Monday, December 29, 2008

Middle Age: Phase 1

Remember all the times that you were innocently listening to music in your room and your folks yelled at you to "Turn that racket down!", or the number of times they said "I don't know how you can listen to that garbage! You can't even hear the words!" And, in reply, we rolled our eyes, sighed heavily and thought "You are so old and uncool." Well, clearly that brand of fuddy duddy-ness has set in on yours truly. I've always admitted to being stuck in the musical past. Tonight, I slipped beyond that into something much darker.
So, there I was in my car flipping through channels on the satellite radio until I find The Blend- a mix of pop and alternative current tunes. I'm listening, listening and the song is starting to drive me crazy and I'm thinking things to myself like "Good lord, why doesn't he just clear his throat before he sings?" and "God these lyrics are just stupid" and "What is the point of this song?" and "I think he's trying to sound British or something equally affected." Out of curiosity, I checked the songs artist and title. Artist: Thriving Ivory. Title: Angels on the Moon. Both these things set off a flurry of new thoughts like "What a stupid name for a band" and "What a retarded name for a song. No wonder the lyrics make no sense." It was ugly and I started to feel really uncool and parental in my judgments. So, I switched over to the ever reliable 80's on 8 where all is right with the world and I know all the lyrics to Bust a Move by Young MC. Yeah. I'm cool.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

It wasn't me. I swear.

There have been moments when I have fantasized about clubbing the noisy teenagers at the movie theater, or breaking the kneecaps of the seat kickers behind me, but I would never do it. Check out this story from the city of brotherly love:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man enraged by a noisy family sitting near him in a movie theater on Christmas night shot the father of the family in the arm, police said.
James Joseph Cialella, 29, of Philadelphia, faces six charges that include attempted murder and aggravated assault. He remained in custody Saturday.
Police said Cialella told the man's family to be quiet, then threw popcorn at the man's son. The victim, whom television reports identified as Woffard Lomax, told police that Cialella was walking toward his family when he stood up and was shot.
Detectives called to the United Artists Riverview Stadium theater in South Philadelphia found Cialella carrying the weapon, a .380-caliber handgun, in his waistband, police said.
Lt. Frank Vanore called the incident "scary that it gets to that level of violence from being too noisy during a movie."
Lomax, 31, of Yeadon, was released from a hospital after the shooting. He declined to comment when contacted by phone Saturday.
It was not immediately known whether Cialella had a lawyer or whether bail had been set. A woman who answered a call to his home number Saturday declined to comment.
A theater manager referred calls to Regal Entertainment Group spokesman Dick Westerling, who did not immediately return a phone message Saturday.
Police could not confirm what movie was playing in the theater, but The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that it was "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bad knitter. Baaaad knitter.

This goes out to Madame Leiderhosen and her subversive, anti-American needles. Hee hee hee. (They call it knitting, but it looks like crochet to me.)


Friday, December 26, 2008

For real? And they won't run?


The FDA has approved a new drug for thicker, longer lashes. Is this treating a health condition or a vanity condition? Hmmmmmmm. I thought this was why we had mascara.

Whoa! Now that's a powerful tool.

Scroll down and check out the new widget that I installed from Feedjit.com. If you click on options, then choose the map, you can zoom in on your location. I'm not sure how accurate it is since it probably just tracks to the regional office, but one of my relatives paid a visit and I zoomed in and the little flag was on their road. Is that possible? Cool, if true.

Makes me chuckle every time:


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Happiest of holidays to everyone! This little birdie gifted me this morning by sitting in the arborvitae right outside the dining room window long enough that I could get a good picture of him. What a treat!
Curt and I are celebrating tonight with an early dinner at my favorite spot Kincaid's followed by gift opening. I have no idea what Curt got me since I barely put anything on my list except bird feeding stuff. So, this should be exciting. I got Curt one thing from his list and two other things that I know he needs. I like surprising him with things not requested.
Tomorrow, we head to Monticello, MN for Christmas day with Curt's family. They are a wonderful, civilized bunch. We always get our fill of good homey food and great humor. If we're lucky we'll play cards, which with Curt's family is a blood sport considering they are all as competitive as Curt. I've seen broken nails and lots of name calling during these games. All in good fun though.
My best to all of you this holiday season! Stay warm and enjoy friends and family!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Marry Him! Marry Him!

Yes, Bristol Palin, please, please, please marry your baby daddy, Levi. Not for the sake of your unborn child, but for the pure entertainment value your future mother-in-law could provide to a future run for office by Sarah Palin. It has such potential. Now the poor thing has two bad grandmas. Shame.

Crappy Christmas Gift Challenge

The MNMom has issued a challenge to post a thing or things we would consider a crappy Christmas gift. Okay. I can do that.

