Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week 35, Project 365

Can you believe August is almost over?! Soon all the fun-in-the-sun photos will give way to school related shots and autumn scenery.

And here in Argentina we are gearing up for an early spring, with scorching temperatures this week. After a brief hiatus from flower photos, y'all are about to be subjected to more of them again. What can I say? This is my life and I love flowers.

Looking forward to seeing how everyone else closes out their final week of August in Project 365. As for me, they're almost all outdoor photos. Beginning with this one of Andrea taken on Monday. Rather a windy day as you can tell! It was still windy on Tuesday and we saw half a dozen out on the lake taking advantage of perfect kite surfing conditions. The new toilet paper has this little puppy every fifth block, sitting next to the stop sign. Which just cracks us up... is this a not-so-subtle way of saying "take this much toilet paper and no more"? We have honest-to-goodness, real live peas! They blend in so well with the leaves we didn't even notice them until the other day. This is a photo of my computer screen on Wednesday. It was 88°. AT 6:00 IN THE EVENING. It was in the 90s earlier on Wednesday. You think maybe winter is over?

[By the way, took that while sitting on our back patio so technically it qualifies as an outdoor shot.]

Blossoms on our peach tree -- gorgeous! I'm so excited because the tree is ABSOLUTELY COVERED with them. NOTE: I had the previous photos ready to auto post before our trip to Sta. Rosa because I didn't think I'd have a chance to post while there. The weekend didn't go quite as planned and I've added the following photos...

On the way to Sta. Rosa we did a quick drive around Alta Gracia where we stopped to take this photo. Che Guevara lived here as a boy and they've turned the house into a small museum. This photo is for the family, who will recognize Alberto and Delia. We ran into them Friday evening when we went to Tio Rico's for a quick supper. Saturday morning we went into Sta. Rosa to a cyber cafe and then to Belgrano to a carnicería but while returning to the house we encountered heavy smoke. We knew there were wildfires but didn't know exactly where or how bad, but the smoke indicated they were pretty close. When we got home we closed all the windows to keep the heat and smoke out. It was oppressively hot at 99° and combined with high winds, conditions were ideal for wildfires. It doesn't help that it's been at least a month since we had any rain so things are dry as tinder.

It wasn't long after that the power went out and, despite closed windows, we could still smell the smoke. The sky was also a very weird color, an orange tinged gray. Without t.v., radio or internet we had no way of knowing what was going on so headed out to see what we could learn. What we learned was that there were roadblocks in every direction. Working our way along back roads we made it to Belgrano, seeing fires all along the way. We weren't able to learn anything from anyone, including the fire fighters. It didn't sound hopeful that they were going to be able to get the fires under control any time soon though, so we made the decision to go back to the house, pack up and head back to Carlos Paz.

Easier said than done. We had to take dirt roads to the house to avoid roadblocks, the power was still out so we used a flashlight to pack up, and closing up the house always takes a while. And, of course, we had to work our way around roadblocks again as we headed home to Carlos Paz.

The house is on the south side of Sta. Rosa. This is the scene that greeted us on the north side of town. The fire had worked its way almost to the highway here. I know this is a terrible photo, but it was the best of the bunch. I just wanted you to have an idea of what it was like. As we turned off Route 5 a few miles past Belgrano, Andrea said "Wow! Look back!" We turned around and this is what we saw, fires all along the mountain ridge as far as we could see in either direction. Like the whole Calamuchita Valley was on fire. Obviously praying for rain, for the safety of those fighting the fires, and all who live in its path. Very thankful to be home in Carlos Paz with lights, internet, and most especially air you can breathe.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Off to Sta. Rosa for the weekend

We've decided to take off Friday morning and get a couple days of R&R in Sta. Rosa. Of course that means we'll probably be incomunicado since the internet rarely works well out there. I'm taking a couple of books and the West Wing DVDs, Ivan's packing the hammock and Andrea has a few books as well. You have no idea how thankful we are for a place where we can get away!

Especially this weekend when the temperatures are supposed to sky rocket. It was in the 90s yesterday and today and they expect it to get even hotter. It's usually a little cooler in Sta. Rosa because the elevation is higher.

But winter isn't totally over; it's supposed to drop all the way down to 69° by Tuesday.

I guess it's unusually warm even by Carlos Paz standards. The warmer temps have totally faked out the foliage. Suddenly this week we see trees and bushes in all hues of red, yellow, pink, white, lavender... Our peach tree has loads of blossoms and it's just so pretty! I'll have a photo to share with you on Sunday.

Definitely the shortest winter I've ever been through, except the five years we lived in South Florida. But since they don't have seasons in Florida I don't think we should really count that. We do have seasons here in Carlos Paz, it's just that winter barely registers on the calendar.

Speaking of calendars... What are your plans for the weekend? Any end-of-the-summer trips or special events?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Suddenly it feels like summer

We turned our heaters completely off yesterday. We'd had just the pilot lit on both for a few weeks but decided it was time to turn 'em off. While we may get cooler weather again, not sure it would warrant having the heaters on. And if it does, they're easy enough to light again.

Yesterday was downright hot. The sun has already reached that feels-like-it's-burning-your-skin-if-you're-out-in-it-for-more-than-5-minutes stage. Great for drying clothes. Not so much for a fair-skinned person who doesn't tan, but simply burns/peels/turns white again. Time to dig out the sunscreen.

Because of an ongoing bus strike, my crown has not made it's way back from the lab in Cordoba city so my dentist appointment yesterday was postponed. Thus freeing us for a dash into the city ourselves for a little shopping marathon after Spanish class and lunch. Discovered that is THE BEST TIME EVER to go shopping. The stores were practically empty and we whipped through faster than ever before. Who knew?!

We were pretty excited because the warehouse type store where we used to buy all our cleaning, laundry, and personal care products plus paper and plastics has re-opened. They had a fire in February and others told us it usually takes at least a year to rebuild because insurance typically drags their heels, and the construction process is just slower here. But lo and behold, six months later they are back in business. Bigger and better than ever. I was especially pleased that the foul smell that used to emanate from aisle 3 is gone, eradicated -- hopefully forever.

That particular store, while definitely having the best prices, was always a pain because the lines were ridiculously long and the wait never less than an hour and usually closer to two (and that's after battling the crowds up and down the aisles to do the actual shopping). Yesterday? NO LINES. Not sure if it was just the time of day, or if maybe everyone hasn't heard that they're open again. Whatever the reason, we were thrilled to be in and out of there in less than an hour.

