Wednesday, December 30, 2009
My brother's wedding was wonderful! The bed and breakfast, the old county jail, was fun as it was all of Ben's friends and our pastor and family that had this whole place to ourselves. Too many jokes were made about the groom's side of this shindig staying in the "Slammer," but they never really got old. We had just enough snow Friday night to make everything pretty but not too bad to travel in. The rehearsal dinner was yummy, although I was the subject of abuse for both of Ben and Eva's impromptu speeches with the excuse being I haven't been in the country for the last 4 months, so they had a lot of 'catching up' to do. Saturday brought on the big day and an early start with a 10:30am wedding time. Us girls just did our own hair and make-up and everything was going well. You know, the typical bridesmaid routine, hold the flowers lower than you think you should, try to pretend your feet don't hurt in your killer shoes (pain is beauty, pain is beauty, pain is beauty . . .) and try not to cry as I have a direct line of vision to my brother so sincerely promising to love and protect, honor and cherish the love of his life for well, the rest of their lives. I blame the tears on the fact that I hadn't seen him since Easter!!! The rest of the wedding again, fairly typical, pictures took way too long, good food, sweet toasts, cake, yatta yatta and bang... they are off for the honeymoon and oh my gosh, my BROTHER IS MARRIED! But all along it just felt right. We were all excited but not giddy or overwhelmed because we have all had this contentment about my brother and Eva so it all just seemed natural I guess is the best word to describe. So they have now safely returned from a fun-filled week in Orlando and face the reality of work tomorrow and are ridiculously happy, which is actually really cute.
CHRISTMAS! Merry Christmas to y'all by the way. Christmas was nice here, even though slightly different than our traditional way to celebrate the wonderful holiday. First off, Ben was gone, the 11:00pm service at church was slim and didn't last until midnight, Aunt Sylvia had knee surgery and didn't come to Christmas Eve service with us, then Christmas day was actually celebrated with my dad's sister and husband, aunt Sylvia, Grandma and mom and dad. Every other year it has just been the 4 of us. And this year I thought I would tackle Christmas dinner all on my own, well most of it at least. My part of the amazing meal was the turkey, corn casserole, the pie, the veggies and cheese sauce and the potatoes. Mom had much more hair on her head this year as she typically gets fairly stressed about preparing Christmas dinner. Everything turned out great! I was so proud of myself! Sylvia graciously donated a 20.83 pound turkey, so 'Norman' was a doozy after our 10 pounder named 'Hamilton' in Ireland. Don't ask why I name the turkeys, I'm not sure of the reason myself. So on to the good stuff... the presents! Mom crotch ed a beautiful butterfly blanket for me that was by far my favorite gift :) Other nice things came in small packages, aka, jewelry and checks, but that blanket was amazing and I know there was so much love put into every knot of it :)
Preparing Christmas dinner was a lot of work, but so was going through all of my stuff in storage in the barns and moving into my apartment at Purdue. Mom and I had fun painting and 'speckling' my loft and then I had more fun than one should have with dad loading the truck with all of the furniture and my stuff and hauling it up three flights of stairs! I'm really proud of us for getting it done, but my arms are still slightly limp from all of the heavy lifting. But my room looks great and is only going to get better when I finish bringing over the rest of my stuff when I officially move in next Friday. Black and green are my colors and ya, its going to be awesome!
Wedding, Christmas, moving in, those are the biggies that I've been up to, but I've squeezed in some time for some shopping, saw Avatar and Sherlock Holmes, and rode Chip today over at New Castle. It's been a pretty packed 'break' so far and it's no where near to being over. New Year's Eve tomorrow night with Grandma; trip down to Kentucky to spend more time with the newly weds (I think they just want me to bring more of their stuff down honestly since they couldn't fit it all in their car); meeting up with friends; putting 2009 into the scrap-book; and gosh-darn it, I'd like some time just to read and chillax!!!!!
So there folks, the weight has been lifted, I feel no more guilt, Hallelujah!
