June 27, 2008
Briefly Before Flying Away
David had a blast paintballing with work colleagues on his last night in England...just a few pretty welts on back, shoulder, thigh...
Jason got to visit with his injured friend and stay for dinner (pray for teenager Thomas, who will be in a leg cast for nine weeks, all summer, while moving transantlantically, having scrapped summer travel plans, after being involved as a pedestrian in a car-motocycle crash).
The 2nd (larger) piano crate finally arrived about an hour and a half after the movers were all done loading the rest of our stuff yesterday...they played soccer and sunbathed while waiting! Very nice crew.
The driver of the movers who showed up yesterday for the first time ALSO said I sounded Scottish! He even said I had Scottish eyes!
Off to see my mom!
June 26, 2008
About to be cut off
...from internet connection. It's the day of reckoning for moving...the day everything gets loaded onto a big truck and taken away. Including the wireless equipment.
In the meantime, they've discovered that the large removals van will not fit down our street thanks to the silly little roundabouts in the middle of the road that are only there for "traffic calming measures" to slow the cars down. This was clearly known as a possibility from the beginning, but I was hoping they'd be able to make it through. It just means that the movers will have to load and unload a small truck about 6 times, shuttling to the end of the street to reach the large van.
Also, apparently the wooden crate built especially for our piano is slightly too small. Oops. I don't know what they'll do about that. Maybe expedite a new one to be sent out later today?
Two interesting quotes for you:
The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity.
Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. The discipline of this job is, in fact, the chisel God has chosen to shape me with--into the image of Christ.
You can't take an epidural shot to ease the pain of giving birth to character. In a sense, every day of your life is labor: the rhythmic agony of producing the person who will wake up in your body tomorrow...
June 25, 2008
Cous-cous, Fresh Herbs, and Garlic
I kept meaning to clear out and clean up the little wheeling trolley of baskets in my kitchen before the movers got in there. I usually keep potatoes, garlic, and onions in the lower baskets, and dishtowels and hot mitts in the top drawer. But I forgot, and only after they were mostly done with the kitchen did I think to ask them if there had been any food products left there. Yes, they packed my fresh garlic. I wouldn't have planned to bring that, but they assured me it is no problem, as it is "non-perishable." Okay. Apparently I remembered to get rid of the onions and potatoes earlier.
On my kitchen window-sill sat two fresh herb plants (the ones I later gave to my neighbour) - did you know that in England the H in herb is pronounced, as in the man's name "Herb" short for Herbert? So the packers asked me whether those plants were going...and I raised my eyebrows and asked whether that was possible. Again, they saw no issue with it...they said some people do take their plants, and they just water them before packing! However, we will not see our shipment until 12 days after they drive away with it. These little plants would definitely have died if I had sent them. They almost perished when we were away for only 4 days a while ago. One young packer guy correctly and happily identified the herbs as basil (pronounced BAH-zyl here, not BAY-zyl like in the U.S.) and thyme, crediting the viewing of cooking shows.
When I was in another room and the packers were wrapping up some truly non-perishable canned and dry foodstuffs, I overheard something to the effect of, "Oooh, cous-cous! I like cous-cous. It's really good."
The packing crew were really very friendly and personable, as well as professional and hard-working. Another thank You.
Today is a lovely sunny day, perfect temperature, with a little breeze. It will be a nice memory of the UK to take with us. Can't believe I only have one and a half more days of driving on the left. It will be quite an adjustment to get back to driving on the "other" side of the road in La Confédération Helvétique!
We are very blessed to have a hotel three minutes from our house, which was just renovated, and had connecting rooms to offer us. They said they couldn't guarantee it (even on the day we were to arrive), but we prayed and God was so kind as to answer favorably. I find it makes a big difference when travelling as a family, to be able to walk from one room to the other in pajamas or to borrow each other's bathrooms conveniently, or to quietly check if the kids are still asleep in the morning, etc. So I am thankful. Our hotel has beautiful hanging baskets of flowers and cheerful window planter boxes adorning the exterior. When we first arrived, the stairwell sported a delicious aroma of roast gammon and maple syrup (with which gammon is sometimes glazed).
