Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You can tell what I've drawn today

Art class was moved from Thursday to today because Thursday is a national holiday [they sure have a LOT of holidays here!] and we worked on perspective. So yes, you can actually tell what I've drawn today! ☺

It helps that I was allowed to use a ruler thingy.

The cooler weather I was hoping for yesterday finally arrived today. It dropped from the 90s into the 60s overnight. It's been overcast all day too, and I snapped this photo of one of my morning glories still open at 6:30 p.m. Morning glories grow wild here and you can find them in almost every overgrown empty lot...in this lovely royal purple and a lighter, more pinky shade.

And I really have nothing else to write about. I had Spanish this morning, art this afternoon, and it's been a gray sort of day. The End.

Okay, so I could also talk about the strips of green and blue fabric I cut out last night. I want to start working on another baby quilt as soon as I finish the first one. Other friends are expecting this summer and hoping for a boy. If it turns out to be a girl, I'll just have to hurry and make a girlish quilt. Or not. Why shouldn't little girls receive pretty green and blue things? Those colors don't have to be exclusively for boys.

Or I could mention the beautiful roses sitting on my table. I picked them yesterday; lovely yellow ones with pink edges.

You probably don't want to hear about the nap I took between Spanish and art. No, I didn't think so.

So I guess I really have nothing else to write about. The End.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday, Monday

Had that song in my head so I looked it up on youtube and do you realize it's a really depressing song?

Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday morning, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Monday morning, Monday morning couldn't guarantee
that Monday evening you would still be here with me
Monday, Monday, can't trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Monday morning you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh Monday how could you leave and not take me?
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes you can find me crying all of the time


Anyway, I hope this Monday, Monday is all I hope it will be.

I came across a give-away that sounds like fun! Crafter Calamity Kim (don't you LOVE that name?!) is celebrating her apron's inclusion in the first ever issue of Apron.ology by having a simply stupendous give-away with all sorts of goodies, too many adorable things to list here so be sure to click on over and check it out!

I made some aprons last spring and had SO MUCH FUN and bought more fabric to make more aprons, and then life happened and those other aprons still aren't made but seeing this made me anxious to get started again! There's some cute, cute, cute aprons here on flickr if you need any inspiration ☺

Can you tell I've had a cup of really strong coffee this morning?

So today is busy with some cleaning, and some organizing, and maybe some paperwork, and definitely a little medical test, and I just hope it doesn't get as hot as yesterday because that heat just completely WILTED me into a little pile of nothing. I'm pretty sure it passed 100 because it was way hotter'n the day before when it was 95. The sun was just intense. So here's hoping for a cooler day and a little more energy.

And that y'all will still be here with me this evening.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Week 13, Project 365

Folks, we are 1/4 of the way there!!! We have now officially logged a quarter of a year in this photographic journey. I must confess I did not take all the pictures I'm sharing this week -- our camera was passed around and used by just about everyone on Tuesday ☺ A single click on the Project 365 button in my sidebar will take you right to Sara's place, our lovely hostess with the mostess!

By "everyone" I mean our co-workers and their family. We met T & A back in 1996 when they came to the missions conference at our church and we hosted them in our home. We had such a good time that we made sure we hosted them EVERY time after that, too. And it was during one such visit that they asked us to pray about joining them in ministry; they were just getting ready to spearhead a new work in Carlos Paz. And finally, after a number of years, we're here!

This month we've enjoyed having their oldest two around. They're getting ready to head back to Palabra de Vida for their second year (Word of Life Bible Institute in Buenos Aires). On our walk Tuesday we stopped to take these photos at a Palabra de Vida facility in Sta. Rosa which is used for a variety of things, but primarily as a rehabilitation center. Like last year Pablo will simultaneously do a full course (online) at university while at the Bible Institute, in order to graduate on schedule in December with his degree in agricultural administration. Both of these young people are committed to preparing for whatever God has for them in the future.

[NOTE: For anyone interested, Palabra de Vida has a program that allows non-Spanish speakers to come and by the end of the year they've learned Spanish AND had some amazing Bible classes and hands-on training in ministry. It's also considerably cheaper than what it would cost in the U.S.!]

The youngest two are a kick! They're pretty quiet girls for the most part, but they have a wicked sense of humor. I may have mentioned the skit they did of us that was spot on! I honestly thought I was going to die laughing because I couldn't catch my breath ☺ These girls are a JOY to have around! The Palabra de Vida facility was a sawmill in its previous life, and apparently a bit of an auto junkyard. I saw this on the back side of the property. Now I'll tell you right up front, I did NOT take the following photo! I saw this little guy right in front of me, squealed and ran twenty feet before stopping to see why everyone else wasn't running with me. They were all having too much fun snapping photos and seeing if they could make him turn around and go the other direction. I guess I'm the only one nervous around tiny little (less than a foot long) snakes.

With an eye to the future and my desire for a lush and LARGE Christmas garland, we picked up some eucalyptus branches to dry. My hubby, being the gentleman that he is, carried them all the way home for me ☺

And about my post yesterday...my hubby informs me that I have it all wrong. That the word he translated "spoiled" yesterday at the doctor's does not have an adequate equivalent in English. That the doctor's intent was actually the opposite, to assure me that she is going to take care of me and do her very best to figure out what's going on and how to handle it.

