Sunday, May 31, 2009

Last night we went to an 80's Flashdance party!

Claire (a friend from the 20's group) and her flatmates had decorated their home with ridiculous pictures of 80's fashions and slogans, there were 80's films and NES computer games available for the boys and the girls (and some of the braver men!) had the delight of an 80's disco (where we all learnt how to do the running man dance!). Ed and I had the disturbing impression that we might well have been the only people there who actually lived throughout the whole decade...!
It was fun to dress up - Ed went for the Miami Vice / Wham look while I 'got physical'... it's funny to think that the people I met will never recognise me if I introduce myself to them in the future! What fun!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Having a balcony in the sunshine is a dangerous thing... because there is a great temptation to not explore California at all but just stay home and soak up the rays...

And, although we had good intentions, basically, this weekend that's exactly what we did!

We had good intentions Monday morning - put on our hiking boots and mentally prepared ourselves for a day of exploration - but when we got close to where we were heading, we saw that the ridge was covered in cloud - so, undeterred we amended our plans and decided to hike around a reservoir (which looks beautiful from the road) instead...

Unfortunately the rest of the world was there and so, rather than peaceful majestic beauty, it felt rather more like Butlins - and the lake was fenced off so for most of the time it felt like we were caged animals... We took a couple of nice photos and then... "retreat to the balcony" we cried... and that's exactly what we did!
Over the weekend we bought a little lemon tree... we've named her 'Lucy' and have a bet going about how many lemons she'll produce by the end of August (there is currently no sign of any buds)... I have said 3 while my pessimistic husband has gone for zero... I know you'll all be so excited to know who wins!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Did my usual bank holiday weekend thing and hadn't shaved since Friday... We had excellent weather today and now, having just shaved before going out for dinner with Nicci, to my horror, I have 'sun-tan beard'. Ah gee....

Friday, May 22, 2009

SO sorry for being a negligent blogger over the past week or so...

Let me update you on what's been happening...

Last Thursday I noticed that 'Shen Yun for the performing arts' were going to be performing in San Jose the following evening... there were rave reviews and it looked like it might be good, so I booked the last 2 tickets that were available and on Friday after work, Ed and I headed for San Jose (do we know the way to San Jose?... yes we do!)

When we arrived we found ourselves submerged in an ocean of Chinese faces and language... and the show itself was a cultural experience that we will never forget... lots of short dances/recitals punctuated by an American host and Chinese hostess telling us about the 'Spiritual roots of Chinese culture' (?)...

One dance showed an idol maker who got tired of crafting idols and 'ran out of ideas' so fell asleep, but in his dream the idols came to life and encouraged him so that he woke with renewed enthusiasm for his 'sacred' work... Ed and I couldn't help but see the irony... praise God that we worship the LIVING God who has not been crafted by human hands!

We did giggle when the host said at another point "please welcome the Mongolian Chopstick Dancers"... I mean, that's a phrase we're unlikely to EVER hear again!

We left at the half way point...glad we'd done it, but having had enough!

On Saturday we got up early and cycled from our home all the way along the edge of the bay to the San Mateo bridge... absolutely beautiful. Apparently the trail goes for miles so there are options for whole-day cycle-rides in the future!

We spent the rest of the day (and most of Sunday too!) relaxing in the sunshine on our balcony... what a blessing to have our own private space in the sun in total peace and quiet. Glorious!

For Sunday lunch we met up with our 20's small group and went for 'Dim Sum' (a popular Californian lunch option - basically Chinese Tapas)... Ed and I avoided the chicken feet! It was enjoyable, but probably not something we'll be queuing up to do again!

For the last 3 Mondays I have attended a short course in the 'Homiletics' method of breaking down a passage of Scripture... a really useful tool in preparing bible studies and talks. Monday was the final session and I had been nominated by my group to give my talk to the whole room... which I did... it went really well and I received really positive critique... it has re-ignited my love of teaching the bible!

