Friday, April 30, 2010

What I've been reading...

This is my first attempt at joining the What's on Your Nightstand crowd, even though there is nothing on my nightstand. I just don't read in bed.  Every fourth Tuesday of the month avid readers, who also blog, link up with their lists, photos, comments. I saw that Mr. Linky is still available, so I will proceed with mine.

I have more time because I did not write a Friday Flashback. Today's PROMpt was about (you guessed it!)--proms! Well, I did not have a prom, nor had I ever heard of such a thing in my upbringing in Argentina.

First, two books I just finished reading this week:


I wrote a post about the one on the left, Fireworks over Toccoa , even though I hadn't finished reading it yet.
Now I can tell you more. It reminded me of Nicholas Spark's Dear John. I have read so very few romance novels and I was not very comfortable with the love scenes. However there are lessons to be gleaned from the story. Avoid compromising situations, especially when you are lonely and vulnerable, if not at all times, i.e. we cannot trust our own strength to resist temptation. Having accepted where it was going, I was pleasantly surprised at how the author wrapped it up with several unexpected twists.

The book on the right was one of the textbooks for the online course that just ended. Though I read all of it, I will not be finished with it for as long as I continue to write our life stories.

In the upstairs bathroom I keep one discussed some time ago on Moody Radio's Book Club--Velma Still Cooks in Leeway.

In the downstairs bathroom I keep a volume of poetry by Borges, famous Argentine author, and ponder one of his poems when I am in the mood.
And I just uncovered a memoir along the same lines of what I am trying to do, a story of life between two worlds. A dear friend gave it to me some years ago when I was busy teaching and thus it lay forgotten and dusty. Now is the time to dig into American Chica.

And when I am driving I listen to an audio book, which at the moment has to do with preparing us for our visit to the Basque Country next month.
Now I am going to link up with the others, although I don't mind if nobody reads this post. I am simply grateful to have written my first one. "Better late than never."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

2010 Week 17: Home again!

Sunday we spent most of the day above the clouds or in airports, our spirits flying sky high too.

Fun times at Monday Meal
Grandson Malachi and friend David, both wearing glasses now.

Malachi recited the eight verses from Hebrews worth $40 coupon toward Miracle Camp. Skye earned his also, he and I have been memorizing them together and review each day on the way to the Red Barn.
I go to the Gray Barn every Tuesday and Friday for an exercise class run by Taylor University exercise science majors. 

This cardinal kept flying into our solarium window insistently e.v.e.r.y day, no kidding. Someone suggested we cut out the outline of a predator bird and put it on the glass. Since coming back from our trip, no sign of the cardinal. Maybe he knocked himself out.

Last bouquet of the season of all varieties of daffodils/narcissus/jonquils.

We submitted our last writing for the Focus on Memoir online course. Far from finished, but hopefully we are all moving in the right direction and will keep on working on our projects.

I ran a 5K again after a very long time. My time was 41:35. I was the last one in. But I was just glad to have hung in there jogging s.l.o.w.l.y but not walking. Placed second in my age group and won a door prize worth as much as the registration fee! Not a bad way to start the day. Plus I got to hang out with my DIL.

Watched the grandboys so Sam and Kristie could get away for a few hours. They went to see "Letters to God" and highly recommend it, true story, sad but inspirational.

The older boys got some archery practice in

 Zion is five months old today!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flashback Fridays: Funeral Memories

Prompt # 7 from Mocha With Linda:
How old were you (approximately) when you attended your first funeral? Did your parents shield you from death and grief or was it viewed as a natural part of life? Did you experience any significant loss(es) in your growing up years? What were your early impressions of death and dying? And while I do not intend this in any irreverent way, are there any amusing memories associated with a death or funeral? If you have kids, how have you handled this subject with them? Feel free to share as vulnerably or as shallowly as you want!
 I have no recollection of  funerals during my childhood. So I consulted my brother who has a very good memory. He mentioned three deaths that left an impression on him, but none involved our participation in any way.

When my maternal grandfather died we were ending our five-year term in Argentina. In those days international travel was not as common an occurrence as it is today, so Mother did not even consider possible to attend his funeral. Grandma Hirschy passed some 21 years later. I was married and had three children. Almost all of her offspring were present. The family by then numbered 100. That was my first funeral experience, a memorable event.

The one death that stands out in my childhood memories was that of Eva Perón. I had attended public school where large portraits of the dictator and his wife were everywhere and homage was regularly enforced. When Evita died we were out of the country, on our return voyage after a one-year furlough in the US.
I recently came across a letter where Mother describes the experience I remember most.