#1: Fantasy "Art"

I just plain hate this shit. If anyone were to ever buy me a piece of fantasy "art" and think they were my friend, they would be mistaken. This one sucks because of all the bubbles and frickin' wings attached to everything and the blissed out look on their faces and the little red girl's Laura Ingalls Wilder bonnet bullshit. This just sucks on all levels. The only things that could make it worse: a castle, a dragon, a dolphin and some chick with big boobs and a sword. Now if this were painted as a joke, I could laugh along, but someone probably looks at this thing every day and finds some spiritual contentment. I'm sick just thinking about it.


#2: Novelty gifts


This sad thing is Billy Bob the Singing Bass who sings "Take Me To The River". Someone gave this to my dad as a novelty gift one year. (If it was one of my sibling readers, my apologies for what I'm about to say.) It was amusing for one button push when the fish would flop around on the board and move it's mouth to the music. However, at family gatherings, after the grandchildren had pressed the little red button to make the damn thing flop around for the 100th time (no exaggeration), I wanted to stomp on the thing. This would have scared the grandchildren so I refrained, but I really, really wanted to stomp it out of its existence. The only remotely amusing novelty gift my dad ever received was a remote control farting machine that he once taped to the bottom of a chair to confuse his visitors.


#3: Games that help you relate to one another on a deeper level

Little makes me crankier than forced bonding. These cards were brought out at a friends house once when a group was over (Dear friend- I don't think you're a reader, but I am sorry for what I'm about to say if you are. I know you'll forgive me because you know what a cranky old fart I am and love me for it.) We were supposed to pick a card and tell a story about it and then the next person would do the same and it was supposed to reveal insights about you to the group so they could understand you better. Wretch! And look at the cards for god's sake- there are two people dancing in unitards and a clown. A clown! You think I'm going to enjoy this game if there's a CLOWN?? Read the complete bullshit that the makers of the cards have on their web site:
These beautiful cards are designed to increase intuition, imagination, insight and communication. Around the world people are using these unique cards to reclaim their sense of self and their sense of place in this universe. The OH Cards were created to put you in touch with yourself and with those around you.
I mean really, could you just about puke??
Merry Christmas, all! I know if I receive any of these gifts that you do indeed hate me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fun With Bone Marrow Disorders

Today I had part one of my annual performance review at work. (Thank god I don't get one at home because my ranking for "Cleans House Without Prompting" would be in the toilet.) Anyway, before the review got started my boss asked me about the results of my bone marrow biopsy. I explained about the two disorders, blah, blah, blah. So, here's how the rest of the conversation went:

Boss: So what are the symptoms?

Me: Well, the one that affects my platelets makes me fat and the one that affects my hemoglobin can make me crabby. So, basically you're just sitting across the desk from one big disability and you'll never be able to give me anything but a positive review because I've got an excuse for all my weaknesses now.

Long pause, after which I bust a gut laughing.

Boss: Get out of my office.


After he got over the shock of being so gullible, we had a good laugh about it. There was some context for him believing me because his extremely cute wonderful wife has some circulation thing with her hands and the medication she was on caused some sudden weight gain- which promptly ended the medication after two weeks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Want Some Blood? It's Extra.

So, why go for just one bone marrow disorder when you can have two? Yes, two. I got the results of my bone marrow biopsy back today. No cancer is the great news. However, I have two different multi-syllabic bone marrow disorders- one affecting my platelets, which we knew about, and the other affecting my hemoglobin. Odd. My hemoglobin is in the normal range- high in the normal range, but normal. My doctor diagnosed it paritally because my kidneys aren't producing enough of a hormone that stimulates the marrow to produce the blood. Apparently, it just does it without the stimulus. So, I just basically make too much blood. My doctor tells me that I'm no longer of any use to the Red Cross or any plasma donation center. (Not that they want my blood anyway as their policies exclude me because they infer that because I am in a relationship with a man that I have HIV. Quite a leap and not true.) I also presumed that any vampire that might want to latch on would also likely no longer be interested. Can I convince mosquitoes that drinking my blood is also sucky for them in some way? Hmmmm.
So, I had to sit for a nice blood letting after my doctor's visit. They call it phlebotomy, but I prefer the more medieval terminology. I very quickly filled the bottle up all the way to the top. Not so exciting except that when they took the needle out of my arm, my blood sort of sprayed all over briefly then dripped on to the floor. I thought it was funny and apparently the phlebotomist did too because she yelled out "We've got a gusher!"
Anyway, I have to have blood lettings every two weeks until another blood level gets below a certain point. Hematocrit, I think. Afterwards, I will probably need a blood letting every month for the rest of my life. Oh, and I need to do all of the other things that one should do to avoid blood clots and strokes. This includes losing weight. Frick. Again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Like Living On the Prairie Only Less Drafty and Less Work

