What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

30 December 2006

And what have you done?

I was going to start with "So this is Christmas," but people may begin to think I'm looney if I do that, since Christmas is "so last week!" now. More looney, that is.

However, John Lennon's song has been kicking around in my head for a couple of weeks, ever since the day I looked it up online to listen (since I do kind of like the song) and got Chad addicted to it, too. He's been playing it in season and out of season (okay, just in season) since mid-December.

So, my husband being the inquisitive person that he is, Chad looked up all he could find about the song, Lennon's intentions in the song, what he said about it himself, etc. And it turns out (surprise, surprise) that this song is, in fact, anti-everything.

However, I am not entirely distressed about this fact. For one thing, the song is in my head, and try as I might, it won't go away. So I may as well embrace it. For another, it asks (however cynically) a very good question: What have you done?

"So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun."

What have I done with my year? Not a lot, I must admit. The turn of the year is a good time to evaluate priorities, attitudes, actions, life in general, etc. And when I think of the friends I could have encouraged, the strangers to whom I could have shown kindness, the prayers unsaid, the food wasted that I could have sent to the food bank, the time wasted on the internet that could have been spent helping someone, the snarky remarks I could have kept to myself-- what have I done? Lived another year for myself.

And I wish-- oh, how I wish I could say, "This year will be different!" But will it? It's not as though I don't think these same thoughts every year. Another year over, a new one just begun. Or about to, anyway. Can 2007 be the year I finally say, "My time on earth is too short to spend focused on myself." Is this the year I will encourage, be kind, pray, share, help, give, control my tongue? Is this the year I realise that time is a precious commodity, not to be wasted filling in endless "about me" surveys that (maybe) two people read or collecting friends on myspace? I look around at Christendom, and I see that (for the most part) we aren't getting it, and we don't seem to care-- our culture has produced a twisted form of following Jesus that makes it all part of the political game, that seems (to me) to be so divorced from the life that Jesus calls us to. Is this the year I step out in faith, telling God, "Use me!", regardless of how "weird" or "fanatical" others think such a move is? Is this the year I stop looking at the crowd, stop complaining about everyone else, and do something? Is this the year I take literally, "Love one another as you love yourself?" What about people who hate me? What about the person who cuts me off in traffic? What about people who refuse to take me seriously? What about those who are rude, crude, selfish, and (seemingly) a waste of skin? How do I love them?

However much I try to be an extrovert and enjoy myself with others, I remain very much a reserved person, just as happy at home as anywhere else, just as content being silent in a group as speaking-- how do I step out and encourage others? How do I let other people know they are important to me, and more so to God? When every fibre of my being is screaming at me to sit down and be silent, how do I reach out and help?

If only I had the answers to these questions.

So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun. What have I done? Nothing. Another year over. What a pity. Another year wasted, opportunities passed that may never return. A new one just begun. A chance for a fresh start. To be the woman God wants me to be. To live with others in mind. To put myself last.

Sad, isn't it, that is takes a song which the songwriter intended to be anti-everything to wake up these thoughts within me. It is my hope that I can face 2008 with very clear answers to, "So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun."

And if that isn't a New Year's resolution, I don't know what is.

26 December 2006

Happy Boxing Day!

I feel obligated to update this thing every so often, even though I have a readership of two and absolutely nothing interesting happening in my life. (By the way, Lita and Sparquay, I do appreciate you! Without you I'd just be writing to air!) Having said that, sometimes when I browse these things it appears that no-one else has anything interesting to say either. So I suppose I'm not alone. :)

Merry Christmas!!

What is the point of that font, anyway? Seriously?

What I was going to say is:

Merry Christmas! Feliz Boxing Day! Blessed Kwanza! and last but not least... Happy New Year!

I would add Happy Martin Luther King Day, and perhaps Have a nice Valentine's Day, but I really hope to be on here again before either of those things happen.

09 December 2006

I'm sitting in the cold, watching innumerable teens fight over a ball...

Last night... prepare to be shocked, amazed, and otherwise gobsmacked... I went to an American football game. In fact, I went to my second game in as many months. Don't worry, no aliens have overtaken my brain, I'm not having an identity crisis, and I certainly have not developed a liking for the game. But some good friends of ours have a daughter who plays in the band, so I have gone along with them to see her perform. And while we were there, the football team played, too. Imagine that. Now what I know about American football would probably fit into your average-sized thimble, so to me, I was watching a bunch of teenagers stage an organised fight. Having said that, it was a very close game (Frenship won 20-17), so it was pretty exciting.


What else, what else? That's about it, really. Tonight there's a parade, tomorrow I'm going to watch a musical put on by a church in town-- for me, this is a super-busy weekend. Plus I have a baby blanket that I still need to finish. So I should probably run along.

30 November 2006

"November is the most disagreeable month."

And Little Women fans know the next line is, "That's why I was born in it." And I, naturally, disagree.

November! Well, it only has a few hours left, and then it's 335 days until it comes round again. I've felt this week as if the month has both dragged and flown. And here we are, upon another Christmas season-- only this year I am unprepared. Yes, I admit it, I neglected to buy an advent calendar this year. What will we do, I wonder, without our daily chocolate fix?

Oh, and if anyone related to me is reading this, you're not getting a Christmas gift. I wanted to let you know well ahead of time so you could get over your disappointment.

Yeah, so not a lot has happened in my little life. We have a busy month coming up, as does everyone, and so I say, November, we hardly knew ye. Next year try to keep your younger brother (December) from sneaking up on me like this.

15 November 2006

I need more words...

A boy was killed in Lubbock this week. He was crossing the street and was hit by a car on Monday night, and they couldn't save him. I can't imagine what his parents are going through, in fact I don't want to. And this would have been another sad article in the paper for me, except one of the girls at church came to me before services this evening to talk about it. I really think she only chose me because I happened to be available, but for whatever reason, God put me in her path. What do you say to an 11-year-old who just lost a friend? I gave her a Kleenex, let her talk about it, and prayed for her (and got a bit welled myself while she was talking)-- what else could I do? Anyway, if any of you can spare a moment to pray for the boy's family and friends, I'm sure they could use it.

07 November 2006

Moving, Retreating, and Driving

Wow, I can't believe how much has changed for us in the past two weeks. New car, new address, new washing machine, goodness knows what God has in store for us next. (Well, I hope it's a new job for Chad.)

We went to a marriage retreat a couple of weekends ago with a lot of people from church-- and some people from other churches. It was a great weekend, with lots of good information and re-connecting time. It was also really cool to hear from people we know well, and others we know but not so well, about their stories. We really enjoyed it.

As soon as we came back from the retreat, we started moving to our new flat, which we are now (mostly) settled into! And some really good friends of ours gave us their old washing machine, which delighted me to no end. It's so nice to get up in the morning and do laundry without having to leave the house. It's brilliant.

And finally, I am still totally enamoured with our car. It is awesome to have transportation-- and fortunately, there is not much chance of us taking this for granted. God has blessed us!

22 October 2006

Big news!

I am here to announce, after 18 months (almost to the day) of being pedestrian/cyclists, WE HAVE A CAR!!! It is the most bizarre feeling, to be honest-- I keep thinking it's only loaned to us and we'll have to give it back, nope, it belongs to us! And I was going to take a picture of it to post on here, but I thought that was the height of sadness. However, I'm sure that thought will pass soon (hehe) and then I'll take the picture.

The only snag in the works is: until yesterday, I had never driven a standard in my life. And the new car is, as it happens, a standard. I phoned my father earlier today to tell him it's all his fault that I'm having to learn how to drive all over again 16 years after actually learning to drive (and 12 years after getting my license-- we lived in the country, that's the way it is, get over it). He didn't seem to mind that I'm blaming him for having to talk myself through something as basic as driving to the store. :) I'm sure I'll get better with practise-- if I don't, then I'm sure I'll continue to annoy the other drivers in Lubbock, few of whom can drive well anyway.

Also, we're moving in 10 days!

14 October 2006

How exciting can Lubbock be, anyway?

Well, we've been back for a little while now, obviously. Turns out my posts about Scotland did not generate much interest, so from that I've deduced that 1. My friends are not interested in Scotland. or 2. Karla is the only friend who cares about me.

So, now that I know who loves me and who doesn't, here's a quick catchup on what we've been doing since we've been back:

My first day back at work was extremely unfun. I actually started crying within minutes of walking in the door, which I think really unnerved my supervisor, and pretty much everyone else, apparently, from their reactions. I am normally not particularly emotional, nor do I tend to be very affectionate toward others, so my poor supervisor was totally at a loss. She asked me, "Do you need a hug?" to which I answered, "No, I'm fine." But since I couldn't stop crying right away, she asked a couple of seconds later, "Are you sure you don't need a hug?" So I told her, "Well, you can hug me if it will make you feel better." She assured me that it would, so not only was I crying, but I was also hugged, which did not go very far toward making me happy to be there. My favourites were the people who came by to tell me "Welcome back," and didn't stop there, but went on to say, "Are you glad to be back?" I settled for telling them, "No," instead of adding "Go away!"

Anyway... a couple of Saturdays ago Chad and I participated in the Race for the Cure, and if there's anyone left in America who doesn't know what that is, you can click here to find out about it. Chad intended to run, but I wanted to walk, since I hadn't done any sort of training for it, but then the people I had planned to walk with decided they wanted to run, too. So I ended up walking with a girl who had been making conversation with us at the start line. We finished almost dead last, but I suppose someone had to be last...

