Friday, September 30, 2005

Stuff Portrait Friday

For some reason today I just feel like being a joiner. I've seen others do this scavenger hunt task from Random & Odd every week and this week, when I saw the list, I immediately knew what I'd take pictures of. So, why not?

Something that isn't where it's supposed to be:

Because of my aforementioned two kitchens, sometimes dishes that belong downstairs end up getting used and washed upstairs. So there is constantly a pile of dishes waiting to go back down the steps. This is the current one. As you can see, we've been eating well: a pie plate, a loaf pan, and a muffin tray!

Something you broke but never threw away:

When I was, oh, 9 or so, we painted my bedroom this beautiful spring green color. My mom bought this lamp and painted it herself, to match. It has long ago lost its ability to hold a light bulb, let alone a lamp shade. But I keep it. I think it's adorable. Mom also did a Darth Vader lamp for my brother.

Something you have that you never eat (or drink):

I bought this when I was pregnant the first time (that's ten years ago, folks) because I read somewhere how healthy it was and how you can mix it into other things and not even taste it. Maybe so. But I never did. And yet it's a full jar. I'm not going to throw away a full jar of anything. Plus, there's just something funny about the word "Kretschmer."

So there it is, my first SPF!

Tagged again!

Well, the lovely Sheri of Celebrating Women has tagged me, so here are the rules:
  1. Go into your archive.
  2. Find your 23rd post.
  3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
  5. Tag five other people to do the same.

Now, my 23rd post happened to be a picture. But the next post after that contained this sentence:

"The internet moves so fast, I'm afraid if I turn it off, I'll miss something."

I like that, so that's what I'm going to go with. Not exactly per the rules, but hey, it's my blog!

Now, I'm going to tag my five. I choose Sandy, Tee, Deputy's Wife, Melissa, and the other Jana. I don't think any of them have done this.

Self Portrait Friday

Yes, it's Friday again! This week, Katy wants to see the front porch. Now, I don't have a front porch, just a step going up to my door. So here it is.

I just put up my "Harvest Time" decoration last night. Isn't it beautiful?

I thought about doing a retrospective of all the front doors I have owned, but that would just annoy people on dial-up. Plus I couldn't find any.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Pardon my French

Have you ever stopped to think about what makes a bad word "bad?" If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you've probably noticed that I don't use obscenities of any kind. This is partly the way I was raised and partly personal preference. I don't think this makes me a better or worse person than anybody who does use those words. But I do think people don't necessarily understand the different types of "bad" words out there.

The first type is the vulgarity. These are the taboo words, the words not said in polite company. The "f" word, the "s" word, various words that refer to different parts of the anatomy. I'm trying to be delicate here. You all know the words I mean. These are the words which have a stigma attached, some because they come from the lower classes centuries ago, others because of recent social events. Well, I'm here to say there is nothing wrong with those words! They are just words, words with meanings. Many people prefer to use other words to mean the same thing, and that's okay too. Of course, I still don't use these words, but again, that's personal preference. And because of the social stigma, people who use these words will be seen as vulgar (which just means "of the common people"). That's just the way it is.

The words that worry me are the other "bad" words. The words that actually mean something, but are used as if they don't. The two in particular I'm thinking of are "damn" and "hell." These two words have specific meaning in the Bible. I think the reason they have become commonly used in other ways is because it's Satan's way of desensitizing people to their actual meaning. When everything is "damned" and when we say "what the hell," it takes away from what those words actually mean. Then, when they're used correctly, they don't have the impact they're supposed to. I think that's dangerous, and I don't use those words unless I'm using them in context.

So rest assured that I will not be offended by a few colorful phrases (though I will in fact delete them from my comments, thank you very much). But the next time you go to use one of these words, stop and think about what you really mean. You might be able to come up with a better alternative.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

All Things Boy

I am co-author on this great new blog. All of us are moms of boys and this is a place for us to share the trials and tribulations and joys and excitements. Stop by!

