Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random Dozen - The Chicken Edition

We all know about Lid's little obsession with chickens and now it has spilled over into R.D. 
It was only a matter of time.
I think most of us saw it coming, don't you?
Our obsessions have a way of making repeat appearances on our blogs.
I JEST but, please, I don't want anyone giving me a hard time about my obsession with laundry.
(I love it.)
Or food.
Especially food.
(I love it more.)

But not all foods were created equal. There's chocolate and cheese and potatoes and bacon...and then there's everything else. 

1. How do you feel about the marshmallow Easter Peeps?
Not a fan of marshmallows except as filling in MoonPies:
Or in Coca Cola Marshmallow Cake. Both such southern delights!

2. Chickens are notoriously nervous creatures. When you are nervous, what is the best way to calm down?

Turn it over to the Lord and pray for His peace. 
Except when I'm around really nervous chickens and then I turn it over to the Lord and flee, putting Satan those chickens behind me. 
(I have childhood memories of being chased by chickens at my aunt and uncle's house which obviously traumatized me since, to this day, I cannot stand to be around chickens. I feel the same way about yappy little dogs with high pitched barks.)
 
3. People say, "April showers bring May flowers." Do you enjoy Spring rains? 

Yes, although we don't have much in the way of Spring rains here; most of our rain is in the summer. And being in a temperate climate means we have flowers pretty much year round. My roses bloomed ten out of the last twelve months.
 
4. When I was randomly flipping through TV channels this week, I saw a show in which tattoo parlor employees received tattoos of a co-worker's face on their bodies. I can't imagine having a portrait of a colleague tattooed on me. But if someone forced you to receive a portrait tattoo (face only) of anyone, who would it be? Why?

Mi familia. I could finally get that family portrait I've been wanting -- done as a tattoo.
 
5. Would you rather have a tattoo (any kind) or a nose ring?

Neither.
But if I had to have one or the other, I'd go with the tattoo. 
A cute little daisy on my shoulder.
The kind you find in bubble gum packages that you lick and stick on. 
 
6. Do you have any special plans for Easter?

None that I know of. Our church plant isn't really big enough to do much yet. I'm hoping that next year we might be able to have a sunrise service by the lake. I also really miss the Good Friday service we used to have in our home church and would love to do something along those lines in years to come. 
 
7. Cadbury Eggs or Reese Eggs? 

Another either/or question. 
Neither.
Just send the Godiva Easter box with
chocolate bunnies
and chocolate chicks
and chocolate eggs.
It's not that I'm anti-Cadbury or anti-Reeses.
I'm just pro-Godiva.
(or other really great chocolate)


8. What was the last thing/person you took a picture of?
The mountains. Oh, and Katie taking photos of the mountains.
 
9. What book are you reading now, or what was the last one?

I'm working on three right now:
A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle
 Her Father's Daughter by Gene Stratton-Porter
Murder at the Opera by Margaret Truman.  
My mood dictates what I feel like reading at any given moment. 
 
10. What do you think is the most difficult task when it comes to Spring cleaning? 

Windows and gutters, tops of baseboards, and corners that have been hidden by the gray of winter. (Except now I have to keep my corners cleaned all the time since we rarely have a gray day.)
 
11. How many pairs of flip-flops do you own?

None, Zippo, Nada, Zilch, Nein. No me gusta flip-flops. No me gusta nada entre los dedos de mis pies.
 
12. Which color makes you happiest? 

Yellow never fails to lift my spirits and make me feel that despite the circumstances, there's still hope. (I'm wearing a pair of yellow capris as I type this.) 

Which brings me back to the first question. About the yellow Easter peeps. It wouldn't seem like Easter if marshmallow Easter peeps didn't line the shelves in grocery stores, but am I the only one who thinks they're a little creepy? Now you see them not only in the grocery store, they're all over the internet. And not just on Lid's blog; they have a HUGE presence on youtube. Even I have to admit though, they're a talented bunch.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Meanderings & Some Fun Links

Since picking up our friends over the weekend, I've been busy talking.
And talking.
And talking.
Gotta squeeze every minute of talking time out of this last week with them!

They had a restful two weeks in Sta. Rosa but also took drives to surrounding towns, seeing a bit bigger slice of Argentina. Wally has been blogging about their experiences and some have made me laugh out loud. His battle with the dogs over the garbage makes me giggle every time I think about it. Other posts have been more serious and thought-provoking; another perspective on missionary life in Argentina.

They found a wonderful tea house in Belgrano that opened nine months ago and we went twice over the weekend. I had some of the best tea ever the first night and the second time I enjoyed a mug of hot cocoa, Argentine style. And what is that?, you may wonder. They serve you a mug of very hot milk that's been frothed a little, and you add a small bar of chocolate and stir until melted. I see infinite possibilities! Switch out the milk chocolate with either dark or white, use a peppermint stick to stir, or sprinkle a fine dusting of cinnamon powder over, or add a touch of flavored syrup (hazelnut or almond comes to mind)...

This week the big Feria de Artisanias starts in Cordoba and we're planning to go on Thursday. Last year there were over 700 vendors and it took several hours just to walk from one end to the other without spending a lot of time stopping to look.

Good friends from the U.S. sent us the movie Fireproof in Spanish along with a variety of teaching materials. We watched it with our co-workers the other night and brainstormed afterward, coming up with a couple of ideas for how to use it; both one-on-one and in a small group setting, depending on the needs of those involved. Since marriage is held in even lower esteem here than the U.S., there's a great need to share the truth that marriage is a covenant.

I've been meaning to share some blog posts and web sites that are particularly meaningful or just plain fun. Here they are in no particular order:

A thoughtful post on being intentional. Amy Beth may be only 25, but she shows some serious wisdom in this area. Beautifully written and heartfelt, you don't want to miss it.

Debbie always writes with humor, but her post on being a fuddy-duddy just killed me. We have become our grandmothers.

I both laughed and cried at Dee's cathartic post about her mom. Most of us have such complicated relationships with our mothers and our daughters and Dee's done a wonderful job articulating that.

A totally fun website I was just introduced to is woot.com. Each day they have one item for sale at a really great price. But the descriptions are priceless! Seriously hysterical! Hoot for the woot!

That's all I have time for today. Time to get back to the talking.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Project 365, Week 13

Ivan had not made it home yet when I posted last week’s Project 365 so this week I wanted to share just one photo (among many!) from his trip to the air show last weekend. I’m not sure anything thrills him quite as much as the sight of a long line of small planes :-)
Monday we needed to take photos for our D.N.I.s (national I.D.s). Dicky’s is the place everyone told us to go. It’s a small store and was pretty crowded so once we had our photos taken, I went outside to wait. Here’s Ivan coming out -- with not only photos for the D.N.I.s but also the ones we’ll need for our driver’s licenses (the next thing on the “to do” list).
We’re QUITE EXCITED to finally have our D.N.I.s and you can read that story on my post "A Cola in Argentina is not a soft drink".

