Days 38-43: I probably should have known John Muir was Scottish before now, but I somehow missed that memo

Friday February 17-Wednesday February 22

SCOTLAND WAS A MISTAKE.  I don’t mean coming here was a mistake, I mean that this entire country is a mistake and THEY PUT CREAM IN THEIR GUACAMOLE TO ENTRAP INNOCENT CALIFORNIANS* SUCH AS MYSELF.

Okay, listen, I’m mostly joking but I genuinely am pretty angry.   Not only is that not how you make guacamole, it just tastes gross.

So yeah, that was my Friday.  On Saturday, I made myself a belated birthday cake–I couldn’t get ahold of some of the baking supplies I needed, plus I didn’t want to buy them when I’ll only be here for about five months, so I had to improvise.  I’ve always thought there should be a college-themed episode of Cutthroat Kitchen where one of the sabotages is that the only containers one person is allowed are an assortment of mismatched mugs.  (I didn’t have to limit myself to mugs, though–I used Tupperware.)



[Image description: one photo of a two-layered chocolate cake on a plate. It is frosted with vanilla frosting, both between the layers and on the outside. There’s also chocolate drizzle stuff on top.]

On Sunday I did some laundry, but that was about it.  The next week, starting February 20th, was Flexible Learning Week.  This basically just means that it’s a weeklong break where I think you’re supposed to work on your midterm-type work, if it wasn’t already due.  It also meant that I didn’t have to worry about having any homework done for Monday.

I got some non-academic writing done on Monday, which was a pleasant surprise.  Then I decided that Tuesday was a day to run errands so that I could spend the rest of the break doing all the tourist-y stuff I’d heard about.  (A lot of people go to other countries during this week, but I’ve barely explored the one I’m in!)  I was out of bus fare (again) so I tried to walk to Princes Street, along a slightly shorter route than usual.  Bad idea.  I got so turned around (Google Maps kept cutting out and forgetting where I was) that I just gave up and went home.  I had too many other things planned to waste my energy wandering around.  On the plus side, that route took me through some really cool areas I hadn’t seen before, and I passed lots of little shops I want to explore when I have more time.  (I was on Victoria Street, which is where that photo that’s currently on the GEO page for Edinburgh is from.)  I almost decided to ditch my errands and read, but then I looked at my professor’s office hours and realized that Tuesday was the only day he would be in for the entire week, and I needed to ask him a few things.

I went over to the uni (one thing I hate about going between Portsburgh Court and the uni is that at some points of the day I have to walk through crowds of schoolkids–one didn’t see me coming this time and ran into me head on even though I tried to get out of the way) and wandered over to his office.  No one was there ahead of me, so I went right in and (mostly) clarified a few things from class.  Then we talked for a while about whether or not presupposition exists (I’m withholding judgement for now) and whether or not Semantics and Pragmatics are separate fields.  Basically, nerdy Linguistics stuff.  (I know a lot of Linguistics students end up coming here, though, so there’s a decent chance a good chunk of my hypothetical future readers will know what I just said.)  He also asked me how I was doing with the fact that the classroom is up a flight of stairs, so I described Cole to him and told him I’d had three classes on the third floor.  (If some future student is reading this from a time where they’ve finally fixed the elevator or torn the whole building down or something, know that the Cole Science Center elevator used to be horribly slow and it was often out of order, which meant that you mostly ended up taking the stairs.)  Getting to his class isn’t fun, but it’s not as bad as that was.

Then it was time for more errands!  I didn’t want to go, but I reminded myself that getting errands done on a gross, windy day meant that I could do fun tourist-y stuff on a day predicted to have nicer weather.  I had to get a mishmash of things and you know what was impossible to find?  Vitamin D capsules.  I had to get kids’ gummies, not that I’m complaining, since they taste good.  There were plenty of other grownup supplements by themselves, but no Vitamin D.  It only came in multivitamins.  You’d think they’d have it, seeing how overcast this country tends to be.  And I went to two different pharmacies!  Oh well, now I get to eat something that tastes like orange candy every day.  But seriously, Vitamin D was not something I’d thought to stock up on before I left the U.S.

I almost decided to stay in on Wednesday, because I slept badly and I was starting to feel like I was getting a cold.  But it was the only day in the whole week that didn’t have rain in the forecast, and I didn’t want to walk around the Botanical Garden in the rain.  So I went!  Yep, you read that right, I finally said “I want to go to the Botanical Garden today” and then did it.  Truly a miracle.  I got there a lot later in the day than I’d planned, but still a while before closing, so that was alright.  They seem to change when they close a lot, because I thought it was at 4 pm but during the month of February it’s 5pm.  (It was an awful lot of work to get to the Garden, though, because I got lost walking to Princes Street again and then there was construction blocking the bus stop so I had to hike over to the next one down.)

The Royal Botanical Garden is huge.  I’m terrible at estimating scale from maps, so I didn’t realize just how big the place is!  I walked around for about an hour and forty-five minutes, and there’s still a ton of stuff I didn’t get to see.  And I was on my feet almost the whole time, too–I’m really sore.  It was amazing, though, and they’ve made really great use of the space!  There are so many different things jam-packed in there.  I kept saying “Okay, I need to sit down.  I’m gonna sit on the next bench I see.  Or maybe a rock if I can’t find a bench.”  But then oh look!  Redwoods!  A Chinese hillside with interesting linguistic facts on one of the signs!  Andy Goldsworthy!  (A statue by him, not the artist himself.)  A gift shop!  Edible plants!  And so on and so forth.  I probably only spent five minutes sitting down the whole time.  I didn’t go in the greenhouses, since they cost money and I didn’t want to spend any, and I think I kind of walked around the edges of the Garden without touching the middle.  I definitely plan to go back and see more.  It looks like they have mobility scooters that you can borrow or rent or something, so maybe I’ll try one of those out.  If so, I’ll make sure to show up at 10 am on a weekday so that hopefully there aren’t too many people around, since I have no idea how to drive one of those things.

At one point I turned a corner, caught a glimpse of a plant, and exclaimed, “You look like an onion!” very loudly, then turned around to make sure that there weren’t any humans in the vicinity who might have thought I was talking to them.  It was, for the record, an onion–I took a photo of it.

My camera ran out of battery and card space at almost the exact same time, so I didn’t get too many pictures.  The names of these files are hilarious, because most of them are long strings of Latin (because I got a photo with the placard that had the scientific name) but then a few of them are called things like “some white stuff.png”.

[Image description: a bunch of pictures of plants.  Some ferns, something that looks like a seedpod on a really tall stick, a sign about John Muir, a few variations on small purple flowers, a few variations on small white flowers, some succulents, a waterfall, a few variations on weird spiky things, something that’s supposed to look like the Rocky Mountains, an onion friend, and crocuses.]

*I live in CT now but I grew up in CA.


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