Sunday, September 30, 2007

We are Treading Where the Saints have Trod

I feel Mormon; have all my life, as it turns out. I've gone to church, read (or tried to read, which I must be honest, has been a far more common occurance) my scriptures regularly, and even married in the Temple. Today, for the first time, perhaps, I feel truly like a saint, a Latter-day one that is.
Before coming to England, Avram and I dutifully obtained our new ward's information from the ward clerk, and had also looked up our church meeting times and location online, and had placed, via Google maps, what that obscure-to-us address meant. Church is in Oxford, but in the very southern tip of the city, and we are a good four miles north of the city; 8 miles in all. Also, church services began at 10:00 am. We meant to call the bishop, and I suppose ask for a ride, but then we put it off altogether. Now, before any of my dear readers think that this was foolish of us, really, we had good logic behind us. Namely, that how did we know where the bishop lived, and we didn't want to put undue stress on him on a Saturday night to find a poor pair of American needy-family schlubs a ride for the next morning.
So instead, we decided to walk, or if we woke up too late to do so, having somehow lost our traveling alarm clock on the journey here, and so being dependent on our own cognizant powers, which are noticeably lacking when one is asleep, we would then take the Centre's minibus, which would deliver us to central Oxford at 9:45 am, and then we would need to walk the remaining three miles, thus arriving at church very late.
We needn't have worried about waking up in time; at 6:30 Lydia popped her head up smiling, and there was no telling her that it hardly qualified as morning yet, and so up we rose as well. She enabled us by her automatic alarm clock to be ready by 7:30, when we left for our 8 mile morning jaunt, hoping that it would only take two and a half hours to complete the journey. Having heard the hymn this morning, as we walked I sang the lines from "Onward Christian Soldiers;" "Brothers we are treading, where the Saints have trod." I realized that this was true, in our case; that being in old historic England, we were very well treading where previous Saints had walked; just Medieval Saints and not the Mormon ones.
The first half of journey definitely felt the longest, perhaps because we were in the country, and so had no way to mark our progress. And then we took about a twenty minute detour when at one of the many roundabouts we lost our way and took the wrong road. As we were walking, and we passed (in order) a Baptist church, later a Quaker church, then a Catholic one, I would turn to Avram and say, "If we were Baptist, we'd be at church by now. If we were Quaker, we'd be at church by now." We decided based on that logic that really we ought to be Anglican, because of course by far and aways there were the most churches for that religion, including one that is about ten feet away from our cottage (over a wall); St. Bartholomew's Parish Church. And may I add that it's surrounded by a terribly old and charming graveyard, and apparently there is a chapel in there named the Spencer chapel, after Princess Diana's ancestors, who used to live here in the Yarnton Manor estate.
I digress.
Slowly and surely we made our way to church, and eventually arrived just 10 minutes late. As I walked from taking Lydia to the nursery, a sister stopped me in the hallway, asked if I was new, got my name and address (she's the VT coordinator), found out we had walked from Yarnton manor, and was trying to think of people in the ward who could give us a ride every week. Her and her husband had given the last BYU family to come to Yarnton manor a ride every week, but now they gave two others rides, and so couldn't give us one as well. By Sunday school she had asked two young adult sisters, and although she had to leave early, had them come talk to us after Sacrament Meeting (which was at the end). Also, she talked to someone else in the ward, who found us a "lift" home after church, because neither of our permanent rides had their cars with them that day.
Ahh, I love the gospel, and more specifically, I love the saints in the Gospel. Everyone welcomed us, was appropriately shocked that we walked all the way to church, and immediately began involving and helping us. This is made more surprising by the fact that this ward has a revolving student population at Oxford, and we're the fourth American Oxford family in the ward, and the third one to come this month.
After church our temporary ride was a Brother who, although he's British originally, has lived in Alberta ever since he served his mission in Canada 24 years ago, and so doesn't have a British accent, and joked with us as he drove us home about driving on the wrong side of the road, and how all the roads are so narrow here, and how great the wide open spaces in the west are. It felt like a small bit of home in an unexpected place.
There are many more stories to share, like our attempts to turn our radiators on so we wouldn't freeze to death which ended up in water gushing out of the side of our cottage to how we sleep on two twin beds like a couple in the forties, but those shall come another time.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Safe Arrival

