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August 27, 2006

Lori's Word Cloud

Lori posted a cool word cloud link. Here's mine - a bunch of words collected from my blog, plus I had fun messing around with it, adding and taking away (words I know are in my blog).

Snapshirts


Then I got the idea to just make up a word cloud with words completely of my own choosing. I had fun with that, too. Only I couldn't get rid of the stubborn word "café" for some reason, leftover from my blog word cloud!

Snapshirts_1

Let me know in the comments if you post one of these of your own - either generated from your blog, or just made up. I'd love to see it. Sorry mine are blurry - I guess I made the photos too big, and I need to stop now, so I'm not fixing it.

August 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Six Busy Days

BuckinghampalacelawnWent into busy, noisy, dirty, crowded, overload central London (can you tell I'm not a big city person?) to visit the Queen's domicile. Buckingham Palace was lovely, and seeing Queen Elizabeth II's 80 sparkly, pearly, silky, velvety, long gowns and her incredible jewellery was lots of fun. No photographs allowed inside the building. You'll just have to go yourself. Great to see our longtime friend from Switzerland, who toured with us, and told us of her recent adventures in Peru and the Galapagos.

This is a shot of the rear lawn of Buckingham Palace, after the interior part of our tour.
TraintoworkHad lunch with David at his office for the first time and got to see where he sits all day, as well as experience his train commute route with him. It's a long way (over an hour each way, if you count the walking, door to door), but as David points out, he gets "alone time" in the midst of all those people he doesn't know, and has guaranteed time to read his Bible, pray, and chill. The fast walking on either end of the train ride also provides a little daily exercise, which he didn't use to have when he drove to work in California and France.

This photo shows the train station and main road railway crossing in our little town in Berkshire, England, looking towards London. We are really glad we are on the same side of the railway line as our school, so we don't have to wait for the trains to pass in the mornings on our way to school.

Took the kids to Orientation Day at their new school. By this time there were three sick people in the house: David, Jason, and me. Thankfully, Emily was as boppy as ever. After Jason's 2 hours at school, he practically collapsed into the car under the power of his cold.

Took the kids to their first two days of school in England. I am so proud of them and the way they tackled yet another new school system in another new country with all new teachers and classmates and materials. On the way there in the morning, Emily said, "I love the first day of school! It's so tense and good!" I guess that sums up her personality. Jason was calmly determined and focussed. And the days went well, as God answered all my prayers for a good beginning.

Went shopping for all the extra school necessities we weren't told about until school started and the kids met their teachers. Discovered a huge new (to me) shopping center 15 minutes away that I hadn't known existed, in a town I'd heard of but never been to yet. The shopping center has three sports goods stores (for P.E. needs like shin guards and hockey socks and navy shorts), at least three bookstores (for reading material for the Book Challenge in Language Arts class), various stationers (for notebooks, binders, and a cross-cut shredder - the latter a home need!), electronics stores, department stores, a farmer's market on Saturdays, several grocery stores and drugstores (chemists as they are called here), lots of cafés and restaurants, and a zillion other businesses which I have yet to discover because the kids were tired and needed to go home.

Battled this cold that is still hanging on. Now it seems possible that David has a sinus infection beginning. :-( He's resting as much as possible. Which means on the weekends. Fortunately we have a three-day weekend right now ("Late Summer Bank Holiday" - over here it seems several of the official holidays don't even celebrate anything, or have a reason - but we're still thankful for them!). Jason seems to be all better (thank You, God!), I'm mostly better, and Emily's still the image of health and vitality.

Rewatched Frequency, with Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel. Dennis Quaid often plays such nice guys (The Rookie, the Parent Trap, Frequency...). You think from watching movies like these that the guy himself is a faithful husband and so on, then you look him up on imdb and find he's on his third wife and was engaged to someone else in the meantime, and he was addicted to cocaine, and the illusion rightfully bursts. I just can't imagine the extent of the awful stresses and pressures of being famous.

