Sunday, October 31, 2010

Project 365, Week 44

I have an overabundance of photos to share this week. I could give a lot of excuses but the bottom line is I'm feeling too tired/lazy/lethargic this morning to narrow it down to just seven. After a cup of coffee I still need toothpicks to prop open my tired eyeballs. Methinks it's one of those days that will require mainlining the caffeine and hopping in the shower to jump start this old heap of bones.

Last weekend while visiting folks, at one of our stops the older woman of the house blessed us with five trees: fig, algarrobo (hard wood), red oak, ombú and Japanese gingko (which is supposed to help with memory so should I start chewing on the leaves?). For now we're keeping them in the pots until we buy the lot and can plant them permanently.

I received a packet from my sister! They're always fun because she includes yummies like Ranch dressing mix; this time there were a couple of dry pasta sauce mixes as well. And photos... they just bought a house so there were before and after photos (LOVE those!) and some pictures of my nieces that I didn't find right away because I was so enamored of THIS:
Isn't it gorgeous?! Love the colors and the bold print design. It is the perfect size for all my stuff (much, MUCH better than my old minuscule leather wallet that couldn't hold even half what I typically need/use). I always enjoy seeing how the girls have grown. In one of the photos my youngest niece looks just like her mother at that age -- I think it's that missing-a-front-tooth-grin :)  THANK YOU for the packet Beth!

One of the branches on our peach tree broke this week :(
 We think it has been attacked by some kind of bug that's burrowing inside, but we honestly don't know. The branch had plenty of tiny fruit on it, but not enough that should cause it to break. 

Took a drive out to the lot to see how work on the new costanera is coming along. They've installed these huge drainage pipes because the area slopes considerably so now runoff from the surrounding streets will flow into the river below and not just sit on the nice new road.
That fence you see in the background is the corner lot and ours is just beyond. We're seeing some progress on the paperwork but, as with anything, it is just moving slowly. We found out that the office that registers deeds was taken over by another government agency after a number in the office were indicted on charges of fraud. So a system that's already S-L-O-W by nature just got a whole lot slower.

Our immediate plan for the lot is to fence it, put a new roof on the casita, and build a 2-story garage (so we have plenty of storage space). That's all we'll have time for next year before we go on furlough (IF we even have time for that). Then we planned to move into the casita after furlough and live in it while building a house. BUT the casita is teeny, tiny, itsy bitsy and I wasn't looking forward to living there indefinitely... it could take a couple years to put up a house, doing it as we have time and money. Anyway, one of Ivan's friends suggested we consider putting an apartment over the garage so we'd instantly have a place to live while building the house. I liked that idea LOTS better than living in the casita! If we make the garage footprint just a little wider (from 4 meters to 5 meters wide) and keep the depth of the building at 10 meters as planned, we could certainly fit a small one-bedroom apartment upstairs. I played around with some graph paper and measured furniture, countertops and appliances, and even the toilet and bidet to make sure we could fit everything in that we'd need.  Here's a rough draft of my ideas (please ignore the general wonkiness -- drawing is definitely not my forté):

I had to share this close-up of the pretty flowers in front of our house. They didn't show up in the photo I shared last week because they're very low to the ground and were hidden by the fence.
And our garden is going nuts. We're already eating lettuce from it!
My dill is looking mighty fine, too. Hope it doesn't go to seed before we get back and I have time to make pickles!!!
Ivan bought tomato plants this weekend and planted them in the old agitator we hauled back from Sta. Rosa. It didn't work so we re-purposed it into a planter.
It's on wheels so Ivan an roll it around the yard to wherever there's sun. We're thinking that's why our tomatoes haven't done so well in the past. We shall see if this works better.

Friday night we had plans to go to a concert in a nearby town with my Spanish teacher. But after driving over, we discovered they had canceled the concert in deference to the recent passing of a former Argentine president (who was the husband of our current president). Before heading home we walked around a bit and took photos. My camera doesn't do very well at night but I did think this was a pretty cool shot of the old Jesuit church.

While we're gone our co-workers are moving in and their two oldest will be coming home the end of November for the holidays so yesterday I cleaned up the study, and slid my sewing table under the bigger desk so they'll have plenty of room to set up a twin-size bed in here.
I haven't had any time to sew in a while and the room had become a dumping ground for all manner of stuff. It took the better part of a day to excavate clean it up.

There you have my week. How was yours?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Project 365, Weeks 42 & 43

I've been working on a secret project this week that has taken pretty much all of my spare time. From the few blogs I have been able to read, sounds like fall is in full swing and many of you are decorating with pumpkins, enjoying football games and making soup. Meanwhile I'm enjoying another glorious October, the month when rose bushes here go BERSERK! While out visiting folks today we saw roses absolutely everywhere in every color you can imagine.