In fact, although we went to two large stores we were home in just over 3 hours and that includes the travel time back and forth (35 minutes each way). Amazing. Seriously amazing. We decided we'll always try to do our shopping then.

Ivan, man of the hour, then went over to the our co-workers' house and fixed BOTH their washer and dryer. These are older, American made models and you cannot get parts for them here. The dryer had broken down a while back and Ivan ordered parts online and then our friend brought the parts when she came last week (I wonder what customs would have thought of the odd assortment of things in her suitcase if they had opened everything?). But the washer broke down early last week, and we were so busy with the big group from PdeV that Ivan didn't have time to mess with it. We knew if it needed parts, we were out of luck. But he was able to jury-rig (that is the correct spelling; I looked it up) the part that was acting up on the washer and we're hoping it does the trick for the coming 10 months until they go on furlough.

My husband is very good at jury-rigging things. It comes from growing up on the mission field when parts were often not available so they had to make do; didn't have a choice. But early on in our marriage he was offended when he overheard me tell someone, "Ivan doesn't fix things so much as rigs them." It took me a while to make him understand: I MEANT IT AS A COMPLIMENT. Of course there were times when he spent more time and money rigging something than it would have taken if he'd just bought the part. But years of making do had left its mark and it took a few years before he saw that sometimes it really is best to use the part originally meant for the job.

IF YOU CAN GET IT.

Which once again, he's finding isn't always possible. Who would have thought that being a missionary also meant becoming an expert jury-rigger?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Meanderings

I fed the group lunch (keeping it simple with sandwiches and chips) and then everyone went on their merry way. Ivan took three of the guys and an overflowing trailer of things back to Sta. Rosa. I spent the afternoon sweeping, mopping, and doing laundry. Since one of the things our friend brought from the U.S. was a set of West Wing DVDs, I watched a few episodes this evening. It felt really good to kick back and relax and laugh through scenes from one of my favorite television shows of all time.

I'm still processing some of the events from the past week. Culturally we realized we haven't adapted as much as we thought. I'll share more about that once I've filtered through what I'm struggling with, and why. We're trying hard not to be "ugly Americans" who always think our way is the best way. From our year in Uganda we know that the reasoning behind things isn't always apparent and requires some searching and understanding.

One thing that wasn't difficult at all was talking with the couple who came from Cordoba to help. We had such fun sharing about a wide variety of things but especially ministry. While it may sound weird, it was actually encouraging to find that we're not alone in our frustration with discipleship. They have experienced some of the same frustrations -- it's a challenge finding men who are willing to truly commit their lives to God. Apparently men here view church as a "woman's thing".

But then we don't have to worry about doing the finding, do we? It's all up to God. He's the one who moves in lives and changes hearts.

We have the names and phone numbers of about a dozen teens to follow up on; young people who indicated an interest in spiritual things. We also made contact with people in the neighborhood. Most of the kids who came out for Mufa Pufa live close to Centro Esperanza. We're praying that connections made this past week will result in lives transformed by the love of Christ. In an area of relative prosperity, few seek God. One man rebuffed the Gospel message and told our co-worker, "I have everything I need. If I ever decide I need more I'll let you know."

Conversations at meal times were often lively and filled with laughter. Of course with everyone speaking quickly and using colloquialisms, most of it went right over my head. Speaking one-on-one, it wasn't so difficult to understand those from this province, but those from Buenos Aires and the north of the country were a lot harder for me.

It also made a difference as to the time of day. By the time it rolled around to midnight and we were just sitting down to supper I was mentally fried.

We'll be having leftovers for a couple days. Most meals there was little left, but we do have a surplus of meatloaf, baked beans and I never even made cole slaw so there's still a big head of cabbage in the fridge. Tonight I used leftover roasted chicken and homemade broth, added some carrots and fresh potato gnocchi for a very yummy soup. Light, refreshing and just the thing after all the big meals we've been having.

Now it's back to the normal routine tomorrow. Spanish, the dentist, art class, Bible study with our friends...

Being a creature of habit who thrives on the routine, I'm looking forward to that. This past week was great but I'm also thankful it's not that busy and crazy all the time!

Looking forward to getting back to some sewing projects. Have a new one to start as I'm participating in a Christmas quilt swap (finished size no bigger than 20"x20"). I've been tossing around ideas and haven't settled on one single thing yet, but have several possibilities. This week I'll do sketches and then decide which I want to go with; afterward it will be fun choosing fabrics and dimensional objects. *sigh* Sometimes I think my favorite part of the project is the planning :-)

Also tucked away in our friend's suitcase was a variety of fabric!!! I need to take some photos of it for Project 365. I might have to use some of it in this new project. If I can make myself cut into it. (Does anyone else have that problem?)

It was like Christmas morning, with books and fabric and underclothes... Having dropped a couple of sizes I really needed new things and I've long been a proponent of cotton EVERYTHING, but especially underclothes. Apparently nobody else in Argentina shares my views because I could not find a single pair of cotton undergarments ANYWHERE. No, there will be no photos of those items. Not on my blog anyway.

The glasses are a bit big for my face. Oh well. I need to get them adjusted; the nose pads just kill me right now. So meanwhile I'm still wearing my older, much weaker glasses. I hadn't realized how old the prescription must be until I put the new pair on and things jumped into focus. What a difference!

It's also WONDERFUL having our Vonage phone again! Thanks again Jon for taking care of that for us!!! Between the two packages we received in the mail and all the goodies our friend brought, I feel a little overwhelmed by the abundance of good things :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week 34, Project 365

Wasn't sure I'd be able to do Project 365 this Sunday. I uploaded the photos last night, or rather this morning around 1:15 a.m. (yes, another midnight supper). Now it's 1:15 p.m. and lunch is either cooking or chilling so I thought I'd grab a few minutes and write the text to go with the photos before the crowd descends for almuerzo.

It's been the busiest week I can remember in a long time. Starting with Monday when we made the trip to Sta. Rosa to pick up all the twin size mattresses we have out there, plus the props for Mufa Pufa (more about that later). I swear all we need is a rocking chair on top, and I could sit up there just like Granny Clampett. We are SO GLAD we brought that trailer with us! It has been extremely useful and such a blessing.