July 31st, 1952
"We anchored in the Río de la Plata about 7 a.m. and were unable to get a dock until about 3 p.m. Because of the mourning for the first lady ships evidently had lined up in the channel waiting to unload etc. For 3 or 4 days no one had worked at the docks so you can imagine what kind of a mess it is down there with baggage everywhere. Just before we got off the boat we had to stand still for 15 min. doing homage to the deceased. Like some man behind us said, you can make us shut up, but can't make us do homage to her."
Her popularity and fame were unequaled among first ladies and her mausoleum in La Recoleta is probably the most visited tomb in South America.



Monday, April 19, 2010

2010 Week 16

Sunday: First meeting of families who will be welcoming Basque teens from June 25-July 25!
To think that in about six weeks we will be flying to Northern Spain! (If the volcanic cloud has dissipated by then!)

Flags of the Basque Country and the USA

Monday: Teen friend and chef apprentice was back at Monday Meal again after a long time away :)

Tuesday: Niece Tina and her friend stopped by after interviewing a couple ( 90 and 95!) for a video and dining at our one local attraction--Ivanhoe's.

Wednesday: Daughter and I went to a community ladies craft luncheon and made cards. We used our creativity to some extent deciding where to put the bits and pieces we were given.

The verse stamped inside says,
you are Inscribed on the palm of his hand...
Isaiah 49:16
Thursday: Up at 3:00 a.m.; missed our flight to Bermuda by a few minutes :(
We drove home in silence, engrossed in our own thoughts. I realized that we are too laid back and low key, and this is a good preview to prepare us for our next big trip. But there is more...

One of those helping with re-booking our flights for the next day, said: "We call this a blessed day, unexpected opportunities await you." The name on his badge was Ángel. He may not have been an angel, but his message helped to change our perspective. I suddenly realized that with this change of plans I would be free to attend the memorial service of a dear lady I had worked with. The service and the time with former colleagues was truly precious.

Friday: Up at 3:00 a.m. again. This time we made it to our destination--the OM Ships International 2010 Partner Weekend, held at the Willowbank Hotel in Bermuda. Our ocean-front location was awe inspiring.

But by far the best part was the fellowship, meeting old and new friends, sharing stories from our life on OM, and hearing what God is doing now.

Saturday: We had our own private tour of the newest OM ship, the only one left sailing and serving.

It is much larger than the M/V Doulos (the ship we served on from 1978-1983) and is so well equipped. There are so many stories to tell. I will try to write several posts worth.

I leave you with one last photo at the Captain's gala dinner on board. This image alone represents many many stories and connections, a taste of heaven really, where we will be sharing exciting stories for all eternity!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Flashback Friday: Piano Lessons

Prompt # 6 from Mocha with Linda:
If you have a child in your life, your calendar for April and May is probably quickly filling up with end-of-year activities - performances, recitals, etc. Did you take lessons as a child? Piano or another instrument? Gymnastics or dance? Other types of lessons? Were they weekly? How much were you required to practice between lessons? Did you participate in recitals? If so, do any of them stand out in your memory? Did they foster a love or a hate for that activity? Did you want to take lessons in a certain thing that you never got to? And if you have kids now, how did your experiences with taking lessons like these impact the activities you had/have them do?
Yes, I took piano lessons as a child and teenager. The profesora lived around the corner and her name was Sra. Amelia (?) Villani de Jones. (Now I'm curious about the Jones surname in Argentina, and I wonder if she is still alive???)
I think my lessons were an hour a week. I never felt that I practiced enough (the perfectionist in me). However, recently reading some family letters from my grandparents archives, I came across a mention in my parents letter to them to the effect that I was quite faithful! In any case, I passed all ten annual exams and I believe ended up with the title of "Profesora de piano".
We did not have recitals as we know them here, but these exams were daunting events. We prepared and memorized several pieces for months. In December, after school was out, on our assigned day we went to the conservatory, el Conservatorio Santa Cecilia, in downtown Buenos Aires and when our turn came entered alone into the great room and played for the judges or examiners.
It was our BIG day. We dressed up and traveled by train and bus to the capital, so nervous and excited.
I still have one of the dresses my mother made me for the occasion.
I did enjoy playing the piano and still do. I eventually helped out by playing music for the church services, though not on the piano. The Templo, as we called our church building, had a harmonium, a fold up pump organ. I even played for a wedding once on that little armonio.
My dad and brothers played a variety of brass instruments.

I found only one photo where I am playing the piano at home for the family in our house on Chiclana in Don Bosco, a suburb of Buenos Aires.