That same Saturday we went with some friends from church to the corn maize, which is a few miles northwest of Lubbock. Every year, these people cut a maze in their corn field, and then other people come out to wander round in it. We ended up going in after dark, which apparently adds a whole new dimension to wandering round in a cornfield. But since I've never done it during the daytime, I have no basis for comparison. Anyway, we had lots of fun, then afterwards Chad decided to try the climbing wall that had just been set up, so he couldn't move his arms for three days. :)

Since then, the excitement in our life has been kept to a minimum! We are going to a marriage retreat with other couples from church at the end of this month, and then we are moving to a new apartment the day after that. Everyone we know has been expressing their sympathy at us moving, but we actually don't mind it much, so it all works out.

07 October 2006

Headed home: Tuesday

I woke up from an extraordinarily uncomfortable sleep to find we were in London. Chad and I had taken the overnight bus, hence the reason sleep was so uncomfortable. We were in the upper deck of the coach (first time I had run across that combination), so we had a nice view of the London streets as we went through them, on our way to Victoria station.
We had breakfast in the train station, bought a final round of chocolates, and took the train to Gatwick. We were really early for our flight, so we had plenty of time to read the paper, or in Chad's case, to solve the Sudoku puzzles in the paper. It did take a long time to get through security, but we had expected that. The Gatwick airport is set up with a huge waiting area, surrounded by corridors to the various gates, with shops all around the sides. Passengers wait here until their flight shows up on the screen, then they go to their gates and wait. In some ways, I like it better than the system at, say, DFW or Houston, because all the shops are together in the spot you are waiting in, anyway, and there's no need to trek halfway across the airport from your gate just to find the McDonalds you were looking for.
So the flight back to Houston was 10 hours long, which I was not expecting-- apparently it's longer because of the jetstreams or something. Whatever it was, it was longer going back than coming, but it wasn't bad. The flight was actually quite empty, the flight attendents were fantastic, and the inflight entertainment kept me pretty well entertained.
Once through customs in Houston, when were were waiting for our flight to Lubbock, I was plagued by my age-old problem; my brain can only handle one accent at once. With my ears still ringing with Scottish, and English, accents, I had a hard time understanding the Americans around me. It's not so much that they sounded strange (although they did), it's just that I was expecting their words to sound differently. In any case, I did my best to shut them out. We got our flight back, a cab home, and I went straight to bed.

Day Eleven: Monday

Our last day in Glasgow! We went into the city centre with Pauline for a couple of hours. We had some last-minute souvenier buying to do, as well as getting some cookies, and generally hanging about with Pauline. I bought an enormous tea mug to use as work, because every morning I had been scrounging through the cupboards to get the largest mug available. Not a problem now. It turned out the cashier in the tourist centre was from Buenos Aires, and we didn't get the exact details of how she ended up in Glasgow, except that she had been working in Germany at one point, but liked Scotland much better. Well, of course. :)
So we finished up our trip with a final natter with Dawn, Anne Louise, and Daniel, over some really nice Indian. We were all packed up and ready to go when John came to get us in his race car at 9. They dropped us off at Buchanan Bus Station, and we were away.

Day Ten: Sunday

Sunday was a normal church day again, and I was reminded for a second time why I fell in love with Glasgow in the first place. You can find a friendly group of people anywhere, of course, but Glaswegians have something special that most other people don't. I can't quite put my finger on it or describe it, but I love these people, and I love this place.
On Sunday evening we went to West Mains again, saw the current aim students for a second time, and I was glad to see how much they like Scotland, as well. After church that evening, we went back to George and Jean's house. I've been in their house quite a few times, but their daughter gave me a tour anyway-- she really just wanted me to see her room, but pointed out all the other rooms for me as well. I taught Carla in Sunday school years ago, when she was a little girl, and it was fantastic to see what a lovely young lady she has become. Not that I ever had any doubt that would be the case. :)
So we had another natter with George and Jean, Sheena, who was there as well, and one of the aim students who also came round. Some old pictures were trotted out as well, and I wondered again, Was I really that skinny?

Day Nine: Saturday

On Saturday, after a nice lie-in for everyone, we went to Edinburgh with Dawn. After our usual catching the bus and trekking through the city centre, we bought our train tickets at Queens Street station and boarded right away, because we were just in time to catch the next train. The train journey to Edinburgh (and it's pronounced (Ed-in-burr-ah, not Ed-in-burg) is just under an hour, and it's quite a nice one. I really, really like the British rail system. The buses may be cheaper, but the trains are brilliant.
We started off by having a walk round the shops, and were rewarded for our trouble by coming across an international market-- I don't know if it is a regular thing or just a special occasion, but it was cool. They were handing out samples of various sweets (and real food as well), quite a lot of jewelry was up for sale, and my pal Dawn was brilliant enough to buy me a new bag. It's fantastic, this little bag, and perfect to carry while cycling, because it's shaped more or less like a messenger bag, just smaller.
As we headed back toward the royal mile, Dawn needed to go into a shop and buy an extra layer-- she was wearing a t-shirt and a jacket, and it was a bit chilly that day, so she was getting cold. So into a shop we went, had a look round, and she found exactly what she was looking for. On our way to the castle, we happened across a bagpipe player (not that he was hard to find) and got a couple of pictures and a bit of video of him playing the national anthem. The Scottish national anthem, that is, not ours.
The street that leads from the train station to the royal mile gets you to about the half-way point, so we decided to walk up it to the castle, then back down all the way to the Houses of Parliament, and then back to our starting point. This is a street, again, that I've been up and down numerous times, but there is always something else to see. This time around Dawn pointed out to us the national court-- I forget what it's properly called, but it's the highest court in Scotland. Tourist shops are also in abundance in the royal mile, and if we had wanted to do we could have bought everything we could imagine with a tartan or Scottish flag printed on it.
As we walked along, I was telling Dawn about the time that Keely, Nancy, and I got our photo taken with William Wallace on the royal mile, then we rounded the bend and there he was. I had thought before that he was part of the Edinburgh festival, but apparently he's out at other times, as well. Tourists-- and probably some locals, too-- get their pictures taken with him, and the money he collects goes to charity. As we passed by, Dawn commented that he's better looking than Mel Gibson (which he certainly is), which he naturally overheard. His answer was, "I'm grumpier, though, hen." He said something else as well, I don't remember what, but Dawn told me that he may not have known which of us had spoken if I hadn't answered her. Of course, with such a strong difference in our accents, there was no chance of him thinking it was me after that. Anyway, the whole episode was very funny, and it was quite enjoyable to see him out there again-- apparently he's been doing this for years.
So we finally made it up to the castle, which still had bleachers set up in the parking lot for the Edinburgh Tattoo (an annual bagpipe and drum display). We didn't go in, partly because we've all been in before, and partly because it has gotten rather pricey.
So back down the mile we went (it's actually more like a royal mile and half, these days, but that doesn't sound as nice), past all the various shops, bagpipe players, and street theatre performers, until we arrived at the Houses of Parliament. The Scottish parliament building has only been in existence for a few years, and has been a source of much controversy about the cost of building it. And while it is a nice building, on the outside it is certainly odd-looking. The inside is very nice, and the debating chamber especially is lovely, but I don't think its aesthetic qualities go very far towards reconciling most Scots to its cost.
After all that sightseeing and picture-taking, it was time to head back to Glasgow. We were going to the movies that evening in the city centre, so first we stopped off for some Chinese, since we had been walking all day. The movie theatre itself is brilliant-- I don't know how many stories it is, but unlike most American multiplexes I've seen, it is a multistorey building, with several screens on each floor, and stack ot escalators to get you to the correct one. There is also a glass elevator on the side of the building, which adds a whole new dimension of excitement to the moviegoing experience. The movie itself was not that great, but the theatre was brilliant.
After the movie was over, we got the bus back to Castlemilk. At least, that's where the bus was supposed to go. We were about halfway there when someone-- presumably children-- threw a rock or something at the bus, shattering four windows-- three downstairs and one upstairs. The poor driver had just come on for his shift as well, and he was quite panicked. As it was, everyone had to get off the bus, he had to call the police, speak to onlookers, and look after the one girl who was injured. So we went up to the next bus stop, since we were not needed at that moment, and ended up getting a taxi home. And so ended an otherwise nice day.

Day Eight: Friday

On Friday morning, Chad informed me that he was not interested in sightseeing-- apparently I pushed him to his limit by taking him to two old buildings in one day. So instead we visited a couple of parks.
To begin with, we walked down to King's Park. I've spent tons of time in this little park, since it was in close proximity to both of the houses I lived in while I was in Scotland. Since there were 2-4 people living in our houses at various times, it was a good place to go when I needed to escape from roommates-- or if I just needed some quiet time. Also there's a house in the centre, occupied by some very lucky people indeed who get to live in a park. How cool is that?
So after a few minutes of wandering, and examining the flower gardens, we decided that a really long walk was in order, so off we went to Queen's Park. I have no idea what the distance we actually walked that day was, nor even how much time it took us, I was too busy enjoying it. On the way we walked past Hamden Park, which is the Scottish national stadium.
Queen's Park is absolutely brilliant. It is quite large, and has attractions for just about everyone: bike trails, walking trails, two ponds, play parks, dog runs, etc. The main attraction for me, however, is the Viewpoint. There's a hill, more or less in the centre of the park, from which you can see most of the city. It's brilliant to stand up there on a clear day and look around, which is exactly what we did. There is also a very helpful information board that has a drawing of the skyline, and tells you exactly what you are looking at if you are facing any given direction. It's fantastic.
After admiring the city (and taking several pictures) we needed some chocolate (naturally). So we walked along to Somerfield, planning to buy some chocolate bars and some Cadbury mini-rolls.
We needed mini-rolls because, on Wednesday evening, we had brought some home with us to share. However, in the course of the evening and following morning, Chad ate about half of them himself, meaning that when Dawn got home Thursday evening, they were already gone. She teased Chad quite a bit about his chocolate-eating habits, so we decided to get some more to sit in the kitchen for when Dawn returned that evening. And that's what we did: after we got home, I arranged them in a Jenga-like stack on the kitchen counter, which did get a laugh from Dawn when she saw it.
Friday evening we went to Margaret's house for dinner. Dawn was also invited, as were John and Janet, so it a nice evening of nattering.

