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I keep forgetting to say, but Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles will be in Lampeter for lunch and quilt browsing on Thursday. Who's gonna be hanging out by the barricade? This cheesy American!! This town is so tiny that I may actually get to see the royals up close.

How cool is that?

(Yes, I know. Monarchy. How passè! But still.)
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Poor B. Mon and Tues he was running a fever but seemed otherwise fine. After the fever broke on Tues evening he's been a pill. The cold is in full force and he's miserable in attitude. The littlest thing sets him off. I've never seen so many tantrums and out of the blue tears. It's rough. And I'm wrecked.

But for a little while this afternoon we sat out in the back garden nursing and reading and just happy in the grass. I listened to the birds chirping, watched a huge buzzard swirling in the sky, looked at the green green hills. I got hit with the thought that this land desperately wants to tell its stories and secrets. In fact, this land will offer it all up to the first ear that will sit and listen. This is not a shy nor even picky land. Whereas when I was in Australia I really felt like the land would not easily reveal itself at all. Australia is beautiful, but it is cautious. I know none of that makes sense. But there it is.

Last thing before I go zone out in front of some telly. Adam just spent an hour getting a cute little brown mouse out of his office. I'm pretty sure the cats brought it in. We didn't want to kill it and finally Adam was able to scoop it up (in gloved hands) and take it outside.
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Today's weather, let me list it for you:
Sheets of horizontal sleet, at least twice
Hail, small, twice
Hail, medium sized, once
Hail, enormous, twice (including right now)
A snow white-out, once for 10 minutes
Rain, off and on
Sunny and blue skies, at least twice
Biting cold wind, constant

It's crazy town here, folks.
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I love living here. I love it so much that I don't like to think of leaving. The only thing that would make it better would be if you all moved here. And brought good Californian wine with you.

Field trip!

Mar. 5th, 2010 09:43 am
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I am going to St. David's Cathedral tomorrow. The chapel and one of the church history classes is taking a 'pilgrimage' there, so of course I signed up! We're getting a tour, a lecture from the professor going with us, walking to St. Non's Well, and then our choir is singing the evensong. Yay! I am excited.

And I may even get to see [livejournal.com profile] riva_asherah.
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Night three of horrible sleep. Night one: the Puking. Night two: fever and snot and massive squirming and crying. Night three: all of us were exhausted, B passed out straight away only to wake in the wee hours squirming and crying. Twice. UGH. Teething? Sleep regression? General unwellness? Who can say? But Adam and I slept through our alarm and I was 15 minutes late to a meeting with the financial director at school. No big - I am so grateful for Welsh country time! Paying a bill late? No big deal.

I was chatting with a friend yesterday about how quiet my life is here. Outside of the drama of money (I think there is only one other time in my adult life when I've been this poor) and the general drama of having a toddler, there isn't anything else to discuss. I don't follow the news. There's no gossip. No trauma in the community (that I can see or know about). Life is peaceful here. There's space for all the thoughts in my head. It's conducive to navel gazing and spiritual work, if you're into that sort of thing. And Adam and I are, quite a bit. Every day as I walk down the hill, taking in the trees, birds, smell of earth, fresh air and green, I am grateful for being here. I love that there is space to be. That Adam and I have space and time to be with Bennett. It is a gift and absolutely worth the financial stress.

I do miss friends though. I've been dreaming about three things I'm not getting enough of these days: sex, exercise, and social gatherings. But this morning I was reminded of the blessing of friends far away. [livejournal.com profile] keypike sent us a surprise! The postman put the package inside our door (obviously we slept through his knocking!) - I love that it's not weird that the postman would just open the front door and lay a package inside. In the package were bright, cheery, stripey, fleecey footie pajamas for Bennett and socks with grips on the bottom. YAY!!! I cannot wait to put B in his new jammies. So thank you, Ms Keypike! I look forward to having money once again and being able to do the same for you and others. The reminder of love from afar was the brightest and best way to start my zombie-rific day.

