Saturday, January 26, 2013

Year Five of Project 365

After vacillating over whether to continue with Project 365, I decided to go ahead, but take some of the pressure off by not worrying about posting every week. Good thing! This is the first Saturday I've had access to the internet, as well as time to actually post the photos. In keeping with a new year, I've started a new blog just for P365 and you can access it via the top button on my sidebar. See, over there to the right? That photo of me and Ivan with the slogan "Project 365: 2013 Edition" written on it? That's the one. Just push on that and it will take you right over to the new blog. With four weeks worth of photos in the first post!

I've also updated the fourth button down that takes you directly to the blog host of Project 365. That's because this year Sara retired and Mama Frans has taken over the hostess responsibilities.

And (hanging my head in shame) I deleted the Prism Quilt--a-long button since I dropped that ball waaaaaaay back. Figured it was time to be realistic about it, because I'm not sure I'll ever finish that particular quilt.

Updating and cleaning out my sidebar gives me as much satisfaction as cleaning out the catch-all drawer in the kitchen.

And continuing with Project 365 makes me happy too, since it's a whole lot easier than trying to keep up with scrapbooks or photo albums. One of these days weeks months, when I'm feeling especially ambitious, I'm even going to turn each year into a photo book.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Paperwork and more paperwork...

Note: I thought I'd hit the "publish" button yesterday when I finished this post, but apparently not. Or maybe the internet was down by that time. Who knows?! It was down for a good portion of the afternoon. ¡Es lo que hay!

While the neighbor's internet is working, I thought I'd get a quick post up.

We finally turned the air conditioner on yesterday. After getting it installed and working on Saturday, the weather cooled down and we didn't need it. Isn't that the way it goes? But we were thankful for it yesterday when the temps kept rising throughout the day. Not sure how much it cooled down over night, but it wasn't much and we were glad we kept the a.c. going when we walked outside this morning to hot and humid conditions.

I don't envy Ivan digging a trench around the house as he connects the gray water system. Within five minutes he was drenched with sweat. It would have been best if he could have gotten started first thing this morning, but he had to deal with some paperwork that could only be done in the morning, so it was close to lunch time before he started.

He's been working on this over the past few days, whenever he had the chance. Between handling what I call the "business of life"* and visiting with people, there hasn't been a lot of 'extra' time.

[*It's hard to explain how much paperwork is involved in everyday life when you live overseas. This week Ivan has had to deal with compliance of a new law, that we didn't even know about until a friend's car was impounded recently. Turns out that the green card for your car, which used to be good for as long as you owned the car, now has to be renewed annually if anyone besides the person on the title is going to drive it.

If you're stopped for any reason at one of the many, MANY traffic controls that the police conduct, they can impounded your car immediately if they find an infraction like that. On our last trip to Sta. Rosa, which is just over 100 km away, there were nine traffic controls. The police set up orange road cones and drivers have to slow down and await direction from those manning the control, whether to proceed or to pull over.

They look to see whether your headlights are on (required on any provincial or national road) and if you're buckled, as well as possible problems with your vehicle (like a broken head or tail light). You can be pulled over for any of those, and then they start digging to see what else they can find. You're required to have certain emergency supplies in your car, the necessary paperwork for the car and driver...

Believe me, they will find something! We've heard stories of missionaries traveling together, and the police saying that because the driver didn't have a chauffeurs license, they were out of compliance and the car was impounded. Or another missionary who kept getting stopped and cited for something, until he finally figured out all the requirements and made sure he had them covered, only to be stopped yet again and cited for not having a blanket as part of his emergency supplies -- and this in the subtropical north of the country which is always HOT. haha

Anyway, it took Ivan part of two different mornings to take care of this one piece of paperwork. And there's always something like this that has to be dealt with, whether for the car, the house, one or both of us... ¡Siempre algo!]

How was that for a rabbit trail?

I do get sidetracked easily.

Not surprising when we've got so many things going. This week between visiting other people, and having people visit us, I've been dealing with paperwork too. Going on two years, we're still faced with medical bills and insurance stuff. Ugh. But I think the end is in sight, at least in terms of knowing where we stand on the numerous statements. We were encouraged to learn that Aetna finally came through and paid my doctor. That helped offset the frustration with Metlife's intransigence on other bills.

It's also that time of year when some of our supporting churches want annual reports submitted. Thankfully once you do one, it's easy to use that as a reference for the others. And after being chronically behind on our monthly expense reports for the mission, I actually had December's done and turned in a few days before the deadline! Go me! 

Needing a break from all the paperwork, this morning I set up my sewing machine and took care of some mending. And this afternoon I'm going to make peach jam. It may sound weird, but I find things like that relaxing and rewarding.

I was going to make jam the other day but discovered we'd eaten too many of the peaches, and I didn't have enough left for a batch. Ivan picked up more yesterday; I'd best hurry up with the jam-making before the same thing happens again!

