Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Whacked on Wednesday

Keeping up the alliteration, since I used it on my last post.
Which was a whopping 11 days ago.
Really burning up the blogosphere, aren't I?

And I probably wouldn't be posting now except Ivan had to make a run into Cordoba, leaving me at loose ends this evening. What's left of the evening, that is. We didn't get home until almost 8 p.m.

Besides writing this, I'm planning a thrilling half hour of Pinterest surfing before calling it an early night.  My eyeballs need to see some pretties after looking at splotchy stained wood and smeared white primer all afternoon.

Might have to get the ice pack (actually a frozen bag of corn) for my sore neck first, though -- the result of priming the bedroom ceiling at the casita
My neck's going to have to get used to it, because it's going to take longer than I anticipated to get the job done. Ivan told me I needed to be sure and really dig the paint brush into the grooves (it's a tongue-and-groove wood ceiling) for full coverage. Talk about time-consuming! I only managed to get 1/3 of the ceiling done this afternoon. Meaning it will take me the rest of the week to finish priming it.

Thankfully the second (and third, if necessary) coat will be much easier -- and quicker -- to apply, since I'll just be able to roll those on. Ivan said as long as I get those grooves good the first time, I won't need to work so hard on 'em next time.

The weather was warm enough I didn't even need a jacket. Not sure if it made it all the way to 70 as forecast, but it was quite pleasant. According to we're scheduled for temps up in the 70s for the next week or so. Good painting weather!

My plan is to spend the mornings taking care of things at the house, and then have Ivan pick me up after lunch to paint at the casita. That way I won't fall behind at home, and can still get the painting done. Having the extra two weeks is a HUGE blessing!

I've gotten some sewing done this week, too. We decided it would be a good idea for me to whip up some covers for the crock pot and the Kitchenaid stand mixer, since we'll need to leave those out on the counter in the kitchen. Because until last week we thought we'd be moving pronto, I'd already packed all my fabric -- and really didn't feel like digging through that pile of boxes in Packing Central to find it. But there was one bin that hadn't made it out there yet, because it was too heavy for me to carry alone. It's full of upholstery fabric and I picked through and found some I thought would work.
Recognize that fabric? Those were remnants left from the cushion projects in Sta. Rosa.

Let me tell you, I have never ripped out so many seams in one project! The one for the stand mixer, especially, about drove me to distraction. It looks simple, right?! I'm not sure if it was because I was tired, or if I'm really that inept, but I basically sewed that thing three and a half times! The one for the crock pot only required ripping out and sewing about half of it one time. (But then again, I didn't line it, like I did the other.) *sigh* At least they're done now.

Even with the extra two weeks, we are going to be cutting it close. Everything is taking so long to get done! Still haven't heard when, or even if, this week we'll have our final gas line inspection. But we're ready, whenever it happens.

Ivan's been working on a variety of projects, including the garage door installation. His older aviation buddy Julio has been helping him figure out how it goes (we bought it used, without the paperwork). Ivan's done part of the welding and installation already, and today they figured out what was left. Not sure how long it will take Ivan to do it, but at least he knows what he needs to do now. That's progress!

Paint is going to make things look a lot better, but I realized today just how completely wonky the casita really is. The walls undulate! Seriously, they have some very interesting bulging going on. But I'm going to embrace the imperfections, and pretend it's like some quaint Greek villa on an island in the Mediterranean! As long as it's bright white and clean, it'll all be good.

I know the trick to making it be both functional and beautiful is to keep clutter to a minimum. I've got the furniture layout all figured out on graph paper, but I'm also ready to "edit" out some of the pieces if it starts feeling claustrophobic. Having spent a year in Africa using mostly borrowed furniture (and a minimal amount at that), I know we can live a lot more simply than we tend to do. But I'm also one of those who really likes MY THINGS -- and foresee the necessity of giving myself pep talks about "letting go" and "purging".

It all boils down to: What do we really need, as opposed to what is merely nice to have around?

That is one difficult question, my friends!

