Monday, September 27, 2010

Flashback Friday on Monday

There was no way I could participate in Flashback Friday last week since the 3G thingy would not cooperate and connect to the internet. But I could not pass up this particular meme! It's about one of my passions: BOOKS!!!
Did you like to read when you were a child? What were your favorite genres, books or series? Did you read books because of the author or because of the title/plot? Did you own many books? Did your school distribute the Scholastic book orders (or some other type)? Did you visit the library often? Was there a summer reading program when you were young, and did you participate? Do you have any particular memories of your school libraries? What were your favorites and least favorites among the classics (the ones high school English teachers assign!)? If you didn't like reading, do you like it more today than you did then?
My mom taught me to read when I was four because I kept pestering her. She read out loud to me but, being a working mom, she didn't have the time to do it often. She also signed me up for my first book club before I was even in kindergarten. Thus began my collection of books that some might say borders on obsession. One of the saddest things that ever happened to me is that my early collection was destroyed shortly after I left for college; I'd left my multiple boxes of books in a friend's basement that flooded :(

I have a not-so-good reading-related memory from my first month in second grade. Since I'd learned so early and continued advancing, by this point I was reading books at a higher level so for my very first book report I wrote about The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. The teacher called me up front and accused me of (1) not reading the book at all, and (2) having my mother write the report! I was a shy child anyway and that experience was mortifying! I insisted I had read the book and she marched me down to the school library, pulled the book off the shelf, shoved it in my hands and demanded that I read to her. Which I did. She harrumphed and snatched the book away, then marched me back to class without another word. She never apologized and said nothing to the class (who sat in stunned silence) about the fact that I had read the book after all.

A better memory is from the fourth grade when we had a competition to see who could read the most books. I can't recall exactly how the teacher kept track...I have vague memories of getting something cut out from construction paper for each book read that we then "stacked" on the bulletin board and the person with the largest stack was ahead. Several of us went back and forth all year but in the end, I won!  I also remember that some of us read so many books we had to start taping our paper cutouts to the wall above the bulletin board.

I read EVERYTHING I could get my hands on! A trip to the library always resulted in me checking out so many books that I struggled to carry them all home. Both the school and public libraries were staffed by wonderful women who were generous in sharing recommendations.  I went at least once a week to the public library and usually several times a week to the one at school. And I have fond memories of visiting my aunt in southeastern Kentucky and having the Bookmobile come around -- a real novelty for this city girl! One of my older cousins was also an avid bookworm who spent most of his money on books so I could always count on a treasure trove of new ones to read each time I visited them. I found several favorite books there: That Jones Girl (found a discarded library copy years later) and Cluny Brown (which my cousin gave me but someone borrowed and never gave back).

When I found an author I liked, I'd read every single book by them that I could lay hands on. Then I'd move on. My method was to basically work through the stacks and rows of books, shelf by shelf, unless one of the librarians recommended a new book or author for me to try. I am not even going to begin listing some favorite authors or we'd be here all day! Some wrote series, others wrote single, stand-alone books. My criteria was simple: a good plot and interesting characters.

The public schools always had the Scholastic program and I saved my allowance to buy books. I could have cared less about candy and toys -- just give me books! There was something so SATISFYING about counting up my dimes and quarters (that was when most paperbacks were 35¢ to 50¢) and filling out the Scholastic order form...and then the day the books came in! Oh my! It was like Christmas every time :)

I don't remember any summer reading programs when I was growing up, but I did spend a lot of time reading in the summer, either early in the morning before the neighborhood kids got together to play, or at night after we were done. And, of course, whenever I got grounded for misbehaving, I'd make use of that time to read.

We didn't have to read a lot of classics in high school. Shocking, I know. But I don't think my English teachers were big on literature. Another not-so-fun memory is when my freshman English teacher got right in my face and told me, "You think you're so smart 'cause you talk proper." We had just moved back to Kentucky from Michigan and I think my Yankee accent and accurate use of grammar annoyed her. But from junior high in Michigan I remember having to decipher a short piece in Old English and also reading a bit of Chaucer in Middle English.

I actually read more classics while homeschooling my kids! Ivan's cousin teaches at Moody Bible Institute and she mentioned she had a list of books she wishes her students had read BEFORE they arrived at college. We used that as a guide and, while we certainly didn't get all the way through the list, our kids did get a decent start on the classics because of it. It was through that list that I discovered Chaim Potok, one of my all-time favorite authors. Have you read anything by him? YOU SHOULD!! I started with The Chosen but my favorite is Davita's Harp, and both his Asher Lev books are fantastic.

I can say with all honestly that my love for reading has never abated. I love reading today just as much as when my mom taught me how so many years ago. I cannot imagine life without books!