To say I was a little skeptical is putting it mildly but he did his best to convince me I was off base and apologized for not translating more during the appointment, saying he's never sure how much I understand. I reminded him that before the very first appointment I had asked him to translate everything because it was too important for me not to know what was going on. I think he gets that now. Hopefully future visits won't be so traumatic.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Forget Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Or Slimfast -- just let me send you a bottle of water from my faucet

I had my hubby get the winter clothes down from storage this week. Not because it's getting cold -- it's 95° today -- but because I knew there were some smaller pants in there somewhere. And I'm tired of swimming in my size 18's.

I've worn 18's for a couple of years and toward the end of our time in the U.S. even those were a little snug. Tight enough that I often unbuttoned the waistband so I could, you know, BREATHE.

Deputation can be dangerous to your weight. We put over 10,000 miles on the car in those last 4-1/2 months, the vast majority directly related to deputation, and much of that excess poundage can be attributed to countless stops at Sonic and Subway during our multitudinous miles of travel. As well as being taken out to eat after many a church service.

Fast forward a few months...when we moved into our house in October I made the mistake of drinking the water. Silly, I know. It's not like I'm an unseasoned traveler. For crying out loud, I spent a year in Africa and never had a problem! Total lapse in good judgment...

...which led to a pretty significant weight loss. I'm 40 lbs. lighter after my intestinal fortitude lost its forte [Origin: 1715–25; < L fortis strong] but totally had a 'tude with me! Wearing size 18 now makes me look like a bag lady who's last in line at the dumpster.

Gotta confess that before we left the U.S. I took stock of my failure to significantly lose weight over the past ten years and got rid of almost all my size 14's. You see, I gave myself a pep talk, "Get real here, girl. If it hasn't happened in ten years, what's the chance of it happening now? When you know that you eat when you're stressed and how stressed are you gonna be trying to learn a new language and culture?" So my sane self listened to the voice of reason and we packed up those carefully hoarded size 14's and took them to Goodwill.

But I did bring a few 16's...Just.In.Case. This week as I searched through seven boxes of clothes, I found 4 pair that work. Two pair of jeans, a pair of khakis and one pair of lightweight navy blue dress pants.

They're all a little big, but still better than the 18's ☺

Oh, and I found a nicer pantsuit in Medium that fits like a dream now. The last time I wore it (five years ago to my son's college graduation) I looked like a stuffed sausage.

Plus a Banana Republic dress I picked up at a second hand shop a few years back in my "hope springs eternal" phase of thinking I'd lose weight Some Day. That day has arrived and the dress fits perfectly. Yay!

Finding those things was the highlight of my week. The low point was my second appointment with the gynecologist. I occasionally get frustrated at my lack of ability to communicate in Spanish, but today was beyond frustrating. I HATE feeling stupid and not understanding something this important. I need to know what she thinks, how she plans to address my problems, when these different tests are going to take place. And when she told my husband I was spoiled it didn't sit well with me. How does wanting to know what's going on get translated into being spoiled?! I really, really wanted to just get on a plane and fly back to MY DOCTOR. Dr. Deb, who's been taking care of me for years and years, and who knows my medical history and explains why she wants to do this or that, and patiently answers my questions.

Some of my health issues right now relate to my age. I'm starting this wonderful chapter of life called The Change. I've done some research online and looks like I'll have to do a lot more if I want to know what's going on. I'm not sure even a higher level of proficiency in Spanish would help with this doctor. Or maybe it's just the culture and patients are expected to shut up and do whatever the doctor says, no questions asked.

Go ahead and call me spoiled, but that's just not my style! I like to be a little more proactive.

This experience today makes me all the more thankful for my "health guru" back in the U.S. who's working through some nutritional issues with me. Because while some things are attributable to The Change, others are not. The parasites last fall depleted my body and kept me from absorbing much needed nutrients, so a big part of getting healthy again is getting my body back in balance nutritionally. And Katie is great about explaining what different supplements do and how my diet and water intake optimize the process and she answers all my questions and she's never, ever, not even once called me spoiled.

Even if I am ☺

Friday, March 27, 2009

Here's me just rambling again...

After art class yesterday I showed my hubby what I'd spent two hours working on and he said, "Oh, that's cool!" So I asked, "Any idea what it is?" and he confessed, "Not a clue."

I am really, really bad at art. But I'm having a great time being bad ☺ I enjoy hanging out with other ladies, even if I only understand a fraction of what they're talking about.

This week I took two Quilting Arts magazines to show my teacher because I wanted to know what they call it here. I've heard the term "patchwork" used in reference to quilts but I really didn't think art quilts fell into that category.

They don't nor do they fall into any existing category. The closest thing is what they simply call tecnica mixta where cloth can be used but, rather than being sewn, it is glued to a wood or canvas base (along with a variety of other materials). Which sounds kind of fun to try!

My art teacher also gave me the name of a famous Argentine artist, Antonio Berni, who is well known for tecnica mixta. She mentioned his Juanito Laguna series as a prime example and I found one of his pieces at The Museum of Fine Art in Houston, TX.

The dead fish smell is gone. Hallelujah! From what we've heard, we can expect this to happen about this time every year. Apparently there are feed lots located right next to the river that flows into the lake, and heavy rains each fall cause flooding and contamination.

Yeah, let's not think about that too much.

We'll just be glad the stinky smell is gone for now.

