Saturday, January 27, 2007

It's that time again!

In just a little over a month it will be time again to pay for Janelle's tuition. If you can help, please click on the 'make a donation' button to the right of the screen (under the yellow chat box) and give a donation via paypal. Otherwise you can send a check to my mom or Josh's mom who can deposit it into our account. When I have enough money I will wire the money to Ramil.

For those of you who don't know, I have been organising the raising of funds to pay for tuition for a wee lass in the Philippines. While public schools are available, they are overcrowded and do not offer an adequate education to help a child succeed. We are paying for Janelle to go to a private school, which means we need about $500. If you can only give $5-10 it is certainly very helpful. Josh and I usually end up paying for a large portion of this. We enjoy helping our friends in this way, but if we can get others to help that would be fantastic. There are friends and family members who have already given so generously in the past couple of years. Please consider giving just a little bit and tell a friend whom you think may be interested in helping, too.

I have started a yahoo group for those who have sponsored in the past. It contains some messages and pictures from the family. I sent some invites earlier and some have not accepted the invite. If you did not recieve the invite and are interested in joining, let me know and I can resend it.

Let me know if you have posted money to paypal or sent a check out for us.

Taking Care of Business

It has been a very long, busy week, so this is the first chance I have had to talk about our trip to Glasgow Tuesday. I am happy to say that we are no longer on Josh's student visa! We now have a residence permit (limited leave to remain) for 2 years.

Tuesday we had to pack up all of our important documents: passports, marriage certificate, birth certificates, bank statements, leases, proof of employment, everything you could possibly think of. We didn't want to miss a thing. We didn't want to shell out the payment and have them say "Oh, you don't have such and such" and lose that large wad of money (yes, they keep it if you are denied the visa). Do you know how unnerving it is walking around with all of the important stuff on you? If we didn't have this done in person we would have to send it in and not have it in our possession for up to 14 weeks. No thank you!

Anyways, we trecked over to Glasgow where we had an 'appointment' (arrive between 1 and 3) at the Home Office. We had to go through airport security. They kept our Motrin and my compact mirror. They kept Josh's mobile, but not mine (guess I look innocent enough). Then we had to sit in this room on metal parkbenches. No music. No TV. It was so cold and uninviting...and BOOORING! And, of course, no mobiles so I couldn't play my games. :( We waited for ages for our names to be called.

While waiting we were able to hear everyone else's business broadcasted through this speaker. Well, it wasn't intended to be broadcasted, but we could certainly hear what was going on. They had speakers on either side of the glass so you could hear what the person on the other side of the glass was saying to you. We felt bad as they denied one guy his visa, but we also wondered about his IQ level. He was getting his PhD and working full-time (strictly forbidden). Things seemed to be going smoothly with most people, so our fears of being denied arbitrarily were dissiminating.

When our names were called a nice man looked through our documents. He was funny and eased the tense situation. He told us what we already know about this visa: only 2 years, no recourse public funds. This was just a step to make sure we had our documents together. Then he directed us to a window where we could be rid of my 3 1/2 week's wage. Then we waited again. When our names were called our documents were looked over again and we were told the same important information: only 2 years, no recourse to public funds. We were told to wait another 30 minutes to get our passports back.

So we waited a total of 3 hours for this wee piece of paper in our passports. It's good to have that done. Our employers are relieved (and so are we!) as our visas expired 31 Jan. If we were somehow denied we would have had to pack up in leave in one week!

We were told one thing I still think is funny. The Fresh Talent Initiative is a Scottish program and rather contraversial because it doesn't include England. Englands population is not suffering like Scotland's, so Scotland came up with this initiative to allow graduates of Scottish universities to live and work in Scotland for 2 years. Brilliant plan. They get educated people to work and pay taxes in Scotland. They are buying products in Scotland and such and such, helping to boost the economy. Anyways...the thing I thought was funny is that while Josh is only allowed to work in Scotland, I am free to work anywhere in Britain! :) It was a bit more relaxed with me on his student visa, too. He was only allowed to work 20 hours during term, but I was allowed to work full-time.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I really miss...