Which leads tidily onto what I did on Tuesday (!) The lovely 'Miss Erin' (she calls me 'Miss Nicci') came round with her gorgeous girls (Kelsie and Allie)... it was great to see them and Erin and I read the bible together for the first time... we've decided to work through Mark's gospel together... it was a really encouraging time. What a blessing to have found someone to read the bible with so early in our time out here!

Freeway has been active this week... we have rockorded 2 new songs which are sounding surprisingly good (given we're rockording them 'virtually' using Internet software packages)... keep an eye on the website ( for them... they should be on there soon!

Yesterday afternoon and today I am helping Claire (she's SUCH fun!) make a duvet cover that she has been wanting to make (but she doesn't have a sewing machine, or know how to sew!) for about a year! The task was made slightly more challenging when we realised that the piece of material she'd bought was not big enough to cover her duvet! Some quick creative thinking was needed - but I think we're going to be ok!

Last night at 20's I had a great chat with a Kyrgyzstani lady called 'Asella' who is having a tough time. We are going to meet up for lunch together next Tuesday. She has never had any contact with Christians before and so I am hoping to have the opportunity to explain a bit more about Jesus...

Ed's work is going well... it's been a busy couple of weeks but generally he is able to be home by about 6.30pm. He's enjoying the challenge of a bigger role and likes his colleagues. He has already designed a few new funky reports (i've seen them - they look good!), which are proving helpful to the teams and it all seems to be going well.

Ed moved offices this week - he used to be on the 1st floor and now he's on the 2nd floor - he prefers his new desk position because he has more space and it's lighter... also, the extra flight of stairs is a good thing to counteract the effect of all the fantastic foods EA provide in their staff canteen!

I think that pretty much brings you up to speed with what we've been up to...

We're looking forward to a 3 day weekend this weekend (for memorial day - Ed's Dad asked 'what is it a memorial for?' - we have no idea, but we're looking forward to the extra day off!)... we'll try to take some photos to include in the next blog posts!

Bundles of love...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I am pleased to tell you that some toothpaste made it through!

AND some chocolate (in the same parcel - crafty use of the term 'confectionery' in the description of what was included foiled customs I think! Good job Liddieski!)...

I can now enjoy Cadburys chocolate (scrummy) and then, be able to brush my teeth with unsweetened toothpaste!

Actually, although I REALLY appreciate all your efforts - I have to confess that I have managed to find some unsweetened toothpaste in the shops out here... so the panic is over... but thank you!

I did phone customs and it seems that its only really meat and soft cheese that they really won't let in (as well as any bomb-making equipment!)... whenever they are unsure, the post is delayed while they 'check' it - so I might get those other parcels after all - i'll let you know!
Ok, this is getting silly... this morning, to seal the envelope of a card I was sending, I licked the strip (as you do)... but to my surprise even THAT is flavoured with sugar out here!

Is there no end to the sugary lengths these Americans will go to?

I have to admit, I kinda liked it... does this mean i'm loosing my grip?
'Mama said there'd be days like this...' that was the tune for yesterday... I am usually quite an organised person (don't giggle!), but yesterday, it all went pear-shaped...

I was in the shower when Sally came to pick me up for Bible study (she was a bit early, but still!), then, at the end of bible study I left and came home, forgetting that I had agreed to go for lunch with Natalie (I think she has forgiven me for standing her up).

Feeling tired I sat down and closed my eyes - and woke up an hour later having missed my weekly God-mummy phone chat time with my gorgeous God-daughter, Miss Lizzie Jones (thought i'd give you a specific shout out!)... she was very gracious and phoned later on - I was SO glad not have missed it altogether!

I then went and booked our behind-the-wheel driving tests and, had Ed not questioned it, I would have turned up on the 9th July having missed the appointment I had booked for the same date in June... I had written it in on the wrong month...

I mean, what was going on?

Thankfully, today seems to be going more successfully - although I couldn't find golden syrup at the supermarket, so thought i'd replace it with Molasses in Suzy's famous fridge cake recipe (i'm taking some for the 20's meeting tonight!)... not sure it tastes as good... oh well!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yesterday, while having dinner, we saw a SKUNK run past our window on the road below... tail held high! How amazing! We decided not to go and have a closer look!
In our 'Xenophobes guide to the Americans' it states that Americans find it hard to differentiate between different nationalities - you're either American, or you're not...