Gratitude

Dec. 20th, 2009 01:10 pm
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Today I'm feeling slow, a little crusty and achey (I ran into the bathroom door), but mostly I'm feeling happy. It's a good time write a gratitude post.

I am grateful for:
*Snow? Frost? It doesn't matter. This morning the outside was crispy and white!
*A good night's sleep
*Our new clothes dryer. OMG, clothes and diapers that are soft and not crispy! And dry in less than two days!
*Playdates for Bennett. Really nice family people and their little kids that love Bennett
*Winter! Christmas! Solstice!
*A truly amazing and happy little boy
*Living in Wales, a healthy, green, magical place - this makes me happy every day I wake up here
*The Family Centre - basically it's a parent particpation preschool. That's my best description. It's been a sanity-saver for us and Bennett loves it there. Plus, it's great to feel like we're a part of the community
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Full Metal Alchemist. Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] bravenewcentury!

Pukka herbal teas. I want to try each and every one. We have 5 different kinds currently on hand.

The abundant bird life here. I'm not very good with my birds, but I know I've seen magpies, ravens, swans, hawks (maybe kestrels or kites?), mourning doves, and various other kinds of finches and blackbirds, and other birdies.

The cold clear weather, and the dark.
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Tonight walking home through the cemetery I saw an unidentified mammal. Yes, it was dark. But there was just enough light from the house next door to show me that it was bigger than a cat, it had a large tail about as long as its body, and it was dark with a thick white stripe from the tip of the head to the end of the tail. I though maybe I'd seen a skunk.... but after googling images of a skunk, clearly that's not what I saw. Nor is it any of the other mammals in Wales. What the hell did I see? It made me stop in my tracks. And when a dog came out of the neighboring house it scampered off.
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Of my sickness and the five questions meme?

From Erinya )
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Adam is a little annoyed with me. Not really annoyed, but I get his point. While living in California I kept meaning to learn Spanish. Adam speaks fluent conversational Spanish, nothing sophisticated, but he's quite competent. Bennett now responds equally to Spanish and English. I've always liked Spanish, preferring Central American Spanish. Don't know why. I know it's considered 'low class' or something. But I find it musical, fun and more than a little sexy. I have just enough Spanish vocabulary under my belt to follow along with Adam (he speaks slower, thank god, than a native speaker), but I can't really say anything. After learning to read French and Latin (and forgetting it all) it seems to me that the parts of the brain that comprehend language are different from the parts that formulate and speak.

Anyway, I never did learn Spanish. Adam and I didn't make much effort. It's odd because California is a bilingual state..... unofficially. It's like there's a whole world under the surface, white world. Whole neighborhoods that like a foreign country. All the food service workers are Central Americans. But I was a white, educated, middle class woman, not working in food service, and so.... I let it pass me by.

Here, Welsh is everywhere. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world (after Mandarin and ahead of English). Welsh has something like 600,000 speakers in the world. Did you know that are several thousand Welsh speakers in a region of Argentina? Here, it's truly bilingual. In fact, my eyes are still getting used to making meaning out of forms and signs. I sometimes think it might be easier if everything was just in Welsh. I mostly hear older people speaking Welsh on the streets or in the shops, but families and children speak it too. It seems easier, more accessible and useful to learn Welsh while I'm here. Plus, there is something neat about learning an obscure language. I kind of like the idea that Bennett and I could hold a conversation in the US that no one would be able to understand! And, he's going to be bilingual if we stay here for any length of time, so I may as well learn to count and spell and recognize the colors with him!

I'd like to actually get conversationally competent in at least one other language. My classical voice training has given me a vocabulary in about 9 languages, but a lot of good that does me! My French and Latin have withered away to nothing. My Spanish is about as good as Bennett's.

On top of all of that, there is something about wanting to bolster the world's tiny languages. I saw this article on the BBC this morning. Languages like, people groups and animals, also evolve and go extinct, so I don't think we necessarily need to save every single language - especially if that people group no longer exists. However, I do think that as languages die, ways of thinking and expressing and relating to the world die, and that is sad.

