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Archive for July, 2015

Farewell, Freyr

It is with very heavy hearts that Chad and I say goodbye to our little boy-cat, Freyr.

In the summer of 2000, we were looking for a kitten that could handle two ferrets (Fidget & Hotspur) while keeping Ghost company. As luck would have it, my friend Steph just happened to have a bunch of kittens. We wanted to see how the kittens would react to the ferrets, so we let Fidget & Hotspur pick out the newest member of the family.  I’ll never forget how the kittens spilled out everywhere when Steph opened the carrier. The ferrets went crazy chasing the little furballs and the kittens went bananas trying to get away. Except the red tabby kitten with hints of platinum, who would shortly be named Freyr. He wasn’t exactly brave, but he wasn’t freaking out and trying to get away. He was the one.

Upon being presented with her little brother, Ghost exhibited the typical disdain she kept for any new cat we would bring home in the ensuing years. The ferrets though, they loved the new toy in their life. Poor Freyr. Poor handsome, soft, red tabby Freyr. He was dragged under the sofa and stashed so many times. Our little boy just cried and squealed and, fortunately for him, soon became too big to be stashed. He was exactly what we needed.

One Spring Freyr became “Momma” Freyr to a litter of feral kittens that were born under our pine tree. Ghost wanted nothing to do with the little heathens. But Freyr, oh he heard their cries and came barreling down to see what the Hell we were doing to those babies. They were not sure of us humans, but they took to Freyr immediately as he set about bathing them and taking care of them. They were his. One of those kittens would stay with us, Freyr’s baby Seti. And woe be it to anyone who upset her. He took care of his baby Seti until we lost her.

At the time Freyr came to us, we lived in a small house. It had three rooms on the first floor. We would be in the living room and out of nowhere, Freyr would start crying, as if to say, “Where are you guys?”  We’d call for him and eventually he’d find us and stop crying. We started saying Freyr was lost any time he cried like that. He got lost a lot. We never said he was brilliant, but he was soft and loving and that was enough for us. Among Freyr’s other hobbies, besides getting lost in a tiny house, included demanding to go out in the back yard so he could eat plants, sitting high up on whatever was available, and walking on a leash. Unlike every other pet we have ever had, we could put the ridiculous hot pink harness (bought for Ghost) on him and he would walk around on a leash better than most dogs I know. We could walk him around the block and he’d go, tail held straight up, swaggering like a tiger. He gave no cares whatsoever.

Freyr, for some unknown reason hated dogs. And he was willing to try to rid the world of their presence, one at a time. One of the best Freyr stories, the one that I always think of, is this. We were babysitting Mom’s rottweiler Major. Now Major lived with cats and ferrets and was just a happy (big) dog. I had just come home and was bringing Major inside with me. I walked into the dining room. She was on my left. I looked into the living room – the french doors were open and I could see Chad on the sofa also to my left – and suddenly this: Chad shouting loudly, Freyr flying through the air towards me and Major; legs extended, claws flexed, tail puffed up and straight and screaming like a banshee! I grabbed Major and sorta hipchecked her into the kitchen and shut the door. Freyr landed, all puffed up and making some seriously insane noises. His fur was shedding and floating all over. I started yelling at Chad for throwing Freyr. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. He hadn’t thrown Freyr. When Freyr saw Major in HIS house, he used Chad’s thigh (now bleeding from claw wounds) as a launching pad for his flying attack on the dog. Yep. Nine pound Freyr was going after 100+ pounds of (clueless) dog.  Major was just the first in a long line of canines Freyr went after during his 15 years. He tortured Harper, Deanna’s happy go lucky dog, quietly threatening poor Harper who was in a crate. It wasn’t until Harper’s howling got someone out of bed that Freyr was found out. And as soon as my friend Kim’s little miniature schnauzer Lexie walked into our house, Freyr was ready to turn her into pup nuggets. Freyr may have been 9 pounds, but he saw himself as a big red tiger. One of his last acts was to threaten a little white fluffy dog with grievous bodily harm. That was our boy.

So we bid our little boy cat a fond farewell. Fifteeen years is a long time, but it wasn’t really long enough. We thought he’d be around a lot longer. You were the good boy, Freyr. We’ll miss you.


chris on July 9th 2015 in Animals, Family


Scotland continues its heat wave and much to our dismay, it is muggy. I would have killed for a fan in our room. Killed for oneAnyway, today we headed out to our favorite of the Border Abbeys – Kelso. It had the beginnings of a stunning day and we seemed to be on the early cusp of tourists, which was perfect! This time around our admission included little audio tour devices. So while the Abbey itself hadn’t changed much in the last 11 years, we learned an awful lot more. It was, in short, splendid.

We took some of the same photos as our last trip. Or at least we think we did while we were up in the tower near the bagpipe pig.

And of course, I took so many more photos of the amazing window tracery that we used for Chad’s brewery logo. I was thrilled to see that at least one was still complete. The photos can’t do it justice, of course, but that didn’t stop me from snapping away!