Way Back Wednesday

The lovely Mama Duck requested pictures of our sorority or fraternity. I attended a women's college where sororities were banned. But I did have one close group of friends. Most of us were in the same dorm freshman year and we just kind of stuck together after that. This is a picture taken at my bridal shower senior year. The girl on the far right is Michelle, my roommate of four years. You know we had to have loved each other to live together for four straight years! The two guys are her boyfriend at the time (the blonde) and her current boyfriend. I'm not even going to go into that.
These are a couple of friends who weren't at the shower, but were part of our group. In this particular picture, a bunch of us had decided to have a "Gothic Night." We had to wear black and bring our favorite book of gothic literature. We served mulled wine and discussed vampires. Julie, the girl in the middle there, might have been one. I'm not quite sure. And yes, that's a dagger I'm holding.

So there you have it. Our impromptu sorority.

Did you play this week?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wonder Woman!

Hubby and I were watching an interview with Lynda Carter the other day. You remember her. The gorgeous and talented star of Wonder Woman.

During the interview, the reporter talked about all the little girls who grew up in the '70's wanting to be Wonder Woman. Hubby snickered. "Yeah, right," he said.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

"Like any little girls actually pretended to be Wonder Woman," he said.

Ahem. "I did."

A look of amazement came over his face. "Really? You're kidding."

"No, really! I was Wonder Woman, my brother was Superman, and we used to fight evil in our basement. We even had costumes."


"Well, Underoos. But still. I would spin around and turn into Wonder Woman."


We didn't continue the conversation after that, but I should add that I was also frequently Princess Leia, Daisy Duke, and Julie from the Love Boat. Yes, I am the tv generation.

How about you? Who did you pretend to be?

Monday, September 26, 2005

My Cuban Trip, Conclusion

I feel like I haven't done the whole experience justice, but perhaps this email I sent to the other team members after our return home will give you an idea of what this trip meant to me:

We are all home. We have unpacked, washed the grit and grime from our clothes, brewed some Dominican coffee, handed out t-shirts and souvenirs, and gotten pictures developed. As for me, I have found it all too easy to settle back into my old routines. Life closes in from every direction, and I catch myself wondering where that feeling went - the feeling that I was part of something special.

For one week out of my hectic, fast-paced, never-enough-time life, I was insulated from everything that bothers me, bugs me, and stresses me out. I have not felt so safe, secure and utterly cared for in a long time, no matter if we were riding in an air-conditioned tour bus or walking down a dark Havana street at night. I found it the easiest and most natural thing in the world to put my life and well-being into the hands of my Heavenly Father.

Now it occurs to me, whey should that ever be difficult? Why must I constantly look at my life and my problems as mine alone? Why is it so easy for me to trust in God's protection and care in a foreign place among strangers, but not in my own home and my own family? There are too many distractions in my comfort zone. The Source of true comfort gets pushed aside by my need to take responsibility and do it myself.

What I bring home with me can't be worn, brewed, hung on the wall, or shown in a picture. It must be lived every day and remembered in every fiber of my being. I am not alone here. I don't have to handle it myself, take sole responsibility, take over and get it done on my own. The only thing I have to do is completely trust in God.

It took a trip that was all about children to bring me back to the faith of a little child.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Friday, September 23, 2005

Self Portrait Friday

This week, Katy wants to see us in our kitchen. For me, that would be kitchens. Yes, I have more than one. One of the things that really made me want this house was that it has two kitchens. The family who lived here was Jewish and they used the upstairs kitchen as a kosher kitchen for Passover. The downstairs kitchen was their everyday kitchen. Me, I figure why mess up just one kitchen when you can make a wreck of two? I use them both every day. I do use the one in the basement more often.

So here is my upstairs kitchen. This is where I keep my main coffee maker. I mostly use the stove for storage of items such as empty Pringles cans and ripening bananas. I also use the oven up here during the summer, because the basement gets unbearably hot if I use the oven down there.

