Saturday, February 28, 2009

Guess who's coming to dinner?

I thought I was getting up really early since it's still dark outside, with just a hint of light on the horizon. But when I opened my computer it informed me it's actually after 7 a.m. So I'm not feeling as virtuous as I had been ten minutes ago.

This means the days are getting shorter which makes me sad. School starts Monday so I knew summer was about over, but it's a whole 'nother thing to have it confirmed by the sun. Or lack thereof.

Anyway, this has been a crazy busy week with different folks arriving from hither and yon.

[Why did we ever do away with that phrase? Hither and yon rolls off the tongue so easily and describes so succinctly what we'd otherwise need a whole slew of words to say.]

Our area director and his wife arrived in Santa Rosa on Monday morning. Not only were we NOT at the bus station to meet them, we weren't answering our phone either. LOL The phone had turned itself off. Our area director said that was a likely story. But the hubby had told them about our friends who own a gomería just across from the bus terminal so they hauled their suitcases over there and our friends brought them out to the house. (In our defense, we didn't know what time their bus would get in.)

Our field leader and his family made it later in the day, pulling up at the house somewhat in awe of the fact that our directions actually got them there ☺ Exhausted (parents) and stir crazy (kids) after a twelve plus hour drive, they headed down to the river for a little exercise. And almost wept at the beauty. The poor things live in a dusty city in the far north of Argentina. The boys couldn't resist the lure of the water and were soaked -- and chilled -- when they made it back to the house in need of towels. It had been 105° the day before in Resistencia. I think it was probably 70° in Santa Rosa when they arrived.

We were back in Carlos Paz for a couple days in the middle of the week because I had to finish the calendar, get it printed and have the hubby deliver it to a nearby store to be bound. To say I miss having PageMaker is like saying southerners drink their tea sweet. You.Have.No.Idea. Trying to finish that calendar made me want to reach through the computer and strangle whoever invented iPages. It is SO NOT WYSIWYG! (trying very hard to get a handle on my emotions and calm down) But it's done, and I plan on never again offering to do anything requiring the use of such a program.

Then it was back to Santa Rosa for a day. A very long day. We left at 8 a.m. and returned around midnight. Our co-workers went also and we each met with the area director and field leader (and spouses) for The Dreaded Annual Review. Oh, I kid. If all companies handled their annual evaluations like this, there'd be multitudes of happy employees in the world. We pulled our lawn chairs up under a tree, sat in a cirlce and laughed ourselves silly for a couple of hours. Okay, okay, some of it was serious. For us it wasn't so much an evaluation (since we just got here) as a time of getting to know the other couples better and having them explain what's expected at future evaluations.

We also enjoyed a fabulous asado prepared by my female co-worker. Normally the asado is a man's job here in Argentina but the men were occupied with a meeting regarding serious issues and so the job was entrusted into the capable hands of A. She grilled the chicken and chorizos to perfection! We also feasted on tossed salad, potato salad, fresh bakery bread, and ice cream cake for dessert. Oh my, it was good.

Friday flew by in a frenzy of cleaning. Although we'd been gone most of the previous week, the house had accumulated a surprising amount of dust. I just don't get it. We don't live on a dirt road. Or even near a dirt road. So why does the dust pour in and settle everywhere as if we did? We swept and mopped the entire house, cleaned the bathroom, moved some furniture, mowed the lawn, did a lot of laundry... I say "we" when of course you know I did NOT mow nor did hubby do any laundry. It's simply a figure of speech. Because we DID do most of the work together.

And now we're ready for a crazy busy weekend. Our area director and his wife will be with us today. We're going to give them some sight seeing options and see what they'd prefer to do. Our co-workers will be hosting the field leader and his family, and later on picking up the general director of our mission when his plane lands in Cordoba this evening. Around 9 p.m. we'll all gather here at our house for asado. Sixteen of us.

More folks arrive tomorrow, still more on Monday, and on Tuesday the conference begins!

So I will probably be MIA most of the coming week, too. I doubt we'll have high speed internet at the hotel because it's up the valley in a wee little town. We'll have our 3G thingy but that is iffy, depending on cell reception. To say nothing of how busy they'll keep us through the week, leaving me no time to actually get online even if I could.

But like this past week, eventually I'll be back and catch up. I wasn't able to read many blogs in Sta. about SLOW! -- some pages just would not load and kept timing out. That just means when I do get back, I'll have a veritable feast of funnies and heartwarming stories to read. I know y'all won't disappoint ☺

Monday, February 23, 2009

Best Buds are always there for each other

While skyping with the daughter early last week her cell phone rang, and she took the call when she saw it was from a good friend in Michigan. When she came back to skyping she was pretty excited -- she's going to be in another wedding party in a few months! But this time she won't have to buy a ridiculously expensive dress that she'll never wear again. For this wedding she'll be wearing a nice black skirt and "killer stilettos" because she's standing up with the GROOM, not the bride :-)

The daughter and "M" (we'll call him that since his first name begins with that letter) have been good buddies for a loooooooong time. Our families became acquainted when I went back to college and M's dad was my advisor. Then we ended up going to the same church and have come to count them among our dearest friends. So the kids have known each other since they were little. Not the most flattering photo of M so how about this one? Don't you just wanna pinch those chubby little cheeks?! They're covered with facial hair now.

So M and the daughter go way back and have a shared history of homeschooling, church and AWANA, later youth group...and then there was the two months M spent with us in Uganda. Since we lived in a small house with only two bedrooms, the daughter shared a room with her brother and M, with just a curtain separating them. Lest you feel sorry for her, know that it was poor M who slept with a panga beneath his pillow in fear of what my darling children might do to him next. Those two made life interesting for him! [A panga is a long curved knife, sort of like a machete and no, they never did anything bad enough to warrant using it -- but he was prepared, just in case. LOL]

During high school they were especially close, organizing retreats and all manner of activities for the youth group. For their 16th & 17th birthdays (they're one year apart) they threw a huge combined party that had to be held in M's barn to accommodate the crowd. M's family had found old video footage and showed it at the party. It shows the daughter (about 5 at the time) telling M and his little brother P which new Christmas present they could play with next (we were at their house, playing with their toys). Someone in the crowd at the party yelled, "Hey M! She's been telling you what to do for years!" at which point everyone roared with laughter.

Our families held a combined homeschool high school graduation and open house, too. You have to understand that neither family is what you'd call normal so after much debate about what would be tasteful, elegant and befitting our status in life we went with a Napoleon Dynamite theme. Complete with glamour shots in the barn, skeet shooting out back, a bad poetry contest, and tater tots on the menu. We.Had.So.Much.Fun! M's brother photo-shopped a picture that we used on the Open House invitations with M doing his Napoleon impersonation and the daughter in Deb mode. Isn't it great?! M also gave a rousing rendition of Napoleon's dance moves at the party. Woot!

We held the graduation/open house in early May because M was heading to Sweden for a year of ministry and the daughter to Uganda for one month and then the Florida campus of Word of Life Bible Institute. And it's been like that pretty much ever since. Heading different directions.

But they stay in touch, mostly via the internet now, e-mails and facebook. She was excited when he told her he would be proposing to his lady love on Friday the 13th and now she's honored he's asked her to stand up with him at the wedding. I'm confident that no matter where they go, how far apart they end up geographically, they will always be dear friends. Actually more like brother and sister, and I know the daughter considers M's family her second family.

That's where she spent Christmas after telling us, "I want to be with a family, a mom, a dad, brothers and sisters." And we totally understood and are so glad she has them nearby. [To say nothing of the fact that it allows M's dad to grill any new young man the daughter has in her life. Not sayin' that happened recently or anything.]

The last photo I have of the two of them is actually at another wedding, our son's. M was the photographer but I managed to get a shot of him and the daughter being silly at the reception breakfast. Good times.
Good memories.
Good friends.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Week 8 - Project 365

All the photos this week are from Santa Rosa, since this is where we've spent the bulk of our time. [My last two posts are about the house if you're interested in learning more.] My Macbook doesn't have the software yet to use the 3G thingy so hubby loaned me his PC to post today. He also downloaded all the photos and showed me how to spruce 'em up in Picassa. Having a new camera means my photos are in focus, more or less, but I'm still not exhibiting any great photography skills. So I'm loving the "sharpen" feature in Picassa :-)

Okay, I lied. They're not all from Santa Rosa. This first photo was actually taken in Villa Belgrano, the next town over. Very much a touristy area, during the summer it's not uncommon to encounter acts like these acrobats performing in front of the municipalidad (equivalent to city hall). They were constantly in motion so I wasn't able to get a really sharp photo.
Up next: the lovely eucalyptus. Love that smell! Look at how the bark peels off.
As previously mentioned, the house is about a city-block walk from the river and the road is lined with mostly eucalyptus trees.
On one of our walks we saw a fallen log with a big ole fungus growing on it. We are talking BIG, probably 12"-14" long. And once you get down to the river, this is the view from the ford.
Or if you look down at the water, you'll see right down to the river bed. The water is THAT clear. The water is over a foot deep here. Crystal clear and refreshing!
Continuing with the nature theme, here's some of the luscious grapes we've been enjoying this week. If we can find canning jars and pectin, we'll make grape jelly.
This neighborhood is called La Rinconada and here's the stone pillar at the entrance gate. My in-laws were some of the first to buy a lot and put up a house, but in the intervening years, quite a few other houses have gone up. Isn't the porch on this pink stucco inviting? I can just imagine some wicker chairs, maybe a hammock, and a tall pitcher of lemonade sitting on a table. Can't you?
I know some of you might have been skeptical when I said they put eggs on EVERYTHING here. Well here's proof; those yellow bits? That's EGG on PIZZA! Notice it's only on half? The hubby knows my aversion to eggs with anything except sausage or bacon.
Sara graciously hosts Project 365 so be sure to visit her and the other participants who link to her blog. It's quite fun to see what everyone's been up to during the week!

Friday, February 20, 2009

6 Random Things

This isn't just random like I usually write. This is random with a purpose!

Skoots1Mom tagged me in this meme and I decided to share some random things about Argentina, and more specifically about the house here in Santa Rosa.

I came to Argentina the first time just to visit. The hubby wanted me and the kids to see where he'd grown up. Since his parents were church planters, they lived a lot of different places and our kids grew a little weary of checking them all out. So we became adept at "drive by shootings" where we'd slowly drive by a house and quickly snap photos out the window of our moving vehicle. The house in Santa Rosa was the last on the itinerary and since his parents still owned it, we stopped and stayed a while. It was actually our base of operations, you might say. We'd take off from here and visit different places and people in the province of Cordoba, but always return at night.

The day we arrived in Santa Rosa we stopped at a store owned by the uncle of one of hubby's high school classmates. The uncle promptly phoned his nephew who was thrilled to hear from my hubby and said, "So you'll be there tonight!" Hubby had no idea what he was talking about. It turned out their 20 year high school reunion was that very night! So we went and saw 13 of the other 16 classmates the hubby graduated with in 1976. No one had known how to get in touch with the hubby to let him know about the reunion, and everyone was excited to see him. I could tell that by their loud voices and wildly swinging arms and bear hugs even though I didn't understand a word they were saying.

On days we stuck around here the kids practically lived in their bathing suits. We came in December/January (high summer) and it was hot, so they'd meander down to the river throughout the day to cool off in the clear, refreshing water. I did not live in my swimsuit, although this was back in the day when I still put one on occasionally and ventured forth into public places, although even then I was self-conscious about all the cellulite and vast expanses of white skin (which have only increased in the intervening years). We have so many good, GOOD memories of this vacation! And about 300 photos to prove it.

In 1998 a terrific hail storm tore through the area and seriously damaged the red tile roof. The repair quotes were so high that the hubby and younger brother figured out they could fly down and do the repairs for the same or a little less -- and get a trip "home" out of the deal :-)

In 2003 when we were trying to discern what God wanted us to do next, we flew down to spend time with the couple who are now our co-workers -- but first we came to the house. The little church in Santa Rosa had been through several years of upheaval and a revolving door of leaders and they were hurting. The hubby was able to share during several Sundays as well as just spend time one-on-one with folks who needed encouragement. God used that experience to help confirm that He could use us in Argentina. To be absolutely honest, that wasn't the answer I was hoping for...because I knew how hard it was going to be to learn the language and I just flat out dreaded it. He's also made it clear that when He directs, it's best to do what He wants. He enables, strengthens, provides. On our own? Worth nothing, zilch, nada.

When we were preparing to move to Argentina, I knew the house here would be a place of respite for us and for others. It's two hours from where we live which is a very doable distance even for day trips and even better for those 3-4 day breaks. I also knew that since it's been a while since dad and mom lived here, the place needed some work. The folks taking care of the place have done basic maintenance but now the hubby and I will, over time, be doing some of the bigger projects. I also came prepared with fresh new (or used-but-still-in-good-condition) bed linens and towels, shower curtains and rugs. We enjoy being out here and know our friends and family will, too. We look forward to sharing it with all who come!

I'm not going to tag six random people. If you want to participate, you're IT! If more than six want to do it, great!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Coming to you LIVE from Calamuchita!

My internet friends and family, the big news is WE HAVE INTERNET AT THE HOUSE IN SANTA ROSA. Due to technology and something called 3G (don't ask, I don't know) that we are able to plug into the computer and which works off of a cellular connection. The signal here is weak, two bars out of five, but to have it at all constitutes a miracle in my book! They don't even have phone lines out here. We are talking BOONIES, people.

And it means I can stay connected. Oh happy day!

So yes, I am coming to you LIVE from the Valle de Calamuchita!

It was so refreshing last night -- after a long, hot day of packing, traveling, and unpacking, making up the bed and so on -- to take a walk down to the river. Rio Santa Rosa is simply one of the cleanest rivers I've ever seen. There's almost always a few folks down there in the summer, and last night was no exception. [By "down there" I mean the ford at the end of our road.] An older man lay a few feet from shore, just sprawled out in the shallow water as it washed over him. A family with numerous children waded and fished on the other side. An egret swooped down, landed and walked around a bit, then took off into the air again.


Even though we brought groceries, neither of us felt much like cooking, our energy level pretty low after the long, hot day, so we drove into Villa Belgrano to our favorite little restaurant for dinner. At 9:30 p.m. a young couple entertained a large crowd by performing interesting feats of acrobatics in front of the municipality, and the central park had been transformed into a carnival with a stage at one end where children in traditional costumes were dancing to folk music.

While Villa Carlos Paz is renowned as a vacation spot for happening singles, Villa Belgrano is the "go to" place for families. We really enjoy the feel of this small pueblo.

Tio Rico's is a favorite for many reasons. You can eat as little or as much as you want -- it's buffet style and you pay by the kilo, the woman at the counter weighing plates and keeping a running tab for each table. The food is always excellent and they change their menu daily so it's not always the same old, same old. I had a little bulgar salad, some marinated eggplant, and saurbraten with noodles. Not a lot of any of it, since the heat doesn't do much for my appetite. I'd grabbed a roll and then didn't eat it so I brought it home. I'll have it for breakfast this morning :-)

The last time we went there it was ridiculously expensive and now we think maybe we paid for another table because last night was much more reasonable (and we'd asked ahead of time about the cost per kilo). We spent the same as we would have at McDonald's for two Big Mac combos, regular, not super-sized.

Today I'm planning a quiet day at home. I want to take everything out of the kitchen cupboards and scrub them and then wash all the dishes before putting them away. I brought some sewing projects so that should be fun. As well as some that probably won't be so fun, but are necessary. Like a bunch of clothes that need to be altered.

I may have mentioned a time or seventeen that I've had some health issues since we arrived in Argentina and have lost a little weight. Well, last night we stopped at a pharmacy to get more iron (for the anemia) and they had a scale. One of those big ones that you step up on. Since I haven't had a chance to weigh myself in a couple months, I hopped up. I have lost 37 lbs.! I was shocked! No wonder my clothes are too big. LOL I seriously didn't realize I'd lost that much.

So yes, altering these clothes is a priority. Please pray for me, because while I quilt with some level of skill, my clothes sewing/altering ability is sadly lacking. I need to make these things fit because I cannot just go out and buy new ones. Aside from the whole cost issue, nothing fills me with greater horror than clothes shopping.

I also plan to spend time sitting in the back yard, under the arbor absolutely loaded with ripe grapes, and just relax and read. *sigh* Doesn't that sound fabulous?

And now I must finish up because my darling hubby made coffee and buttered my bread. Breakfast time!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Washable slipcovers are great, but why in the world did we think off-white was a good idea?

I'm washing our IKEA Poang chair covers yet again today. Actually I soaked them all night, then had to wash them twice today. We must have checked our brains at the IKEA door when we chose off-white, or "natural" slipcovers. Ugh. I wash them at least once a month and they could use it more often. I seriously need to find some green fabric and make another set. Preferably a shade that will hide a multitude of dirt.

I'm also washing a bunch of bed linens and towels that are clean but have that packed-for-months-in-a-storage-container smell. We're hosting a couple and a family at the house in Santa Rosa next week so need to take all that with us tomorrow when we go to get the house ready.

I'm a veritable lavandería today.

On the Spanish front, I worked on a descriptive essay today. After lunch the hubby went over it with me and only had a few corrections. Of course, that's the way it usually is and when I get to class my tutor will have a lot more. But it does seem to be getting easier.

I've been picking roses to enjoy inside. I alternate between the yellow with pink edges or the fuschia, but sometimes pick both just 'cause I can! I noticed yesterday that we have a flourishing morning glory vine on the post out front, right by the road.

We've enjoyed four meals from the roast that hubby fixed in the crockpot the other day, and we'll get one more from it. My favorite was the roast beef sandwiches with horseradish sauce last night with a side of fresh french fries. Yum!

Well, back to the laundry and the packing. I'm trying to think of something for tomorrow, for Works For Me Wednesday, but fear I've bleached out all my good ideas along with the dirt from my slipcovers.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Squawk, squawk! It's a bird, it's a, it's a chicken!

Life is shifting into hyperspeed. I'm not running around like a chicken with my head cut off only because I don't have the energy. I'm finishing up the calendars, gathering the last of the items for crafts and for the ladies tea, thinking through what we still need to do on the house before our guests arrive, making list after list of things we still have to buy or do before conference in two weeks.

A lot of trips back and forth in the coming three weeks, to and from Santa Rosa, Bialet Masse, and Cordoba...a lot of running that has nothing to do with chickens, headless or otherwise.

Unless I decide to make chicken salad for the ladies tea.

It's hot, hot, hot this week and reminds me of a true chicken story.

A few years ago friends invited us over for dinner and it happened to be in the middle of a heat wave. They'd been raising a special breed of chicken that fatten up quickly, but also has a genetic predisposition to heart trouble -- which the heat exacerbated, so those birds were falling over left and right. At the time our friends didn't know what was killing the chickens and, concerned about possible disease, they buried them (dozens!) in a mass grave. The hubby helped with the burial.

Isn't that sad? All that perfectly good chicken dead and buried. *sigh*


A friend sent me this hilarious video that I simply have to share. You may have already seen it since it's had close to a million hits already in just a month. But if not, here for your entertainment I present Sistersalad with "Yo Comments Are Whack".

And you might want to check out more of the Sistersalad repertoire. They're hysterical!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Week 7, Project 365

The camera is here!! Alas I haven't had my paws on it except to download all the pictures that hubby took this week. LOL Next week it's MINE! But for your viewing pleasure I present the photolistic stylings of my dear hubby (is photolistic even a word?). Oh, and you can click on any of the photos to enlarge. Fresh tomatoes every day. Yum! We have a tall wall all around our yard, but if you look up, up, up and over you see this. Look carefully behind the palm tree in the center of the photo and you can see the double "M" on the mountain. There's some kind of carnival ride there called "Magic Mountain". And I hear it's a fun place to hike -- not that I've ever done it, but some crazy people find that sort of thing enjoyable. Being empanada aficionados, we can tell you these are the BEST empenadas in town! Just that right combination of sweet and savory with a perfect crust that's light, not heavy. Meat pie heaven! Pablo and his family own this ferreteria where hubby spends a lot of time (and money) finding things we need for the house. He's our very own "helpful hardware man"! It's traditional to clap while singing the Spanish version of "Happy Birthday". We had a fun time, and a great meal, with new friends Sonya and Jaime when we celebrated Jaime's birthday this week. Jaime's actually from Peru where birthday fiestas last for five days, so he's been getting calls from all over the world this week from far-flung cousins who continue the tradition with celebratory calls -- at all hours of the day and night, depending on where they're currently living! The yacht club hosted a regatta Saturday and since we live a block from the lake, hubby took a lawn chair and walked over to watch. Looks like he found a pretty good viewing spot.

And now head on over to Sara's to see who else has linked up to participate in Project 365 this week. It's muy interesante to see a photographic record -- a true "snapshot" if you will -- of a Week In The Life Of...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love is in the air

Ahhhh, Valentine's Day. A day much maligned or wholeheartedly embraced, depending on past experience and your natural tendencies. You can almost see the red and pink hearts dancing above the heads of romantics and optimists while the frowns and growls from the rest of us make us the Grinches of Love.

But in the spirit of the day, I dedicate this post to my wonderful and amazing hubby.

You've been by my side for so many years you definitely qualify for inclusion in the biblical Job's Hall of Fame for patience and endurance. For 30 years you've put up with moody, feisty, cranky, silly, OCD me. And done so with grace and kindness beyond measure!

Your qualities are numerous...but we don't have all day so I'll just list a few, 'kay?

Your endurance is legendary. You're my very own energizer bunny. Long after I've fallen by the side, and so has just about everyone else, you're still going. Bit between the teeth, goal in sight, never wavering, but working steadily until the task is done. The Blackberry incident is just one recent example of that dogged determination to see a thing done to the bitter end. Thankfully most of your efforts are more successful and your tenacity is rewarded by positive results. But your unwavering pursuit of the goal is the same regardless of potential outcome.

Okay, I think I've used up all the synonyms in the thesaurus for that one.

You have aged well. What can I say? That baby face looks a little older, but certainly not as old as it should! There's a little less hair -- which considering we met during the time of big hair is probably a good thing. You had a bit of a pentecostal preacher's poof going on back in the day. I think you look quite distinguished now with the slightly bald pate and graying sides. Very scholarly, especially when you wear your super cool new European spectacles. And when you're sporting those cargo shorts? Well, those shapely calves still make my heart go pitter patter.

When we met you were wearing a suit. Had me faked out that you were a seminary student or I wouldn't have looked twice. You still look mighty fine in a suit although you haven't worn one in months. Fortunately you look just as good in your current style: South American casual. It's definitely too hot these days for a suit anyway. But come winter I'm hoping there might be an occasion or three requiring your oh-so-debonair black suit.

You have refined your sense of humor over the years. So to speak. Or maybe I'm just inoculated more sensitive to the nuances of your PUNishing wit. When you were the youth pastor the kids coined a phrase for your humor: Ivanisms. We still hear from those kids-turned-adults when they come up with an especially good Ivanism themselves, they have to share it with their mentor ☺

And I will close with one of your most endearing traits ever: the ability to look at me and see the woman you fell in love with thirty years ago. Not the overweight, middle-aged, frumpy woman I've become but the younger, more carefree version who fit into a size 8. You think I'm cute and you love and cherish me -- and for that I am more grateful than any of those silly romantics running around with pink and red hearts floating above their heads. True love isn't feeling mushy gushy, it's a life-long commitment to the marriage relationship and in that area, YOU TOTALLY ROCK!

I will leave you with a little song. No I'm not going to sing it myself, that would be cruel. As you well know.

No, I found this little video that I think just fits where we've been and where we are now. The song is from '78, the year we met. And in view of our history with VWs, I just thought this was a good choice. I dedicate this to you, the love of my life.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Remembering "The Diary of a Young Girl"

From this morning's perusal of the news:

"Anne Frank called them the Helpers. They provided food, books and good cheer while she and her family hid for two years from the Nazis in a tiny attic apartment.

On Sunday, the last surviving helper, Miep Gies, celebrates her 100th birthday.

It was Gies who gathered up Anne's scattered papers and notebooks after the hiding place was raided in 1944. She locked them — unread — in a desk drawer to await the teenager's return.

Anne died of typhus in the German concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen seven months after her arrest. British and Canadian troops liberated the camp two weeks later.

Gies gave the collection to Anne's father Otto, the only survivor among the eight people who hid in the concealed attic of the canal-side warehouse. He published it in 1947, and it was released in English in 1952 as "The Diary of a Young Girl."

Who has not been moved to tears by the words of a girl trying to find her place in the world while being confined to a small attic space in the midst of war? Who has read this book and not been profoundly affected by this young woman who died soon afterward in an event we call the Holocaust? I think I was 13 the first time I read it. And went through an entire box of tissues in the process.

This book gave birth to my love of history, and in particular the history of WWII. I've since read many books, fiction and non-fiction, relating to this time period. A couple of other favorites include Winston Churchill's The Gathering Storm (first in a six-volume memoir on the Second World War) and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.

I read The Hiding Place when I was a new Christian and the concepts of forgiveness and praying for your enemy certainly rocked my boat!

What about you? Which books have affected you most profoundly? Why?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Laundry Saga

I've had an on again, off again love affair with laundry my whole life. I remember helping my mom when we had a wringer washer. This was in the 70s but because we lived in a house without running water, she'd reverted to the older machine that didn't require a steady supply of water to operate.

I had Proverbs 31 arms back in the day from hauling all the water up from our well. The bucket held about 2-1/2 gallons and while most days we got by with six or seven buckets, wash day always meant many, MANY more because mom liked fresh water for each load. I dreaded laundry because my arms would just be flat out sore by the end of the day. Feeding clothes through the wringer took some arm strength too. Do any of you remember these? In the 90s, a group from our church went on a short-term missions trip to Appalachia (my home stomping grounds) to help at a New Tribes training facility. My daughter and the other young girls on the trip had an absolute blast with these type washers. Of course, there was running water there so they just had to turn the tap on to fill up the tub. But those girls spent the week asking everyone if they had any laundry to wash. I think they felt sorta "little house on the prairie" as they happily played washerwomen.

Anyway, before and after the wringer washer we had a normal washer and dryer, circa the 1960s. Maybe a little more modern than this, but not much. I mean let's face it, washing machines are not cars and their engineers were stuck in a rut for ages with the same old, same old coming off the production line year after year.

They may not have looked like much but they certainly did make life easier. Throw the clothes in the washer, take 'em out and throw 'em in the dryer, take 'em out and put 'em up. No need to haul up buckets of water, heating some on the wood stove before pouring it into the tub. Letting the clothes agitate, keeping an eye on the clock, running each piece through the wringer once, twice, sometimes three times to make sure you've gotten out as much water as possible, then into the rinse tub. Repeat process for "rinse cycle". Then hanging the clothes on the line, piece by piece. In the winter we had some indoor lines and the furniture would be draped as well. Of course, without a dryer to air fluff the clothes, you have to iron everything too. It took literally all day to do the laundry for one woman and two girls.

I've never had a new washing machine until now. Why buy new when you can get a used one for pennies on the dollar? And when you have a handy man hubby who can keep a washer running long past its life expectancy? But there were times. Oh yes, there were times when even with his careful ministrations, the machine would work but not all that well. The last machine we had in the U.S. required multiple spin cycles and even then the clothes were a little damper than they should be when we put them in the dryer.

I fully expected to get a used washer here. Had not planned on a new washer. But the Lord opened the door to get one and I have never looked back! If it's possible to love an inanimate object, I love my washer ☺ Isn't it pretty?! Here are the specs:
Cap. Neta: 12 Kg
Doble toma de agua: Fria y caliente
Temperatura de Agua: Fría / Tibia / Caliente (mezcla en forma inteligente las dos
tomas de agua independiente)
Panel de control digital
Potencia del aire seco (Semi- seco 30min/1hr/2hr)
8 Programas de lavado : Fuzzy, Delicado, Jeans, Tub Clean, Favorito, Silencioso, Enjuague inteligente, Lavado rápido
Dimensiones: (mm) 632 an. x 1.020 al. x 670 prof.

If you can read any Spanish at all, you may be intrigued by the "Potencia del aire seco" because I certainly was, and it's one of my favorite features. I call it the "air fluff" because it literally infuses air and fluffs the clothes while simultaneously spinning every little bit of excess water out. The 1 hour didn't do any better than the 30 minute air fluff so I just always do 30 minutes. I have removed items after this and had actual dry spots!

Between my handy dandy air fluff feature and the intense Argentine sun, laundry dries very quickly. Usually by the time I have a second load ready to hang on the line, the first load is dry.

There is something very satisfying about hanging clothes on the line. I think because it satisfies the OCD in me. I can be as obsessively compulsive as I want when hanging clothes. Socks neatly lined up, facing the same direction, pairs together so I can fold them over one another right on the line before unclipping the clothespins and dropping them into the basket, all ready for the drawer. I get immense pleasure from making sure all my blue dish towels are together in a row.

[The hubby would say it's a control issue. I won't disagree. With so many things in life I cannot control, it's nice to have something I can ]

And the smell! The heavenly smell of line dried clothes *sigh* Companies have tried to create air freshener and candles with that smell but they can't quite get it just right.

I can see that during the winter there will be days when I'll want a dryer. And we'll probably get one in a year or two. While I do enjoy doing laundry, I do NOT love ironing. So for some things it would be nice to be able to throw them in the dryer and have them come out fluffy and ready to hang, no ironing necessary.

But meantime I'll enjoy our sunny days and the thrill of seeing freshly laundered items blowing in the breeze, neatly lined up in rows as they should be.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The wobbly wheel of learning Spanish

I've been MIA for a few days, struggling with the busyness that is life and the stress of not feeling physically up to par. After a long refreshing night of sleep though, I'm hopeful today will be better.

The results from the blood work came back and indicated (1) I'm anemic. No surprise there as I have a history of anemia, going back to my toddler years when they gave me liquid iron which, in turn, insured several dentists a lucrative living. And (2) I have an intestinal fungus. EWWWW! I was so incredibly grossed out by that! Then I discovered when I googled it, that fungus is just another word for yeast. Doesn't yeast sound much more palatable than fungus? So now that we know what it is, we can aggressively fight it. Fight the Fungus!

I think I need a cup of coffee before I write on my blog in the morning.

The hubby started cutting in the paint in the dining room last evening. I'm LOVIN' the light sage green I picked. And hoping he can learn to live with it -- his preference was white with green tint. LOL I'll be doing the easy part today: rolling on the walls. When I have to cut in I have to tape everything off first. But my amazing hubby is capable of just having at it and getting it done, neatly and well.

I'm on my own with the painting today as DH heads out to Sta. Rosa to pick up our camera which has finally made it to the interior!!! Yay! I'm pretty excited to think about all the pretty pictures I'll be able to take for Project 365 ☺

Our son was telling us about the cool features on the new version of iPhoto that just came out. Like its ability to go through your photos and intuitively pick out all the ones with a specific someone you've already identified in one picture.

Which sounds great in theory. But who really wants a program that goes through and picks out all the pictures of you with baggy eyes and bedhead hair and slightly manic expression? Pictures you'd just as soon forget? iPhoto might want to include another feature that just ignores the truly bad pics in the process. Just sayin'.

I should be able to finish the painting before Spanish class this evening. We're working on preterite simple and preterite imperfect. *sigh* Why, oh why, can't we just always use the simple? Which is so...well, simple. We ARE seeing improvement but it's still very confusing at times. It's just a matter of using and practicing the new skill a LOT until it becomes intuitive, like riding a bike. You think you're never going to get that wobbly wheel to go straight and then suddenly you're flying down the street yelling "Look ma, no hands!" I look forward to the no hands stage but for now I'm still struggling with a wobbly wheel.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Week 6, Project 365

I may have mentioned my love of laundry a time or seven. I get such pleasure seeing clean towels (or clothes or sheets) marching neatly down my line ☺ Street performers abound during the summer months. These ladies from the Andes wearing typical clothes from home and playing their wooden flutes draw quite a crowd. Their music is hauntingly lovely. This was as close as I could get, so I tried to fade out all the tourists along the edges. As you all know, I'm VERY careful to drink only bottled water now ☺ I'm guessing the blood work will show that we didn't entirely eradicate the parasites in December and they've returned with a vengeance. But it's not because I've been lax about the water! Here's a bottle I had this week. Notice how the design on the label is repeated in the lower half of the bottle. I just thought that was a great design and marketing fairly screams "Fresh mountain water from the Andes!" A common sight at most Argentine gatherings is an asado (Argentine bar-b-que) but this was bigger than usual to accomodate the crowds attending the Encuentro Anual de Colectivdades (International Food & Music Festival) this week. Without a flash, the photos hubby took that night didn't turn out very well but I played with this one until I thought it was half-way presentable. I thought the sepia effect went well with the old fashioned outfits these folk dancers are wearing. We've harvested our first tomatoes! With these I made fresh salsa which we dipped up with tortilla chips (found some at Walmart!) and along with supper last night we each enjoyed a bowl of teeny tiny cherry tomatoes lightly salted. Little bursts of fresh garden goodness!

I'm one of many participating in Project 365 and you can check out the others by visiting host Sara from ...Making music from your heart to the Lord.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday Stirrings - Meat & Potato Quiche

It's been fun sifting through old recipes stored in a large tin. I've saved not only recipes but interesting and helpful information like the 1951 publication "Colonic Irrigations: Painless, Pleasant, Healthful". I'm sure you'll be horrified to learn that Constipation is a Curse to Civilized Peoples or that Slow Elimination Means Slow Decay of Mind and Body. Yes indeedy, if you're suffering from a variety of ailments, including but not limited to biliousness, colds, asthma, nervousness, rheumatism, appendicitis, insomnia or high blood pressure, perhaps the only solution lies in an effective colonic irrigation! And remember, you heard it here first.

So how about we follow up that appetizing bit of information with a recipe? What, you're no longer hungry? How can that be? Maybe I can tempt you with this, though.

3 Tablespoons oil
3 cups shredded potatoes
1 cup swiss cheese
3/4 cup cooked, chopped meat - your choice
1/4 cup onion
1 cup light cream
2 eggs
salt & pepper

Mix oil and shredded potatoes and press into pie pan to form shell. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.
Layer swiss cheese, meat and onion in shell.
Mix cream, eggs, salt & pepper and pour over other ingredients in shell.
Bake at 425 for 30 minutes until set.

And it's not true that real men don't eat quiche no matter what you've heard. So this recipe is perfectly acceptable to serve to husbands and sons.

To Recycle Or Not To Recycle? That is the question.

I am 1/3 of the way to 1000 posts. And it's only taken 18 months to get here ☺ In honor of post #334 I thought I'd give you my opinion about a vitally important current affair. I know, I know, my expertise amazes and astounds and you're fairly breathless with anticipation over my weighty and well-thought out thesis regarding Pop Bottle Deposits.

Some states are looking to add revenue by either initiating or expanding their bottle deposit laws. I'm a pretty strong proponent of these laws because I see several benefits, not the least of which is cleaner roadsides.

Naysayers must not be able to remember the piles of cans and bottles littering the roadways in years past.

Aside from the whole "Don't Litter" campaign, I propose people are more conscious today that they're throwing nickles and dimes out the window if they toss those bottles and cans.

[I'm not using real names to protect the ignorant innocent.]

"I just don't see it working," said a political historian and social science professor at Boston University. "At this point, given job losses and people cutting back on everything, you don't want to give them an excuse not to consume or purchase something."

Nay, nay, nay. [or is it nya, nya, nya?] Anyway...

This argument makes no sense to me. The nickle or dime deposit isn't going to make people stop buying their Coke or Mountain Dew. Higher cost of the product might, or declining income could prevent someone from buying it, but the deposit law? I don't think so.

"What's next? If the budget deficit isn't fixed, will we bring all trash back to the store?" This inane comment argument from the president of the Massachusetts Food Association, which has long opposed the bottle law.

What's this about bringing all the trash back to the store? What other trash is he talking about? In the six months since we left the U.S. have they started recycling other things too? Or this guy just spouting off without really thinking through what he says?

Although his idea does have merit. Plastic packaging of all sorts is being re-used in a whole mess of other applications: construction, landscaping, clothing, furniture and other household items...

So to me it makes no sense NOT to recycle. [Double negative = Positive statement]

One of the things I appreciate about life here in Argentina is that it's very easy to find refill pouches for quite a few products, especially cleaning and laundry items. It's still plastic but much less than if I had to buy a bottle or dispenser every time, as was necessary in the U.S.

Bottom line in my considered opinion is that bottle deposit laws are a good thing, and we might want to consider recycling more, not less.

Once I wake up I'll be back with a recipe for Saturday Stirrings.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Living it up vicariously

Since I still wasn't feeling so hot last night, I stayed home while the hubby went with the co-workers to Alta Gracia for the Encuentro Anual de Colectivdades (International Food & Music Festival). This is the very sort of event I LOVE and was very sad to miss it. It goes through Sunday so if I'm feeling better tomorrow the hubby might take me for a bit. The heart does palpitate at the very thought of ALL THAT FOOD!

The dancing was pretty cool, too. The hubby was most impressed with the Brazilian troupe. For one number, the men executed a very precisely choreographed dance with machetes! But the dance was the only thing executed; he said machetes were flung about, sparks were flying, but nobody lost their life or a limb :-)

And the bottle dance by the Paraguayan team was outstanding. Each dancer had a bottle on their head except for the prima donna who ultimately danced with EIGHT bottles on her head. Unfathomable talent! I can't even keep a flat book on mine while taking baby steps. She started with one, and would periodically dance up to a ladder where a man on top would add another bottle (bottles balanced one on top of the other) and then she'd sashay around. I would love to share photos but our silly cell phone camera doesn't have a flash so all the pictures the hubby took are dark and blurry :-(

The food was pretty incredible too. The hubby didn't eat at every booth (I don't see how anyone possibly CAN -- with 15!) but here's what he did enjoy:

From Italy
Bagna cauda which is basically boiled vegetables and raviolis, served separately and with a third dish of anchovie cream sauce for dipping, kept warm by one of those little sterno pots.

From Iraq
In this booth Muhammad made a big display of preparing the food (which is half the fun, you know!). He was wearing the long white traditional garment and would expertly carve chunks of meat off hanging pieces of lamb and assemble delectable shawarma (pita roll-ups) stuffed with the lamb, lettuce, tomato and onions topped with a creamy yogurt sauce (we called it raita in the U.S., not sure what it's called here).

The co-workers ate some chipas and sopa paraguaya at the Paraguay booth, but the hubby abstained. How anyone can abstain from sopa paraguaya is beyond me. The stuff is AMAZING! The only solid soup in the world, it's more like creamy cornbread filled with wonderful bits of oniony goodness. Be still my heart!

But he totally indulged at the German booth. Early on they shared saurkraut, potato salad and brochette fritz (skewers of frankfurters wrapped in bacon). Later they returned to listen to the music, watch the dancers, and have dessert: mocha cake and streussel.

Between the food and the entertainment, they enjoyed the festival for half the night, arriving home around 3 a.m. As much as I would have enjoyed the sights and sounds and flavors, there's no way I could have made it that late. As it was, I was in bed by 11 p.m. and asleep long before they returned. But it was fun hearing about their experiences and I enjoyed it vicariously. Which is better than not enjoying it at all. (photo is from the promotional material for this event)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Feelin' a bit like a whooped puppie today... I sit here typing in the midst of a storm. Hallelujah! 'cause it's cooling down. That's the pattern of weather here. It gets hotter 'n hotter 'n hotter and then a storm from the south blows in and cools us down.

Yesterday we left early for Cordoba to take my Macbook in for some much needed maintenance and repairs. After almost 2 months the store had finally received the necessary parts. When the hubby picks it up Friday we should be able to use all the ports, the case won't be cracked any more, and I'll have a new battery. Yay!

On our way into town I started feeling like maybe my going wasn't such a good idea. Not to burden you with TMI but the recurring problem I've been having for months reared its ugly head again -- thankfully we were close to the Wal-mart and whipped in there for a quick pit stop and the hubby bought some pharmaceuticals to counteract the problem. Unfortunately, after months of this, he knows just what to ask for.

I managed to make it through the day and we even accomplished some shopping in addition to dropping off the Macbook. But I was VERY glad to get home and just sort of collapse into my Poang chair. Took an evening nap, got up to eat a little something, and back to bed for a blissful night of sleep. Am feeling ever so much better today except just wiped out. Like some giant energy-sucking monster has been at it again. I foresee bloodwork in my immediate future to figure out exactly what it is and what to do about it. I'd been doing fine (for the most part) since the parasitic flush. [Now doesn't that phrase 'parasitic flush' sound like some weird dance moves from the 60s?]

Without my Macbook I'm feeling a bit like I've lost one of my limbs. The hubby is graciously allowing me use his PC laptop but it's just not the same. Not feelin' the same 'puter love that my Mac gives me. *sigh* And once you get used to a Mac, PCs are poor substitutes. Now don't get all defensive, PC users. I was once one of you. For a quarter of a century. But since switching to Mac, life is so much better. So much brighter and easier and FULFILLING. Just sayin'.

And until I get the Mac back I have limited time on the computer so I won't be able to hop around Bloggyville so much and leave random comments that cause other bloggers to scratch their heads or hit the delete button until their computer begins smoking. As a communications major you'd think I'd be better able to communicate the funny, but I've determined that me trying to do funny doesn't work. So if you're ever the recipient of one of my bizarre comments, cut me some slack, 'kay?