Tuesday I received not one, but TWO packages in the mail! When Ivan came out of the post office and I saw two big envelopes I grabbed the camera :-) Between my sister and my friend Katie I'm set with vitamins, moisturizer, Puffs tissues, cider mix, gorgeous ribbon I'm going to use in our bedroom... Muchas gracias Beth and Katie!

This next photo shows a tiny little amusement park right smack dab in the middle of town. It's not open now but in the summer it's a hoppin' place. Wednesday the group from Palabra de Vida arrived. And Thursday they spent the whole day (literally -- from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m.) showing films and doing programs in an area high school. [I think I've mentioned the crowded conditions in schools and how they run two and sometimes three sessions a day: 7 a.m. - 1 p.m.; 1:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.; and 6:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.] The other big event Thursday was the arrival of our friend who will be here for three months. I was so flustered by the incident I forgot to take a photo of her but I'll be sure to include her smiling face next week (yes, she's smiling in spite of what I did!). She's also been a HUGE help with the cooking and cleaning. I'm sure she never realized she'd signed on to wash mountains and mountains of dishes when she came, but she's been a trooper.

Friday the PdeV group organized soccer and other games at public playing fields on the costanera, just across the street from Centro Esperanza. Saturday (and today): Mufa Pufa on the costanera. It's a bunch of crazy, competitive games with props like these. The kids LOVE it! There's also plenty of time spent talking to the kids and sharing the Gospel with them in different ways. Seeds are being planted. We've appreciated all the work and enthusiasm of both the Palabra de Vida students and a couple from Cordoba city who came with all the equipment to show the movies and have stayed on to help with the other activities.

Y'all are the best! THANK YOU for all your encouragement.

I'd better hurry up and finish this. It's now after lunch and the Mufa Pufa has begun!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I can't think of a good title to save my life. I'm just TOO tired.

Even if most of y'all have never done anything as bad as what I did Thursday -- except for maybe Skoots (I am so glad your dog lived!) -- you sure did make me smile as I read your comments. Unfortunately our guest isn't a big fan of chocolate so no bribes possible with that, Heidi, but I'll definitely try the Cuban pork, Sara!

The Cuban pork will have to wait, though, as my menu for the rest of the week was already set due to the large group of people I'm feeding all day, every day, for five days. Most of them strapping young men who can seriously put away the food. I've had enough with some left over every meal, but not much.

I'd planned on serving up any and all leftovers tonight but there isn't enough so we're having pizza instead. We bought freshly made ready-to-bake pizzas from the deli and will just doctor 'em up a little.

Ready-to-bake anything makes me happy. Because I'm feeling all of my fifty years today. We haven't eaten supper until almost midnight the last two nights, up bright and early each morning, and no time for naps between. I said the other day that this was the busiest week since conference. I'd like to amend that because this is BUSIER than conference. Trying to keep up with all these young whipper snappers (figured I should talk like the age I feel) has about wore me out.

I have one hour right now and then it's back up-and-at-'em. A youth meeting at 8 p.m., followed by what I hope will be dinner by 10 p.m. which would get me into bed by midnight instead of just sitting down to supper. Skoots, I know you've pulled some all-nighters with your young people. HOW IN THIS WORLD DID YOU DO IT? It has been a few years since Ivan was a youth pastor and I'd blissfully forgotten the energy and stamina that make the young resemble Energizer bunnies -- they just keep going and going and going...

Maybe I should up that iron to two a day.

Aside from the sheer exhaustion, it's been a good week (discounting the humiliating experience from Thursday. But I'm going to follow Lid's advice and put it OUT OF MY MIND. It is over. It is done. Can't take it back.) Such a blessing to see young people on fire for God and willing to pour themselves into the lives of others. They've been a huge encouragement to us and to our co-workers. Some of the leaders weren't able to get here due to a bus strike but that just made the Bible Institute students step up to the plate and they've done a great job of organizing games and activities for children and teens on the costanera.

Some cultural differences that I want to tell you about later, but I just don't have enough time right now. It's been a stretching experience in some ways. Stretching is good. Although I just yawned and stretched big enough to pull a muscle I think. Would appreciate your prayers as we will be busy, busy, busy right up through Sunday night.

Now it's time to go doctor some pizzas before the youth meeting.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Me da vergüenza

Who needs a hormonal hot flash when you can just embarrass yourself into a permanent blush?

I hate to even tell you what I've done. It's so horrible that I'm pretty sure some of you will leave my blog and never come back. EVER.

I am a terrible person.
I am despicable.
I am lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut.

I used to be a nice person. Had my act together. Got things done. Usually efficiently. Could juggle the multiple activities of my family and the kids in our care (we were houseparents for mentally and emotionally impaired teens for 9 years). Managed to stumble through life without anything major happening.

Until this morning.

When I made a VERY ERRONEOUS ASSUMPTION. Our first guest from the U.S. sent us her travel itinerary, but do you think I printed it out? I just glanced at it, thought I had the info firmly imbedded in my brain and went about my merry way.

I knew she was flying Lan and she was coming in via Santiago, Chile. Only one flight per day from Santiago to Cordoba so no problema: she was arriving at 12:55 p.m. -- lunch time.

Only she WASN'T coming IN via Santiago. She's going OUT via Santiago. She actually came IN via Lima, Peru.

At 6:15 a.m.

So the poor girl arrived in a strange city in a foreign country and there was no one to meet her.

And nobody came.

For hours.

And hours.

She had no way to contact us.

[Because I may have mentioned she's our first visitor? Thus she is also our guinea pig, and we are learning with her. We didn't think to give her a phone number.]

At 9:30 a.m. I was doing breakfast dishes and waiting for Ivan to get back from the store. I thought, "I should print out her flight info."

Which is when I discovered my APPALLING MISTAKE.

It was with COMPLETE AND UTTER HORROR that I looked at the itinerary and read the arrival time of 6:15 a.m.

I felt literally sick to my stomach.

I called Ivan and he rushed home and called the airport to get a message to our poor abandoned guest. The airport personnel were singularly UNHELPFUL.

So we just made the mad dash to the airport. Normally it's an hour trip. We made it there in just over 45 minutes.

Which put us exactly FIVE HOURS LATE in picking her up.

I told you I'm a terrible person.

She was tired. She was hungry. But she handled the situation much better than I could have/would have done. She was kind. She was gracious. I think she has forgiven me.

I'm sure she will never forget though.