And here I am in our basement kitchen, getting ready to prepare a giant zucchini. The kids will pretty much only eat zucchini if I put it in zucchini bread, so that's where most of them have gone this summer. And that zucchini I'm holding is actually one of the smaller ones. You can see that in the basement kitchen I keep my pots and pans stored on the wall. The previous owners were nice enough to put nails everywhere so I didn't have to do it myself. The basement kitchen is also where our table is, so this is where we eat.

I hope you've enjoyed this tour of my kitchens. Stay tuned for pictures of our third kitchen. That's right. We're putting a kitchenette in our new master suite. Doesn't everyone need a kitchen on each floor?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Two-week notice!

My birthday is exactly two weeks from today. I am happy to accept birthday greetings during the entire month of October. Also, there is a link to my Amazon wish list in my profile.


My Cuban Trip, Part 10

One of the great parts of my trip was being with the other people in our group. I had some great conversations during all of the waiting around we had to do. You figure six flights in seven days, you're going to be doing a lot of sitting in airports. And we did. (This is a picture of the airport in Havana.)

The group I traveled with was diverse. We had a family come: Mom, Dad, and three kids, the youngest of which was 7. We had two guys from Wyoming, in their 30s. We had a man in his 70s. My pastor and his wife were there. There was a mother traveling with her 20-something daughter. And we had three teenage girls, who drew the immediate attention of one of the Cuban boys!

There was one guy, Bill, who just kept everyone in stitches the whole trip. He always had something funny to say. Early on, he discovered that I knew Spanish, and he was constantly asking me how to say things. Weird things, like "El gringo grande esta aqui" (The big gringo is here)! I'm sure the Cubans thought he was nuts. Especially the last day we were there and he had me tell him how to say, "The ham flew out the window." I told them, rather apologetically, that he thought he spoke Spanish well and they told me he was crazy! He totally cracked me up.

I also had fun talking to Dave and Jonathan, the two guys from Wyoming. Harold, aka Papa Hemingway, was Jonathan's dad, which is how they came to be there. They were about my age and we chatted about tons of different things as we walked through the streets of Havana. The two of them played off of Bill, joking back and forth. It was like a traveling comedy show!

As we flew from Havana back to the Dominican Republic, I felt sad to go, but glad that we were able to bring so much to the people there, who would be able to use it to teach their children about Christ. We headed back to the camp where we'd spent the first night.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Way Back Wednesday

This week, Mama Duck has asked to see us at our most fashionable, to atone for having all of us show off our worst outfits last week. Well, no woman is more fashionable that at her own wedding. And since mine was over 13 years ago, I think that qualifies as "way back."

Image hosted by

I loved my dress. The sleeves were detachable, so I could look all elegant for the ceremony, but then be cool and comfortable for the reception. The skirt and train had satin roses on them which hid little hooks. When the train was bustled using the hooks, it looked like a bouquet of roses on my backside. And see those little bitty pearls around the bottom of my veil? My mom spent hours sewing those on there. I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world that day!

And, Mom, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the whole ensemble was less than $300!

As for sexy pictures, here's me and hubby back before I had kids. Wasn't I hot?

Hey, leave a comment so I know you played, too!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My Cuban Trip, Part 9

We awoke the next morning and headed to the church in Santiago de Cuba. They led us to the roof of the church, where there was an enclosed room with lunch set up for us. You can see that we each had some rice, some fruit, and a small piece of meat. Again, many of the people of the church had given up some of their food so that we could eat.

It was extremely hot that day. After we ate, we went out on the roof to enjoy the breeze and the view. Santiago de Cuba is near the coast and the mountains.

Then we went back into the church where we heard several people talk about the ministry there in Santiago de Cuba and the work they were doing there to teach the children about the Bible. We were able to bring many materials to them that they would not have been able to afford on their own.

