Saturday, July 20, 2013

Just Rockin' and Rollin' Through Life... Updates and Big News!

Well, it's certainly been a while since I've posted anything on this 'ere blog, and with good reason... my lovely US hubby and I are expecting our first child and life has quickly become a whirlwind of hormones, medical appointments and yet more government forms to complete!

I'm rather lucky that in my current area (sunny ol' Knoxville, TN) I was able to get accepted into a midwife led practice, so much of the care that I've been receiving has been pretty hands off and somewhat similar to the experience I would have had back in the UK (just for the record, I'm not the biggest fan of doctors who use preemptive interventions before all other options have been exhausted - just a personal preference, nothing more). But so far most days have been smooth sailing and we're now happily plodding along just past the 6 month mark. Lovely jubbley indeed.

I finally made my way back to school (online) and am nearing the end of my first semester at Penn Foster College, rocking and rolling through my Veterinary Technician Associates Degree with ever-growing enthusiasm (despite the challenges that the various smells and secretions lend to my over-stimulated pregnant senses!)

On the immigration front I'm getting ready to tackle the 'Lifting of Conditions' for my permanent residency status since I've now been married almost 2 years (Phew, where did that time go!?), as well as trying to work out how to renew my UK passport and UK drivers license from way across the big pond (spoiler alert: not simple or cheap, but totally doable and that's what counts!)

Anyway, look out for the next installments, as well as many more insights and reflections into my further adventures as a UK immigrant, settling down right here in the fabulous U S of A!

Glad to be back...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Storm's A Brewin'!!

Well, Spring is officially here. It's detectable through the early morning sunshine, the ever-chirping birds and by the masses of yellow pollen that decorate every car on the block (and possibly the inside of my lungs, by the feel of it).

Here in East Tennessee, this wonderful season change, with all it's joy, hope and firm promises of a stellar sun tan, is usually accompanied by some fairly ferocious storms. Now, granted, Kansas we ain't, but pretty much every year we get a few 'good un's' that shake the walls of our little house and force myself and the family mutts to take refuge in the bathroom (no windows, a bathtub that get's packed with cushions... well, I'm sure you know the drill).

It's around this time of year that my husband and I always roll around to the same conversation, mostly centered around how our next home choice will be somewhat guided by ownership of a sturdy basement and possibly even brick walls (our little home shakes like a box of matches when the winds really pick up)... yet come July we've totally forgotten the weather threats of April, and we can only sigh in deep appreciation of living near to a nature reserve that fills our days and our nights with the soothing sounds of the local wildlife. We are nothing if not fickle.

Anyway, here's to hoping that this tornado/severe weather season passes us all with minimal devastation. As frightening as they can be, in areas such as ours where we tend to get just the edge of the worse storms, those fantastical colors light the sky in ways that small town UK folks like me have never seen before. Well, it's something else let me tell you. Breathtaking hardly seem to convey my reaction when the skies illuminate and all of nature seem to go quiet at once. Eery and unforgettable to say the least, but it's something I will also look forward to each Spring time, in my own simple way.

Gotta love those April showers, folks.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Facing the Fire: One Yorkshire Lass’ Take on the US Gun Culture

Since moving to the US, one aspect of the culture (especially here in the South!) that I’m still having to work to adjust to, is the use of and apparent comfort most people have with, guns. Even my own husband wouldn’t dare to spend a night in a room that didn’t have a personal-use handgun close by “just in case”. Coming from a country that doesn’t permit or rely on personal weaponry outside of farming and organized hunting (even in Yorkshire where the pheasants should, quite frankly, be running for their lives), learning to accept and even to rely on, this new symbol of security and defense has been challenging to say the least.

While I’m still at the stage where I don’t really want to know which drawer our household weapon is in (for fear that I will accidentally sleepwalk and faff with it to my husbands detriment - yes, seriously), I’ve found that the ultimate fighting force against this discomfort is knowledge. The more I’ve committed to undergoing structured, sensible teaching sessions from the hubby and from gun range professionals, the less I’m seeing them as a familial danger. Slowly, my point of view is shifting towards the way guns were intended to be used here (despite how that may differ in reality); as a method of protection, for use only in the most dire of circumstances. Whether it be home invasion or personal defense against a sudden attacker, I can comprehend why people look to guns for comfort. 

Yet, the other side of that coin is the constant presence of guns in everyday life wherever you might be, and the subtle threat that that can pose. From the grocery store to the bank, and even at the dog park, I’ve noticed holsters are quietly present. You don’t need me to leap into the details of recent gun centered events in the US, and I would hope that we’re all capable of gathering the facts and making up our own minds about where we stand on these issues. But from the perspective of someone who is essentially alien to guns and their everyday presence, the sight of them hanging out on the hips of the general public whilst they go about their ordinary lives, is both frightening and, admittedly, on occasion reassuring. I suppose in my firearm novice mind, it all depends on who can be trusted. And since this factor isn’t something that I’ve (we’ve) really worked out how to discern yet, discomfort mostly rules my perception.

There’s an element of personal security and responsibility that I strongly appreciate and in many ways can relate to here in the US, despite my being new to it’s mindsets. Coming from an island where even pepper spray was illegal to carry, the sense of easier access to individual defense here does ease my mind some. 

Perhaps it all boils down to my lack of understanding on the subject of gun ownership, and how this plays into the American way of life as a whole. I certainly won’t be turning my back on this aspect of the culture - after all, with something so prevalent I can’t see the point in rejecting the opportunity to at least understand what all the fuss is about!