A challenge for those who read my SIL's blog Just a Southern Girl:
Which one of my brothers is her hubby?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Review: Fireworks over Toccoa

I received a promotional copy, an ADVANCE READERS' EDITION, only yesterday! And today is the deadline for linking up with my review at 5 Minutes for Books. It is my own fault for signing up so late. Good has come from it, however. I was pushed to read quickly and found that I could. I enjoyed the experience without feeling guilty for reading when I should could be doing other things. Indeed, retirement is opening up new doors and opportunities. I am having to choose, learning to focus, and enjoying the possibilities in the process.

About the book: A love story that delves into the complexities of human emotions and the lasting consequences of our choices. The setting: beautiful Georgia in post World War II 1940's. The fireworks theme becomes a metaphor for the scintillating love affair at the center of the story.
Lily must choose to live in her perfect world: beautiful home in the town where she grew up as the daughter of a prominent family, husband coming back from the war after three years or an adventurous life with the pyrotechnic Jake.

I honestly cannot spoil the story for you because I did not finish the book.
So far I really appreciate all the historical background and learning about fireworks. I am captivated by the story looking forward to the twists and surprises it will afford. I am enjoying the writing style even more than the content.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

2010 Week 15

Welcome home!

A new array of flowers greeted us outdoors and at least five bouquets indoors.
It was good to be home, but as I settled down to my next writing assignment those first days, I missed the table out in the sun at the Tennessee lodge.

I neglected to take any new photos on Monday, not even at Monday Night Meal.
However, on Tuesday, son and two boys dropped by and I got to visit with my gordito precioso.

Wednesday we were invited guests at an event honoring the late Rick Seaman, a beloved business professor at Taylor U whose widow has become a dear friend. It so happened that two of my second cousins, Roger and Karen, were there, outstanding alums whose parents passed away instantly in a terrible automobile accident almost three years ago. Roger Muselman and David Thomas, Karen's husband, were the speakers at this year's Richard Seaman lectureship. Both very good speakers, had a powerful message on stewardship. All in all, a wonderfully meaningful event.

Los primosRoger, Rita, Karen
(My mother and their father were first cousins. )

Another grouping of cousins--siblings that are my first cousins, our fathers were brothers.

Tres primos: Nelda, Rita, Stan
I saw them on my first trip to Tennessee for Aunt Rebecca's 90th birthday celebration. (Why am I always the shortest?)

Two events this week took me back to the old days of teaching.
Friday I attended the NACFLA conference held at nearby Anderson University this year. It was a day of fellowship with former colleagues and I heard some good presentations, choosing mostly sessions that could somehow apply to my current place in life. 
And today, Saturday, the Spanish club from Indiana Wesleyan had their spring cookout in our picnic area. I enjoyed talking to each one of them, new and former students. I am grateful that they feel free to keep coming.

Three former students

Continuing the three theme: I saw tres nietos on Friday.

Two sitting on the couch playing video games, and one watching his Baby Eisntein shows.

Do you suppose he will follow his grandpa's bicycling passion?
Mike has spent time this week watching the Basque Country's 50th bicycle tour/race.
And we now have our flight reservations for that region of Spain, June 1-16.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Flashback Friday: Birthdays

Linda has challenged us again this week with another interesting topic.
Check out her answers and those of all who link up. And, of course, por supuesto, you must read mine, and comment too, por favor, pretty please!

What were birthdays like when you were growing up? Were they a big deal or understated? Did you have parties? Get to choose what or where the family ate for dinner? Are there any particular birthday traditions that you remember? Is there any birthday that stands out (good OR bad!), either due to the events surrounding it or due to the particular present(s) you received?

 My initial response was that birthdays, when my brothers and I were growing up in Argentina, were understated compared to nowadays. I don't remember having a party every year, though we always got a birthday cake. Can't remember having a choice of meal either, but that could have something to do with my poor memory. Old photos help to fill in those gaps.

(Dad's own handwriting. He made the doll buggy.)

Two birthday celebrations stand out, however, one in the US during our first furlough, and another in Argentina just before our second home leave. I recently wrote about the latter for my writing course, so I will simply copy it at the end. Oh, and if you would care to critique my writing, I would be very grateful.

About the first one. It was my 8th birthday and as a family we were due to visit one of the supporting churches in Canton, Ohio. I remember a table laden with gifts and much food, of course. It made a huge impression on me because I had never seen such a celebration. I have no recollection of any of the gifts, though, only the enormity of the event!

Thirteenth Birthday Party—May, 1957

“Why don’t you go put on your new clothes?” Mother said.

“What for?”  I thought, but I dutifully went upstairs to my room and got out the pleated skirt and matching sweater set.

We had made several trips to Quilmes, by bus or train; walked the length of the long shopping district; searched in numerous fabric shops for my whimsical color choice--pink and gray.
Mother would not give up until she had found the perfect plaid combination. How I loved that wool skirt, it was light and soft and the colors pleased me. I wore it for years, carefully applying imperceptible patches where it had become threadbare.