When we left there, we walked around the city for a bit and then took a tour of an old house. It was filled with antiques and we had a wonderful and informative guide. I was able to understand everything she said and would probably even have been able to translate if our guide hadn't been there.

We went to the mission's city headquarters, where we waited until evening to go see one of the children's club meetings. I think it was around 2 in the afternoon, and the meeting didn't start until 7. We waited in this large, non-air conditioned room all that time. Normally, I would've been impatient, upset, bored and generally unhappy. But God just gave me tremendous peace and I sat there and took a nap. Then I talked to some of the other team members and before long it was time to go.

We all went in shifts in the enclosed back of a truck. We arrived in a small neighborhood and walked to a home where the children were having a club meeting. Ten of us went in at a time. The children were adorable and it was so much fun to watch them singing and answering questions about the lesson.

Then it was back to the airport for a flight back to Havana. We would be arriving at our hotel sometime around midnight, and we would need to leave at 7 a.m. to get to the airport for our flight back to the Dominican Republic. The hotel staff had a midnight snack waiting for us. I sat up and talked to several of the other people on the trip for quite a while. Around 3 a.m. we decided we should probably get to sleep!

More later!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Fixed it!

Okay, I moved my stories to another server so they seem to be working for real now. So just click on the links to the left, either "Spock's Brain" or "Moonlight" to read them.


My Cuban Trip, Part 8

Part 6, with links to parts 1-5
Part 7

So, that evening we rode back to our hotel in a coconut, which I could describe, but I'll just show you a picture:

We went to a children's rally at the church that night. Again, it was supposed to start at 6:30, it actually started about 7:30. It was so much fun to watch the kids singing and doing little skits and stuff. I was understanding more and more of the Spanish I heard, but not enough that I could translate for anyone else.

The next day we had a guided tour of the city on a tour bus with a Cuban guide. First we went to a fort which was across the water from our hotel, sitting out on a peninsula. It was pretty much what you'd expect from an old fort. There were marvelous views of the city, though.

We got to walk around the old part of the city and see a lot of the original buildings. They were built of coral, I guess because that was a readily available building material. You can see the pattern of the coral on the walls and pillars of each building.
We went back past the hotel where Hemingway lived. This time, Harold, our resident Papa look-alike, was wearing a Hemingway t-shirt he'd picked up. You should've seen the people in that hotel staring at him! And everywhere we went in the city, people were yelling out, "Mr. Hemingway!" I could just imagine these people going home to their families and swearing up and down that they'd seen Hemingway in the city. So if you start hearing rumors that he faked his death so he could go back to Cuba to live, you'll know where that started!

We also saw Castro's office building and the square from which he makes all his speeches. Across from that was a building with a giant metal sculpture of Che Guevara on it. The guide told us the average salary in Cuba is $7 a month. The people who work for the government tend to get more than that.

That night, we flew from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, taking with us some of the materials we'd brought. The plane we flew on was an old Russian plane with barely enough room between rows for my knees. It vibrated like crazy the whole way there. It was late when we got in, but many of us went to a little restaurant next to the hotel for a midnight snack. That was the first and last place I saw Coca-Cola on the whole trip. It was $2 a can.

More to come!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Self Portrait Friday

Well, my computer was on the fritz this morning and I thought I'd skip SPF, but then Katy guilted me into it. This week's theme is to use something in a creative way to make a silly portrait. So here I am, making the homeowners scream in terror. I occasionally like to attack small villages. It keeps them on their toes.


We were on our way to the store the other day and had barely pulled out of the driveway when my older two sons let out a shriek!

Hubby and I both jumped. "What is it?" I said, picturing a giant spider, a hornet, or perhaps a snake.

"Ah! Ah!"

"What is it?" I repeated, louder this time to be heard over the cries of alarm.

"A grasshopper! There's a grasshopper in the van!"