Happy New Year Y'all!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Ah---- Can hardly think between the excitement and the exhaustion. I practically pulled an all-nighter last night studying for my Equine Health and Husbandry exam this morning. Like literally, I woke up yesterday at 11:30, studying by 12. Then took a break to run and shower and get a snack at 3:30, back to the books by 4:30. Quick run to my friends to deliver some cold medicine around 8 and then back at it by 9. I literally did not take any substantial breaks until about 6:20am this morning and grabbed a few winks with my alarm set for 7:05 to catch the 7:30 shuttle to the testing center. At the testing center by 8 and studies until about 8:50 and took the exam for the 2 hours! It went well I think, it was just so much information to remember because I had no clue what she would put on the exam and how much detail she expected. EHV 1, 3 and 4, EVA (not to be confused with EAV), Equine Influenza H7N7 and H3N8, Rotovirus, Strangles, Rhodicoccus Equi, mycotoxins, MRLS, West Nile, COPH, EIPH, EIA, evolution of the horse, welfare, husbandry, parasitology, chronobiology, angular limb diformities and I could seriously still give you more topics that could have come up. I eventually crashed for a few hours this afternoon, but I'm soon to bed so I can get up early in the morning to finishing packing, cleaning and brush up for my economics exam that's at 3. Then ICESKATING!!!!! So excited to cap off my great time here with my girls! :)
Little plug for Purdue here as I was walking the Vet Science building today to find one of my professors and noticed that one of the offices had Purdue degrees in the window and sure enough it was Alan Gerrard, who used to be an animal science professor at Purdue. I used to put his mail in his mailbox for him when I worked in the animal science office :) So if there is a spare moment tomorrow, doubtful, then I'll swing by and see if he is in :)
K- going to spend the next hour happily finishing my packing and then going to bed so I'm fully rested for my last full day in IRELAND!!!!! I'll probably jump back on here at least one more time before I leave, just to once again express my excitement, but if not, then I'll talk to y'all again from INDIANA!!!!!!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
It wasn't until tonight when I was leaving my friend's apartment and talking with Erica and reminiscing about this past year that I realized the date flew right by me as I was preparing for finals and going home soon. A part of me feels bad, but in a way again, I know John wanted everyone that knew him to continue on with their lives and I still think about him time to time as I will never completely forget about him. I still wear my remembrance bracelet to this day as I try to live by his example. Humble and selfless are the two main attributes that pop in my head when I think of John, followed by John Deere and Belted Galloway's, his two main loves in his life besides his family and friends of course.
So just wanted to take a moment and remember, reflect and honor a life well lived, one with much faith, all be it short. Thanks John. We miss you down here, but know you are in a better place.
Cheers to you John from Dublin!
Friday, December 11, 2009
When we had our family vacation to Fort Lauderdale, Florida when I was probably about 12 (that's close enough) we were all walking out of a McDonalds together and there sat two Ford Focus coups side by side in the parking lot. We had been seeing a lot of those on the roads and as they were fairly new, and we were making jokes about being 'focused' while driving. Example: Me after seeing a Focus on the road, "Dad, Dad - FOCUS," said with an undertone that a teacher would have with a student while slightly reprimanding them. Dad: "Ok, ok, I'm focusing." Well, when we saw the two Focuses parked side by side, Dad turned to me using his index and middle fingers to point to his eyes and then to mine while saying "FOCUS." It has continued to be a little joke between him and I til this day.
Why did I just share a random childhood account with you? Well, its my blog and I can do what I want and two it just popped into my head when I was thinking about what to title this post as that is what I need to do to get through these last few days in Ireland with my finals and three, its better than just blabbing about my finals :)
But it is indeed so true, if I just focus I am quite capable of great things. Like cramming for an exam for about 8 hours and then rocking that exam out! I find that if I'm 'Under Pressure' (little Queen reference there if you didn't get it), I do so much better. I know its my last chance to really get this stuff and I think I would actually feel unprepared if I didn't cram, like it is now a vital part to my study equation. Oh- well, time efficient I say, that way I don't waste away every evening studying a little bit not as effectively, and I can be using that time for other things like packing (I have all of my clothes packed already) and other things to enjoy myself like watching Pineapple Express with my friends last night :)
Speaking of which, stupid movie, but funny all the same. But my friends have developed a new nickname for me, The Black Knight. I suppose it is from whenever we go to exercise classes together at the gym, I always push myself as far as I can go and have been called out by the instructors for doing a good job and there were a few circumstances where I could open a jar or get something to work when the other girls couldn't. More coincidence I feel, but at first when things like that happened, they were "Cassidisms," according to Erica. Well, the girls got on a big Monty Python kick and they then dubbed me the Black Knight because he never gives up even after having his arm chopped off in a dual and still going saying, "It's merely a flesh wound." I might actually have to watch the movie again now, but it's been an ongoing joke and it went to new heights last night as "Black Knight jokes" instead of "Chuck Norris jokes" starting coming out. Probably my favorite one was something like, "If the Black Knight is late, time just better slow the **** down," or "The Black Knight doesn't breath, she holds air captive." Of course these were made 10 times better because of Erica's dramatic delivery.