I made Hidden Valley Ranch dressing for our salad today. Yum! I only mixed half a packet because we use it sparingly but I do plan on a mid-afternoon snack of red pepper slices dipped in Ranch. One of life's finer pleasures ☺ I'm SO GLAD this is not one of the foods I suddenly find disgusting (the iron I'm taking for the anemia makes some things taste gross).

The hubby finished the first bookshelf last night and has the pieces ready to assemble the other two. I can hardly wait to unpack my books!!!

In Spanish we've started working on the past perfect tense. VERY easy tense for which I am so grateful! I was more than ready for an easy tense. The only hard part is memorizing the irregular past participles that go along with the past perfect form of haber. Once I have those memorized, this tense will be a breeze.

One of my homework assignments this weekend is to find examples in the local newspaper. Good excuse to buy the Sunday paper and spend some time sipping coffee at our favorite YPF ☺ So what are you doing this weekend? I know it's hard to beat coffee at a gas station while trying to read a newspaper in a different language, but try not to be so jealous.

Not that I'm jealous or anything, but my son and his wife are in Chicago this weekend. Just want to say: Eat lots of good food, enjoy plenty of city fun, and HAVE A WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY NATALIE!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I am Oh so Positive...

Not sure if I knew it and forgot it, or never knew it to begin with, but I didn't know my blood type. So when I had more blood work done today, we asked if they could tell me what I am and they did. I am O+ (is that the right way to write that?). Nice to know I wouldn't have any trouble getting blood should I need it. One of our retired missionaries had a rare blood type and gave her own blood while healthy (which helped when she needed surgery).

Stinky smells seem to be following me and I can't help but wonder: What is God trying to teach me? A strong odor pervades our barrio. When we arrived home last night from Sta. Rosa, the stench was incredible. We're about 10-15 blocks from the sewage treatment plant and figured a strong down wind breeze in just the "right" direction was our problem. Wrong. Apparently masses of dead fish washed ashore while we were out of town, and the aroma extends past the costanera right into the downtown area. So we are not alone in our suffering.

Made me long for the intoxicating scent of eucalyptus that we'd left behind in the country earlier. *sigh* I've mentioned Sta. Rosa often so you know it's a place we look forward to getting away to whenever possible. This was a work-related trip although that didn't diminish the pure joy of just being there! We had a strategy session with our co-workers there yesterday. Well, we strategized between several meals, taking a walk, and enjoying each other's company ☺

On our walk, we came across this young man carrying his moto through the ford which was higher than usual due to the rain. Obviously this young man has his priorities straight!

Annie has her priorities straight, too. We had the strategy session yesterday because it was a national holiday and the kids didn't have school. Annie has the right idea about what to do on vacation days! She thoroughly enjoys the hammock we bought from missionary friends in Suriname.

Switching topics without a nice smooth transition sentence...the hubby continues to work on the bookshelves as he has time. He didn't bring a dado blade for his table saw so he's improvising with a hand-held router to make grooves for the shelves to slide into the sides of the book cases. He's wonderfully inventive when it comes to working through problems like that. Back in the early years of our marriage he was slightly offended when he overheard me telling someone that he didn't fix things so much as rig them. I meant that in the nicest possible way! It's just that as an MK he learned to make do and do without because quite often the parts needed for a job just weren't available. I'm very thankful for that early training and his natural bent toward mechanical things.

As much as I'd like to stay and visit a while, it's time to get back to the vocabulary cards. Hasta luego!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Alphabet Meme

Mari at My Little Corner of the World did this alphabet meme yesterday and it looked like fun so I'm doing it today!

A is for your age: 50, my Year of Jubilee!
B is for your burger of choice: big, juicy medium done 1/4 pound chunk of beef with mayo, ketchup, mustard, onions, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese on a bun that's been toasted on the grill
C is for the car that you drive: I actually haven’t driven our Fiat Uno yet; the stick shift and lack of power steering has me spooked in a city built on hills D is for dog's name: All my pets had names beginning with the letter P. My dogs were Pepe, Peewee and Puffy. Have not had a dog since high school ☹
E is for an essential item you use each day: definitely the computer ☺
F is for your favorite television show: The Closer
G is for favorite game: word games of any kind
H is for hometown: Hyden, KY
I is for instruments played: does an iPod count? Okay, I played clarinet for 2 years until the band director in junior high told me to find something better to do with his time. Then there were those wasted years of piano lessons as well; I'm NOT musically inclined!
J is for favorite juice: orange juice
K is for what you'd like to kick: bad habits
L is for last restaurant you dined at: La Galicia
M is for your favorite muppet: Miss Piggy, the ultimate diva! N is for number of piercings you have: only my ears, and only one hole per ear
O is for overnight hospital stays: When I had my tonsils out and when I had my babies
P is for people you were with today: Seeing as how it’s first thing in the morning, only my hubby
Q is for what you do in quiet times: Blog, read, quilt
R is for regrets: Not going there
S is for status: Like on facebook? Married ☺ Like in society? Nada
T is for time you woke up today: didn’t look at the clock
U is for what you consider unique: the gifts God has given each of us
V is for favorite vegetable: I am a fan of the vegetable in any shape, color and size! But the potato holds a special place in my heart; I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like ☺ Corn on the cob runs a very close second and I'm sad it will be more than 2 years before I can have it again.
W is for your worst habit: correcting others; leftover knee-jerk reaction from our years of homeschooling
X is for x-rays you have had: back (multiple times), teeth (even more), right elbow (only once)
Y is for yummy food you ate today: getting ready to chow down on some homemade chocolate chip-banana muffins for breakfast
Z is for zodiac sign: Not going there either

Look like fun? You can do it, too! Just copy and pop in your own answers ☺

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Week 12, Project 365

Time for Project 365, hosted by the inimitable Sara. It was tough choosing which photos to share this week. I had so many good ones! In the end, I narrowed it down to ten I just have to post.