Funny, I could have sworn I saw this movie about 15 years ago, but now I discover it only came out in 2000. Wow. How come I've seen it before and David hasn't? Maybe I saw it on a plane or at my mom's or when he was on a business trip. And about Jim Caviezel...when I first saw this movie, I had no idea who he was, and didn't remember his name or that he was in this movie...but this time around, of course, I know him as JESUS in the Passion of the Christ. Wow, that's a different feeling! Anyway, I really liked Frequency again (it features a happily married couple who are still in love years later - that's my kind of movie), despite the fact it is a bit gruesome (caveat viewer).

Today we've decided to visit another new church - with a congregation that meets at 5pm about 15 minutes away. It's hard to make a choice on a church around here in August, since the children's ministries are mostly shut down to give the workers a break. So we're just enjoying meeting new people and joining in with the worship at various places, but knowing that we won't be settling down until a few weeks into September, when we can find out more about what the kids' environment will be like during the year. This has become more of a central issue for me now that the kids are older. I found in France that I was happy where the kids were happy. Because if they're happily engaged and learning about the Lord, I can concentrate on worshipping and learning, too.

August 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Messy Room

Messyroome


It needed a little tidying up.

August 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 21, 2006

Palace Appointment

I just made an appointment to meet an elegant, distinguished woman inside the doors of Buckingham Palace tomorrow morning. It's not the Queen, no. Almost as good, though - the mother of my best friend since age four. If I can't gallivant around the palace state rooms with Katherine herself, I will certainly take up her mother's offer! Looking forward to it, Gail!

Shall report on the sparkling nature of the Queen's Gowns after the visit. Her dresses are on display at the moment, just for July & August (also the only time one can visit inside the palace). The exhibition features, along with some incredible-sounding jewels, 80 of Queen Elizabeth II's evening gowns from the 1940's to the present day, including "a gold tissue one-shouldered gown overlaid with fine lace."

I think Emily is going to love it.

August 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Fascinating

I have to interrupt my day to share with you my discovery of the moment: our electric & gas company here in England, which charges us for our power consummation every month, is only obligated to read our meters once every....TWO YEARS! In the meantime, they ESTIMATE. And charge us based on their estimate.

Now I thought it was unusual in France, where they charged us for water only once every six months, and come to think of it, they estimated on our electric as well, but at the end of each year, they read the meter and straightened out the bills with a refund or extra charge. But here, every two years??? The company told me on the phone that they "endeavour" (with a u) to read the meters every six months but are under no legal obligation to do so. So, it the customer would like to (and remembers), she can call in the meter reading herself every last day of the month! FASCINATING! That's one reminder I've never had in my Palm PDA. Yet. In it goes...I'd rather be paying the right amount, since we just moved in and they have NOTHING on which to base their estimate for our particular family's energy use.

In other news, our kids have no cavities and we like the new dentist, Dr. Patel in Sunninghill. He took all of 7 minutes for each kid (together in the same appointment, very handy), and said if we wanted to get their teeth cleaned, it was okay with him (!!! More fascinating Britishisms). Oh well, it's better than nothing, right?

More Miscellany:

Kerry Woo links to an amazing YouTube video of one mega domino chain made out of VHS tapes, CDs, DVDs, bars of soap, lighters, books, and boxes and bottles of stuff, to name a few items. It doesn't matter that it's in Japanese. No language needed. These guys had way too much time on their hands!

FUN math graphic - let me know if you got how it "proves" the pythagorean theorem just by looking at the picture. I stared at it for about 2 minutes before my brain figured it out. It was a cheery realization, especially for someone who liked math in high school but never took any in college, thus allowing 17 years to elapse since I studied it...I was happy I remembered what the pythagorean theorem WAS, never mind that I understood the illustration of it after letting my gray cells absorb it for a few minutes silently.