Holy crap! We were without high speed internet for a day and a half and I nearly lost my mind. Apparently, cable service can be interrupted when there are rapid changes in temperature. I'm not sure that's not just an excuse for crappy service, but I have no choice but to believe them. Anyway, without my internet, my thoughts turned to things like making candles from the beeswax I collected from the hive in the tree in the front yard, or making soap from the fat of the cow we just slaughtered and lye from the ashes from our wood burning stove, or making a doll from a log and piece of yarn ma had left over. Then I realized I have none of those things. What was I to do with all this god forsaken time on my hands? What? What? Read a book? No. Clean the house? No. No. What? What? I ended up killing zombies thanks to our fabulous Wii and a shiny copy of Resident Evil 4. Now that our internet is back, I'm feeling much better.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Does My Butt Look Big On This Wii? And other thoughts

1. It was raining here most of the day- unusual for this time of year. This didn't stop the squirrels from cleaning up under the bird feeders. Unfortunately, wet squirrels aren't nearly as charming as dry fuzzy squirrels.

2. I ran out to Best Buy this morning and picked up a Wii Fit. The thing took me through a bunch of set up activities, asking me my height, my birthday, then weighed me and calculated my BMI and my fitness age. Then it did the worst thing of all- it told the truth. I am obese. #%^@#* toy! I knew that already. When I step on to the balance board, I swear the machine says "OW!" Curt, very kindly, convinced me that it says "oh" along with all the other cute things this little miracle of a toy does.

3. Anyone have any ideas on how to calm a tickling in the back of the throat that comes on during the night, initiates annoyingly frequent coughing fits, keeps me and my lovely Curt up for hours and drives one of us into the guest bedroom for the night? The first night, I went to the guest bedroom and lost almost a full night of sleep. The second night, I got up and took a few more Trazodone and slept through the coughing. When I woke up, Curt had gone to the guest bedroom.

4. I counted 10 cardinals in a single tree just on the other side of the fence yesterday- 6 males and 4 females. They are the earliest and the latest at the feeders. I heart cardinals.

5. My obsession with getting a Pileated Woodpecker at our feeders- not just on the tree next door- has driven me to further expand my feeder set up. It is getting a little ridiculous and I may end up needing another pole. Anyway, I bought a big log feeder filled with a peanut buttery suet mixture. The Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers seem to like it and the Nuthatches have discovered it, but, alas, no Pileated. Why so obsessed with Pileated Woodpeckers? Well, not only are they as big as pterodactyls- okay, maybe a little smaller- they are amazingly beautiful and notoriously a little shy, but once you get them at your feeders they are your friend for life. And, its fun to brag a little about getting a Pileated at your feeder in the city, okay burbs.

6. The temperature started out a balmy 37 degrees this morning at 8 a.m. Now it is 12 degrees on its way down to -6. How butt sucky is that?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Does This Resonate With Anyone?

This goes out to all the readers who are moms or anyone who has had a mom.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

OW! OW!


I had the dreaded bone marrow biopsy today. As I suspected, it hurt like hell. The first part when they take the sample of the bone marrow core wasn't so bad. The second part where they suck out the liquid part of the marrow was really, really painful. To make it worse, they did it three times to get the required number of samples. The sucking of the liquid part was described to me as a sensation of pressure. Oh no, no,no. It was rather like a cold serrated ice pick being twirled around in the bone. Ouch!

The next step is waiting for results. I already got my blood work back. Everything except the platelets looks normal again. So, this is good news.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Hate the Sound of Music

Don't you just want to slap them all?


Today I came clean. I said something to my employee C that I have rarely let out of the bag and that few people will admit to. We were walking through the lobby at work where someone, who was supposed to be singing Christmas Carols, was singing "My Favorite Things" instead. I turned to C and proclaimed "I hate Julie Andrews and I hate The Sound of Music." Apparently, this darn lingering cold has turned my filters off and I'm just spewing out the truth. C looked stunned. I looked up for the bolt of lightning then around me for the gay mafia coming to revoke my membership. It's true. I can't bear to listen to Julie Andrews, look at Julie Andrews and especially can't stomach another viewing of those annoying little Austrian brats in foofy leiderhosen and skirts made from those garish curtains chasing after that prim little Julie Andrews and her annoying guitar. If I were Captain Von Trapp and my perky little governess had destroyed my curtains, came between me and my mistress, and taught my children cloying ditties like "So Long, Farewell" and "Doe a Deer", I would have gunned her down and maybe even taken out her Mother Superior for sending her my way. Every time Ralph blows that damn whistle I hope and pray that they'll at least capture Maria and send her off. Never happens though.