Which is why I caved and we bought a Kindle this year. While I much prefer the feel of a real book in my hands, the expense and time involved in having books sent from the U.S. made the Kindle an attractive alternative. BUT... you can bet I'll continue buying hard copies of favorites :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Project 365, Week 39

We are finally home after an EXHAUSTING work week in Sta. Rosa so I'm late posting Project 365.

Last Sunday we went to the orchid show in Cordoba. Ivan had several orchids when we lived in the U.S. and he has one here so far but it hasn't bloomed yet (he got the shoot from a friend). Anyway, we took a ton of photos. I'm going to show some restraint and only share three:
I liked the way this one was attached to an old tree limb; it looked so natural and pretty.
Here's just a sampling of the wide variety of orchids at the show.
I loved the frilly edges on this lovely yellow one!

After church Sunday night we headed to Sta. Rosa so we could get a start on the looooooong project list first thing Monday morning. Even doing that we did not get everything finished. *sigh*  The list included (but was not limited to):
~ paint the lower kitchen cupboards
~ tile an area in the kitchen (where we'd removed one cabinet and shortened another to make space for the fridge)
~ re-tile in the bathroom (where he'd had to bust out to fix a leaky pipe)
~ connect to the new city water line 

But before he could do anything, Ivan had to fix the water heater since a part had rusted out (it's an OLD one!). Connecting to the water line took two full days and we're still having problems so for now we're relying on the well system. It rained (and rained) so paint took longer to the end I finished painting but didn't have time to put things back together. AND the handles I'd gotten didn't fit...we're going to have to get adjustable ones because the existing hole distances vary from door to door to drawer -- we measured and have five (or is it six?) different sizes for 9 doors and 5 drawers! Ivan got the tiling done but still has to apply grout.

Just writing all that makes me tired.

Anyway, here's a few Before-and-After photos to show what progress we DID make:
The under-sink cabinet with the doors already off. In the corner you can also catch a glimpse of the area where we removed a cupboard and Ivan later tiled.
After the previous photo was taken, Ivan removed the drawer framework since it was rotten and falling apart due to a moisture problem (which has been fixed). He has to put together new ones to install next time we go out.
I covered the dining table in newspaper and set up a little assembly line to paint the cupboard doors.
Painting is done! Next time we'll install the doors (and drawers).
Ivan decided to install a new electrical outlet by the counter top so he cut a channel out of the masonary wall in order to slide the conduit into place. [The kitchen only had one outlet (on the right) and it will be covered by the fridge once we move it into this corner.]
After he tiled that area. He'll apply the grout next trip.
On the stove we used spray paint designed for high heat items. All the silver sections were rusty and pretty gross. Amazing how a little paint can transform an object!

Okay, that's it on the Sta. Rosa projects. Whew! It was way more work than we'd anticipated. Never got in a walk (well, the rain didn't help) and didn't play any cards or games. It was work, eat, work, sleep, work...

Twice we went into Belgrano to a cafe with wifi. As you can see in this last photo, the city is gearing up for the annual Octoberfest (it was settled by German immigrants).
I'm so far behind on blog reading it may take me a while to catch up, but I do look forward to seeing what everyone else has been up to this past week!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Going from grouchy to doing the happy dance

Herein lies the story of how this southern girl went from being SERIOUSLY GROUCHY -- as in no-one-wants-to-be-in-the-same-room-grouchy -- to doing the happy dance...

A couple weeks ago Tina and Kyle told us they really, REALLY didn't want to wait nine months to get married and were moving the wedding date up to December. I admit I saw that one coming, and understood completely.

BUT... that meant we would not be able to be there. I had never imagined in my wildest dreams a scenario where I'd miss my daughter's wedding but it was being played out right in front of me. Several mitigating factors, with the biggest one being the finances. We are scheduled to go on furlough next year and had been given permission to move it up a bit so we could be there for the original wedding date in May. But there was no way we could move furlough all the way back to December, nor could we could pay for two sets of tickets in a six month period.

To say I was sad about it would be a gross understatement. A few other things were going on as well, and combined they created "the perfect storm" for a major grouch session. Poor Ivan bore the brunt of my ugly.

Fast forward to this week. We've been in Sta. Rosa doing some home maintenance and repair work which I've talked about in previous posts. The 3G thingy that works off the cell phone never has worked really well out here in the boonies so we know we're lucky to have internet at all, and it's super slow when we do have it. Tuesday we were able to get on long enough to check e-mails, and one from Ivan's younger brother caused me to burst into tears. No, he's a great guy and he wasn't being mean AT ALL. Quite the opposite: he was offering us his frequent flier miles so we can go to the wedding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course then the computer locked up and the internet shut down.