The ants were quite busy around our house this week. With cooler weather they’re preparing for winter. It never ceases to amaze me how such tiny creatures can carry much larger things for long distances! There was a line of ants stretching across the back yard, starting near a pile of rose petals.
The sky has been incredibly blue this week. That’s something we really appreciate about living here. Falls and winters are not gray and overcast but bright and sunny with intense blue skies.
A ram in the back of a pickup -- while you probably wouldn’t see this in the capital city, it’s not an unusual sight in any other town in the province!
This next photo is more for the family, especially mother. The trees at the house in Sta. Rosa are SOOOOO tall now. Can you see K in the lower left corner, near the gate? I’m sure those in the family can remember when the trees were planted many years ago -- just a few feet tall at the time. ¡Qúe diferencia!
We went to Sta. Rosa on Friday to pick up our friends who have been staying there. They took us to a wonderful little tea house in Belgrano they’d discovered. Lovely place with plate glass windows overlooking the low sierras serving fabulous loose teas and pastries. I ordered #13 on the menu: Deep Africa, featuring red tea from South Africa with touches of coconut, cocoa, vanilla and just a hint of caramel. It was like dessert in a cup!
Anyone have a desire to move to Argentina and become a hotelier? While K and I were walking around Sta. Rosa we came across this hotel for sale, right on the main street. Lovely older building that Ivan says is a landmark in the town. Wonderful piece of property just calling out for someone who is ready for a change in their lives!
[No, Sharon, I’m not specifically targeting you with this photo, but if you want to take it personally, that’s up to you :-)]

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my weekly offering for Project 365! Make sure to stop by Sara’s and visit the other participants.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Flashback Friday - Easter Edition

Time to dust off the history files again. Mocha with Linda wants us to reach back into the file cabinet and pull out our very best Easter memories.

What was Easter like when you were little? For example, did you receive a basket with toys and candy? Was the Easter Bunny part of your family's celebration? Did your family integrate both secular and spiritual aspects of the day? Did you dye Easter eggs. . . .and did your family eat them afterwards? Did you usually get a new outfit? (Post a picture if you have one!) Does any Easter stand out particularly? You might also share how your Easter today is similar or different to your childhood?

I LOVED Easter when I was little. It meant getting a new outfit, complete with new tights, shoes, a hat, jacket or coat, and purse in addition to the dress. We also got new underwear. When I was really little, those panties had rows and rows of ruffles across them which made sitting down rather uncomfortable but who cared? I was thrilled to be so stylin' in ruffles that stretched from my neck to my bum.

[Sadly, or not so sadly, I have no pictures of me in ruffles to share since we didn't bring any old photos with us when we moved overseas.]

The older I got, the less I liked ruffles. And the pink? Ewwwww, please no! By age ten I was lobbying for straight lines, no ruffles or adornment of any kind, simple colors. Granny Smith green. White. A touch of yellow or blue. I also wanted to wear real, honest-to-goodness nylons. Oh if I only knew what torture lay ahead in the years and years of my poor legs being encased in synthetic tubular casings, I don't think I'd have been in such a hurry!

Clothing aside, Easter meant:
~big baskets of goodies, and one year a really large stuffed animal
~always a family get-together and fighting with the cousins over the contents of our Easter baskets
~receiving very nice gifts from the elderly neighbors. One year it was ceramic banks. I think mine was a rabbit and my sister's was a lamb
~decorating hard boiled eggs and then hunting for them in the yard after our parents hid them. (Sometimes too well and it would be weeks later that the smell led us to their hiding place.)

Ours was a pretty secular Easter. I don't remember going to church until I was much older and seeking after God.

I've experienced a few stand-out Easters, both since becoming a a believer in Jesus and understanding that Easter is a time to celebrate His death and resurrection.

One occurred when we lived in Ft. Lauderdale and our church had a sunrise service on the beach. It was totally worth getting up while it was still dark so we could assemble on the beach and begin singing beautiful hymns as the sun rose. "Up from the grave He arose!" is particularly poignant in that setting.

After we'd moved to Michigan most of our sunrise services were indoors. It's COLD there in March and April! But one year at Countryside Bible Church we had a sunrise service in the graveyard. It wasn't just the cold that gave me goosebumps when almost 100 voices rang out "He lives! He lives!"

Once we were married Ivan was adamant about not allowing even the tiniest focus to shift away from Jesus on this special day so we didn't have any of the secular trappings with our kids.

But back when our daughter was young and I was attempting to prove my home economics teacher wrong, I kept trying to sew cute little dresses for my daughter and several became "Easter" dresses. But since, in the end, my home ec teacher was completely correct in her assessment of my sewing inabilities, we won't talk about how the first one had a major problem with the collar...okay, it wasn't just the collar, it was the entire structure of the dress that was a problem and whenever Tina tried to sit down, it would choke her unless she hiked up the back of the dress over her hiney first. The second dress looked great from the front and I was just glad she had long hair by then so it could cover the fact that we kept it fastened with safety pins in back. I have deep-seated issues with button holes. The last "Easter" dress actually turned out pretty well if you didn't count that it was tight in the sleeves and a little long waisted for her body shape.

Boy, Linda, these Flashback Fridays bring back a FLOOD of memories! Some of them not so pleasant ;-) But now y'all know why I quilt -- straight lines are my sewing speed. I'm not even very good at hemming pants and unless you want to see a grown woman cry, DON'T EVER ASK ME TO DO ANYTHING WITH A BUTTON HOLE.