Now I know at least three readers of this blog who will be horrified. So, while you're forgiving me, please also forgive me when I say that I didn't much care for "Victor Victoria" either.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mazel Tov!

Last night, Curt and I were honored to attend our first ever Bar Mitzvah for the son of one of Curt's former co-workers. When we arrived at the sanctuary, we were directed by the young lady at the door to the "optional" bowl of yarmulkes. I asked "Are they really optional?" She said, I think so, but I'm not Jewish. " Oh. Turns out the yarmulke bowl was full of kids yarmulkes with soccer ball and football designs on them. We passed, since they were "optional." Later a kindly woman came by to hand out yarmulkes to the men to whom the shikse at the door had misinformed. I asked Curt if mine looked rather fetching and he said he should take me a picture . Oy vey. I'm guessing my giant Scandinavian cabbage head dwarfed the yarmulke, making it look silly rather than respectful. Time to put an XXL yarmulke on my Christmas list. (Jesus was a Jew after all and will appreciate the irony.) Anyway, young James had clearly done his studying and did a marvelous job with the Hebrew. Curt and I understood none of it, but clapped along during the more festive numbers led by the cantor and rabbi. The service helped me to recall one of my favorite poems from 'Haikus for Jews: For You, A Little Wisdom', a brilliant little tome if you've never picked it up:

Today I'm a man
On Monday I will return
To the seventh grade

While I'm at it, another favorite:

A lovely nose ring,
Excuse me while I put my
Head in the oven

Anyway, we also attended the dinner and dancing after the service. We saw what appeared to be a head table set up and just assumed that it was for the family. No, it was for James and about 20 of his closest friends. The family was just scattered about with the rest of the crowd. What a great way to honor his accomplishment. After all, he had been studying for this day since he was six. This was all about him. Very cool.

Just one more thing. At the dinner, we were served beverages by this woman:


Eeeeeeek! Curt and I both immediately thought of this character from Monsters, Inc. when we saw her. But, to make it better, she had the attitude to match. First, she slammed the wine bottle down on the table so hard that people jumped. Then came the water- SLAM! A little later came the coffee- SLAM! Did she pour any of them for us? Nope. It was fabulous. We loved and feared her by the end of the evening. She was divine.

A Little Sister Challenge

Here is my entry into the kitchen sink challenge set forth by Little Sister (a.k.a- Ruthie the farting wonder girl- will she ever live it down?) My view does not invoke the same sense of serenity that Little Sister's does, but I am light in fresh flowers and religious icons. One of Little Sisters many gifts is that she is always creates and lives in beautiful surroundings. And, better yet, she can do it all for $3.50 at the local thrift store. Massively creative that woman is. Anyway, for my view I had to remove a water bottle and a pair of pliers off the window sil, so as not to obscure your view of my suburb. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Strange Greetings

Other than developing a hideous cold, I had a nice trip to Appleton. The highlight of the trip was the opportunity to see several of my traveling companions from the El Salvador Habitat for Humanity build that we did in October. I hadn't seen most of them since returning a month ago. So, it was odd and appropriate that we were all greeting each other with "Oh my gosh! I didn't recognize you clean!" and "Look at you, so clean!" and "You smell really good." I kind of wondered if this is what dogs say to each other when the a dog they know gets back from groomer. Anyway, it was wonderful to see them and reinforced that the bond we developed on the trip was very real. I'm thinking of leading a trip back to El Salvador next year. Anyone up for it?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Please give a big blogging welcome to......

...SUZIEQ at Tomorrow is Another Day! It took her years to master e-mail so her entry into blogging is a particularly proud moment for her and her family. Please shower her with comments and other blogging love in celebration of this achievement.

Oh, and strongly encourage her to post the photo she recently received from Brenda for her 4X birthday. It might be a few long months before the scanner skills come up to par, so ongoing encouragement will be helpful.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Random Thoughts For Sunday

1. In the car today, I was observing the snow and caught myself worrying about my father. I was thinking to myself "Well I hope he is careful so he doesn't slip and fall on the snow." He's been gone 6 months almost to the day and I still have trouble getting accustomed to the idea.

2. I am in Appleton, Wisconsin for work. I flew over this evening and will be here for two days. I always start to miss Curt about an hour after I arrive. Not sure if I express my love for him enough when I'm home, but I sure do think about it when I'm away. Need to work on this.

3. Today was a glorious day at the bird feeders. The thought crossed my mind about what to call the flocks of various birds that show up. So, I found this site with all kinds of animal group names. I learned that I may have had a charm of gold finches, a small descent of woodpeckers (two hairy woodpeckers to be precise, but I did see a monstrous pileated woodpecker on the cottonwood next door and nearly wet myself), and a dray of squirrels. Perhaps during the summer months, I might have a stray flamboyance of flamingos in the pond. Unlikely, but you just never know.