Okay, call me a bad mommy. I laughed. Yes, I laughed at the terror of my sons. In fact, I did worse than that. I turned to hubby and said, "They are boys, right?" I'm used to these same two kids bringing home crickets, caterpillars, and all sorts of creepy crawlies and asking to keep them.

"It's not going to hurt you," I said.

"But it's right there!"

"And it will probably still be there when we get to the store. At which time we will set it free."

Slowly, they calmed down. Then a discussion about the grasshopper's origins began, including speculation that this little traveling guest of ours might in fact be related to a grasshopper Caleb caught last year, named Hopper.

When we arrived at the store, I opened the door to shoo the thing out of my van. Joshua yelled, "No!"

"What do you mean, 'no'?" I said.

"He's my friend, Hopper 2, and I love him!"

I can't keep up! But I explained that he would die if we left him in the car, and they said their goodbyes to the creature that just a half hour earlier they were certain was going to attack them. Something tells me we'll have another Hopper 2 before the weather turns cold.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I think I'm safe

Apparently, it would take about 120 cups of coffee in a row for me to die of caffeine. I know I drink a lot of coffee, but that's ridiculous!

How much of your favorite caffeinated beverage will kill you? Find out here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A little fiction

At the urging of Simon, I decided to share a couple of my stories with you.

Spock's Brain is one of the stories I wrote for my senior thesis. It's sort of long, so you might want to take a bathroom break first.

Moonlight is much shorter.

I fixed the formatting (thanks, Hubby!).

I love constructive criticism, so don't be afraid to be honest. I'm going to put these links in the sidebar, too, in case you don't have time to read them right now. Enjoy!

My Cuban Trip, Part 7

Part 6, with links to Parts 1-5.

The next morning, we had a great breakfast at the hotel. The best part was all the fresh fruit. Papaya, mango, banana, pineapple, mmmmmm! After breakfast, everyone got their suitcases and we went for a walk to the church again.

As I mentioned, the church was beautiful inside. It used to be a circus back in the 1800s. There's a passageway around the whole building big enough for elephants to walk through. This is the sanctuary:

We went up to a large hall on the second floor and began unpacking the suitcases. It was exciting to see the Cuban workers' reaction to all the stuff being laid out on the floor. We took a photo of all of them with the stuff:

After we got done unloading everything, we were served lunch. It was really amazing that these people, who are rationed a certain amount of food by the government, were willing to share their food with us. We even had dessert, a little tart made with fresh coconut. Some of the ladies in our group got the recipe for it, it was so good! Lunch was followed by very hot, sweet coffee, served in a shot glass! I had a couple of shots.

We left the church and went for a walk around Havana. We saw many colonial-era buildings. We also passed the hotel when Ernest Hemingway lived when he was in Havana. There was one guy in our group, Harold, who bore a frightening resemblance to Hemingway. Everyone had to take his picture in front of the hotel!

We walked to a location where there was a giant flea market. Unfortunately, it wasn't there on the day of the week we were! So we went to an indoor market in a gorgeous old colonial-era home. I bought some maracas for the boys.

Well, I have a lot more pictures to share and Blogger won't let me at the moment, so I'll add more later!

Way Back Wednesday

I had so much fun doing this last week, I decided to try it again. This week, Mama Duck has asked to see our fashion mistakes from the past. This one was easy.

When I was 16 I was in a pageant. The only one I was ever in, incidentally. I'm not sure what made me want to do this. But anyway, I needed a gown for it. My mom bought this gown from a friend. It was a bridesmaid's dress. Can't you tell? This wouldn't have been so bad if it had been a good color on me. Unfortunately, this was many years before I learned about the color seasons. I am a winter. This dress, not so much. I look less like a beauty queen and more like a corpse. Of course, I'm not blaming my lack of success in the pageant solely on this dress. There were so many other reasons. But it didn't help.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Seal of Approval, Part Two

My three year old came into my room the other night at 11:30.