We've made two trips into town to a cafe with free wifi to try and get seats booked. It's been a nail-biting, forehead-creasing, floor-pacing couple of days! In the end, it was right here at the house that Ivan finally connected with a "super" supervisor who was able to make it happen.

And then the internet shut down again.

But not until it was a DONE DEAL!

We ran into some problems because within the entire two month span of November and December, there was literally only one flight with seats (using the award miles) that we could use going, and one flight returning, and the return flight only had ONE seat available. Ivan called multiple times hoping to find someone with compassion who could magically open another seat, but it just wasn't happening until he asked if there wasn't someone higher up, a supervisor maybe, who could do more.

My husband is perseverance personified! Last night he took the computer outside and sat on the ground in the cold, damp night air in an attempt to get a decent connection. And this morning he made that one final effort, calling yet again, and this time asking for a supervisor -- which finally paid off!

To take advantage of the award miles we have to go a little earlier and stay a little later than planned (isn't that so sad? teehee) but we will be at our daughter's wedding with bells on.

And now you know why I'm doing the happy dance :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What can go wrong...

My poor husband has spent two days working on the hook-up to city water. Yesterday he worked in the rain. Today the sun is shining but things are not going any smoother. I've lost track of how many trips into town he has had to make, but its directly proportional to the number of problems he's run into...from the water pressure being so strong that it broke one of the underground pipes they installed yesterday, to causing the pipes inside to leak. Yikes! He tried re-routing the water to the tank on top the roof FIRST, and then feeding it into the piping system but that doesn't seem to be helping much.

High humidity and rain has slowed down the painting a little; it's taking so long to dry that I'm not able to apply two coats every day as I had hoped. Should be able to finish before we have to head home, though. Not so sure about the tiling. That depends on how much more aggravation the water hook-up causes.

I'm really happy with how the kitchen is looking, even though everything needs an additional coat (or three) of paint. Already it looks so much cleaner and fresher. I do adore a white kitchen!

Now let's see if the internet will work long enough for me to post this...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Digging in the Rain"

Instead of "Dancing in the Rain" Ivan's been "digging in the rain". Today he and a friend dug the trench to connect to the new city water line. [Yes, we're in Sta. Rosa] By the time it was getting dark he had almost everything hooked up but was missing a few parts, which he picked up on the way into town this evening.

Our favorite tea shop is closed this week but we found another cafe with free wifi. Not quite the views and it's pretty noisy, but the hot cocoa is the BEST I've had in years! They have ten different cocoa options. My kinda place :)

I've been painting and sewing. There is progress on the lower kitchen cupboards and three of the four curtain panels have been converted to the tab top style to use on the kitchen window. No action on the tile work yet, but we still have two days so I'm hopeful that will get done too. I'm anxious to see the "new" kitchen dressed all in white.

I have more to share but no time to do it. Catching up on e-mails and the bid'ness that goes along with this connected life we live doesn't leave enough time tonight to go into all that's been happening... and WILL be happening. Stay tuned for more news later in the week!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Project 365, Week 38

Missed taking photos three out of seven days this week :(  To make up for a lack of photos for Project 365, at the end I'll share some unusual things that have happened this weekend.

The rains are late coming again this year so the lake is getting lower and lower as you can see in this photo...
Wednesday we had a visitor!
Bethany is a friend of a friend; she is studying in Chile this semester, but came to Cordoba for a few days. We had fun showing her around our city and introducing her to our favorite ice cream place. We really enjoy getting to know these college kids who are either majoring or minoring in Spanish and doing a semester overseas. Love their adventurous spirit!

As we slowly move forward with buying the lot, we're thinking ahead to what needs to be done. Especially after the hole-in-the-wall fiasco, putting up a fence will be the number one priority. Happened to think that maybe we could buy used fencing that just needs to be cleaned up and painted, so we stopped at a compraventa (a place that buys and sells used furniture, building materials and so on). While Ivan talked to the owner I was wandering around and came across this uber cute old TURQUOISE agitator... only washes clothes and then you have to either wring them out by hand or use a centrifuga (another machine that spins the water out of the clothes). We have an old agitator but it's not nearly as cute because it's plain old white; it doesn't work any more and Ivan has plans to convert it into a vegetable planter.

My original idea didn't work out for the nightstand-turned-side-table -- instead of using the two Walmart baskets in the space left by the missing drawer, I found one big basket that fits in perfectly. The two baskets had leather handles that stuck up too far and got in the way of the drawer on top. I'm much happier with the one big basket :)
I just stuck the round basket on top while taking the photo; it didn't stay there. This is a pretty small table and it is normally covered with Ivan's STUFF. Papers and books are usually spread out all around his chair.