Things I miss about Chicago

family and friends
the girls
Deep-dish pizza (I know, I learned how to make it, but it takes hours! and I could just call Giordano's and have one at my door in an hour!)
Paper Source
The Spice House
Jamba Juice
Cold Stone Creamery
Panera Bread
free things:
movies in the park
concerts in the park
library passes to museums
the lake
the lakefront path
a real autumn
a real summer
the el
neighborhood festivals
Hobby Lobby
Hancock Fabrics
a stoop to sit on or grill on
Sulzer library
Lincoln Square farmer's market
Meyer's Delicatessen
Millenium Park
living across from a large park
neighborhoods are like stepping into a new city (Belmont, Devon, Pilsen...)
always somewhere to go, something to do if you so desire

MLK memorial

Last night Josh and I had the opportunity to take part in a Martin Luther King, Jr memorial service at the High Kirk, St. Giles Cathedral. Our friend William is a minster there and invited us and several of his other friends to do readings and music for the service. It was a joy to take part.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Exploding smoothies

Last week I went in to work to find an explosion had happened sometime during the night at our door. This week there was another explosion, but it was inside.

It all began last night when I recieved an email about smoothies that were being recalled. I went and got them out of the fridge and proceeded to open, dump, and pitch, like we do with any food or drink that we have to bin. When I opened the smoothie it exploded all over the sink and on my clothes and face. EWW! I wasn't going to do that with 6 more smoothies, so I just binned them. We were closed and we had already taken out the rubbish and that was all that was in the bag, so I left it.

When I opened today we were walking through the dishwasher room (where said bin and smoothies were) and the girl I opened with said, "There is a peculiar smell in here." That was when I looked past her and saw smoothie sprays all the way up the wall, on the ceiling, on the floor, all over the sink and table top. It did smell really bad and I got to clean it up. Well, I cleaned what I could. I figured we would have to get one of our less vertically challenged partners to clean the ceiling. What a day! And I was so knackered! Well, it does still give me a chuckle thinking about it. :)

I have added more to my list on the last post. I hope you looked at them. I might just have to add more, later (including how to scrub crusty smoothie off the wall).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Things I have learned to do since moving to the UK

I'm not saying these are all directly related to living in the UK, but some are.
I'm sure the list will grow over the next few days as I think of more.

1. Convert measurements and temps. Well, I haven't learned the conversion, it is all from memory, and some of it is just guesswork. I still rely on my American measuring cups and spoons.

2. Pack my bags well enough at Costco to carry it all home on the bus.

3. Make barbecue sauce.

4. Make Chicago-style deep-dish pizza! MMM

5. Make bread.

6. Make yoghurt. (am I seeing a pattern here??)

7. Grow sprouts.

8. Translate Scots. Well, at least I can recognise the most common words used.

9. Make a mean caramel macciato...and everything else on the Starbucks menu. (wouldn't fly in the US, though)

10. To squeeze things into every imaginable space in our flat (I THOUGHT I had already learned that!).

11. Spinning wool. Well, I still haven't quite gotten the hang of it.

12. Needle felting.

13. Selling on ebay.

14. First aid, CPR included.

15. Sudoku

16. To skimp on meat and use cheaper ingredients. Use mushrooms for some recipes (bolognese) or just use less meat and more pulses (legumes) and veg and add more spices for flavour.

17. How to say 'good-bye' when you are done with your transaction at the till. It is not just a simple 'thank you.' Rather, 'cheers, that's lovely, thanks so much, bye now!' You can also add 'fantastic' and 'magic' in there somewhere.

18. My accessories for grocery shopping: backpack, shoulder bag, Tesco green bag, and wheeled carrier. Those are for larger shops. Otherwise I just get delivered.

19. Dry all of my clothes on a drying rack.

20. Queue, queue, queue. Queue for EVERYTHING!

21. Write and say the day and month backwards. (Today is 9.1 or 9 Jan)

22. Learn the currency. It was baptism by fire since I still had to look carefully at every coin when I got my job at Starbucks.

23. Say 'zed' instead of 'zee' for the last letter in the alphabet.

24. To look right, then left (then right and left and right and left, as there is no reguard for pedestrians) when crossing the street.

25. Pack my own groceries (very quickly!).

26. Turn off and on electrical equipment 'at the mains.' It took a few times of preheating the oven to find it wasn't even turned on.