01 October 2006

Day Seven: Thursday

So on Thursday we went sightseeing. Despite having lived in Glasgow for two years, I still haven't seen all the city has to offer. So instead of going to the same spots that I've been to many times, we went to a couple of places that neither of us had been to before.
First we bought an all-day ticket on the underground. The Glasgow underground, unfortunately, is not the huge network that will take you everywhere that the London version is. It runs in a circle around the city centre, and the cars are all painted orange-- hence it being called "The Clockwork Orange" from time to time. (Haven't seen the movie, don't know if there's any kind of connection.) At our first stop, there was nothing in particular to see, it was just a part of Glasgow we had never been in. So we wandered up and down the street, and went into a couple of charity shops, just for fun.
Stop #2 was for the Tenement House. I have totally forgotten the woman's name who lived there, but after she died, the tenement she lived in was given to the National Trust, and they keep it as it looked at the turn of the century. It is two rooms and a kitchen, meaning there is a bedroom and sitting room. The kitchen and sitting room both have set-in beds at the side, covered by a curtain during the day. This is totally a normal arrangement in the old tenements in Glasgow-- you'll see a room and a kitchen, two rooms and a kitchen, or a single end-- meaning the inhabitants have a kitchen with the set-in bed, a bathroom, and that's it. To people used to the enourmous houses and flats in most of America, it initially sounds cramped, but once in one, you really don't feel like it's small. It's all very nicely arranged, and people generally don't fill their houses with possesions they have no space for. Also at the Tenement House, they have a nice exhibit explaining housing in Glasgow through the centuries.
After leaving Tenement House, we started to walk to the Cathedral, but since we really didn't know exactly where it was, we gave it up and went back to the underground, where we headed for stop #3-- Scotland Street School Museum.
The Scotland Street School was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and as such is a beautiful building. It first opened in 1906, and ran continuously until the 70s, when enrollment was so low there was no point to keeping it open any longer. Fortunately, it was not torn down, and it was opened as a museum of Scottish school life a few years later. This year the building is celebrating its centenary. The displays were really interesting, quite a lot of the school furniture is still there, and I finally learned how many shillings there are in a pound. (Twenty, if anyone was wondering.) Also we had a nice chat with one of the guides-- Glaswegians, and in particular Glaswegians whose job it is to showcase their city-- are very gracious to anyone who shows an interest in their city. And such was the case at the Scotland Street School.
That was all we had time for in the city centre, although we found out later that had we gone to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery we might have seen the Queen, who was also in Glasgow that day.

On the way home, we stopped off to see a friend of mine who I had been trying to see all week. She was on holiday from work, but fortunately for us hadn't gone anywhere, so we were able to catch her at home. It was a short visit however, because we were going to Charlie and Ann's for dinner and another beautiful example of Scottish hospitality.

27 September 2006

Day Six: Wednesday

Wednesday was the only day it really rained, but since we live in a dry and barren land, we were actually quite delighted to walk in the rain. Nothing really exciting happened on Wednesday. We went to the city centre to buy some souveniers we had promised to people. In a whirl of true Scottishness, we also visited Borders and Pizza Hut. Exciting, eh?

14 September 2006

Day Five: Tuesday

Our plan on Tuesday was to go to IKEA, firstly to get an idea of what things cost so we can estimate our required one-time support, secondly because we don't have IKEA in Lubbock and I like to go there when I have a chance. After consulting the public transport routes and trying to work out where and when to get the bus, we changed our minds. It was far too much trouble, when we weren't intending on actually buying anything, and the more so because you can check prices online.

So we went instead to Rouken Glen park. I'd only been there once before, but it is quite lovely. It's large, with a burn (creek) running through it, and at one point there is a very nice waterfall. Also it has a few stretches of grass for dogs to run around in, a duck pond (some swans in there as well), a walled garden, and of course, one or two play parks for children. So I decided that my husband needed to see it. We had a very nice walk, having to skirt the mud here and there. Unfortunately, we have no pictures, because we forgot to take the camera along.

On Tuesday evening we went to see Caroline. Keely and I lived with Caroline for a while, as did quite a few other aim girls through the years. So, really, there isn't a lot she doesn't know about my personality and penchant for dropping or walking into things. She served us a traditional Scottish meal of mince and tatties, finished off by a chocolate cake that was fantastically good.

The house group also meets at Caroline's house on Tuesday evening, giving us a chance to fellowship and discuss the Bible with more of our brothers and sisters.

Day Four: Monday

On Monday, we embarked upon a grand adventure through the wilds of Scotland. Okay, not really. We went hill walking. Now, before someone asks, one hill walks by driving to a hill and then walking around on it, usually up to the top and then down again. Not just any hill, mind you, there are hills specifically designated for hill walks. So if you're just walking along the street and it happens to go uphill, sorry, you aren't hill walking.

Okay, now that we have that cleared up... Charlie asked us on Sunday if we'd like to go on a hill walk, and since we had, indeed, planned on doing so, we were happy to agree to go along. I have no idea what the place we went to is called, because I didn't write it down or anything. And it wasn't a hard climb, but for us who live in a very flat city, it was strenuous enough. We had a very nice view of Loch Lomond as we went up, and we have bunches of pictures of it, although since Photobucket is not cooperating at the moment, I haven't posted any of them. It was a cloudy day with just a bit of sprinkling rain now and then, but it looked beautiful with the sun almost shining through in one direction, and darker clouds on the other end of the sky. I hadn't been hill walking in six years, so I'd forgotten the feeling of going up a path-- you think the next turning leads to the top, only to get round it and seen an even higher bit of hill above you. It's actually quite funny in that way, because you wonder how the higher bit of the hill was hiding.

The trip to and from the hill was not so nice for me. I have never done well on the Scottish roads, winding round as they do, not to mention the continual up and down. I didn't take any carsickness medicine, which admittedly was a mistake, but on the other hand I didn't want to be drowsy while climbing. So I took pictures for the first part of the journey, but had to keep my eyes closed after a while. Coming back was even worse-- I felt ill almost right away. This is why trains are my preferred method of travel around Scotland, because the track builders kept the twists and turns to a minimum and it's more or less a straight shot to anywhere-- at least, it feels like it, which is the important part.

Monday evening we visited with Richard and Sharon and their daughters. Along the way to the house, we were reminded of one of Castlemilk's biggest problems-- children with nothing to do. In this instance they were teens, actually. There was a group of them standing outside, making cheeky comments about everyone who went by, and in between amusing themselves by throwing pebbles at people's windows. I don't know what the solution to this problem is, but I hope one can be found. Or at least tried.

13 September 2006

Day Three: Sunday

Sunday was absolutely wonderful. It has long been my favourite day of the week, although I admit that being a part of a church of 1000+ in Texas does not give Sunday quite the same quality that it once had for me. It's hard to get round to everyone and have a nice conversation when there are such huge crowds to navigate, plus you have everyone hurrying out to get a seat at a restaurant. (Remember when people went home to have Sunday dinner? No? Ask your grandparents about what it was like.)

So I had high expectations of what my Sunday in Glasgow would be like. And, of course, I wasn't disappointed. The congregation in Castlemilk has breakfast together before class begins, which is enjoyable, and also gave us plenty of time to catch up with everyone-- what we've been doing and that sort of thing. I had sat down next to Dawn, but what with more people coming through the door every couple of minutes, there was a lot of up-and-down, and-- most people will be surprised to hear this-- lots of hugging. That's right, me, hugging people. It was brilliant.

The service was excellent as always, and I was feeling unexpectedly teary (not that I actually shed any tears) at my happiness to be here. Afterwards we went home (ah! there's that word again!) for Sunday dinner. The afternoon went by entirely too quickly, though, mostly because in order to get to East Kilbride for evening services we had to get the bus at 3:40, since it only runs once an hour. Apparently, not a lot of people go between East Kilbride and Glasgow on Sundays.

So we got the bus at the bottom of the hill, right next to the church building actually, and headed on our way. I was quite amazed at how many buildings there are between here and there, because there used to be a lot more open fields. Progess, I suppose. We arrived at the East Kilbride centre well before the time we were meant to meet Cathy, so we walked through it for a few minutes.

Now when I lived here, this mall was still quite new, and it was being billed as "The only 5-star mall in Scotland." I have no idea, still, what that means. But it is a large and very nice shopping centre, complete with ice rink and cinema. And apparently they've added on to it; Cathy took us through the new part as we went out, since that's they way out. And there's a quite large car park outside as well.

The congregation West Mains meets in a rented hall not far from the shopping centre, so it was a nice wee walk. Cathy got us all caught up on people I hadn't heard from since I left, pretty much. And it was totally worth all that travelling around and early leaving once we got there. I love these people so much, and it was brilliant seeing them again.

I was feeling welled again during the service, so it's a good thing it ended when it did. Another reason I love Scottish people is that they can all talk at least as fast as me, so the catching up was an easy matter. :) It was brilliant to be able to talk to everyone for a while, with the promise of more nattering next Sunday.

Day Two: Saturday

Okay, time to catch up before I forget everything we've done.