Well. this week, the steriotype has proved acurate!

A mother, worried her son would not be able to understand my accent, said 'oh I think it will be ok because he knows someone who is south-african - and you sound the same!'

In IKEA, after speaking to me, a staff member asked how you say 'thank you' in Swedish!

We are often asked if we are Australian... 'you sound the same'...!

I mean, honestly!
Yesterday's technical problems have been resolved and I was able to watch the game. Ah, gee..... Already got one piece of gloating email from Horrocks. Sundays@7 would have been terrible this week what with Rocks and Simpson rubbing it in - probably for the best that, for this week at least, we are 5000 miles away.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Let me tell you the story of when Nicci strayed into the 'hood'...!

Last Tuesday I had arranged to meet Lee (wife of chap Ed went to primary school with) in SFO to go to the MOMA (Museum of modern art), which offers free entry on the first tues of every month... I had intended to take the Caltrain from San Carlos (I did this last time and it worked well), but as I arrived at the station, my train pulled away, so I was left with the option of driving into the city...

I thought, armed with 'Cindy' (the name we have given our American sat nav) I can't go wrong... but oh dear, wrong I went! Before I knew it, I was completely lost and decided to just park in the nearest car park and walk... the car park looked dodgy, but there was a guy on the gate, so I figured the car would probably survive the experience...

I started walking, asked for directions and, to my relief, although it was going to be a bit of a walk, it seemed fairly straight forward - 'just carry on straight down this street and then take a right on 3rd'... so off I went... I was going to be on time for Lee... and this was going to be a success... Ed was going to be so proud of me...

I walked for a bit and all seemed fine. But then, as I looked around, I realised that my white face was definitely in the minority... the girls were not wearing very much and I am not convinced that all of them WERE girls and there were, what my Mum might have called 'unsavory characters' everywhere I looked... to my horror, I realised I must have strayed into one of the 'no go' zones of the city... go back? I was so close to where I needed to be... so 'head down and look moody' I thought (Robin, you'd have been proud: "you're soooo moody!")... Although I got a few smarmy comments, it was all ok... and I found out later that although you wouldn't go there at night, it's probably not that bad to walk through in the day time... I think I probably won't do it alone again though!

Yikes! The rest of the afternoon was great - although I didn't have much staying power at the MOMA - I just don't get that kind of art... sorry Ru, you'll have to guide me through it one day!
The weather is sweeeeet this weekend! Nicci blew through her household budget this month buying some 'essentials'... among which, items I do agree to be essential here, two reclining sun loungers which are now positioned on our balcony facing the sun. I've jumped into the shade to avoid melanoma and to update you on what's going on. England blitzed the West Indies. And I'm hoping Quins will have brushed London Irish aside, but the Setanta-i service has let us down again and so I have to wait for technical help before being able to access the game. I figure my chances of not being told the score before I get to watch it are much increased over here, as there isn't much interest in Rugby Union (although when I tell them it's American Football without the pads, some seem to show a degree of interest, but zone out when they hear you can't throw the ball forwards).

This morning we drove to Capitola. Nicci had been there a couple of weeks ago with some girls when on the CPC womens retreat and wanted to show me. It is a lovely seaside place. We wandered round some cute little shops. We bought some more 'essentials' (two pairs of flip-flops for Nicci, one pair: silver with a silver flower on top), and enjoyed some fish and chips on an open terrace looking over the sea before walking along the beach and back to the car for home. Some folks were obviously doing some sort of civil engineering project as a very complex and deep sand thing was under construction - they seemed to be having fun.