I found the large basket at a store in town called Wishful. It's a interesting/odd combination of housewares and toys. On one side you're likely to find all kinds of decorative items for the house as well as dishes, kitchen utensils and silk flowers. On the other side it's like a mini Toys R Us.

I'm still getting used to shopping here and how you can only find certain things at certain kinds of stores. In the U.S. you can find pretty much anything you need at big stores like Walmart, Target or Meijers. But here if I want band-aids, I HAVE to go to a pharmacy. If I need a garden hose I HAVE to go to a ferreteria (hardware store). Yes, we do have a Walmart in a town about half an hour away and I can get pretty much anything I need there. BUT we don't go to Cordoba that often so usually it's necessary to visit a variety of local stores to get everything on my shopping list.

Okay, on to the odd happenings...

We woke in the middle of the night to hear water dripping...the tank on top the roof was overflowing. Not much we could do in the dark so we eventually just went back to sleep. But first thing this morning Ivan hauled a ladder up to the roof to check things out. He was more than a little startled when he pulled the top off the tank and saw a head in the water! Someone with a warped sense of humor had used the head from a child-size mannequin as the float on the water tank fill valve. It was a boy buoy! LOL  Unfortunately he didn't have the camera with him. Wouldn't that have made a great photo for Project 365?!

This evening we got a text message from a friend asking for help. She had gone away for the weekend and left the dog in her bedroom, which she locked. No problem except she forgot to leave the key with her teenage kids! So she asked if Ivan could pick the lock and let the dog out. This is not something we covered in missionary orientation :)

As they say, the greatest ability for a missionary is FLEXability!

Winner of the Giveaway

I utilized a very high tech method for choosing a winner of the giveaway for my THIRD BLOGIVERSARY: all the comments were printed on paper, cut into strips and folded into little bundles and then tossed into a bowl at which point I mixed them well, closed my eyes and drew one.
And the winner is....
[drum roll please]
MARI from My Little Corner of the World!

Congratulations Mari! Once I have your address, the gloves and a few other little items will be winging their way to you.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Flashback Friday - Sweet Dreams

A quick post today, participating in Flashback Friday:
What was bedtime like when you were growing up? Were your parents strict in enforcing bedtimes? Were you a difficult one to get to bed? Did your parents share stories about getting you to sleep when you were a baby? When did your parents turn bedtime over to you? Were there any special rituals/routines a parent did - books, singing a special song, etc.? Nightlights, music, special doll/blanket or other things? Did you have your own bed or did you share with a sibling? Did you have nighttime fears and bad dreams? How did you handle them? Did you ever walk or talk in your sleep? Feel free to also share any routines you have done with your kids.
I honestly don't remember bedtimes much. My mom usually worked the 2-10 p.m. shift at the restaurant where she was a waitress and short order cook so I guess the baby sitter put us to bed. I just can't remember. In high school I went to bed when I wanted. My mom was a night owl and didn't care if we went to bed at 9 p.m. or midnight... unless we didn't get enough sleep and were grouchy and then she'd make us go to bed earlier the next night  :)

I shared a room and a bed with my sister until I was about 12 years old and we moved into a house with three bedrooms so I finally had my own room. But half the time I'd still go crawl in with my sister 'cause after so many years of sharing, it felt weird to be all alone. Besides, my sister gave the BEST back rubs!

I don't really remember any specific nightmares although I know I did have lots of them. I finally realized I needed to be careful what I watched or read. That helped eliminate some of the nightmares.

With my own kids they had a fairly early bedtime when they were young. I remember my daughter putting on her Christmas wish list one year: "bedtime at 8:30 p.m." because she (much like our host Linda) didn't want to miss out on anything that happened after she went to bed :)  As they got older we relaxed the required bedtime but, as my mom had done, if they showed signs of not getting sufficient sleep, the hammer came down and they were sent to bed plenty early the next night!

When our son was little and first moved from the crib to a big boy's bed, we had a terrible time keeping him IN the bed. I'm sure every mom has dealt with that at one time or another. Being our firstborn, we had no clue what to do. A friend recommended a routine so that's what we did; it included bath time, getting in jammies, reading a book, praying and maybe a song (if it was his dad putting him to bed). It still took a while, but he eventually settled into the routine and stayed in bed.

[Side note: I usually didn't sing to the kids because that would have been considered cruel and unusual punishment.]

Our kids shared a room until they were 3 and 7 years old, at which point we finally had a place with three bedrooms and they could have their own space. Our son kept the bunk bed and our daughter got our old double bed (we had upgraded to a new king-size). In later years the two fought over the double bed, with it going back and forth between their rooms. By the time that thing got "retired" it was not very comfortable, the mattress being old and in pretty bad shape. What they'd each liked about it was the size, and being able to sprawl on it. Just can't do that on a twin!

