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A Visit to the Seaside Penn State Style

A brief post today and then I will try to get back to my regular posting…I just haven’t been in a good enough mood to sit down and write happy things this past week while I’m still crying if I see a grey tabby cat on the telly.

On Saturday, my chorus held a workshop followed by a short performance for the attendees to invite their family and friends to. Tim tagged along to take pictures and video for us, and we were chatting in the car…

Me: It’s such a shame we were both stuck inside on this beautiful day.
Tim: The day isn’t over yet.
Me: I know. We should have gone to the seaside today or something.
Tim: Want to?
Me: Err…serious?
Tim: Serious.
Me: Yes!

So we did. We stopped off at home briefly to put tea in flasks, grab some jumpers and a blanket and we were off! Living close to the North Sea coast has it’s benefits for sure.

We stopped off in Sutton-on-Sea to pick up some fish and chips, and by a happy accident, followed a turned sign for parking completely bypassing the shore. Instead, we wound up in Sandilands, which I kept referring to as “Candyland”. It was gorgeous and empty, save for one fisherman and the occasional dog walker.

We spent a pleasant hour or two sitting on the beach, walking, and collecting some seashells before we decided to head home. As we turned a corner, I spotted a closed down hotel with a broken sign reading “We are”. I shouted “Penn State” and then I had to explain the cheer to Tim. He said “do you want to get a picture of it?” Erm, yes please! So we turned around and got some shots of Tim holding up my Penn State stadium blanket under the sign.

[If you click on the photo once, it will take you to that photo’s page. If you click on the photo again, you will be able to view it full size. I have no idea why WordPress made it so complicated! Apologies to LiveJournal Users. If you do not see the gallery below, please visit my website via the link at the top of the entry to view the gallery.]

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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Sweet Adeline’s Region 31 Convention

This past weekend, Lincoln Sounds travelled to Birmingham to participate in this year’s Quartet of Nation’s annual convention/competition.

We didn’t do so good.

Last year, we came home with a bronze medal. This year, we came home all feeling a bit dejected and ho-hum about our score, which I won’t be posting to my blog, it hurts too much.

The only thing we can do is remain positive, and consider that next year, we could win “most improved chorus” 😀

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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To Volunteer or Not…

I really need some opinions on this matter.

I volunteer at the Cancer Research UK charity shop on Thursday afternoons from 1-5PM. I take the bus into town (£2.50) and then usually meet up with 2 friends to go to chorus, and then another friend would give me a lift home.

My friends I usually meet are no longer available to meet me before chorus to give me a lift, so I’m stuck scrambling for a solution. Another chorus friend lives in one of the villages near me, and she’s offered to give me lifts on “most” Thursdays if I can get to her house via the bus. I’m fine with doing that, but it will mean paying for a return fare into town (£4.50) plus a single to her village (£2) every week. I’d also only have about 45 minutes at home between busses to shove something to eat down my neck. That’s not counting busses running late (they nearly always are) or the walk to the bus stop (about 5 minutes each way). So really, I’m looking at spending maybe if I’m lucky a half hour at home. Which isn’t enough time to cook anything, so I’d either have to have a meal in the crock pot waiting, or just have a sandwich. Even heating up my oven to cook chips takes nearly 20 minutes! The downside to a crock pot meal is that depending on Tim’s schedule, he might not get to eat it, but would have to smell it cooking, which really isn’t fair.

This also means I’d be spending £4.50 each week just to volunteer….over £20/month. In a time when Tim and I are trying to cut back on some of our finances so we can put more into savings…do I really want to spend that extra £20/month? Granted, some weeks I go into town early and do some shopping, but since I’m also trying to cut back on my extracurricular shopping trips, I can’t really use shopping as an excuse. Plus, I always have to take the bus into town on Market days, since Market isn’t on a Thursday.

And let’s talk about the volunteering.