Rest of our UK August weather, forecast for next ten days:
Light Rain
Mostly Cloudy
Light Rain
AM Showers
Showers
Showers
Partly Cloudy
Showers
Scattered Showers
Partly Cloudy

That actually sounds like the weather for one day here. It keeps raining in fits and starts, clearing up a little, raining again, just being cloudy, dripping, pouring, stopping....on and on. Somebody tell me, is it still August? This is like March weather.

My son and I were discussing Martin Luther's 95 Theses yesterday off-handedly, so I looked them up, since I'd never actually read them. Interesting. There's a First Call song about it which we listened to this morning, that has the sound effect of the nails being hammered into the door of the church in Wittenburg (I can't get the sample to play at that link, though). My six favorites of the 95 theses are: #1, #27, #36 + 37, #55, #62. What about you?

August 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 20, 2006

Bike Trails

JebikingforestJeevergreenforest
By Special Request from my dear old friend Katherine FB, I am finally getting around to posting photos from the forest behind our neighborhood, which provide excellent biking for our family. We start out in deciduous woods, graduate to evergreens, and then cross a grassy area to climb a hill covered with pinky purple heather. It's absolutely gorgeous, and when we moved in, we had no idea of this treasure reachable by foot or bike from our doorstep.
EheatherhillbridgeJeheatherhill
The first time Emily approached the path leading uphill to this heathered plateau, she walked her bike up and declared it was impossible to ride up. The second time, she rode up with a few stops and starts. The third time, she rode all the way up without stopping. A magnificent example of progress and learning, I'd say.

August 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

That's My King!

My favorite part of this morning was watching a video clip of an incredible message preached by The late Dr. S.M. Lockeridge, a preacher from San Diego, California, in Detroit in 1976. On the clip, you'll hear his strong, rock-confident voice describing God in a hundred (or so) ways, while watching beautiful images of nature. Emphasis, vigor, adamance, sincerity, assurance and honor, underscored by appropriate pauses and changes of speed...trying to describe the undescribeable. It made me want to cheer, and the whole congregation laughed a few times (but not too long, since we didn't want to miss any of the rest of it).

Watch That's My King (6 wonderful minutes)

When you get to the page, scroll down one screen to the picture of the pathway between grass and sky, and just click once on the arrow in the middle - if this doesn't work, there are other instructions on the page you can try. Also, you may want to press the pause button after you start and let it load for 20 seconds or so so that it doesn't stop and start in the middle.

If you have any trouble with viewing the clip, or would rather just read, here's the text only. But I really have to recommend watching (or at least listening with your eyes shut). He's an infectiously joyous and confident speaker, talking about a Boundlessly Breathtaking Being.

Emilyvirginiawatersunset
Emily looking into Virginia Water, a lake three minutes from our house

August 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 19, 2006

Monitor Chain

Monitorchain

I am the 10th link in one of the arms of a "Monitor Chain." I thought this was a fun idea:

Photograph this blog post (including your monitor and its immediate surroundings), and post the resulting picture on your blog. Then, the next person photographs your blog post and posts it, and so on. Leave your post URL in my comments so people will be able to follow the chain, and link your image to the post you photographed... this way people will be able to zoom into the monitors by clicking.

Via WonderDawg, written by Kerry Woo, with whom our family happens to have been on two Caribbean business cruises! Hey there, Kerry!

August 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 18, 2006

Magna Carta Mural

Magnacarta1215King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215 at Runnymede, five miles from where we live (where there is also a JFK Memorial, which is on a plot of U.S. soil given by Britain as a gift!). This Magna Carta mural is in a breezeway in the town of Egham, about 10 minutes from our house.

Do you know in what language the Magna Carta was written? Four originals remain to this day.

The British Library calls it "a series of concessions wrung from the unwilling King John by his rebellious barons."

I notice at the end of it it says it was signed at "Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines" - these small towns are both still here! That's 800 years ago!

August 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 17, 2006

Purple Trash Trucks

RecyclingtruckRubbishtruck
I thought the recycling trucks here in England were really cool, white with those tri-shade purple stripes, in lavender, grape and orchid... and then I saw the rubbish collection trucks: now that's a lot of purple.

August 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack