Birthday Blessings

So I’ve been a bit busy this last little bit and neglecting my blog. Thought it would be nice to celebrate my birthday with a few blessings…

#0010 – Thunderstorms that wash muggy days and rinse them with crisp evenings.

#0011 – Baby birds – with a special emphasis on the toddler version equipped with adult sized feet…

#0012 – Birthdays – you live longer if you have lots of them, so each is a special blessing!

#0013 – Daughters who remember the day even from far away.

#0014 – Friends who call and sing Happy Birthday and make me laugh.

#0015 – The potential held in a rosebud

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Today was Easy

I wasn’t even looking for things for which I was grateful today, but they found me. 🙂

#0004 – Rainbows! I realized the weather was perfect tonight to breed rainbows so dashed outside to look. Not only was I rewarded with a swath of color splashed across the stormy skies, but it was a rare complete bow. I ran back into the house for my camera, but when I looked to the sky 60 seconds later, it was reduced to two partial arcs. I wish I’d waited and savored the moment while I had it, but perhaps that fleeting glance will live longer in my mind than if I’d had it long enough to lose the wonder of the moment.

#0005 – Clouds – Within 15 minutes, the sky where one leg of the rainbow had stood was clearing and blue, and I realized for the first time that rainbows need clouds in order to show to their best glory. Then the skies cleared enough for a sunset to dance from west to east. From our home, we can’t really see the western sky very well, but the end of the storm made an incredible background for the palette splashed into the east by the retiring sun. I wondered if maybe we also need a few clouds for the best to show in us as well.

#0006 – Friends who bake awesome brownies and share! – Not only did I get a wonderful treat, but I don’t have to endure having an entire pan of brownies at my disposal. That makes it a double blessing indeed! 🙂

Published in: on June 16, 2011 at 10:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fiber Adventure Week – Blog Candy Time!

I just spent some time reading back over the lovely comments you all have been leaving for me over the past week, and I wanted to thank you for the compliments, kind words, and encouragement. As much fun as I had, I think it was enhanced by sharing with you all, and it was great knowing that there were so many people out there reading the posts each day. I love blog stats. 🙂 I’m really wondering how many of you noticed I managed to twice publish my post without putting the pix in and hand to go back to add them…

So, I’ve been rounding up treats! I thought about putting together just one big package, but decided it’s more fun for everyone if more than one person gets a something, so I have lots of smaller packages instead. 🙂 First, though, I want to tell you how to get into the drawing. It’s easy, but if you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be included!

  1. Look back through the Fiber Adventure Week/Weekend posts and scroll down this entry to see the prizes.
  2. Post a comment at the bottom of THIS entry answering these questions:
  • If you could have come to my house and joined me for ONE activity, which one would you have chosen and why?
  • Were you encouraged to do a special project this week? What was it? (This is an extra credit assignment. 😉 )
  • What candy do you want to have the most? Prioritize first, second, and third choice.

That’s all there is to it! Post and answer the questions, and your name will go into the drawing! Since this is a holiday weekend, I know many of you will be busy for the next few days, so I’m going to make the deadline for entering the drawing next Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at midnight EDT. That gives you 4 days to see the post and enter.

I’m going to show you all the candy options, BUT the actual number of recipients will be related to the number of entries I receive. For every group of up to 3 entries, another winner will be chosen – up to the point that I run out of gifts. So if there are 1-3 entries, one package goes out, and if 4-6, there will be 2. 13-15 would mean 5, and so on. Hopefully that makes sense.

So without further ado, does anyone want one of these?

  • About 18.5 grams of hand-dyed, soft yellow and green mawata (silk hankies). Should be enough to make a little pouch or similar sized item – or to just play and learn. Remember, although you can spin lovely, fine yarn with this, you can knit straight from the hankies as I showed in a post a few days ago. I’m eager to start on my part of the stack. These are really pretty in person.
  • A small stack of mawata (silk hankies) and a 6-color Paas Classic egg dyeing kit. Again, this should be enough silk for a small project.
  • My second rug mug, entirely handmade from braided wool roving in sand, brown, and teal blue. Sorry, my first one is not up for grabs, but I think I did a better job on the second one anyway. 😉
  • Six ounces of Corriedale roving and a 6-color Paas Classic Easter egg dye kit. Dyed and spun, you can do a lot with this much, but it is also enough to make at least 4 rug mugs.
  • A skein of unbranded, worsted weight wool yarn, ready to dye and a 6-color Paas Classic Easter egg dye kit. Best estimate is that this is about 220 yards, but that IS a guess! It might be fun to weave with this on a small loom after it’s dyed, but of course, it’s great for knitting or crochet or whatever else you love, too.
  • No photo for this one, but you can look on Ravelry (link in sidebar) to see them all – one download copy of your choice of my individual patterns or $10 off the Concerto Tutorial book download.
  • Lifetime supply of Easter stickers and egg wraps and such. This is just a small sampling of what there is. Nope, I don’t have grandchildren… 😉

Okay, I think that’s it! I need to get this published and go check on my dye pot! Thanks again to you all for joining me in this incredibly fun week!

Sky Drama

Leaving the library early this evening, I noticed the sky was having a dramatic moment. It looked just like some of those powerful skies that show up in oil paintings. By the time I got home and grabbed my camera, much of the energy had dissipated, but I still got some “nice” pix I thought I would share. I really should get back into the habit of carrying my camera with me all the time… sigh…

That was my favorite shot for just looking, but I have some ideas for future uses for the cloud pix below.

I drove out to the edge of town to chase the clouds as they dashed out of town.

With interesting lighting, even the world’s ugliest water tower doesn’t look quite so bad. 😉

Our abandoned depot is always good for a picturesque shot. Today the window captured my attention.

Published in: on September 16, 2010 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I’ve Been Wondering…

It happened again tonight, and I have to say that it’s starting to bother me a bit. I think I’m a reasonably good amateur photographer.  It’s something I enjoy doing, and I work hard to get good photos – at least when I’m not just grabbing quick snapshots that don’t matter that much. I do consider photography an art, and it’s something to be learned, honed, and practiced – and continually improved.

So why is it that when people look at my very best pictures, they inevitably say (with envy dripping off their words), “You must have a really good camera!”

I’m SO tempted at times to say, “Yeh, I do. It’s a magical camera. I point it in the general direction of something vaguely interesting, and it automatically composes and frames the shot, removes background clutter, levels the horizon, assesses the lighting, adjusts the settings, then at the optimal moment, snaps a breathtaking shot for me to show around.”