We decided to do one more Border Abbey before heading back to Edinburgh to drop off the car and meet up with Sam & Gwen. Off to Jedburgh Abbey we headed.

The area seemed to have grown up quite a bit. I certainly don’t recall the visitors’ center / ticketing place being so elaborate. Once again we used the audio tour device. It really helped get a grasp on the buildings that surrounded the Abbey.

I’m also 100% certain that the burial room for a certain family (the name escapes me) was not open 11 years ago. There is no way I would have forgotten such a magnificent Victorian tomb and effigy. Not possible.

Luck smiled down on us, as we had Jedburgh nearly all to ourselves. So much so that when we took the steps to the top of the west work and looked down into the main aisle of the church, I was able to get a photo with the Abbey empty.

We finished our tour and figured we’d have lunch here and enjoy a last little bit of quiet before heading to the delightful chaos that is Edinburgh. As we stepped out of the Abbey, a herd of tourists were descending on the ticket gate. Perfect timing for us!

Back in Edinburgh we met up with our friends Sam & Gwen at The Jolly Judge for a pint before heading down to Holyrood 9A for a delicious dinner. I was excited to share our favorite pub in Edinburgh with friends and even more excited to be able to meet up with them before we headed out.

We parted ways after scrumptious dinner. Chad and I took the tram back to our hotel, which sounds easier than we made it. What we failed to process at first was that the tram stops were in the middle of the street. Once we figured that out, things went swimmingly.Tomorrow is going to be an early day. We need to leave the hotel by 6:30 am to head to the airport.

Check out our amazing photos in the gallery. As always, click on the tiny photos to embiggen. The Border Abbeys are stunning. It’s difficult to capture them in photos, but we tried.

chris on July 2nd 2015 in Travel


Dear Stomach: I appreciate that you tire of all the delicious fish & chips that I am eating. I do not care. Stop attempting to make me regret my food choices. Vacation will soon end and I’ll eat all the damn vegetables you want me to eat. Just stop waking me up in the middle of night by pretending to be on fire. I had toast for breakfast. A lot of toast. Just toast. Much to the confusion of our server. (Americans are weird, the lady just ordered toast.)


We didn’t have much of a plan today. We figured we’d head to Glasgow and then towards Peebles to check it out, maybe do some hiking.  I wanted to go to Glasgow to see the wall at Tennent’s Brewery. My great-grandmother was a Tennant (yep, spelling changed once across the water) and I wanted to get a few pics.

We stopped to try to get a cache at the Lady Well which is an artesian spring that probably dates back to Roman times or earlier. It’s right behind Tennent’s. It’s also right in the wall of the Glasgow Necropolis, only street level. So yeah. That’s something to think about. It is now sealed, at any rate. And there was an ambulance idling right by the well, so I didn’t find the cache. Boo.

The second reason I wanted to stop in Glasgow was to visit the Necropolis. It is absolutely amazing. I could wander through it for ever and every and never tire of it.

I love old cemeteries and honestly, the monuments here do not disappoint.

After that whirlwind tour we headed on our way to Peebles. It is an adorable town. I know, I keep saying that, but it’s hard to beat old towns.

We had a bite to eat and found an earthcache – it was the town’s boundary stone, a white granite erratic, sitting by the side of the road. When visitors left town they drank from the stirrup cup. I have no idea what that is, but that’s what the sign said.

Chad really wanted to visit Traquair House and it was only open until 5:00, so we abandoned plans for a hike, took a quick look at the ruins of Cross Kirk and then headed out.

Ditching the hiking and going to Traquair House was a brilliant decision! First we took a little walk through a yew forest. The trees were enormous and bent to the oddest shapes. It was delightful, until the midges found us.

The house itself was crazy amazing. It hadn’t really been modernized during the Victorian era due to lack of funds. It was a perfect visual of why the aristocracy was always so broke. Since the house was closely tied with the Jacobite cause there were some pretty amazing artifacts on display. And the libraries. Oh my god the libraries. As Chad said, the house was so full of bits and pieces and things that you’d really need to have some kind of frequent guest pass to be able to really take it all in.

Our ending spot for the day was a small place called Inverlethen where we had lodging at a B&B in a Victorian home originally built by a doctor. Our room was called Moorfoot, which we found very appropriate considering all the walking we’ve undertaken and the number of times we’ve gotten “bogged”, as Chad calls it.

Around about 9:00 we were both in danger of falling asleep, so Chad suggested we go out for a drink. On the way into town, I saw a sign for St. Ronan’s Well. It was only a half mile away, so we figured we’d take a look. We didn’t get to see the well – I’m guessing it was in the visitor center – but we did see an information sign that had a trail map supposedly leading to the ruins of an Iron Age fort. So we decided to head up, up, up and see what we could find. What we found was a great view of Inverlethen and Traquair House.


Check out yet more the photos below. Clicky on the tiny photos to bring up full sized images.

chris on July 1st 2015 in Geocaching, Travel