If you were downsizing to a two-room space, what are those things that you absolutely MUST have with you? your non-negotiable items? Come on, do tell! Inquiring minds want to know.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Sunny Saturday

After a good, hard rain yesterday we're enjoying sunshine today. I've got a few windows open to let the warm (low 60s) air in, and I'm wearing a sleeveless shirt. It's actually a little cooler today than it's been most of the week, probably due to the rain, but it feels wonderful. Gotta love the winters in Carlos Paz!

Knowing we couldn't possibly do everything ourselves by the end of the month, we've looked for outside help. Yesterday missionary friends came to help Ivan install a drywall ceiling in the kitchen/living room of the casita. What a job! They had to attach the framework for the drywall to the round, wood beams that are all wonky and not even close to being level. But by the end of a looooong day, it was done.

This weekend we've hired a couple guys to lay the tile floors in the casita. They're brothers who were part of the crew that poured the finished cement floor for the house/garage. Initially we thought it would be just one guy, and it would probably take this weekend and next, but the brothers showed up this morning and they're pretty confident they can knock out the job this weekend.

The rain yesterday uncovered a problem in the garage. Ivan realized he's going to need to fully finish plastering the exterior walls so rain water can't seep in. He's only been able to finish one of the three walls, and that one isn't completely done because now that the roof is on, he needs to finish the seam between the two. The other two sides are partially plastered (as in they have a couple centimeters of cement plaster and will need at least that much again). I asked if we could put our things on pallets and away from the walls, in order to meet our end-of-the-month deadline, and then he can finish plastering after we get moved. He's not sure if that's feasible. He's going to study the problem, and ask his friend Julio for advice.

Julio, his 80-year-old aviation buddy, has offered to help him install the garage door this week. Since we bought the door used, without the paperwork, it's going to take some figuring. Besides designing and building a number of small airplanes, Julio has also built a number of houses over the years. Although he never finished his degree in engineering, he has the knowledge and plenty of experience so he's one of Ivan's "go to" guys for advice on things like this.

If they decide the plastering has to be done before we move, we'll probably see if we can't hire some guys to help. Doing that would still be cheaper than having to put off moving and pay another month of rent -- especially since our landlady told Ivan she's raising the rent by almost 50%! The rent went up 50% over four years and we thought that was ridiculous. To go up 50% in one year is insane.

Costs are rising weekly on everything from food to building materials to gas and just about everything else. Actually I shouldn't say "just about" because we don't know the cost of anything that isn't rising sharply. People are starting to fear that we're headed for hyper-inflation, a not uncommon occurrence in Argentine history.

Which makes us even more thankful that, despite it's tiny size, we can move into the casita and have a set monthly payment (on the construction loan) and not have to worry about out-of-control rent payments.

Middle of the week we'll be taking a little break from work on the garage and casita, in order to pick up friends at the airport and take them home. They live in Sta. Rosa and we'll also be using the trip to haul a trailer load of things we plan to use or store at our house there. Each bedroom has a ledge above the closets with space to store boxes, plus I can probably squeeze a few more into the storeroom. And we're taking some furniture too; things like nightstands, our IKEA Poang chairs, a wicker chest... Anything that could be useful out there means less that we have to store in our new garage. Because it would be helpful if Ivan still has some space to work in it!

The kitchen cabinetry for the casita is all painted and ready to install. We realized that once we get both cabinets and the stove in, there's not going to be space for the fridge on that back wall. Ivan said we'll keep an eye out for a smaller used fridge that we can slide into the 50 cm space remaining (that's just under 19.5 inches). Do they make fridges that skinny? 

I've got almost everything in the guest room, study and living room packed, and I've gone through a good number of boxes already in the garage, sorting according to where they'll go: casita, garage or Sta. Rosa. It's good that the packing is about done because I'll be spending most of this coming week at the casita, priming and painting the ceilings and walls.

Meeting our end-of-the-month deadline is going to be a challenge! But we plan to do our level best to meet it. Prayers are appreciated.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

4th Anniversary

We arrived in Argentina four years ago today.

While we've had some wonderful experiences during that time, I have to admit that overall it's been really, really hard. I don't want this to sound like a whiney post, but I want to be honest about our experience. We select what we do or do not share on our blogs, and for the most part I've chosen to focus on the positive, fun parts. But you and I both know life isn't all fun and games. Today I just want to share, from my heart, some of the struggles.