I can just see them telling Rembrandt that he must have a really good paintbrush… or their mechanic that he must have a really good wrench… or their surgeon that he must have a really good scalpel… or their favorite author that she must have a really good computer…

Published in: on August 27, 2010 at 7:10 am  Comments (2)  
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You Surely Couldn’t Tell It

At least, you’d never guess by looking at my blog… but I’m now three weeks home from what surely is one of the most lovely vacation experiences I will ever have in my life. Despite sundry glitches here and there, and a ridiculous amount of frantic effort preparing for the event, all I can say about Alaska is that it truly was splendid! From “big cities” that felt more like hometowns to friendly little villages that made me feel like I could uproot my entire life and move there quite easily, from dusky, fog-shrouded mountains and waterways to the occasional blessing of a beatific patch of clear, celestial blue, from the shrill “Scree!” of dozens of bald eagles to the breathtakingly brief porpoise escort, Alaska positively overwhelmed my heart and soul with memories that I will truly carry with me for the rest of my life. I have nearly 4000 pictures here that will help. 😉

We were away for 15 days, the majority of which were spent traveling aboard the Royal Princess, a smaller cruise ship, which gave us closer access to some sites and ports than the newer lumbering giants can achieve. We like the smaller, friendlier boats, as they seem to encourage easy acquaintance among both fellow passengers and with crew members. For me, that’s a HUGE plus. I love getting to know people when I travel; it gives much more depth to the experience. Many feel they need a larger ship for the activities, but I have to say, I never lacked for things to do onboard, and often I had to choose one offering over another, much to my chagrin. All things considered, I had far less time than I’d expected for knitting, though I did find ways to sneak in more than a bit of time for my fancy – including a rather pleasurable celebration of World-wide Knit in Public Day, parked on a lounge chair beside the pool with several other fiber-addicted passengers. 🙂

FYI – Not sure where to put this, so I’ll drop this note in here… If you are planning to go to Alaska, don’t buy a coat! You will likely need one, but coats and jackets are profusely abundant at excellent prices and in souvenir styles that are likely to have you taking leave of your senses and buying a few regardless of whether you actually need another. Don’t ask me how I know…

Our ports included:

  • Seattle, where we embarked after spending a very nice morning enjoying our first ever Duck tour, an experience that rather defies description, followed by a leisurely exploration of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, in order to earn cancellations in our National Parks passports.
  • Ketchikan, a most picturesque little town that looks exactly as if it had been lifted off of a model railroad. My breakfast that morning was my traditional room service, enjoyed on our balcony (a first time experience for us) under the watchful eye of a bald eagle, who swooped in just as I sat down, threatening to make me miss my first shore excursion in a frenzy of picture taking, while my heart pounded so hard I doubted a one of them would come out clear. How was I to know that just an hour or two later, I would find myself literally in the midst of a flock of 2-3 DOZEN of them, swooping and soaring above and below me as I stood on the deck of the Aleutian Ballad, snapping photos like crazy, all the while believing I’d wake up at any moment to find it was just one of those dreams…
  • Juneau, a state capital with charm, one of the most approachable cities I’ve ever seen. It felt as comfortable as my hometown, actually! I wasn’t overly enchanted with my first shorex here, as it fell far short of living up to the description that had convinced me it was well worth the $200 price tag, but it did net me two of my most treasured photos – one of Stellar sea lions, and the other the only whale tail I saw clearly in the entire two weeks, despite the fact that the whales were feeding heavily.  My afternoon outing was an unplanned surprise, as my original choice was canceled at the last moment. In a desperate desire to do something other than ride on a sightseeing bus for a few hours or go to a salmon bake, I managed to conquer one of my deepest fears and boarded a float plane to go sightseeing over 5 local glaciers, offspring of the Juneau Icefield. After the eagles, I figured I’d more than used up my quota of “thrill” for the trip, but this little venture proved me wrong – and coerced me into capturing nearly 400 pictures in just 40 minutes. You can’t begin to guess how terribly difficult it was to just pick two of them for this post! It was a spectacular experience, and the second of the two memories of Alaska that will forever vie for top position as “the best.” Both the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman Tour and this sightseeing adventure are very highly recommended and well worth the price.
  • Icy Strait Point, Hoonah, Alaska would have had to make a much better show of itself to be a thrill, and it didn’t even have the weather in its favor, as we suffered an afternoon rain, which added quite a damper to this less than thrilling port. For me, it got off to a bad start with a bear watch, which turned out to be a VERY pricey walk in the woods to meet the infamous Alaskan mosquitoes, view one sandpiper, one American robin, and one red squirrel. In case you are wondering, yes, the mosquitoes really do have FAA numbers on their rumps.Although the walk through the muskeg was somewhat interesting, it being a novel terrain for me, my census of fellow passengers over the next few days turned up that the several dozen folks who had ventured out on each of the five bear watches that day showed that not one of us had actually seen a bruin of any color. My suggestion is to do your homework. If the salmon aren’t running, don’t waste your money – unless seeing robins and muskeg are worth over $100 to you. In the afternoon, I took a Hoonah sightseeing tour, then went to a cultural show. Sightseeing in the rain is even worse than the normal bus tour, since it doesn’t even afford the opportunity to jump out for two minutes to snap the same photos everyone else is grabbing. The only thrill I could have had on this trip was lost, because the juvenile bald eagle was frolicking on the other side of the bus, and oddly enough, no one over there was offering to trade me seats (or even listening to the guide at that point, for that matter!) 😉 The redeeming value of Hoonah was definitely the cultural dance performance, nicely and homily presented for the small group of damp tourists puddled on the much larger bleachers in the lodge. It was a very pleasant interlude in an otherwise lackluster day.
  • Kodiak struck me as a very homey place in many ways. It’s not everywhere that a tourist asks for directions winds up with a private tour of the town in a patrol car! I enjoyed my “on my own” visit to the small Alutiiq Museum, but I wish I’d had more time available – and that the items in the museum shop had been a good bit closer to my price range, as there were some really awesome offerings. A few members of the local Su’nash tribe put on a dance performance in the middle of the town late in the morning, and despite the paucity of number and the atypical female drummer, it was nice to see. My afternoon shorex was called a Russian Heritage Tour. Perhaps my expectations were a bit high, having been so enamored with St. Petersburg, but I still think this could have been much better with only a few small changes. First and foremost, the guide, who gives every indication of having developed the entire tour on her own, chose to not take us to the Baranov Museum, which is there for the express purpose of sharing the Russian Heritage of Kodiak. I would have far preferred to see that museum than to take the rather wearying bus trip through the town, which did nothing to focus us on the actual point of the tour in the first place. Secondly – and I don’t know if there is such a place in Kodiak, but I saw them in several other towns we visited – instead of our rushed shopping stop in a local gallery, it would have been a nice touch to have gone to a Russian shop. I’m glad I bought the lacquer box in Juneau instead of waiting! The high point of this tour for me was the delightful Father Erasmus of the Russian Orthodox church in the area, who led us through the church and the seminary chapel. The tea at the end was a quaint and homespun affair in a church basement. The food was far from authentic, at least compared to the fare I had in Russia, but it was tasty if a bit sparse. The entertainment was similar – mostly Russian music, mostly sung in English, well performed by sometimes amusingly costumed musicians who obviously loved what they were doing. All in all, it was definitely less than I’d hoped, but it also wasn’t a Hoonah Bear Watch. 😉
  • Seward was a bit of a mad dash, as there were things we wanted to see in the couple hours we had before our cruise. First stop was the Kenai Fjords National Park office for our passport stamps, then on to the Sealife Center. What a terrible disappointment it was to have to leave there so soon! I highly recommend several hours of exploration in that delightful place – and don’t bother booking a tour. It’s extremely accessible from the city bus that makes constant rounds through town. This is the place to see all the mysteries of the deep up close and personal, touch sea urchins, get photos of puffins… Then when you are done, swallow some motion sickness pills and get on one of the tour boats that will take you on a most lovely exploration of Kenai Fjords National Park! Despite the cold, fog, rain, and general atmospheric gloom, I’d consider this a keeper of a trip. This is where I finally saw sea otters, which made it a hit for me right there. How totally enchanting it was a bit later to be suddenly joined by a small group of porpoises boisterously leading our boat through the swells and thrilling those of us braving the elements and hanging over the bow of our little vessel! I do so hope I can eventually figure out how to share the video I took of that fantasy come true! Equally interested in us for awhile was a small pod of orcas, and we also saw humpbacks, puffins by the dozen more sea lions, and gulls by what was likely the millions in their rookeries! This is an outing to choose by menu. The homemade cookies were great – but the chicken wrap sandwiches and watery lemonade were as dismal as the weather… and the other company offers prime rib and a National Park Ranger… but doesn’t pay Princess a kickback, so…
  • Skagway, as a stop, gets good marks, though the town definitely doesn’t have it all together. It’s a wonderful little place, looking very much like I would picture a gold rush town, but where that digresses from those days is that now Skagway rolls up its streets in the late afternoon, even when there is a cruise ship in port. I found myself with money to spend, an ideal souvenir in mind, and nowhere to buy it! Everything else about this stop was quite good, though, and it’s why I wasn’t in town much earlier. We took a bus trip out into the Canadian wilds, through some picture puzzle scenery and into the Yukon, where we gulped a hurried lunch, panned for gold, and rode on a summer training dogsled (and believe it or not, I actually knit a few stitches on said sled just to say I’d done it!), before heading back to Fraser. There we boarded the White Pass & Yukon Railroad for an inspiring trip back to Skagway, spotting wild caribou and our only grizzly bear of the trip. This is a must do trip, even though it could be improved by skipping Carcross and adding the unsatisfying 15-minute rip through that town to the Caribou Crossing stop. I doubt the people of Carcross would agree with me on that, though. 😉 I will add that the shop at the train station in Skagway is absolutely the single best souvenir shop I’ve seen anywhere on American soil, and I can think of only one I’ve seen anywhere else in the world that might rival it in my mind.
  • Victoria, British Columbia… For some reason, our shore excursion options were just really lacking, and I’m glad I didn’t feel driven to take one. Instead, I ventured out on my own, enjoying a harbor ferry tour and a carriage ride, plus a mini yarnshop crawl. I only wish I’d had more time, as I so wanted to wander through Thunderbird Park… and once I got there, I found that the waterfront around the Empress and the Parliament was inhabited by street vendors with lovely Native handcrafts that enticed me as I rushed past… sigh…
  • Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm Fjord we viewed from the comfort of our ship. Both were lovely and definitely made for enjoyable days, but they also brought some disappointments to one who had expected to see some superb wildlife and the excitement of glaciers calving. In Glacier Bay, there was plenty of cracking and groaning, whetting our excitement, but the glaciers couldn’t be bothered to do more than spit a bit, and my biggest excitement for the day turned into seagull shooting – a la camera. This would be a Black-legged Kittiwake. Wanna guess how I know that? Tracy Arm Fjord was simply magnificent. However, there is a bit of a catch 22 with glaciers, and we got stuck at the wrong end of it. Having been promised that Tracy Arm is where we’d be able to see the big action, I was more than eagerly anticipating this day, especially after the calving bust in Glacier Bay. Well, the glaciers were doing their thing, alright. In fact, they were doing it so well that the fjord was clogged with ice, and it wasn’t safe to take the ship past the last turn so we could actually SEE the glacier. Instead, we got to sit in the middle of a magnificent, ice-filled fjord, messing up the photos of the passengers on the bigger ship which couldn’t get even as close as we did. I didn’t realize just how massive were my surroundings until our ship’s four-passenger rescue boat went out on a photographic expedition and nearly vanished into insignificance in the scenery. It was impossible not to be impressed, glacier or not. See if you can find the boat in this photo. Two hints: 1. It’s orange. 2. It’s partially hidden behind an iceberg. (And you can expand this photo by clicking on it!)