Last week was Royal Ascot Week here in England, the time of the year which is known internationally for horse racing and fancy clothes (since Queen Anne in 1711), and known locally for crowds, huge traffic jams and a lot of drunk people staggering around due to too much champagne flowing (300,000 people, 170,000 bottles of champagne, 160,000 pints of beer, 18,000 punnets of strawberries, 10,000 lobsters). We had to rethink plans to go out to eat on the outskirts of Ascot due to the queues of cars heading that way. We backtracked and chose a nice place closer to home. Not far enough from Ascot, however, to lack specially hired temporary bouncers at the door, and some very fancy outfits wandering in, hats and all. It was fun to see both the bouncers and the flamboyant dress. We were also intrigued, in an unrelated way, by the fact that at least 4 of the waitstaff in this particular restaurant were from South Africa (this is the Belvedere Arms on the Northern arm of London Road, Erika, in case you are interested!).
On another night that week, we met with friends for a farewell barbeque in Sunninghill, a neighbouring town to Ascot, and one member of the group decided it was better to walk 40 minutes from his house through Ascot than to try to navigate the traffic in a car. I'm sure he was right. He and his son definitely got some good exercise on the way there and home, and scored some entertaining people-watching as well, most likely.
Visas All Around
Today has been quite eventful:
- five seconds of a fainting spell in the family
- four TBE vaccinations
- three more visas stuck in passports
- two phone messages left in the vacant house
- and a swim playdate for Emily
Were you expecting a partridge in a pear tree?
Everyone is fine, we've successfully received our 2nd dose of the only vaccine we needed for our move, we're all legal on the Swiss receiving end now, and it's very calm in the boxed-up house because the movers have nothing to do here today.
Jason and I are hanging out together for the afternoon with our identical twin laptops.
I'm trying to get our UK DVD-by-mail service not to send us any more DVDs when I return the last three...they want to give us the final ones they owe us for the month, but we don't want them because they would be forwarded to Switzerland and we'd have to pay to mail them back from there (or quite possibly lose them in the settling in shuffle).
June 24, 2008
House Full of Boxes
The packers finished boxing everything up. I finished putting numbers on all the boxes so we'll know where to have them laid in the new house. It looks pretty boxy around here. But hey, we still have wireless internet - I asked them to leave it until the last minute on Thursday, so that I can keep telling you how boxy it looks.
They overestimated by a day, so tomorrow nothing will happen, and Thursday it will all be loaded onto a truck and driven to Switzerland, either by ferry or chunnel. They couldn't move up the loading day because the vehicle is not available beforehand.
Why I am not using the unexpectedly empty day tomorrow to make the visit to Bath that we never got around to:
1. David has to work.
2. The kids don't want to go.
3. It's two hours' drive each way.
4. We have appointments to get our 2nd round of TBE vaccinations (all four of us).
5. Jason might get to visit his friend who is just home from hospital having had his leg broken by a motorbike that was speeding and flipped over a car to hit him as he was walking.
6. I could use a rest day. Been fighting seasonal allergies that have been clogging me up and threatening to cause an infection. Slightly blocked ears, nasal/sinus stuff. What's wonderful is that God has sustained me through each very busy day, and I am only very tired in the mornings and evenings - during the day I am just fine and don't even remember that I am a little bit sick. I feel good right now, for example.
But I did momentarily think about seeing Bath.
I'm really thankful that Emily got to play at a friend's house today for 9 hours! Wow! I dropped her off there at 10am and they are bringing her back to our hotel in time for dinner. That is a big blessing on a boring move day. Jason's been enjoying watching movies and playing computer games and chatting with his injured friend online. I got to have a lovely lunch date with Jason, too.
This afternoon I walked across the street to my Belgian neighbour's house and gave her my basil and thyme plants (they smell so good), two little bags of organic hazelnuts, and a can of WD-40. Anyone know a recipe for those ingredients? I had already given the no-no cleaning products to our cleaning lady last week on her last visit, so that was all that was left that we couldn't bring (that I hadn't already gotten rid of, anyway).
