Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Meanderings

I love lists. I make them all the time and get a thrill out of checking things off, one by one -- it just gives me a huge sense of accomplishment when I see lots of little checks. I also like to use lists when it's necessary to sum up a lot of information in a brief document. Or when things are so random that a list is the only thing that makes sense. The latter is why we're going with a list format today.

~ We haven't needed to use the fans for about a week now. It's getting downright COLD at night! This cooler weather comes about a month earlier than normal. I don't mind it because days are still nice and warm, and I personally sleep better when it's cool at night and I can snuggle up under the blankets.

~ We also had a rainier than normal summer which was great for vegetation and the lake -- which is the highest we've seen it since we moved here 2-1/2 years ago.

~ The lake isn't the only thing that's the highest we've seen since moving here: Grocery prices have pretty much doubled across the board. Except for meat which has more than doubled. Needless to say, we've cut waaaaaaay back on meat consumption.

~ Another thing I've cut way back on recently is picture taking. An inadvertent result of the vertigo. Just a little hard to take photos when you spend the bulk of your time laying down. BUT...

~ I've had very little vertigo the last few days AND I've been able to hear a bit -- not much but a little -- in my right ear the last couple days so we're seeing improvement all around. Hallelujah! So I'm purposing to get back to snapping lots of photos and picking back up with P365 this week.

~ Yesterday we met a young man who's studying aeronautical engineering. He's from Salta but his family is Anglo/Argentino so he's bilingual like Ivan. His great-grandfather came to Argentina as a missionary with the Anglican church, his grandfather became a Bishop here, and his parents were also missionaries with the church (although now they're with Compassion International). He grew up speaking English in the home and Spanish everywhere else, much like Ivan did, and he's completely fluent in both languages. In the course of our initial conversation, we discovered he has an aunt and uncle working in Uganda. Not only that, but they're living in the same town where we lived during the year we spent there! [cue song "It's a small world after all"] You'd have to know how small that place is, really no more than a cluster of houses and businesses by the side of the road, to appreciate the connection. His uncle is the administrator at the hospital just 4 km from Kasana Children's Center in Kiwoko. How cool is that?!

~ The experience Ivan gained while serving as construction manager at Kasana will be invaluable as we build here. The block construction and heavy use of cement is very similar in both countries. And quite different from the dry construction method Ivan employed when building houses in the U.S.

~ Thinking about building makes me think about the architect who happens to be the brother of a friend who just had a baby...the one I'm making a quilt for; the quilt that STILL ISN'T FINISHED. For the last few days I've been quilting like mad, but still have a couple hours of quilting left, plus the binding. I'm hoping to have it finished by the time we go back into Cordoba to pick up my test results, so we can stop and drop it off then.

~ In the process of quilting this one I've discovered a tool I ABSOLUTELY ADORE. I've had it in my "tool box" of quilting items for several years, but hadn't ever tried it out. My bad! This is the best thing since sliced bread! I use a leather thimble on my right middle finger to push the needle through the fabric, and in the past I've always used the middle finger on my left hand as a bit of a guide to make sure the needle was going all the way through the three layers. But it meant my poor finger felt like a pin cushion with all the poking it would get. The UnderThimble changed all that and now my finger is poke-free :)

And that is all for this fine, sunny Monday morning...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Exactly six weeks from today we'll be in the U.S.!!!

Excuse me while I hyperventilate.
Just a tad a little HUGELY freaking out over all that we have to do between now and then!
Not being "fully operational" doesn't help :(

Today I finished the last of the tests that the ENT specialist ordered. Thankfully the machine that had been broken was fixed and all proceeded according to plan. The first test involved being hooked up to electrodes (both ears and forehead) while a set of earphones fed noise into one ear at a time. Not awful, but not pleasant either since the noise sounded like a jack hammer and IT WAS VERY LOUD. Giving me a headache for what appears to be the rest of the day.

The second test was worse though, since they induced vertigo (as if I wasn't having enough of it). Did you know you could induce vertigo? I had no idea. Warm air directly into the ear will do it every time.

Now we wait for at least a week for the results, after which I guess we go back to the ENT specialist.

