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Seaside holiday

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Eric and I had the wonderful opportunity to house-sit in Bexhill-on-Sea the first week in September.  The house was absolutely beautiful overlooking the ocean in the south of England.  We made it there by train and had the week to read (for me:The Red Tent, a brilliant book by Anita Diamant and Love’s Work by Gillian Rose), watch TV (which is a treat for us!!) and do some touring in the ‘1066 Country‘.  It was the first time we’ve gone away-just the two of us-since we moved to the UK…something we used to do quite often back in San Diego so we were really looking forward to this.

Bexhill is a nice little seaside town with a ton of charity shops, which always get me in to trouble.   It was so good to be near the ocean again and I was surprised by how different it is from the Pacific.  First of all, I noticed the air didn’t smell salty and sea-weedy like it does at home and second of all,  it is WINDY.  The beaches are really pretty with all of the pebbles and beach huts lining the shore…when the tide is out you can walk out onto the sand and search for seashells.   There was one day of wind and rain but otherwise we had gorgeous weather the remainder of our week.

We hopped on the train to ancient Rye one afternoon and enjoyed the quaint “Englishness”… another afternoon we went to Hastings and had a curry and walked along the promenade.  It was a lovely time…a dreamy once in a lifetime sort of thing…

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No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

english-road-sign

Brian Becker just sent this article to me.  I must say, my coworkers and I had a really good laugh reading it!  (I stole the picture above from the article)

Speaking of work – it is my last day at the University of Nottingham!  It has been a good day with everyone… they’ll hold a special place breaking me into the UK workforce.  Funny bunch they are.

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Obama’s Harmony of Intellect and Intuition

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

prayer breakfast

Bono’s open letter to the 44th President:

Mr. President, Barack,

Every room I have ever been in with you was a much easier room for your presence.

It’s rare to meet a person like you, where intellect and intuition make such a perfect rhyme.

Your intuition tells you that the well-being of the American people, spiritually as well as physically, is connected with America’s role in the world.  I know you know that the prosperity of your fellow Americans, though hard fought, is less fulfilling knowing there is so much more that can be done to alleviate poverty and suffering in the developing world.  You know that less than 1 percent of government income as a contribution from the world’s richest economy to the world’s poorest is not a fair tithe — even in times like these — which is why you have promised to double foreign assistance.  As with our own personal sojourn, so it is with country and community -– we discover who we are in service to others.

I know your intellect — fashioned in the halls of Harvard and on the floor of the United States Senate — has weighed up the evidence on how effective American tax dollars are, when converted into smart, targeted, focused aid.  Putting children into school where they can think freely of freedom.  Giving farmers on the parched land seed varieties that double the size of their crop yields.  Giving mothers 20 cent immunizations to protect their newborns from the deadly viruses that they pass on through childbirth.  I know your intellect has taken in the data and seen the analysis on the transformative power of effective aid in places where the United States flag is currently not one smiled at.  I know you know how much cheaper it is to make friends of potential enemies than to defend yourself at a later date.  I know you know all this stuff.

My prayer for you is that your instinct and intellect stay in harmony in the difficult months and triumphant years ahead.

Bono is lead singer of U2 and co-founder of The ONE Campaign

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16 random things, facts, habits, or goals about me.

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

1. I wish that I loved (or valued?) reading so much that I would do it every chance I got… rather than allow life, involvements and what-have-you take priority pretty much every time.

2. When my fingers are dry and I am folding towels, I’ll often lick my fingers before I touch them because the feel of dry cotton towels gives me the same sensation as fingernails on a chalkboard. (I’m not the only one! Shalina…)

3. I would love love love to make peace with my complexity but in the end – when it really comes down to it – I clearly never seem to.

4. I would like to get a Masters degree but in which field, I am not so sure. Peace Studies has always been an interest, especially since my trip to Rwanda in 1999. However, it’s looking like Social Work makes the most sense. If we ever make it back to San Diego, I would really enjoy the Non-Profit Management degree at USD. The most fulfilling moments in my career (next to working directly with clients) have been learning the program well enough to identify trends which lead to the development (and implementation!!) of new strategies to reach benchmarks and more importantly, clients. Although it can be maddening, I sorta like the tension between playing the funding “game” while remaining mindful of the clients and their real needs.

5. One of my horrible inconsistencies is that I despise objectification of women and violence (a lot.) yet really like listening to rap and hip hop. Whaa?? I mean, I don’t really own any of it beyond a couple of mix CD’s…when I had a car though; I’d listen to NPR in the morning and the hip hop stations from then on. And when we’d all go dancing?? Love it. Looooooove it.