I have two weeks worth of Project 365 to catch up on so let's get started...

I mentioned we have a friend from the U.S. who is attending a bilingual program in Buenos Aires and he visited us a couple weekends ago. That Sunday afternoon we enjoyed an impromptu concert when our co-workers' daughters and Ben began playing through some choruses.
We continued the music into our evening service with what we used to call a Singspiration. So much fun!

Here's the view of one side of our house that has pink, yellow and red rose bushes...

A friend's dog had puppies a few weeks ago. Aren't they adorable!?

Ivan took this shot of pigeons on the wall by our house. They remind me of two women catching up on all the latest gossip :)
Ivan had to get up on the roof again last week and while he was up there he took some photos of the neighborhood.

Last Sunday Ivan took the Bible Institute students up the Via Cruz.
Before they left Monday they wanted our photo. Maybe planning to make a Most Wanted poster?

I spent several days this week catching up on paperwork, one of my favorite pastimes. NOT! But at least we enjoyed gorgeous weather so I could work out on the patio.

Wednesday was the last English class for the year. We're a little busy getting ready to head north for our daughter's wedding and the kids are gearing up for lots of exams the last month of school (the school year goes from March to November). In this photo they are jumping with joy as they pretend to "graduate", with Fernando even throwing his ball cap into the air.

It's not only our roses that are blooming; the whole yard is a burst of color. Here's a photo of the area around our front door.
Because we have so many roses, I don't feel a bit guilty picking some every few days to enjoy inside.
We've also shared them with our new neighbors, along with a plate of home-baked goodies. They just moved here from Buenos Aires and told Ivan they'd never been welcomed to a new neighborhood before. Guess that's not part of their culture, but it IS part of ours!

Wish I could also give each of you a jar of pretty roses!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A recap of the weekend

A group of students from a Bible Institute in Buenos Aires arrived Friday for a long weekend. Prior to their arrival we worked like crazy getting ready, during the weekend we worked like crazy doing a whole bunch of different stuff, and after they left Monday afternoon we worked like crazy putting the house back together.
The End.

Okay, not really. I have more -- MUCH MORE -- to share.

Preparing for a group this size (15) takes time. While the men worked on a schedule of events, the ladies put together a menu, did the shopping and some baking beforehand. We also figured out the logistics of who would stay where (ten guys at Centro Esperanza and eleven gals here at our house). We cleaned, then moved furniture (or removed it) to accommodate the hordes everyone. I'm not sure how the boys worked it out, but here we moved in extra double and twin size mattresses so we could have two girls in each bedroom, two in the living room and two in the dining room (and I slept on the couch). During the day the mattresses from the living and dining rooms had to be moved into the garage so we could set up three six-foot folding tables plus 20-some chairs for meals; then at night the tables would come down and the mattresses hauled back in.

I was a little worried about having only one bathroom for 11 girls, so you can imagine my dismay when Saturday morning we had serious -- and I do mean SERIOUS -- plumbing issues. We've never had any trouble and didn't even own a plunger. First thing Ivan did was go buy one but soon realized the scope of the problem was far beyond what a plunger could handle.

Thankfully he found a septic cleaning company who could come out that afternoon. So we were only without a bath for half a day. Whew! Disaster averted.

Unfortunately the septic tank cleaners arrived just as the guys, who had finally finished the soccer tournament, were sitting down to a very late lunch. Can you imagine eating while the giant sucking machine was in the next room and the stench was...shall I say, STRONG?! I'm pretty sure if it had been the girls, not much food would have been consumed :)  But it didn't seem to bother the guys much as they polished off the remainder of the potato salad, two loaves of bread and the last four grilled chickens.

With any event you have glitches. For some reason ours usually tends to be septic in nature. I'm not sure what that says about us.

It was also rainy and cold Saturday during the tournament so not as many boys showed up, and one team had two 19-year-olds which caused some dissension in the ranks of other teams (it was supposed to be for 12-18 year olds)... but other than that, I think things went fairly smoothly.

The rain cleared up Saturday evening so we had beautiful weather the rest of the weekend. Sunday was more relaxed since it was Mother's Day here so not really a good day to plan any activities. The students went for walks in the afternoon along the costanera, played some soccer, and enjoyed a break from their pretty rigorous schedule at Bible Institute. One of the girl's mom and sister who live several hours away (but in this Province) came to visit. Our co-worker surprised his wife by making reservations at her favorite restaurant for lunch and since their two oldest were on this team from the Bible Institute, the whole family got to spend the day together. Then we all came together in the evening for church with lots of singing and testimonies in addition to the teaching.