The End.

~~~~~~~~~

Okay, not really the end. Just wanted to say Thank You to those who prayed for my poor knees after I fell really hard the other day. I iced them right away, and kept icing periodically throughout the day. God answered your prayers and the swelling was almost non-existent and I only have a bruise on one knee (the one I hit hardest). I'm AMAZED that while, yes, it hurts and aches, it doesn't KILL like I was afraid it would; the pain is completely manageable. ¡Gracias a Dios!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Cola in Argentina is not a soft drink

It's a line. Usually a long line. There are lines everywhere, but especially in government offices. And since people are required to do a lot more paperwork here than we are accustomed to in the U.S., you end up spending a lot of time in colas.

Ivan, thankfully, does most of the line waiting.
Because I am not a fan of the line waiting.
Or any kind of waiting when it comes right down to it.

But I didn't have a choice on Tuesday.

I had planned to post Tuesday afternoon or evening to share the stupendous news that we FINALLY have our national I.D.s! But folks, I was so COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED by the time we got home TWELVE HOURS after we left that I had no energy left to post. None.At.All.

[I know that's a heavy use of ALL CAPITALS but I write how I talk, and if I were saying this out loud, those words would be HEAVILY EMPHASIZED.]

The plan was to be at the Registro Civil by 7 a.m. because we knew they only take the first 50-60 in line for the I.D.s. For some reason we haven't been able to figure out, my cell phone alarm did not work that morning. So we didn't get up until 6:23 a.m. which is when we'd hoped to be on the road.

Already running late, we then got confused in the downtown area of Cordoba and ended up spending an extra ten minutes on a series of one way streets before we could park and hot foot it over to the office. The line at 7:20 a.m. was already well over 150 strong. I kept our place in line while Ivan hovered near the front door to see what was happening.

By the time the doors opened at 8:15, about 20 ahead of us had already given up and left. That made us a little more hopeful. Ivan was going back and forth periodically to update me on what appeared to be happening at the front of the line. Which wasn't much. I was fast losing hope and thinking we'd have to go home and try it all over again the next day, when Ivan called me on the cell phone and said to come to the door because the guard was letting us in!

Ivan had asked the guard how long he thought it might be and the man simply waved him in! We feel kind of bad that we leap frogged about 30 people in front of us but not enough to refuse the offer :-) As it was, when we finally made it to the desk we received tickets #61 and #62 -- and they only had 63 tickets allotted to hand out! Whew! Seriously close call.

Then we settled in to wait for our numbers to be called.
We waited.
And waited.
And waited some more.
(Remember that we left home about 6:30.
And were in line by 7:20 a.m.)
It was 1:50 p.m. when they finally called our numbers.

But people, we have our I.D.s now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This.Is.A.Big.Hairy.Deal. 
There are so many things you cannot do without I.D.s here.
Tuesday night Ivan made a list of things we can now get put in our names. Cell phones, satellite t.v., our home security system... AND we can apply for our Argentine driver's licenses. So many things! Having the I.D.s will just make our life easier in a myriad of ways.

EVEN BETTER is that Ivan received PERMANENT RESIDENCY STATUSWoot!
[We think it's because he was able to use his cedula (old I.D.) when applying for the new I.D.]

I have to go back in June, which is two months before my 24 month VISA is up, and we hope to apply for my permanent residency at that time. Normally you have to live here for three years first but with Ivan already having his, it may make it easier for me to get mine. Or I might have to wait.

Even with only Ivan having permanent residency, it means we won't have to keep paying annual "insurance" on the stuff we brought into the country in our container. That's a chunk of change saved right there.

Anyway...by the time we had our I.D.s in hand we felt slightly giddy with glee.
(Or maybe that was just the hunger.)
It's been 18 months since we applied for the I.D.s and, believe it or not, that's about how long it usually takes, whether you're an Argentine or a foreigner.

After grabbing lunch and dropping off a battery to be fixed, we headed back to Carlos Paz. Once again running late. So we drove straight to my eye doctor appointment. Where we discovered the first exam had been inaccurate (no surprise there; we'd sorta figured that out when the glasses we ordered from that prescription didn't work).

I would have loved going straight from there to order the new glasses but at that point we had no energy left. None. Pfffft! All gone. So we drove home, pulling into the driveway exactly twelve hours after we'd pulled out.

And that is why I didn't post on Tuesday. Not because I wasn't excited. I WAS!!! But I just didn't have it in me to write a coherent post.

~~~~~~~~~~

I was blown away by the response to "Why I Blog" on Monday. Y'all are such an encouraging and kind bunch! It was fun to see I'm not alone in the "why" as well.


Had to giggle at one who pointed out my blog could give the impression that all we do is have fun. I try to avoid not only the specifics of ministry but also the negative aspects of living in another culture -- MOST OF THE TIME. There are occasions when a cathartic post keeps me on an even keel.

Like when I have to stand in an especially long cola.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Random Dozen - The Spring Edition (Only it's Fall here)

Being in the southern hemisphere can make it confusing when participating in seasonal memes. So bear in mind, folks, my answers reflect that seasons are opposite here!

A shout out to I Didn't Know That! for hosting this week's Random Dozen while Lid at 2nd Cup spends time with her friend in the hospital. Keep praying for Diane, her family and the GGs!

1.  What is your favorite sign of Spring Fall? The cooler nights and mornings that are perfect for sleeping.

2.  Did you remember to spring forward on March 14?  If not, how did it impact your day? Not an issue here. 

3.  If soil, time, talent and climate were no problem, what vegetable would you plant in a garden this year? Okra

4.  If soil, time, talent and climate were no problem, what fruit would you plant? Strawberries

5.  What is your least favorite insect? ALL OF THEM

6.  March 22 was World Water Day. To celebrate, here are some water questions. Do you drink bottled water? If so, what brand? DEFINITELY, especially after a nasty bout with water-born parasites when we first moved here. We now get filtered water delivered to the house twice a week; no special brand, I think they just take tap water and filter it really well. When we're out and about and order water, we take whatever they're selling. Most bottled water here comes from the province of Mendoza. One time Ivan accidentally grabbed a couple bottles of Perrier but put them back after they rang up three times what the local stuff costs.

7.  Have you ever been somewhere that it was not safe to drink the local water? If so, how did you handle that? Refer back to the last question! I ended up losing forty pounds before it was over. We also spent a year in Uganda where the better hotels leave bottled water in your room for brushing your teeth -- so it's not even safe to rinse and spit! We got our drinking water from a new deep bore hole well near where we lived, and I still filtered that before we used it, just to be on the safe side.

8.  How many glasses of water do you drink per day? Three or four LARGE glasses. More during the drier seasons.

9.  March 24 is the birthday of Harry Houdini.  Have you ever watched a professional magic show? Share. Nope.

10.  Have you ever been a participant in a professional magic show (up on stage!)? Nope.

11. March 24 is also the birthday of Steve McQueen and Clyde Barrow. Do you like Westerns or gangster movies?  If so, what is your favorite? Not a big fan of either, although I do like western comedies. My favorite would probably be City Slickers.


