but I'll keep my American citizenship, thank you."
To anyone who has heard me pine away for Ireland in the last seven years since I first visited, this might come as a surprise. Don't take this wrong though, I am quite happy to be where I am right now, in Scotland learning about things that most definitely concern my heritage. But this semester my classes comprise of two subjects very interesting to me, Traditional Narrative and Traditional Gaelic Song. Through my lectures and reading so far, especially in Traditional Gaelic Song, we have looked at the idea of song and sense of place. This element is very important in Gaelic song and poetry--which are virtually interchangeable--and is something worth a closer study in understand the nature of the songs. Yesterday in class the lecturer, Dr. Margaret Mackay talked to us about what sense of place means, and she mentioned a Spanish word--pardon my forgetting the actual word--that essentially means a feeling of belonging, of home, a sense of being right where you needed to be. She then asked the class to go round and talk about what that might mean to us individuals.
Being away from family and home in North Carolina has been more difficult than I had foreseen. Coming to Scotland was the fruition of a dream I've had for a long time, and I hadn't even considered the fact that I might miss where I had come from. I knew I would miss family, but since my family is already so far spread across this green earth I didn't think much of flinging my own little family of Jeremy and myself out across the wide sea. But I'm not just a Barker anymore, I'm a Foreman and I had become embedded in that family so much that my abrupt uprooting was more jarring than I anticipated. I miss family birthday gatherings, I miss little children, my nieces and nephews running around, I miss having brothers and sisters around all the time, and I miss the occasional but always memorable encounters of sitting and just listening to Grandmother and Grandfather tell stories.
So when it came to me to speak in class yesterday, to tell about what created my sense of belonging or place I didn't hesitate in saying "family." And not only family, I said, again to my surprise, but the green sheltering mountains of the Blue Ridges in our little mountain valley. There's a sense of safety and comfort about that place, those mountains, and those verdant forests. That's not to say I haven't felt that sense of belonging elsewhere, I have, in Ireland so many years ago and here in Scotland as well. But I've realized that here is not where I really belong. My ancestors belonged here, and so it runs in my blood, but my ancestors picked up and moved in a perilous journey over the sea to make better lives for their families--I am that family, generations later, and I am thankful for their sacrifice, for their own uprooting and departure of that familiar comfort and belonging. I owe it to them to not just cast away the new heritage they created for me in coming back to the old, unimpressed with the new, but to appreciate the heritage of my immediate family and delight in coming here and discovering a new facet of who I am.
That's what I was missing before. I was so ready to go back to my deep roots and become what my ancestors were, that I forgot where my actual home was, where I really belonged.
Not only that, but in studying the culture and folk life I so longed for here, I realized that the tradition and folk culture from whence I came is in part cut from the same cloth as that of this rich place, and that I grew up knowing it and participating in it.
And so, in realizing my dream and coming to the British Isles to study and become part of its tradition I have realized that was already part of a tradition just as rich, and so very similar. If nothing else is accomplished here--though I know it will be--I am happy to finally realize what I have in my cozy, mountain-crowned corner of western North Carolina, and that I dearly miss it, my roots still aching there, with family, friends, familiarity, and belonging. I see the country of my ancestors and love it like they did, but I will not forsake what they gave up for me.
I hope this post makes sense. I am so happy with what Jeremy and I are doing here, it's an adventure that we'll never forget, it's part of who we are, it's in our blood and our connection to it is undeniable--but it's not home. We will come home after a much-needed and well-appreciated jaunt back to the roots of our heritage.
Part of my missing home is probably the fact that I'm living in a city, and not used to it. I like it, but I'm definitely more of an open-country, trees, mountains, wildlife kind of girl. Here are some things I'll be happy to see again.

Early morning mountain fog on Black Mountain's railroad tracks.
The absolute breath-taking beauty of autumn in the mountains.
The verdant green of the Carolina forest, climbing Craggy Pinnacle.
Far off views of mountains at sunset and woodland as far as the eye can see.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

happy birthday!

To my dearest and closest friend, Chelsea Rose. She and I are thousands of miles apart, but still closer than ever. We've had so many ridiculously fun times--I can't wait to have more. Vegas or Edinburgh, Chels? Happy birthday, dear heart, I hope today is brilliant. Love.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Jeremy and I finally broke down and bought a memory foam-esque mattress topper for the old, uncomfortable, spring-in-the-back, wake-up-sore mattress that came with our flat. I was seriously missing the whole box-spring and mattress thing that we Americans are used to after three months of tossing and turning sleep. Last night I didn't wake up once until my alarm went off this morning, and a snoozed waaaay too long. A comfortable night's sleep is definitely something you take for granted when you're used to getting one every night. And honestly, I'm ready to start taking it for granted again. A soft bed is one of the best things in the world. I can't wait to go to sleep tonight! (How sad is that?!)
Right, off to Cearcall Gàidhlig for some Gaelic conversation.

Oidhche mhath, Good night,


Sunday, February 6, 2011

why the change?

I realize that this is the third or fourth time I've changed not only my blog's title, but theme and layout as well. You'll all be happy to know (and can point this out to me the next time I get the itch to change again) that I'm going back to my roots and will be sticking to them.
Black currant thoughts came about when I began this blog for as assignment during my undergraduate degree at Montreat College. I wanted a theme, and I drank tea, and--I still do really--drank it religiously, so I decided to write each post, cup of tea in hand, and the kind of tea I was enjoying would be the post title. Black currant was my favorite tea at the time, and I enjoyed the play on currant and current. Oh, how clever I am! Hah. Anyway, I ended up changing it because it got tiring to have to drink a cuppa each time I sat down to write, or I wouldn't have a post title. After a jaunt into themes such as 'to while away the time'--created to express my yearning to be in Europe somewhere doing what I am now doing--and 'i shelter in thy honour'd shade'--a lovely homage auld Rabbie Burns and the brilliant city in which I live, Edinburgh--I have decide that both of those seemed to limit me in what I wrote about and even the length of my posts. Going back to black currant thoughts means that I can have a cuppa if I feel like it, black currant or otherwise--a good Scottish breakfast does me right well in the mornings-- and it means that my web address makes sense again.
Adding in the bit about 'wrought by a compulsive thinker' gives me a feeling of being able to just write thoughts, whether they're here or there, large or small, fleeting and insignificant or deep and profound. And by 'compulsive thinker' I mean that I think entirely too much, about silly things, about things that aren't there and don't have any weight in my life at all, and occasionally I'll think about something worth it, something that makes me enjoy my over-active thinking muscle. I really do mean occasionally, and the term compulsive thinker is meant not an ounce of pretentiousness. Yes, I think a lot, yes, I think too much sometimes, but no, by no means are my compulsive thoughts the thoughts of a brilliantly intelligent brain. If anything, the times when I might have thoughts that could be categorized as brilliant or intelligent (not usually both at once) they are anything but compulsive.
So there you are, my friends, I hope this change will mean that I write more often, not being restrained by the need to post beautiful photos of Edinburgh, or pine away at the thought of being somewhere else.
I'm here, and I am happy.