I started volunteering to get myself out of the house, to meet people, and to possibly count towards my eventual citizenship*. I started in March 2010, and I have not met anyone to hang out with outside of the volunteer job. I’d say I’m “friends” with the woman I usually work with, but we don’t even have each other’s mobile numbers and we only talk if we’re both at the volunteer job at the same time…and since September, it’s been hard to find a day when we’re both there since they keep switching her schedule around. I do not get along with anyone else I volunteer with, other than one of the men who helps out with sorting (and he’s not usually on the floor). All of the other women who work on the floor just rub me the wrong way, boss me around, treat me horribly, or are just too quiet to try to make friends with and barely answer my questions if I try to start a conversation. One of them clearly has a problem with immigrants as well, as she makes horrible comments but then covers them up with a “but of course I don’t mean you”**. Another deliberately gives me a hard time any time I use the word “pants” instead of “trousers”. Now, most people know what I mean (and even this person knows) if I say “pants”. Customers recognize that I am American and that in America we call trousers “pants”. Nine times out of ten, I catch myself and correct myself immediately when talking to a customer, but there is one of the co-workers who always sneers at me if I use an American clothing word.

The bosses are nice, but sometimes I think they think we are all uneducated and they seem surprised when I pick things up after being shown/told once….but then if I make one tiny mistake I get called out for it, so really, you can’t quite win with them. The bosses (and other co-workers) seem to be plagued with the same problem some of the chorus members have of “you should just know this because that’s how it’s done”.

I know I’m not happy 100% with the “job”. I think if I was 100% happy there, I wouldn’t bat an eye at spending £20/week to commute to it. But really, it’s more like about 20%. Most Thursdays I really can’t get up the excitement to go, but I do it anyway.

I don’t want to be a quitter. I wanted to stick it out and “just do it”, but I really don’t want to spend that money and rush myself around like that.

Tim didn’t want me to quit the many times I said I wanted to before, because he didn’t want me to be one of those people who never leaves the house and who doesn’t have a life of her own outside of her husband, but I do things. I have friends that I see and do things with. I take the train to visit friends and other places….I’m not going to suddenly become an invalid if I stop volunteering. I also still have (for now) chorus. I think Tim is starting to see point in me leaving it though now that my schedule is changing.

PLUS, our steam-ups are always on Thursdays, and if I’m not volunteering, I’d at least be present for part of the steam-up. I’ve missed so many of them last season, and some of Tim’s friends (my friends now, too) were disappointed when they didn’t see me.

So, how do I graciously get out of this? Do I need to write a formal letter stating that I am leaving? Do I ask if I can leave myself on the roster for possibly going back if my schedule changes again? Do I just call in and say “not doing this any more” or do I need to attend a “last day”?

*The volunteering was part of the Earned Citizenship stuff to reduce wait time from 5 years to 3. Parts of the EC have been thrown out, but no one seems to know if this volunteering thing will still be needed….but they also never released figures stating how much volunteering you needed to do for it to count.

**I don’t think we need to get into this again. Those of us who are (white/English-speaking) immigrants in the UK get treated to comments like that all the time.

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Harry Potter and the Chorus Concert

Yesterday, I met up with two of my friends and we went and saw the new Harry Potter film. Loved it! I won’t spoil it for anyone, but despite it being a dark film, I found myself laughing a lot. What I didn’t like was the film was set to start at 1, but at 1 they started the commercials and previews and the actual film didn’t start until 1:30. But, I found the Odeon staff very friendly, and they even offered to put my big bag behind the box office so I didn’t have to find a place to put it in the theatre.

After the film, I met some of my friends from chorus for Tea and we headed over to the Drill Hall for our concert last night. Our concert was a 70s and 80s theme, so it was lots of fun dressing up. We had several people dressed up like Olivia Newton-John from her Physical video, punk rockers, hippie chicks, and several ladies wore their own clothing they still had hanging in their wardrobes! We had loads of wigs, too. I didn’t wear a wig. After wearing my hair piece for the first half (a ponytail on a clip), I put my hair into two pigtails for the second half, since that’s how I wore my hair in the 80s! I didn’t wear clothing I still owned. I probably DO still have some of the clothing I wore in the 80s at my mom’s house, but it would all be too small as I was a child in the 80s.

Our show was a great success. We shared the stage with the Foss Dyke Band, and at the end had a sing-a-long. The band director picked war-time songs, so we sang “White Cliffs of Dover”, “We’ll Meet Again”, and “The Army and the Navy and the Air Force”…..songs I had never heard before, but many of the chorus members and audience members recognized them. I think it would have been like ending a concert in the US with “Grand old Flag” or “Yankee Doodle”.

And I’m off again today! Seeing Harry Potter for the second time, this time with my husband, brother-in-law, and BIL’s girlfriend.

Pictures and hopefully video to follow!

