Monday, 30 November 2009

The 6 Month Curse

I moved to this Ward (church congregation) in September 2006. I got called as the Young Single Adult Sunday School Teacher. 6 months later, I got called as the Primary Song Co-Ordinator (but not released from Sunday School). 6 months after that, released from both Primary and Sunday School, called as Ward Missionary. 6 months after that, released as Ward Missionary, called as 1st Counsellor in the Young Womens. 2 weeks later additional calling as Ward Music Co-Ordinator (Seriously, what's up with the music callings?!? I'm not particularly musically talented, though I enjoy it.) 6 months later (well, ok, 8 months), released from Young Womens (but not Music). Moved to USA for 6 months. Called there to be Humanitarian Co-Chair. Released from that. Moved back to England. Released from Music. Called to be 2nd Counselor in Relief Society Presidency. (Which also means I've now served in every axillary of the church that I'm eligible for, within this one ward!)

It's now nearly 6 months later.
I'm thinking, I'm the 2n Counselor in the RS.
They don't change those positions very often.
I'm safe.

Tuesday, 23rd November.
My phone rings.
'Sister Beck?'
'This is the Stake Executive Secretary.'
(Stake is Regional Church Organisation. 8-12 Wards make up a Stake.)
'The Stake President would like to see you. Tonight. Can you come in?'
*Gulp* 'Yes, sure.' *Gulp*
'Great, 8.00 alright? Sorry about the late notice.'
Who are you kidding?!? THANK you for the late notice. Now I only have one day to sit around wondering why the Stake President wants to see me.

8.00 rolls around. I'm up at the Church, waiting outside the classroom that President is dong interviews in. He's running a few minutes behind. Everyone and their dog is at the chapel. 'Hi Adele. What are you doing here? In to see the Bishop?' 'No, Stake President.' 'Oh, Temple Recommend?' 'Mmmm.....' I leave it trailing off. I'm not really sure how to answer that question. (We're not really supposed to say anything about new callings til the official word is given, in Sacrament meeting on a Sunday.) I finally get to escape into the interview. (Who knew going into an interview would ever be an escape?!?)

'Sister Beck, we'd like to extend to you the call of Stake Relief Society Secretary.'
Umm.... Come again? It must have been interference from my racing heart, but I could have sworn you said Stake Relief Society Secretary. Oh. You did. I see. Umm.... You do know I'm dyslexic, right? You don't care? Oh. Ok. Umm.... Righty then. 'Ok.'

So, now I'm the Stake Relief Society Secretary. Seriously. When I called my family, they laughed at me. Thanks for the support! I'm looking forward to it, but have NO IDEA what a Secretary is supposed to do. Guess I'll be finding out, won't I? Someone up there is having a laugh, that's all I can say.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I truly love Thanksgiving. Partly it's the food. Who wouldn't enjoy a holiday where the main component is eating?!? Other holidays include food (4th of July Picnics, Easter Dinner, Christmas Dinner . . . ) but Thanksgiving is food. However, as much fun as eating all that luscious bounty is, I love more than just that. I actually enjoy the whole week. You start the preparations ages before hand.

Here in England I get to cheat a bit. Since there's no competition for the food at the supermarket, I can do my shop on the Wednesday, which means everything's nice and fresh. (I always try and get a fresh turkey from the Butcher, rather than a frozen one, so I don't have to worry about defrosting. But even on a year when I get it frozen, that's still the only thing I get ahead of time. (*Edit* This year's was horrible! There were simply no juices to use to baste. Not impressed. It wasn't dry, but it wasn't up to my usual standards, either.) In any case, the preparations start at least the day before.

Making the Desserts. This year I went with apple pie and brownies with this yummy (and very easy) moose. It's been ages since I made pie, though, so I was a bit worried about the crust. Had a bit of left overs, which I made into a quiche for dinner. Wow. I needn't have worried. Flaky, buttery and soft. :-)

Oh the lovely smells! One of the best bits about Thanksgiving is all the delightful smells. Many times I enjoy that part more than actually eating anything. Oh so yummy. And none of the drawbacks to actually eating it!

Family. I've been known to be terribly homesick for the whole week of Thanksgiving. It's one of the days that I most wish I were with them. Probably mostly because I know they're all together laughing and having fun without me! I've never liked being out of the loop. Fortunately, we've come up with a few creative solutions. The best bit is Clever Endeavour. That's a board game we've had since I was a teenager. Clues are read out and you have to figure out what the object is. You get more points for getting it sooner, but if you guess wrong, you lose points. Points move you forward (or backwards!) along the board. But the game is really all audible, not visible or activity based. So, I can guess, too! So, we always play that or Double Talk (similar idea, but based on Puns). It's great fun, and one of my favourite traditions.