I'm also hoping we can get out to Sta. Rosa when the grapes are ready to harvest, so I can make jelly. Last year we didn't manage to get out there until after the grapes were over. I also discovered where I can get jars and lids to make cooked jam, rather than just freezer jam. Not the same kind of system that we're used to in the states, but hopefully I can figure it out.

Well, while working on this post I got an e-mail requesting more paperwork. *sigh* Guess I'd better go get busy on that. Or maybe I'll make jam first...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hello, Anyone There?

Without our own internet connection, I rarely blog. So I'm not sure anybody even bothers to stop by any more.

But since I had to be out here in the garage anyway, to deal with some other internet stuff, I thought I'd go ahead and do a post.

Sometimes I can sit just about anywhere in the garage and access our neighbor's connection, but today it's requiring that I sit right slap dab next to the dryer which is against the back wall, closest to the neighbor's house. 

I've pretty much given up hope that we'll get our own phone/internet this year. Because we'll be heading to the U.S. in May, that really only gives us another four months. Meanwhile I'm grateful for our neighbor's generosity but frustrated by how often his service is down. I thought we had it bad when we lived on Canning Street! But over there we'd have it go down for hours at a time, not days. You might remember that he had no phone or internet for most of November. Well, since then it seems to work one day but not the next, and then there might be a day where it works for an hour or two and that's all.

Really wish there was another internet option for us, but there isn't.


Even though we don't have our own internet connection, we do now both have iPhones with 3G capabilities! (Thanks again, Jon and Nat, for gifting us your phones!) That's allowed us to at least keep up with e-mails.

And Words With Friends.

I can even access blogs! But I haven't been commenting much, because it takes so long to type anything on the tiny screen. I must just have really fat fingers or something. 

Not that we've had a lot of time to be online anyway. We spent the first twelve days of the year in Sta. Rosa. The first week we hosted friends and the second week we worked like crazy to finish some projects (but did take time out to have people over for meals several times). Then we came home and jumped right into some projects here.

I spent a good portion of this week sanding, sealing and then painting the hallway in the casita. I think I'm still coughing up grit from the sanding portion of that job! No kidding, I sanded at least 5-6 cups of stuff off the wall. We'd had the walls "fixed" somewhat, in that Guillermo patched in places, making it more even and squared up, but what was already there was probably a very poor cement mixture Ivan said, so it didn't take much pressure at all to sand off gobs of the stuff. I found out after the fact that we had face masks I could have used. At least I'll know for the next time.

The hallway isn't that big, 4' x 5' at the largest, but that's where our washer is and working around it was a bit of a pain. Try maneuvering a ladder around in a space that small with a washer in the way! But I did eventually get it all done, and I cannot believe what a difference it makes. Using white paint made the space brighter, of course, but it also seems so much larger.

Painting the hallway has been on my "to do" list for a long time, but the thing that finally motivated me to actually get it done was buying an air conditioner. What does that have to do with anything, you ask? Well, we decided the best place to mount the a.c. unit was high up on the wall in the hallway. That way the cool air can be dispersed evenly between our two rooms, and I liked that it wouldn't be taking up valuable wall space in either the bedroom or kitchen.

But the walls needed to be painted before we installed the unit -- so much easier when you don't have to paint around things, you know ;). So I'm glad that's done now, and Ivan has mounted both the interior and exterior components of our air conditioning split, so all that's lacking is a little electrician magic. Okay, not magic, just plain old electrician know-how. Hoping our friendly neighborhood electrician might have some time this weekend to help us out!

Thankfully this week hasn't been as hot as previous weeks. It's been in the high 80s/low 90s and cooling down to the 60s at night, so it's been bearable. But I don't expect it to last, so the sooner we can get the a.c. working, the better!

Between coats of sealer, and then paint, I worked on a photo book of our first year of construction. Finished it this afternoon and just got it uploaded and sent for publication. I bought one of those amazon "local" deals for a photo book last January, back when I naively thought we'd be able to get both the garage and house up in one year.


And with all that we've had going on in the months since then, I'd completely forgotten about it. Until the kind folks at amazon sent me a friendly reminder last Saturday: one week before the deal expired. So glad they give you a whole week and not just a day or two. 'Cause I needed every bit of that week! It took a lot of time to weed through photos, then write the text, and finally edit the thing to death. Am I the only one who spends way more time editing than creating?

But anyway, it's done now. Which means I get to check two big projects off my "to do" list this week.

I get an inordinate amount of pleasure checking things off my lists. I just wish the lists would actually get shorter when that happens, but it seems every time we check one thing off, we add two or three. Does that happen to you?

I'd much rather look back at all that we've accomplished, rather than think about what remains to be done. Which is why it was so satisfying to put the photo book together. It was fun to see the progress as the months went by. So maybe we didn't get a house built. But we have a garage! And a casita! And in due time, we'll have a house too.

I know we will, because it's on my list.