6. I like directness. Just tell me like it is and I’ll do the same. It may not be enjoyable to hear (especially if it is a criticism) but in the end, we’ll both learn more without wasted energy.

7. I want to travel more and am in the best place to do it.

8. I’m sortof messy in the kitchen. When I cook, I dirty every pan, leave everything sitting out – the works. I like to enjoy my meal before rushing off to clean up! So sue me! The bad part (which gets Eric annoyed sometimes) is when I forget about stuff I’ve left out for a long time, even overnight. What a waste.

9. I secretly like the tiny fridges here that look like they belong in a dorm room closet. It makes sense considering most food I’ve purchased here in the UK is made with fewer preservatives…so, you buy just enough of it to ensure you can eat it all before it spoils. Another reason is because you can actually see what’s in there! …we’ve been much better at eating leftovers since we arrived.

10. The one person who has truly felt like my sister other than my real sister is Liliane.

11. I love browsing through decorating magazines. My dream would be to own my own quaint bed and breakfast somewhere decorated with antique furniture and serve breakfast from an eclectic array of china. And, to show the kind of hospitality that makes people feel totally comfortable, like it is their home as well.

12. I like to sing. Harmonizing is my favorite…the challenge of blending so well you can hardly be heard except for the solid compliment it gives the person singing melody. I started singing with my parents when we would pass through hundreds of churches as missionaries raising support. I sang specials at church with my girlfriends. Sang in choir and ALS in high school. Worship team….even competed at district and regional levels with the Nazbos. This all sounds great and all but I don’t read music or anything, just by ear (although Eric has offered to teach me!). I had been a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir in San Diego before I left and I’m on the hunt for a gospel choir here in Nottingham. I suppose that is one of my goals!

13. I sortof like eccentric people. The way they are so unapologetically themselves and seem unmoved by people’s judgment…even better, maybe they are even unaware of it? YES, they are weird but they are so special…

14. I cannot wait for LOST to start up again!!!! I’m really hoping we can download or stream it somehow from here. I would die if I knew everyone else could watch it and we couldn’t!!

15. I wish I had thick hair rather than fine and thin – especially when I’m bored with it (like now). That way I could do something interesting and fun with it rather than something half-hearted, hate it, and just grow it out again.

16. I’m pretty sure the Focolare have it right.

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A British tradition

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

 

Last Thursday, Eric and I had our first mince pies!  Yep, its true…neither of us have ever had one.  These little pastries are a British tradition during the holidays.   I am told that if you eat your very first mince pie of each season without talking, you will have good luck  in the coming year.  Sadly, I couldn’t hold myself to it as I was surrounded by my coworkers at a holiday lunch.   The one pictured is an extra I brought home to share with Eric :)

On Thursday I also completed paperwork to become a Relief Worker with Framework – an organisation I’ve heard many good things about.  They are a housing organisation working with homeless or vulnerable people for one reason or another.  Afterword, I met with a woman from one of their services who explained a bit more about the ethos of Framework, one which I truly admire and am sooo excited about.  This meeting only confirmed the excellent things I’ve heard about them from acquaintances and also what I observed when I met with the managers at another location a few weeks ago.

My temporary post at the Uni has been a blessing and a curse.  The longer I’m here, the more I feel it is the latter and I must admit, it has sortof given me a…well yes…negative experience of this little island’s inhabitants and way of life.  I know there is more out there, its just hard to see when I’m stuck not being able to connect with the community because I’m here.  So, I am REALLY looking forward to this Relief Worker position (she’s hoping this first assignment will be a full time post temporarily) and am assured it will most likely lead to a full time permanent position with them in the near future!

Lastly, look at our Christmas tree!!  Do you love it???!  It is potted and I’m hoping it survives for next year as well.  With my mom arriving on Christmas day, Eric and I have been wrapping up our presents to put under the tree and realised this is the first year we’ve actually done that together…typically we are traveling up to Concord and Merced right about now so that’s kinda fun even though we will miss seeing all of the family!

Happy Christmas everyone!

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An anthropological introduction to YouTube

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Eric and I recently watched a 55 minute documentary on youtube by a professor at Kansas State University, Prof Michael Wesch, who teaches Digital Ethnography.  It is a video presentation he did at the Library of Congress this year.  Definitely well worth the hour!  We both found it really interesting.  I don’t care so much for the hype around youtube being almost a magical or spiritual experience but the whole idea of Cultural Inversion: individualism and community (etc) was really fascinating…that tension is so undeniable.  In our society we seem to hold tightly to our individualism, are fearful of commitment, accountability, responsibility, reliance upon someone or something…anyone or anything that will require something of us.  No wonder so many people are suffering from loneliness and isolation.  We sure do look for community or something “real” in strange places…and on our own terms.  I have to wonder with many others, however, is it true community when you’re able to log out whenever you like?