On Monday we made the trek into Cordoba, the provincial capital. This is a drive-by shooting of Patio Olmos, a very nice mall in the heart of the city. Originally it was a school. My language tutor remembers her grandma talking about attending grade school there. Anyway, it's been converted into a mall and is a fun place to hang out, shop, eat in the food court or relax in the outdoor cafe you see here. Quite the edifice, isn't it?!
We walked a lot in the downtown area, window shopping and just enjoying the sights and sounds of the city. We find the juxtaposition of really old and modern side-by-side interesting.
Okay, back to Carlos Paz and the new section of costanera that recently opened. Reminds us of Miami in a way. It's very beautiful but the view is marred by the stink...the sewage treatment plant is across the street. And we know how I am about smells these days! And really, who wants their olfactory sense assaulted while taking a nice walk along the shore?
I had never seen a real live fig tree before we moved here. Actually until recently I'd never eaten a fresh fig. While growing up, the only figs in my house were jellied and found in packaging labeled Fig Newtons.
There's a certain little girl who will be born on Monday (planned c-section) to good friends and her quilt is not finished yet. I did make some progress this week, finishing the blocks and piecing them together with sashing. I still have to add a border and then quilt it. Hopefully it'll be ready before she's a year old.

The remaining photos are from our Day In The Country. We packed up a picnic lunch, the lawn chairs, books and hammock and "headed for the hills" on Friday. It was a WONDERFUL day! Very relaxing, beautiful scenery, the sun was shining, there was a slight breeze...the day could not have been more perfect. P.S. A few of you asked about my haircut. Very, very short! That's how I like it. I'm high maintenance in a lot of areas, but my hair isn't one of them.

The hubby said the Indians would grind their grain on these large flat rock croppings. You can see the circular spots where they worked. I have an active imagination and enjoy thinking about what the people were like; did they live there all the time or did they go up and down the mountains with the seasons? What grains did they grow? Were their homes along the creek or set back in the woods? How long did it take for them to wear these patterns into the stone?
Here's one of many photos of the creek by the picnic area. How peaceful and serene is that?!
The folks who live here and maintain the park have a few dogs. This one attached itself to us and spent the day following us around... and protecting us from big, bad, ferocious horses like this one. Did I mention the day could not have been more perfect?!

Last, but certainly not least, THANKS to ALL who responded to my cry for help in de-stinkifying my fridge. Y'all totally came through with some great ideas that are going in my mental rolodex of household tips. The hubby's efforts on Thursday were for naught, because when I opened the door on Friday morning? Yuck! So we took absolutely everything out, popped in some charcoal with newspaper (thanks Mari for that idea!) and then went through every.single.little.item that had been in the fridge. We found two potential problems but we think the big culprit was the Brie. Which was packaged but apparently not well. I had placed the unopened package of Brie into a ziplock but when I unzipped it, the stench was putrid. *gag* So it would appear the Ziplock minimized but didn't stop the smell from invading my fridge. I am SO HAPPY to report that when I opened the fridge door this morning...nothing. Absolutely nothing. No smell whatsoever. Isn't that wonderful?!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Something's wrong but I don't know what

My taste buds are messed up. After craving no-bake cookies for weeks, I finally gathered the ingredients together (no mean feat here!) and whipped up a batch. BLECK! was my reaction when I tasted them. I was ready to throw the whole thing away when the hubby tried one and said, "Hey these are really good!"

Not the first time my taste buds have failed me lately. It happens on random occasions. Other times they work just fine.

And my olfactory sense is off too. Normally I love, love, love the smell of garlic. But the other day it came across as nasty, nasty, nasty. Then the next day? Just fine.

I've always been super sensitive to smells. Ridiculously sensitive. But lately that finely honed sense of smell is failing me.

Except when it comes to my fridge. There it works just fine. Despite being cleaned repeatedly (three times in two weeks) the fridge still stinks. And my hubby smells it too, so it's not just me.

It all started during conference when the fridge door didn't get properly closed before we left for the week.

Not surprisingly, we returned to a rather unpleasant odor. We cleared out the fridge, washed it well, and expected all to be okay.

Only it's not. It didn't smell for maybe half a day and then the stink returned. I cleaned it again. We bought baking soda. And then I cleaned it a third time. Each time the smell would briefly disappear but always return.

Whassup?! Maybe if I just ignore it, it will go away?

The smell, NOT the fridge.

And you have to wonder if the stinky, smelly, no good, very bad nasty fridge has messed with my super sensitive snout?

Last night I went to bed early and my dear, long-suffering hubby went to work on it -- cleaning it FOR THE FOURTH TIME. I'm almost afraid to open the door this morning though.

Remember that "Take me away!" Calgon commercial. I'm thinking that might be a really good plan right about now. If nothing else, it would smell good.

I think.

Oh yeah, I don't have a tub. Scratch that idea.

Maybe the hubby was successful in permanently banishing the stink. Wouldn't that be nice?!

I really miss my scented candles. Another item I coulda, woulda, shoulda brought but didn't.

ATTENTION: any ideas, suggestions, or wise counsel on how to dispel stinky smells would be welcomed and appreciated!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

The original book in the series by Alexander McCall Smith charmed us. Mma. Precious Ramotswe, a woman of "traditional build", uses her inheritance to start the first ladies detective agency in Botswana. Such a simple premise but rich with engaging characters, the sights and smells of Africa (Smith does a fabulous job conveying them), and amusing story lines. My hubby, who reads very little fiction, enjoys these books along with me.

We were delighted to hear they were being made into a series by the BBC! Last night we watched the first episode. Qué bueno! Precious, Mma Makutsi, and Mr J.L.B. Matekoni are exactly how we envisioned them! How often does that happen? The BBC does a fantastic job of converting the flavor of the books into film and we look forward to following their adventures in Botswana (filmed on location).

In other exciting news from yesterday...I had my hair cut. It was a couple weeks overdue but couldn't be helped. I should have had it done right before conference but was just a wee bit busy at that point. And then I was busy being a wee bit sick. So finally yesterday we made it over to Florencia's new shop and she trimmed both of us up. That was my big outing for the day since Spanish was at our house.

In Spanish we started out talking about our trip into Cordoba on Monday, and I mentioned the scrumptious homemade flan we'd had at lunch which led to us looking up the receta online, actually several recetas for flan since there's a vast variety. Who knew?! I have a growing list of cooking terms to work on in the process.

Today we'll be working on art related terms.

While getting art supplies on Monday I also picked up some gorgeous batik paper in luscious Spring colors: lavender, green, melon pink, orange, yellow and blue. Not sure exactly what I'm going to do with it, but I foresee some card making in my future. Right now it's enough to just look at it ☺ Anyone else have a paper fetish? I know my daughter does! She and I once spent half a day in a paper store in Georgetown (and I used my most excellent finds to make the invitations to the bridal shower I was hosting my soon-to-be daughter-in-law). I don't have any specific occasion in mind for this paper but I'm sure something will come up.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A date with my hubby: a trip into Cordoba

We had fun getting some things done in Cordoba without rushing around like maniacs (our usual m.o. when we go to the provincial capital). It was still a tiring day, with more walking than I've done in a while. I had the start of a meltdown mid-afternoon but the hubby made me take a break and have something cold to drink and I soon revived.

Then as we headed back to the car, we stopped at a little store where the hubby had seen a thermos and some odds and ends he wanted. I was just standing and waiting when suddenly the voice of an angel began to sing. Ahhhh, nothing like a little Percy Sledge on the radio to perk a girl right up!

I have a pretty eclectic musical palate. I enjoy the old hymns, anything by Aaron Copland, bluegrass, celtic, pop, big band...and a few artists whose voices make my heart sing with joy! Percy is one of them. Hearing him in that little import store in the middle of Argentina on a Monday afternoon was like a little gift ☺

Speaking of gifts, my dear hubby carved a big chunk of time out of the day to track down the area where several large fabric stores are located. But our foray for flannel was foiled.

Sorry. Alliteration is a sure sign I'm tired.

Seriously though, it was disappointing to discover that 100% cotton is hard to come by in any form, flannel or otherwise. I've never seen so much polyester outside of a '70s convention. Comfort is key in my book and wearing polyester is akin to wrapping yourself in plastic. Ick! No thanks.

And in quilting I happen to be a purist who will use any and all materials in my art quilts but not in ones I hope people will snuggle with, such as the baby quilt I'm currently working on.

Let's bow our heads for a moment of silent prayer as I contemplate a life with limited access to cotton. Que triste!

We also checked out Carrefour where we did the bulk of our shopping. This is sort of a French Walmart (although I doubt they'd appreciate the comparison) and they're all over the world. I was impressed with the cleanliness and wide aisles, but they didn't have any peanut butter so we still had to make a quick stop at Wally World for that lone item. Which I'm happy to say they did have (not always the case).

As tired as I am tonight, it made me realize there's no way I'm physically up to a trip I was hoping to make. There's a quilt show in Buenos Aires that started today and goes through the end of the month. It only happens once every two years. Once.Every.Two.Years!

Oh well.

To cheer myself up, I found Percy on youtube. Maybe you need a little picker-upper too?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Week 11, Project 365

My hubby has kept the camera firmly strapped to his body all week. So once again I'm flagrantly forgetting the rules and posting only his photos.

Since I never saw the camera except when he was taking a shot of me.

Most of the photos are from his climb to the top of one of the nearby mountains. He went with three young folks, all in their 20s. And then he came home, ate breakfast and took a two hour nap. But at least he made it to the top! I would have probably gotten 100 yards up and wanted to stop. I seriously don't think I could have made it this far, just a bit above where the houses end. It wasn't easy but he kept plugging along...
...until they arrived at the top! They started walking at sunrise so he took lots of photos and then stitched them together to create this panoramic shot. As well as this one, once the sun was good and truly up. So what do you think of our fair city? Pretty gorgeous place we live!

When the hubby came to pick me up from art class I was ready to leave but he had me sit back down and act like I was still drawing while he took a photo of me and my art teacher. Another Marcela!

And last, but not least, one of those weird freakish things of nature. When we were making the pizza yesterday and cut into the red pepper, we found out it was pregnant! It had a tiny baby pepper inside.

As always you can see what everyone else has been doing this week by hopping over to Sara's where she has Mr. Linky working hard to connect all of us participating in Project 365!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seriously Yummy Sausage & Sauerkraut

I shouldn't be surprised at all the northerners who can't appreciate a good fried bologna sandwich (snicker, snicker). Y'all probably don't like red eye gravy or grits either, do you? Well I love you anyway, bless your heart! ☺ Just means there's more for me.

Before Spanish today we prepared the pizza dough and let it rise while in I was in class. Now it's in the oven, liberally covered with pizza sauce, olives, onions, red pepper, mushrooms and homemade Italian sausage and smothered with three kinds of freshly grated cheese (mozzarella, parmesan and Holland). Does that sound more appetizing?

It's a hot one here in Carlos Paz so not only the curtains are closed, but the windows too, in an attempt to keep the hot air out. I'm glad the pizza won't take long to bake since I don't want to heat up the kitchen any more than necessary.

I haven't had my act together in a while in order to participate in Carol's Saturday Stirrings. But today I'm back! And Carol has me drooling over her new discovery: Perdue Oven Ready Chicken Roasters. It's going on my list of foods-I-must-have-when-we-go-on-furlough.

Because I think it's just too sad if y'all go through life without having a good dish of sausage and sauerkraut at least once, I'm sharing what I do to the sauerkraut to make even fussy kids (or adults!) like it.

SAUSAGE & SAUERKRAUT
1-2 sausages per family member, depending on how much each person typically eats
[USE ANY KIND OF SAUSAGE YOU WANT! I've made this with a variety over the years. It's all good.]
1 large can sauerkraut
1 individual serving (bottle or sippy carton) of apple juice (apple cider is even better to use when you can get it)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon beef bouillon granules (if using cube, dissolve in apple juice)

You can brown the sausage or not; that's one of those personal choice things.
Rinse sauerkraut well. Really well! Don't mess around with this step. It's VERY important.
Place rinsed sauerkraut in a casserole dish, pour apple juice (or cider) over, sprinkle with brown sugar and beef bouillon granules. Top with sausages (browned or not). Put tin foil over casserole. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, removing tin foil for last 10 minutes.
Serve with mashed potatoes, applesauce or fried apples and brown bread (we prefer pumpernickel).

Muy delicioso! Really!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bologna, Pickles & Sauerkraut: Foods that send me into a swoon

Estoy muy satisfecha! Why, you ask? Because this southern girl just finished the most delectable fried bologna sandwich with a side of pickles and Cheetos. Oh my, it was good!

I've been craving this southern delicacy for quite a while and yesterday the hubby came home with the bologna. Hallelujah! But we didn't have any bread so I had to wait until today when we went shopping again. The bread (a nice round loaf) was fresh out of the oven and still warm when we got it home and sliced it.

To top it off, we also found a jar of pickles on the aisle of international foods. Thought it was kosher dill but since we don't know German, we weren't sure. It's not but we aren't sad 'cause these are the best pickles we've had since we arrived!

The bologna had a little something added to it. Can you guess what? No, seriously! Guess! Come on, what have I said they put on EVERYTHING? Eggs of course. Yep, hard boiled eggs had been added. But it wasn't in obnoxious amounts and didn't detract from the bologna at all.

Or maybe I'm just getting used to the eggs.

Also on the international food aisle we found what we think is sauerkraut. Again, can't be sure, and it's purple but we think that's 'cause they used red cabbage. We'll find out ☺ The last time we went to Santa Rosa we stopped at a little meat market in Belgrano (a German enclave) and picked up bacon and knackwurst. Didn't think about getting any sauerkraut though, and that's not something typically sold in stores here. But we're hoping we truly did score some so that tomorrow we can have sausage and sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Yum!

Can you tell I've got my appetite back?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I just took my first art class...EVER!

Except for those vague memories from second grade when getting chosen to help make the paste was the highlight of my year. And watching Tommy eat a bowl full of the paste the most disgusting.

I could have taken an art class in junior high but instead chose typing as my elective. At the insistence of my mom who was bound and determined I would NOT have to work as a waitress like she did.

So here I am at age 50 taking my first art class. Why should moving to a different country and learning another language be the only firsts in my Year of Jubilee?!

This class is killing the proverbial two birds with one stone. I really DO want to learn how to draw and paint, but as the only English speaker in the class I'll also be working on my Spanish.

Before class next week I plan to look up vocabulary words associated with art. It might help.

My Spanish tutor knows my art teacher and ran into her recently, giving her the heads up about moi. The teacher and all the other ladies in the class are very kind and helpful, speaking slowly and repeating as necessary. Of course, having her explain concepts by drawing on the white board helps too.

So I'm pretty excited about this new adventure. We meet in the Cultural Center downtown and after class I knocked off a couple of my other assignments for Spanish: buying coffee and looking for a new watchband. It has been our habit for the hubby to run errands and do any necessary shopping while I'm in Spanish class but my tutor says it's time for me to start doing more.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to interview the young man at a nearby kiosko who sells newspapers and magazines. And I'm hoping he has a selection of home decorating magazines, 'cause I've been going through design withdrawal. Or maybe an art magazine would be better since that would be full of words I need to learn.

Just talked to the daughter who was pleasantly surprised yesterday to receive her daddy's Blackberry in the mail. Y'all might remember the Saga of the Blackberry and what my poor hubby went through trying to get it to work here. Since that is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN, he decided someone should get some use out of it and the daughter was the recipient.

She spent a good part of today wading through the bureaucracy that is Sprint since Sprint had still not closed our account. Aaargh! She had a very nice young man helping her and we're hoping and praying that she actually accomplished what we could not, despite repeated phone calls over many months. But having them say they've done something is not the same as them actually doing it, so I'm not holding my breath until we receive confirmation. After all, we were assured multiple times that the problem was handled and obviously it was not.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Just sayin' I won't be signing up with Sprint when we're home on furlough.

The hubby built me a nice shelf in the kitchen yesterday to hold the toaster oven and our big ole bottle of water on it's tiny little plastic base. Just underneath is a smaller shelf with the wifi router and invertor, and my crockpot fits just perfectly under it all on the counter. Yay! I do NOT like counter clutter!

And by way of closing, Happy Mama nominated me for The Kreativ Blogger Award. Thanks Happy Mama! If y'all haven't stopped by her place, you really should go! Just like I'm a foreigner learning the customs in a new country, so is Happy Mama learning how to be a New American in the U.S. Her posts are so refreshing and fun to read with a great perspective on our funny American customs ☺ I'm not going to nominate anyone specific (you're ALL Kreativ Bloggers!) but if you'd like to participate, consider yourself nominated! You're supposed to write seven things you love, and nominate seven other bloggers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

If there was a prize it would go to...

"Fun little lunch time research project! The plant is called Orbea, aka known as Carrion flower, supposedly because the flowers have an unpleasant odor that helps attract pollinators."

I knew I could count on Sharon to Name That Plant! Thank you, dear SIL :-)

I will keep y'all apprised of whether or not my clipping survives and blooms. You can be sure of photographic proof if it does!

Spanish resumed today after my break for conference. My brain is tired. Actually my whole body is tired, but my brain especially. Isn't it interesting that even the brain gets tired when you work it? For some unfathomable reason I have a mental block when it comes to thinking about the brain being an object that can be overworked just like my arms or legs. And yet I have seen time and again since beginning this process of language acquisition that my brain is a weak and pathetic organ, unused to hard labor and ready to rise up in protest at the slightest push toward anything resembling THINKING.

It doesn't know it yet, but I plan on pushing it to its limits and beyond in the coming months. I WILL LEARN SPANISH. So it better just straighten up and get with the program or I'm gonna...well, I'll think of something dreadful to do with it. If it doesn't figure out what I'm doing and sabotage my efforts. It's a wile wee organ, puffed up with arrogance beyond all reason and able to run rings around me at times with its circular thinking and deceptive thought processes.

But I'm claiming Romans 12:2 in this battle! "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (ESV) God has called us to Argentina and I'm not much good without the ability to communicate so I KNOW it is His good and acceptable and perfect will for me to learn Spanish.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Do you recognize this flower?

Several asked if I knew the name of the flower yesterday. Nope. We asked the lady who gave me the clipping and she didn't know either. I'm hoping one of you might know the name. Here's a photo of the whole plant to see if that helps any; the plant hangs over the pot although it's sort of hard to see from this angle.
It's been raining off and on ever since we arrived home on Saturday so the laundry still isn't finished. But I think we just might git 'er done today.

The last of our missionary buddies left this morning on a bus back to Buenos Aires. We sure had fun getting to know everyone better this past week and I'm so glad we were able to laugh and love our way through some issues. You may not be aware that missionaries tend to be strong personalities, passionate about their work, and maybe a little thick-headed when it comes to the way we do things. A few meetings during conference helped immeasurably to make sure everyone understood that one way or the other isn't good or bad, just different. God has given each of us certain gifts and abilities, with a bent to doing things a particular way. And we can't expect everyone else to be like us and do it our way.

A good lesson to learn.

Or re-learn.

I really appreciate all your sweet comments and to let you know, I am feeling somewhat better but exhausted. I never expected turning 50 a few months ago would be such an ordeal. I'd like to think of it as my Year of Jubilee, like Skoots1Mom. But at this point it feels more like the Age of Upheaval. Only instead of economic volatility, I have digestive volatility. Rather than ethnic disintegration, my iron levels are deficient. And it's not my empire in decline, merely my season of fertility. That combination is apparently lethal for a woman's energy level.

So thanks for praying and keep it up!

And if any of y'all suffer from IBS and have developed coping mechanisms, please share them! Thank you, thank you very much.

I don't know if I've mentioned our little ant problem. We think the house was built on an ant hill. There were piles of dirt here and there when we moved in. Swept 'em up and most did not reappear. But a few did. Notably, in our closet on the bottom shelf. The hubby plugged their hole.

He thought.

He was wrong.

It actually took three or four sessions down in the closet with spackle before their entry way was good and truly blocked. So then they popped up by our doorway. Each morning there's a fresh mound of dirt by the bedroom door. And another by the back door.

And when we got back from conference, one in the shower. The SHOWER. Apparently they'd been coming up through the drain. It's amazing the pile of dirt a group of industrious ants can create in five short days. It filled my dustpan. Thankfully we seem to have the ants in retreat. From the shower. We're still dealing with the piles in the bedroom and kitchen.

Someone suggested we sprinkle cracked rice which they carry back to their abode where it ferments and lets off a toxic gas. The hubby tried it in his shop, another hot spot, but the ants are either highly intelligent or they don't like rice. 'Cause they're not going for it.