I've heard from a number of people who have experienced vertigo (for a variety of reasons) but it's always been a temporary condition, lasting anywhere from a few days to several weeks. It's nice to know it's probably temporary although I am well into week #3 and ready for the "this too shall pass" part. Especially after this weekend when I had vertigo constantly from Friday night through Sunday. Saturday was the worst with it being severe a good portion of the day, complete with nausea and vomiting. I was pretty much reduced to a blubbering cry-baby by afternoon.

There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to what brings an episode on, so it's impossible to avoid and/or prevent them. Just learning to deal with them as they come, praying for healing and endurance in the meanwhile.

Monday and Tuesday afternoon during siesta, we used the time to go out to the lot and start clearing along the back fence line. It's been a dumping spot for everything from broken cement to actual garbage. Ivan worked like a trooper and cleared a swath through the brush and chunks of cement and tile while I putzed around filling a small garbage bag or two, then sat in the shade for half an hour before getting up to fill another bag. He's my very own Energizer bunny while I'm more like the... hmmmm, can't actually think of anything this lazy.

Yesterday he dug all around some tree roots because a silly elm tree happens to be right smack dab in the spot where we need to place a corner post of the fence. Tomorrow he'll go back out with a heavy chain and the chain saw and try to cut/pull it out of there.

We're finding that installing a fence is neither simple nor easy when your property undulates like ours, and since we'll be doing all the work ourselves it might take the entire six weeks we have left! Especially since we can only work on it in bits here and there, as we do have other responsibilities.

Poco a poco.
The story of my life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Sound of ... Not Much

Did you know that when you can only hear through one ear, it's REALLY difficult to figure out where sounds are coming from? Ivan called the other morning while out running errands and it took me forever to figure out where the phone was, because there was no sense of direction from what I could hear. Weird!

Arrived at my appointment today to find out the clinic could not do two of the tests because they don't have the equipment. In fact there's only one place in a city of a million and a half that does have it, and that's the clinic that told us their machine was broken when we called the other day. None of the other places we contacted bothered to mention they could only do part of the tests.

Anyway...they did what they could at the clinic we went to today -- which amounted to me listening to various sounds through several different sets of earphones -- which only confirmed that yes, indeed, I do have a hearing loss problem in one ear.

I do, however, now have an appointment at the place with the broken machine in hopes that it will be fixed by next Tuesday.

Welcome to socialized medicine.
Carlos Paz has a population of around 80,000.
Cordoba, the provincial capital, has a million and a half.
Can you imagine Kalamazoo not having this equipment at all?
Or Philadelphia only having one machine in the entire city?
That's what you have to look forward to folks.

Okay, stepping off my soapbox.

While we were in downtown Cordoba we swung by a used furniture store just to see what new stock they had. You may remember we bought some used dining room chairs last year that are sort of mid-century modern. Well today we found a table base with the same leg style at a very decent price. But being miserly with our money we walked away. I think we might check back next week when we go for my next appointment and if it's still there, we'll see... We're sorta torn because on the one hand, we've been looking for months and months and this is the first time we've found one with the same style legs... but on the other hand we are leaving for furlough in just over six weeks, and have a TON of stuff to do in the meantime so if we do buy it there's no way we could do anything beyond store the base until we get back. 

Speaking of things we have to do in the meantime... the surveyor finally made it out to the lot! So now we know exactly where the property lines are and Ivan's ready to order fence materials. He's not sure which type poles to use, so is asking different contractor friends what their thoughts are on the subject. We're going to go basic and cheap at this point because (1) we have almost no time, and (2) even less money :) But we do want to make it good and sturdy. We will place posts every 5 meters and since the next door neighbor already installed fence on that side, it means we need 17 posts total (including the ones that will form the gate in front). Regardless of whether we choose telephone poles cut-to-length or pre-formed cement posts, we'll be using 1.5 meter chain link topped by three strands of barbed wire between the poles.

Exciting stuff!
Or not.
Depending on how you feel about fencing.
I personally am very fond of it and believe that "Good fences make good neighbors."

We will be meeting with our architect next Thursday or Friday. Before then I need to sort through my many scribblings and floor plans and figure out just what we need to show him so he has an understanding of what we want, without being overwhelmed by too much information. Which I am fully capable of providing :)  Too much information, I mean. Brevity is not my strong suit.


Hopefully I'll be hearing better by then because I don't want to miss any part of that conversation!