12. (Really random) What U.S. state that you've never visited would you like to visit someday? Can I just say the Southwest? I'd love to visit Texas, New Mexico, Arizona...

~~~~~~~~~~

I fell really hard on my knees today on our cement patio. Would appreciate your prayers that I don't have long-term pain or problems -- I don't have time! LOL

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why I blog

In the two plus years I've been blogging I've seen bloggers come and go, with some taking short breaks and others deciding to quit altogether. Just recently there's been another spate of leaving and it's caused me to evaluate why I blog. What's the purpose? What does it add to my life?

[This isn't going to be a philosophical treatise because that's just not me but I do have my pensive moments.]

The first time I heard about blogging was when my daughter set up an account for me on xanga so we'd have another way to stay in touch while she was six states away at Bible school. She told me that lots of people were doing this "online journaling thing". I posted maybe six times in eight months. Since we talked on the phone every day, I just didn't see the value nor did I find xanga very user friendly. I kept running into walls when I'd try to do more than post straight text.

Later that year I had some forced downtown when a bad case of bronchitis went on and on and on... During that time I discovered some Christian mommy bloggers (although I had no clue there was even such a term as "mommy blogger" at that point) and was motivated to start my own blog on blogger. But my posting was still sporadic. Like any kind of writing, blogging takes a certain amount of discipline.

Then I began to see the value of having a medium for easily communicating with not only our kids, but other relatives, friends, and people in our supporting churches...

Rather than depending solely on e-mail, I could journal about our life on the mission field and anyone who was interested could access it. The year we were in Uganda I sent long, descriptive e-mails of our experiences to friends and family every ten days or so and received a lot of positive feedback about those letters. But then, as now, whenever I'd send out a mass mailing, a bunch would come back as "unable to deliver". With blogging, those who are truly interested have no problem keeping up-to-date and I'm not bothering those who couldn't care less.

But again, there was the whole discipline thing. While I've always liked the IDEA of journaling, the reality was that I've never been good with consistently following through. Initially I set myself the goal of posting once a week. Then twice a week. I'm now up to 4-5 times per week and generally hit that goal unless we're traveling and without internet.

Bottom line: Primarily I blog in order to COMMUNICATE with the folks "back home".

But blogging has become more than that...

Along the way I've made some good online friends that I may or may not ever meet. I'm counting on being able to meet some of you when we come on furlough late next year, those who live really close to where we'll be traveling.

I've also gotten to know friends and family even better than I did when we lived in the same country, by reading their blogs and them reading mine; we've shared life experiences, memories, our thoughts and dreams -- constantly drawing us closer together in a way not possible outside this funny medium we call blogging.

The discipline of writing almost daily has made me a better writer. While I harbor no illusions that I'll ever be a great writer, I do a better job of communicating now than I did two years ago. [I also find myself viewing almost everything that happens through the lens of how I can write/blog about it!]

It's taken time but I've finally found my "voice". Which is to say I don't HAVE a consistent voice and am all over the board with topics and tone. While I greatly enjoy topical blogs (like quilting or cooking) I decided early on that I didn't want to limit myself in that way. And although I really enjoy blogs with a certain tone (purposely funny, devotional in nature, contemplative) it just isn't in me to do that. I write how I think and feel, and that means you never know what you're going to get.

One thing I don't do is share much about what's happening in our ministry. My blog, which is open to anyone who wants to read it, is not the place to get into specifics. Those who are in the pastorate or on the mission field know how careful we need to be, always balancing how much we say publicly.

Nor do I share Every.Single.Thing going on in my life. Again, my blog is not the place to get into specifics. (Nor do I have the time to share all that's happening.)

That said, I do enjoy sharing as much as I can.
This is my life.
Welcome to my blog :-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Project 365, Week 12

After my recent fun travel photos for Project 365, this week's offerings look rather mundane. But mundane is how my life looks 99% of the time. Just how I like it :-)

Upon our return from conference, we were pleased to see our cherry tomato plant is still going strong.
Monday I started catching up on expense reports. Ugh.
There's been no work on the house next door in a while. The outside stucco has been finished for several weeks and no workers have appeared since then.
In my ongoing effort to learn the language I've started watching Spanish television. My favorites are cooking and craft shows.
I thought I had a really cool photo for Thursday because on our way home from Cordoba we spotted dozens of parachutes floating in the sky. I didn't have the camera so Ivan gave me his cell phone but I'd never used it before and with the sun shining so brightly, I couldn't tell that I had NOT actually taken a photo until we got home and tried to load it onto the computer. Boo hoo! 

Instead I offer this sad photo of my hydrangeas. Does anyone have a clue what happened to them? They didn't do this last year. Do I have an infestation of some kind? I am completely clueless about plants. HELP!
Friday it stormed and afterward I took photos of raindrop covered flowers. I love the way the afternoon sun slants and casts a special light on things at that time of day.
And no, I did not change the saturation on this photo. These are the true colors!

Also on Friday, I prewashed the fabrics for my newest quilting project and line dried them. I'm one of those always-wash-the-fabric-first kind of quilters, after one really bad experience early on when I didn't prewash and one of the fabrics puckered, ruining the quilt.
I've been wanting to do something in black and white for a long time, but was inspired to add another color. Considering my current passion for green, is it any wonder that's what I chose? Plus a wee bit of yellow. Not sure I am capable of making a quilt without yellow :-)
Saturday afternoon I finally started cutting and sewing. It took a while to figure out the math on this one. I'm combining elements from several quilts I've seen in magazines so I don't have a pattern to follow. Considering my mathematically challenged brain, getting anything done beyond that is an accomplishment! This is just one row of blocks (it's folded over the line so you can only see half).
I don't have enough fabric (at this point) for a whole quilt. Not sure if I'll just do what I can with what I have -- maybe make a small quilt (four rows) to use on the couch in cold weather -- or do what I can with what I have and then have more fabric sent in order to make it full-size (seven or eight rows). But either way, I'm TOTALLY LOVING the colors and simplicity of this quilt so far. Once I have the rows pieced, I'll applique a few large daisies here and there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stray Thoughts on a Saturday

I don't sleep the best when my husband's gone. Actually I don't sleep the best at any time these days (thanks, perimenopause) but especially when Ivan's away. Therefore I cannot promise a coherence of thought on this post. It was all I could do to make coffee this morning. I spent two or three minutes rummaging through the fridge looking for the cream and getting more and more frustrated because I couldn't find it, only to turn around and see it on the counter where I'd already put it AND COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT.

Which is making me more than a little nervous about starting a quilt project this morning. Yesterday I worked on hand quilting an almost-finished UFO while washing and line drying the fabric for my new project. I was planning to cut into the fabric and start sewing this morning. Now? Not so sure that's a good idea.

While I debate whether "to cut or not to cut", I'm blog surfing and just finished looking at the Flashback Friday links. I love hearing how-we-met stories. My favorite stories are the how-I-came-to-know-Jesus ones, but the how-we-met love stories run a close second. (When you think about it, both kinds are love stories.)

