Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hola from Elder West

The weather here has started to warm up. For the most part it was pretty mild for the first couple of weeks I was here (ignoring a couple days of rain), but since summer "officially" started (June 22nd or something) the weather has started being more like what I'd expect from summer here (read: hot). Still, I don't think it's been above 90 degrees yet, but I could be wrong. The worst part of the weather is when we have to wear our suit coats when going up to the temple. Speaking of the Provo Temple, I find it to be surprisingly similar to the Seattle temple in some ways, though I guess that's kind of a given since they're close to the same age.

Oh, and just so you know, I usually write my e-mails during laundry time, which starts at 10 o'clock for our district. However, that's entirely dependent on whether there's a computer available when I start my loads. I don't want to change loads mid e-mail, since that leaves the computer open and also because logging off takes 5 minutes off our 30 minute time limit (enforced by the web browser they use here). If I'm not able to e-mail during that time, I usually do it during the free time after lunch then.

The Spanish is going pretty well, though I think we could be doing better. Like, yesterday in class the teacher said that we (and they themselves) are not speaking Spanish as often as we should right now. Granted, the teachers say we've learned the grammar pretty fast, but we just need to speak the language more. I'll admit that I should have put in more effort than I should. I mean, finally bought supplies for flashcards, and right now I feel like I should have done it like 2 weeks ago. Regardless, I've found the language pretty easy to learn compared to Japanese, thanks to it being grammatically similar to English and having quite a lot of cognates. Granted, that kind of gets in the way when we run into false cognates. For instance, "embarasado" means "pregnant", whilst the word that actually means "embarrassed" is "avergonzado" or something like that. There are a couple people in the class that like to purpose make mistakes like this.

- Elder Alex West

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Minus One

Danny's room before - that's how I felt every time I went in.
 (like Wesley - not Prince Humperdink)
It's amazing how soon I can break a habit of getting up super early.  Just two weeks ago I was always getting up before 5am. This morning when my alarm went off around 5am I felt like it was 3am. My bed was comfy. I was tired. I didn't much feel like getting up.

It's amazing what you can make yourself do when you're properly motivated.

Steve and I drove Danny down to Sea-Tac and got him through security with just a few minutes to spare before boarding the plane to San Jose.  He's now in sunny California for the ENTIRE week.  Yay!  I'm going to be spending the week refurbishing The Pit of Despair aka Danny's Room. Stay tuned for the play by play.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What are phones for anyway?

Never blog in anger.  That's our family motto.  Never blog in anger - perhaps I should embroider it on a pillow?

Count to ten. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

(Wipes brow) Okay, I'm fine now.

Steve forgot to take his cell phone to work today, which meant that our mechanic couldn't get hold of him, which meant the van didn't get worked on today, which means that besides not having any wheels today, I won't have any tomorrow either.

Never blog in anger. Never blog in anger.

1, 2, 3, 4, .......

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hola from Elder West

The laundry room here seems less crowded than last week, but I had a much harder time finding a place to sit down. Weird.

> 1. Have you been getting your letters??
Yes. :-)

> 2. Do you have everything that you need?

> 3. How is the language coming along (and by language, I mean Spanish)?
Reasonably well. I'm finding verb conjugation to be the hardest part, with each tense having 6 forms (1st/2nd/3rd persons, singular/plural) and there being like 7 tenses or something. It seems like the biggest roadblock towards the road of speaking conversationally. That, and my vocabulary needs some work. I have a lot of church-related words memorized, but we haven't really done much work with normal everyday words like bed, blanket, spoon (cuchara), fork (tenedor), plate, pants, etc. I need to make some flash cards of these words for language study time.
Also, in addition to language study time, we have about an hour a day we spend on the computer using something called "TALL" (Technology Assisted Language Learning). Not to rag on the developers behind it or anything, but it is probably the most boring piece of software I've ever used.
I t ' s j u s t s o s l o o o o o o o o o o o w .

> 4. Have you seen anyone else that you know?
So far I don't think I've seen anybody I know beyond Ryan Coon and Elder "i'msuddenlyblankingonhisfirstname" Hartsock.

You also asked something about the MTC choir, so I might as well update you on that:

Last Sunday we practiced singing "Jesus Once of Humble Birth." Basically everybody in our district joined the choir to practice it, except for the companionship with the nephew of the person responsible for the arrangement we were singing. However, due to an incident with temple locker keys that I will not elaborate on, my companion and I ended up being too late to actually perform for the choir last Tuesday.