Would you?

Didn't think so.

Who do you think will become absolutely anal about printing out itineraries and posting them on the refridgerator and looking at them multiple times?

Who do you think will be careful to give phone numbers and other important information to future guests?

*sigh*

Oh, the mortification.

Have y'all ever done anything this bad? Please don't leave me dangling here by one very red and embarrassed thread. Tell me your tales of shame and humiliation. Let's all enjoy a good group blush. Please?!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One of my (many) little idiosyncrasies

My husband would love it if we could manage to have a completely bare kitchen counter. Free from small appliances or any kind of cooking utensil, ingredient or item. Free from small containers we're recycling or keys or piles of mail. Completely bare, granite sparkling and reflecting light from the vast expanse of its uncluttered surface.

After 30 years with this man I too have an unnatural affection for clean and clear spaces. Not sure I could go with a completely bare kitchen counter but it would be lovely to pare down to a few (very few) useful but decorative canisters and... well, nothing else. Maybe, just maybe a bowl of fruit.

It suddenly dawned on me that my love for clean, clear spaces has spilled over into my blog and I probably have one of the barest pages in Bloggyville. I'm participating in two long-term activities this year and those are the only two buttons on my side bar. In just the last few days I've been invited to grab buttons at no fewer than 9 blogs I read regularly and put on my blog to spread the internet love.

And I can't do it.

I just can't.

It would make my counter side bar too full. As it is I'm thinking about eliminating some things because having just what's there makes me a little antsy. Stuff, too much STUFF!

I can't tell you the joy I felt gazing upon the empty expanse of counter at Centro Esperanza when I took over cups and plates and breakfast things for the guests who will be staying there. In an effort to keep from adding even one item to that counter, I went ahead and set the table and put everything on it instead.

[You can put things on a table. Why that's okay and not the counter, I do not know. That's just the way it is.]

Obviously I have issues.

Not sure whether to ask for prayer or embrace my inner clean counter freak.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Should not have sat down

Because now I don't want to get up.

This is our busiest week since conference in March I think, and I'm kind of dizzy from the pace. We made a quick (relatively speaking) trip to Sta. Rosa yesterday to pick up all the twin size mattresses to use while the group is here from Palabra de Vida. Had a wonderful lunch with friends when we arrived and were back on the road within a few hours.

Did take time to water our citrus trees and have to say, I'm concerned they are not going to make it. Between us not getting out often enough to water sufficiently and the animals STILL getting into the yard despite our ingenious use of the parrot's nest, the wee little trees are struggling to survive.

When we made it back home, feeling rather like Granny and Jed Clampett with our pile of mattresses and Mufa Pufa paraphernalia in the trailer, we had to finish clearing out the office and set up one twin bed in there.

We've also been running laundry through as fast as we can. Our co-workers' washer broke down so they were catching up and now I'm plowing through five loads of my own. I had two loads of towels and sheets from Sta. Rosa in addition to the regular every day things. Good thing I love doing laundry :-)

We met up with our co-workers this afternoon to clean Centro Esperanza where we're putting the one couple in the group. That's a nice feature about renting a small house for our meetings; we have an extra bedroom and bath for hosting visitors. I spent my time inside but everyone else was busy outside, raking the yard and sweeping the sidewalk all the way to the corner. Ivan said if they hadn't done that, the leaves covering the neighbor's walk would have just blown back onto ours. I'm not sure how many bags of leaves they ended up with, but it was a lot. Looks so much better now.

Plus there was the dentist appointment and Spanish class. Between trips here and there I've been cleaning our home too. And cooking. Two big roasts are in the crockpot and are taking longer than I thought they would. Maybe because they're really crammed in there. I'll be using the meat to make sandwiches for one meal and Shepherd's casserole for another.

After mentioning my qualms about cooking for a crowd again, Skoots1Mom put together a mini-cookbook for me! She spent untold hours researching and finding some really yummy recipes for large groups. Isn't that just the best?! I tell you what, when we come on furlough I'm going to track that woman down and give her a great big old hug! Yes I am :-) And Skoots, I found broccoli today!!! Woot! So I can try the Company Broccoli Cheddar Salad. I'm planning on trying several of the recipes. And any I don't use this week will be pulled out for future events. Several times a year we have dinners for large groups, so ALL the info will come in handy. Muchas gracias Skoots!

I really do have to get up. Switch laundry. Check on the roasts. Find something easy to eat for dinner. Locate the lotion so I can slather it on my hands which feel like rough grade sandpaper from having them in water so much. Look at the photos again that I received from my sister today. Goodness my nieces are growing up so fast! Thanks for the package Beth :-) All the goodies are MUCH APPRECIATED. The Puffs I'm already using because my nose is a little tender from excessive use of locally purchased tissues. Which also feel rather like rough grade sandpaper, now that I think about it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Meanderings

Yesterday was our one year anniversary in Argentina. In the morning a friend texted his congratulations and our co-workers surprised us with a cake at the meeting last night. It's sorta like being married...you know that feeling, "how can it already be a year?" and at the same time, having a hard time remembering what it was like before :-) It's just our LIFE now.

The weather turned colder over the weekend, but still not what you'd call winter weather. We took walks both days and it was really windy but still only needed sweaters. Now last night when it was time to go to Centro Esperanza I grabbed a coat too. My spring coat which might have been a mistake. I think I could have used the slightly heavier fall coat. Mainly because Centro is always FREEZING since it's kept closed up all week without any heat, so the cold just seeps into the block walls and tile floors and turning the little space heater on when we get there is like trying to heat a gymnasium with a cooking stove. Just not happenin' fast enough.

We're heading to Sta. Rosa today with the little trailer to pick up all the twin size mattresses and bring them back to use when the group from Palabra de Vida arrives. The size and shape of the group is shifting and now it looks like we'll have one less couple and girl but more single guys.

We'll also be swinging by a PdeV facility in Sta. Rosa (a drug rehabilitation center) to pick up the props for one of the activities the PdeV group is planning: Mufa Pufa. Not sure what Mufa Pufa is, but I like the way it sounds and writes so I'll probably say it a lot this week. Mufa Pufa.

Our first visitor from the U.S. arrives Thursday. She'll be spending three months with us while observing and experiencing missions first-hand and polishing her Spanish. She's bringing some goodies in her suitcase too :-) Not sure what I'm most excited about: my new glasses, the fabric or books. Is it okay to be equally excited about all of it?