4. I need to lose weight. Yeah, I know. Whine, whine, whine. I know how to do it. I know a lot about it from watching all the right programs on TV. But will I just do it? Apparently not because my fat clothes have gotten tight. *sigh*

5. We saw the film 'Australia' on Wednesday night starring Nicole Kidman and sexiest man alive Hugh Jackman. Clearly the director knew exactly what he had in Hugh because there are many gratuitous shirtless Hugh scenes, scenes with Hugh in sweaty tight fitting shirts, wet Hugh scenes. Our friend Marina and I swear that the scene of soapy Hugh pouring a bucket of water over himself was in slow motion, but we're told by Curt it was not. I guess for Marina and I we were blessed with a time-stood-still moment when the bubbles were rinsing down Hugh's back. Perhaps I will buy this film on DVD just for these scenes. Oh, and Nicole Kidman did a nice job too if anyone cares.

A MNMom Meme

MNMom has tagged me. Now, if you're reading this you are tagged too. I haven't had a good tag in a long time, so this should be fun. Here goes.

1. Five names you go by
a) Michael
b) Mike
c) Mikey
d) Honey
e) Blubby- but only to my sisters. This is only one of many tortures they subjected me to. When I got my first pair of cowboy boots as a kid, sister #3 referred to me as Puss In Boots. Nice.

2. Three things you are wearing right now:
a) Jeans
b) Black t-shirt
c) Underpants

3. Two things you want very badly at the moment:
a) More down time
b) My upcoming bone marrow biopsy results to be negative

4. Three people who will probably fill this out:
a) Brenda @ This Too Shall Pass
b) SuzieQ @ Tomorrow is another day (once she figures out the technology)
c) Dale @ Passion of the Dale (please?)

5. Two things you did last night:
a) Had a nice visit with our dog sitter Pat
b) Played Cosmic Bingo

6. Two things you ate today:
a) Cheese blintz
b) Potato pancake

7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:
a) Marina
b) Pat the dog sitter

8. Two things you are going to do tomorrow:
a) Take a co-worker out for her first sushi dinner
b) Document our enterprise governance processes (yee haw)

9. Two longest car rides:
a) Iowa City to Tucson
b) Minneapolis to Madison (not the longest, but always feels the longest)

10. Two of your favorite beverages:
a) A really good latte
b) Fresh squeezed lemonade

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hours of Entertainment

Inspired by my aunt Liz and my friends Brenda & Mark, I recently committed to becoming a serious bird feeder. So, a small investment later, here is the result. If you look closely you can see the big Blue Jay that just scared away all the other birds at the feeder. You can also see the lovely little red bird feeder given to us by Brenda & Mark. It seems to be the most popular feeder since it is half full every time I turn around. For those of you who don't feed the birds, I highly recommend it. I have spent many hours on the weekend just watching the comings and goings . It seems to be on par with petting the dogs as far as bringing down the blood pressure a bit. Anyway, here are some observations about the life of birds and their friends, the squirrels:
1. Blue Jays will kill you for a peanut. It is best just to run.
2. Black Capped Chickadees are a squirrel's best friend. Since the squirrels are unable to reach the feeders, they hang out at the base waiting for scraps. When Mr. Chickadee comes to the feeder, he throws out whatever he doesn't like that is in the way of what he does want. This would be the human equivalent of going to a buffet and throwing the ribs on floor on your way to the General Tso chicken. Anyway, the squirrels get all excited when food drops from heaven above.
3. Fat is law in squirrel country. The fatter you are the scarier you are to other squirrels. The fattest squirrel wins all duels. Some days, I wish we could generalize this to human affairs. I hold great power in such a fantasy.
4. Speaking of fat squirrels, does anyone know what the maximum weight ever recorded for a squirrel is? I think we've got some two pounders out there. They've got big guts and fat asses. Am I related?
5. Dark Eyed Juncos are the squirrels of the bird world. They can certainly fly to the feeders but prefer to hop around on the ground with the squirrels. They don't get as much food as the other birds and they seem to make room when they see a large furry ass headed their way. This makes me feel sorry for them and go scatter seed on the ground. I'm a sucker. I'm sure this is all well thought out on their part and I'm just an easy target.
6. Nuthatches are cool. Not only are they pretty, they seem to spend most of their time upside down. I guess this behavior allows them to see bugs and other things most upright birds miss. Ingenious.