How terribly convenient.

So next time you have an hour set aside, I think this is worth your while.  It’s super fun and funny (!), interesting, well done, and relevant.

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Connection

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Wow! Sorry to those who have been asking for updates and pictures! I’ve decided to write this at home and copy and paste it when I get to a coffee shop… (clever, eh?)

Weird-o connectivity stuff. First, it was difficult to stay connected because Eric and I only had the laptop between us (the desktop computer had not yet arrived) and then, luck would have it that the morning Eric left for Rome, I have not been able to connect from the desktop computer (we actually don’t have the Internet set up yet for ourselves…just been *nicking* it from the neighbour –  ha – and the signal is now too weak for whatever reason). Next on our agenda will be to make sure we get a bank account and then sign up for broadband, which is no simple task. Funny thing is that to get TV here, you pretty much just purchase a TV, a license to use it (yah, different, eh?), plug it in to the wall and wha-lah! You have ‘cable’ TV with lots-o-stations! Broadband/Internet? …expect multiple procedures, hassles and waiting… 2 weeks to a month.

SO, my intentions of updating frequently – maybe especially in the early days of our transition – are shot. Not entirely, I suppose, but it seems so difficult to catch everyone up to speed as each day is filled with new experiences! I will make an attempt nonetheless.

Last week was probably the most difficult for me so far. As I continued to settle in to our new home while Eric was busy with conference preparations, there was less and less for me to do. As I became increasingly restless, Eric was becoming busier and stressed as the conference approached. Needless to say, there were some moments of frustration as we stood at opposite poles :) The good news is that our house is really cute, I surprisingly found moments where I good amount done on my resume, the materials Eric designed turned out great (despite some printing hang-ups), AND he got his paper finished with plenty of time to spend with our first guests, the Moores, arriving during the wee hours of Saturday morning!

“Guests already?!”, you say?

Uhm, yes.

(You know you wanna come too.) haha!

Our “guests”: John and Vicki Moore pastored my home church, the Concord Church of the Nazarene for many years where I met their daughter Alyssa. She and I became very good friends over the years and were roommates in college. Last I saw John and Vicki would have been at me and Eric’s wedding in May of 2006… So when I received an email from Vicki early last week asking if we were serious about having visitors and whether or not they could come as early as next weekend, I was so excited. They have been living in Budapest, Hungary for 3 years or so overseeing a large Nazarene Missions district covering many countries. They travel A LOT and would be in Manchester for a week and wanted to come a bit early… “we want to see you in your new surroundings!”, they said. And that they did. We all slept in until noon on Saturday morning, had a nice breakfast, hung out in pajamas all day catching up on life and listening to their stories and retelling of history as they’ve traveled around the world. We walked through the Arboretum only a block away from our home, wandered around the City Centre, had dinner at a really good Indian restaurant (oh my, the amount and quality of the Indian restaurants here do not disappoint). It was a really good time. Kinda weird/cool to be with people who know you and your family so well but be in such a new context…

Eric left for Rome super early Sunday morning so the Moores and I again slept in, explored the Arboretum, walked down to the Nottingham castle and back through the City Centre while picking up some Afro-Caribbean food for lunch along the way. All the while, it was raining, of course :)

So that week was over…and a long and full one it was! This week has felt much different – it has flown by. My friend Meghan and I had decided that since we are the newbie’s in town and our husbands would be gone for 5 days, we needed to stay busy. And we have! We’ve gone out to lunch, hung out at tea houses and coffee shops checking email, ventured out to find the post office in the pouring rain with wimpy umbrellas, invited Hayley and Hannah over for dessert and drinks one night at Meghan‘s, had tee at my house with Melissa and her baby Basil yesterday…all while our husbands (all of them) are in Rome. Meghan and I laughed and commented, “wow, we’ve had way more interesting lives since our husbands have been gone!” Its been fun getting to know these women – all very cool/fun/interesting in their own unique ways – all (but one) in helping professions, which is interesting… I will admit though, the more I hang out with my new acquaintances/friends, the more I miss my old friends back in California.

Today, I am going to take care of some business; I’m going to sign up for health care! Yep, people sign up for health care. I hear it takes about 15 minutes. I‘m really grateful for it and hope it all goes well.

