Tuesday, 10 April 2007

gorgeous chaos

imagine meeting a person who: (should this be whom? mom? ju?)
you had no information about their life up to the moment you met them
you knew nothing about their likes, dislikes, opinions, and passions
you didn't know if you'd ever see them again after the one designated week you'd have to get acquainted.
welcoming that person into your house
but i don't mean your normal here's-a-towel,-there's-the-bathroom- hey-do-you-want-something-to-eat-welcome. i mean the kind of welcome when the stranger is accepted as part of the daily round, part of life, part of your world and existence.
i don't know if i could do it either.
but i have found people who could. and who did!
they live in hull. and i've been on the receiving end. they're absolutely gorgeous.
six children. loving wife and husband. the kind of love that they aren't afraid to express....even in front of the afore mentioned stranger. kids ages 4 to 14. all playmates and the best of friends.
this kind of hospitality is new to me.
i've been asked every day when i'll be coming back to england. usually by the kids 11 and under, but still. they want to always know me. and of course we will always know each other because of that.
oh and they say bothered. i wish i could convey the coolness of the usage of this term.
i can't be bothered to eat it
she wasn't bothered to talk to me
i'm not bothered
and often they pronounce it
which is so great.
i'm learning all kinds of things
and i am now the proud owner of a pair of earrings that say cheeky monkey. ha!
today we went to the deep-- an acquarium. and a super cool one.
it made me want to learn to scuba dive.
two weeks and i'm home. and so much to do before then.
i adore you all.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

london calling

um once again it's been a while. for which i apologize.
did i mention that i went to london? it's true. and to make it even better, i went all alone!
i left on the train from leeds station on sunday and went straight into kings cross station. during the train ride i was nervous for my solitary adventure. it didn't help much when i came above ground at the notting hill station and the wind was blowing and it was pouring down rain. not encouraging. my umbrella blew inside out five or six times during my walk in the wrong direction (i was a little disoriented) (but what can you expect? i was there two years ago!). when i realized my mistake i about faced and walked back along notting hill gate to holland park avenue and onto the little pathway leading into the park and to the hostel. when i finally got to the gate that should have taken me into the park it was closed and i had an irrational mini-breakdown as i thought "maybe i was supposed to check in before the park closed!" duh. it's a hostel. people aren't going to stay in or out starting at 6 pm. i called to find out where the night entrance was. as i did so i saw a sign straight in front of me with two lines:
day entrance <----
night entrance ---->
boy did i feel dumb. but it was okay.
the next morning was sunny and did give me some encouragement.
we'll make the rest of the trip short for all our sakes.
on monday i walked for about ten hours and saw all of the outsides of all of the buildings and soaked in the feeling and listened to the sounds and watched the busy people and smelled the london air. i found a new favorite park (okay, second favorite. nothing beats kensington gardens) in st. james' park. daffodils around every tree and small enough that you don't wonder what end of the park you're in. i felt ridiculously conspicuous as a tourist. i'm certain that everyone was watching me.
when i was there two years ago i was so careful to not stand out. i didn't say anything when i didn't have to and i purposely got used to saying "sorry" in an english accent because that was really the only word i exchanged with the locals.
this time i didn't care if i stood out. imagine, if you will, a girl in an orange sweater with a back pack and a camera around her neck walking along with a huge grin on her face and every so often saying things to herself.
so here's the question-- was i naive in 2004? did people watch me? and i was just silly enough to think that i somehow fit in? or did i really stand out differently this time because i didn't care? i would have thought that trying to fit in would immediately expose you as an impostor. but maybe not in this case? i'm still not sure of the answer.
on tuesday night i went to the london centre for some memories and a tina dinner. wade jacoby, my professor when i was in london, is the director of the study abroad program now. he and his wife were quite hospitable and accompanied me to a play that evening.
the next morning i did the things i hadn't had time to do on monday and tuesday. namely shop on kensington high street and see st. paul's.
overall the london trip was a good thing.
i saw some lovely things and ate a pain au chocolat.
i thrilled to the sound of the underground train rushing to the platform.
i even rode a bus.
#23 to be exact.
and i learned that it's good to be alone. but it's almost always better to be with people.