7. We can have up to a dozen Cardinals at any given time in our yard. They jump around between drinking at the pond and eating from the feeders. We have several pines and arborvitae nearby which is ideal cardinal habitat. I understand that some people really need to work at attracting cardinals to their feeders. This includes the owner of the wild bird store where I buy my food. It drives her crazy when I tell her about our cardinals. So, I do it every time I visit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It Was More Than Sex, It Was Making Love

This report is from WCCO online today. Gotta love those Iowans going wild when they hit the big city and the Minnesotans who watched them. Classy. Very very classy. And do they know how filthy the Metrodome bathrooms are? I guess when passion comes a-knockin' you just have to answer the door.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) ― Considering the state of the Minnesota Gophers' crippling loss against the Iowa Hawkeyes last weekend, one could reasonably assume some would have rather watched anything but the action on the field. That's precisely what police said approximately 15 people did when they observed the action going on inside a men's bathroom at the Metrodome last Saturday.
According to a report filed by University of Minnesota Police, the crowd had gathered to cheer on a couple "having relations" in one of the stalls. A security guard flagged down a police officer after he saw two sets of legs occupying the handicapped toilet stall, both with their pants and underwear around their ankles. The officer arrived and separated the two. The 38-year-old female and the 26-year-old male, both in town from Iowa, were cited for indecent conduct before being released, respectively, to their husband and girlfriend.
According to police, the woman may also be charged with providing a false name to police after attempting to give a fake middle name to the officer on scene (though she identified herself with the correct first and last names).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Two Quick Movie Picks


Two movies we've loved in recent weeks:

1. On DVD: Son of Rambow. One of the most charming little films we've seen in a long time. Two unlikely friends drawn together by a bootleg copy of Rambo First Blood. Very sweet.

2. In theaters: BOLT! Just really damn cute, especially if you have a furry little friend. You can even get over the fact that Miley Cyrus is the voice of the little girl because you never have to see her teeth.

Cookie Day at the MnMoms

Yesterday was cookie day at the MnMom's house in Northfield. When I entered, Twin #1 greeted me from the couch with a less than enthusiastic "hi" then went back to the TV. I encouraged her to work on her social graces because, who knows, she might one day aspire to be a hostess at the Taco Bell or something. But, I guess when you're like family you get the real 14 year old treatment. Okay, I know I don't get the full treatment that MnMom gets, but I got a taste of it. I did, at some point during the day, threaten all the kids with a spatula and/or a scraper. This was only to stop MnMom from ripping off the aerial on my car, which had just come from the body shop. I was simply helping to keep the kids in line. Helping.

Here are our little elf helpers. MnMom's youngest offspring on the left- who, by the way, still shows me how happy she is to have me there, Twin #1, eh hem- and her little friend Sophie. In this picture they are making a batch of cookies for which I failed to recognize the difference between baking powder and baking soda. They still tasted great, but were a little flatter than I had anticipated. Left to their own devices, these two would have made all manner of mutant cookies, mixing chocolate chip cookie dough with the chocolate dough, M&M's and red hots on everything, and would have been so covered with powdered sugar that they would have looked like eager super models at the coke factory sampling room. A few reminders to keep their hands out of their mouths and a looming spatula overhead, kept them on task. Spare the spatula, spoil the child, I've always said.


Here MnMom rescues what became our cookie mosaic. I guess they were a little too close on the parchment and all became entangled and intertwined. This is not unlike what will happen to 14 year old twins if they get too close to boys. Fortunately, MnMom has raised sensible twins who require very few spatula beatings. The girls were going to a "black and white" high school dance last night and had some cute black dresses picked out. These were nothing like the Gunne Sax dresses that were all the rage at high school dances in Iowa in the late 70's & early 80's. Only if you had a thing for Ma Ingalls would you have been hot for a girl in a Gunne Sax dress. Hmmmm. Let's start sewing for prom now, MnMom.
MnMom & Me

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Entry to the Knit a Hat for Mindy Challenge

The glorious and multi-talented Madame Leiderhosen is seeking ideas/patterns from which to knit a hat for Melinda June. Melinda June has just returned from 4+ years in balmy olde England to the blustery winters of Chicago. Here are my entries:
There are not many who could pull off this hat. I'm not even sure the model herself is convinced. However, I believe our fair Melinda June could do it. My preference would be to put an eyeball, a couple of teeth and some stray hairs onto the protuberances so they looked like parasitic twins. But, that's my hat, not Min's.

Knowing that Melinda June is a big Cap'n & Tenille fan, I thought this 70's inspired number might be appropriate for those cold afternoons lip synching "Love Will Keep Us Together" in her swank new apartment. If done in the right hue, Melinda June might also appear a bit nappy headed, which is likely a look she (wisely) hasn't tried yet.In this hat/scarf ensemble, Mindy could look just like this itty bitty witty kitty. Here knitty kitty! Who's the cutest kittiest critter in all the land? You are, kitty. You are.
I thought this was a smart little number though I'm not completely convinced of the plum color. Is that plum, or is it MAROOOON? For whatever reason, when I hear people describe things as being marooooon in color, I automatically assume they are describing something ugly. There are so many other color words out there people. Go pick up some paint chips at the Home Depot and get creative already.