27. Watch VERY carefully where I step as so many people overdrink, and they get sick, and, well, you know.

28. To do without an umbrella and just carry a hat.

29. To distiguish if it is all day rain or momentary rain.

30. Do the dishes with just one sink.

31. Use the electric kettle anytime I want hot water.

Friday, January 05, 2007

What Have You Done?

I saw this online, but I can't remember where.
If I answered everything very literally I would sound pretty boring. Well, I guess that would be pretty close to the truth. :)

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink - Um, does the 'bar' at Starbucks count?
02. Swam with wild dolphins -well, I swam in Florida and, uh, there were dolphins!
03. Climbed a mountain -hey, I used to LIVE on a mountain. You try walking up and down it every day for a year (loaded down with groceries) and tell me it's not a mountain!
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree -well, I've tried to see if I can wrap my arms around some very large trees
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables -I actually managed to get two green beans from my wee plant in Chicago
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper -MANY!
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment -can't help those as a teenager
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk.
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe. -does carrying a backpack while hillwalking count?
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing -sure, I've climbed on rocks by the sea
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them -this can't be avoided in the Philippines
54. Visited Japan -does the airport count?
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day -bed's too boring. I prefer the sofa.
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest -Mom, you've put me in some contests, was this one?
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo -I've had several fake ones
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music -does Great America count? Or a recording of The Messiah?
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone -when taking care of 2 girls near the same age this cannot be avoided
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children -nearly
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours -probably sometime
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed -it was too windy
132. Touched a cockroach -does the bottom of my shoe count?
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language -tourists
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you -photography counts, I'm sure
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head -well, just the back of it
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life -nearly everyday by serving up a latta someone would kill for

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Our Store Was Bombed!

But no one was hurt. It happened sometime at night. I got to work at 6:30 this morning to find our door had been boarded up. Looking closer I saw that the bottom of the door and the wood all around it was totally charred. There were newpapers out on the road that were all charred as well (our papers that were left out from the day before). I saw a little note from the police so I called them up because I could not get into the store. After being transfered a zillion times they told me they had no record of the incident. After a half hour trying to get someone from the police who knew what was going on on one phone, and the other phone held to my ear trying to get my manager on the line, I finally got through to my manager.

Oh, yea. In the meantime our food order comes and I tell the guy we can't get into the store so we wont be able to accept the delivery just now. So (while I have 2 phones attached to my ears) he proceeds to get out and start to take the food out. I go over to him and tell him we cannot just leave the food outside because I don't know how long it will be before we can get it into the fridge. He's all confused and tries to get me to tell him what time we can take it. I am laughing because this is all just so bizarre and tell him that I just do not know when we will be able to get in because I cannot get ahold of anyone. He said, "Well, your food's gonna be late, then." I tell him it doesn't matter because I don't even know when we will be able to open.

So finally we end up going to one of the other stores and work there while we wait for maintainance to come. We are there for only 15 minutes before my manager shows up and takes us back to our store. It was a complete mess. There are stairs directly in front of our door and there was glass all the way at the top of the stairs. There was glass behind the bar and just everywhere. It smelled so bad in there, too. Maintainance guy had already cleaned most of the shattered glass in front of the door but the police say not to touch anything because they are sending an investigation team out. I had thought of that when I was first at the store, but I am not really sure why they didn't do that when they were there to board the door up.

So, I got done at 1:30 and we were still not open. We did a super-duper deep clean. We cleaned every single surface area, every mug, anything, ANYTHING that could possible have glass on it.
Oh, and of course, while the police and maintainance where there we get our food, milk, and weekly supplies order all at the same time. They were all stepping through the door where the glass was missing, bumping into eachother and stuff. And before we had glass in the door we had a baricade up but people kept stepping around the baricade and through the windowless door to get some coffee. We had to chase a lot of people away saying we were not open. These addicts are serious about there coffee!

It was interesting having to give a statement to the police. I also had to run home to get my camera for pictures.

Oh, yes. The police told us they caught the people that did it shortly after it happened. That is all I know. I hope it's the same people that cemented our locks during the G8 and bashed the same door in only 2 months ago.

Well, I tried to insert a picture, but blogger wont let me. You can see some on flickr.