Honestly, this is such a tiny capsule summary of the trip that it scarcely does it justice, but Alaska rather defies any sort of compaction. Just the small part of it I tasted in that two weeks was much bigger and more wonderful than I could have imagined, and I well know that I barely stuck my finger in its wonders! This, for us, was a trip of a lifetime sort of deal, one that has been nine years in the making. Often when something like that has come and gone, there’s a bit of an empty feel, but oddly enough, I didn’t come home flat from this adventure. It was a very satisfying journey, and despite my gripes about some wasted shorex money, I’m content.  However, I’m also already planning my next trip to Alaska! 😉

Honduras Journal – Day 2

SATURDAY, April 10, 2010 – Villa Alicia, near Siguatepeque, Honduras

4:15 am – I am NOT sleeping well at all. A series of discomforting dreams and a lot of pain in my hip joints finally encourages me to get up and take some Tylenol. I glance at the next bed over and suddenly realize that Anita is already up for the day. Groan! Thankfully, I’m able to fall back asleep, and though it’s somewhat restless, I doze off and on until it’s time for me to get up for good.

7:00 am – One of my favorite things about Saturdays is that the now familiar tap on the arm comes a half hour later than the rest of the week. Despite my less than profitable night of sleep, I’m actually awake before it happens, and my Tylenol is still in effect, so I get around faster than usual this morning. I feel pretty good when I arrive in the kitchen five minutes early – until Marissa announces that she’s already cleaned out two of the three refrigerators that are on her Saturday duty list.

7:30 am – Breakfast buzzer sounds, and to my complete joy, the week produced so few leftovers that Anita has made a fresh main dish – Brunch Enchiladas. I’m SO glad!

7:55 am – Breakfast clean up starts. I never cease to be amazed by the speed and efficiency of this process, and I actually love being involved in it. Too bad it doesn’t work like this at home!

8:05 am – The VS (voluntary service) boys take turns leading Saturday morning devotions. Today Keith spoke to us about accepting correction with a right attitude. We sang four hymns, with a slight hitch in the middle of singing time when one of the little boys called out the number of a song no one knew. Sometimes I suspect the children just look for something different on purpose, and though I’m sure most of the songs in the hymnal can be sung by someone or another person here, there are a few that no one knows at all.

8:30 am – Time for speech therapy with Jessica. This is a six day a week project, and the physical therapy is seven days per week. Today it’s like someone flipped a switch inside her, and Jessica is suddenly saying many of the phrases that have been a constant challenge perfectly. Marissa and I are both amazed and delighted, and I slipped Jess an extra graham cracker fishy for working so hard today.