But why now, nothing special going on, why should I wear my best clothes?

Then the doorbell rang and my friends began to arrive.
“¡Feliz cumpleaños!” they said.

Mother knew how much I had missed my friends from elementary school years.
They had all started back to school in March, each following a different track.
Delia had decided to go the secretarial route and was attending Escuela Comercial.
Others preparing for university chose the Escuela Nacional. And I did not need to make up my mind yet because in a couple months we would be returning to the US for a year in time for fall classes in America.

Mother was getting out the food she had prepared. I could smell the bologna salad sandwiches. My friends loved these. She also knew how to make homemade marshmallows because they were not available in Argentina. And my favorite birthday cake--the Never Fail Chocolate Cake with Seven Minute White Icing.

We played games, but mostly talked. I wanted to hear about their secondary school experience so far. All these schools were in Quilmes, the city twenty minutes away. They traveled by public transport. Some had morning sessions, others afternoon, and there was a night school option. Thus the same school building could accommodate three different programs with totally separate administration and teachers. Obviously the structures were simpler and the systems less complex than in the US. I was soon to find that out for myself. This was also like a going away party. A year is a long time to be away from close friends. Already I missed them and knew I would never catch up with them in school.

But for now, this was such a thoughtful surprise my Mother had prepared. We did not usually have birthday parties with our friends. Though the details have faded, Mother’s loving efforts to make that day special remain a sweet memory.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

2010 Week 14: Semana Santa = Holy Week

Palm Sunday
We enjoyed a great family day celebrating March birthdays--Chef-son and Jimmy, both 30+.

Monday, we were busy preparing for our trip to Townsend, TN. Mike joined another bicycling group, continuing his training in the mountains this time.
We traveled Tuesday and the first ride was that afternoon. 
We did not know most of the members of the Marion Cycling Club, but I was very surprised to see a Venezuelan that my former colleague and students had befriended at his restaurant and to meet his brother.

Wednesday was the first long ride. It was easy to get lost, take a wrong turn, miss  the group. But Mike found his way back by watching the sun. The brothers also got separated from the rest. A loooong day.

Our lodge, front and back.

The restaurant where we had breakfast every day.

In the evenings, after their long rides, we went as a group to a different city each night. The last evening together we ate Mexican food at El Jimador, which I learned means The Agave Farmer. (Do you know what they make from agave?)

After a shorter ride today, everyone left. We had already planned to stay another night so enjoyed a leisurely drive to Pigeon Forge to see what we could see. We visited several pottery places.

Have a blessed and meaningful Resurrection Sunday!

Leah's art work years ago

Friday, April 2, 2010

Flashback Friday: Fashion Memories

Here are Mocha with Linda's questions for this week:
The flashback this week surrounds our fashion memories. You may elaborate on your childhood Easter fashionsand/or share about styles in general. What fashions were popular when you were growing up? (Any time from birth to high school graduation) What did you beg to wear? What style did you happily embrace that you now look back and think, "Ugh! Whatever possessed me to wear that? ( Of course, pictures would be great - the more hideous embarrassing, the better!) Have any of these come back into style? What have you worn that you vowed you never would? (You can also include hairstyles in your walk down Memorial Fashions Lane!)
I am away from home this week so I thought I wouldn't have any photos to share, but I discovered a couple in previous posts way back.

My mother made my outfits when I was very young. This wool coat and hat are turquoise with velvet brown trim. I wonder if she used patterns or was such a talented seamstress. I wish I had photos of all the cute dresses she sewed for me, and the sweaters she knitted.

Attending school in Argentina I was not concerned about dressing fashionably because we wore uniforms--white starched pleated dress-like cover-alls, long-sleeved, buttoned cuffs, round collars, buttoned and tied in the back. (If I were home I could post a cute picture.)

Anyway, when I went to 8th grade in the US, I could not believe how many clothes were necessary to survive school in reasonable fashion. Those were the days of poodle skirts, saddle shoes, bobby socks, plenty of petticoats (What were they called, those ruffly, starchy, scratchy monstruosities?) I cannot say that I "happily embraced" any of that, which only added to my feeling like I didn't belong in the country of my birth.
BTW, that was the year Elvis visited our small-town school! (He was about 10 years older than me.)

So, I never was a fashion expert, just do my best to not stand out as odd or too extravagant
Here's the outfit my granddaughter helped me select for my birthday last year.

I am wearing it today on this beautifully sunny day in Tennessee!
And  that will be my contribution for today.
Have a grrrrrrreat week!