"Mommy, mmff, mmf."

"I can't understand you, what?"

"Mmff, mmf."

Suddenly it occurred to me it was 11:30 at night. "What are you eating?"

Crunch, swallow. "Cat food."

I ought to just give up and get the kid his own dish on the floor.

Monday, September 12, 2005

My Cuban Trip, Part 6

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

When we arrived at our hotel in Havana, we were each given a room assignment. I would be rooming, as I suspected, with the only single adult lady on the trip. We had a couple of hours to relax, take a shower (the shower at the camp had been a cold water pipe coming out of the wall), and get dressed for dinner and then church. Being Sunday evening, we were going to attend a service at the local church we came to help.

Unfortunately, our room was so high up in the hotel that we had no hot water! So we each showered quickly! I could feel another migraine coming on, and I had brought migraine medicine with me, but I had no water with which to take it. And we had been explicitly warned not to drink the tap water. So I waited until dinner. By then, my head hurt so bad I was in tears.

I really don't remember what we had for dinner. We ate in the hotel restaurant. Water was $1 a bottle. They wanted US money. In fact, I don't think I saw any Cuban money the whole time we were there. I hadn't brought money to dinner with me, so one of the people at my table bought me a bottle so I could take the medicine. Tim told me I could stay in my room that night if I didn't feel well, but I declined.

Soon we set out for a walk through downtown Havana. I could tell that the city really used to be beautiful. There were all sorts of gorgeous old buildings. We passed the Capitol Building, which was built specifically to look like the US Capitol. Here's a picture of it from the next day:

When we arrived at the church service, half an hour after the time they said it was going to start, it still hadn't started. This is a phenomenon I've encountered in other countries: local time. Time just doesn't mean the same thing other places that it means to Americans. So we got to meet several people before the service began.

There was a lot of singing, really joyful, enthusiastic singing. I think I expected a Christian service in Cuba to be held in a basement somewhere in hushed tones of voice, lit by candles or maybe flashlights. Instead, we were in a huge old building with a sign clearly marking it as a church. The lights were bright, the song lyrics were projected on a screen for everyone to see, and the doors were opened to the outside to allow the joyous sounds to reach out into the street.

I should mention that while I took four years of Spanish in high school and two semesters in college, I was very hesitant to try to speak it. But I understood the song lyrics, and I understood much of the sermon. Which was good because we only had one translator and he wasn't anywhere near me. After church, we headed back to the hotel. We would be returning the next day to help sort all the materials we brought.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
But in despair I bowed my head.
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"for hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then peal the bells more loud and deep,
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!"

Saturday, September 10, 2005

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Self Portrait Friday

Katy asked to see our war face this week. Remember that Home Improvement episode with "the look?" This is mine. This is the look that makes hubby shiver and the boys quake with fear. This is the look that sends dogs running with their tails between their legs. This is the look I will give anyone who dares cross me. You have been warned!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

My Cuban Trip, Part 5

On November 16, we returned to the airport for our flight to Cuba. When we arrived in Cuba, we first had to go through passport control. This consisted of a long row of enclosed booths. You stand in line and when it's your turn, an arm sticks out the side of the booth and waves you in. So I stood in line behind Tim, our group leader, and struck up a conversation with the lady behind me while we waited.

She was from Scotland, and was there to do a television documentary on vacationing in Cuba. She asked where I was from and when I said I was American, she said, "Naughty girl!" So I felt obligated to tell her we were there with our government's permission, on a mission trip. Unfortunately, there were others in lines nearby who were American also and who did not have permission to be there. You see, Cuba does not stamp a passport visibly. They use some kind of invisible ink. So Americans going there are taking a chance that the US passport checkers won't use the special light they have to check for such ink. And apparently, there are quite a few willing to take that risk.

So, when it was my turn, I stepped forward and had my credentials checked. The lady in the booth stamped my credentials. I was given a little slip of paper which would be required to get back out of the country. It sounds strange, but I could almost feel the oppression as I walked through the door toward baggage claim.