9:00 am – My Tylenol is overdue and I’m starting to notice it, so I take a quick walk back to the room, where I remember it’s also laundry day. Since I came down to Honduras with just three dresses, thinking I was going to be here for just a week, laundry has to happen every other day. I gather my towels and a few odds and ends of Marissa’s and head to the laundry room, finding that Esther has already finished washing all the Saturday laundry for the entire home and hung it out, so there is a washer free for our stuff. I decide it’s best not to fixate on the thought of having that much wash done by 9:00 am, manage to get the washer started without help for the first time, then wander into the kitchen to see what awaits.

9:15 am – So far, so good… no cauliflower duty yet. Marissa sends me to the walk in freezer to get a 4 pound bag of ground beef, which I put into a pan of hot water to thaw. It’s the third time I’ve walked through the walk-in refrigerator this morning, and I’m totally sick of seeing the skinned, headless rabbit lying in the bowl there, so I grab a kitchen cloth and cover it, winning the approval of all the kitchen staff this morning. We are having baked potato bar this evening, so the next thing I do is pull the pan of larger small potatoes from the cooler to prep them. Once they are in the roasters, it’s clear there aren’t enough, so I go scrounging in the vegetable bins for the smallest of the medium-sized spuds. No washer this time; Marissa and Jessica scrub them by hand. I drizzle oil over the lot of them and toss them by hand until they are thoroughly coated. They are done until it’s time to bake them this afternoon. Anita is updating the weekly whiteboard calendar. My throat catches a bit when I see my departure listed for Thursday, and Favi has fun putting “Marissa takes off her cast” on Tuesday. After a bit of a debate, Marissa and I settle on Tuesday as our day off this coming week.

9:45 am – Given the choice of working on veggies or sorting beans, I opt for the beans, delaying what I figure is inevitable for a little while longer. As Veronica puts it, she gets out our “bowl of worms” for us – a reference to the massive bowl of broccoli and cauliflower we have to process today – and Marissa starts working on it. When Veronica’s pie crusts start giving her a bad time, she and Marissa swap projects for a while. Meanwhile, Osiris, who is severely autistic, finds herself in a poor mood and creates a fuss, but happily it is resolved fairly quickly.

10:05 am – Adriana makes my morning when she shows up for her daily visit to the home with her aunt. The moment she sees me, she runs to me and begs to be on my lap. I quickly find out that sorting beans isn’t quite as efficient when one is holding an interested toddler. Adriana is Honduran born, but fostered by one of the Americans who has moved here to be part of the community. Mom is away for a few days, so Adriana is keeping Sue busy instead.

10:15 am – I didn’t have a full meal of beans to do, as I’d already sorted some spares last week, so I’m done already. I need to make another trip to the room, and think on the way that I should bring back hangers to for our dresses. I’m back as far as the kitchen when I realize that I’ve forgotten the hangers, so it’s back to the room again. Hangers in hand, I make it to the laundry room this time, put Marissa’s dresses in one dryer and the towels and such in another, then hang my own dresses up. Oh dear! Can it be? Yes, I guess if I want these to get dry yet today, I need to go back to the room yet again, so I can hang them on the window grill – three round trips in 20 minutes. No wonder I’m tired!

10:35 am – I’m back in the kitchen again, and Lynette has captured my attention. She’s making corncakes for Osiris, who has to eat a gluten-free diet. They smell delicious, and I say as much, then am surprised and pleased when Lynette offers one to me. They are good! I bum the recipe from her and quickly copy it. She says they freeze well and reheat nicely in the toaster. I get a quick milk customer, and Gerald, who is in charge of our farming activities is working in the drawer when I go to write down the sale. I ask if he’ll jot it down while he’s writing his own info on the paper, and he says, “No problem.” I grin and say that I owe him one, and he replies that I can make it up by helping with the milking. He gets an unexpected response from me when I tell him I’ve never milked a cow, but I’ve wanted to ever since I was a child, and that it’s on my “Life List.” Almost before I know what’s happening, I am set to help this afternoon. I almost can’t believe it, and I think maybe it’s good that Saturday naps are after lunch instead of at 11:00, for surely I’d have trouble sleeping so soon. I feel like a child who just discovered a trip was planned to Disneyland!

10:45 am – Another customer comes to the window – or should I say three customers. They want 3 “cartons” of eggs, which around here is a flat of 30 eggs, but I have only one available. I get to practice my new skill of flipping a flat of eggs onto the customer’s tray – an action that still makes me nervous to do, but certainly beats moving them two at a time. Then they want 6 quarts of yogurt, but aren’t sure of what flavors, so I bring the entire crate from the walk in. First the lady tells me to pick for her, but I prefer subtle guidance and coax her into taking one each of the lemon, orange, and raspberry, with the remaining 3 being my favorite vanilla. Then she wants some Monterey Jack cheese. I’m not sure if she wants it with or without peppers, so I bring both. She buys both! Her order totals 387 lempira – by far the largest I’ve ever done – then her friend adds another hunk of cheese, which is another 49 lempiras. Too bad the weasels got so much of the last flock of broiling hens, or I’d have been able to sell her the chicken she wanted, too! If you are wondering, a lempira (lemp for short) is worth about the same as a U.S. nickel.

11:00 am – Finally I get to put the beans on to cook. I’m pleased to go through the steps on my own this time. If I was staying a few more weeks, I might even learn to make beans and rice as well as Marissa now can.

11:15 am – A trip back down to the laundry room to gather the finished clothes from the dryer. I’m very pleased with myself for remembering so early in the day. It sure beats dragging the stuff to the room when I’m so tired after supper! On the way back from the room, I meet Carol, and we get to talking about selling stuff, especially on Etsy. It feels so strange to be momentarily connected with part of my life that has seemed so distant for the past month!

11:30 am – I’m bored silly! There is absolutely nothing to do between now and lunch, and my knitting is clear down in the room. I know that if I go get it, I’ll come back to find a string of customers waiting or some other such thing. I go take a picture of the white board with its mixed messages, then help the pre-lunch dishwashers put away the last of the dishes.

12:00 pm – Finally, it’s lunchtime! After grace, I send an extra prayer of thanksgiving, as it’s our table’s turn to go to the bar first – a definite advantage for Saturday’s leftover lunches. I get a dab of macaroni and cheese, some of Thursday’s fried noodles, and a generous scoop of the tomato and cucumber salad I made that same day. I figure I have no right to complain that I missed the last of Brian’s chocolate birthday cake, since I did so well with the rest of the meal. Favi pays me the compliment of saying mournfully that she wishes I could stay longer, and I find myself agreeing with her. I never dreamed a month could seem like such a short time.

12:30 pm – Lunch is over and the clean up routine swings into action.

12:40 pm – Hurrah! Back to the room, and I’m definitely ready to settle down for my nap. I sleep so much more here, and yet I still covet naptime ferociously! I don’t quite make it through my memory verses before I’m asleep.

2:00 pm – I wake up and grab my current book, God’s Golden Children, to read for a few minutes while I stretch and yawn.

