Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A lot of randomness

Thought I'd write a quick post before taking a walk. Which I can do because it's a gorgeous day! In fact, here's what it is right now:
And this is equivalent to December 27 in the northern hemisphere! Gotta love our mild winters :) I'm sure there were days we took walks in December when we lived in Michigan, but I'm equally sure we were bundled up in winter coats, scarves, hats, gloves and boots.

I prefer to take walks with Ivan, but Charlie had a day off school so is Ivan is working with him at the lot today. They're getting ready to pour a new floor in the bedroom of the casita. Earlier this month we figured out that the floor was EXCESSIVELY uneven. To the tune of up to 7 cm in spots. Here's the bedroom a week ago, when they started making level "lines" of cement in the bedroom:
Before this they'd gone through the whole house putting small piles of cement with tiles on top, marking the level line. Here's a shot of the piles in the hall/going into the bath:
As you can see, the bathroom is going to have to have a new floor. We briefly considered leaving it as is, but when Ivan saw that the step down would be about 8 cm (once the tile was laid in the hallway), he decided it was better to just make it all level.

Here's a close-up of a pile in the kitchen, with the tape measure beside it:
That's 5 cm (or 2 inches) off. It's even worse by the kitchen sink, but I couldn't take a photo of that one because there was too much stuff stacked in that end of the room. It's clear that once they finish pouring the new floor, the kitchen sink will come to about the top of my legs. Not good!

I wasn't a fan of what's in there anyway. The counter is a poured cement slab with tiles on top -- and ugly tiles at that. Plus the sink is rather small. What I'm saying is that it won't break my heart when Ivan yanks it out of there.

Last Friday Ivan saw an ad in our little weekly paper for some used kitchen cabinets with a sink, and he jumped on it. We've learned things like that tend to go quickly. The cabinets aren't in the best shape, and the counter top is a mess, but I plan to sand and paint the cabinets white anyway, and we can at least salvage the sink and faucet.

The man also had some other used appliances for sale and we ended up getting the whole shebang for a good price. There's a stove we'll use in the casita, a hot water heater we plan to take and install at the house in Sta. Rosa, and even a dish washer for my future house! I thought it would be years before I got one (if at all) so I'm pretty pumped about that :)

The pressure is really on to get the casita ready to move into, and finish the garage so we can store all our junk stuff prized possessions in it. We have to move in TWO MONTHS. Yikes! I've already been packing and re-packing in preparation for the move. I don't want to wait until the end and then be going crazy trying to get organized.

I've put a lot of thought into (and made multiple lists) of what we will need/can fit into the casita. And everything else has to be packed. BUT... I'll need to be able to easily get to things like seasonal clothes, extra dishes (when we're hosting group activities), etc. So I'm also thinking about where we'll store things in the garage; i.e., what can go in the back because we won't need it until we move into the house, and what will need to be right up front for easy access.

In the midst of all the building/repairing/packing/preparation for the move, there are other things going on too. And I'm trying to carve out time to be creative once in a while. Lately I've had NO time for sewing, but I have had some fun in the kitchen. I finally got around to trying one of the (many) recipes I'd pinned. It was SOOOOO good! Definitely a keeper. In fact, just thinking about that chicken tikka masala makes my mouth water. I did do it a little differently than the recipe, in that I didn't have boneless chicken to work with, but used leg and thigh sections, so when it came time to cook them, I baked them for about 35-40 minutes.

What's funny is that I meant to make the butter chicken but accidentally clicked on the tikka masala recipe instead, and didn't realize it until I was almost done! So the butter chicken is the next new thing I want to try, once I get another good deal on chicken.

A couple weeks ago I ran into the grocery store to pick up a few things and noticed they had pata/muslo (leg and thigh sections) on sale for $7.99 pesos per kilo. Now that's a deal! I picked up what I could fit in my teeny tiny little freezer. We've used it all and I'm hoping they run another special like that soon! For comparison, pata/muslo usually sells for about $24 pesos per kilo, and boneless chicken breast is a whopping $45 pesos per kilo. Normally I buy whole chickens when they go on sale for around $12 pesos per kilo, but it's nice to have smaller pieces on hand too.

Enough about chicken. I'm anxious to get out and enjoy the beautiful day! Hope you're having one too!
P.S. Thanks to all those who are praying for my friend -- please keep praying! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

The big C

It's been a tough week.
Actually it's been a tough month.
Someone very dear to me has been walking a road all too familiar these days: Doctor...mammogram...biopsy...bad news...

It's her news to share, in her own time.
But you don't need a name in order to pray, and that's what I'm asking you to do.
Bathe her in prayer.
As she meets with the surgeon.
As she weighs her options.
As she tells family and friends.
Bathe her in prayer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day

For Father's Day we enjoyed an asado, courtesy of our current house guest, Tomás.
Everything was prepared on the grill: beef, morcilla, tomatoes, onions, butternut squash and red peppers with mozzarella. It was fabulous!

Tomás is a British MK who is studying aeronautical engineering in Cordoba. Recently he cut his hand quite badly while washing dishes; he actually severed a tendon. His dad came to be with him when he had surgery to re-connect the tendon on June 7th, but he needed to return to Salta, so once the swelling went down and they were able to put a permanent cast on his arm June 11th, Tomás came here to recuperate. He needed to stay in the area while finishing exams at the university. He's been a very easy house guest, and we'll miss him when he leaves this evening. His final exams were today and he's catching a bus to Salta to spend the winter break with his family.