Right now my ear is pretty plugged and I just hear a whistling/windy sound through it, but this morning when I first got up and went into the kitchen I realized I could hear the wall clock ticking louder than in previous days. I covered my good ear and was thrilled to hear a bit through the plugged ear! Not much, but a little. So maybe the anti-inflammatory medicine is working! My ear also hurt a bit this morning; again, not much, but a little. Before this I've had no pain at all (just vertigo and nausea), so I'm thinking that as it becomes unplugged I'll experience some discomfort.

Never thought I'd say this about pain, but "Bring it on!"
I'm ready to be over this.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Must share link

While catching up on some blog reading, I came across Dorcas Smucker's latest newspaper column and knew I HAD TO SHARE IT!!! Called "Fighting to revive a marriage and exterminate the ants", you'll be entertained and encouraged.

If you're not familiar with Dorcas, you should really check out her blog, Life in the Shoe. She's a pastor's wife, mom, columnist and author who has a wonderful sense of humor and a heart for God. She's also very generous; last year she gifted some of her books to various women, including my MIL.

Go on, go read her blog. You'll be blessed.

"You should have your head examined"

We've all heard this "hyperbolic and usually jocular expression of disagreement" cliché at some time or another. But this time I heard it from a real live doctor who wasn't joking.

I woke up the last morning of conference unable to hear out of my right ear. Weird, right? That feeling you get when you've gone swimming, only I hadn't. Gone swimming, I mean. There was a lovely pool at the place where we had conference but I'm not a big water person. I bought a new swimsuit before we moved to Argentina in 2008 and it still has the price tags on it.

But back to the story... I just figured the problem would dissipate as the day wore on but it didn't. And by the time we made it home 17-1/2 hours after leaving Piriapolis, I was not only tired, I was also suffering symptoms of vertigo. Not fun!

So the next morning (Sunday) we went to the equivalent of Urgent Care, where the doctor couldn't find anything visibly wrong with my ear, but he did, however, give me a shot of antihistamine which took me from plain old dizzy to dizzy, loopy and nauseated. REALLY not fun! And he suggested we see a specialist.

Easier said than done. Monday and Tuesday were national holidays and all the doctors (except in Urgent Care) took the time off. Then we had company (our area director and his wife) from Wednesday through Friday with lots going on... the men taking a survey trip to the northern part of the province, followed by a trip to Sta. Rosa.

So no specialist last week.

Initially we didn't think that was a bad thing because I was starting to improve. The hearing loss was still an issue but the vertigo was mild or non-existent most of the time. But Wednesday evening the vertigo hit again with a vengeance. *sigh* Ivan called and set up an appointment with the specialist for this week and the next few days the vertigo came and went, never too bad until Sunday when the vertigo with nausea kicked in just as I was finishing my Project 365 post. Sunday was not a good day.

I saw the ENT specialist yesterday evening. She followed the same procedure as Mr. Urgent Care Doctor and said I needed to have my head examined, since the problem is obviously inner ear and not visible with the only little scope she had on hand. Even though Carlos Paz is the equivalent to Kalamazoo, Michigan, in terms of size, it is not big enough by Argentine standards to have the facility and equipment to handle any kind of testing like I need to have done.

So first thing this morning we'll be setting up an appointment in Cordoba. Thankfully we're just over half an hour away so it's not a big deal. Hoping to get in today, maybe this evening.

[Edited to add: The clinic that the specialist recommended said their machine is broken, and even if it was fixed it would be late next week before they could get me in. The hospital we tried said we had to come in personally to set up an appointment, they don't do them over the phone. Another clinic has an opening on Thursday morning. The next place hung up on Ivan (this after he got a busy signal the first ten times he tried to call; maybe the lady was having fun hanging up on everyone who immediately tried calling back?). Yet another clinic said they could schedule me in on the 28th. Guess we're going with the appointment on Thursday!]

I've done a little internet research to see what kind of problem it might be. I emphasize "little" because I don't want to freak myself out with some weird diagnosis when it's likely something simple like fluid build-up or skin growing over the opening. I was surprised to learn that it's not uncommon to wake up and suddenly be unable to hear out of one ear. Who knew?!

The experience has given us a preview of what it will probably be like in another 20 years when we're old and can't hear well any more. Poor Ivan has heard, "What? I can't hear you!" a gazillion times in the past 10 days. LOL  He's had some mild hearing loss over the last few years and I've teased him about it. But the sweet man is not doing the same to me. He's been very patient and just raised his voice so I can hear.