Speaking of beds, after having a king-size for many years, it was hard to adjust to a queen. It's been almost three years now and I still miss that king. But even if we had one, at this point we wouldn't have room to set it up -- these bedrooms are SMALL. I do like that our current queen-size mattress is one of those with air "bladders" that allows you to determine how soft or firm you want each side, and that's a nice feature. If it weren't for middle-age insomnia issues, it would make for some sweet dreams!
P.S. I'm hosting a little give-away this week to celebrate my third blogiversary. Feel free to go HERE and leave a comment to be entered.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oops! Totally missed my third anniversary

It just hit me a minute ago that "Hey, it's September!" (can I claim to still be adjusting to the opposite season thing?) and I TOTALLY missed my third blogging anniversary, which happened to be last Friday.

I'd planned to celebrate by giving away something I picked up at the big artisan fair in Cordoba in April: a hand-knit pair of gloves made in Bolivia. There's a group of Bolivian women who have a booth at the big feria every year. You can usually find one or more of them sitting behind their display table, chatting while their knitting needles FLY. I've never seen such fast knitters in my life!

Anyway, since I'd originally planned on starting the giveaway on Monday and leaving it open all week I'll stick to the plan -- only a week later. So leave a comment on this post any time this week up until midnight Friday, September 17th (eastern standard time) and I'll pick a winner on Saturday.

Yes, you can return and comment once a day all week for more chances to win!

I have a pair of these gloves myself and luuuuurve them! They're soft, warm and lovely.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Project 365, Week 37

I missed participating in Project 365 last week because -- shame on me! -- I didn't take any photos all week until Saturday. Did a little better this week.

Taken last Saturday at youth group...
It was as nerve-wracking to watch as play I think!

Sunday I noticed the peach tree is loaded with blossoms!
As I mentioned, we've had our co-workers' daughters all week so there's been a little crafting going on. Here's one project...
This photo isn't actually from Monday though. We STARTED making them on Monday but didn't finish until the end of the week because GLUE ON FELT TAKES FOREVER TO DRY. Can you guess which one I made? It has to do with my current color obsession (well, one of them anyway).

This was another on-going project this week: refurbing an old, sadly neglected nightstand that's missing the bottom drawer.
Next week I'll have a photo of it all finished (still lacking one coat of paint) and in my living room where it will reside between the Poang chairs. In place of the bottom drawer I found two baskets at Walmart that will tuck into the space just perfectly. I hope. Also started working on this small table Wednesday that will serve as either a coffee table or a bedside table; not sure which yet.
I taped off the formica top and metal "feet" while spray painting the legs and that's as far as I got with it this week. The formica will see some paint action of its own this coming week though.

The girls took the camera with them when they walked to the ice cream store Thursday. I like this interesting shot they took through some iron work with the lake in the distance.
Another crafty project with the girls was making coasters with modge-podged photos of flowers on 3"x3" ceramic tiles:
Shhhhhh! The girls are giving this as a gift on Día de Las Madres in October.

Ivan didn't have time to finish translating this testimony he wanted to share with the kids before youth group Saturday so he was still working on it in front of Centro Esperanza as we waited for them to arrive.
So that's my week. A little more cooking and crafting than usual, but otherwise a pretty normal week for us...aside from the whole hole in the wall thing. I'm still a little freaked out over that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A great big ole' hole in the wall

Not sure whether to laugh or cry. I think I had gained a false sense of security living where we do for the past two years where we've had no trouble at all, or even heard of any trouble in the area. It's a quiet neighborhood and we like it that way. *sigh*

Maybe that's why Ivan's news was such a shock to my system. He came home yesterday after doing some errands and visitation, and told me he'd gone by the lot to see how progress was coming on the new costanera and discovered a great big ole' hole in the wall of the casita!

He called the owner who came over and discovered thieves had taken the ONLY things inside: a toilet and sink in the bathroom. Further investigation revealed they'd also removed over 40 meters of electrical wiring that went from the pole by the street to the house.

The owner will have someone patch the hole but this has made me more than a little nervous. Ivan says it happened because the casita is vacant and there's no fence around the property, leaving it wide open. But I have to wonder: will we continue to have problems once the property is ours and we do put a fence up? Seems like someone who thinks nothing of busting through a block wall would have no qualms about a mere fence. And we won't be living there for a long time, so vacancy will continue to be an issue.

Breathe in. Breathe Out. Trying not to completely freak out.