2:35 pm – Back in the kitchen again… I start the ground beef browning, put 14 pounds of beef roast in a big pan of steaming hot water, hoping it will thaw quickly, and try to avoid seeing Lynette chopping this morning’s rabbit into pieces. When Kevin comes in, he comments on wanting it eat “her,” and I groan. Lynette corrects him and says “it” is probably more appropriate at this point. Thank you, Lynette…

2:45 pm – The boys have been down to the river with the VS guys, and on the way back, they have one of the boys call and  beg to have milkshakes waiting when they arrive. Anita obligingly begins producing large quantities of Orange Julius, made with orange juice squeezed from the orchard here and milk from the cows out back. When the boys blow in, there are a couple of curious little girls around, and one of the boys announces, “It’s just for us men!” After they down seconds – and a few thirds – there’s another announcement, “Okay, we’re done, so it’s for everyone now.” I raise an eyebrow – but am also quick to grab a glassful. It’s WONDERFUL!

3:00 pm – As quickly as they came, the boys are gone, and the kitchen is quiet again. I stir the beans I cooked this morning into the browned ground beef, then while Marissa is seasoning them to please, I take over gathering and measuring ingredients for tomorrow’s California Pot Roast. A failure in communication results in me putting the ingredients in the wrong bowl, but after she gives me a fairly good natured bad time about it, she tells me I’ll be happier with it as it is now, because it will save me a late evening trip down to the kitchen, since it will all just go in at the same time now. Then she sends me to the pantry to retrieve the big roaster and the crockpots.

3:50 pm – This is it! I dash to the room for a moment, then back to the kitchen to grab my camera, and head out to the barn. On the way, I stop for a couple minutes by the pond to take some pictures of the herons, egrets, and wild ducks, as well as a cow posing prettily, then look for Gerald. He already has things underway, and I appreciate watching him go through the process for a few minutes, before he says that the next cow in line would be a good one for me to do. I decide that I should approach the job with confidence, even though it is largely feigned, and I am thrilled when my first squeeze actually produced results! Although they use milking machines, the first step after dipping the teats is to express a bit of milk to clean the “pipeline.” All goes well, though I forget to dip her again before I let her out of the stanchion. Oops! I get another chance later on, and I don’t forget the second time. I now have bragging rights for having milked numbers 6 and 21 solo, and I’m grinning from ear to ear. I stay down at the barn quite a while, watching and asking questions until Gerald has finished the entire herd. I’m amused to see the mail order catalogue that allowed the twin calves in the pen across the barn to have an American daddy. Jimmy, who helps with milking, is quite impressed that I actually milked the cows, and says I should do it all the time.

5:20 pm – I dash back to the room to change my dress and scrub up past my elbows in deference to my tablemates.

5:25 pm – Back in the kitchen, I see that Marissa and the others have supper completely under control, and I’m at a loss for something to do beyond sharing my adventure and grinning like a fool.

5:30 pm – Supper buzzer rings, and we take turns at the bar loading baked potatoes with meat and beans, broccoli and cauliflower, and cheese sauce. Turns out to be really good! We end up with two severe bouts of laughing at our table this evening. The first occurs when Favi suggests I could adopt her, but after a bit of discussion, the suggestion becomes Marissa adopting her instead. Marissa points out that she can’t because she’s single. Favi says she could get married, and Marissa responds without thinking by asking her to whom. Favi has a ready answer, naming one of the VS guys, and while Marissa turns totally scarlet and tries not to choke on her food, the rest of us erupt in gales of laughter. We’ve scarcely recovered from that when the bell rings to signal the end of supper, and Jeff announces that Jimmy would like to sing “I Saw a Little Wormy.” Marissa’s eyes grow wide with horror, as she strongly suspects his choice had to do with discovering an escapee in his dinner – an easy assumption, considering how many worms we’ve seen in the past two days. Neither of us is able to sing the song for laughing so hard, but in the end, it turns out to be an innocent coincidence. Whew!

6:05 pm – The ever amazing clean up time begins. In addition to our usual duties, Marissa and I pack a row of 16 school lunch containers with potato bar leftovers for Monday. Then I get the big bowl of the tiniest potatoes from the walk in, and we divide them into two crockpots, toss them with oil, parsley, and garlic powder, and start them cooking for tomorrow’s noon meal.

6:40 pm – News has spread that Marissa and I adopted new dolls, so when we go back to our room for the evening, we do so with an entourage of 9 curious girls. Micah and Malachi get all sorts of attention, but still no middle names. Carla finally wraps her ball of yarn, so they are all done at last. Little Anita, noticing the last of my Coke stash (bought super cheap at Del Corral a couple weeks ago), asks me, “Do you drink every night?” I find it difficult to sputter ANY sort of answer to a question like that!

7:15 pm – Our last young visitor leaves and the room is quiet. Despite my intentions to be focused this evening, Marissa and I manage to be distracted by various little things for a while.

7:40 pm – Okay, I’m back on track and in the shower, practicing my memory verses and scrubbing off the effects of a busy day in the Honduran heat. I’m SO glad it’s been unseasonably “cool” this month!

7:55 pm – I get out of the shower and find we again have company. Veronica and Anita, my other roommates, are here, as well as Esther, Sue, and little Adriana. I finally manage to deliver the sewing needles I brought along when I came down more than three weeks ago, and I get some adorable pictures of Adriana trying to comb out Marissa’s hair.

8:15 pm – It’s quiet again, as everyone has gone except Marissa and me. She heads for the shower, so I kidnap the computer to start working on the Friday portion of this log. Words are flowing well, and I’m having so much fun with it that I want to work straight through to the finish, but that’s not an option. Sigh…

10:15 pm – I get ready for bed, read briefly, then turn out the light. Lying in bed trying to sleep is nearly impossible, as there are thoughts and words bounding through my head, begging to be typed NOW! The last time I look at my watch, it’s past 11:00, and I’m wondering how close I’d be to finished if I’d kept working instead of pretending I was going to be able to sleep. Eventually, I drift off, reminding myself I have to face two sermons, three devotions, and a Sunday School class, all in Spanish, tomorrow, and I need to do it well rested.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed the two days I’ve shared of life here in Honduras!

Published in: on April 14, 2010 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Honduras Journal – Day One

There is no way I could do this for every day, but I’ve always wanted to keep a log of what a day working in the children’s home here in Honduras is like. When a day starts, of course, there is absolutely no way to predict how it will play out, and I’ve finally decided there is no such thing as a truly typical day here. I ended up logging both Friday and Saturday of this past week, and thought I’d share them here on my blog. Today I’m posting Friday, and I’ve scheduled Saturday for tomorrow. Enjoy!

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FRIDAY, April 9, 2010 – Villa Alicia, near Siguatepeque, Honduras

6:30 am – Marissa taps me on the arm to wake me up. I do a poor job of stifling a groan, then start mentally reciting the first ten verses of John chapter one in Spanish, which I’ve been memorizing during the sermons I’m unable to understand, while I try to convince my muscles to function. I can’t give them very long to respond, as I have to be presentable by breakfast time.

