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In light of LJ's recent brilliant idea of Twitter and Facebook crossposting, I have created this journal as a back-up plan!
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I was lucky when I first came to the UK in that I already knew a whole bunch of folks from the Tolkien crowd and TORC.  In fact, I think it is safe to say that I wouldn't have even considered looking for a job in the UK or responding to the ad in the paper if I hadn't already known some people and seen some places and been a bit acclimated, as it were.

So blame Tolkien for it all!

My students were from all over the world. I taught middle school level - ages 10 - 14. A most interesting age! Esme the oboe player, who passed her level 7s before she was 12 and is now taking up the cor d'anglais. I expect to she her name in the roster of a symphony orchestra someday, if not as first female president of the US. William and Harry, who annoyed me to death and were dreadfully naughty but also so funny (and so musical) that I had to cover my mouth when disciplining them. Liron, who never let a minute go by without asking a question and could play the flute while still talking. Meredith, tiny little ball of energy who insisted at age 9 that she wanted to play the tuba (we never could find one small enough for her - she ended up with a euphonium.) Riki and Minh, serious minded Asian boys who took about a year to understand when I was joking and then would laugh, very politely before turning back to the serious business of making music, Angelica, who showed up for 5th grade orchestra and grandly announced that she played "first chair" (there were only about 10 kids in the orchestra total at that point!) Shy Jenny who never said boo, loud Jens, who never shut up or stopped drumming, precocious twins Bernice and Alex whose mother was a brain surgeon and bought them their own bass clarinet and soprano saxophone...and they were damn good, too. And so many others.

My colleagues - again from all over the world. My counterpart Pamela who taught vocal music and the younger kids. We were like oil and water in temperament and style, but somehow, it worked. Bill, who taught over in the lower school and could have sung professionally and lamented my leaving because now who will laugh at his sick sense of humor! The youngish women in their 20s and early 30s, taking advantage of an opportunity to live and work overseas,,,and party hard on the weekends. The staid English-born teachers who had been there forever. The typical personalities you find in every school - the one who calls in sick all the time, the one with mother issues, the one who cries at everything...and the usual hard-working, dedicated and talented crew that make a school run.

And my social friends...some fun acquaintances, some more casually good friends and a couple of "true friends for life" which, for me, is a rare and precious thing. Met through more moots, through filk, through hiking groups, through writing groups and various cons, through friends of friends and by chance. Thanks to the wonders of the internet (and Facebook!) I hope to keep in touch with lots of people!

I had some dating experiences...enough to finally get to the point where I could start to see dating as a fun activity instead of wishing I was home watching "Star Trek" or stabbing myself in the eye with a fork. I didn't have any romance (alas) although I did meet a couple of very nice men who became friends...maybe it would have been more if I hadn't been leaving. Maybe romance is simply not in the cards for me...but no matter. I am content with what I have.

So, thank you, Professor Tolkien! Thank you Peter Jackson! Thank you, Diane, who hired me! Thank you TORC friends, who welcomed me! Thank you, colleagues and filkers and writers and singers and hikers for befriending me! Thank you, London, for being there and giving me a fantastic experience!

And now...on to the next chapter of my life.

Thank you, God, for my life.
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Since I got to the airport in plenty of time, only to discover that my plane is more than an hour delayed....

I will miss the availability of culture that comes with living in an international city like London.  The plays, concerts, poetry readings, art exhibits - everything literally a stone's throw away.  I'll miss the Southbank Centre where there was always something happening.  St Martin in the Fields - beautifully restored church with a great little cafe in the crypt and wonderful classical concerts.  The little pubs with couches to sit on and the real ales...OMG, the real ales.  The Green Note Cafe with it's funky folk/world music and unbelievable fudge brownie with ice cream desserts.  I'll miss the sense of going to a film being an event (well, it would have to be an event for the prices they charge!) and the hustle and bustle of Leicester Square.  I'll miss the little stores like Marks and Spencer that sell individual portions of food - fresh fruit and veggies and pasta and full meals - great for a single person on the go.

I'll miss walking along the Thames and seeing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliment.  I'll miss being able to go to service at Westminster Abbey or St Paul's and hearing glorious music while sitting in a glorious space.   I'll miss the easy way people just get together on short notice for a drink or a meal or a chat or just to hang out.  The way it is so easy (and relatively cheap) to get almost anywhere from London...and how much fun it was to plan weekend jaunts to different countries.  The way cash is almost unnecessary and even the cabbies have little chip-and-pin readers.  I'll miss the international vibrancy of the city and the people.