I’m also thinking about taking the bus down to London (depending on the price). I just got an email from Kristina (she was in our wedding…one of my roommates from college) and she is helping her brother pack up and move back to the States but will be leaving again on Saturday morning! Very short trip but I would really love to see her – she wasn‘t able to make it up for our “shindig” in Santa Rosa over the summer… Makes me a little nervous finding my way in London by myself. We shall see.

I will be sure to add a few photos to this as soon as I can.

I hope you all are well…

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Katie’s first day of school!

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Sorry! I have had limited computer access this week due to Eric’s preparations for the Rome conference…he’s finished with the programme, name tags etc and now he is working on the paper he is presenting.

I have just a few pictures, thoughts and updates I want to post but I will wait for Eric’s departure (he will be gone for 5 days!).

In the meantime! Shalina posted about Katie’s first day of school (my neice) on Tuesday!  I guess Katie has been talking about starting Kindergarten for weeks now and has been so excited.  She is getting so big, oh my goodness. I am so proud of her – take a look!

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Photo update

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Well, this morning was the first day we haven’t been rustled out of bed at about 8:15am by the Royal Mail postman ringing our flat.  Its been nice receiving our parcels not just because it gets us out of bed at a decent hour but it’s nice seeing our familiar belongings… we happily unload them, putting some things in their place but most of it ends up strewn about on the couches simply because we have very little surfaces to put things on!  We went over to Jeff and Meghan’s house last night (mentioned in my previous post) for dinner and thankfully, they loaned us their tool kit so we can begin hanging some of the pictures we have.  Slowly but surely…

Jeff and Meghan also offered to accompany us on the bus ride to Ikea sometime today.  We really need to go ahead and purchase some of the bigger items – a desk and computer chair, a couple of rugs (we have wood floors), bookshelves, some storage thing-o’s, etc.  Apparently you can pay Ikea a £30 flat fee to have ALL your stuff delivered to your door!  Makes it nice when you don’t have transportation.

Not having a car is an interesting thing.  I don’t mind it as much as I thought I would simply because the tram (I haven’t had the need for the bus yet) has been very simple to figure out.  We really are close to most everything…just hop on the tram, go a couple/few stops in one direction or the other, walk a block or two, and presto – you’re there!  However, its been pretty inconvenient having to make multiple trips to the same store just to get the items you need at home.  Granted, we’re furnishing an entire apartment and that’s no easy task no matter how you look at it.  However, I keep thinking, “man, if I could just drive my car over, load it up with all of our purchases it would be so much more efficient!”  I’m learning they’re not as much in to efficiency here.  I think that’s very much an American concept; something we value much too highly.  I imagine it will definitely be an adjustment, especially once I find employment and begin learning the British system.

Random fact: Yesterday was the first day I had looked in the mirror since……well….the plane, I suppose!  No joke.  We don’t have one in our apt!  I thought I had packed a small cosmetic one…no such luck.  Kinda cool though, I highly recommend it!

Alright, enough of all that.  My main goal before heading out today was to post the galleries of pictures Eric was able to upload! (Oh, he’s been really busy, BTW.  Lots of loose ends to tie up at home while also doing a lot of work for the Rome conference in a week or so).

Enjoy! (And don’t forget, to see more photos click on the links)

Gallery I: T&E’s Going Away Party (lots of great people in this one! Thanks for our party and handmade decorations by Jenny!)

Gallery II: Arriving in Nottingham (These are the “before” pictures of our flat – we’ll be sure to post the “after” pics!  And, Eric’s first trip to the University of Nottingham via tram and bus – beautiful campus)

Gallery III: Nottingham Scenery (Includes photos of our flat (the one on the second floor), the surrounding area and the University — taken by Eric :)

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We’ve landed!

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

After 12 hours of flying and 2 hours of train rides, we made it to Nottingham safely!  Flights were great – no hassles – slept a good amount.  We really had a great first day in the UK.  Here is the play-by-play (sorry it took me so long!):

We decided to fly into Manchester since it is much closer but the downside was that we did not get the added benefit of transport provided by the University when one flies into London.  Granted, the trains were easy enough to figure out and were at a fair price but OH MY, our luggage proved to be a burden!  We had two large suitcases, two medium size, two carry-on roller bags, AND backpacks!  Initially, we were stoked because there were carts from station to station.  But then there weren’t.  And we wanted to say swears but didn’t.