On Saturday the son was in Michigan since it was his turn to run the store and after work he went over to the parsonage to look through boxes we left there. He found Ivan's logbook!!!!! Yippee! The logbook documents all of Ivan's hours in the air, and he needs it before he can proceed with getting his pilot's license here.

Our visitor won't be bringing the logbook though. Because first there are some things that have to be done. It's easier to explain them in list form:
1) logbook must be certified by manager at the Hillsdale airport that the book accurately reflects Ivan's air time
2) the certification must be notarized
3) the notarization has to, in turn, be notarized by a notary recognized by The Hague. Yes that city over in Europe.
(whole lot of notarin' goin' on!)
All of that to make the logbook "official" here.

Hopefully Ivan will be able to get all that done in time for the daughter to bring the logbook when she comes in December.

The son also found a box of my old journals and writing projects. Including a poem I wrote during a creative writing class almost twenty years ago. Gotta say, it was bad then and it's bad now. But my poetry hasn't improved so I'm just gonna throw it out there and give you all a good chuckle for the day. Because I can.

There once was a writing professor
of innumerable talent and wit
who served as a father confessor
(although 'twas a pain to submit)
to budding authors, their faces alight
at the thought of their words being printed
yet rarely ever took time to write
so he promptly came up with incentive.
He herded them north at the start of the year
to a farm in the wilderness bare
and caused them to write until they were near
exhaustion and panic and total despair.
The students did rise in revolt at the end,
leaving him there when they left Cedar Bend.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week 33, Project 365

I like the symmetry of Week 33. I'm weird like that.

Project 365 keeps rolling along, and I don't know if I'm alone in this feeling, but it seems to me like TOO MANY OF MY PHOTOS ARE THE SAME. Mainly because I don't think to take photos except on our walks... once in a blue moon when we're actually doing something, and very seldom when we're together with people. I'm too busy concentrating on Spanish to have time to think about taking pictures. *sigh*

Last Sunday night as we were waiting outside Centro Esperanza and talking, I thought it would be fun to take a few shots of the traffic along the costanera. On weekends it is a very busy street! During the week there are almost no cars on this road, but that all changes when Friday rolls around. Then they come out in droves. One of Ivan's projects this week was building a small podium to use at Centro Esperanza. I asked him to take a few photos before he took it over so I could share one with you. As always he did a fine job. We like wood! All kinds of wood. I'm very thankful for a husband who has the know how (and the tools) to build some of the furniture we need. He found a place this week that sells a variety of very interesting wood, much of it from the northeast part of the country (Misiones). He took a picture of some samples lining one wall. Isn't that stuff gorgeous?! On windy days (and we've had a few this week) activity on the lake picks up. Sailboats, sailboards, kayaks... Here's one guy getting his sail up... ...UP... ...and UP! I cannot believe how things are starting to green up already. Flowers are popping up on bushes... ...and in trees... What cracks me up is that this is sort of like the equivalent of February in the U.S. We sure didn't have flowers like this in Michigan in February!

Ivan decided to hire professionals to trim and spray the peach tree this year. We've never had one and weren't sure exactly how to go about doing it ourselves. Especially since it's not really our tree, and the landlady might not appreciate our amateur efforts if they were to cause harm to the tree. Anyway, here are the two guys who showed up to do it. Again, didn't think to take a photo while they were doing it...only after they were done. Just thinking about nice big luscious juicy fresh-from-the-tree peaches in January makes my my water. And this year they should not be so bug infested.

The men put up the new signs at Centro Esperanza yesterday. This young man was here for three weeks on a short-term missions trip; he knew our co-workers from their days in Chicago. He worked hard, right up until it was time to go catch his plane after this final task. We're trying to talk him into coming back -- we'd love to have some young'uns on the team! Centro Esperanza can be seen from the costanera, so we not only put a sign out front but also on the side of the building. All the traffic you saw in the first photo will see this whenever they drive by now. So anyone have ideas for getting out of my photo rut? Maybe it would help to see what others are taking pictures of...let's go check out everyone who linked up to Sara's!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cuban Pork Roast & Sandwiches

I'm all for cooking something that will provide more than one meal. I love to fix a big chunk of meat and then use it forty eleven different ways. (Or maybe just a few less.)

We lived in south Florida for almost five years and developed a taste for Cuban food. Especially their roast pork. Delectable. Mouth-watering. Full of garlicky goodness. Cuban pork roast is all that and more. We like to have it the first night with the full complement of rice, black beans, and fried plantains. Then the second day we slice leftover pork real thin and make succulent Cuban sandwiches.

Am I making you hungry yet?

The trick with a really good Cuban pork roast is to marinate it overnight, letting all those spices and seasonings soak deep into the meat so that every single bite is absolutely bursting with flavor.

CUBAN PORK ROAST
4-5 lbs pork roast
3 cloves garlic peeled and slivered
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon oregano, ground
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt, to taste
1 large onion, sliced