The upside is that with the diminishment of sound, I was actually able to sleep during siesta yesterday! Usually the noises all around keep me from really being able to rest. Makes me wonder if I shouldn't invest in some ear plugs once I have my hearing back. Hmmmmm. 

Anyone ever had this happen to them before? I'd love to hear what your experience was like.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Project 365, Weeks 10 & 11

Once again catching up with two weeks worth of Project 365. Had so many photos I really wanted to share that I decided to mix it up with a few collages...

Monday, February 28, found us on our way to Uruguay for the annual missionary conference. Each year all those working with Biblical Ministries Worldwide in Argentina and Uruguay get together for five days of teaching and fellowship. It's a highlight of the year! On the way we drove through extensive wetland areas that stretch between Rosario and the border between the two countries. We saw a number of small "house" boats like this one...
...and were surprised by the cows grazing in the water -- literally. I didn't manage to get a very good photo (we were driving pretty fast to keep up with traffic on the two-lane road) and none of the ones I took showed that some cows were in water up to their bellies...

We broke the long trip into two days, finally arriving just in time for lunch on Tuesday. Near the border we met up with co-workers from Buenos Aires and rode the rest of the way with them. We'll use any excuse to hang out with our friends :)

This glorious flowering tree is a palo borracho:
It was right outside the building where we held our sessions. We really enjoyed the teaching by Dr. Jack Klem but I couldn't get a decent shot of him -- my camera doesn't take great indoor pictures, plus I was at the back of the room so the camera kept focusing on the backs of heads of those in front of me. *sigh* Not the best viewpoint.

But we had a great view from the deck outside the dining hall!
You can see the town of Piriapolis as well as the Atlantic Ocean from here. 

The ladies tea on Wednesday, March 2nd, was lots of fun but my camera quit working right before! :(  But not before I had taken a photo of the pretty table:
Thankfully Ivan was able to fix the camera after doing a little internet research. Whew!

On Thursday we caught a ride down to the beach and enjoyed a little walk around Piriapolis. Our only free time was mid afternoon during siesta which meant the majority of places were closed, but we did snag a yummy ice cream at an open heladería. It was the best chocolate I've had in a long time! I don't care for most ice cream here because it's excessively sweet (in my opinion).  Anyhoo, here's a collage:
clockwise from top left: walkway along the beach, buildings climb the hillside, looks like a slide but it's really a stairwell on the side of this house, an older mansion turned into art museum

Most of the missionaries on the field here are older, which means most of the MKs (missionary kids) are older. But we're now enjoying some younger ones with the arrival of a family with three wee ones -- who received lots and lots of attention :)
We're pretty excited that two more families with little ones will be arriving in the next year or so!

We encountered one of those cultural differences on the way home Saturday; in Rosario all traffic was routed off the highway and around on a detour to the next exit because some group was protesting something and created this barricade:
This is a pretty common technique used by protest groups. It never fails to amaze me, though, that they're allowed to disrupt traffic on a public highway like this. I remember one highway in Cordoba was blocked for MONTHS in 2009/2010!

I only have a few photos from this past week...

But they're good ones... like the steak and salad Ivan enjoyed Thursday when our area director and his wife took us out to dinner.
Doesn't that look yummy?! We both think this was the best restaurant meal we've had in Argentina! I enjoyed an amazing chicken dish with a cream sauce that included mushrooms and slivers of ham with a side of waffle fries. I'm salivating just thinking about it! We'd gone out to Sta. Rosa and this meal was enjoyed at a place called La Rueda in Villa General Belgrano.

Friday we walked down to the river where the men, who had spent a hot afternoon mowing the lawn, enjoyed cooling down in the water.
The water was too cold for the ladies to do more than dip our feet in, but we relaxed in lawn chairs and watched the activity taking place... a family washing their car, the men enjoying the jacuzzi-like effect of the small waterfall, and the egrets catching fish...

Yesterday we woke up to much cooler temperatures -- looks like autumn is arriving early! It was cool enough last night that I wore my warmer pjs. This morning I checked and it was only 51 degrees at 9:30 AM! This is a full month sooner than we typically get this kind of weather. And the 10-day forecast indicates it will continue along this line for the foreseeable future. We should enjoy lovely temps in the low 70s each day, but it will drop into the high 40s/low 50s at night. So while y'all are rejoicing in the signs of Spring, we are heralding the advent of autumn.