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Lincoln Sounds Performance

A lot of you have been asking to see our performance at convention, so I’ve finally uploaded it to YouTube:

Or, if the embed doesn’t work, here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxusrQBarmo

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Armed Forces Day

This past Saturday, Lincoln Castle held their annual Armed Forces Day and my chorus, Lincoln Sounds, performed. Armed Forces Day offers free admission to the castle and grounds. Everything is open at the castle, so it’s a great day out for anyone who hasn’t yet experienced the castle. On the lawn, each branch of the armed forces, as well as their youth programs, organizations for retired service men & women, widow/widower organizations, and support charities set up booths with information, demonstrations, and exhibits.

The youth organizations all appeared in uniform and participated in a group march from the castle to the cathedral and back, including one of the military bands.

The whole concept of an Armed Forces day was “foreign” to me. As far as I know, we’ve never done anything like this anywhere in the US, and Armed Forces Day is a country-wide event in the UK. I’ve seen various booths set up for each branch of the US military at fairs and expos, but usually they were only there for recruitment. It blew me away to see all the crowds there. An email my chorus received told us they had over 8,000 people come through the gates! That’s absolutely amazing. All money raised at the event went to Help for Heroes, an organization for wounded soldiers (of all branches of the military).

Check out the Armed Forces Day website to see when an event is in your area!

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Congratulations Lincoln Sounds!

lincolnsounds We won! We won! I’ll have a longer post up later about my experience at my first convention, but I just had to post that WE WON!!!

Lincoln Sounds came away from Region 31 Sweet Adelines convention with a bronze medal in the small chorus (under 30 members) category!! With 501 points, we exceeded the goal we set for ourselves and we were less than 20 points below the silver medallist.

Go Lincoln Sounds!!!!

Wooooo

[Photo courtesy of Linda’s facebook page.]

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Friday Night is Music Night

On Friday, Tim and I attended the second-to-last night of a drama and music festival being held in Lincoln. The Lincoln Sounds were participating in the competition and there also was a quartet made up of our members as well as many of the members also performing in the Lincoln Mix, a combined choir of the Sounds and Harmony Lincs. Harmony Lincs is the male barbershop group that inspired the ladies group to form.

We had a fantastic time. I wish I had been up on stage with the ladies, but being in the audience was just as good. Each group had to perform two songs in different styles. Unfortunately, we didn’t take home the top prize. The men’s chorus beat us by just one point! One point! How awful. But, we’ll get them next year because I’ll be singing ;).

After the festival, there was a party called Afterglow in the oldest building in Lincoln. Tim and I were invited along, and we got to mingle with the members of my group and Harmony Lincs…and I got to sing. Tim had actually never seen me sing before, and he said he could tell how happy it makes me. I am so excited to be a part of this group!

Roll on convention!

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Lincoln Sounds

Thursday has just become my town day/social day.

After spending time volunteering at Cancer Research, I’ll be walking up the hill (steep hill!) every Thursday to go to Tim’s aunt’s house for Tea (dinner/supper). After Tea, I’m headed over to rehearsal for the Lincoln Sounds, a female barbershop quartet group and a member of the Sweet Adelines international.

Last night was my first rehearsal, and a chance for me to get the feeling of the group. I was immediately asked to join in and sight-sing, and had a blast! I forgot how much fun singing was, to be honest. The choir director had me join him in another room during their break to test me out with some scales to see where I would fit, and well, let’s just say his compliments to me left me blushing when I returned to the group! The director was fairly impressed with my singing (!) and thought I could do one of three voice parts* – what he called Soprano 1, Soprano 2, and Alto 1, but the ladies in the choir call them “tenor”, “lead”, and “bari”. Cue a fight for me between the three section leaders!

In the end, the leads/Soprano 2’s won out, because I had been rehearsing in their section standing in front of the section leader and she really wanted me. LOL.

There is an “audition”, but at this point I think it’s a basic formality, since they all want me. They give you three weeks to learn the audition pieces, and then six to learn their “Sing Out”** songs, but I really don’t think I’ll need that long. I catch on quick! I’ll also then become a member of Sweet Adeline International, which is pretty cool. The group is also excited because since SA is a US-based organization, the judges at competition are from the US, and the groups get skill points for diction and for using an American accent. Apparently the Sounds lost some points on it last year, so I’ve been asked to help with diction as well!

*In the past, I sang Soprano 1 for four years, Soprano 2 for one year, and Alto 1 for one year.

**Sing out is when they go to other places to perform.

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