This Sunday we practiced "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." It seems a bit weird to say, but I really liked the choir director during the practice. He was humorous, and also provided some excellent commentary on the song itself (that is, I actually know what "Here I raise my Ebenezer" now means). I think we'll be performing the song at the devotional tonight (hopefully).

My time's up right now.

Hasta Luego,
Alexander West

Monday, June 20, 2011

A little of this, a little of that....

Father's Day Andrew.
I showed him a picture from Bakerella - and he made these all on his own.

Thoughts about my new sewing area...I've actually mended, yes mended two articles of regularly worn clothing this week...all due to having a dedicated and easily accessible sewing area.  It's handy.  Very handy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

"No need to search any're the one!"

The glue's still wet on the card I whipped up this morning...I screen captured the Google search page...pasted it into Word and added 'World's greatest dad' (sooo original).  I printed it up on card stock and added the phrase, 'No need to search any're the one!' to the inside. It may not be profound...or witty...or pithy...or, well, fill in the blank, but it's sufficiently nerdy to bring a little smile to my particular nerd.

This is what I made for Steve...I blogged about it at Help Me Hanna.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oh no, not again...

In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words DON'T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.
- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Lest I get in the bad habit of not posting anything except Alex Updates, here's a picture of my latest embroidery project.  I haven't decided yet whether to just frame it in a hoop (doubtful) OR put it in a picture frame (more likely)...anywho, here it is. 

Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hola from Elder West

Querido mi famila,
Half a week in and it already feels like I've been here forever...
I'm enjoying being here, in any case. My companion (campa┼łero) is Elder Lybbert  (pronounced lib-ert, not libe-ert). He is from Lewiston, Idaho. He and I are getting along frighteningly well. I hope my future companions are as good as him. (Also Elder Sheanshang is in my district, but he's someone else's companion).
Our apartment is on the top floor of the Dan Jones Building. The stair climbing is a tad annoying, but honestly not much of an issue. The real problem is the terrible showers on our floor. We have a couple of burning/scalding death showers, a puny ice-cold sprinkler, and only a couple of showers that are actually usable.
Other than that MTC life has been fine, though I can see myself getting sick of the cafeteria food pretty soon.
The learning has gone pretty well so far. We already know how to pray and bear testimony in Spanish, and we're working on conjugating verbs. A couple elders in our class were talking about how much we know already. The we all had to give a 5 (read:20) minute lesson in Spanish to elders who've been here for weeks. Let's just say that we were all thoroughly...uhhh....humbled.
Somehow, against all odds, my companion convinced me to join the MTC choir. Good thing we didn't have to go through auditions...
Alexander West
P.S. I leave the MTC August 9th...
P.P.S. There's a dead duck (un pato muerto) outside our classroom's window.

Hola Elder

I've already sent some snail mail, so this letter wouldn't be that long.

Anyways, first things first: the scripture to to on my plaque.

"...come up hither to hear the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul." - Jacob 2:8

Learning Spanish has been pretty fun so far. Pronouncing words is a lot like Japanese, so I'm finding that to be rather easy, although I know it will be a while before I start pronouncing the letters correctly (especially the rolled Rs). Verb conjugation looks like it's going to be a real pain, though I suppose the same could be said of all languages. So far we've learned how to introduce ourselves (as missionaries), pray, and bear testimony in Spanish. And of course we're learning how to give the lessons, though for the full lessons we'll be starting out in English. We actually gave a short lesson in Spanish on Saturday to some missionaries who've been here a few weeks longer. The main thing we all learned from that experience is that we all have quite a long way to go.

I didn't really talk about my district much in my handwritten letter, so I might as well talk about them here:

My companion's name is Elder Lybbert, and he's from Lewiston, Idaho (somewhere by Moscow, he says). He's also going to Long Beach. In fact, out of the 12 of us in this district, 8 of us are going to Long Beach. The other 4 will be going to Spain and be leaving for the MTC there in about 3 weeks (except for the one having some hang-ups with his visa).

I've ran across a couple people I know here. I've bumped into Ryan Coon at lunch a few times and also a few other places, though I haven't spent much time talking to him and haven't really tried finding him. I've also ran into Elder Hartsock (knew him from seminary). He's been here a couple weeks and I think he's going to a stateside mission, so I'm lucky I ran across him. Granted, he claims to live on the same floor and same building as me, but I have yet to run across him there.