Saturday morning we got off to a bit of a slow start, much to the annoyance of the nice people at Central Station, who wanted us off their train. We only got off five minutes late, at 7:35. Still, those five minutes were more than enough to miss Dawn, who had come to collect us at 7:15.

So we walked through the city centre to the bus stop to get to Castlemilk, getting ourselves into an amusing (for us) situation as we stopped to phone to let Dawn know we would be arriving soon. Instead, we spoke to Daniel, who said Dawn was in the city centre as well. So he phoned Dawn's mobile, while we stood at the bus stop and watched the buses go by.

It turned out that Dawn, having not found us at Central station at 7:15, had decided that we must have already headed to her house, so that's where she was on her way back to when she got Daniel's call. So she got off her bus, on to another, and went back to the city centre, where we saw her 20 minutes later.

So after such an amusing beginning, the rest of the day was remarkably calm. We went back into the city centre after getting cleaned up and had lunch (Actually, Chad had an all day breakfast, which involves a lot of dead pig and grease, while I had a baked potato with chicken curry. It was wonderful.). After a wee wander about, we headed for home because we needed to do the shopping. So we stopped at Asda.

Now when I first arrived here as an aim student, eight years ago, the Americans who were already here were all mourning the lack of Wal-Mart in this country. Not being a fan myself, I was perfectly happy with that state of affairs. However, the current aim students have no such complaint, since Asda was bought out by Wal-Mart many years ago. While it does not have quite the Wal-Mart aura inside, Asda is open 24 hours (just the thing for your Scot who can't sleep and has no car), and does have a lot of stuff at reasonable prices. And since it still has "Asda" printed in rather large letters on the outside, I can't bring myself to dislike it. If they ever change the sign, that will be a different matter altogether.

And that was our Saturday! Nothing exciting, just life the way I lived it when I was here.

11 September 2006

Day One: Friday

We landed, went through customs (and I was frightened out of my wits by a customs official who I'm almost sure is the same person I had to go through 8 years ago-- thankfully we went to someone else this time around), and were launched into London.

So it seems that there is no good time of day to go through Victoria station. It was getting close to noon, but the queues to all the ticket counters were enormous. However, the London underground system is quite well set up-- there was a large map which we consulted, decided what kind of all day ticket we needed, and were able to buy it from a kiosk with no problems. Next obstacle: getting ourselves, and our luggage, to Euston station.

As I said, it was completely packed, and people were crushed together quite tightly, and we were certainly not the only ones with luggage on the underground. We managed it though, got to Euston, checked our luggage into the luggage holding place, leaving us unhindered to wander about.

The first thing we saw once we were out the door was a Krispy Kreme, next door to a Starbucks. It's things like that which make international travel worthwhile. :) Unfortunatly, we have no picture.

Seriously, we didn't go into anything, even though we had planned to do, because the exchange rate is horrible and everywhere is quite expensive. We did see the Houses of Parliment, Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, Downing Street (that's where the Prime Minister lives), Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Picadilly Circus-- all the touristy places, in other words. And do remember that we were doing all this walking about while half-dead with jet lag and lack of sleep (neither of us slept well on the plane). I've posted all our pictures here.

Also I had a very funny moment in a loo, in which a woman spoke to me, not in English, so I answered her in Spanish. I only spoke to her in Spanish because: 1. I had already spoken to her in English, and she didn't understand, and 2. What she said to me sounded like a romance language of some sort, so I decided to take the chance that she would understand Spanish. Well, after I spoke to her, she said "Okay," and we went on our merry way. On our way out of the restaurant, I spotted her again, along with a crowd of people, who were all speaking very distinct German. Oh, well.

So at the end of the day, we headed back to Euston station, collected our luggage, printed out our train tickets, and waited for our train to appear on the board. This is the much-anticipated sleeper train that everyone was so excited about. It was actually quite nice, and we really enjoyed it.

To begin with, it had been a nice break to hear English accents (along with who knows how many other languages) all day, since we are generally surrounded by Texan drawl (my apologies to the Texans who read this). However, all the people we met on the train had very distinct Scottish accents, which was such a relief to hear. I really felt like I was going home at that point.

We went to bed, because we were completly shattered, but I wasn't asleep yet when the train pulled out. The first little bit of the was there was a lot of lurching about and rails screeching, so I began to doubt that I could sleep on the train. Well, I was wrong. Thank goodness. I fell asleep shortly afterwards, only woke up once or twice that I could remember, and the next thing I knew the nice woman was waking us up with tea and a snack, because it was Saturday morning and we had arrived in Glasgow.

Thursday

Okay, so we'll start from the beginning. Thursday afternoon we headed for the airport, after last-minute packing, a run (well, cycle) to Burger King, watering the plants, closing the windows, turning the AC way up, and opening the blinds just enough to let in sunlight so we don't come home to a plant graveyard.

Nothing of any note whatsoever happened at the Lubbock airport. We didn't even have a very long wait, although we did get a bit bored:




The real fun started when we landed in Houston. We arrived 20 minutes early, which is in itself pretty impressive. Except for one thing: There was no gate available for us. And, unfortunately, it took 25 minutes for a gate to be ready. Then, when we managed to get to what turned out to be a square of tarmac, it took another 5 minutes to get the shuttle bus to us. So our 20 minute early arrival turned into a 10 minute late one, in terms of us actually being in the terminal.

We had a fast layover anyway, only 40 minutes, now down to 30. We went up to the monorail to get to our gate, to find out it was having problems as well. So there goes another 5 minutes. At this point I am holding a very nervous conversation with my watch about how much time we have, while Chad is totally calm, cool and collected. Our terminal was the last stop on the monorail, and as things go, our gate was the furthest one at the other end of the terminal building. (I used to really like the Houston airport, but trust me, a lot of that fondness is now gone.) So we race up to the gate at 6:44, essentially waving our passports and shouting, "We're here!" Fortunately, the door of the airplane wasn't shut yet, and they hadn't yet removed our bags from the cargo hold, so the people at the gate told us, "Run!" as they phoned down to the plane to wait a few more seconds before shutting us out. So we did.

I'd also just like to say at this point that the Continental airlines people who got us on the plane were all wonderful, except for the one man at the end of the jetway who asked (thinking, I suppose, that he was funny) "Did you take the long way around?" At that point, I was not in the mood for wit, and this wasn't it anyway, so I snapped back, "It was the airplane and the monorail, not us!" I didn't add "so shut up!" although I certainly wanted to. We got a few glowers from other passengers as we got on, which I ignored since we were technically taking off at our correct time anyway. We got our seats, shooed off a woman who had decided this was her row, since no one was sitting there, and settled down. Fortunately, we each had our own video screen, which went a long way toward making me feel a resurgence of loyalty toward Continental.

So the flight was pretty uneventful-- thank goodness! Also, the food was great. IMO, British Airways has the best airline food, but Continental is almost even with them. At a very distant third (and by very distant, think me running a marathon against an Olympian athelete) is American. Bringing up the rear, and falling in behind school lunches, mystery meat in hole-in-the-wall red-light restaurants, and road kill you scraped up and cooked, is Sabena. I've never had worse food in my life than when I flew with them. In fact, I think they may be out of business now, and I would guess that's because their loyal customers all got food poisoning at some point.

Coming soon... Friday: Day One

10 September 2006

It's 21:55... do you know where your children are?

So we've now been in the UK for three days, and are quite enjoying ourselves. I will (I hope) be posting more photos tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are our obligatory Trafalgar Square photos with the lions (and I don't even want to tell you how I got up there):



07 September 2006

So long, farewell, I can't spell the rest of the words...

I'm updating now, because I don't know if I'll get a chance this afternoon. We're leaving today! We fly out at 4:30 PM. So right now I'm wide awake (very early) in the hopes I will be able to sleep on the plane. Tomorrow we're spending the entire day sightseeing in London, and I have a feeling that Westminister Abbey is best viewed while awake, and not sleepwalking, so I really, really want to sleep on the plane. Prayers for a safe journey will be appreciated!

06 September 2006

Goo-be-gone! (Please!)

Well, this week I haven't quite been the giddy-bouncing around-driving everyone crazy bundle of energy that you might expect, being as we're leaving for Scotland tomorrow. Well, London, technically. And that's because my leg (the one that had a blood clot three years ago) has been bothering me with similar symptoms, and I was worried that I had developed blood clot #2, days before leaving the country.

So I went to my doctor yesterday, who I suppose was happy to see me (at least, that's what she said). I was quite gratified when she told me I'm doing everything right (never heard that before!), but she had to order a doppler, which is basically an ultrasound on my leg. So I had to go to the hospital to let someone slather my leg in goo, while looking at the nice picture on the screen. Good news: no blood clot. Bad news: My leg will just do this from time to time, to keep my life interesting. And she didn't even let me see the picture, although since this is my fourth doppler, it's not like I don't know what she was looking at.

So we get to go on our trip (some of the girls at work had some dire predictions in that department) with no hindrances. And, also, I get to ride my bike to work today and tomorrow, which I had been sad about missing out on. The more exercise I get (especially on the day of the trip), the better I sleep. I'm really hoping to be able to sleep on the plane this time around, although I admit it will be a first if I do. And speaking of which, I need to go to the library to get a book to read before I leave. Wow, I have a lot to do in the next 30 hours.

We finally bought a digital camera!

29 August 2006

I could think of it as cleaning the blinds AND the floor...

Time to update-- not that I have a lot to update about.

This past Sunday was our last day teaching the second grade. I made them cookies, which several of them turned down-- more for everyone else, I say. :) They were a fun bunch to teach, and as much as I like the idea of not having to come up with something to keep their attention for an hour every week, I'll miss teaching them.