7:00 am – The buzzer sounds. I gulp a mug of Coke and two Tylenols and make the 50 yard trek to the dining room as quickly as my aching joints will allow. Sitting down to the table, I discover my worst breakfast nightmare has come true this morning – fried eggs. This is possibly the only breakfast here that I can’t even make a brave show of eating. I fantasize about passing up the main course entirely and going straight for the banana bread and yogurt on the bar, but decide to behave myself and nibble on a piece of toast made from the bread we baked yesterday while I wait for the more grateful breakfasters to finish their eggs. Favi and I exchange a quick grin when “Padre Nuestro” is announced as grace, and I reach for the cheat sheet she wrote for me Wednesday night at church. I wonder briefly if it might have been a better choice for my memory project this month.

7:20 am – The bell announces the end of breakfast, and in a matter of moments, the room springs to life with people clearing tables, carrying their plates, silverware, cups, and serving dishes to the serving bar where the cooks quickly sort the incoming items – dirty dishes lined up by the sink, leftovers into appropriate containers, and ketchup bottles back to the refrigerator. Milk pitchers are emptied into larger containers, water jugs refilled and toted to the cooler, and the dishes are well underway in a matter of minutes. Clean up takes much less time than preparation.

7:30 am – Everyone is assembled for devotions. Today we simply sing “choices” and close in prayer. Two of the men confidently sing the tenor and bass parts in “Search Me, Oh God”, and with the children and ladies adding soprano and alto, I am suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty of the music. It’s a moment I could live over and over again and never find tiring.

7:50 am – The school children leave in a clamor of “have a good day!” Marissa hands out party invitations to the preschoolers, then we head to the special education room for Jessica’s speech therapy. It’s good to be back to our normal location after yesterday’s fiasco of trying to do class with her while we three sat on a bunk bed. She did MUCH better today!

8:30 am – As we leave the speech room, we find Rhoda looking for help with Dina’s therapy. Dina is a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome and is missing 40% of her brain. At about a year and a half old, she has varying abilities more in the range of a baby from about 4-8 months old. Marissa helps Rhoda run Dina through a series of patterning exercises while Jessica and I go to the office to copy a paper Marissa wanted for speech therapy.

 

8:40 am – I walk out to our room for a minute, then back to the kitchen to start the day’s work. We are really out of sync today, and end up spending a lot of time trying to figure out precisely what it is that we are making for meals over the next few days.

8:45 am – On the way through the kitchen to her morning special education class, Nerlin, who has severe cerebral palsy, has a seizure. When her mom arrives, she decides to let her have a nap rather than go to school today.

 

8:55 am – Another distraction when Alex arrives in Mom Carol’s arms, wearing the outfit Marissa and I bought in town for him. This is definitely a “Kodak Moment” and requires much fussing over him as well.

 

9:15 am – It feels like we are getting nowhere fast today, and now Marissa gets a phone call. After pacing for a while, I decide to set up for the pre-school party, so I make the 50 yard trip down to the room for the treats and bunny napkins, then set up the table, fill the milk pitcher, and double check my camera.

9:25 am – The weather again forgets that rainy season has not yet begun. We have an intense five minute rain, then the sun is back out again.

9:45 am – Finally some progress toward supper! I load up all the patastes and 4 monster-sized carrots from the garage and bring them into the kitchen to soak in bleach water. Meanwhile, the native cooks have already made substantial progress toward today’s lunch – the pupusas I begged them to make me while I was here. I can hardly wait!

10:00 am – Not surprisingly, 6 little people arrive promptly in the kitchen, then arrive a second time when told they must bring clean hands to the party. Keyla, Karina, Kenia, Sarita, Yesenia, and Jose each pick a song to sing, then we have grace. Snacks of “pink milk” (Strawberry Quik) and Ding Dongs are devoured with delight, but our little guest aren’t ready to leave. They want to play a game, so I learn how to play “Doggie, Doggie Where’s Your Bone?” My pitiful imitation of a preschool voice doesn’t fool anyone!

10:35 am – Back to the far too familiar task of prepping veggies for supper. Marissa takes the pataste (bless her heart!), and I attack the carrots with the slicing side of the grater, then I move on to cutting up a seemingly endless container of baby onions. One of the girls misunderstood at planting time and put out a ridiculous amount of seed, so instead of waiting for them to mature into hundreds of pounds of big onions, we are spending hours peeling and cutting onions ranging from regular marbles to shooters in size.

11:00 am – I’m wishing very much for the normal 11:00 nap, which is being forfeited in lieu of sticking around for lunch today. It will be worth it, I know, but when we aren’t doing much and I’m tired, I have to keep reminding myself about why I’m here.

11:15 am – I get an excuse to dessert my onions for a while, waiting on a customer at the window. She wants a flat of eggs, and we have only 20. Marissa abandons the pataste project to clean 10 more eggs from this morning’s gathering in order to fill the flat.

11:35 am – I’m glad to have another customer. This morning has been ridiculously lazy and I’m feeling antsy! However, it seems there is a run on eggs or something. After I bag two liters of milk, he decides he wants his change back in eggs instead of lempira. Marissa cleans 13 more eggs from the bucket.

11:45 am – Rhoda comes into the kitchen, and Marissa dutifully tells her that we’ve snitched 23 of the “easy to clean” eggs. Rhoda has the job of washing, counting, and sorting the cracked and uncracked eggs this week. Rhoda’s brow furrows as she tells us we weren’t supposed to sell ANY eggs this morning, as they are reserved for a large order. Oops!

11:50 am – Conversation in the kitchen meanders to talk of a couple that has just found out they are expecting conjoined twins. The babies are due relatively soon, and this news is quite fresh even to them. The children aren’t expected to survive more than a few hours. What a sad story to hear!

11:55 am – I finally have the onions done! There is just enough time to clean up, load the slop bucket, and put the veggies in the cooler before lunch.

12:00 pm – The buzzer sounds for lunch, and I waste no time finding a place to sit. After grace, I’m grinning from ear to ear as I eventually finish off four very tasty pupusas, piled with shredded cabbage and red sauce. This is definitely a high point in my 4 week stint here!

 

12:23 pm – It’s strange to just drop my dishes off at the bar and leave the kitchen! However, I’m happy to finally be heading to the room. A quick check for email reveals a note from my neighbor back home, but instead of answering it, I respond to a squall outside out window. The battle over the tricycle resolves instantly when I stick my head out the door, and I suspect I know which party was in the wrong by how quickly she takes off upon seeing me. I come back in to find Marissa in bed, so I flop out across my mattress, aiming to read a short chapter in my book before dozing. Instead, I am paged as having a phone call. Mom calls to share some info with me and get an update on the patient (or impatient). I tell her that Marissa has become totally disgusted with being in a cast and is almost to counting the minutes until her Tuesday appointment with el doctor.

1:00 pm – I’m finally one with my pillow, and barely get started on my memory verses before I’m asleep.