Friday, November 21, 2008

BREAKING NEWS!!!!

BEEEEEEEEFCAAAAAAAAKE!


OMG! Hugh Jackman has been named People Magazine's SEXIEST MAN ALIVE! You knew it! I knew it! Now everyone will know it! Fabulous!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Should Have Known All Along

This is Growing Out of My Butt Crack


I am a mutant. Yes. You've known it deep in your hearts, but have been too afraid to tell me. According to my hematologist, I have an acquired genetic mutation called a JAK2 mutation. (I've always preferred the original JAK, but if I have to have a sequel, JAK2 will have to do.) Apparently, she believes this is the cause of my funked up platelet levels for the last several years. She thinks the normal test that I reported on last month was a fluke. Nice. I guess it isn't that big a deal for now and I'll learn more about it at an upcoming appointment. In the mean time, I have to go get that mother @#*@#$ing bone marrow biopsy that I am so not cool with. They need to rule out a type of leukemia before they can say with certainty that the mutation is the sole cause of my bone marrow disorder. The risk is very low because the type of leukemia they look for isn't often seen with this particular mutation. But, keep your fingers crossed for me anyway.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'm a Leg Man Myself

I know, I know. This picture has certainly made the rounds, but it is always worth seeing. Enjoy!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Granny Throw Down


The non-smoking section at the local casino is tiny and the competition for machines can sometimes be fierce. Last night, I noticed that one of my favorite games- Super Jackpot Party!- had just come open so I rushed over. At the same time that I got to the game, a late 80's something granny in her walker had also reached the game. Deferring to the fact that it probably took her 20 minutes to travel the 10 feet to get there, I gave her an opportunity to park her walker and have the game. However, she looked at the game for a moment and started to move on. Cool for me.

When she got about 5 feet away, she apparently changed her mind, turned around and came back. By that point I had already inserted my player's card and sat down. Seeing me in the chair when she arrived back at the game 30 minutes later (Okay, that is an exaggeration. It took her about 30 seconds to go the 5 feet, but it seemed that long because the turnaround was really, really slow.), she said "I was going to play this game." I responded "Oh...well, it was hard for me to discern that seeing as you walked away in the opposite direction." She muttered something about me being rude and stood there in her walker glaring at me. This pissed me off. I was thinking to myself "Granny, I can't take out many people , but I could take you." I wasn't completely sure of that but if provoked, I probably could have gotten enough adrenaline going to accomplish the task. I looked at the woman seated next to me. She could sense there was a throw down about to take place and gave me one of those looks that said "You're right, but if you throw down with a granny, I'm betting on the granny." I decided to take the high road, but did give granny a look that let her know she should watch her walker because I might be the kind of guy who would take the tennis balls off the front legs and laugh as the walker slides away from her and she goes down face first.

We eventually left the non-smoking section for greener pastures in the stinky section. I did find the only upgrade of Super Jackpot Party and played that. What could be better than Super Jackpot Party? Village People Party!! Yes indeed. Where ever you find Village People Party, you can be sure that there are gays aplenty bobbing their heads to "In the Navy" or "YMCA" during the bonus round. Fabulous.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A few random thoughts

1. If you're curious about seeing more of my El Salvador pics, you can click here. I started with over 1200 photos after compiling every one's digital images and narrowed it down to a measly 463 that were worth looking at. I have to stop looking at them because I've teared up no less than 3 times this week. I really miss the people we met while there. I'm a mess.

2. Surely, hell has to be at least a little cooler than usual. Why, you ask? I'll tell you why- because my little home town of Decorah, Iowa is having a pro same sex marriage rally on Saturday. I would never have guessed this could happen. However, I also never would have guessed that our little high school would have a GLBT group led by the head football coach. I should try harder not to look so dumbfounded at progress. It makes me look old and uncool.

3. Hooray to that other C state that actually is allowing gay marriages now. Ongoing boos and hisses to the Cult of Mormon that used their gazillions to fund the passage of Prop 8 in the big C state. Though the fact that this prompted list item #2 is not an all bad thing. When this gets overturned by the Supreme Court, we can all dance in the streets.

4. Speaking of weddings, I took my mother's wedding dress to have it restored. I started to blubber from the moment I put it in my car and managed to pull myself together a few blocks from the gown restoration place. Not sure exactly what hit me, but I guess I needed a good bawl. The dress itself is in pretty good shape- just some minor acid damage from the box it has been in for 50 years. What to do with it once I get it back is another question. And, no, it won't fit me. So I won't be trying it on even for dress up. My mother apparently was a size 2/4 on her wedding day. I think I would be about a size 22/24 if I'm lucky. Bridal Barn, here I come.