We took a taxi from the train station in Nottingham straight to the letting agency to sign the lease and pick up keys.   When we arrived, we decided to leave our stuff in the taxi; a decision I was not so fond of but didn’t have much choice.  We sat down and began looking over documents.  Oddly (or not?), the letting agents assumed we would sign the lease without even viewing the flat.  When I brought this to their attention, they didn’t really blink an eye.  I felt annoyed.  Here I was in a strange dungeon of an office with my luggage sitting out front with a stranger in a new country and I was being asked to sign a lease for an apartment that I hadn’t even seen??!!  We decided to just go for it; sign the 6 month lease and get to our apartment.  Thankfully, the taxi driver was kind enough to wait without driving off with our luggage.   We were off to 85 Forest Road West!

No sooner than stepping out of the taxi, Anthony (Eric’s friend who attends the University and lives only two doors down with his wife Hayley) was right there asking if we needed help with our luggage!  We hauled it up and got the “tour” from one of the letting agents (apparently thanks to me for putting up a fuss).  To all of our surprise there was NO furniture to be seen (yes, we were told it was furnished)!  Then while giving us directions on how to use the hot water and such, found out the water was not working properly.  The agent assured us the plumber was on the way and that the furniture would be delivered shortly.  Anthony kindly accompanied us through this whole process and at times even made calls to ensure everything was being addressed as promised (something we need to get used to, apparently).

The apartment is nice – and big!  It has lots of big windows letting the sunlight in…the front bay window looks out over a huge tree :)  The apartment has vaulted ceilings and in the living room there is ornate molding across the top of the ceiling!!  I will admit it smells funny though.  Anthony says they all do because of the dampness.

While we waited, Anthony kindly invited us to his place and offered to make lunch.  Yummy pasta.  It was nice hanging out there for a bit, sitting around on their couches after hauling bags around for two hours.  They have a very scary cat though and she gets scarier when you are scared of her.  Yikes!

Mike (another of Eric’s friends from the Theology dept at UofN) was at Anthony’s staying with them for a bit since he was boarding a train to Scotland the next morning (today) to begin his new PhD program in Scotland!  He was excited to finally meet Eric and had a huge bag of kitchen stuff to get us started!  We had a great time chatting with them, waiting around for our beds until I noticed a large truck out the front window!  It was our beds and couches!!  Mission accomplished.  We set off to put them together.

Later in the afternoon Anthony offered to show us the tram route that took us to Asda where we could pick up cleaning supplies and some of the basics (note: Asda is owned by Wal Mart but Anthony assured us they have better practices here?..).  The stores are crazy!  People just kinda navigate their own way around the store with no semblance of order and it feels really chaotic.  There weren’t even that many people in the store!  We grabbed what we needed and were outta there :)

We then showered for the first time in a LONG time (yes, the water was now working) and got ready before walking down to a favourite local pub that Mike and Anthony raved about.  Jeff (yes, another of Eric’s friends….thank goodness for blog networks, eh?!) and his wife Meghan were meeting us all there for some drinks and dinner.  I wasn’t looking forward to it simply because I was so tired – and Eric was too.  This would be a good way to keep us awake though, so we can begin to acclimate to the time change.  I’m glad we went because it was real fun!  The guys were great and funny and I enjoyed meeting Meghan!  Her and I got to talk a bit about job hunting (she’s also looking for social work type jobs) and possible hang-out time while our husbands attend the Rome conference for five days the beginning of September.  Jeff and Meghan just got married this summer – he just finished his first year of PhD work here at UofN and she moved here to be with him for the remainder (they are both from the states as well).  Before we all left, Jeff and Meghan invited us over for dinner at their place this week and Meghan is going to show me to the Ikea and other shopping for STUFF!

All in all, it was a wonderful day!  Knowing people here has made a huge difference, I think.  It feels so much more manageable to have people point you in the right direction and even accompany you on your first ventures out. Huge thanks to Anthony for that.

Today has been much less exciting (for me anyway).  I slept in while Eric got up and walked the 3 miles to campus to meet with a guy about the conference materials that need to be printed (don’t worry, in the future he’ll take the bus but wanted to get a feel for the city a bit on foot).

The rest of my day included welcoming the final delivery of furnishings for our flat (two coffee tables, two night stands, two dressers and two wardrobes — note: we have NO closets. No storage. Time for me to get my creativity on!); cleaning the entire kitchen top to bottom and washing all of the dishes handed down to us; putting the guest room bed together; making a large list of items to buy; walking with Eric down to a Chinese restaurant for dinner (neither of us really had lunch today); going to an international market for some groceries; and finally, making our first pot of loose-leaf tea in our new kettle while eating some chocolate and writing this post.

There you have it.

Eric is going to upload pictures of our apartment.  Of course it’s empty save our bedroom where the vacuum bags of clothes have blown up :)  You can consider them the “before” pictures.

Alright, its midnight here so we must get to bed!  Love to all!  Miss you!

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