Last night I'm afraid I left Nicci at home alone with another man. Luke is the 18mth old son of some friends from church whose regular baby-sitter had bailed at the last minute, threatening to kaibosh their date night. Nicci gladly stepped into the rescue, as I had taken up the offer of a work colleague to take his extra ticket to go to see Keane in concert at Oakland. We left straight from work - the venue was a large theatre, but big enough to hold a pretty big crowd. We got there early enough to get a place pretty near the front (about 8 people back). I was familiar with their first album and I recognised some of the songs from the second album, but it was just brilliant! The leader singer seemed to be having an amazing time - he looked to be genuinely bowled over by the crowd's response: perhaps a sign that they could 'break into' America and make it very big. This was the first night of their US tour, but he said it was going to be hard to beat the 'vibe' of last night.
Most people who I told I was going to a Keane concert had never heard of them, but Chris from work is an avid fan. And after last night, having previously been a moderate supporter, so am I.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Disconcerting things about living in the USA No.6

Customs is hyper-cautious about potentially dangerous substances being mailed into the country... apparently tubes of toothpaste pose a significant threat to national security, so thank you to all those kind souls (I know there are at least 3 of you!) who, after reading my blog post, posted toothpaste to me - I am deeply touched by your concern for my over-sensitive taste-buds, but sadly none of those packages have reached me - all my post is probably now being closely monitored since there have been so many attempts to smuggle me contraband products!

I am not sure Chocolate gets through either... I will contact Customs and try to get a list of all the products they won't allow and post the list here so that I make sure I receive all the mail you send - it is SUCH a bummer to know that some of it has not got through!

Friday, May 1, 2009

There is but one grey spot on our otherwise cheerful Californian experience (ironically as I have been writing this post, it has actually started raining - a VERY unusual occurrence here - nature is feeling my pain!)... the shop where we bought our first pot of Marmite has stopped stocking it.

Now for those lesser-mortals among you who do not see the attraction in Marmite (shame on you!), this would not cause any great anxiety - but for me, the day just has not started quite right without a couple of slices of Marmite toast.

There is an English store nearby where we can buy this essential breakfast component - but it costs $24 for one jar! Yikes!

I will probably splash out and buy one - but, let it be understood - any guests stepping off the plane from England without a large jar of Marmite smuggled in their case will be sent home immediately! You have been warned! ... Rich - I think you're up first!
Check this out... his and hers sinks in our en-suite! No more fighting if I want to brush my teeth at the same time as Ed wants to do his contacts... marital bliss!

This morning a new tradition was born in the Gilchrist household...

Although Ed intends to cycle to work most days, there will be occasions (like this morning) when he has to go in early and so I give him a lift down the hill.

This morning Ed was struck with the inspired idea of playing 'living on a prayer' by Bon Jovi at full volume... we sang along enthusiastically - accompanied by me on steering-wheel drums and Ed on air-guitar... it was SUCH fun that we have decided that every time I give Ed a lift to work he has to choose a ROCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKK anthem for us to rock out to to get us in the mood for the day!

What FUN! Let's hope we don't get ourselves arrested!
Earlier this week, Justin, the leader of the twenties ministry at church (which they have allowed Ed and I to join even though we've come clean that we're no longer in our twenties!) sent round an email to let us all know that, due to a burst water main, his house had flooded... they have 2 small children and so, on Wednesday morning at women's bible study, I offered to come and help out (one of the benefits of being unemployed!)... Taylor (Justin's wife) didn't have her 'schedule' with her and so I suggested we 'do diaries' at the twenties meeting on Thursday evening...

The phrase 'do diaries' was met with stunned silence and a shocked look - until she creased up with laughter, realising what I had meant... in America a diary is where you write all your inmost secrets - so she had thought I was inviting her to share our intimate thoughts - and we hardly know each other!

I have been giggling about it ever since!
I have SOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo much to blog about!

I will start with some photos of our gorgeous new home...

Curtains will go up this evening and then pictures tomorrow... there are still bits and pieces we need to get, but it is feeling like home! We are SO grateful to our heavenly Father for the blessing of this place - lovely views from every window (I was watching a great Egret hunting as I did the washing up last night!) and it is SO peaceful...
Come and visit! There's room for guests!