Reading the FF posts brought back even more memories, causing me to chuckle and/or cringe with each flashback...

Like the way my mom effectively discouraged me dating much in high school. Any time someone would ask me out, she'd call my aunt and they'd figure out how I was related to my "date" (one of the cons of living in a really small community). Puts a real damper on a date when you know you're related, even if it is only third cousins twice removed.

Back in the 70s most of the guys had really long hair. I've favored a super short hairstyle from the time I was 15 so from the back it was a little hard to tell who was who. I remember hearing my cousin tell my mom that it was just wrong when the boy had prettier hair than the girl. I totally agreed with her! I was dating someone with gorgeous, thick, wavy hair at the time. I kept mine short for a reason; it was straighter than straight, thin and lifeless and rather pathetic whenever I grew it out past my shoulders.

My mom was a pretty smart woman (as most parents are) and she knew better than to say what she really thought. To me, anyway. But one time I'd forgotten something and my date and I walked back into the house just in time to hear her say to a friend on the phone, "Kim just left with The Grinning Idiot." I was SO embarrassed! But looking back I can see she totally had him nailed and I not only laugh now, but HOWL at the memory.

[It's very telling that my mother ADORED Ivan; she knew he was a keeper! After we were married and I complained for any reason, she'd just say, "You know he's right." Aaaargh! And my dad was just as bad. I'd call him and after five minutes he'd ask, "Is that old man of yours around?" and then they'd talk for half an hour!]

If you haven't been participating in Mocha With Linda's Flashback Fridays, I'd encourage you to give it a try next week! What a hoot to dredge up long-forgotten memories.

I wasn't the only one who didn't sleep well last night. Ivan called this morning and looks like he'll be cutting his trip short and heading home tonight. For one thing, the airshow hasn't really gotten off the ground. (Sorry, couldn't help myself. I'm married to a man who loves puns!) Fog socked in the air field most of yesterday and it looks like more of the same today, and tomorrow they're forecasting thunder storms. Not good weather for an air show!

There's been a lot of rain this week so the field is muddy, including the area where folks are camping. The ground is also hard (no room in that duffel for an air mattress) and a group of younger men partied hardy almost all night, making it impossible for anyone else to sleep either.

He called me around 7:30 p.m. yesterday, safely ensconced in his tent and planning a dinner of crackers with peanut butter and lukewarm mate (tea). He'd showered in one of the port-a-showers (brrrrrr! cold!) and after getting dressed he ventured outside only to be attacked by swarms of mosquitos, despite being covered with OFF! So he dived back into the tent, zipped it up and decided to make do with what food supplies I had packed. (By that time I think he'd already eaten all the granola bars.)

(Quite a difference from air shows in the U.S. that are always located near a town with plenty of hotels. Hotels with pools and hot tubs, comfy beds with clean sheets, and climate controlled rooms.)

It hasn't been a total waste as he's met folks from all over (including Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay) but unless the weather improves dramatically, the friends he was hoping to see won't be attending the air show at all. And with planes unable to fly in or out, there won't be any cools planes to see either. Sounds like the organizers are going ahead with some technical seminars at least, which is why he's staying until tonight.

I put a batch of chili in the crockpot last night and it smells so good this morning! Have had a craving for cornbread (a southerner can only go so long without a pone) and decided that, hot weather or no, chili would be a nice accompaniment. I don't think I've made chili since we moved here because until recently I didn't have chili powder. And how can you make decent chili without it?! (BTW, thanks again Sharon for sending all those spices and seasonings!)

One and a half cups of coffee into my morning and I'm feeling like I might just maybe could tackle that quilt project. Now if I can just find my rotary cutter...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: The Dating Edition



Two posts in one day! Chalk that up to my forgetting today was Friday because Thursday went by in such a blur.

Here's the Friday Flashback challenge for this week:
When was your first date? You can choose either your first date ever or your first date with your spouse - or both! How old were you? What did you do/where did you go? Did anything memorable - either good or embarrassing? If it was your first date ever, did you continue to date that person? If so, how long? If you are sharing the story of the first date with the person you married, did you know then that he/she was "the one" or did it take a longer for love to bloom? Any other memories you wish to share about those wonderfully awkward first dates?!
I honestly can't remember my very first date. Probably because it was so awful I've blocked it from my mind (a handy coping mechanism I often utilize). 

Instead I'll share the story of my first date with Ivan...

But first a little background. I met Ivan on September 2, 1978, at church. A single missionary who was heading to Argentina introduced me to Ivan and his parents that night.

After the service I went back and told my roommates that I'd met the man I was going to marry. Confirming their belief that I was a very strange girl. This went beyond my being a hillbilly from Appalachia who drove an old Pontiac that required a little finesse to operate...mainly that I had to hold down the turn signal lever while twisting the steering wheel to the right or the horn would go off and not stop until I got under the hood and tapped on a wire. It went way beyond that. I'm pretty sure they began to wonder if I was one of those weird mountain folk with the "second sight".

No, simply love at first sight.

But...you need a little more background info...I didn't come to know God until I was 17. Shortly after this I went to camp where the main speaker was a missionary. Don't remember his name, don't remember what country he was from, don't remember what he looked like. But I do remember one thing he said: "Young ladies, if you feel God is calling you to be a missionary, and you want to be married, you'd better make sure that you marry someone who wants to be a missionary."

And God put a little stirring in my heart even then. 

So even though I was immediately attracted to Ivan, I kept remembering what that speaker had said. And when I saw Ivan later that September week walking to the library on campus, I managed to casually work a question into the conversation: "What do you want to do after college?" When he responded that he planned to go back to Argentina as a missionary, he may not have known it, but he was a goner :-)

[There really does come a point in this story when we have our first date. But I have to set the scene so you can really appreciate it.]

Although I liked him immediately, I wasn't getting any clear vibes that he liked me back. Until we started seeing a lot of each other at the library. I escaped there to study since I had been put with some party girls (yes, even Christian colleges have them) so studying in my room wasn't an option. Plus I've always loved the quiet of a library and find it a haven, whether I have to study or not. Ivan, it turned out, was working on a paper and all the books he needed were on reserve at the library.

We got into the habit of sharing a table in the back, and over the next few weeks started to get to know one another. I learned he was working full-time and going to school full-time and the schedule was brutal. He lived off campus with his parents who were on furlough but was going to have to move into a dorm when they went back to the field in February.

Knowing he had little to no extra time for dating, I didn't hold out any hope that he'd ask me out. Then in early October he told me he'd had to quit the job because it was just too much. He was going to look for something part-time. After that I decided that he WAS going to ask me out -- as soon as he finished that paper he was working on. I knew the date it was due so I had high expectations for Friday, October 13th.

[Good thing I'm not superstitious, huh?]

But Friday the 13th came and I didn't hear from him. Didn't see him either. We didn't have any classes together and since he lived off campus, the only times I saw him were at the library or church. By 6 p.m. that evening I was feeling pretty low. My hopes were dashed. I went in search of a friend to hang out with, and found one who suggested we get a group of girls together and go to the campus café. Sounded like a plan! She was pretty sure the rest were at the library so that's where we headed, and indeed found our friends there.