Next we had to go through a metal detector with our suitcases. Certain people, however, were being pulled aside and having their luggage checked by hand. This could be a problem for our group, because all of us had contraband Christian materials. Sure enough, two people from our group were pulled aside. The rest of us waited to go through the metal detector, and passed through into a sort of lobby area.

Meanwhile, a whole group of people cut in front of the two who had been stopped. This was certainly an act of God. You see, if the literature they carried had been discovered before the rest of our group got through, we would all have been rounded up and most likely had all that stuff taken away from us. But because they were held up, everyone else had already passed through customs. When the inspectors began telling them they were not allowed to bring such things into the country, our guide told them that the rest of our group was already through. And even though it shouldn't have been, that was good enough. They were allowed in with all their material intact. I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that the rest of us were all sitting in the lobby praying!

Once we left the lobby, the Havana airport looked much like any other. There were rental car agencies, souvenir shops and coffee stands. My first encounter with the reality of Cuba came when I went to the bathroom. I was expected to pay a lady at the door for some toilet paper. I gave her a quarter, she turned the roll once around her hand and tore it off. It wasn't much.

Outside, there was a bus waiting for us. We rode for about an hour to get to our hotel in the heart of downtown Havana. We saw people standing around under overpasses and our guide told us these people were hoping someone would stop and give them a ride. They were too far out of the city for the bus and had no cars of their own. The overpass, at least, was shady. I'm sure it was about 90 degrees that day. We saw other people just walking down the side of the road, some with small children.

The city itself is dirty. There is a visible layer of grime on everything. Although I know there are nice, fancy resorts on the island, we saw none of that. This was the true Havana. Here's the view from our hotel room:

More later!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

My Cuban Trip Part 4

While I am desperately searching the house for the journal I kept while on this trip, I will show you what we saw as we drove away from the Havana airport toward the city.

There were a lot of old American cars everywhere. This is the parking lot at the airport.

There were billboards every so often, which showed pictures of all the cool things there are to do in Cuba. There were no advertisements for any sort of product on the billboards. Then I started seeing billboards like this one:

These billboards are the government's way of subtly reminding its citizens about how wonderful their government is. This one touts the benefits of revolution (meaning Castro's revolution of 1959, not inciting a new one). I saw another that said simply, "Socialismo o muerte" (Socialism or death).

There was a big celebration going on in the city when we first arrived. They were celebrating the anniversary of the founding of Havana. Every street looked like the one here:

Okay, more later!

Way Back Wednesday

I have never participated in this game from Mama Duck before, but for some reason felt compelled this week. Lest anyone doubt what a true geek I was in high school...

That is me in the back row. Notice I am the only girl in the computer club, except for the sponsor. Yeah, computer club is a way to meet lots of guys!

There I am in the top left, striking a casual chin-on-fist pose. If you can't find a suitable guy in computer club, maybe you can make the grade in the NHS! I would go into my other yearbooks to find pics of myself in marching band and astronomy club, but I think you get the idea. However, before I go, here I am in the school talent show.

See, even geeks can look cool.

Tagged by Jana

No, I didn't tag myself! It's another Jana!

List five songs that you are currently digging - it doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions and the five songs (with artist) in your blog. Then tag five people to see what they're listening to.

- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, as sung by Rockapella. I am singing this on Sunday at church. I will tell you more about that later.
- I Got the Joy, by Carman, which is just a fun, happy song.
- Theme from Star Wars by John Williams. The boys have been watching these movies lately and I just adore the theme music. Anything by John Williams is great.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, sung by Larry the Cucumber, Pa Grape and Mr. Lunt. I am sucker for Silly Songs with Larry.
- Gypsy Song from Carmen by George Bizet, which my first grader and I are studying for music class.

I will not tag anyone specifically. If you've seen this and haven't done it yet, have a go!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My Cuban Trip, Part 3

Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.