Those girls rock my socks off, literally as Alyssa especially has an obsession with socks. I'm really going to miss Erica and Mariel, but super excited to have Alyssa at Purdue with me so we can continue hanging out and all. Well, this post has turned into the complete opposite of my title, which is focus as I went off on like two or three tangents there. So I'm going to study for awhile and then the girls and I are taking a break and going to tour the Jameson Distillery since we haven't been yet. Should be a good time :)
Friday (Today): Study, Jameson and study some more!
Saturday: Final from 12 to 2, then starting to study for my finals on Monday and Tuesday!
Sunday: Studying and cleaning my room!
Monday: Final from 9 until 11, studying for my final the next day and final roommate dinner.
Tuesday: Final from 3 to 5, then hitting the town to admire the Christmas lights and go ice-skating with the girls for my last night in Dublin (has all the works for a magical last night!)
Wednesday: Catch the 10 am Aircoach to the airport for my 12:30 flight time back HOME!!!!!! Home by 8ish Eastern time :)
PS: Gma is being released from Bennett Rehab Center the 16th as well :) Yahoo!
Cheers from Dublin!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
But I do not want to neglect you of a full detailed report, or as much as I can remember at this point with all of this other information fighting for space in my memory, of my final day in Scotland.
Mariel, Sarah Jay and I decided to slow the pace down a little bit and picked a few things we would like to see and went from there. At the top of our list was the Holyroodhouse Palace, which is the residence of the Queen herself while in Scotland, typically during the summer, its warmer. The Palace was quite fittingly at the bottom of the Royal Mile, meaning it was a nice and easy downhill 15 minute walk from our hostel. We got a small discount on admission from the tour company the previous day and set out exploring the palace with the aid of a wonderful little audio guide :) Mariel and I tried to especially take our time and soak it all in as the tour told the history of the different monarchs and the story of Mary Queen of Scots. She had a rough life and I'm not being sarcastic in the fact that she was a monarch, because she ended up spending half her life in prison and was executed. Sarah Jay seemed to fly through pretty fast, but obviously enjoyed it because she signed up for free admission for a year! Or maybe she was trying to take advantage of a good deal? Probably a couple of the most bazaar pieces on display in the Palace was a loch of Mary's hair and a casting (I think and hope) of Robert the Bruce's skull. He was another 'freedom fighter' like William Wallace, but played the political game as well as he was a noble. So some claim him not to be a true 'freedom fighter,' like William Wallace was.
The Palace was beautiful in all of its decadence, but it was the Abby that the Palace was built adjacently to that caused reverence. Even in its ruined state, one can still picture the grandeur that this place of worship used to have and for that fact, still has. It was slightly creepy as there were graves all around, but the beautiful blue sky set a beautiful backdrop to the pillars and walls still standing of the Abby.