As well as Ivan.

Who was looking for me :-)

Oh joy.

He asked if I'd like to go for a walk.
Would I?!
We walked all around the island (sounds like a big deal, but it's a very, very small island).
And he showed me the spot where the Foreign Missions Society had started; under a tree when a group of missions-minded men and women had walked out of the national conference because the majority did not agree with the mandate to "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel."

We walked and we talked for hours. Until curfew at 10 p.m. (It was a very conservative Christian college.)

That was our first date.

Oh, and we were engaged two weeks later. Which is a whole 'nother story for a whole 'nother time.

Weekend Plans

We spent yesterday getting Ivan organized for a short trip. Short as in time (just the weekend) and not distance (back to Bs. As.). I am enormously proud of ourselves for cramming packing everything he needed in a LARGE Ryobi tool bag.

How much can one man need for a weekend?

Quite a lot when he's camping out!

Into that one tool/duffel bag went:
The toiletry bag contained not only his shower stuff, but also bug spray, a car charger for his phone (hope he finds someone with a car who will let him recharge it!), and his underclothes. Also in the duffel: his clothes for the weekend, a bag with crackers and cookies and a jar of peanut butter.

He stowed the duffel under the bus with luggage but carried his leather mate bag on board, ready with a thermos of hot water, yerba, his mate cup and a half dozen homemade granola bars that I stuck in.

He'll be seeing old friends (one he hasn't seen since junior high years), more recent ones (a young man he met at an aviation show in Alta Gracia last year) and knowing Ivan he'll also make a lot of NEW friends as well.

He took the overnight bus and called this morning to let me know he'd arrived in Lujan. Before he heads out to the airshow he plans to visit the Transportation Museum in Lujan where Mancho and Gato are on display. Here's a short bio of these famous Criollo horses:
Aimé Tshiffely was Swiss by birth, but in the early part of the 20th century, he lived in Buenos Aires, where he worked as a teacher. In April 1925, he set out with two Argentine criollo horses, Gato and Mancha, to ride ten thousand miles from Buenos Aires to New York.
Everyone told him he was quite mad. ‘I felt strongly tempted to quote to them saying, “Let fools laugh; wise men dare and win,” but a doubt assailed me as to which of us was really the fool, so I refrained,’ he wrote in his subsequent account of the journey, Tschiffely’s Ride.
It took Tschiffely, Gato and Mancha two and a half years to arrive at their destination. They travelled across mountain ranges and deserts, encountered tribesmen and ambassadors, passed through run-down villages and historic cities – whose finer establishments at first turned the schoolteacher away because he looked such a horrible mess.
Tschiffely was clearly no coward, but he credited the eventual success of his journey to the remarkable resilience of his horses. At they journey’s end, they travelled together back to Buenos Aires by ship, and then Gato and Mancha retired to a ranch on the pampas while Tschiffely himself travelled the globe lecturing and writing.
Then, in 1933, the man on whose land Gato and Mancha now lived received a letter. It was suggested to him that, such was the horses’ fame and popularity, the public might appreciate the opportunity to visit them even after their deaths. And so it was decided that, when eventually the horses expired, they would be stuffed and put on display.
They’re still there – in Luján’s transport museum. They look slightly out of sorts, surrounded by antique motor cars and predictably rigid in their glass case. But these, nonetheless, are the steeds that made one of the most celebrated rides in history. If you ring at the door market ‘biblioteca’, to the right of the museum’s entrance, you can even read through the telegram correspondence relating to the deaths and embalming of the horses in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as old letters and newspaper articles. They’re in Spanish, of course.
Ivan read Tschiffely's book a few years ago and was intrigued by their adventure.

Ivan's own adventure this weekend involves airplanes, not horses. He's had a passion for all things aviation as long as I've known him. Even though we were poor college students early in our marriage, we squeezed out enough to buy the flight school books and materials. But it was another ten years before he had either the time or the cash to pursue flight training.

He managed to get his private pilot's license before life got super crazy again and it's been at least ten years since he's had the time or the money to fly (actually probably closer to fifteen years). The dream of building his own plane dimmed when we moved overseas and he had to sell what he'd managed to do so far on a little Turner two-seat, tail dragger.

But the dream did not die and I hope that quality called PERSISTENCE motivates him to hang in there until he straps himself into his very own homebuilt and flies once again!

[And I chew off the little bit of nail nubbins I have left. I am totally schizo about wanting him to fly again and being terrified when he does.]

While he's gone I'm planning to spend some quality time with my Pfaff. Not sure whether I'll be continuing with a UFO (unfinished fabric object) or beginning something entirely new. Maybe a little of both!

But first I'd like to share this amazing granola bar recipe that I found on Tasty Kitchen. I've tried several recipes over the years and have always been disappointed by the taste and/or texture -- until this one, which scores high on both.

GRANOLA SQUARES
  • ½ cups Melted Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1-½ cup Quick Oats
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1-¼ cup Rice Krispies
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup Chopped Pecans
1. Cream butter and sugars together in a large bowl.
2. Add egg, vanilla, and honey.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.
4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry mix bowl and mix well.
5. Press granola into a greased baking pan (I use a 9 x 12” but if you’d like thinner bars, go with a bigger pan).
6. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes or when the top is very light brown.
7. Let cool and cut into squares or bars.

Enjoy!
Both the granola bars and the weekend.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY and Welcome to A Magically Delicious Edition of Random Dozen

I luuuuurve Lucky Charms! It's pretty much the only sugary cereal I do like. How can you not like all that neon-colored marshmallowy goodness?! The clever advertising by General Mills has kept me convinced for years that it's magically delicious!
1. On a scale of 1-10, how superstitious are you, honestly? I'm assuming 1 is low and 10 is high? If that's the case, I'd say a ONE. I fearlessly walk under ladders, never knock on wood and don't freak out at the sight of a black cat. BUT I have just enough Irish in me to make me hesitate occasionally before I walk under that ladder.

2. Julius Caesar is quoted as saying, "I came, I saw, I conquered." Which circumstance or experience of yours does this saying best describe? My husband. I let him chase me until I caught him. LOL

3. If I peeked in on your day like a mischievous little leprechaun, at what time would I most likely find you blogging? Generally first thing in the morning or late at night but I have been known to hop on and blog IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY.

4. Re springing forward for Daylight Saving Time, is there anything you've ever been really early or really late for? Na-na-na-na-na-na, I don't have to mess with daylight saving time any more! So there.

But I'll answer the question anyway. One is rarely early for anything here. Or on time, for that matter. Late is a lifestyle embraced by the Argentines. Therefore I am not really late when I'm late, I'm merely operating on Argentine time. (Friends and family, keep this in mind when we are on furlough!)

5. What are you most looking forward to concerning Spring? This Sunday marks the first day of Fall for us in the southern hemisphere and I am looking forward to planting our winter garden. Well, Ivan planting the winter garden. It did much better than our summer garden this past year so I'm hoping history repeats itself and we are able to grow lots of yummy lettuce, green onions and other good stuff.

6. Shamrocks are the national flower of Ireland and are picked on St. Patrick's Day and worn on the lapel or shoulder. Do you wear green on St. Patty's Day? Normally yes. I forgot this morning and put on all pink. I'm seriously thinking of changing though. Since I do have a green shirt or seven.