For me Sunday was the busiest day and I spent 80% of it in the kitchen. Here's a list of what was consumed that day:
~ 5 pounds of pasta
~ a big pot of sauce
~ my two biggest bowls of salad
~ lots and lots of bread
~ brownies
~ oatmeal cranberry chocolate chip cookie bars
~ five pounds of tangerines
~ 2 bags of cookies
~ 2 packages of crackers
~ half container of dulce de leche
~ whole container of spreadable cheese
~ two pounds of tangerines
~ 40 sandwiches
~ 4 gallons of chicken tortilla soup topped with:
     ~ two pounds shredded cheese
     ~ three containers of sour cream
     ~ lost track of the amount of crackers

They were GREATLY appreciative of all the home cooked food! That was a recurring theme in the thank you speeches after Monday's lunch of tacos and No Bake cookies, which we enjoyed on the patio since it was not only warm but downright HOT yesterday.

When the gang rolled out of here at 3 p.m. my honey rolled up his sleeves and went to work on the lunch dishes while I cleaned the bathroom and put the other rooms back to rights. One of the sweet girls on the team had swept and mopped the living and dining rooms while we were fixing lunch so all I had to do was bring the furniture back in. A few loads of laundry later and I collapsed onto the couch, never to rise again...

Or at least until hunger forced me into the kitchen where I made grilled cheese sandwiches for supper. After all the cooking I wasn't really in the mood to spend much time in there, and thankfully Ivan doesn't care what I feed him, as long as I feed him :)

It's always fun to have groups like this come; they're so full of energy and enthusiasm! Plus, what an encouragement to see God raising up the next generation of servant leaders! We were impressed with each young person and their desire to serve God wherever He leads.

They were a very entertaining bunch too. Saturday night we stayed up late talking and laughing together as the conversation veered to dating, specifically the challenge of dating (or not dating) at Bible school. To be honest, by the very end my brain had shut down (it still does that with Spanish around 11 p.m.) so I missed some of it. But that's okay because I caught enough to know that they face the same things young people face anywhere.

One girl on the team is from the U.S. and it turned out her home in Pennsylvania is just across from a missionary house that our co-workers will live in while they're on furlough (when -- IF? -- their VISAs ever get approved). How freaky is that?!

She misses some things from home, including yard work, so she blessed us by spending several hours weeding and cleaning out the front flower beds. (She's the one who swept and mopped too.)

All in all, it was a really great weekend. It just might take me a few days to recover... sure could use some of their energy!

So today we're back to "normal" -- in terms of activities. I just finished the expense report for last month. [It's always my goal to get it done by the 10th but I never seem to make it.] Also finished catching up on laundry -- with extra bed linens and such, it took yesterday and today. It's warm enough that by the time one load is washed, the previous load on the line is already dry. I have Spanish in just over an hour, followed by a haircut at 7 p.m. and I'm hoping for an early bedtime again tonight. What I probably won't have time to do is catch up on blog reading. I started last evening and gave up after reading the same post three times and still not understanding it. Yes, I was THAT tired.

I'm not including photos with this post because (1) you'll get them on Sunday with Project 365, and (2) it would take too long to upload since I'm trying to get this post written and posted within a half hour. I need to go finish folding laundry and putting it away before Spanish. So now I really will say...

The End.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Still alive but barely conscious at this point

I had really good intentions to post today but it's just after 9 p.m. and I feel sorta like this...

(photo by Jeremy Kendall via Flickr) instead I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of our very busy but fun long weekend with the group of students from a Bible institute in Buenos Aires.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Project 365, Weeks 40 & 41

We were in Sta. Rosa last Sunday with sketchy internet and I didn't even try to post my photos for Project 365 so this week I'm doing a 2-for-1.

What would you say if I told you I sent my husband to the Disco for a Bimbo?
And that I had photographic proof that he was successful?!
I can just hear you groaning. I know, I know, we have a very juvenile sense of humor at times :)

Ever since friends brought us dill seed (three different varieties!) in May, I've been anxious to get them planted but had to wait until winter was over. We finally put the garden in a couple weeks ago and here's my lovely baby dill already growing in neat little rows:
I can already taste the yummy dill pickles I'll be making in a few months! [Which we can't get here.]

Our roses are going great guns. Here's one of the first I saw blooming:
And here's a vase of roses from our yard that co-workers picked and arranged to welcome us back from Sta. Rosa. Lovely!
We went to Sta. Rosa last weekend to finish up all that we'd started the previous visit. But this trip we made time to take a few walks... on one stroll through the neighborhood we saw horses grazing...
...and another day I snapped this photo of the way the sun made the water sparkle like diamonds...
I had intended to work on a baby quilt while Ivan worked on the kitchen and got so far as to figure out the arrangement of the blocks...
...but slicing off the tip of my thumb with the rotary cutter put those plans on hold. It's going to be a rather different baby quilt based on what the parents want -- and not my style at all, but it's starting to grow on me.