We're here in England, and safe. That's about all for now, but I promise I shall post more later.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Literature and Warfare

As we prepare for England, I originally wasn't going to bring a single book with me, except for the scriptures, and cast my luck up to the book mobile that comes to Yarnton Manor weekly. Howevever, I've since relized that some books take me a while to read, if they're non fiction, and that it would be nice to have some books to bring for the travel over, for any travels while in country, etc, etc.
So far I'm bringing Idylls of the King, by Lord Alfred Tennyson. It's one of the last Arthurian stories I haven't read (I also need to read the french romances), and Anne of Green Gables loved it, so I'm very confident I shall like it. Then, in a nod to Matt, and my desire to visit the lake country, I have the complete works of William Wordsworth. Also, because of a small misunderstanding between Avram and I, where I showed him Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, and told him that I didn't really want to read them, although I felt that I should, and he thought I wanted them, and so carried the book to the checkout, thus I also have Milton.
We acquired these books from a local used bookstore, so they're all cheap copies, and so I'm planning on leaving them in England when we go home, so that I may conserve on packing for the trip home.
Unfortunately, our used bookstore doesn't have History of the English Speaking People, by Winston Churchill. So I'll have to trust my luck checking it out in England.
On another note, we received our visas yesterday, and we're officially approved and everything, so now we're definitely going to England. It's starting to feel real, now. For one thing, we have a week and a day left, and haven't finished packing yet (our things that are staying here), nor have we made much headway packing for England, and, and.... Oh, also our house is being bombed. Not really, but the central Marine Corps base is nearby, and occasionally they practice bombing and warfare there, and today is one of those days, so all day long every few minutes the windows rattle and the floor shakes and I feel like I live in the middle of a war torn country, and the enemy is close by. I'm not used to it, and I don't like it.

Friday, September 7, 2007


I've decided to put off decided on my title for my blog until I arrive in England, so that I may properly soak up first hand the air and inspiration. Also, I'm not sure of a name, yet. I greatly appreciated Sarah (and Matt's) list; I laughed, I was inspired, and all-round enjoyed it. I'm currently leaning toward a title that evokes my personal experience, more than a literary name. We'll see, though.

Just so everyone knows, we're leaving September 27.

Also, I wanted to thank M&S for their wonderful package o' books they sent us. Including the humorous introductions. Avram and I have both laughed at the history book, and Julius Ceasar dividing the British into the Weeny, Weedy and Weaky. Lydia of course likes her board book, and Avram has begun Brideshead Revisited. With preparation for England like this, we shall be sure to conquer. Or at least, obtain a good education.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What's in a Name?

We sent in our visas on Saturday, which means by mid September we should have them, if all goes well. Which means our technical aspects to going to Oxford should finally, finally be finished. I've never dealt with more paperwork and red tape than we have this summer. Actually, it's also been the longest summer of my life, beginning in late April, and continuing to the end of September.

Avram updated his blog; you should all read it. Also, I too enjoyed Stardust a lot. Very unusual for a new movie for me. I'd even like to own it, which from my mouth is a huge admission for any movie.

Lydia loves to dance; she dances to Riverdance, The Doors (this one's very popular; she turns in circles while stomping her feet and waving her hands), people singing a snatch of a song, basically anything. Also, she bows when she thinks she's being particularly cute or clever. Which of course makes us all think that she's even more cute and clever, so it seems to work. And she's discovered pinching ones nose shut to make a more nasal sound, and does it all the time while going, "no, no, no" (as in nose, which is how she says nose, not the word no, which she says more like ne.) Today she's 18 months old, and as I reflect on the last year and a half, she's been a delight since her birth. I love being a mother; it makes up who I am, gives me meaning in my life, and provides the most fulfilling sense of self I've ever had. Also it makes me laugh. Lydia is our main entertainment in our lives. People always say children are expensive, but when you take out movies, TV, etc etc and just sit around and laugh at your child, they probably save you money.