2:10 pm – Marissa and I wake up almost simultaneously. She is ready and out the door a lot faster than I can manage, though. I remember I need to pay my credit card this weekend and figure I should do it now while I’m thinking about it. The phone lines are busy, but I figure it’s better to do this on my cell phone. However, when I dial the number, I get a Spanish recording telling me otherwise. Grrr… Both phone lines here are busy, so I’ll have to do it later.

2:25 pm – I return to the kitchen to find Marissa sorting today’s freshly picked and shelled peas. Remembering my missing sock, I dash down to the laundry room and am thrilled to find it. I don’t have enough clothes with me that I can afford to lose anything!

2:35 pm – Back to work now. I dump all the veggies into the pot to see if we have enough for tonight’s supper. Veronica vetoes adding green peppers, because she seriously dislikes them, and since neither of us can go get them from the garden ourselves, she wins. Marissa sends me to get the leftover lunch cabbage, and thinking it’s in the cooler, I go looking. I don’t find the cabbage, but I find the last coconut raisin cookie and relieve it of its lonely existence. When I find the cabbage, it’s sitting on the end of the counter, and there’s but a spoonful left. Our mixed veggies are becoming less mixed by the minute. The school children flood into the kitchen, turning it instantly from a peaceful retreat into something more resembling Grand Central Station at rush hour, as they clear and repack lunchboxes and claim their afternoon snacks.

2:45 pm – I do one of the strangest things I’ve done since I arrived – help Marissa throw two roasters full of very little potatoes into the washing machine – short cycle, no soap…

3:05 pm – I finally get a free phone line and pay my credit card. I’m extremely grateful that the home has a Pennsylvania phone line via satellite and that it’s working today!

3:15 pm – The clamor of children has dissolved into homework and chores, but we suddenly develop a regular trickle of grinning youngsters all bearing the same exciting news: “Ethan’s dating!” He’s a former VS worker who went home earlier this year. Everyone is very excited!

3:30 pm – Andrea wanders through the kitchen and I just can’t help myself. I ask her if she could pretty please just bring our load from the washer into the kitchen, then almost hold my breath in anticipation, wishing very much I could be a fly on the wall. She’s back in a couple minutes laughing at having found it was a load of potatoes. She good naturedly helps me pick that mess of miniature spuds, now spotlessly clean, out of the tub and carry them back to the kitchen. Seeing what we were doing, Gerald asks if we are going to cook them in the dryer.

4:00 pm – The pre-supper dishwashing crew shows up. I’m sorting dozens and dozens of little potatoes by size for the two meals we’ll be using them, so I start a game with the girls, quizzing them on which part of the plant we are eating when we have our various fruits and vegetables. I ran out of foods before they ran out of enjoying the game.

4:30 pm – Yes! I get a brief break waiting on an ice cream customer at the window. We get the news that the guys are pouring concrete and won’t be in for supper, so the tables, which Marissa had been pleased to have set already, need to be redone to accommodate seating the boys with their moms instead of their VS guys.

4:50 pm – Finally done with the potatoes! I’m sure glad I don’t have to eat any of them tonight. Right now I’m thoroughly sick of potatoes!

5:00 pm – I have a milk customer, and before I get the stuff put away, a second one. Where were these people when I was so bored earlier?

5:07 pm – Marissa checks the rice we have reheating for tonight’s supper – leftover arroz con pollo from last Sunday’s fellowship dinner. It doesn’t taste right to her, and it turns into a major project to try to get it satisfactory – not good considering supper is just 23 minutes away. Meanwhile, I measure the peas for Sunday dinner and blanch and freeze the two quarts that remain.

5:20 pm – Marissa is thoroughly sick of doing the cauliflower and broccoli, and is still fussing over the rice, so I take a deep breath and take over the worm hunting project.

5:30 pm – Buzzer sounds for supper. I’m still trying to finish the cauliflower and broccoli, and I realize it HAS to be done before I eat, as it’s tying up the sink. I sing grace with everyone long distance from the kitchen. It’s impossible to feel good about being nearly done with this project, as late this afternoon, a substantially larger bowl of the same, fresh picked from the same garden, arrived on the kitchen counter, meaning tomorrow will bring more of this less than stimulating activity.

5:45 pm – Finally done with the worm hunt, I move everything out of the way and go out for my meal. The rice doesn’t taste right to me, and the veggie blend is missing something, too. I’m busily thanking God again for the wonderful pupusa lunch, as breakfast and supper have left me very wanting. Then I discover there is a lovely blueberry cobbler for dessert. Suddenly everything seems just fine again!

6:00 pm – The bell rings ending supper. Chairs grumble as they slide out, releasing sated diners, and the ballet begins anew in the kitchen as dozens of plates, cups, bowls, and pieces of silverware arrive for the dishwashers. I notice that the latecomers won’t have much cobbler to share, but there’s plenty of other food left for them. Hmmm… By the time we are done with our part of the clean up, the guys who are washing dishes tonight have begun an impromptu sing along over the soap suds, and I almost don’t want to leave.

6:25 pm – We head to our room with Luci, who wants to see Marissa’s crochet project and wrap the yarn she dyed a couple weeks ago at the party we had for the big girls. We have a nice visit, talking about knitting and crocheting.

7:15 pm – Luci leaves, and Marissa turns on the David Copperfield audiobook we’ve been enjoying. I try not to feel too guilty about the email I should be answering, as I  coax my aching muscles to relax, while knitting a few inches up the ankles of my Rushing Rivulet socks.

8:45 pm – Marissa decides it’s time to turn off the book and take a shower. She’s soon celebrating, as she finally managed to dislodge what appears to have been a small abscess in her tonsils, relieving a discomfort of several days’ duration. I knit for just a little bit longer, then decide I should write today’s journal entry, especially since I missed yesterday. I’ll have to have her help me catch up – hopefully soon. It’s surprising how quickly things become a total muddle in my memory!

9:10 pm – Time for my shower. I’m still amazed that something I’ve considered for so long to be an absolute luxury has now become a very quick, in and out, nightly necessity for me. I still manage to get through my Spanish memory verses thrice before I’m done.

9:25 pm – Stretched out in bed, I read for a while as one by one my roommates’ lights go out. Despite my long day, I’m still not nearly as sleepy as I am tired.

10:23 pm – Okay, it’s time for me to try to sleep. I turn off my light and drift between prayers and memory verses until I’m finally in dreamland.

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Funny Thing Happened When I Went to Honduras…

Seems I have a bit of an adventure to share with you all. A couple weeks ago, I left my family behind and took off for a short, somewhat unexpected trip to visit my daughter in Honduras. I pre-posted a couple of things on the blog so I could keep up with my weekly posting goal for the year and hopped on the plane with my return tickets dated for 8 days hence. Funny thing happened when I arrived in Honduras, though. When I searched my daughter out at the airport, I could see the top of a pair of crutches. Thinking this was one of her little pranks, I laughed – until I made my way through the crowd. Somehow, the big, blue cast on her leg seemed to be a good bit farther than she would go for a prank. 