There's supposedly some virus (the Novo virus or something) going around here in the MTC (or at least nearby), so we've been advised to not shake hands. Fist-bumping seems to be the most common replacement, though I'm partial to a nice, Japanese-style bow (as suggested during last night's devotional). Also, I really need to wash my hands after using this keyboard.

Elder West

Friday, June 10, 2011

Adios Amigo

No, Elder West! Not THAT door!

Hey there, elder.
Choice for a final meal? Comalitos...a Mexican food joint on University Avenue. 
Elder West, just a few minutes before dropping him off.

This is the new drop off  ceremony at the MTC...heavy on the drop-off and light on the ceremony. 
Quick and relatively pain-free.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rebekah's Challenge

I'm going to be out of town for most of the week.  So I thought I'd post something I made last week that fits right in with Rebekah's challenge. It's a do it yourself food/weight journal.  Print up whatever suits your fancy, fold it in half, cut a piece of heavier paper out for a cover and sew the whole kit and caboodle together.  I like to finish off the outside with a little masking tape.

Easy peasy.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Seminary Party Favors

Since I'm heading down to Salt Lake City tomorrow afternoon, I'm having my end of year seminary party tomorrow.  I'm proud of myself for how little I spent...nothing cost more than $1 - and much was free.

The 'Keep Calm' bookmarks were made only with materials at hand. The Finnish CTR (only it's 'VO' in Finnish) was a buck. I have to say, I'm loving my laminater.

'Fights Evil Around The World'!!! How could I pass up toy soldiers at a dollar a bag?

Beehive cookies. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hola from Elder West

I got my first email from Elder Alex...even though he hasn't even entered the MTC yet.

...Also, this'll be my MTC mailing address:

Elder Alexander Scott West
MTC Mailbox # 307
CA-LB 0809
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

I'm not sure the "0809" means whether I'll be leaving the MTC August 9th or September 8th (probably the latter).

I'll have to report into the MTC at 1:30 PM. I'd be able to enter earlier if my last name started with an earlier letter ('E' as in 'East', perhaps?).

Upcycled Sewing Portfolio

Yes, that is a functional pocket.
 The exterior is made from leftover scraps of the brown corduroy Dockers that I cut up to make a messenger bag. The zipper is from Grandma Hanna's stash. The interior is scrap from lining a tote bag last year.

I'm not going to give any instructions...but I will say that the finished dimensions are about 5 1/2 by 9 inches and I used a 20 (ish) inch long zipper. I plan on taking this little baby with me on the plane Monday.

I went to the TSA website and it says that while I can't carry on a meat cleaver or an ice axe, I can carry on "scissors-metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches." I think I'll print that up to show the screeners if they get snippy with me. I'll just fold it up and slip it behind the scissors in the handy-dandy pocket.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thrifty Me.

I really can't justify buying a new bag to take with me to SLC next week.  I have a few that would work. My problem with them is like that of Goldilocks - this one is too big, that one is too small...I wanted one that was just right.  But I didn't want to go to the store. Or spend any money on it.  I achieved my goal as far as frugality goes...the jury's still out on whether this bag is 'just right'.
All the hardware used in the making of this bag was re-purposed from elsewhere.
All the fabric was also either re-purposed or scraps from other projects.  The discerning eye
might notice the same fabric recently used in my master bathroom.  The dark brown corduroy
is from an old pair of Steve's pants. The little embroidered bit is from an old, stained, doily.

This is the back - notice the colorful strip of fabric that I inserted so as to come out even.
It's almost like I meant to do that.

Ta-da! Here's the front. Like I said, I'm still not sure whether it's
just right, but I'm leaving myself open to the possibility.  I did manage to make it
just the right size to hold a three ring binder...if I was inclined to want to put one in it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Curbside Adoption

As I was getting ready to take Danny to school this morning, I noticed that our neighbors had a few large plastic items sitting on their driveway. These things have been mouldering under their deck for at least 5 years. At least. They were disgustingly filthy - but I saw hidden treasure.  Why?  Come next month I'll have all four of my grandkids here.  I thought to myself, "Self, when you get back you ought to knock on their door and offer them a fiver to take that grubby picnic table off of their hands."

Fast forward an hour and a I was pulling back into my driveway, I noticed all the grubby plastic play equipment had been pressure washed and was sitting at the curb with a FREE sign attached.

Booyah. Fact.