Finally, November 15 arrived. Each of the people going had been given stacks and stacks of Spanish books and lesson plans, plus bottles of medicine, vitamins and similar items. We would be flying to the Dominican Republic first, since it is easier to enter Cuba from there than it is from the US. We were allowed two suitcases, but going into Cuba they could only weigh 40 lbs each. So I packed as few clothes and personal items as I could. It felt odd packing shorts and t-shirts in mid-November!

We were leaving the church parking lot around 5 a.m. to drive to Philadelphia for our flight, so I took the car. Hubby would come pick it up later in the day. I left him a note on the front seat: "I love you!"

Someone had provided a big truck for carrying all the luggage, and all the people crammed into the church van. We would be picking up a couple more people on the way, and meeting still more in Philadelphia. In all, we were a team of 27. Tim had hoped 10 people would go!

And now, I get to share some pictures! This is the vehicle that picked us up from the airport:

Here we are all crammed into it. The seats next to the aisle had little foldout seats attached to them; that's why it looks like there's no aisle.

We were staying the first night at a camp which belonged to the organization we were working with. It was gorgeous there, although hot and sticky.

We spent the evening re-distributing all the materials everyone had brought and weighing suitcases, to be sure no one would exceed the amount they were allowed to bring. Lots of people went swimming in the camp's pool that night. I had a migraine, so I just curled up on my bunk and tried to sleep.

It wasn't very comfortable. The air was thick and heavy, and even though there was a ceiling fan, the power in the camp cut off periodically, leaving us sweltering. I think I only slept out of sheer exhaustion.

The next morning, we crowded back into the bus for the hour-long trip to the airport. We were on our way to Cuba!

More soon!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

My oldest son does not like tomatoes. He doesn't make any bones about it. If a dish contains any visible tomatoes, he will not eat it (though I can always slip them into pasta sauce). Okay, fine. I can accept that some kids have certain foods they don't like. I can accept that he picks all the tomatoes out of his chili or his casserole before taking bite one.

However, the other day I asked him to come help me pick some tomatoes in the garden. You would have thought I was casually requesting that he handle poisonous snakes. He squealed like a hurt pig and ran in the other direction. He wouldn't even look at the tomatoes. What's up with that?

So the tomato vines are rapidly taking over the garden. I planted them in the corner and they are now covering fully one eighth of the area we cultivated. They've interwoven with the squash plants and the pepper plants and are producing tomatoes at an alarming rate. Actually, now that I think about it, that is a little scary.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Self-vegging Portrait Friday

This week, the lovely Katy wants to see where we vegetate, i.e. watch television. This is me in our bedroom.
If I'm holding or nursing the baby, you can find me in the glider/rocker. Yes, that's construction in the background. The new master bedroom we're working on is on the other side of that wall. There used to be a window there.

When I'm not in my glider/rocker, I'm lounging there in our lovely bed with my head on hubby's chest, which is really my preferred way to watch television, but I don't have any pictures of that.

This is how it feels to be held

Someone pointed me in the direction of these lyrics, and I just thought they fit so well what is going on right now. I've never heard the song, but it certainly is appropriate.

You can read them to the left.

Edit: Since removing the lyrics, I've gotten like 20 searches for them. So you can find them here.
Natalie Grant lyrics

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Prayer for New Orleans

I remember the times I've been to New Orleans with such fondness. It is such a beautiful city, with so much history and culture. And the people are so friendly and kind and helpful. It hurts me to see the devastation there. I pray for those whose lives have been changed so dramatically by this disaster.

Father God, please be with the people who have lost so much in this storm. I pray that You would help the workers there to supply the needs of all those in the shelters. Please comfort those who have lost family and friends. Please guide the rescuers to find any people who are still trapped before it's too late. I pray that the emergency supplies from around the country would get to where they're needed most. In Jesus' Name, Amen.