Trim excess fat from roast (but not all!) and then make tiny slits all over the roast with a sharp knife and insert the slivers of peeled garlic.
Mix remaining ingredients in a zip lock bag, add roast and marinate in fridge overnight.
The next day you have two options: in the morning you can dump it into a crockpot, on low, and forget about it until evening. (Well, forgetting about it isn't technically possible with all the wonderful smells wafting around your kitchen!)
OR early afternoon preheat your oven to 275° and slow roast, covered, for several hours (figure one hour per pound of meat, so a 4 pound roast would take four hours).

~~~~~~~~~~

If your family doesn't devour the entire roast in one sitting (which has happened to us a time or two) you can thinly slice the leftover meat and make...

CUBAN SANDWICHES
~ 1 loaf Italian or French bread
(or Cuban bread if you're lucky enough to have a source!)
~ mustard (the original recipe calls for plain yellow but I've used stone ground when it's all I had and it worked fine -- obviously I'm not a purist)
~ thinly sliced leftover pork roast
~ thinly sliced ham (any kind you want; it's YOUR sandwich)
~ thinly sliced dill pickles
[are you getting the idea that things HAVE TO BE THINLY SLICED?!]
~ thinly sliced swiss cheese (okay, so that's not so easy to find where I live now; I've used Fontina, Holland and Havarti -- I don't think it really matters; whatever floats your boat)

Slice the bread horizontally so you create one looooooong sandwich. Smear mustard liberally on both slices. Along the bottom half layer ingredients any old way you want. I like to put cheese on the bottom and top, right next to the bread to sort of prevent it from getting soggy from the juicy pickles which I slap right smack in the middle. I'm sure there's probably some kind of law in Cuba about the order in which to correctly place these ingredients, but I'm a rule breaker from way back. Then put the top piece of bread on and start mashing the whole thing as flat as you can. I am not a small person and I put all my weight into the effort, palms down flat against the top of the sandwich and mash, MASH, MASH.

In my U.S. oven I could take the whole sandwich, put it on a cookie sheet, cover it with a little piece of tin foil and then slam my heavy old cast iron skillet on top. We want this sucker FLAT! Here I have a much smaller oven so I have to cut the sandwich in half and lay the two pieces side by side on the smaller cookie sheet I'm able to fit into the itty bitty oven. Then I pop it in the oven at 325° for about 20-30 minutes until the sandwich is hot and the cheese all bubbly. Remove from oven, take the skillet off the top, slice and enjoy! Preferably with chips of your choice.
Wasn't that easy?

You can thank me later, after you've tried them and see how FABULOUS they are :-)

And now I think I'd better go get a load of laundry started and get busy preparing for our house guests this coming week. You think they might want beds and all that?

Yeah, I thought so too. Which is why I'm going to do a little sewing real quick and then tear down my sewing table so we can put up a bed. [Sounds so easy: tear down my sewing table... when it really involves much organizing and cleaning that is likely to take me into next week.]

Hope y'all have a great weekend and I know just the thing to make it even better -- head over to Dee's and see what other recipes are making the rounds on Saturday Stirrings!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Four months and counting...

This mama is VERY EXCITED! Our daughter now has plane tickets to visit us in December. Woot! She had to wait until the final exam schedule was published and request permission from the provost to take a couple exams early so she could leave December 16th. It was the difference of at least $400 (partly because of the holidays but mostly because that is the start of summer here and the "high season" when airfare, hotels and everything else goes up, UP, UP).

[I'm doing the happy dance!]

In just over four months I'm gonna see my baby girl :-) Who will be a brand new college graduate!

I get to keep her here for almost two months. [Happy dance continuing]

Plus, it's Friday. Fridays are good. Fridays my brain can rest.

Today is so nice we had Spanish on the patio. With the birds chirping and the wind whipping up a little breeze and our vegetable garden looking all sprightly as I tried to wrap my mind (and my mouth) around Spanish prepositions and the subjunctive.

After class I put a load of freshly laundered clothes on the line, made myself a roast beef sandwich, skyped with the daughter and decided I had to share my good news with you [while doing the happy dance] before my brain shuts down completely as it is wont to do on Friday afternoons.

Tomorrow I'll be back with the recipe for Cuban pork roast and Cuban sandwiches. Because life is good and I want to share some of the goodness with you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Upcoming Guests

I have such encouraging readers! Thanks for your comments and suggestions yesterday :-)

This afternoon I spent a bit of time trying to put things away that Ivan picked up while in Cordoba. One of his stops was a warehouse type of store and one of the items on his list was toilet paper. I'm a t.p. snob and readily admit it. I was a loyal Charmin user for YEARS and was beyond sad to find it is not available here. Honestly, finding decent t.p. became a bit of a crusade at the beginning and I was no end relieved to discover Scott brand doble hoja. Hard to find locally, plus it's cheaper if you buy in bulk. So I was trying to squeeze 14 packages into every free nook and crannie in the guest room closet.

Speaking of the guest room, it will soon be occupied by a young lady from one of our supporting churches. She'll be here for three months, working on her Spanish and observing missions up-close-and-personal. Actually it will be sort of like jumping into the deep end of the pool. Her arrival coincides with a group from Palabra de Vida who will be going into a couple of schools as well as doing street ministry by the lake (fútbol and evangelismo ilustrado) and helping us blanket the neighborhood with tracts and flyers about Centro Esperanza.

We'll have two young ladies from Palabra de Vida staying with us, two couples staying at the little house (Centro), and our co-workers are hosting 5-6 young men as well as having their two oldest home (they're also students at PdeV). Because of space issues we decided to each cook for ten, and we'll rotate people around so we all have a chance to get to know each other.

Planning a menu for five days: no big deal. Wrapping my mind around cooking for ten every meal: a bit more work. Cooking for that many was not unusual when we lived in Michigan. But now that it's been just the two of us for almost a year, I've gotten out of the habit. My strategy includes some cooking ahead of time, trying to be very organized, and choosing fairly easy menus.

I also had Ivan pick up some disposable plates at the warehouse store and he grabbed cups while he was at it.

So in one week, life is going to shift into high gear for a few days. The group will be here from Wednesday, the 19th, through Sunday the 23rd.

Everyone coming (except our friend from the U.S.) is Argentine and I'm not sure if any of them besides our co-workers' kids speak English. Y'all be praying, 'kay?!

Any tips or ideas for serving big groups: Greatly Appreciated.

Toilet paper supply: We got it covered.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On learning a language

I made it through my first attempt at teaching a Bible story in Spanish. Sorry Sara but no video! I was nervous enough without having a camera pointed at me :-) I spent so much time writing the story and agonizing over the verb endings that I didn't really have much time to practice. And then when Ivan looked it over, he changed ALMOST EVERY SINGLE CONJUGATION. Will I ever get the hang of when to use the subjunctive and when NOT to?

But I am learning. Really. Some things are so counter-intuitive to the way we speak English that it just takes time and hearing it many times before it sinks in. Or at least that's how it works for me.

For example, Americans tend to say "I need to..." or "You need to..." and it's natural to assume you'd do the same in Spanish: "Necesito..." or "Necesitas..." But such is not the case. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but you use the phrase tener que in place of necesitar when referring to something that needs to be done: "Tengo que ir al mercado" (I have to go to the market) or "Tienes que cocinar el pollo" (You have to cook the chicken). You use necesitar if talking about some thing you need -- like a book: "Necesito el libro."

Little things like that.

Lots and lots of little things that pile up into big mountains of things, causing me to feel overwhelmed y entonces tengo que parar y respirar hondo ( and then I have to stop and take a deep breath).

I'd be interested in knowing how others have dealt with learning a language. We all learn at a different pace. Goodness knows I've told a lot of other homeschooling moms that over the years and experienced it with my own kids. Maybe it's normal to be immersed in a language for a year and still feel wholly inadequate to carry on a coherent conversation?

How much does learning aptitute play into it? Our personalities? The way we feel physically?

Any thoughts? Ideas? Snide remarks :-)

Y ahora tengo que encontrar chocolate.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Meanderings

It'll take a while to catch up on blogs since our internet was super slow this weekend. Usually things settle down by late Sunday but that wasn't the case this time. After church last night the connection was sketchy at best, constantly timing out or just flat cutting out completely. Actually we've had a lot more trouble lately. Not sure why.

Anyway, we'll see how it goes this morning.

And a beautiful morning it is! Another sun-filled AND WARM winter day -- it's supposed to get up to 75°! Yesterday we went for a walk in short sleeves. This is definitely my kind of climate :-)

One load of laundry is on the line, another in the wash. With the clear skies and dry weather I should be able to whip through three loads today. Woot!