We also enjoyed a nice long skype visit with our son in the afternoon, when he called to wish his dad a Happy Father's Day. It was fun to catch up with him and hear how their plans are going regarding a big move later this year. We got on google earth and saw where his company headquarters are located in San Francisco. I love being able to move the little man around and see the street like you're standing right in front of the buildings. That is such a cool feature!

This was the first year we became aware of another cultural difference, having to do with Father's Day. My guess is that we didn't learn about it sooner because we had not developed close enough relationships the first couple years, and last year we were in the U.S. when Father's Day rolled around.

Anyway, all that to say: Apparently Father's Day in Argentina is considered a day for men to honor one another with personal visits. I'd like to find out if this is something unique to this area (like high school graduation open houses in the Midwest) or if it's typical throughout the country.

Mid-afternoon Abram and his three children and granddaughter stopped in to see us. They brought máte and bizcochos, and I quickly put together a picada of ham, salami and cheese cubes with a dish of olives on the side. We enjoyed catching up with them (we hadn't seen Ruth or Joel in over a year) and being entertained by Uma, Abram's adorable granddaughter.
But we still didn't realize the significance of the visit. It wasn't until shortly after they left that Ivan received a call from Julio and Magdalena, that we finally put the pieces together. Magdalena said they'd been expecting us to stop by all day, and finally just called to wish Ivan a "Feliz Día de Padre".  They'd had a steady parade of kids, grandkids and friends stopping by throughout the afternoon.

So now we know!

I think it's a very meaningful tradition, but I also see the dangers as our network of friends grow! It could turn into one of those marathon days like we used to have back in Michigan, when we had multiple graduation open houses to attend on any given weekend.

Learning about how Father's Day is celebrated here made me wonder: Have we missed other cultural cues regarding special holidays? I'm going to need to ask my friends!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Strolling along the costanera

Today it's overcast and cold; a good day to stay inside and hunker down close to a heat source. Or, in my case, under a blanket on the couch.

But what a difference just a week ago! Last Sunday it was sunny and in the 60s; an absolutely gorgeous day that prompted hundreds to head to the costanera.  With a grassy park area studded with trees along the lake, it's a popular spot for folks to enjoy the outdoors.

I mentioned on my P365 blog that while we were away on furlough last year, the city built a new road right along the lake front. The idea was to ease traffic congestion, but less than a month after opening, the road was closed after part of the sidewalk next to it slid right into the lake. No idea if it was poor planning or shoddy construction, but for whatever reason, the road is not fit for vehicular traffic.

Which means that it has become a popular pedestrian area, as well as a safe place for kids to ride their bikes, roller blades or even skate boards:
We've seen more than a few parents teaching their kids how to ride along this road since it's a safe place for even the little ones to "hit the road":
But the lake is the real draw. You don't have to look far to see a fisherman (I counted more than a dozen in the span of a two block section):
Even though it's a little too cool for some water sports, we saw canoes and row boats:
There's plenty of room for a game of bocce ball:
Or just to sit and relax with friends and drink mate:
I didn't think to take photos of the venders but I found this picture on the internet:
There are always plenty of venders selling these pastelitos, deep-fried-and-dipped-in-sugar flaky pastries. On weekends you'll find little pastelito stands every couple hundred meters.

Now remember, the seasons are opposite here, which makes this like December for y'all. So, do you think you'd like to come hang out with us on the costanera?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Es lo que hay

After Ivan's head cold flared up again Monday, he opted to put off his plans to work on the roof, and instead we decided on a nice "sedate" trip into Cordoba on Tuesday. We needed to drop off our floor plans for what will hopefully be the final corrections (but at least the municipality approved these plans, pending corrections, on our third submission) and Ivan wanted to check up on our DNIs (national IDs). We'd both applied for new ones since my old one expired while we were on furlough, and Ivan's suffered a trip through the washing machine that had left him looking a little peaked (as in, his photo completely disappeared). 

Long story as short as I can make it (we all know my problems with brevity):
Registro Civil, where Ivan applied for a new DNI back in February, lost his paperwork.
Migraciones, where I applied for mine in January, had it ready -- only it turned out they'd used the wrong last name AND a different number. For anyone who knows Argentina, numbers are sacrosanct, and must NEVER, EVER change. As far as the issue with the name goes, here I officially have to use my maiden name and they'd put my married name on the new DNI.

That's the bad news.

The good news is we were both allowed to re-apply yesterday. It took a good portion of our day, but at least it's done.

And we go back to waiting.

Now you may be wondering about the title of this post. Simple really. I've decided to start using this title whenever something like this happens. "Es lo que hay" has become my mantra since moving here. Roughly translated it means "It is what it is" and the reason it has become my default is because so often STUFF HAPPENS and there's nothing I can do about it except accept that "es lo que hay".

While sitting in Migraciones and waiting to hear how to proceed, I told Ivan that he can have "es lo que hay" inscribed on my tombstone. He smiled and quipped, "Yes, but WHICH NAME should I put on it?" I'm sure everyone else in the waiting room wondered about the gringa loca who started hooting for no apparent reason. After all, there's not usually much to hoot about in that place.

In other good news: we knocked out some serious shopping while in the city, stocking up on cleaning and paper products that should last us through the winter, as well as grocery staples such as flour, sugar and tortilla chips.

Which I now have to put away this morning, since I was way too tired last night to do more than take care of refridgerated items.

It was 37 degrees when I woke up and I plan to spend the day indoors, drinking lots of liquids and staying close to the tissue box. Looks like Ivan shared his cold with me.

Es lo que hay.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Izaac's Live Lip-Dub Proposal

Have y'all seen this video? Too sweet for words, and I had to share it with you!
I wonder how long they practiced? 'Cause they did a bang up job, don't you think?!

Have  great weekend!