We've been thinking of trying to build the garage (to store all our stuff) and get the casita move-in ready by next March so we could move out of the house we're currently renting before going on furlough. That would save us a chunk of change. The idea was to move into the casita when we got back, while building the house. But this experience makes me doubt the wisdom of that plan... we could come back to find everything just GONE. Which would cost an even bigger chunk of change to replace. So maybe it would be cheaper in the long run to stay where we are, and not do anything about the property until we get back.

It's really hard to know what to do!

And the whole thing may be a moot point since buying this property is taking WAAAAAAY longer than anticipated and I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever actually happen. The latest wrinkle is that the bank here wants copies of our tax returns from way back to prove we had jobs in the U.S. that allowed us to contribute to our retirement funds from which we're drawing the money to purchase the lot. Apparently they want to be sure we didn't come by the money nefariously before they allow us to bring it into the country. We'd already given them proof that the money has been in our accounts for several years but that isn't sufficient. Jon, I hope you don't mind but I think the next thing they'll be asking for is our firstborn. Is that okay?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Half the week is gone...

Can it be Wednesday already?! This week is flying by...probably because we're a little busier than usual. We have our co-workers' two youngest with us for the week. They're both in secondary and have to be up and out the door by 7 a.m. They're back by 1:30 p.m., tired and hungry. So my week has been pretty occupied with cooking, laundry, crafting a little with the girls, painting furniture and assorted meetings.

Monday we met with the realtor and seller to go over debts owed on the property. On the advice of several in-the-know people, we're going to pay our offer-minus-debt total and take care of those ourselves. That way we KNOW they're done. Ivan also spent Tuesday morning with the seller, visiting the municipality and other places to confirm those debt figures (taxes, utilities, etc.).

Tuesday evening I spent about three hours sitting in waiting rooms. First up was yet another visit to the eye doctor because my "new" glasses continued to give me headaches after three weeks and I quit wearing them. Obviously something isn't right. I'm more than a little frustrated with this whole YEAR-LONG PROCESS that still hasn't provided a functional pair of glasses. I'm ready to give up and wait until we go to the U.S. next year and go back to my beloved Dr. Brichta in Hillsdale, Michigan. But Ivan feels we should pursue every avenue first. The guy here is going to check the glasses to see if the lab got the prescription wrong. The girl at the store already did that so I'm not hopeful he's going to find anything different.

The other visit was with a dermatologist who diagnosed the sore spot on my foot as a wart, not a psoriasis outbreak. Who gets warts on the bottom of their foot?! I do, apparently. Hopefully the topical stuff he prescribed will get rid of it quickly.

The craft that the girls and I are working on this week is taking longer than expected. It's this felt flower brooch I found on
Pretty, no? But let me tell you, glue on felt takes FOREVER to dry so we're having to do the project in phases and it's taking all week to finish. But not only because of the glue-taking-forever-to-dry issue; the girls are also in the midst of trimester exams so they're spending a lot of time studying every day too.

Had fun trying to buy the felt since I didn't know the right word. The online dictionary at says it's fieltro but here that refers to the heavy stuff used in automotive applications. Ivan thought it might be felpa but the lady at the store looked utterly confused when I asked for that. I tried my best to describe it and eventually she figured out what I wanted. Here it's called paño lensi.

It's been downright hot here this week, perfect for drying clothes quickly on the line (which allowed me to get FIVE loads done on Monday!) and painting furniture on the back patio. I'm working on one of the nightstands we bought at a used furniture store and a small table we brought from the house in Sta. Rosa. And finally finished the floor lamp which I'd started two weeks ago before running out of black spray paint. Ivan's going to re-wire it so it works, and we have to either find or make a shade. Sure do miss cheap shades! So far the cheapest I've found was still the equivalent of almost $25 U.S. -- and the only one in stock was busted. Ugh. Do NOT want to pay so much for a plain shade.

Tried a new recipe for breakfast sausage today and LOVE it! Super simple, I had all the ingredients, and it tasted more like what we were used to in the U.S. [Or could it be that it's just been so long we've forgotten what it tastes like? That's a distinct possibility.] Because one of the girls adores anything with apples, I made an apple puff pancake and sausage for lunch.

I made a menu at the beginning of the week and so far have stuck to it. It makes life a lot simpler when I'm more organized with meal planning, especially when we have company. The only issue has been several items are oven-baked and with the heat, I haven't really wanted to turn the oven on. Doing the big meal midday helps though, because it's still cool in the morning when I cook. We've been having various sandwiches at night...egg salad, grilled ham and cheese, BLTs and vegetarian subs. Tonight we'll vary that a bit with a chef salad and garlic bread.