7. One of Caesar's assassins, Casca, said, "But, for my own part, it was Greek to me," which of course means he didn't understand something. Probably his own lines in the play. Anyway, what is something that is "Greek to you," something incomprehensible or indecipherable? Spanish when spoken by those from other provinces. (I am not alone in this; an Argentine friend says the same thing!)

8. Is March behaving more like a lion or a lamb where you live? March in the southern hemisphere marks the end of summer. Nary a lion or lamb in sight.

9. "An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn is all that we ask in return for dazzling gifts. We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later." -Winston Churchill. If you had one extra hour per day every day, what would you do with it? I'd like to think I'd make better use of that hour but, being real here, I'm sure it would be just more of the same.

10. Legend says that every Leprechaun has a pot of gold hidden deep in the Irish countryside. Aside from real gold or money, what material item would be in your dream pot of gold? MATERIAL. lol  Lots and lots of fabric for quilting!

11. "The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you." Robert Louis Stevenson. Look around you right now and tell us about something essential or beautiful very near you that you take for granted every day. Hmmm, I can't think of anything I take for granted. Living here I've come to appreciate pretty much everything, from the electric that powers the cooling fan... to the handiwork of my husband in the bookshelves... to the beautiful creation of God in my yard... to the refreshing taste of morning tea to...

12. Just for a bit o' fun, click here (www.blogthings.com/irishnamegenerator/) and then report your Irish name. Mine is "Zoe O'Sullivan." I love it! Hey Zoe, I'm Isobel O'Sullivan! Oh wait, no my name is really Avril Duffy! Wait, wait, it's neither of those. I'm Eva Nugent!

What a fun way to end this week's Random Dozen -- by taking a truly random quiz that gives you a completely random (and different) answer every time! I could do this all day.

At least one more time...

And now Zaira McKenna is signing off with a heartfelt Irish saying:
"May the roof above us never fall in, 
and may we friends gathered below never fall out."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Poco a poco

It means "little by little" in Spanish. Which is how we've been tackling all that needs to be done since we made it home Saturday night.

I'm a couple months behind with the expense reports (surprise! surprise!) and there are people to see and things to do. Like laundry, housework (how does a house get dirty even when no one is home?) and paying bills...

Some of you may still send checks through the mail to pay bills but I'm guessing more and more are using the online bill pay method.
But not us.  
WE DO NEITHER
We'd love to be able to, since it would make our lives much simpler and free up valuable time for other things.

I am not even kidding when I tell you my poor husband spent almost three hours trying to pay ONE BILL this morning.
Three hours he's never getting back.
It's one of the joys of living overseas.
Where we can't get a local checking account.
Or even a local credit card.
So we have to pay pretty much everything in cash.

Paying in cash is expensive.
The ATM only allows us to get out a small amount each time.
We can stand at the ATM and take money out up to three times in a row,
but only for that set (small) amount EACH AND EVERY TIME.
The ATM here charges us the equivalent of $3 U.S. EACH AND EVERY TIME.
Our bank back home charges us $5 U.S. EACH AND EVERY TIME.
And somebody somewhere charges us a 3% "foreign exchange fee" EACH AND EVERY TIME.
You don't even want to know what we pay for banking fees every month.
It's especially painful for someone who always had checking accounts without fees.
And credit cards without fees.
Because it is against my nature to pay for what I think should be FREE

You know what I think about the most? 
I could buy a lot of chocolate with those bank fees. 

Anyway, back to paying bills...
We stand in long lines at Rapipagos or in offices (I use the inclusive "we" but it's really Ivan, and only Ivan who does this, for which I am very thankful because standing in line to pay bills would probably send me right over the edge where I already hover dangerously close).
And often when it is our turn (again I use the inclusive because I join Ivan vicariously in this experience) we discover the computer system is down and it will be necessary to come back at a later time. 
It's also not unusual to find the bill has been delivered late so we are already behind in a payment. 
And will be required to pay a LATE FEE.

Don't even get me started.

Oh yeah, too late for that.

Ivan thought he'd get ahead of the curve and do his level best to pay the phone bill online with a credit card.
HA!
He's been able to pay the cell phone bills online recently and he thought surely he could do the same with the fixed phone line. 
Since they're owned by the same company and all.
You know where I'm going with this, right?


But one of Ivan's qualities is PERSISTENCE.
The online service wasn't working so well. 
It kept telling him our credit cards did not have viable numbers.
So he called the phone company.
He was on hold a really, REALLY, REALLY long time.
When he finally talked to a real person, they acted like they were going to help and then they hung up.
He called again.
And he was put on hold a really, REALLY, REALLY long time again.

It took multiple calls and a lot of patience...
...AND ALMOST THREE HOURS...
...but he did get the bill paid eventually.

And when it was over my eternally optimistic husband cheerfully said,
"Now that I know how to do it, it shouldn't take so long next time."

Yeah, right.
I'll let you know how that goes.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Project 365, Weeks 10-11

I'm finally catching up with Project 365 after being without internet most of the past two weeks while we traveled. Lots of photos to share!

I've only included one photo from last Monday when we were in Buenos Aires but hope that after you finish looking at today's Project 365, you'll take time to check out Thursday's post that includes many more PLUS a video!

As most of you know, we traveled to Uruguay for our annual missionary conference. We left Monday, March 1st, and the first photo I'm sharing was taken at the restaurant where we stopped for lunch during the 11-hour drive to Colón, Argentina. This is the owner/manager standing in front of just a few of the many photos lining shelves throughout the large dining area. When we asked about them, he proudly shared that they were customers and said that many of the "kids" have now become adults and still come in!
Ivan has a friend in Colón that we stopped to visit and we were fascinated by his dining room chairs that were hand-caned with corn husks! Absolutely beautiful workmanship.
Colón is a lovely city and we hope to return some day when we have time to explore. As it was, we arrived late Monday evening and left early Tuesday. On our way out of town we stopped and took this photo by the Uruguay River.
Crossing the border, we found trucks lined up for a mile or more on either side, waiting to be cleared through customs.
Many of the drivers had pulled out tables and were drinking mate (herb tea) while they visited with one another. Looked like they were prepared for a long wait.

Conference was at a campground within walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean.
The ladies have an afternoon tea each year and I was so busy enjoying that time with the other women that I forgot to take any photos during the tea. So I only have this one I took beforehand as they were setting up.
Last full day of conference we took a group photo (which is missing our teammates who had to make a quick trip to the dentist's).
Taking advantage of being so close, we spent a couple days in Buenos Aires on the way home. We took the ferry from Uruguay to Bs. As. Waiting to board, our car is in the lower left-hand corner (with the duffle and suitcase on top).
We waited for our friends at the port in Bs. As. since they were booked on a later ferry. It was fun to walk around; about thirty HUGE sailing vessels were there for a regatta and, because cruise ships dock here, they've turned the area into a very cool shopping/restaurant district.
The missionary friends who hosted us have a park ministry on Sunday evenings. They play games and have story time with whatever kids show up.
I hope you take time to check out the photo-intensive post about our tour of the city on a double decker bus. Included in that post is a short video of these folk dancers in La Boca.
Tuesday was the loooooooong trip home. Twelve hours in which I slept off and on. Conference and Buenos Aires were fun but exhausting! I didn't even think about taking a photo but Ivan snapped this amusing shot in a bathroom along the way.
It looks like it says "No U.S.A." but that's because the cardboard is folded in such a way that the "r" on "usar" can't be seen. LOL