I cleaned our blinds on Saturday, which made me wish we had a yard and a hose. The reason for that is, I rinsed them off in the shower. It took the combined efforts of six bath towels to clean up all the water off the floor, but we have clean blinds now on all our windows, so I suppose it was worth it.

My bike tyre is flat; I've been getting a lift to work the past few days. While decreasing my chances of getting killed on my way to work, this arrangement also decreases the excitement and adventure in my life.

We leave for Scotland in just over a week, and I'm pretty sure everyone will be happy to be free of me for a couple of weeks. Everyone at work now (forcibly) knows almost as much about Scotland as I do. It will be a quiet place with me gone...

17 August 2006

Cycling in the rain

Wow, five posts in four days. I've gone crazy!

This week (can't remember if I've written about this or not) I've been cycling to and from work. So far, so good. Of course, this week we've also gotten more rain that we've had all summer. But I'll take it. In fact, on Monday night I really thought it was going to pour down, so I prayed, "If I have to get wet, so be it. Please let it rain." Well, the Lord kept the rain away until after I got home, anyway, which I appreciated, although I was 100% sincere in my prayer. I got sprinkled on Tuesday evening, and today, the rain started after I had already arrived at work. I was happy about that, because it's bad enough to arrive at the office in a T-shirt and shorts, without adding being completely drenched to the mix. I was all set to ride home this evening, but one of the girls in the office talked me into leaving my bike behind, offering to take me home tonight and bring me back tomorrow morning. So I accepted, which turned out to be good, since it did start raining while we were coming home.

So, I need to buy: 1. A poncho. 2. Reflective tape of some sort. 3. No, that's it. I'd like to have a basket, but that isn't paramount to my safety, so I can't call it a need.

Three weeks until we leave!

15 August 2006

Eight o' clock

Well, as anyone who knows me at all can attest, I am not one for forwards. I do not enjoy being told that I am a selfish person because I refuse to annoy 30 people in my address book with a false story about someone dying of a ingrown toenail. I do not believe that all my fondest dreams will come true at 9:12 am tomorrow, but only if I send this to 7 people and make a wish. And, finally, I refuse to believe that "something cool" will pop onto my screen as soon as I send this on to 100 of my closest friends and relatives.

However, this one I liked. And rather than send it to an inbox near you, I am posting it on my various blogs in the hopes that someone will read it and join in. I don't intend to follow the instructions to the letter; however, our nation needs prayers, and the thought of even a few people joining together to pray at the same time is an exciting one. So here is the (tidied up and grammar-checked) forward:

During WWII, there was an advisor to Churchill who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every day at a prescribed hour to collectively pray for one minute for the safety of England, its people, and for peace.
There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in the US.
If you would like to participate:
Every evening at 9:00 PM ET (adjust for your time zone), stop whatever you are doing and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, and for peace in the world.
If you know anyone else who would like to participate, please pass this along. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have.

May God bless and keep you.

13 August 2006

Shopping

I accidentally went to Wal-Mart yesterday.

I don't mean by "accidentally" that I tripped and that's where I landed, or that I was unconscious and was carried there or anything. In fact, I was out shopping for back-to-school trinkets for the cherubs in our Sunday School class, and spent a very enjoyable 20 minutes or so in Mardel picking up pencils, stickers, etc. But, Wal-Mart is across the street from Mardel, and I needed a new drink holder for my bicycle (the old one was broken in my accident last fall, and gradually more and more pieces fell off of it to the point that it was no longer viable as a drink holder). So, in what I can only suppose was heat-induced madness, I thought to myself, "I'll just pop into Wal-Mart while I'm here and get a new drink holder." Also, I decided to look at the prices for decaffeinated tea, since my normal grocery store charges much more than I'm willing to pay, but I'm planning to make the switch to decaf as soon as my current stash is gone.

Now, I am not normally a WM shopper. I really don't like it there. They may have low prices, but that doesn't make up for the huge crowds and poor customer service. And going at night, which I used to do, doesn't really help that much-- the crowds may be gone, but the service is even worse, if you can believe that. Plus, since they do all of their stocking at night, the peanut butter you need may well be hidden behind a huge pallet of Windex.

Anyway, I made my way across the street, to the WM parking lot. Now, I seriously don't know why anyone would bother trying to actually park in that lot. I personally, if I had a car, would park three blocks away and walk, because that's about as close to the door as you can get, anyway. After I chained my bike to a convenient cart corral (one of the cycling perks), I went to stand in the queue trying to get in. Seriously, there were so many people going in and out, that there was a literal queue at the door. Once inside, it was a trek of several minutes to get to the bicycle section. Not because it's such a large store, but because half of the population of Lubbock was inside (I'm supposing the other half was at the other WM in town). And apparently quite a lot of people needed bicycle drink holders, because while there is normally a wide variety of said drink holders, there was only one yesterday. I poked around for a while to see if there were any others lurking somewhere, but no such luck. I also got to have a nice conversation with a woman who was in the bicycle section on the same errand, and I was amused by a small group of people nearby who were buying a bike for a young man (presumably, a new college student) who doesn't have a car. They were getting extra inner tubes and all sorts of gadgets, while he looked like he just wanted to take his bike and go. Meanwhile, the conversation ran something like this: "And how will you get to ____ on a bike?" "Well, I guess I'll go on X street, up to Y stoplight, then turn left..." I felt kind of sorry for him, and contemplating telling these rather flustered ladies that you can, in fact, go just about anywhere in this city on a bike, but I decided that would only bring their flusterment upon myself. So I headed for the self-checkout and out the door. It was only when I got home that I realised that I still don't know how much decaf tea is at Wal-Mart.

Moral of the story: Never, ever go to Wal-Mart on a Saturday. Or any other day, if you can help it.

12 August 2006

Four more weeks!

So, we're now inside a month until we go to Scotland. I am looking forward to this trip so much-- coming back to Lubbock is going to be very depressing afterwards. Ce la vie...

So I go into work on Thursday morning, in my usual "morning" mode (happy, but not particularly talkative), all ready to start my day, and the woman who sits next to me starts talking about what she thought the terrorists were doing, how it was probably meant to be on the anniversary of 9/11, and I stop her by saying, "What are you talking about?" She has, you haven't heard?, written all over her face. Well, I generally don't watch the news in the morning, ever since Katie Couric left the Today show, and because I also discovered what a great time of day that is to read my Bible or chat with my husband. Anyway, Marcha gives me the readers' digest version of the plotted terrorist attack, which sends me scrambling to the BBC news website. And throughout the day, my co-workers all expressed varying degrees of concern about our impending trip. For me, though, I'm not worried. Partly because Jesus said, "Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" which, admittedly, has some disturbing implications in this particular situation, and also because Paul wrote, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." And on a purely silly level, if I die on my way back from Scotland, at least I will die happy.

Finally finished a baby blanket for my newest cousin, who is now three months (and ten days) old. I rarely finish blankets before the baby is born, and I would like to be able to say this is the record latest finish, but it isn't. My record is four and a half months. I suppose I could say my friends and family are used to me by now...

28 July 2006

Sports, shoes-- but not sports shoes

So I've managed to steer clear of the TV this week-- wasn't too hard, actually. Most of what I've watched the past two months have been sporting events (World Cup, Tour de France), so in the absence of those, I watch-- nothing. It's kind of nice, really. My sister will be unhappy to hear that I also missed Stargate, but I was taking a nap. Yeah, in the evening. Stranger things have happened.

Normally, I would be looking forward to a new season of (insert current favourite show here). However, The West Wing is off the air, and I haven't watched new episodes of much else in years. We watch Scrubs when we remember that it is on, so maybe that will be our new thing. And I've often thought about picking up ER again, it's kind of like a soap opera really, you can start again one day and have not missed much.

Yeah, this is not going to be a TV-watching post. At least, not entirely. We arrive in Scotland six weeks from tomorrow! (We arrive in London six weeks from today, but since we're spending only one day there doing touristy things, it's hard to count that.) I'm so looking forward to it. Next week I'm going to break down and buy new tennis shoes, since we'll be doing a lot of walking and my current shoes aren't up to that any longer. With a four-week gap between buying and all that walking, I'm sure I'll have time to break them in. I hope so, anyway, since we are planning to go on a hill walk and that is NOT pleasant in brand-new shoes. I might try to get my hands on some reasonably-priced Doc Martens, even, since they are much better for walking around in than any tennis shoes (at least, my last pair were).

TV and shoes. What an exciting life I lead. :) Oh, and I started studying Acts for the next Bible Bowl-- presumably, South Plains will once again field a Senior Bible Bowl team, and since I was part of the original team, I'll be back. This time around I'd like to finish higher than sixth place.

16 July 2006

Changing gears

We went to the Spanish service at church again today (we tried last week, but apparently no one but the preacher and his wife had shown up for Bible class, so they gave it up and went home). I had a much harder time understanding the sermon this time around-- couldn't get my brain to switch gears into Spanish. While we enjoy teaching in Sunday school, it will be nice when we can go the the Spanish Bible class as well as the service. That way, we can prepare by reading the Bible in Spanish (and speaking it to each other, as much as we can) before going to church so we're totally in Spanish for the entire morning. As it is now, I can read beforehand but then have to switch to English for a hour, then back again. The preacher's wife told me this morning that I should make English off-limits for myself as soon as I walk into the room where the service is held. And she's totally right, of course. I'm struggling with the European problem of not wanting to speak a language until I can speak it. (Americans tend to not have this problem as much.) So that's probably what I'll do next Sunday. Maybe I'll teach the kids some Spanish words to get my brain more in gear. :)

The other day I was speeding along on my bike (speeding for me, that is), tried to change gears and my chain fell off. All I remember from when I was young is that getting the chain back on is a huge deal, complete with pinched fingers and a long delay while Dad gets it going again. So I was not happy when I got off to survey the damage. Well, it took me all of five seconds to get it back on and get going again. So, I'm guessing that bikes are made better these days, to facilitate the ease of putting the chain back on the bike. Either that or my father was making it seem like an ordeal just to keep us entertained. Which I suppose is possible.