Even though I can't do the funny, I enjoy when other people can. So I thoroughly enjoy the funny bloggers in my life (you listening Lid, Deb, Amy, Dee, Sophie, Mel & others? Keep up the funny!). Not to say these women aren't occasionally serious. But they can even do the serious funny. What a gift!

I have come to the conclusion my bed is too firm and is the cause of my hip and shoulder pain. Therefore today we will haul the heavy transformer into the bedroom and plug in the air chamber doohickey thing and deflate my side a little. There are many, many things in life I cannot control. But the air in my mattress? I am Queen of that. And why it should give me such inordinate pleasure I have no idea.

I am rambling on, have you noticed? When you're tired and have nothing to say, do you ramble too? Well I'm off to visit a few blogs while the hubby is out running errands. TTFN (ta ta for now).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

WFMW - Stretching that pot roast for 3 (or more) meals

Sometimes I like to cook, sometimes I don't. When in the midst of a big project it's a pain to have to stop and make something for dinner. These days we have a few big projects going on.

So I've fallen back into the habit of planning several meals around one piece of meat. Take a pot roast, for instance. AT LEAST three meals out of that baby. Buy a big one, stick it in the crockpot with onions, garlic, a bay leaf, lots of chopped carrots, 2 cups water, salt & pepper and let it slow cook all day long. While you're working on that big project.

Just before supper throw some potatoes in a pot to boil for mashed potatoes. When those are done, take the pot roast and carrots out of the crockpot, thicken the resulting juice into a nice gravy and serve up 1/3 the roast with half the carrots and potatoes and some of the gravy for a delicious dinner. Add salad and rolls to complete. [For those saying you wouldn't have any meat left, my answer is: Buy a REALLY BIG roast and only serve 1/3. There is enough in this meal that your family doesn't have to pork out on the meat to be satisfied! Before they ever come to the table, put away the meat you're saving for the following two meals.]

Now take 1/3 of the remaining roast and chop into bite size pieces. Mix with remaining carrots and gravy and spread in casserole dish. Spread remaining mashed potatoes over all. Shred some cheese (your choice) on top, cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate until two days hence. At which point you will remove plastic wrap and bake at 350° for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes (until heated through and bubbly around the edges) and present your family with an amazing Shepherd's Pie for dinner.

That other 1/3 of roast you can shred and refridgerate to use at lunch when you'll create the most awesomest roast beef sandwich EVER. Start with some goody chewy French bread (but it can be whatever bread your family prefers and you have on hand) and spread on mayonnaise, a little horseradish (it adds a little zing and heat without being overpowering -- trust me!), lettuce, tomatoes and the shredded beef. Muy delicioso!

I do something similar with chicken. Roast a big old chicken (or two, depending on your family size) and save some of the meat for sandwiches the next day and some for a creamed chicken over cornbread and you can even use that carcass to make some mighty fine chicken broth as a base for soup.

Aside from the whole stopping-the-big-project-to-cook issue, with food prices what they are these days, it's always a good plan to stretch your meat a little. Why not stretch it a lot? ☺

You know you can find a lot more great Works For Me Wednesday ideas over at Shannon's today.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I have a new kitchen sink cupboard! Hallelujah!

This was what was left of the old kitchen sink cupboard. I kid you not, once we took the countertop off, there was nothing left to hold the soggy, mildewy mess together and it just sort of disintegrated. YUCK!

I didn't think there could be anything nastier than the stove that was here when we moved in, which required HOURS of cleaning. I was wrong. This was so much worse I cannot begin to tell you...we even found a mushroom growing on the back of the cabinet! DOUBLE YUCK! I am definitely not showing you photos of the interior of the cupboard before we took it apart. After all, this is a family friendly blog, not some sci-fi horror freak show.

I scrubbed the wall, the floor, the sink and granite countertop (which we re-used) while the hubby finished building the base and cabinets, and voila! A thing of beauty!

The cleaning supplies are now put away in the cupboard on the right and all of yesterday's dirty dishes soaking in the sinks. The hubby replaced all the pipe thingies and drains so now I can use the sinks and not have to haul basins back and forth. Hallelujah! I might even come to enjoy doing dishes.


Last night my Spanish tutor picked us up at 10 p.m. and we took our weary bodies downtown to enjoy a little free entertainment. During the summer the municipalidad sponsors a myriad of shows. Under the direction of world famous ballet master Julio Bocca, a group from Ballet Argentina performed Perfumes (pronounced "pair-foo-mess"), an hour and a half of "escencias de tango, vals, jazz y bolero" which is just a fancy Spanish way of saying tango, jazz and modern dance numbers.

Perhaps most shocking of all, it started ON TIME. LOL You can only appreciate that if you're familiar with the culture here. It wasn't easy finding a place to park ourselves. The gently sloping lawn was crowded with people sitting, standing, sprawling on the ground... Vendors, weaving in and out hawking their wares, distracted and annoyed as they kept blocking our line of sight. As more and more people arrived (I think the bulk of the crowd arrived late because they never expected it to, you know, start ON TIME) and encroached on our space (i.e., standing right in front of where we were sitting, thereby totally obstructing our view), we kept moving in an attempt to see the stage. The folks behind us were even more aggravated and kept shouting to those standing, "Sientese!" (Sit down!) Which those standing just completely ignored in true Argentine fashion. Watching the crowd was entertaining in and of itself ☺

Having worked on the sink cupboard right up until we had to get ready to leave for the show, we were hungry and stopped for pizza afterward. We managed to pick the one pizza place that was low on wait staff. I don't know how many pizzerias there are in Carlos Paz, but I would hazard a guess that there are dozens -- pizza is a favorite of the tourists and the locals. Anyway, we sat there for over half an hour without anyone coming to clean the table or take our order. Finally my tutor saw one of the owners and gave a shout out and he personally came and took care of us. The pizza was very good, the best I've had in Carlos Paz (I had some truly amazing pizza in Buenos Aires in November) with the crust thin and crispy the way I like it.

Pizza here is not at all like pizza in the U.S. There's little or no sauce and they layer on slices of lunchmeat and cheese and whole olives (with the pit). Or whatever you order for toppings. There are some things I just don't think should go on pizza but that's a personal preference kind of thing. I am no longer shocked that eggs go on almost everything, from hamburgers to pizza. Can I just say TRIPLE YUCK?! And yet they think we're nuts to eat eggs for breakfast!

So we didn't get home until 1:15 this morning. I'm just getting to be a regular late night party animal. LOL But it was fun and I'm glad we went. We missed the big folk festival in Cosquin last week; there just wasn't time. I think I enjoyed this more anyway. Next year we hope to get to Cosquin, though, so I'll let you know then how it compares.

Update: My FIL was transferred to Grace Village yesterday and he'll be there several weeks for physical therapy before he's ready to go home. We're hoping all the moving around doesn't confuse him too much. They live just down the block from G.V. so now mom can be home and yet close at hand.

Monday, February 2, 2009

On the ability to stay up late

By staying up until 11 p.m. to midnight every night for a while, we've been "in training" to prepare for the late night get-togethers so typical here in Argentina. That's been almost as hard as learning Spanish. LOL Seriously, for this southern girl who has never liked staying up too late, it's been a struggle.