Things are starting to green up, even saw a few yellow blossoms on a forsythia bush this morning. Ivan's going to ask at the nursery when we should spray the peach tree. Don't want to miss the window of opportunity because we are looking forward to a bountiful crop of mostly-bug-free peaches in January. I'm also thinking it's time to prune the rose bushes...all 13 of them. They're just way too tall and spindly and we think they'll have more blooms if pruned.

Hard to believe we still have over a month of winter because it feels like spring NOW.

Tomorrow in Spanish class I'll tell a Bible story. Before leaving the U.S. we were given the entire Betty Lukens flannelgraph set and this will be its inaugural presentation. I'm rather nervous about this assignment and am writing out the entire story in Spanish first and then I'll practice a time or thirteen :-)

We ate a lot of pork this weekend. Pork is my favorite! Bacon and eggs, grilled pork ribs, and then Cuban pork roast last night. We're going to use the leftover roast to make Cuban sandwiches. Ever had one? They are so tasty, especially when you have super flavorful homemade roast that was marinated and then cooked in TONS of garlic. After I crashed around 9 pm on Saturday Ivan took the time to put it in to marinate. For next Saturday Stirrings I'll share both the roast and sandwich recipes. Easy-peasy and oh so good!

Ivan's been battling the flu for over a week. He'll feel better for a few days, then have a bit of a relapse. Thankfully they're less frequent and intense and we're praying for a full recovery very soon. Men are terrible patients because they want to be up-and-at-'em as soon as they start feeling the least bit better. Which usually just prolongs things. I think I need to teach him the art of a long, drawn out swoon done up good and dramatically the southern way :-)

Used up the last of my Ghirardelli chocolate chips in scones yesterday. Not as sad as I thought I'd be...finding the yummy Equadorian chocolate at my local Disco helped soften the blow. Also finished off the 2nd bottle of maple syrup (of 4 we brought) in a batch of homemade granola. I tried a while back to make granola using honey but just didn't care as much for the flavor. Does that make me a granola snob? I also don't like dried fruit in granola. Makes it overly sweet. Except for dried cranberries or blueberries, neither of which is available here. Can't get rough cut grains other than oats either. Makes for some pretty plain granola but suits us fine :-) I do add a lot of nuts. This time I used almonds and walnuts.

Can you tell it's almost lunch time by the obsession with food in this post? Oh yeah, I write about food ALL THE TIME. I can't remember which of my kids once said, "Our family is either eating, preparing to eat or talking about eating."

Now I'm always writing about it.

The man who taught me much about the written word (as well as the Word) has an excellent post about the influences on our writing.

I think that's all for today. I have a Bible lesson to write in Spanish.

No, not one of the many stories about food.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Week 32, Project 365

The weeks are just whizzing by! I'm glad to see last week in my rearview mirror. Whew! Not only busy but I wasn't getting enough sleep either so by yesterday I was a great big heap of grouchiness. About eight hours last night and hopefully another eight tonight will put me back to rights :-)

Project 365 keeps marching on too, through good weeks and bad ones. And we've all had plenty of both, haven't we in the THIRTY-TWO WEEKS we've been at this so far. Can you believe that? 32 weeks! Mind boggling.

I actually posted this first photo the other day. But I really, really like it. I'm thinking of making it my screen saver. This is what we see if we walk about a block to the lake and look left. This was an exceptionally clear day and we could see the mountains in the distance. I'm not a big fan of parmesan cheese in a green can. It's not even close to the real thing so why bother? Especially when it's so easy to buy a chunk of parmesan or reggiano or sardo and grate it yourself? Ivan keeps my Rubbermaid bowl filled with freshly grated cheese which I use a LOT in cooking. On one of our walks this week we passed this hotel. Carlos Paz is in a tourist area and while we do have a number of traditional multi-story hotels, we have even more of these smaller facilities with between 10-20 rooms. The landscaping is always meticulous, they invariably have a pool and sometimes a game room with ping pong tables, a television and books, and quite often a little café. We prefer this style to the big impersonal places. Ivan attended an auto auction this week. Thought it might be a fun experience, and it was. He was amazed at how high the bidding went, especially on this older car that had been used as a taxi. Even with a ton of miles, it still went for the equivalent of $5000 U.S. Car prices are double or triple here what they are in the States. Across the street from where we get our hair cut is this little pork market. The name cracks us up -- roughly translated it means "not the pig's fault" -- pretty funny in light of the swine flu epidemic. Friday I was too tired but Ivan and some friends went to a free concert in town (nothing starts before 9-10 pm). Most of those in the ensemble are also part of the symphony in Cordoba. Here's a clip of tango music they played.
video
I have more quilt projects started than you can shake a stick at. I do occasionally finish one too :-) But here are the three most recent starts... I've seen this concept (a watercolor cross) on a few quilt blogs and thought it would be a great project for the little house we're renting for our meetings. Right now there is absolutely nothing on the walls. I plan to add a thin black and then a wide purple border and it will be ready for quilting. This design was inspired by some very cool fabric I saw online. I thought it would be fun to have a little Café quilt for the kitchen. This constitutes only part of what I envision for the finished project. And the last is the start of my shoe quilt. I love, love, love shoes but because of back problems cannot wear heels. So I decided to make a "dream shoe quilt". These aren't sewed on; I used fusible webbing on the back of fabric and will later anchor them down with thread. I bought a calendar last year full of fun shoes and boots and picked out about 20 to use as ideas for various quilt blocks. This is a project that will likely take me a couple of years because working with tiny bits of fabric makes me twitch. So I don't work on it very often. Make sure you stop by Sara's and see all those who linked up to Project 365 this week!

Friday, August 7, 2009

TGIF

...porque voy a "veg" este fin de semana!

Let's hope this early morning foray into Spanish portends a better day with the lengua than yesterday. Every once in a while I seem to hit a wall, and most of what I've learned is JUST GONE! I can't remember vocabulary words I've used a dozen times, forget about trying to conjugate any verb correctly, and my sentence structure falls apart.

Yesterday was like that.

In art class my friend Ivana was back. I was sick and missed several classes in June and then she was gone all of July so it's been a while since I've seen her. Anyway, she was trying to tell me about what she did over the holiday. I'm not sure if she had nose-reduction surgery or if someone in her family did. And I couldn't even think of the right way to frame a question to clarify the matter. (Honestly, I don't remember if her nose was bigger the last time I saw her or not. )

I feel like I know just enough Spanish to be dangerous.

I was supposed to get a haircut but I hadn't managed to get a photo of the style I like yet so I re-scheduled for this morning. Ivan still got his cut though and I was trying to explain to Flor that I wanted to go with a new cut because I was getting new glasses. But initially what I told her was that I bought 9 pair.

*sigh*

It.Was.Like.That.All.Day.

My computer must be different than my kids because their directions for capturing a photo on my computer don't work. But in my frustration with it not working I was whipping my mouse round and round on the screen (real helpful, huh?) when suddenly a little box popped up and disappeared just as quickly. BUT in that brief second I noticed it said something about a photo. Sure enough, just holding two fingers on the keypad and clicking once brought up a little menu and the last option was to take a photo. Hallelujah!

So today I'll take my printout of a few photos of the actress Victoria Snow to Flor and see if she can do the same kind of 'do on me. You probably have no idea who Victoria Snow is, since there are LITERALLY NO PHOTOS of her on the internet. She appeared in a recent episode of a show I watched and I became totally distracted by How Much I Liked Her Hair so I couldn't tell you what happened in that episode. Searched the internet for a photo of the actress without success (by the way, most of your google searches for Victoria Snow will provide lots of pretty pictures of SNOW in VICTORIA, Canada. NOT the actress). So anyway, I became obsessed with figuring out how to extract a photo or two from the show to take to Flor.

It has taken me all week.

My computer was not real helpful. A "help" search told me how to turn OFF the iSight camera but nowhere could I find out how to turn it ON. Then a search for how to operate the "Capture Image" that appears in my Applications folder yielded additional instructions THAT DID NOT WORK. Nor did the 'help' directions for opening something called "GRAB" in Utilities. When all else fails, contact the son. He's I.T. guy extraordinaire. But even his instructions failed to work. Pressing command-shift-f4 turned my volume down (regular function of f4 key) but nothing else.

So in my frustration I was just whirling the mouse round and round on the screen...when that little menu popped up long enough for me to glimpse the mention of 'photo'...and finally, FINALLY sweet success.

We'll see if the haircut follows the route of frustration...or success. If you don't hear from me for a few days, you'll know I've gone and buried my head in the sand until my hair grows back.