It all started off on the wrong foot that first year when I was so sick, and it took forever to figure out what was wrong... I don't remember which came first, the doctor who said it was all in my mind or the one who said it was all due to stress. I finally figured out it was parasites from doing some research. But by that time my body was so depleted of nutrients I was severely anemic AND because the whole parasite problem went undiagnosed for so long, it instigated a bout of postinfectious IBS.

And let's just take a minute to consider how being that sick really, REALLY wasn't conducive to learning a language, meaning progress was painfully slow.

Anyway, the second year was spent in recovery mode, trying to get the nourishment and rest my body needed to get back to health. Honestly, it affected not just my physical well-being but my emotional and mental outlook as well.

The third and fourth years presented challenges as well, including an almost 7 month furlough back to the U.S. in the middle of that period. We LOVED being able to connect with so many friends and family! Please don't misunderstand me, but you know, traveling almost constantly is exhausting. By the time we made it back to Argentina we were about done in.

One of those wonderful experiences I mentioned at the beginning of this post happened shortly after we got back, when we were able to get away for a week of true rest and relaxation thanks to the generosity of friends back in the states who gave us a week at a timeshare. Boy, did we need that!

And I don't have to tell anyone who's ever built a home how stressful that can be. While we are only half-way through the project, I can tell you it's already proven every cliché true: it is taking longer... costing more... 

And then there are the things I can't share publicly but which weigh heavy on our hearts. We all have them because no one is free from difficulties or problems. I'm just very thankful we have a God who is all sufficient, and who knows what we're dealing with, and loves us enough to give us what we need each day.

Having said that, I also have to admit I'm hoping (and praying) that in the next four years, some things will change to make it easier. Not that I expect all roses and sunshine. But there are some things that could/should/need to change.

And I'm one of them.

As in, needing-to-become-more-like-Christ kind of change.

Already I'm seeing one experience God will use in the next year or two. We are getting ready to move from a three bedroom/one bath home into a tiny casita with two rooms (not two bedrooms, two rooms) and a bath. Where we will live INDEFINITELY. Because we're not sure how long it will be before we can start and then finish the house.

I've lived in small spaces before, but that was when I was a kid. I think I'm going to find it a bit more challenging as an adult. Just a guess there :) 

So what is God using in your life right now?

Friday, August 3, 2012


I had no idea how many things the word "prime" could refer to, but here's what the dictionary had to say about it:


[prahym] adjective, noun, verb, primed, prim·ing.
1. of the first importance; demanding the fullest consideration: a prime requisite.
2. of the greatest relevance or significance: a prime example.
3. of the highest eminence or rank: the prime authority on Chaucer.
4. of the greatest commercial value: prime building lots.
5. first-rate: This ale is prime!
6. (of meat, especially of beef) noting or pertaining to the first grade or best quality: prime ribs of beef.
7. first in order of time, existence, or development; earliest; primitive.
8. basic; fundamental: the prime axioms of his philosophy.
9. Mathematics . (of any two or more numbers) having no common divisor except unity: The number 2 is prime to 9.
10. the most flourishing stage or state.
11. the time of early manhood or womanhood: the prime of youth.
12. the period or state of greatest perfection or vigor of human life: a man in his prime.
13. the choicest or best part of anything.
14. (especially in the grading of U.S. beef) a grade, classification, or designation indicating the highest or most desirable quality.
15. the beginning or earliest stage of any period.
16. the spring of the year.
17. the first hour or period of the day, after sunrise.
18. Banking . prime rate.
19. Ecclesiastical . the second of the seven canonical hours or the service for it, originally fixed for the first hour of the day.
20. Mathematics .
      a. prime number.
      b. one of the equal parts into which a unit is primarily divided.
      c. the mark (′) indicating such a division: a, a′.
21. Fencing . the first of eight defensive positions.
22. Music .
      a. unison ( def. 2 ) .
      b. (in a scale) the tonic or keynote.
23. Linguistics . any basic, indivisible unit used in linguistic analysis.
24. Metallurgy . a piece of tin plate free from visible defects.
verb (used with object)
25. to prepare or make ready for a particular purpose or operation.
26. to supply (a firearm) with powder for communicating fire to a charge.
27. to lay a train of powder to (a charge, mine, etc.).
28. to pour or admit liquid into (a pump) to expel air and prepare for action.
29. to put fuel into (a carburetor) before starting an engine, in order to insure a sufficiently rich mixture at the start.
verb (used without object)
33. (of a boiler) to deliver or discharge steam containing an excessive amount of water.
34. to harvest the bottom leaves from a tobacco plant.
Today I accomplished #25 (verb used with an object): to prepare or make ready (kitchen cabinets) for a particular purpose or operation (painting).