Maybe I'll learn Spanish to get around the rest of the world and I'll learn Welsh to learn something of an older smaller culture.

[livejournal.com profile] hrafntinna, my obscure linguist, what do you think?
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Just a quick post to let you know that NHS, at least in Lampeter, is wonderful. I waited less than 30 seconds for my appointment, went straight into the nurse practioner's office where she was waiting for me. We talked. She got my back history. No one had to take their clothes off or get weighed or deal with a bored intermediary nurse. We made an appointment for my annual smear (mmmm, yay) and she told me that all pediatrics under the age of 5 are dealt with the home health nurses. Yes, they come to your house.

The best part? FREE. I'ts ALL FREE. Prescriptions? FREE.

And I'm not even a citizen. The USA can SUCK IT.
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We live under a rock. With our internet time so public and infrequent, we hardly check the news. Today I see (thanks to Facebook status updates, at least they're good for something!) that Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Really?! That seems absurd to me. And NASA is crashing shit on the moon. I used to be a news junkie, but it feels good getting a media break.


Things I love about Lampeter:
*Lace curtains - Most houses have two sets of curtains, one set of lace and one other heavier set. The lace are always drawn. They let light in and you can see out, but it's very hard to see in. The curtains make even a rundown place look just a little classier. Very nice.

*I live next to a cemetery. Have I said that? The biggest cemetery in town is my immediate neighbor. So cool. Our house also is beloved by spiders. This too is really neat. Inside, outside, all different kinds. None of them are very big (well, a few outside are fat) and none are poisonous. I love it. It seems a good omen, if for nothing else than for the environment, indicating a rich biosphere.

*Again, the grass fed meat and dairy are amazing.

*This place is so small that I can leave my house 5 minutes before I have to be somewhere and I can walk there and be on time.

*When I walk to my office I pass a large field that has two pony paddocks and four ponies. At the bottom of the hill, next to the paddocks, is a large childrens'/picnic park with a gorsedd (standing stone circle) that modern Welsh Druids built. It's really beautiful.

*Autumn has fully set in. I've been meaning to comment on it for two weeks, but in the last few days the temperature has dropped and the mornings have been frosty. It's so gorgeous here: greens, greys, golds.

*I love the culture of tea here. The Chinese students in the offices meet for tea every morning at 10.30. I love going over to people's houses and being offered tea. 'I'll go and put the kettle on.' So cozy and hospitable!

*The local public library is wonderful. One librarian in particular is a doll. I mentioned that there is a book coming out at the end of the month, the third in a young adult trilogy (Nancy Farmer's Sea of Trolls trilogy) and was the library going to carry it? No, but she said she'd order it for me.... and well, we can't have the third if the library doesn't have the first two, right?

*The grey streak in the front of my hair is growing daily. It's fabulous. Although I actually got carded at the store when I bought a bottle of wine last week. They card if they think you look under 25. !! That hasn't happened to me in a long time....

--------
Books I have read:
*Every single Sookie Stackhouse book and short story.
*The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - so good!
*The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters' latest. Ok.
*The Little Prince - how is this a classic? It's banal.

------
Also, I don't know what the Heavens want from us, but clearly it's to go bankrupt. Our internet is scheduled to click on next Friday. What arrived in the mail this morning? A notice from the power company that next Friday the area will need maintenance and power will be off all day. I just had to laugh out loud.
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I'm at the theology dept computer lab (three computers that emit a hideous high pitched noise and are slower than molasses). Today I get a research office. Same floor as my adviser, with a sky light... can't wait! We still do not have an answer for our child care dilemma. The Vice Chancellor said that my request was denied. So it's time to get creative. At this point, we won't have internet at home for another week (we did get one more step in the right direction though!) so Adam can still do the lion's share of the childcare. But poor B needs friends! And we need to work. It's a mixed blessing. We love being with Bennett and he loves being with us, but it's time to give him some play time elsewhere. He looks wistfully at other kids when he sees them.