I've been trying to find a better pizza crust recipe. So far the journey is mimicking my experience with No-Bake cookies: epic fail after epic fail. But I will persevere until I find a great one! Anyone have a crust recipe that's exceptional? Do share!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Flashback Friday - The Movie Edition

Flashback Friday has a movie theme this week:
What movies were popular when you were growing up? Did you go to the movies very frequently? Do you remember what was the first movie you ever saw? What is your favorite genre of movies? What were your favorites then, and have they withstood the test of time? Do you have any particular memories associated with movies? Was buying snacks a regular part of the movie experience? What was your favorite movie snack? Have you ever been in a movie or seen one being filmed?
I was a HUGE movie fan as a child. That was back in the day when drive-ins were pretty common. We'd pull into our spot, get all settled with the big speaker hanging over the driver's open window, and break out the snacks, usually brought from home. It was a real treat to get to buy something at the concession stand!

I don't honestly remember going to an indoor theater until I was in my teens, and most of the movies I watched right in the comfort of my own home. There was the weekly offering by Disney, the Monday night movie-of-the-week, and weekend movie marathons of oldies-but-goodies. A kaleidoscope of images race through my head...Shirley Temple, Annette Funicello, Sandra Dee, Elvis, Rock Hudson, Doris Day...

I can't remember the first movie I ever saw. I loved, absolutely loved, all the Disney movies. Absent Minded Professor, Parent Trap, The Shaggy Dog, all the Herbie movies, That Darn Cat, Swiss Family Robinson...and I could never get enough of Shirley Temple, whether she was tap dancing on the stairs in a cute little sailor outfit or trailing down the street in beggar clothes. Who could resist that curly headed cutie?!

Once I was older I enjoyed movies like West Side Story, American Graffiti, any Audrey Hepburn or Barbra Streishand movie, The Odd Couple, Mame, Sound of Music, To Sir With Love, Paper Moon...

There are simply TOOOOOOOOO MANY great movies to include in a single post! I enjoy watching movies over and over and when we lived in the U.S. I would periodically binge on a string of oldies from the video rental store (it helped that those were only $1/per movie -- pretty cheap entertainment).

I often associate movies with where I first saw them...Shirley Temple brings to mind our living room where my sister and I would be sprawled on the floor, chins cupped in our hands, only a couple feet from the television...Doris Day at the drive-in and being squished into the back seat with cousins...The Exorcist (NOT a movie I'd ever want to see again!) in a musty smelling theater in Kentucky...The Muppets Take Manhattan in another old --but better smelling -- indoor cinema in northern Indiana...Pleasantville lighting up the darkness in Uganda because we turned the lights off to conserve energy so we'd have enough to power the television through the entire movie...Julie & Julia on my tiny Macbook screen while my daughter and I kicked back on the couch right here in Argentina...

While I like an occasional movie based on historical events, I prefer watching for pure entertainment the type of movies with "fluff factor". Funny is always good, a little mystery and some action scenes are appreciated, but most of all, believable characters. A movie is a flop, no matter the script or scenery, if the actors can't act.

...which is a bone I have to pick with most "christian" films. What do the directors do, go looking for the most wooden, inarticulate actors available? Because that's how it often seems. It's beyond painful to watch some of the offerings. That's not always the case, but it is more than not. I could really get on a soapbox here but will refrain. I don't want to become known as the blogger who's "always ranting".

Have never seen a movie being filmed or been in one either. Suits me fine. Get me behind a camera, whether stationary or video, and I freeze. Generally into a hideous grimace that makes it clear how painful I find the position. No, I'd much rather be in front of the big screen enjoying a bowl of popcorn and providing a running commentary on whatever we're watching.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Going Green

Yesterday's Random Dozen included a question about being green/organic. Which prompted me to take this quiz on this morning. Boy, were the results embarrassing! Three out of six. Definitely need to get my green on!
I also read how Albertson's grocery chain has opened four state-of-the-art stores in San Diego, significantly reducing their carbon footprint by:
~ incorporating a 400-kilowatt fuel cell that produces 90 percent of the power used by the store, virtually taking the store off the power grid
~ using highly-efficient LED lighting throughout, reducing energy consumption by at least 50 percent
~ installing over 32 skylights -- with photo sensors that measure how much sunlight comes into the store and automatically adjusts the lights
~ using night curtains to keep the cold air inside the refrigerated displays, reducing compressor usage
~ installing water-saving fixtures in the restrooms

I don't know about you, but I'm impressed! I also want one of those fuel cells :)

We became a little more aware of energy consumption while in Uganda for a year...where we lived in a home without electricity. Instead we bought, begged and borrowed a total of four small solar panels that we used in conjunction with four truck batteries. It wasn't the most efficient system but it provided enough power to have light for a couple hours a night and listen to the radio as well. Since Uganda is on the equator, the sun rose and set at the same time every day so by 7 p.m. it was DARK and we were thankful for the low wattage light; not really good enough to read by, but sufficient for our needs. We rarely ran out of 'juice' except when, on those VERY RARE occasions, we had several overcast days in a row.