We meandered our way back to the hostel for some light refreshment and then inquired about how to get to Leif, as the Royal Yacht Britannia has been decommissioned and is now stationed in the harbor there and set up for tours :) Once again, we had a small discount on admission to the yacht from our tour the previous day, which gave us the idea to do it in the first place. The bus was super easy and I will never get over the feeling of excitement and the giddiness I get when I climb up to the top of a double-decker bus. The view is so much better and just that fact that I'm on a double-decker bus in a major European city! I have been here for 4 months and the effect hasn't worn off yet :)
We followed the signs to the yacht and I finally stepped foot on my boat! Well, I wish it were mine. A slight name change (take out one of the "n's" and add a second "t"), a few tug-boats and some comrades in crime and I'm golden. Any takers? Once again, we were equipped with audio equipment to guide us through the different decks of the yacht. Basically, the boat was split in half, with the crew's quarters and their working areas on one half and then the rest of the space was for the Queen, her family and any guests. Seems slightly unfair when looking at the sailor's little bunk, versus the Queens bedroom, sitting room, sun deck and huge dining room! But I guess the Queen gets special attention, being the Queen and all. I got a few kicks throughout the tour taking pictures next to things that had the name "Britannia" on it and filled in some of the staff as they looked at me kind of funny, so I explained that my name was Brittania. Considering you can't hear the spelling change, everyone assumed it was the same thing and in my mind, it was close enough!
The tour of the yacht took longer than the palace believe it or not. So then we had plenty of time to comfortably go back to the hostel, pick up our luggage, finish off our food and get the airlink back to the Edinburgh Airport. While at the airport, we ran into a girl from Ohio that goes to Taylor University in Indiana, who was studying abroad with their Freshmen Irish Studies program. Eva, my brother's fiance and soon wife, went to Taylor so I heard all about this program as her brother went on it. The world seemed to keep getting smaller, as some Notre Dame students who were also studying at UCD happened to be in Edinburgh over the same days as we were over study week and had the same flight back to Dublin.
So that brings me back to Dublin, with a mountain of finals standing between me and going home. But there was one big perk left- my article for the Irish Field came out!!!! It is such a cool feeling to see my name in print and the article turned out really good. I have gotten facebook messages and congratulations from my Irish friends over here. I bought two copies and plan on bringing them home to have mom laminate :)
So finals update:
I thought my econ exam was yesterday, but I got it confused with the "Intermediate Macroeconimcs" exam instead. So I showed up all studied and 'ready' for an exam that is worth 100% of my grade, only to realize that it is next Tuesday at 3! So I see it as time just miss-allocated and not time lost spent studying for it. It turned out ok though because it is still on before my flight home and the final that I put off studying for this morning turned out to be really good. I fudged up slightly on one of the ratios, but overall, I feel that my brain puke was adequate enough to maintain an 'A' for my Business Management class.
But here is where the coolest thing happened. As I was about halfway through, feeling pretty good as I had my little outline done for all of the questions and was now in the process of actually writing out my answers, I noticed something flying around. It turns out it was a butterfly. Our finals are at the Royal Dublin Society in two huge halls, with 800 some desks set-up in each hall. So this butterfly decided to land on desk number 494, which was my desk and stay there for about a whole minute, just as calm as can be. Now most of you probably already know what butterflies mean to me. They're my "God-symbol" and after being all worked up last night about the mistaken time on my final and the stresses of the rest of my finals and just wanting to be home, I took a moment to say some thank you's to God and to take a deep breath and I then knew its all good! It wasn't like Micheal or Gabriel coming down from Heaven, but close enough for me and especially now!!!!
Tomorrow afternoon is Farm Management, then Saturday Equine Industries, Monday Equine Health and Husbandry, then next Tuesday finally Intermediate Microeconomics!
So best of luck to everyone taking finals and I wish you the best with your cramming and brain puking! Don't forget that you're not alone while going through your exams or any of your trials in life - Yay God!