We got out of town yesterday, which was great. We went to Aberystwyth, a town of about 15,000 people maybe 20 miles north west of here (or so). It takes an hour and twenty minutes on the bus. The town was nice but not all that enticing. In fact, I surprised myself by being so thrilled and even itchy to return to quiet, tiny Lampeter! I did find B the nicest, softest, cheeriest organic wool hat and mittens though.

I am feeling better than in my last post. Still run down and anxious, but I know it'll pass. The office will help. The internet at home will help. More tasty homecooked meals will help. Bennett is nursing up a storm - day and night. A quick peek in his mouth explains it! He has two molars swelling on his left side. Ugh. He has been so slow to get teeth. Our one set of friends here with kids have a boy just one month older than B and he has all of his teeth!

Back to food. I have to say that the meat and dairy here are AMAZING. A.MAZ.ING. The meat is almost entirely grass fed and so is the dairy. There are several west Wales organic dairy suppliers. The produce certainly doesn't hold a match to the fruit and veg from California, but so far.... we're eating really, really well.

Tonight's dinner is going to be split pea soup and garlicky salad - so we can take a little break from the meat and dairy. For one night at least.
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Things here are smaller than in the United States.

Not just the cars or the compact nature of the towns or even the distances between places. But most everything seems smaller. Food portions. Quantities. The number of choices in grocery stores (and thank god for that, I mean who needs an entire isle of shampoo choices?). The size of homes. The beds - the king, and largest size, bed is the US equivalent of a queen. We have a double which is 6 feet long. Adam is 6 feet 1 inch tall. Ovens. The size of door frames in buildings built more than 100 years ago (I have been told, by a Welshman, that the Welsh used to be a small people). These doorframes are maybe 5 feet 10 inches high, but once inside the ceilings are about 12 feet high!

Most of these things are good. I don't need 400 choices of everything. Smaller cars are better. I will mock your Ford Explorers (and such like). SUVs like that would dwarf everything here save semis and maybe the garbage truck. I like smaller portions.

The big challenge? Smaller washing machines and the fact that very few people have in-home dryers. Even in winter everyone line dries their clothes. The washing machines are energy and water effecient - yay! But a large load takes 2+ hours to do. I have discovered that cloth diapering has become far more difficult. I cannot do a whole bag of diapers in one wash. They will take forever to dry. I certainly have enough diapers to manage this, but the reality that we will be doing laundry everyday and everyday we will have diapers (and reagular clothes) hanging about our house, inside and out, is more than a little daunting. I'm too committed to cloth diapering to give up now. We can always haul our wet laundry down the hill to dry at the laundromat.... once we get a car.

I don't want to quit cloth diapering, because I think disposables are so gross and I can't bear to put those things into a landfill where they won't breakdown for a hundred or more years. YUCK. But ask me in the middle of January whether I'm still cloth diapering. Yikes.
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I keep wanting to write but lately whenever I'm on a computer I'm trying to do 45 things at once. In keeping with my multi-tasking, here is a bit of an email I wrote to a friend just now.

So us. Wales. It's real. I love it here. I flip flop between being exhausted from being in the 'still moving in' phase to feeling oddly in love with the place. Did you know that refrigerators are not standard with rentals here? No? Neither did we! I have to buy a fridge today. Sheesh. MY GOD I JUST WANT TO COOK MY OWN DAMN FOOD. Yes, I feel strongly enough about that to use all caps. There aren't that many places to eat here and we've hit nearly all of them in the last 12 days. However, Welsh dairy, Welsh bacon, and Welsh tea are all delish. There's a fabulous bakery and amazing Indian food here too. It's gorgeous, peaceful and friendly and everyone does actually speak Welsh. Well, except for the English transplants here. They seem to stubbornly refuse to learn.