Wednesday I have no photo. If I had, it would have been the mounds of laundry we worked on all day (and Thursday too). Four people, nine days, plus sheets and towels for the week of conference = A LOT OF LAUNDRY.

While we were gone it must have rained quite a bit because the yard was full of flowers, from almost every rose bush in bloom to masses of morning glories cascading over the fence. 
Friday we took our friends to Sta. Rosa. They're going to spend a couple of weeks there resting (we hope!). We were showing them around the area when we saw this beautiful double rainbow.
The last photo is for my mother-in-law. I know she'll be interested in seeing the new grocery store in Sta. Rosa.  
As much as I enjoy traveling and seeing new places, it is VERY good to be home :-)  In the past two weeks we've put over 2700 km on the car (1701 miles, to be exact). I'm quite happy to unpack the suitcase and stay put for a while.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Very First FLASHBACK FRIDAY


Mocha With Linda is starting a new meme that sounds like fun -- Flashback Friday will give us a chance to swap stories about specific times/experiences in our lives. You can join the party by posting your flashback on Friday and then linking up over at Linda's blog.

So first up: How and when did you learn to drive? Do you have any particular memories associated with getting your driver license? How old were you when you got your first car and what was it? Who paid for it?

Our high school offered driver's education with simulators. Obviously driving is one of those things best learned through experience so my mom, knowing better than to try and teach me herself, asked one of my cousins to work with me. Arthur was the quiet cousin and why he agreed I'll never know. His instructions were succinct to the point of being nonexistent but I didn't really notice since I was busy chattering up a storm. Which is my default position.

Then we hit a really rough patch of road and I fought to maintain control, slowing slightly but forging ahead.
Until Arthur quietly suggested I pull over.
"Why?" I wanted to know. Wasn't I doing a good job?
Well yes, he said, but he thought it might be a good idea if I stopped so we could change the flat tire.
 And here I'd thought it was just a bumpy road.

Then came the driver's test. HUGE FAIL. I couldn't parallel park to save my life.

The whole experience so freaked me out that it took me two more years to gather up my courage and try again. We didn't own a car and I had to borrow one so for my second attempt I drove a big old pickup truck. And PASSED. Yippee!

My first car was a used Chrysler New Yorker which I totaled eight days after I got it. It was a gift from my pastor and his wife.

My dad gave me my second car. It took two months to kiss that one off.

Can you see why my nickname was CRASH?!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Day in Buenos Aires on the Double-Decker Bus

Not feeling chronologically inclined today, I'm going to start with the end of the trip. Because it is freshest in my mind and I have a gazillion photos to share. Plus a little video. No, this is not a Project 365 post although it sure seems like it :-)

After conference ended on Saturday we headed across the river on the ferry to spend a couple days in Buenos Aires. We only ended up sight-seeing for one day but we packed a LOT into that single 17-1/2 hour day. Based on the recommendation of several people we opted to do the double-decker bus tour of the city because it allows you to get on and off at will.

We left our friends' house at 7:15 Monday morning; it wasn't still dark, but almost. Taking a bus and then the subway, we ended up downtown by Café Tortoni, a Bs. As. landmark. Opened in 1858 and remodeled to its current glory in 1893, it has seen more than a few Argentine movers and shakers plus celebrities from around the world sit down at its marble-topped tables for cups of café con leche. It's a huge place, easily accommodating hundreds -- although that morning there were only fifty or so.
I'm not a huge fan of bread and coffee every morning, and that day I just wanted yogurt and fruit salad. Not too many places serve it but Café Tortoni does, which made me very happy. But if I had been in the mood for bread, my friend K's breakfast was bountiful enough for all. We had to laugh when it was set on the table. Then we understood why the waiter had scooted a second table up next to ours before bringing out our order. K's platter was HUGE!
On the way to buy the tickets for the double decker bus tour we passed a used bookstore and ending up spending over half an hour there. For those who know us and our friends, you know we're all bibliophiles. I found a January 1958 issue of Popular Mechanic (in Spanish) for Ivan while he enjoyed talking to the shop keeper -- who had been personal friends with Jorge Luis Borges and other famous Argentine authors.

[This is my kind of sight-seeing; meandering at our own pace so conversations like that are possible.]

The bus was equipped with headphones and jacks for a multitude of languages.
We climbed to the open, upper-level deck for better views of the city.
This group of protesters had blocked off all but one lane of traffic on a major street. Most protesters are professionals; protesting for hire is how they make a living.
The tour looped around the city and we opted to get off in La Boca first. Right along the river, this area was populated primarily by dock workers who scrounged materials from the shipyards to build their roads and homes. Here's a picture of the wooden sidewalk (in front) and cobblestone street (the stones were ballast from England).
Their homes were put together piecemeal with bits of salvaged tin, wood and paint. Initially the colors were simply because of necessity since they used whatever leftover paint they could find but over time it evolved into the "signature look" of La Boca.
Young tango couples stake out corners, willing to give impromptu dance lessons or take photos with the tourists. Other dancers are employed by the restaurants to provide mealtime entertainment. At lunch we sat at a table on the edge of one sidewalk café, able to watch tango there or turn around and watch these folklore dancers at the next restaurant.

Hopping back on the bus we meandered around to Puerto Madero, where the ferry had docked on Saturday evening. While waiting for our friends that night we had wandered around the port area and found a great café serving loose tea (K has a passion for tea) and wonderful food. We'd been so full after dinner that night we didn't have room for any of the delicious looking desserts. So Monday we decided mid-afternoon tea and dessert at the Central Market Café was imperative.
Soledad Pastorutti and her entourage were setting up for a concert on the nearby bridge. Ivan walked over and took a few photos as they were trying out the sound system.
Little did we realize what that concert would do to our plans.

We had decided to catch the next-to-last bus from Puerto Madero but discovered that the police had blocked off the street where we were supposed to catch it, since that was right by the concert venue. Not sure what to do, we waited (and waited and waited and waited) on that corner until we saw the bus a block away and ran to catch it.

And then we just sat in traffic for well over an hour. Going nowhere, along with all those flooding into the area for the concert. Traffic was at a virtual standstill. After an hour inching along one city block, the driver finally made it to the corner and turned the only way he could to get away from the traffic jam. We figured he'd just forego the rest of the tour since it was so late but, no, we did it in the dark. It did give us a good idea of where things are located though, for future visits to the city. Some day we'd love to visit the botanical gardens, the zoo, and the art museum.

Anyway, it was well after nine by the time the tour ended and by then the tea and dessert were but distant memories. Not being familiar with the city, we wandered up and down streets looking for a place to eat. It took a while to find a place serving more than sandwiches. We're used to slower service and a meal stretching out for a couple hours, but we told our server we had time issues. He still took a sweet forever. Ivan normally has the patience of Job but even his wore thin that night.

It was 11:30 p.m. before we made it back over to the subway, only to discover it had closed for the night.

Downtown. 11:30 p.m. Over an hour from where we were staying with missionary friends.

Let me say I was so thankful for my fluent biligual husband! He was able to find out an alternative way home using the bus system, which took longer but did eventually get us back to our friends' house. At 12:45 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Loooooooong day. But a very good one, with lots of photos and memories.

Including this big green shoe. No particular reason to take this photo except it amused me.
At midnight it doesn't take much.