Ivan put in a lot of hours to get all the cabinet doors back on, build a new framework for the drawers and fix the actual drawers so they slide in and out easier, install new handles and grout all the tile. Doesn't it look nice now?!
I do adore a white kitchen.
The darker countertop really makes the white pop, don't you think?
This is what it looked like BEFORE:
And one final shot of the corner where we removed the lower cabinet ruined by water damage, shortened the upper cabinet, tiled the walls, and slid the fridge in:
It feels SOOOOOO good to have that done! But now I'm itching to paint the walls! :)  I have the color already picked out, but that project will have to wait until next year.

A friend from our home church is doing the bilingual program at Palabra de Vida Bible Institute in Buenos Aires this year and he came to visit us for a few days. He and Ivan climbed up to the cross on Friday (you can find Via Crucis in almost every community) and took lots of pictures along the way.
We also took him on a drive up the Punilla Valley, stopping at a monument that is supposed to be in the very center of the country. Not sure if it's all that accurate but it's a lovely monument with flags flying for each province.
I will probably have to do a 2-for-1 again in two weeks. We have a big group of Bible Institute students coming next weekend and I know, from past experience, that we're going to be B.U.S.Y! But they should also provide some great photo opportunities :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thankful Thursday

This isn't actually linked to the Thankful Thursday meme but I just wanted to share some things I'm especially thankful for today.

(1) We finally finished the work we'd started on the kitchen in Sta. Rosa! We just spent a few days out there and GOT 'ER DONE!

Well, I should say, Ivan got 'er done because first thing I did Monday morning was slice off the tip of my thumb. OUCH.
(2) Rotary cutters slice cleanly at least :)

It meant I wasn't much help work-wise. I kept the meals coming and served as a one-woman cheering section, but actual labor on my part was severely limited. [On top of doing everything else, Ivan had to do all the dishes since I had to keep the bandage dry.]

I'll have more photos on Sunday with Project 365 but I didn't want to keep our relatives in suspense any's the new and improved ALL WHITE kitchen:
Oops! Forgot to close the drawers all the way before I took the photo.

(3) We had beautiful weather the days we were out there. As we loaded up and headed home yesterday the rain started and continued through the night, but we didn't care 'cause WE WERE DONE.

(4) We arrived home to a lovely bouquet of roses and lavender from our garden, arranged by our lovely co-workers. Despite the gray rainy day, the burst of color on our dining room table just made me smile! (You can see the peacock feathers in the background. Aren't they pretty too?) These are the first roses of the season.

(5) A young man from our home church is visiting! Ben's a neat young man who is attending the bilingual program at Palabra de Vida this year. He was able to get away for a few days and took the overnight bus, arriving this morning. We're looking forward to sharing our city and area with him! It's so nice to see a familiar face :)

(6) The rain ceased at some point in the night and we woke to clear skies -- an absolutely gorgeous day!
As Mr. Rogers used to sing, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!"

Saturday, October 2, 2010

An interesting concept - along the lines of a barn raising but with cash instead

Not long ago we encountered a cultural tradition that we weren't familiar with: a vaquita.
vaquita f Colecta de dinero organizada por un grupo de personas para afrontar un gasto en común
Translated: an organized collection of money by a group of people to jointly pay for expenses.

A friend of a friend recently passed the test to become a construction manager (it's a licensed and titled position here). His mom decided he needed a new truck befitting his position so she called friends and family back in their home town and they provided a vaquita: the funds for Alejandro to buy a new, instead of a used, truck.

Isn't it funny how once you're aware of something, you keep coming across it?

This week one of my Spanish assignments was to read an article about Sofía Roldán Cativa, a young Argentine violinist who is making waves around the world with her remarkable ability. She's won awards, played in orchestras throughout Europe and Russia and is currently a student at a prestigious school in Germany. Her family didn't even have the money to buy bus tickets so they could all see her off at the airport in Buenos Aires -- she said goodbye to her mother and sister in her home town and then her dad took her to the airport. Each year she has to come back to Argentina and find another scholarship in order to continue her studies.

But back to my point about vaquitas... When Sofía was only 14 she had the chance to travel to Europe for the first time to play in an orchestra but the finances for such a trip were well beyond the means of her family. That's when friends stepped in to help, pooling their money so she could go.

In America we are used to the concept of barn raisings or collecting money for a sick child (those ubiquitous jars with photos on store counters everywhere). Americans are known for their generosity around the world, usually supplying the bulk of donations for disaster relief and originating ideas for programs like Make A Wish Foundation. As missionaries we are able to do what we do because many, many give, and give EVERY SINGLE MONTH. And I could totally see a community rallying 'round a young girl like Sofía who has such talent and just needs a little help to achieve her dreams.

But so someone can have a new truck?

It makes me wonder: would we be willing to help a good friend or family member buy a new truck (or a computer, an expensive tool... whatever) if we thought it would help them be more successful? Something to think about this weekend.