PS: Spellcheck on here always flags my name, but not the other spelling of Britannia. According to Mom, she wanted to spell it the same way, but Dad thought the double "t's" would be better as I would inevitably go by "Britt" and the double "t's" would be better suited. So thank you Dad for giving me a last name (surname) that always comes up in spell-check, I know you didn't have much choice in that matter, but when you did have a choice, you still stuck me with a weird name. Well, on the 'bright side', it just proves that I have a very 'colorful' name :)
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Day 2 started bright and early, as we booked a tour that included the nearby city of Stirling to see the Stirling Castle, a National Forest and Loch Lomend. Being the 'slow' season for tourism at the beginning of December- our 16 coach bus only had 7 people in it so the three of us got some great information just chatting with our guide Dereck, who was great! He was very animated telling his stories with plenty of sound effects. The only thing that made me nervous was that he kept pointing and looking at the map that was pinned up at the front of the bus trying to further illustrate and give us reference points during his stories and to show us where we were at and such. The roads in Scotland aren't much different than the roads in Ireland - narrow and curvy on the country roads and crazy busy on the major motarways. Even with Dereck's long arms and very capable driving abilities, I would have preferred that he kept both hands on the wheel, 10 and 2 preferably as well :)
First stop was Stirling Castle which was a lot like Edinburgh's Castle in that it was built on an old inactive volcano in the middle of the town. Stirling is known as the 'key' to Scotland as it was the major thorough fair between the highlands and the lowlands. It has a fair sized river flowing through the town and back in the day, Stirling was the only good crossing point and you had to do under the shadow of this intimidating castle. Even though it was freezing- literally around 32 degrees (Fahrenheit), we took the little guided tour of the castle and our guide was a very cute little Scotsman that was very enthused to tell us all about the castle. The most interesting thing I learned from the tour was that the chapel that was built by James the VI I believe for his son, James the VII to be baptised in was exactly 3 and a 1/3 smaller sized scale model of the temple that King Solomon built. This chapel was fairly impressive on its own, so it got my mind imagining how magnificent King Solomon's temple must have been to be three times bigger, especially when technology was even worse back then!
It was also in the Chapel that I had a 'deja vu' experience. No, I didn't see my horse from home (our Arabian is named Deja Vu), but one of the tapestries on the wall was the culprit to triggering this experience. My Mom is a nut about Scotland and all the history of the old time Kings and Queens, seriously she would have been a great tour guide and I could have saved a lot of money, not paying guides to tell me stuff she could have, but she's not here. So, our house if you have ever been to it has a um, 'unique' style of decor. Sometimes I feel like mom was decorating a palace when decorating/ designing our house with rich paisley patterns, a heavy metal fireplace, a huge stone wall in our family room, open wood beams in the family, dining room and kitchen, are you starting to get the picture? Well going down one of our hallways there are tapestries hanging as well. Not near the size of the ones that I saw in the chapel in Stirling, but one of them was the same image. A unicorn surrounded by small circle fence with a single tree. I was taken back at first and then just had to chuckle to myself as I realized how legitimately my mom was into this stuff.
After Stirling we were off through the forests and flirting with the highlands and lowlands divide along our route. There is a definite difference between the two and how people can live up there, especially without modern day heating systems, is beyond me. I mean the cows can survive because it looks like they literally have a shag carpet for their hair! The forests had an old-time, ancient feel to them. I was ready for the trees to get up and start moving as the woods also had a magical feel to them as well. At one point we were hiking around Loch Lomend and I just took a minute, looked up and around myself and once again, couldn't believe I was in Scotland! It was also along this ride that I found myself translating the questions and answers between a fellow tourist who was from South Korea and our guide. They were both speaking English, but just imagine a heavy Asian accent and a heavy Scottish accent, now you can see the need for translation. Dereck was trying to tell the guest that there were deer in the forests and my translation to the guest was 'Bambi.' He then nodded and smiled! Leave it to Walt Disney to be the ultimate translator!
It was after our lunch stop as I was going into the gift shop that Dereck told me part of the history of my family's name, Campbell. Campbell is my mom's maiden name and my middle name and will be the name of my daughter if I ever have one. As I was going into the gift shop, Dereck told me that it was the normal tartan stuff, etc., but then that's when I told him I wanted to pick up something that represented my clan and told him how my mom's maiden name was Campbell. He kind of chuckled and said I'll tell you some stories of the Campbells when we get back on the bus.
So there was this 'incident' where a good amount of the MacDonald Clan got wiped out and the majority of the guilty party were people from the Campbell Clan. See, the MacDonald's had not pledged allegiance to the new King in a timely manner and the government wanted to teach them a lesson and decided that they could blame it on clan warfare as the MacDonalds and the Campbells were not the best of friends. But Dereck informed me that it really was the government's fault as the Campbell's were just following orders and the order was found signed by the King and is now on display in a museum in Edinburgh. But Dereck then sang a little childhood ditty to me that Scottish children sing on the playground that wasn't the nicest about the Campbell clan :(. So yes, I still want to name my daughter Campbell someday, despite this little tale. They were a powerful clan back in the day, knew how to sway with the politics and obviously still produced some good offspring ;).