But after talking to the other missionaries this past week, I'm glad that all we have to deal with is a few ants. Things could be much, much worse! Our house is dry and not prone to mold and mildew. Nor do we have cockroaches or rodents or other vermin. So yeah, give me the ants any day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Week 10, Project 365

Wow! We're 1/5 of the way through Project 365 already. Last Sunday I only had time to look at a few of the participants' weekly photos and it will probably be tomorrow before I have time to do it this week. I can hardly wait to catch up!

Our co-worker's youngest and her friend, all smiles on Sunday night.
All the Biblical Ministries Worldwide missionaries from Uruguay and Argentina enjoyed a week together, letting others do the cooking and cleaning during our annual missionary field conference in Bialet Masse, about 15 minutes from Carlos Paz. The Colonial Serrano Hotel was built almost 100 years ago. Looking one way you see the wing with most of the rooms and then looking straight ahead you see the bowed-out verandas (we had tea on the second floor veranda).

Look closer and you'll see these marvelous (and humongous) front doors. Rustic and quaint, accommodations were simple but the service was amazing. We had the whole hotel to ourselves (40 of us) and the hotel staff bent over backwards to make us comfortable.

Here's some of the food I didn't eat. Couldn't eat. Very sad that I was unable to enjoy some truly amazing food, artfully presented at every meal. This was the appetizer one night. Ham, cheese and hardboiled eggs rolled into a pinwheel sandwich with a dollop of mayo, an olive, and some shredded cabbage on the side. Colorful and, according to those who were able to eat it, quite tasty.
What made me even sadder was not eating dessert. I luuuuurve me some dessert and they had excellent desserts. Here my good buddies rubbed it in by all digging into the flan with dulce de leche. *sigh* I picked a particularly terrible week in which to be sick.
The girls enjoying one of their craft projects: decorative painting. The ladies also tried their hand at it, with more or less successful results. We spent the first hour practicing on paper before ever trying to paint our trays or magazine racks. Mine is still pristine and waiting for me to feel confident enough to go beyond just practicing.
I shared several photos yesterday from the ladies tea. Here's one more. Ruth has been a missionary the longest in our group. She and her hubby have been married 52 years and in ministry for all of them. She has a sweet spirit and cheerful heart and I want to grow up and be like her ☺
As we were loading up and waiting for everyone to bring their things down on Saturday morning, I noticed a plant on the back porch of the hotel. I'd never seen anything like it so of course whipped out my camera. A lady came out of the kitchen and offered us clippings! The Uruguayan ladies are not allowed to take things like that over the border, but I gladly accepted her offer. My clipping has two buds, so I'm hoping it survives, thrives and blooms!
During our Skit & Song program, we played something called The Creation Game. Some folks were selected to leave the room and quickly review the creation story. Then they were brought back in in pairs and timed to see how long it would take them to name 8 items and the day they were created. The items were laid out on a table and covered, so they had to lift the individual covers one-by-one. Wrong answers added seconds to their time. Here's a little video clip I thought you'd enjoy (it's only a minute, so be patient and watch at least until about second 30 when some action happens ☺).
video

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It was the best of times, it was the...

This has been one of the best as well as one of the toughest weeks since we arrived in Argentina.

Best because we had our annual missionary field conference...a great time with our fellow workers from Argentina and Uruguay and we were blessed by POWERFUL teaching on prayer by Dr. John Talley, all while enjoying some incredibly beautiful scenery.

Toughest because physically I'm just flat wiped out. I struggle with how much to share at times. There are a few men who read this and while I don't go on and on about women's issues, inevitably things come up because I am a woman. The last thing you need when you're anemic is heavy blood loss (13 LOOOONG days) topped off with a spectacular bout of IBS. Thankfully I made it to all the sessions but it was necessary to rest between every.single.one.

Thursday was the longest day but also the most fun with the annual Skit & Song program at night. And in the afternoon we had our traditional Ladies Tea. This year my co-worker and I were in charge so I had an opportunity to use my teacup collection.
Bringing it to Argentina was something I waffled on for a couple of years until another missionary said, "If you really love something, bring it because you'll find ways to use it." I really enjoy my teacup collection and am so glad we brought it! We had tea on the second floor veranda with this incredible view... Once everything was set up, I relaxed and enjoyed the laughter (and chocolate) shared with dear friends.
We arrived home close to lunch time and the laundry marathon is in full swing. We've been playing the bus-or-plane-shuffle with the folks from Uruguay and the U.S. And the small trailer we shipped in the container has proved invaluable as we shuttle luggage as well as people. Another item we're very glad we brought!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Week 9, Project 365

The ford. Where the water spills over the cement, the tiny waterfall pounds your back like spray jets in a jacuzzi. Looking down river.

Thursday, the day of The Dreaded Annual Evaluation. As you can tell, we're a serious bunch who approached it with solemnity and fasting.

Went into Cordoba with our area director and his wife on Saturday afternoon. Playing with the camera I found a button I thought was for taking photos of buildings. It is, but specifically in black and white. I like the effect although it's a little Herman Munster-ish.

The guys on the bottom look like they're carrying the weight of the church on their back. Rather uncomfortable.

Freaky sculpture. From a distance it looks like her middle is simply underwater but it's actually two pieces.

Love all the metal work in Argentina. Not sure if this is primarily for security (it's over a window) or just decorative. Best guess, it's both.

After wandering around for a while, we finally arrived at our destination: Palacio Ferreyra, "museo superior de bellas artes". Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any photos inside. At one time this was the private residence of a leading Cordobese family.