Friday, 2 March 2007

luck be a gentleman

so it's been a while. how are you?
i've been pretty good!
the new cottage is amazing. it's in a picturesque place just a few minutes away from the peak district national park. i love it here. for many reasons. one of them being that it feels more like home because you can go up on a hill and look down and see the valley. i love that feeling.
yesterday i drove to the top of a peak in the national park and stopped at a look out point overlooking the holme valley. i watched the clouds move quickly across the sky and the sun pop out in different places every few seconds. i sat there in amazement as i tried to grasp the fact that i was living here... that this was my life. could i really be this lucky?
i guess i can.
because just before that, i had gone to a charity shop in holmfirth and found two skirts and a suit (a suit!) for less than £18. i'm not sure where all this is coming from... is the cottage going to burn down?
this last wednesday we had a meeting where we introduced the ward employment specialists in the ashton stake to the workshop we're teaching. it was an hour and a half whirlwind tour of a 12 hour workshop. it went fantastically well. all this being in front of people stuff is getting easier. i think it's one of those fake it til you make it things.
i guess i've had my share of bad luck, too. on wednesday erika and i tried to go to the yorkshire sculpture park, which is a huge outdoor park with sculptures too big to be inside. kind of. it's a cool idea. but really. not in england. as we were driving there the sun was shining and it was even decently warm. when we first got there, we went into the visitor's center place to get a map and we ended up spending about ten minutes in the gift shop. when we came back outside the wind had started blowing and it had started raining a really cold, hard rain. i tried to bear it. really i did. i walked to about 4 different sculptures. and then i realized: i am not having fun. erika had already given up and gone back to the gift shop. so i went inside, determined to redeem this experience. we went to the overpriced restaurant and i bought myself a scone and a hot chocolate. both were extremely good. and yes, even redeeming. but the whole thing ended up being much too expensive.
i guess that's why they say to save your pennies for a rainy day.

Monday, 19 February 2007

ummm really?

so let's be honest. things haven't been all sunshine and roses here. i've tried to talk about the good things on this here blog... but bad things exist too. even in lovelyland.
the low point: erika and myself driving to the bishop's house at 10:45 pm hoping to have a moment of his time to defend ourselves against some weird things he's been hearing from linda. of course he lives on an unpaved country road. of course it's dark and of course there's a ditch with a stream in it running alongside the road that we totally can't see. trying to turn around to get to the house that we thought we missed, erika reverses the back two tires into the ditch and we now only have one tire on solid ground. no amount of flooring the gas pedal gets us anywhere. and we laughed. because really, what else can you do when you hit the low point? it's only gotta go up from there, right?
as it appears to be turning out, it did go up from there. almost immediately. today, three days later, we are moving to a holiday cottage in holmsfirth, near huddersfield. west yorkshire. cobblestone street. gothic church just around the corner. our own bedrooms. florist just down the road. two 'good morning's' while we were looking at the outside. best of all, no cats. pretty amazing, eh? i guess i'm still used to the low point though. i'm more than halfway expecting to hear that the cottage has burned down or something.
here's some pictures of our new home: hooray.

the place. it's an old barn kind of place.

our street. erika. quite pleased with the blue door.
i'll let you know if it catches on fire.

Friday, 16 February 2007

a wale of a tale

we went to wales. we went to six castles. the weather was decent on the first day. and hideous on the second. then of course, the third day, driving home, was as clear as anything and absolutely beautiful. we stayed in a cottage in the middle of a forest. but i'm mostly posting for pictures because the pictures of our wales trip say it all.

here: "a castle!"

and our self-time efforts. we're huddled around an ancient fire pit. can't you tell? names? well, back to front, left to right, is: kevin, seth, stephen, nathan, me, erika, patricia, and nerys.

more of our self-time efforts. kevin, patricia and me setting up our cameras. this one's for you, fam. does it remind you of stacey? :)

a tree in the forest around our cottage. i took this and i thought it was pretty cool.

so we hopped the fence and snuck into the grounds of this old manor house castle kind of thing. it was so much more fun because we were being mischievous. can you tell i'm having fun?

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

i just gotta tell ya

i now know someone who gets
pink floyd
dire straits
isn't that great?
don't worry, he gave me permission to make fun of him.

Sunday, 4 February 2007


we finally taught our first workshop this weekend! it was exciting and fun. i was surprised as we were driving there that i really was genuinely excited to do something so out of my comfort zone. it turned out pretty well... but as always, there's room for improvement. the work is picking up and we have a few more workshops to finalize and teach. it's great.
here's what i love: yorkshire puddings.
here's what else i love: rivington.
rivington is a little lake just about 8 minutes away from our house by car. there are trails going all around it through some fields and woods. it was so pretty. i went this morning and took a sunday stroll. i saw a few picturesque families with the cutest little kids walking around the trails. i tried to discretely take pictures (after all, what's the point of something being picturesque if you don't take a picture of it?) of a few of them, but never succeeded. in the end, i just came away with some pictures of the fields and trees and two of myself done with self-time. (are you proud of me, family? :) at some points on the trail i felt like i was marianne dashwood as she comes over the hill and sees combe magna (willoughby's house, of course) and proceeds to very nearly die of a broken heart, only being saved by (of course) the man who truly loves her. however, i should clarify: the only part that i experienced was the coming over a hill and seeing a grand house bit. i wasn't rescued by the man who truly loves me and i didn't nearly die of a broken heart. but the view of the house was breathtaking.
this evening after church there was a gorgeous sunset. pink and blue. and we realized that we hadn't seen such a beautiful sunset since we've been here. then we realized why: we can count on one hand the number of days that we've seen the sun at all.
oh, to be in england.