We are definitely moving!
June 23, 2008
A Moving Perk
Ice cream for lunch.
Well, I mean, honestly, I had to do SOMETHING with the remainder of the Fossil Fuel pint. Anyway, it contains skim milk and cocoa (which is a fruit/nut/seed, because it grows on trees), which everyone knows are healthy.
They sent four packers today, and I set them loose on the upstairs. Meanwhile, I am busily finishing up business in the kitchen and laundry room, and making the kids do an hour each of their Rosetta Stone German lessons.
The kitchen being where I found the ice cream in the freezer, which is now resoundingly empty. Not so my stomach. Mmmmm.
June 21, 2008
Summer in England
This morning I woke up at 5:50am on the "longest" day of the year, no longer able to sleep...and excited to come downstairs to a fine drizzle outside (which has continued all day long, off and on).
Excited, because not only is it a Saturday, but it is also the first official day of summer, AND the first day of summer vacation for the kids!
Furthermore, we finished up our car sale transaction today, many thanks be to God, and the buyers drove off in it. They had already transferred the funds into our account, in an act of faith...and when they arrived to pick up the car several days later, the first thing they said was, "So here it is...you haven't run away with it..." They were a very nice couple the same age as us. They didn't bring their four little kids this time.
While we were out in the garage for the occasion, the kids noticed Emily's bike, which is the only one not dismantled and packed in a narrow cardboard box, because the packers ran out of that kind of box yesterday. So both kids promptly got on and rode it - simultaneously, even though there is no 2nd place to sit (only a plastic mud guard). Jason pedalled standing up and Emily sat! They had a great time. Both in flip-flops (I hid my eyes and prayed for safety as I went into the house, playing the fretting mother oh so well).
This morning when Emily emerged from her bedroom, she remarked how strange it is to come down the stairs and see the dining room all boxed up. I brought up the aroma: "It smells like cardboard in here."
Emily replied, "I like it. It smells like moving."
This is the kind of childhood we are giving our children - they like moving! Weird stuff.
June 20, 2008
It looks like we're going to be moving soon
In unrelated news, I loved two recent items brought up by Amanda over at Wittingshire:
"A humble man can do great things with an uncommon perfection because he is no longer concerned about incidentals, like his own interests and his own reputation..." [or his own accent in a language he is learning, ha ha]
"...he is not afraid of anything, even of himself, since perfect humility implies perfect confidence in the power of God, before Whom no other power has any meaning and for Whom there is no such thing as an obstacle." (Thomas Merton)
This brought me to look up more of Thomas Merton's writings, and I found this gem:
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. - from "Thoughts in Solitude"
And, of perhaps not quite equal importance, also from Amanda Witt: Underarm shaving has only been around for 93 years! I'm both surprised and not surprised, actually. For some reason I find this comforting.
Do you have an accent?
After I greeted the three-man British packing team and showed them through the house, the head packer asked me, "Do you have an accent?"
This seems like a funny question, when you would think he would be the one to tell me, having listened to me speak. But actually, it's a euphemism for, "You aren't from around here, are you?"
This did not come as a surprise, for lots of reasons, but more recently because in a clothing shop earlier this week, as I was talking with Emily, a stranger queried, "Do I hear an accent?"
This English lady proceeded to explain that she was birthday shopping for a young friend who lives in Seattle, and she was eager to hear Emily's opinion on the choices. She held a dress up to Emily's back to check on sizes, and took Emily's advice on the jeans shorts rather than the white ones.
Back to today and the packing gentleman: he declared that I sound more Scottish than American. That's a new one! :-) Cool. This is partly because my accent automatically changes depending upon whom I am speaking with. Speaking with Emily I sound very definitely American (as in the shop), but speaking with the three British workers, I sounded otherwise. Going to a British school in Switzerland until 6th grade and then an international school with 88 nationalities (or something like that) can do very odd things to one's accent.
I do like living in Europe!
I dread to think what I will sound like in German. A broken, confused French-American-British-Spanish jumble, quite possibly. Well, let's give it time. :-)