The rest of the tour was a little walk down by the loch and then, back to Edinburgh. We had about a 2 hour turn around until our show, "We Will Rock You," which was the time we had designated to try us some Haggis :) YUM! I'll save you the details of what haggis is on here and just trust you to google it, but I will tell you this, hot dogs are made in a similar process. But, I love hot dogs and the haggis turned out pretty good too! Then it was off to the show! It was great! Great music, good acting, awesome dancing and the actors weren't sore for the eyes either, even from our balcony seats!
Then it was back to the hostel as we had another jam packed day in Scotland. After our hot chocolate and tea it was off to bed! Phew, and we still had a whole other day to go in the city! The palace was the only thing for sure on our agenda so we decided to sleep in a little bit and go with the flow. But, our 'Royal Day,' as Mariel likes to put it, shall be saved for another time as I have yet successfully procrastinated some more from studying by writing this :)
Econ final tomorrow morning worth 100% of my grade! We'll see how this goes - say a little prayer please!
Oh and update on Grandma- she was moved to the Bennett Rehab Center in St. John's Hospital where she is going to receive the needed therapy to her vocal chords where apparently the tear is and if that works, then surgery will not be needed. In the mean time though, the feeding tube has to stay in until the surgery site is totally healed, as everything in that general area is very fragile. The general thought is that she had a minor stroke or something that caused damage to her vocal chords and that is what caused the 'pouch' to grow in her throat. So during the MRI's and such, early signs of Alzheimer's were found. But, the doctors and case workers still felt like it would be okay that she stay in her apartment at Southdale Towers as it is a retirement complex, so that gives her her independence for awhile longer now, but still means that we'll have to keep a closer eye on her. She's where she needs to be though in Bennett, but also means that she won't be going to my brother's wedding :(. That's disappointing, but traveling that far is something that the doctors vetoed. We'll have to take some extra pictures then for her.
- Picked up two copies of the Irish Field yesterday that had my article in it!
- 10 days til home!
Cheers from Dublin,
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
So this post is to serve as an overview of the trip! BRILLIANT! My mom said it was Heaven on Earth, and I agree with her, it was! Scotland has a unique landscape, different I feel from the rest of the United Kingdom, very proud people, a rich history and kilts. Need I say more? So these next few days, I'll break down the individual adventures as my friends Sarah Jay, Mariel and I packed in plenty of them within three days.
Our hostel was the High Street Hostel and was the perfect location! Set just a 20 meter walk off the Royal Mile and it only took us about 10 minutes to get up to the castle. The farthest walk we had to do, besides the walking tour itself, was down to the Edinburgh Playhouse were we saw the musical, "We Will Rock You," which was actually written by Queen and featured 24 Queen songs according to the flier! And that was only about a 20 minute walk max!
The trip consisted of both Edinburgh and Stirling Castle, Holyroodhouse Palace, The Royal Yacht Britannia (I was really excited about this!), Loch Lomend, small sample of the Highlands, tasting of haggis and the musical! Yea, we kept ourselves quite busy and out of trouble for a few days :)
But now, back in Dublin, with a slight cold and plenty to study I have to change gears. Update on grandma is that she came through her surgery on Monday fine, but failed her 'swallow test' the other day and a leak was discovered in her esophagus now going into her lungs. So that's not so good and requires the feeding tube to still be in place. Apparently she is slightly confused by the whole situation as most would be after undergoing the drugs, but then add to the fact that she's 91. Also, since she hasn't been able to swallow well, she hasn't been taking her blood pressure medicine and it has been on the rise with all of the added stress - go figure! My great aunt Mary Ruth, Grandma's youngest sister, has agreed to stay in town until Saturday, so at least Gma has some company and mom and dad have been visiting frequently trying to figure out where to go from here. So all in all, kind of scary, and means at least one more surgery. So continued prayers please.
And the count is down to 13 days until I'm home and 16 days until my bro gets hitched!
Cheers from Dublin and stay tuned for more about Scotland - I'll even throw in a few pics!