A week after we're done with the newspaper job, we're finally feeling caught up on sleep. We actually ended up doing one extra day, Monday morning, because the Indian family's flight was delayed a lot. Although I don't intend getting a newspaper route again, I'm glad we had the opportunity now. And in retrospect, it's interesting to think about.

Now to something I've been thinking about lately; Names.

All my dear readers may think that the name, "Thora Tales" employs the best of my thinking and creative descriptions of my life. I regret to inform you that this information is decidedly not so. When I created my blog, I wanted to get to the real exciting stuff, like changing the fonts or colors on my page, and so entitled my journal the best name I could come up with in two minutes or less. All along I've intended to change the name once I opened the next chapter in my life, and the true impetus as to my starting a blog; going to England. I even had a name picked out:

My English Cottage.

I liked it; it was simple, descriptive of both where I would be, and the differences between my life there, and my life here, because of course one could not have a blog entitled, "My American Cottage." How patently ridiculous, I must say. As well, it is a quaint title, and just saying it gave me chills, thinking of living in a cottage.

Alas, I have since discovered that we will be living in a divided house, in a one bedroom flat, that I have good reason to believe was, "purpose built" (from Yarnton Manor's website). Do you know what another name for purpose built is? Ugly. Also, "My English Flat" just doesn't have the same ring to it. So I am forced to decided upon a new, appropriately representative and creative Blog title which relates to England somehow.

Thus far I've thought of,

This Other Eden, from Henry II, Act 2, Scene 1
This Blessed Spot, from the same.

Actually, the whole paragraph's pretty good;

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

William Shakespeare, "King Richard II", Act 2 scene 1
Of course, I only want a name from something that I've read, so I'm not being falsely pretentious. And I've never read Richard II, so picking the name commits me to reading the play, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

I have read Pride and Prejudice, and as I was dinking around on quote sites, I saw this quote from Jane Austin:

I can never be in the presence of Mr. Darcy without being grieved by a thousand tender recollections.

Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Unfortunately, I found the context of the quote, and it turns out Mr. Wickham says this to Elizabeth about being around Mr. Darcy. Yuck. So "A Thousand Tender Recollections" are out, because I would then have to think of Mr. Wickham every time I visited my blog.

I want a name that's patently English. And from something literary. Or just clever. Any ideas? Especially if it's from something that would also be good to read. Something from the Bible could work too, although that's not English. I could call my blog, "King James" That's English. Completely.

A Year in England
Rain and Sun in the Land of Shakespeare. Nah, too pretentious. And it sounds like a nature blog.
Tea and Crumpets, while very nice, is taken by Aleatha's sister. but let me take the time here to compliment her on her 'zine name.
Bubbles and Squeak, while also quintessential British food, just doesn't have the same ring to it. Neither does, "Bangers and Mash."
That reminded me; I love the word quintessential. Also, quintessence. and quirky. For that matter, quern tickles my ear. Perhaps, the Quirky Quintessence of an English Quern.
No, too...alliterative. Next I'm going to try really bad meter.

This all began because I vaguely remembered a quote from Hamlet that was illuminated in calligraphy and hung on a wall in the JKHB. Something that mentioned the quintessence of man; what a great line, right. I could name a blog, "The Quintessence of Man."

When I looked the quote up, what it actually said, instead of my vaguely remembered quote was,

"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so."

--From Hamlet (II, ii, 115-117)

Nope, "Quintessence of Dust" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Maybe, "The Quintessential Life."
or, "The Quintessence of England."
"Quintessential England"
"The Quintessence of the Fifth Element" I like it.

Ok, I'm going to end this blog, before I get really inane. Save a drowning fellow friend.