I find the English language fascinating. I always have, but learning another language has made me appreciate my "mother tongue" even more. And I find it especially intriguing that we learn all the complexities of language as we are growing up, without putting a lot of thought into it. Yes, we "learn" English in school, but when you really think about it, most of what we know is instinctively learned from interacting with those around us and from reading. So that when we are "taught" some fact about our language, we are able to place it in our memory bank with real life examples and experiences. 
In other words, we "get it" because we've experienced it. It's one thing to be taught that "I do" something while "he does" it, but we instinctively understand the truth of this because we have been hearing people say "I do" or "he does" our whole lives. 
And it's a prime (adjective) reason for teaching children a second language when they are very young. Or at least when they're in the prime (noun) of youth, and their brains are still little sponges. Being on the other end -- learning a language as an adult, when it's REALLY HARD -- makes me see more and more the wisdom of this. If I had it to do over, I would push for Ivan to teach the kids Spanish from the cradle. Sadly, there are no do-overs. Es lo que hay. A prime (adjective) example of a wasted opportunity.

Okay, enough with the vocabulary lesson...
In order to have room to paint inside (where the wind couldn't blow leaves and debris onto my freshly painted cabinets) we did some furniture shuffling, spread a tarp down in the dining room, and voila! Paint Central was created. 

It will take me a few days to finish the cabinets. I plan to do at least two coats, and preferably three, to ensure a nice, durable finish. Years ago when I painted the kitchen cupboards at the parsonage I ended up doing three coats and it held up really well, only needing touch ups every couple of years. 

We bought the primer and paint last night, and I have to tell you, it was not easy choosing a color when all we had to go on were tiny little 1"x1" samples. In the end I chose Marshmallow, a.k.a. Sherwin Williams #7001. Which I just looked up online and what I'm seeing on my screen (again a small sample) looks nothing like what I saw in the store. I thought I was picking a grayish white, because I don't want the cabinets looking yellowish after a while. On the screen it looks creamier. I guess we'll see once the cabinets are done!

Looking at all the shades of white last night made me think back to when we were painting the interior of the parsonage before we moved in. Ivan told me I could paint it any color I wanted, as long as it was some shade of white :) He pointed out there are many, MANY shades of white. But for this lover of color, that was a hard pill to swallow. I did manage to sneak in some very pale pink (called seashell) when I painted 8" stripes in the bedroom, along with the white. Which was called "organdy", by the way.

A couple years later we were visiting friends who had just painted their main living area a lovely shade of butter yellow. Ivan commented how much he liked it, and faster than you could blink an eye, I'd gone and bought several gallons of it to paint our main living areas :) In the end, by default and not by design, there wasn't a white wall left in the parsonage. In fact, most of the rooms were some shade of yellow (my favorite color). 

Which is why it might surprise you to learn I'm planning on painting the interior of the casita white! Yes, WHITE! Not just the cabinets are getting a makeover in blanco. My reasoning is simple: it's a small space with only one window per room, so to avoid it feeling like a cave I'm going for bright white and plenty of it! On the walls, on the ceiling, on the cabinetry... It should also really suit the rustic style of the structure, along with the reddish and perfectly imperfect ceramic tile we'll be installing on the floor. 

There's also the distinct possibility I'll choose white for the house. But that's a year or so down the road and I could change my mind. And probably will, about forty-eleven times, before making a final decision. Because at this point I am having a serious case of DMD (decision-making disorder). I love me a little color, but I'm wondering if color on the walls, color on the furniture, color in the accessories might not be too much? So should I paint the walls white, like a blank canvas, and let the furnishings sing?

What's your advice? Are most of your walls white or another color? Do you have a favorite shade of white? If so, what is it? I could use some help!