08 July 2006

I'm already exhausted...

and it's only 9 in the morning! I have just booked our train tickets from London to Glasgow, which was arduous, to say the least. The online booking service is not American-friendly, so I had to recharge our phone card and ring the customer service line. Then, the man couldn't hear me (I was only phoning from across the ocean, can't imagine what the problem was), so I had to shout into the phone. Well, shouting for me, which I suppose is normal volume for everyone else. :) Anyway, the man was very helpful and got us exactly the tickets we wanted. So we're all set. I am so excited-- we arrive in London two months from today!

In other news, packing my lunch has gotten to be a bit of an art for me. I usually eat a salad, which I assemble at work, so I take an entire grocery bag full of salad stuff, every day. It reminds me of a Cathy cartoon strip I saw many years ago, in which she was trying to eat healthy lunches so she carried a large paper grocery sack full of ingredients for her lunch with her to work-- and then couldn't find a spot in the refrigerator because of everyone else's large grocery sack. Fortunately, I seem to be the only one who needs an entire refrigerator shelf-- at least, so far. Of course, the carrying of the contents of my kitchen gets even more complicated on the days I have to take the bus, which are blessedly few, because I take my breakfast on those days. So yesterday morning, I was frantically running around the kitchen, putting my bag full of salad fixings in my backpack, followed by a small tupperware thing of cereal, then a small container of milk, plus a banana for the cereal, and yoghurt for a snack... I'm thinking of just doing some grocery shopping one day during my lunch break, and keeping stuff at work all the time.

And since I took the bus, I got to walk in the morning, which is always fabulous. I really would like to do so more often-- I suppose I could say, "thanks, but no thanks" to the people who currently pick me up in the mornings-- but I do enjoy the extra half-hour of sleep thus obtained. Oh, well. Yesterday morning was beautiful, anyway. In fact, I think I'll head outside now, see if I can enjoy another beautiful morning...

03 July 2006

Happy 3rd of July!

Every Sunday (just about) we spend an inordinate amount of time deciding whether to sit upstairs or downstairs at church (dumb, I know, but that's what we do). Sometimes we take so long in our decision-making that the choice is taken out of our hands by the arrival of the rest of the congregation, leaving us to sit wherever we can find space. I suppose we can say for ourselves that at least we aren't glued to one pew, like so many people are.

So, yesterday we decided to try something new. There is a very small Spanish congregation that meets in the building at the same time as the late service. We've meant for ages to go to it sometime, and yesterday was the day. Needless to say, we enjoyed it very much. For one thing, a smaller group really is preferable (at least in my opinion) to the huge congregation we normally worship with. And since it's been years since either of us worshipped in Spanish, that side of it was nice, too. Afterward when we talked over the sermon, I was surprised at how much Chad understood. So we will definately be going again, at least a couple of times a month. If nothing else, my Spanish is really rusty and this gives me a chance to practise. As well as fellowship with a different group of hermanos.

The World Cup is almost over, much to my dismay, but Wimbledon has started, so that eases the pain a bit. And the Tour de France started up over the weekend as well. Sometimes I wonder why I don't watch the same sports as everyone else, and then I remember: because being like everyone else is so dull. Besides which, I really am being like most of the world in my love of football (soccer, if you need a translation). So I am happy with my little world of sport.

27 June 2006

Falling down

Yes, my husband talked me into a Pilates class. And also yoga. I was using my gym membership for such dull things as the weight machines, stairmasters, and rock climbing wall, but it turns out there are even more exciting things to do there-- in the shape of yoga and pilates, apparently.

So, what happens when an inflexible, slightly overweight woman who can't even stand up without falling over takes yoga? As if we were in any doubt about my inner ear and its ability to keep my upright, I went to yoga to find out for sure that I have no balance. Haven't hit the floor yet, though-- many years of practise at catching myself are paying off. However, I have been practising at home, and I can now do the "tree" for almost two minutes before having to put my hand on the wall to steady myself. Unfortunately, we haven't done that one yet this week. After all my practise? Come on!

Also would like to report that after hovering at the same weight for months, I finally broke through my plateau! Hip, hip, hooray! Long may it last!

25 June 2006

Don't Walk

Okay, this may be a minor rant:

This is not a city that is pedestrian-friendly. To begin with, most of the sidewalks are on east-west streets. If you want to go north or south, you're on your own. And pedestrian crossings are a joke, where they exist at all. If you're lucky, the "Walk" signal will get you to the middle of the street (you know, just where the traffic turning left can run over you). And that's if you're lucky. Usually I get about three steps before I'm staring a flashing "Dont Walk" in the face. Very helpful. (How I long for the nicely planned pedestrian crossings in the UK...)

Cyclists are a little better off, because there are at least planned bike routes around. However, the city planners didn't take into account that cyclists might want to go, say, to the grocery store. Or the movies. Or the bank. Or anywhere but a public park, really. Which really strikes me as hilarious-- do cyclists only go to parks? Who needs a park if you are already out riding your bike? I don't know what I would do after riding to a park. Walk around and enjoy the... um... flatness?

Upon further reflection, riding my bike to the park would allow me a grand revenge on the mad ducks. Heh heh heh.

Anyway... mini-rant over.

Having said that, I will say for the umpteenth time that I do enjoy riding my bike. Much, much more so than I every enjoyed driving my car (I realise that sounds bizarre). Yesterday morning I went out to run some errands (actually I was comparing prices for a blender) at about 9:15. When I told Chad about my plan (stop at 4 stores + bank, buy from the cheapest) he said, "So you're just going to shop?" Imagine that-- I'm a woman who likes to shop from time to time. Alert the media. So when I told him that I was kind of excited by the prospect, since it's been ages (almost a year, actually), since I've done so, he more or less wished me well and sent me on my way. Hee.

Anyway, it was totally liberating to be riding around on my bike. I was getting some great exercise, enjoying a nice morning (sunny and not too hot, if you can believe that), and-- here's the best part-- I spent a grand total of $0 on fuel. The only "fuel" I really used was a litre of water. Which is good for me anyway. So, after I made 6 stops (I added a store, due to its proximity to a planned stop), I then went back to two of the stores I had already stopped at, to get a couple of different things. And I ended up getting the blender at Target (they've got a great sale going, by the way, if anyone needs a blender), which was both my first and last stop, since it's the closest to our house. Anyway, here's the point: I was out for about 3 hours comparing and shopping. Seriously, if I had taken a car, I'm willing to bet I would have spent the exact same amount of time. I'm almost certain of it, just based on past shopping trips with a car. So I was pretty happy.

And in other news, the US is out of the World Cup, Mexico is out (I usually support them as well, being as they are neighbours), and England is still in. Nothing is going my way in this World Cup. Although I do give all kudos to Ghana, they are doing brilliantly and I do always like to cheer for the underdog. Even if they did knock the US out.

22 June 2006

A (less than?) spectacular finish

Found this earlier and I was delighted.

Okay, so the US has exited the World Cup. Since I was technically at work, I didn't get to watch most of the game, and just had the "official site" window open to see live updates. The woman who sits next to me was, I think, less than amused at my continual groans of despair (although my small display of delight at our one goal did draw more interest my way). I did see the last 10-15 minutes, which was nice, although Claudio Reyna was not on the field by that point and he is the player I most enjoy watching. So, well done Ghana. We'll be back.

14 June 2006

Heading Home

We've now been in California for (nearly) a week, and it's time to go home. But not before getting our hands on some Carl's Jr. I am still in shock that Lubbockites are unable to appreciate the finer fast foods in life... but they are. Carl's Jr. has now come and gone-- twice-- in Lubbock. So we'll get it while we can.

The weather here has been great-- so nice and cool. Temps in the 60s-70s are a welcome change after 100s. But back we go this afternoon. And while it has crossed our minds a few times this week to move out here, the reality is I like living in an inexpensive place. And that's certainly not here.

29 May 2006

Twenty-one o' clock

I have no particular reason for using the 24-hour clock, except that I enjoy it.

I sit down at the computer to look up one thing. Three hours (and at least one suggestion from my husband that we get a second computer) later, and I am more informed (and consequently more depressed) than I was, but no closer to a solution. The internet is a great tool. Why is it that when I've finished what I'm doing, I find it harder to part with the internet than say, a hammer I would use to drive a nail? Once the picture is on the wall, I have no need to carry around the hammer, just in case there is another nail lurking somewhere I can pound into another wall. Yet the internet compells me to move from one topic to another, despite the fact I have researched my original subject throughly. And this is a malady that affects millions, to judge from the number of blogs on this service alone.

Anyway. Time to get ready for bed.

28 May 2006

The greatest spectacle in... blogging?

Yeah, so I'm listening to the Indy 500 right now. I don't intend to do so all afternoon, but for now I'm chilling and enjoying the commentary. Well, the commentary about what is actually happening. The conjecture and trips down memory lane I could do without. Anyway, my favourites this time around are Dan Wheldon, Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti, so I'm just keeping an ear open for them. As it turns out, these three must be everyone's favourites because they are coming up for discussion a lot. That's something new, for my opinion to go along with everyone else's.