Friends. Since I can't be with my family, I choose to be with my friends. I invite people I love to come share my Thanksgiving Dinner. I choose different people every year (although there have been a few overlaps!) so that as many people as possible get to find out what Thanksgiving means. This year I had 6 guests, only 2 of whom were Americans.

That's what I love about Thanksgiving (apart from eating the food, which obviously is part of the list). So wonderful. A day dedicated to feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Love it!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Essay Marking Blues

I collected the midterm essays on Monday. If that isn't depressing enough to make someone sing the blues, I don't know what is! I've finally realised the reason I got such good marks as an undergraduate. It had nothing to do with how well I understood the material, and everything to do with the grasp of punctuation usage! The prof was so pleased that s/he could follow the sentence from one end to another that s/he didn't actually care about the content. And I'm not even talking about complicated things like semi-colons and hyphens. I'm talking mastery of the full stop! Don't get me started on comma usage. *shudder* Would you believe that in this set I've actually had a submission which ends nearly every paragraph with . . . ? Yeah! No lie. Talk about a Dot, Dot, Don't.

I'm reminded of these comics from PhD Comics:

Fortunately, there was a remedy for my soul's anguish this week. Saturday was Down Home Blues night over in London. It's my favourite dance night in the month, and not just because I'm a Blues Junkie. It's awfully nice of them to put the venue across the street (literally) from the train station I arrive at! It's awfully nice not to have to travel the hour into London, and then an hour across London! Terribly decent of them to cater to my needs thus.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Found this video on Cute Overload. It's an African Ringneck (probably Blue Mutation) talking to his new 'friend', the stuffed bunny. It's really funny, especially if you like birds, which my family does.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

So You Think You Can Jump?

Thanks to KellieBean for this link....

You've never seen jump rope like this. Seriously. Amazing.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Crazy Busy , Yet Nothing To Report

How is it possible that I can be quite so insanely busy, yet have nothing interesting going on? I've fallen into a routine of PhDing, Christmas Present Creating, Church Duties, Teaching and Dancing. This week I didn't do either the Teaching or the Dancing, because Queen Marys is on Reading Week, and the Dance Class was canceled (room unavailable). If you're interested in the Christmas Present Creating, head on over to the ScrapBlog. For the Church Duties, I'm now responsible for running the Relief Society (our Women's Organisation) Blog, plus I'm frantically getting ready for the monthly activity next Wednesday. It's Christmas Crafts, so I've been running around making sure everyone who's doing a class is sorted, plus getting my supplies for the class I'm teaching all ready. PhDing is same as always. Working away. Every day. Pretty boring to watch. I appear to just be staring at a sheet of paper. Every so often I'll switch to a different sheet of paper. And if you're really lucky, I'll start typing! *phew* Such excitement. *Fanning face after such exertion*

So, that's my week!

Sunday, 8 November 2009


I'm not sure what it is about November that sparks the British Memory. You've got 'Remember Remember the 5th of November', and then, the next week you've got Remembrance Sunday, followed, of course, by Armistice Day on the 11th of November (the end of WWI was officially declared and the peace treaty signed in the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). In any case, today's Remembrance Sunday, roughly equivalent to the American Memorial Day.

During the end of October and up through the 11th of November, Britain is awash with poppies. The 'Poppy Appeal' raises money for the families of service men/women who've died in the line of duty. It was lovely to see so many poppies at church today.

So, to you who serve: Thank you. You put your lives on the line. You protect us. You put everyone in your country over your own needs. That's an incredible act of love. I pray for your continued safety every day.

To you who send your husbands/wives and sons/daughters off: Thank you. You parents have taught your children selflessness. Something that's in an increasingly short supply. You spouses give these men/women the support they need at home to be able to do these dangerous jobs. You're equally deserving of our gratitude. You are also in my prayers.

To you who've lost friends and loved ones: Thank you. I grieve for your loss, but I celebrate the cause. They have not sacrificed for nothing.

As most of you know, I'm a religious person. I very firmly believe that those who have offered the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf are taken into God's arms.

"Greater love hat no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" John 15:13.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Guy Fawkes Night

You gotta love the Brits! They don't have our 4th of July excuse to blow things up, so they came up with their own. It's called 'Guy Fawkes Night', or Bonfire Night. It celebrates the day that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled back in 1605. Guy Fawkes was supposed to have been the lead Catholic conspirator to blow up the Protestant Parliament and King (James I). So, every year on the 5th of November, they have bonfires and burn a Guy in effigy. Yep. Really. Oh, and they set off a load of fireworks, too.

So . . .

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd (or by God's mercy*)
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring. (Holla*)
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!