~~~~~~~~~~

P.S. On a much more serious note, please pray for my FIL. He's back in the hospital after losing the ability to use his right side. Overall he's just very weak. He fell while going from the bedroom to the living room yesterday morning and it took mom and our daughter both to get him up on the couch. Then my BIL and nephew came and had to carry him out to the car to go to the doctor, who admitted him to the hospital. Obviously this is very hard on my MIL too, so pray for her as well. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I had an interesting day

[My daughter says "interesting" is my code word for "bad" as in when I would tell her an outfit was "interesting" when I really meant that I hated it. But in this case it is what it is -- interesting is simply interesting.]

There was the little matter of waking up at 3:30 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep but I'll compensate by going to bed early tonight. In fact, right after I finish posting this I'm posting myself to bed.

Spanish wasn't as hard as it could have been -- it helps that I'm sharing my class for a couple weeks with Tim who came from Wisconsin specifically to work on his Spanish. That means it's not all-me-all-the-time in class. Which I appreciated a great deal today.

Another thing that worked in my favor is that it wasn't a typical Wednesday. Graciela came over this morning after Spanish but we didn't get together with her and Nestor this evening because 1) I had a dentist appointment, and 2) Nestor is backed up on a work project. Instead they stayed for lunch and a short visit. So while I did get a good share of Spanish today, it wasn't as much as a "normal" Wednesday. Which means my brain didn't get quite the workout.

Going to the dentist entails some Spanish, but not much speaking on my part :-) And the patient before me canceled so I was able to go in early, get finished sooner, and after a nice soft dinner of leftover noodles I am in my jammies and heading to bed before 9 p.m. Where my tired, but not overworked, brain will hopefully get sufficient rest before tomorrow...

...when we have Spanish, art class, an appointment to get our hair cut, and who knows what unexpected language opportunity?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ivan & Kim take a walk and have lunch

It is a beautiful sunny winter day that feels more like spring. Ivan is feeling better after being sick all weekend with the flu. He wants out of the house!

So Ivan and Kim take a walk.

Like always, they head to the costanera. It's so clear you can see the mountains in the distance! But boy, it sure is windy today! Instead of walking by the lake, let's go look at the pretty houses. Mmmmmm, I really like the fence on this one. Wow -- look at those doors! I love how the front door usually matches the garage door. Oh look! There's a house for sale! Has potential, don't you think? Definitely! (Ivan and Kim are always noticing the houses for sale. Did you hear about the time they were driving home from Out West and spent an hour and a half looking at real estate in a little town in Wyoming even though there was absolutely no chance of ever living there?)

Time to head home. Let's stop at that pasta place. Fresh pasta for lunch sounds really good! What can we put on the pasta? There's a little red sauce left from the other day, but not much. Okay, next door to the pasta place is this little market. We can buy cream and have Pasta Neopolitan. The bread from the little market is so good! Look at all the yummy things we picked up on our walk. Even a couple of empanadas for the appetizer. Ivan, can you pick some lettuce for a salad? Sure. Oh my, we do like fresh pasta! Only 3 minutes in boiling water and it's done. Look honey, I picked some radishes for the salad too. Add some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Now that is one fine looking salad! Let's dish it all up and have lunch! The End.