There's a happy little song, called "Lines on the Road," that only a few people know. It's been in my head intermittently all morning because Keely and I were talking about it yesterday, while hanging out in her empty house. They left this morning. (Aaron, pity you weren't here last night! The three of us had to hang out without you. But only for a few minutes, before Keely scurried off to finish packing.)

In related news, the World Cup starts June 9! I'm so looking forward to it. Last time, we were in California for the entire run, so I missed most of it (although it turned out that one of Chad's uncles was following it very closely, and he kept me updated). This time around, we will be in CA for the beginning, but we'll be back in time for me to catch plenty of it. Okay, so that wasn't related at all.

12 May 2006

Riding in cars with birds

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a movie by, what's-his-name, anyway, the movie with the birds. You know, the one entitled, The Birds. Why? Well, birds seem to follow me around more than they do any normal people.

I haven't been chased by ducks in a couple of weeks; apparently they decided they have heaped enough humiliation on me for a while. I did, however, help a co-worker remove a baby bird from the bumper of her car this afternoon. It had apparently decided this was a good place to hang out, but she wanted to leave, sans bird. So I tried shooing it away, thought about picking it up (I got gloves from the medical staff for that very purpose) and then decided there was no good way to pick it up without it biting me. So I tried reasoning with it. (I am not joking.) I knelt down to look at it, and said, "We really need you to go away." And-- this is the good part-- it flew away. I don't know if it was from sheer terror at this person talking to it, or (as another girl at the office said) if I have some Doctor Doolittle qualities. Whatever it was, it flew away, directly into one of the rafters of our covered parking area. And when I say it "flew into" a rafter, I mean in the same way that I walk into stationary objects like walls. It hit the rafter, then fell down. This caused me some distress, but the bird was still moving around, so I left it alone lest I cause the poor bird further trauma. And when I came out to leave 30 minutes later, it was gone. I hope it left of its own accord.

On a sadder note, this Sunday I will say good-bye to a good friend, one that's been with me for a while and who I will miss terribly. This friend, of course, is The West Wing. Okay, so I exaggerate a bit. It is, without a doubt, my favourite television show, but then I only watch about three shows with any regularity at all, so it's like my most favourite of my three favourites. These last couple of seasons have been kind of up and down in terms of quality, right enough. But I am still sad to see it go; this is one fantastic group of actors, and it almost seems a crime to separate them when they work so well together.

Okay, I'm done being sentimental about a TV show. I watched a movie called Hope and Glory the other day, and as a result, the song Land of Hope and Glory has been in my head ever since. If you're not familiar with the title, and you're an American, then it's the song that was (most likely) played at your high school graduation. It's technically only a part of Pomp and Circumstance, but for some reason we just skip directly to the main title, possibly because a name like Land of Hope and Glory might tip us all off that this song is British in origin. The song actually has good lyrics, especially for a British patriotic song, but it is a bit incongruous with an American high school graduation.

07 May 2006

Rainy days and laundry

Yesterday we rode our bikes in the rain. Well, to call it rain is a bit much. At most I would say it was a very heavy fog-- so heavy that my glasses were coated with water droplets. After drying my glasses twice, I gave up and rode the last mile without them, much to the alarm of Chad, who is convinced that I am as blind as a bat without them. However, it did me no good whatsoever to be able to see everything clearly, when all I could see clearly were the raindrops. Better to see slightly blurry cars than not see them at all, I say.

I was, in fact, delighted with the weather yesterday-- it was such a Scottish day. If I could have just convinced all the cars going by to drive on the left, my joy would have been complete. But they didn't. I read a blog from one of the AIM students currently in Scotland yesterday, in which she said that the temperature was over 60 degrees one day last week, and so she was able to wear a T-shirt outdoors for the the first time since her arrival one year ago. I'm presuming that last summer she was not acclimated enough to the weather to go out in short sleeves, because they always get at least a few nice days. Anyway, apparently Scots were bringng out the shorts and sandals for the 60-degree weather, to which I say: I remember those days. I used to lie in bed listening to the radio in the morning, waiting for the weather report to see if it was more that 15 degrees outside (translation: 15 C= approx. 60 F). If so, I was excited.

(This next thought may turn you all off from every reading this blog again, but I'm going to say it anyway, so you have been warned.) I'm puzzled a bit this week with the American need (possibly obsession) to continually be doing laundry. For instance, the clothes that I have on right now will be worn for 4 hours, tops. Presuming I don't spill anything on myself at lunchtime, when I get home, I will take them off and hang them back in my closet. Yet there are many people who would be horrified at such an action. Why? All I'm going to do in them is sit in church, and possibly have lunch. I do the same with my work clothes-- all I do is sit in them at my desk. Unless they get actual dirt on them at some point during the first wearing, I wear them all twice before washing. Saves water, soap, time, energy, and electricity. None of which would I so lightly throw away on anything else. So there's my thought on doing the laundry.

06 May 2006

Coming to the end

We just got back from our last Bible Bowl-- last one of this year, and last one ever for us, at least at South Plains. We'll be moving to Austin before they start again next spring, so we are hanging up our flannelgraph and moving on. We may help with the senior Bible Bowl team until we go, should one be organised, but that will be the full extent of our involvement. We had a really fun day today, with only two girls to look after. One of them was quite teary at a couple of points, which led to me dramatically climbing over a pew to try to comfort her (okay, it wasn't that dramatic, and it didn't really help, anyway), and the other one kept dropping her answer cube. But we made it to the end alive, and we really are done. I suppose someday if we have children who want to do this sort of thing we'll do it again. Anyway, here's a picture from our last competition:



Not our biggest group ever, but these are some great kids.

29 April 2006

... And the peasants rejoice.

I've chosen a university-- really good for someone who has been out of high school for a decade (almost!), right? Anyway, I'm currently in the application process for the University of Texas in Austin, to start in the spring of 2007. Pretty exciting stuff. Apparently Austin is an expensive place to live, which is a bummer, but I'm not too worried. And they also have a really good public transport system, so we can continue in our car-free lifestyle if we wish, with a lot fewer problems getting around.

Speaking of which, last weekend we celebrated (well, acknowledged is probably a better word) our first anniversary of being car-free!

26 April 2006

Duck!

Okay, by popular (if one request counts as popular) demand, here is more on the ongoing saga of the manic ducks in the park.

I saw them most days last week, and they were content to just come towards me a few steps (except for the aforementioned day when they ran alongside me for a little way). And on Monday somebody was feeding them, so they didn't even bother with me invading their space.

Tuesday, I was walking around the lake again, as I do. This park is south of where I work, and on Tuesday I started out walking southwards along the west side, and then circled around so that I was headed north on the eastern side of the lake--I'd come 3/4 of the way around, in other words. And I moved away from the edge of the lake once I got over to that side, because I've decided that these are birds that need their space. There are some baseball diamonds on the edge of the park, so I headed up towards them.

Not that it worked. These two ducks were swimming around in the water, saw me, started quacking madly, and then got out of the water. But instead of coming directly toward me, they started running forward at an angle, to cut me off from finishing my walk. Not kidding. These are ducks who paid attention in geometry. So, I changed course, to go around behind them (they were quite a way up the bank by now). But they weren't having that, and they swerved around to catch me no matter which direction I went. So I decided that I had upset them enough for one day, and turned around to go back the way I came (my plan being to go around behind the baseball diamonds). This, it turns out, was not my brightest move. I heard a strange rustling noise and looked around just in time to see one of the ducks, wings out, bearing down on the back of my knee. These things had apparently decided that if I didn't have a snack to offer them, they were getting a snack one way or another, and therefore sprinted after me. I jumped out of his way, but not quite far enough, and he grabbed the back of my trousers with his bill. So I now am standing in a public park, with a duck attached to my trousers, trying to get it off of me without hurting it (or me!). The other duck was flapping around right next to me; thank goodness it didn't go for my other leg.

So I swung around, as you do when a 10-pound bird has a death grip on an article of your clothing, and shook him loose. Both of them immediately came after me again, but our little manouevers had put them on the south side of me; they were no longer between me and the office. So I did what any rational adult does when being charged by creatures not one-fourth one's own size: I ran. I was a bit afraid, actually, that they would suddenly remember that they have wings and try to ram me in the back of the head or something like that (at which point I would no longer have been quite so concerned about them being injured, and probably would have started an all-out fight with the mad ducks), but they didn't. However, should I become an Olympic sprinter one day, I will have two really mental ducks to thank for it.

Today, needless to state, I went around behind the baseball diamonds to begin with, and the mad ducks never saw me.

And where will they live? That's what I often wonder.

At risk of turning my blog into my own personal extended edition, I'm going to finish my thoughts on watching LOTR start to finish (twice!):

In the intervals of gorging myself on these brilliant movies, I watched a lot of the extras; in particular the cast commentaries. Now I've never really been a fan of watching commentary instead of just watching the movie (although I understand that the commentary on The West Wing DVDs is worth a listen), but I gave it a try and was so glad I did. It's fun to listen what is essentially this group of actors getting together to reminisce about the making of these films. In particular I enjoy listening to Billy Boyd, which should come as a surprise to no one since he is from Glasgow! He and Dominic Monaghan had me laughing throughout every scene. Also bringing me delight was the others "translating" what Billy Boyd said for the benefit of audience members who do not speak Glaswegian-- and I admit I was quite chuffed with myself that I required no translation. Anyway, I'm not going to repeat all the funny moments here, but I will say that if you are a fan, the commentaries are well worth the time it takes to watch. (And I also admit that I skipped quite a bit.)