I will NOT miss the abyssmal customer service and the way any kind of "improvement works" seems like it takes forever.  (and then, when it's done, they start all over again!)  I won't miss the constant tube closings, the stop-and-go service of Southwest Trains, the inexplicable delays and re-routing of bus lines.  I won't miss the bland and unimaginative food (except for the free-range eggs!)  I won't miss the gloomy weather and the inadequate heating. I won't miss the stupid taps in washrooms that force you to either wash your hands with scalding hot or freezing cold water.   I'll be glad to say good-bye to the tiny washing machines and the stiff towels and jeans because there aren't any nice,  big clothes dryers.  I never did get used to walking down a busy street, only to have the people in front of me suddenly stop in the middle of the sidewalk.  I'll be happy to go back to calling the underground railways "the subway" and calling a lift an "elevator" again.  (I might hold on to using the word "loo" though...it's kinda cute.)

And of course, I'll miss certain people very, very much...but that's another post entirely!
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This is NOT a comprehensive list by any means - since I am sitting in an internet cafe and will be flying outta here in a few hours.  But I thought it would be good to make a start.  As I have begun to chronicle my adventures I am realizing how much I was able to pack in to these last four years!  It really has been a great ride!

Bath - went to the spa and watched my daughter dissolve into ecstasy when she bit into a Sally Lunn Bun!
York - walked the ancient wall, went to evensong in the beautiful cathedral
Cambridge - did a walking tour and bought stuff at the historical outdoor market
Oxford - where it all began!  Mooted, mooted and mooted again.  Met A for the first time...and later, met [livejournal.com profile] pearlette .  Tolkien's gravesite and the Radcliffe Camera, picked up cobblestones from the courtyard and found out how bad I am at punting.
Liverpool - great day trip!  All Beatles, all the time.
Isle of Wight - day trip, weekend and an "extended field trip" with 100 5th graders.  Hiked, ate, saw the rescued tigers and other animals, visited Queen Victoria's residence.
Cornwall - fantastic few days with Pearlette - hiked all around "The Lizard" - petted the ponies, sat in the hot tub, relaxed on the beach.
Cotswolds - stayed at a friend's B & B.  Visited a National Trust museum and a special farm for over 100 varieties of chicken!  Went to Stratford and saw an amazing production of "Julius Caesar."  
Portsmouth - Hung out by the sea, climbed the Spinnaker Tower.
Glasgow (and beyond) Took a bus trip up to the highlands and breathed the free air!
Wales near Cardiff.  Visited the ruined abbey and an ancient castle.
Iona - beautiful, remote island.  Spiritual and refreshing.
Norwich - didn't hear the bells of Julian, but had a lovely walk on the beach and climbed a tower with a great view!
Exmoor (and the Lynton and Lynmouth cliff railway.)  Beautiful area - lots of sheep and lambs bounding about.
Edinburgh - worked as a volunteer for a week at the Fringe Festival - had a great time, and discovered the Best Scotch Whiskey EVER.
Lots of hikes just outside London - the lost village of Dode, the Goring Gap, the Thames path, Box Hill...

I'm sure there are more...and I never did get to the White Cliffs of Dover!  I'll have to come back!
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Copenhagen - city of bikes, boots, beer...and the incredible World Music Expo!
Rome - wonderful city, walked my feet off, saw the Colosseum, visited the Vatican and St. Peter's, got drunk on Grapa.  Worst seats ever for a ballet - but the ballet was fantastic! 
Cologne...ancient Jewish baths, biggest free-swinging bell in the world, cool cathedral, really good jazz.
Milan - fairy-tale cathedral and La Scala.
Freusburg - tiny town in Germany, stayed in a hostel that used to be (literally) a castle!
Salzburg...Mozart's house AND the incredibly cheesy but ridiculously fun "Sound of Music" tour!

Tomorrow, I'll try to remember all the places and sites within the UK...
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One of the things I love about being in London is that once you're here, it's pretty easy to go almost anywhere!