Friday night we had dinner with our co-workers and another family. I was quite proud of myself by making it to 2:30 a.m. without falling asleep and off my chair, thereby avoiding embarrassment for my hubby and co-workers ☺ I was even able to participate in the conversation somewhat coherently until shortly after midnight (when we finally sat down to eat). Accomplishing such a feat is huge, considering my brain normally shuts down sometime around 9 p.m. I may look awake but the brain has gone into sleep mode.

Then last night we had a wonderful visit with a lady until 10 o'clock, and I stayed tuned in and able to concentrate right up until the end. Yay! Having known this woman for a while I've gotten used to her speech pattern and cadence which helps immeasurably! I followed the conversation closely and joined in when I had something to say (rather a new experience for me here).

Don't know that I'll ever get to the place of being able to "half listen" as it requires constant concentration with the Spanish. But it's early days and there may yet come a time when it's possible do something else while listening and speaking -- like maybe the dishes ☺

On the way home from our co-workers in the wee hours of Saturday morning, it was surprising the number of people still out and about, especially at restaurants. This morning while it was still dark out (that time just before the sun starts rising) our neighbors began singing 'Que lo cumplas feliz' (happy birthday) rather loudly. They were apparently just winding down their all-night party. Even with the training, don't know that I'll EVER be able to stay up all night!

But our Indiana relatives are doing just that. My father-in-law will be in the hospital another day or two (or three?) and those living nearby are taking turns staying nights with him because he keeps trying to get out of bed to go to the bathroom and just isn't physically able to do that on his own yet. My SIL shared that when she stayed Saturday night, it was a LONG night with dad trying to get up every hour. The daughter stayed last night and we haven't heard yet if things were any better. It was taking two nurses to help dad in and out of the bathroom. We just don't know how mom has managed all these months! Because although the stroke made his right side even weaker, he's had difficulty getting around for some time.

When he's released from the hospital, he'll be transferred to Grace Village for rehab. Since the in-laws live sort of kittie-corner from G.V., it's is a perfect set up for this difficult time. Because of the Alzheimer's, dad doesn't understand where he's at or why he's there. He's apparently very confused if mom is not there and obviously, she can't be there all the time. She's 87, just like him, and needs some rest as well.

The good news is that dad was able to do all the exercises with the physical therapist yesterday. And he's feeding himself, with the right hand and arm again working properly. We'll take every small victory we can get!

Again, thanks to all who have been praying!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Week 5, Project 365

I have only taken four photos all week. I'm just so frustrated with this cell phone camera! Trying to get a decent picture is so hard and I just threw a little tantrum and didn't go near it all week except to document our little art project on Thursday.

So. Technically I have dropped the ball with Project 365 hosted by Sara at ...Make Music From Your Heart To The Lord.

Then I had a little brainstorm this morning. Since I didn't have any photos to look at from this week, I began browsing through my old photos.

And became quite nostalgic.

I must stop and confess that I am a very weird person. Although I love my family and friends and quite enjoy looking at their's the places that move me most. When we moved from Indiana to Florida many years ago I was homesick. But when I started looking through my photo album, it wasn't the people who elicited emotion. It was my house. Now in my defense, it was my first house (actually only house as we've never owned since then) so of course I had feelings for it.

That's when I realized I'm a little different than most people.

Anyway, as I was looking at photos this morning I once again found myself drawn to places. But you know what? I'm also realizing that it's because the PLACES remind me of PEOPLE and the memories associated with them. Now I don't feel so bad. Weird, yes. Bad, no.

And I decided to share a few photos of my favorite places, starting with the parsonage where we lived for ten years. I have a lot of photos of this place, mostly close-ups but I chose this shot to share with you because I loved, loved, loved my trees which can be seen in all their glory here. Obviously, having lived there for ten years we have many, many, MANY memories tied to it! The last years of our kids living at home, sharing the house with the other associate pastor for six of the ten years, hosting countless youth activities and small group meetings and parties and sewing days and... It's simply my favorite house.

Before we lived in the parsonage, we spent nine years as houseparents within easy walking distance of the Hillsdale College Arboretum. In the early years on nice days we'd pack up our schoolbooks and a blanket to sit on and go have school there. It's always been our first choice for picnics. Or just to get away and take walks along the many paths, to one of the old stone pavilions or around the lake. Actually the whole campus was a favorite place. We spent many happy hours in the library and often attended concerts, plays or free lectures by visiting guests. My favorite was Dave Thomas of Wendy's fame. But we also heard Margaret Thatcher, Dan Quayle and many others over the years.

Dear friends who own a cottage in Ludington, Michigan, were always generous with it. The initial use of the cottage actually led to our spending a year in Africa, a story for another time. But I can't begin to tell you what joy this place brings! Just the thought of Epworth makes us smile ☺ Do you have places like that in your life? I hope so! Here's a photo taken from the porch, looking out over the rooftops of other cottages and Lake Michigan during one of its stunning sunsets.

From my blog title you can infer I'm from the south. I was born in Kentucky, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As the saying goes, You can take the girl out of the mountains but you'll never take the mountains out of the girl. How true! I love my mountains with a passion that cannot be adequately communicated but only felt by fellow southerners. Amen? Amen!

While I love the place of my birth, I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to travel! And when I married my hubby I guaranteed a lifetime of travel ☺ We can frequently be found in airports, often looking just as tired as when this photo was taken. (this was at the end of a short-term mission trip and one of the youth grabbed our camera and took this photo -- and I'm glad they did!)

The very first overseas trip I took was to Argentina. Shocking, isn't it? LOL My hubby wanted his wife and kids to see where he'd grown up. We came for a month, from mid-December 1996 through mid-January 1997. We had a blast visiting the different places he lived (his parents were church planters so they moved every few years) but our favorite was the last place. My hubby went to high school in Santa Rosa de Calamuchita which was a little pueblo of around 3,500 then (it's up to around 13,000 now). The family still owns the house, just two hours from where we currently live, so it's still a favorite place to get away to and enjoy a little country. Located 4 km from Santa Rosa, it sits about a city-block-walk from the river, along a dirt road lined with eucalyptus trees. My hubby helped his family build the house and stone fence so of course it's very special to him.

And that brings us to where we live now: Carlos Paz, Argentina. Population: around 80,000. Located at the end of a valley, spreading out beside a lake and up the mountains. Destination for many Argentines on vacation so in the summer a crowded, noisy, busy place with about a million visiters. Much more tranquilo the rest of the year ☺ But summer or winter, it's the place where God has called us. And that's reason enough to love it! Can't possibly get the entire city in a shot because it's so spread out, but here's a little slice of it.
Thank you for indulging my walk down memory lane. I hope I don't get kicked off Project 365 for deviating from the stated purpose! Our camera is supposed to travel from Buenos Aires to the interior week after this so hopefully -- and thankfully -- I will soon be able to post lots and lots of happy photos ☺ Meanwhile I promise to go back to using the cell phone camera this week so next Sunday I won't have to cheat.