As someone whose future degree lies (I hope) in linguistics, I also marvelled during the extras at how many accents Peter Jackson managed to assemble for the films, with actors from just about every commonwealth country (or so it seemed), plus a few more places thrown in for good measure. I would give quite a lot just to have been there and listen to all these different accents. And in addition to those of course is the linguistic treasure Tolkien himself created, with a different languages for several of the cultures he created-- some of which managed to get into the film, notable the Elvish. And some Dwarfish (?-- not sure that's what it's called, and I'm not looking it up at this moment). I lack the creativity to make up a language myself, I'm afraid, but I do have a love for languages on this earth. And once I get a reasonable handle on all the languages I want to learn, maybe I'll become fluent in Elvish. :)

21 April 2006

I heard a good deal about a ring, and a dark lord, and the end of the world...

Well, this has been quite a week. The stress level at work has been quite high, and being me, I absorb the stress of others and make it my own. So I've had to find an effective stress reliever.

And I found it! Chad borrowed the three extended edition Lord of the Rings movies from some friends of ours, and so the dream I have carried around in my heart for 4 1/2 long years now was realised last weekend: We watched all three movies in a 24-hour period. Actually my dream was to watch them all in one go, but I really wanted to start watching Friday night, after getting home from work. So we watched FOTR Friday night, and as strong as my love for the books and movies is, I didn't think I could stay awake long enough to finish the job. So we continued with TTT and ROTK on Saturday. It was brilliant-- to the point that I was almost completely useless at work on Monday and Tuesday. But since our stress showed no sign of relenting, I decided to do a modified marathon LOTR viewing, and watch it over a few evenings. On Tuesday I got home, turned it on, and watched until I fell asleep (sometime in the first half of TTT, right after Frodo and Sam reached the Black Gate). More of the same on Wednesday and Thursday, for a grand total of 12 very happy LOTR hours. And now we're going to have to give the movies back, before I start going around muttering about "my precious" and how it was a birthday present. There's a scene in TTT in which Frodo is sitting off in a corner, rocking back and forth, which apparently is cut short from a longer scene in which he essentially turns into Gollom, and Faramir sees what the ring would do to Frodo eventually... anyway, all that is in the movie is a glimpse or two of Frodo rocking back and forth while Sam has a brilliant scene with Faramir. The point is, I don't actually want that to happen to me.

In other news, I was chased by ducks this week. Not kidding. These ducks live in Maxey Park, and apparently harass everyone they can, looking for food. I never have food with me in Maxey Park, which I suppose is why they chase me; they are trying to get rid of me so better prospects can come along. Anyway, on Tuesday I really thought I was going to get bitten (or whatever you call it, since ducks don't have teeth). It would have been kind of embarassing to have to go back to work and request wound care after getting bitten by a duck. Or two. And if they had attacked me and I'd had to fight them off, no-one would have ever believed that the ducks started it. What is really amazing here is that their legs are not one-tenth the length of mine, and I'm not exactly a slow walker, and these ducks were keeping up with me. Scary, now that I think about it.

12 April 2006

I love children...

because I was walking through the park today, and a preschool boy saw me and shouted, "Look! A teenager!" I wanted to hug him. And normally I don't want to hug anyone. Not even cute children.

I love this verse: "May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge." (Ruth 2:12) That image is so reassuring to me- Ruth taking refuge under the wings of God. As do I. What a comforting verse that is.

11 April 2006

Cycling

I was reflecting to myself yesterday, as I rode to the grocery store, that it's a good thing I enjoy walking and cycling so much. I would really, really be hating this otherwise. But really, cycling is so liberating that I find myself wondering why everyone isn't doing it. It would also solve that nasty problem of so many Americans having obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease... and the list could go on. To say nothing of the fact that gas prices are expected to go up, again, for the summer "driving season" (is that like hunting season? basketball season?). And of course we can add the minor detail that if there is another round of hurricanes on the Gulf Coast like the last one, we may have no other choice but to cycle. And so I say, Join me in my cycling lifestyle! (While it's still your choice to make!)

Anyway, yesterday evening I was riding to the store and was pleasantly surprised at how light the traffic was. Apparently, the good citizenry of Lubbock stays home at 7ish on a Monday evening, which I appreciate. There were some boys practising baseball at the school just a couple of blocks from our house. As I rode by, one of them was running to third base and the coach was shouting "Hold it! Hold it!" to the boy with the ball. I appreciated that as well, because while I enjoy watching Little League baseball, and I get lots of mileage out of my I-got-hit-on-the-head-with-a-softball story, I had no desire to get hit by a flying baseball while cycling. Which is almost certainly what would have happened, because I was just beyond third base, and there didn't seem to be anyone there to catch the ball, had the boy thrown it for the out. (And while I don't think it's likely that a small boy would leave any permanent marks on me, I do still have a bump on my head from the last time, even though it's been 14 years.)

Speaking of small children and baseball, all the diamonds in Maxey Park (near my work, where I go for my lunchtime walk) are all spruced up for the summer. Fresh lines are drawn in the dirt, all the rubbish has been cleaned up-- they really do look nice. Plus, the new adverts are up all around the fences. They are all set to go for another season of children learning such values as teamwork, doing one's best, and corporate sponsorship. While I do realise that organisations such as Little League could not exist without such corporate sponsors, it still makes me laugh. A lot.

We just bought our plane tickets to go to California and see Chad's family! When I say "just bought", I mean, 15 minutes ago. I had an IE window open for every travel website there is, I think, only to finally hand over our money to Priceline. We named our own price, and it worked! For the second time in my life!

09 April 2006

Palm Sunday

Hmmm... this seems to have become an "every Sunday" kind of pastime for me. And I wish it were because I've spent less time on the computer lately, but really, it's because I spend all my time at the computer playing goofy games. Seriously, these games are so addictive. And all that is going on in our life lately is Bible Bowl, anyway, so I have nothing interesting to write about, even when I am online.

So we had our second road trip with the kids yesterday, this time to Denver City, which is only 1 1/2 hours away. Thank goodness. We're supposed to review on the bus on the way there, which generally turns out to be a good thing. I tried running the review on our bus yesterday and was answered mostly with silence from the children. One of them complained to me that "this is supposed to be fun." I'm afraid I'm a bit at a loss for words for children who look at the Bible as something even more boring than school. So I assured him that there was plenty of fun to be had if he would only participate. Chad then got into the act to counteract the boredom by singing Judges chapter 3. That amused and re-energised them for a little while, and when interest started to wane again, I started calling on people instead of waiting for them to answer. Which worked. So now I know what to do next time. We have one more road trip, this time to Monahans, which is a tiny town on the other side of the moon. The drive there is only about 3 hours long, but it seems twice that distance since there is nothing at all to look at between here and there. That is, unless you like dirt.

So we're half-way through our Bible Bowl season now (or the "circuit", as one of the children expressed it last week). The competition in Denver City yesterday was different than any we've had before; there were four rounds of 25 questions (instead of the usual five rounds of 20), and children answered on a Scantron. And that being the case, the correct answers weren't read out right away, which made for shorter rounds. (Hallelujah!) We had a lot of broken pencils, but no other problems, and the South Plains group took home first, third, and sixth place team awards. The only individual awards given out were for perfect rounds, and one of our kids had the only perfect round the entire day. So we did well, again.

Apparently some of the kids thought it was boring, but I'm afraid I've grown so accustomed to them being bored that I don't even care. I'm guessing this is the result of children having every gadget known to man, as well as having activities every spare second of their day. And I wish I had a great plan for counteracting our culture's need to be in overdrive for our own children (should we ever have any), but there again, I'm at a loss. However, I do still have some time to work on that. :)

I read an amusing article earlier about ways people waste money, and one of the things mentioned was gym memberships. Apparently, purchasing a gym membership is the best way to ensure that you will never work out again. I believe this to be true, since I owned my current membership for about four months without using it once. And I've not used it a lot while it's been cold, because I still have to get there, and however good a workout may be, battling freezing wind before and after is no fun. But I mention this to say that I've actually had a really good week in terms of working out. Since we have no car, I have no excuse for not having a high fitness level anyway, so I can't explain why I'm not in fantastic shape. However, we're working on that. :)

I had more things in mind to write about, but since this is getting ridiculously long, I'll put them on hold for now.

02 April 2006

Oh, these children

Well, we're back home again and it's Sunday morning, and I feel sufficiently recovered from having spent many hours on a bus with 15 little boys. (Which, by the way, is a considerable improvement from last year. This year the decision was made to split the boys and girls on two separate buses. Last year I was on the bus with all of the sixth grade boys and girls, and was thus ready to tear out my hair long, long before we arrived home.) We had a fun trip to Abilene, and a good start to our Bible Bowl season.

I don't have actual numbers, but 20+ children went with us, and quite a lot of adults as well. Five of us spent Saturday at Abilene Christian University competing in the National Bible Bowl, while the rest of the gang was at Junior Bible Bowl, just up the street from us at the Hillcrest Church of Christ. I don't remember all of the results, but at the junior level we took the first place team and I think the fourth place, and several of our kids placed individually as well. Our senior level "team" consisted of two adults and one junior high student. Our student was on the seventh place team and took the eighth place individual, while on the adult side I placed sixth individually (no teams at the adult level). So we were all pleased with the results of our day and also of the behaviour of the children. We've rarely had cause to complain there, and we did have a "pep talk" about the need to be humble in our successes before departing. And we pointed out that they are representing Jesus, to say nothing of their families and congregation, which they really took to heart.

So that's why I haven't posted in a week; I've been frantically studying in preparation for yesterday's competition. The children have three more events, but I'm done, so now I can focus on helping them. Oh, and as soon as I get some pics, I'll be posting them.

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