I've been to Athens and seen the Acropolis and some of the outlying islands - including one with no cars, only donkeys!
Barcelona, where I saw the incredible Gaudi house and the Sagrada Familia and a performance of "Tannhauser" at the new opera house.  Also some very cool flamenco dancing.
Budapest with its lovely old-world atmosphere.  Had a fabulous meal at the world famous Gundel's, bathed in the waters ot a huge outdoor spa and saw "Madama Butterfly" at their little jewel of an opera house.
Madrid - loved all the little cafes and coffee shops and the friendly people. 
Paris - went several times - visited the Louvre, climbed the Tour Eiffel, toured backstage at the enormous opera house and had a walking tour of the Stade de France, went to a service at Notre Dame, saw the New Year in on the Champs d'Elysee, sat by the Seine
Nice.  Nice was nice!  Hung out by the water, walked through the old town, heard some good jazz.
Dublin...loved Dublin!  Loved the music in the sessions, the theatre and the sense of literature and history.  The Book of Kells at Trinity College was very cool, but the library took my breath away!
Shannon...green and lush.  Drove to the Cliffs of Moher, sat in a pub with a peat fire, drank copious amounts of Guiness.
Killarney...with a hiking group!  Hiked the Black Valley, visited Ross Castle.
Alicante - for a couple of days R & R.  Sunny and lovely.  Visited the bull-fighting museum and school.  Had an al fresco lunch with 3 glasses of some delicious red wine and lots of crusty bread.
Malta...once for a holiday and once for a hike.  Saw the oldest known man-made structure, a 5,000 year old temple of the sun.  Hiked on the remote island of Goza.
Madeira...again, once for a holiday and once for a week-long hiking excursion.  Beautiful, beautiful place - hiked the levadas and had  some great food.  Heard a performance of authentic "Fado" - sort of like Portuguese story-songs. 
Berlin.  Big, forboding and full of historical buildings and monuments.  Great jazz!
Stockholm.  I saw reindeer!  And the changing of the guard, which was done on horseback while playing musical instruments.  At the same time.
Amsterdam!  The Anne Frank house was probably the most moving and emotional place I have ever been.  Loved the "coffee shops" and the canals...and the fun overnight ferry ride back to the UK!
Brussels...excellent beer.  Tiny little city, but excellent beer.

...and I haven't even touched all the places in the UK I visited!

More to come!
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I realize it's been ages since I updated about....well...anything!

In 5 short days, I will be leaving London for good.  And although I'm sure I'll be back for visits now and again, my four years as an ex-pat is coming to an end.

It's been a great ride.  And so, for the next couple of days, I intend to try to capture a little of what I did, what I saw, who I met, what I'll miss and what I'll be glad to get away from.

I'll likely posts in blurbs and bits...but I think it's important to write it down before I leave these shores and start the next chapter of my life!

Stay tuned.
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Movies, books, other things...


CHECK IT OUT!
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A brief synopsis...

New York City )


Hannah's apartment )


Home to the condo... )


Christmas )

To Be Continued...
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Leontyne Price singing "Alleluia" from Mozart's "Exsultate Jubilate." We had this recording when I was a little girl. I always loved hearing her go up to the high "C" at the end...and it is still one of my favorites!



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Still Still Still
Still, still, still is based on a traditional Austrian carol. Its author is unknown.

Still, still, still
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed
The world is sleeping
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
The night is peaceful all around you
Close your eyes
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.

Dream, dream, dream
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream
Of the joyous day to come.


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Joseph's Lullaby
as recorded by the band "Mercy Me."

Go to sleep my Son
This manger for your bed
You have a long road before You
Rest Your little head

Can You feel the weight of Your glory?
Do You understand the price?
Does the Father guard Your heart for now
So You can sleep tonight?

Go to sleep my Son
Go and chase Your dreams
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and sleep in peace

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child

Go to sleep my Son
Baby, close Your eyes
Soon enough You'll save the day
But for now, dear Child of mine
Oh my Jesus, Sleep tight


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I sent them out today...so if you didn't get one, here's my Christmas poem for 2009.

The earth has turned around the sun
A year has closed; a year’s begun
We ponder things we might have done
The measure of our days.

A child is born to us this night
To help us travel towards the Light
A distant dawn is shimmering bright
Lift every voice in praise!

We each possess an inner spark
To light the Way against the dark
Listen to the singing! 
Hark! ‘Tis angel voices raised!
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Christmas Time is Here
by Vince Guaraldi
Written for the TV Special "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
I love this song - the words are gentle and beautiful and I love the easy jazz chords underneath. It sounds best when sung by a children's chorus...


Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year

Snowflakes in the air
Carols everywhere
Olden times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share

Sleigh bells in the air
Beauty everywhere
Yuletide by the fireside
And joyful memories there

Christmas time is here
We'll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year...


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"Do You Hear What I Hear?" is a Christmas song written in October 1962 with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker. The pair were married at the time, and wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of different artists.

Noel Regney wrote the lyrics for the song, while Gloria Shayne Baker composed the Christmas carol's music in October 1962. Regney was inspired to write the lyrics "Said the night wind to the little lamb, 'Do you see what I see?' " and "Pray for peace, people everywhere," after watching babies being pushed in strollers on the sidewalks of New York City. Baker stated in an interview years later that neither could personally perform the entire song at the time they wrote it because of the emotions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. "Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time."

Said the night wind to the little lamb
Do you see what I see
Way up in the sky little lamb
Do you see what I see
A star, a star
Dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

Said the little lamb to the shepard boy
Do you hear what I hear
Ringing through the sky shepard boy
Do you hear what I hear
A song, a song
High above the tree
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace wall mighty king
Do you know what I know
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light


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Eddi's Service
by Rudyard Kipling

[livejournal.com profile] pearlette and I went to a carol service at St Martin's in the Fields last week. The music was beautiful and moving - just what we needed. They did this as one of the readings. I love it!

Eddi's Service
(A.D. 687)

EDDI, priest of St. Wilfrid
In his chapel at Manhood End,
Ordered a midnight service
For such as cared to attend.

But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,
And the night was stormy as well.
Nobody came to service,
Though Eddi rang the bell.

'Wicked weather for walking,'
Said Eddi of Manhood End.
'But I must go on with the service
For such as care to attend.

The altar-lamps were lighted, –
An old marsh-donkey came,
Bold as a guest invited,
And stared at the guttering flame.

The storm beat on at the windows,
The water splashed on the floor,
And a wet, yoke-weary bullock
Pushed in through the open door.

'How do I know what is greatest,
How do I know what is least?
That is My Father's business,'
Said Eddi, Wilfrid's priest.

'But – three are gathered together –
Listen to me and attend.
I bring good news, my brethren!'
Said Eddi of Manhood End.

And he told the Ox of a Manger
And a Stall in Bethlehem,
And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider,
That rode to Jerusalem.

They steamed and dripped in the chancel,
They listened and never stirred,
While, just as though they were Bishops,
Eddi preached them The Word,

Till the gale blew off on the marshes
And the windows showed the day,
And the Ox and the Ass together
Wheeled and clattered away.

And when the Saxons mocked him,
Said Eddi of Manhood End,
'I dare not shut His chapel
On such as care to attend.'
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Christmas in the Trenches
by John McCutcheon
Based on actual events during WWI.

My name is Francis Tolliver. I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here,
I fought for King and country I love dear.

It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen field of France were still, no Christmas song was sung.
Our families back in England were toasting us that day,
their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lyin' with my mess-mates on the cold and rocky ground
when across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound.
Says I "Now listen up me boys", each soldier strained to hear
as one young German voice sang out so clear.

"He's singin' bloddy well you know", my partner says to me.
Soon one by one each German voice joined in in harmony.
The cannons rested silent. The gas cloud rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war.

As soon as they were finished a reverent pause was spent.
'God rest ye merry, gentlemen' struck up some lads from Kent.
The next they sang was 'Stille Nacht". "Tis 'Silent Night'" says I
and in two tongues one song filled up that sky.

"There's someone comin' towards us" the front-line sentry cried.
All sights were fixed on one lone figure trudging from their side.
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright
as he bravely strode, unarmed, into the night.

Then one by one on either side walked into no-mans-land
with neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand.
We shared some secret brandy and wished each other well
and in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell.

We traded chocolates, cigarettes and photographs from home
these sons and fathers far away from families of their own.
Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin
this curious and unlikely band of men.

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more.
With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war.
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night
"whose family have I fixed within my sights?"

It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung.
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
had been crumbled and were gone for ever more.

My name is Francis Tolliver. In Liverpool I dwell.
Each Christmas come since World War One I've learned it's lessons well.
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame
and on each end of the rifle we're the same.


Performed live by John McCutcheon, with an intro about the song. My son Adam and I performed this for a Christmas Eve service a few years ago.


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