What else. I've sort of started my school work. It's hard to focus when I spend several hours a day running around organizing our mail and council taxes and blah blah blah. But other than that stuff, it's great! Bennett is growing like a weed and loves playing outside. He runs to the door and points.... sort of like a dog. He's already said his first Welsh word: coch, which means red.

I really want to get settled so we can go explore more of the area. I've read there are some anciet bogs not far from here.

Oh, also, this uni is a World of Warcraft dork's dream. Every undergrad looks like they need a shower, a shave and a lifetime membership to the SCA. Except for all of the Chinese students (from China). They are wonderful.

Off to buy a fridge now. And a shower attachment.
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The internets blow here. Of course, we haven't gotten our own set up yet. So, I've barely managed to peek at my friends page. If something amazing or otherwise major has come up, please either fill me in or direct me to your post!

We move into our place tomorrow. We are getting some assistance in the evening to haul all of our boxes and luggage up the hill in the evening. I wish it could have worked out that we could move in the morning, but whatever. We can't lug our items up the hill ourselves.

Ran into a wrinkle today. That 'free to students' child care only counts for homegrown Brits. I am appealing to the Vice Chancellor, but who knows what will happen. It's not like the school actually has extra funds. This school has such incredible faculty and such deplorable admin. Adam's words are 'fucked up.'

I'm really tired of eating out and bad beds and a bathroom on a different floor from our room. Mostly I'm tired of this limbo - no phone, still living out of suitcases, etc. But it ends tomorrow. I really need to get to work. Thursday I have another meeting with my adviser so I'd like to have actually read something.... if I can find my book.

Nothing else to say really. Not yet anyway. I'm still in love with Wales, just not in love with the University.

Good news!

Sep. 11th, 2009 02:42 pm
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We got the bungalow and the tenant, in an act of compassion, is moving this weekend!! We have a lovely small two bedroom attached cottage, with a small back yard and beautiful small kitchen. The owner is buying us a washing machine and a bed. We were so relieved last night that we slept for 15 hours. Actually, 13 hours, with a two hour Bennett fuss break around 2 AM.

Today I have decided that I am in love with Lampeter. The Friday fish monger gave me a free bag of cockles to try. Yum. I bought marmalade and strong garlic cheddar cheese from the farmers' market. I bought an electric tea kettle. It's gorgeous and friendly and seriously, everyone with kids should move here. When I take B inside a store I just leave the stroller outside. I think tomorrow I'll take some pictures while the sun is shining, but I'll post them in a week or so, once we move in and get internet set up.

I'm not sure I want to leave in three years' time. Perhaps this is just the honeymoon period. I know I'll feel differently in the dead of winter. But maybe not? So far, it's love.

In Lampeter

Sep. 9th, 2009 12:25 pm
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Just a post to say that we've made it. LJ on the library computer is weirdly formatted.

Travelling was easy and uneventful. Adam didn't read the fine print about our flight from Dublin to Cardiff and it turned out that it was a 55 minute flight on a prop plane. I can't even talk about how expensive the overfees were to get our bags on that flight. The check-in people thought were mad - and said so. But, what could we do? Certainly there was no going back or repacking!

Our student accomodation is gross. But we are grateful for it. We have one week. Hopefully we'll find a place and will be able to move in next Monday. We are looking at our second house this afternoon.

Quick highlights: the weather, the scenery, the green, the smallness, people are speaking Welsh, the Siop Fferm (Farm Shop) which sells produce, jams, cheese, sausages and honey from area farms, the Tuesday fish monger, my adviser is having us over for dinner tonight. I can't wait to get a kitchen of my own and start cooking.

I thought I saw [livejournal.com profile] readthisandweep but I yelled her name and she didn't turn around. So, today I am wearing a magenta v-neck sweater, I have brown hair in a bob, and Bennett has a brown cap and Adam is in a white and green striped shirt and brown pants, and a black cap. If you see us, say hi! I don't have a cell phone yet, but I'm keeping my eyes peeled for you!

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