Sadly, I was right in that assessment. Turns out that when she was creeking during a visit to the coffee farm, she fell and fractured her tibia (shin bone) and is going to be casted until April 13. Since the other cook was going on furlough at the beginning of April, and Marissa is about half of a cook right now, I’m sure you can guess how my mind started to turn. After a couple of days here, I decided to brave voicing the wild idea of changing my flight, and after receiving the thumbs up from the home front and those in charge here, I re-ticketed for the middle of April – a couple days over 4 weeks here. I still think I must have lost my mind! 

I packed very lightly for myself, bringing all my personal stuff in my carry on bag, so it’s been interesting to say the least. Toiletries are pricy – paid almost $5 for a 4 oz. can of deodorant! And it’s supposed to be hot season, though God has been gracious so far, providing a week of abnormally cool weather to this point, followed by a second one that was also cool enough to bear – a tremendous blessing for me, since I can’t tolerate heat well at all. I don’t even want to think what the bill will be at the parking lot where I left my car “for a few days.” But it’s fun – and it’s odd how much the feeling of the trip changed for me when it changed from being a short visit to see Marissa and the children to staying here to work because I’m legitimately needed.

There have been a lot of things happening around here during my first two weeks – far too many to share in one post, so I’m just going to tell you a few from my first week for now.

Thursday, the day after I arrived, in a brilliant moment of creative problem solving, we pulled an old office chair out of the sewing room. The back had been broken off some time ago, but after three of us spent about an hour digging a double handful of thread out of the casters, we had the perfect wheels for Marissa.

She can now zip around the kitchen doing many of her tasks, and can even set the table. This has been tremendously beneficial. It means she doesn’t have to use crutches too much, and with her wrist having been broken and not treated last year about this time, the crutches were causing her a lot of problem. The things she can’t do – like fetching from the pantry and waiting on milk customers, for instance – I’m able to do, and I am also making up for her being obviously a bit slower at some things.

Friday evening was the school program. It was such a delight that had they offered to start from the beginning and do it again, I’d have sat through it a second time! I’ve never seen anything to match it in the States, and much to my joy, they recorded it and sold CD’s for 20 lempira – about $1 each. I’m probably not going to get out much, since Marissa can’t drive a standard casted and there are no automatics here, but I know I have one souvenir which will be long treasured in that CD.

Saturday we had an afternoon party for the big girls. Instead of our traditional tea party, we divided the girls into two groups. Half of them used Wilton icing colors to dye yarn, which they will be able to crochet into items for their dolls. 

The other half made cards for the other children and staff, sharing appreciation and encouragement, then picked a treat for the people for whom they made cards. Then we switched, so all the girls did both projects. The cards were very nice, with some beautiful and thoughtful notes written, and the yarn dyeing was quite a success, with the resulting skeins being as varied as the girls themselves. It was a great afternoon!

Sunday we did something else that was new to me. We were up and ready to go at about 6:30 in the morning, and we rode with 15 or more people in the truck about 2 and a half hours to a tiny Mennonite church in Macuelizo. There is only one American family there, and the congregation is quite small, but the people were incredibly friendly, and I enjoyed visiting with them very much. We had lunch with Les and Verna – very traditional Honduran fare of beans, rice, and tortillas. I’m glad I like that menu, as one sees it in some form almost daily around here. I suppose I’ll be very full of beans by the time I get back home. Pix show some of the scenery through the Honduran countryside and the little church where we worshipped. The cattle on the road is a very common site.

Monday was a traditional day in the kitchen. However, there was one moment that was so funny I have to share it. I went to help a customer at the sales window, and somehow it didn’t quite register with me when I looked at him that he didn’t exactly look Honduran. I opened the window and greeted him, and he said, “Do you have any milk to sell?” I looked at him a bit dumbly and asked him to repeat what he said, then suddenly realized he was speaking ENGLISH! Duh!!!! It sure was a lesson in how expectations can influence perception. I’m still laughing a bit about that! In case you are wondering who he was, there is a boy’s home nearby, and they come to buy milk from us here. We got a bit of a blessing today, as he’d toted about 15 pounds of sweet potatoes they had to spare, wondering if we wanted to buy some. The timing was great, as our rice bag is about to the bottom. We had our red chicken gravy over sweet potatoes tonight instead of rice, and the rice we sorted this morning is ready for the next time we need it. (We found gusanos in the rice bag, so have to sort it before cooking it now. And if you are wondering what gusanos are, let’s just say they wiggle… )

Now I’m “only” a week and a half behind, but I think this is enough for now. I’ll try to get more posted sometime next week. Online time here is extremely limited, and when I do get online, it’s heavily filtered, so I’m not able to post to my blog as much as I’d like. For quite a while, I couldn’t even access it. I was joking that they were trying to protect me from myself. Of course, even if there weren’t the limitations, I’d still not be able to manage much, I fear. A day working in the kitchen here leaves me feeling VERY old and tired!

I’m leaving what I’d written here and adding this paragraph. I prepared this post the middle of last week, writing it offline on Word. Between my work schedule here, revival meetings, and the frustrating challenges of trying to access the internet, upload pix, etc., it’s even more aged than it was when I first tried to post it. At this rate, I better start on the next one right away! Since I was at least trying, I’m still counting this as keeping up with my weekly blogging. 😉 I have some truly wonderful pix that I’m very eager to share!

For those of you who pray, if you would, please keep both Marissa and me in prayer – Marissa for all the normal missionary stuff, plus for patience with her incapacities and speedy healing. For me, health and strength equal to the task I’ve undertaken, and that things work out okay with my abrupt change of plans, as I’ve left much dangling on the home front, plus have increased my trip expenses substantially. Hope to post again soon!

The Sun Also Shines!

I’ve had these pix for a couple of days, but I’ve been too busy to get them posted. The day after the storms last weekend, it was sunny out, and the sky was an impossible blue. Not surprisingly, I simply had to snap a few more pix with this delightful third background.

Love this guy’s character!

Some things my new camera actually does very well! 🙂

I’ve been wearing my Changeling Socks a lot this winter, and absolutely loving them. 🙂 These are the socks I made under a bit of duress. My students wanted to make socks, and I wasn’t in the mood, but I didn’t tell them that. Instead, I bought some Wendy Guernsey wool from Schoolhouse Press and made the project a bit more fun by dyeing some of it to accent my socks. I started out with a KAL, but quickly decided that they just weren’t going to fit me correctly, so somewhere in the midst of the overly pointy toe, I reverted to Cat Bordhi’s Ridgeline pattern, which, of course, was a perfect fit – if you don’t look at the toes, that is. 😉 The pattern change is what inspired me to name them Changeling Socks, one definition of changeling being something that changes from one thing into another. What you can’t see is the bubbled, peekaboo ankle stripes. More pix here on Ravelry.

One additional comment on the socks… If you noticed a little spare color bleeding into the white, I rushed the dye job, and I suspect now that I didn’t nuke it quite long enough, and possibly didn’t rinse them thoroughly. If that wasn’t enough, the second time I washed them, I didn’t splash any vinegar into my rinse water. They don’t look quite as sharp now, but they are still delightfully warm and comfortable.

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