During that time we also depended on two sources for water: the cistern for washing clothes (by hand), flushing the toilet and cleaning the house. For drinking water we used water drawn from the bore-hole well that supplied our community (Kasana Children's Center) and nearby village. Water was precious and not to be wasted!

For showering we could have used water straight from the cistern but that was pretty cold. A team from the U.S. who arrived about the same time but was only there for three weeks, left three solar shower bags for us to use, which were GREATLY appreciated! The bags held something like 3 gallons of water; not a lot, but enough to take a "jungle" shower: get wet, stop the water and lather up, then turn it on long enough to rinse off. At the beginning I marveled that we could actually manage to shower and wash our hair with so little water but half way through the year two of us were able to shower with the contents of one bag! Amazing how you can adjust. However, those solar shower bags are not really intended for daily use and by the end we were limping along with only one bag intact. Thankfully it held out until we left!

Almost nothing was thrown away. Food scraps went to animals. Paper products were used to light fires. Metal and glass containers were recycled. When you have almost nothing, you don't waste what you do have. I would throw something away without even thinking about it only to see one of the house workers digging it back out.

That year definitely made us re-think energy usage, especially power and water. A study by researchers determined Americans are pretty clueless when it comes to how much energy different appliances and electronics use. Despite our experience in Uganda, I sure proved the statistic when I took the quiz. How about you -- why don't you take the quiz and see how you fare?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Random Dozen

It's that time of week again. Ready to learn more than you ever wanted to know about me? Or maybe I should say, about the way my mind works. It's a scary thing folks!

1. What insect are you most afraid of? Feel free to post a picture.
While I don't like insects of any kind, I am most afraid of SPIDERS. Because I don't want to traumatize visitors, this is photo-free response. 

2. What is the greenest/most organic thing about you or that you do?
I'd like to say I always remember to use the fabric shopping bags I made...
homemade shopping bag
...but that would be a lie. Too often I forget to put them back in the car right away so they're not there the next time we need bags. 
Probably the greenest thing I do right now is use cloth napkins -- rather than continually going through reams and reams of paper napkins.
The greenest thing my husband does is compost.
There is no recycling system here.
As we think about the house we hope to build, we want to include a cistern to collect rain water which can be used for the toilets, washing machine, and watering the yard. We also want to install solar panels on the roof.

3. Tell me about a recurring dream that haunts you.
Missing a plane (which is sorta weird considering the following question).

4. Have you ever missed a flight? What were the circumstances?
No, but that doesn't stop me from having recurring dreams/nightmares about it!
Although there was the time we bought round-trip tickets with an overseas airline when we moved to Uganda for a year to fill in for missionaries on furlough. 9/11 happened while we were there and shortly thereafter that airline went belly up, leaving us with round trip tickets to nowhere. In the end, however, the airline that replaced it honored our return tickets as far as Brussels and we only had to pay for tickets from Europe to the U.S. (and you can always find cheap flights back and forth between those two places). So not exactly a missed flight, more like a missed airline.

5. What do you consider your best feature?
It used to be my smooth, fresh complexion but middle age has brought splotches and a perpetual flush. My ear lobes are still in pretty good shape even if the rest of me sags or bulges.

6. What was the last concert you went to?
A string quartet that played at the municipality last year.

7. Describe the most embarrassing church moment you ever experienced.
The first time we visited a church after moving to Florida, our son (he'd just turned 3) looked at a woman (who would later become a good friend) and said, "Boy, are you fat!" If there'd been anything to crawl into or under, I would have done it! Thankfully she was gracious about it. Yes, we talked to our son after the fact and explained why that kind of comment was inappropriate. But that's a case of shutting the barn door after the cows were already out.

8. Are you a whistler, hummer or singer?
More of a hummer.

9. George Washington Carver said, "I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in." What is God saying to you through nature today, or this very minute?
I am honestly too tired to think through this question and come up with a coherent answer. Every attempt I've made in the last ten minutes to formulate a reply sounded ridiculous.

10. On September, 1, 1752, the Liberty Bell arrived in Philadelphia. What memorable event will take place in your life on September 1, 2010?
I'll eat the last brownie in the pan.

11. Taco Bell or the Liberty Bell? (You must choose.)
Liberty Bell. Taco Bell gives me a tummy ache Every.Single.Time.

12. Do you believe men and women can have purely platonic friendships? 
Yes. It's unusual but possible.

If you just can't get enough of the randomness, make sure to stop by Lid's place for additional aimless answers from all over the blogosphere.