5. Eye candy. We all need it. This is so pretty it is just wrong in all the right ways. Hi, Hugh. Wink, wink.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Fabulous Night With the MnMoms

Last night we got the pleasure of spending a very athletic evening with the MnMom clan minus one of the twins. First, all seven of us descended on the Sports Pavillion, where we watched the 17th ranked UofM women's volleyball team beat 18th ranked Purdue in three games. The MnMom twin that came along plays volleyball so this was fun for her. I suggested that if she couldn't play volleyball, perhaps she should aspire to be one of the girls that runs out between plays to wipe sweat off the floor. I then found out what a disapproving look is like from a 14 year old. Hmmmm. On the ride back to our place, MnMom and I discussed Dawn Davenport parenting techniques, but it did nothing to scare the twin straight. Go figure.
Back at our place, we had a lovely rhubarb/apple crisp, then proceeded to the lower level for a head to head match of Dance Dance Revolution. MnMom and I kicked ass. Okay, that's not true. We might have kicked our own asses by mistake with our flailing feet, but that would have been about it. We had a lot of fun though. MnMom's youngest offspring quickly became addicted to the game and ended up being pretty good. I see Solid Gold Dancer in her future, or maybe even Soul Train. All in all another lovely evening.

Friday, November 7, 2008

UPDATE: The Birth of a Lesbian Folk Hero

Here she is! Our folk hero. Here is an even better account of the story from the Prescott Daily Courier.


You do not want to fuck with this woman. She is serious. Here's the story at this link:


Jogger runs mile with rabid fox locked on her arm
1 day ago
PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities in Arizona say a jogger attacked by a rabid fox ran a mile with the animal's jaws clamped on her arm and then drove herself to a hospital. The Yavapai County sheriff's office said the woman told deputies she was on a trail near Prescott on Monday when the fox attacked and bit her foot.
She said she grabbed the fox by the neck when it went for her leg but it bit her arm.
The woman wanted the animal tested for rabies so she ran a mile to her car with the fox still biting her arm, then pried it off and tossed it in her trunk and drove to the Prescott hospital.
The sheriff's office says the fox later bit an animal control officer. He and the woman are both receiving rabies vaccinations.

Scared Straight?

Yesterday I had my appointment with a hematologist about my funky platelet levels. First of all, it was a little weird because hematology is part of the oncology department. Everyone in the department and the lab workers who follow all treat you very kindly and look at you like "What a shame. Cut down in his prime." It was sort of sweet and deeply uncomfortable all at the same time.
Anyway, my hematologist was this fabulously beautiful woman with a thick South African accent. She was marvelous and took a lot of time to explain what might be going on with my blood. When we got around to next steps, the first thing she mentioned was that she wanted to schedule a bone marrow test along with a battery of blood work and genetic testing. Bone marrow testing??? OUCH! OUCH! She tried to reassure me that it isn't as horrible as it sounds and that the procedure would likely not be performed by a student doctor. How reassuring. So, she scheduled the bone marrow draw for a few weeks out and sent me to the lab where they extracted about 8 or 9 vials of blood for testing.
Within the hour, the fabulous Dr. Morton called me up and said "Well, we have an unexpected result." "OH SHIT! " I thought calmly to myself. "Your platelet levels have come back normal for the first time in 3 years. I'm going to cancel the bone marrow test for now and wait for the rest of the blood work to come in and let you know how I want to proceed." Hooray! No painful medical procedure! Could it be that my fear of minor discomfort sent some of my little platelets into hiding where they couldn't be counted? If this is true, I'm now going to work on scaring myself thin.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We Will Win... In Time

I had the honor of hearing Marilyn Carlson Nelson (Carlson Companies) speak today at work. She reminded me of a poem by Edwin Markham that made me think about the current environment with states passing gay marriage bans and such. The conviction that I must remind myself of is that love will win this fight eventually.
He drew a circle that shut me out--
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

Wooo Hoooo!

I am quite pleased with the presidential results! Woo hoooo! I thought McCain's concession speech was very thoughtful and supportive. It is apparent that even he is embarrassed by the booing and negativity that erupted in the first 10 seconds of his speech. I applaud his tone. Obama's acceptance speech was breath taking. I didn't think I would tear up, but I did. I'm quite proud.

On the down side, it appears, at least for the moment, that all the gay marriage bans that were on the ballots have passed, including Proposition 8 in California. Right now I'm thinking of CP and Poor George who were married a few weeks back. I have to trust that this will all get resolved. It likely won't be in my life time, but I do believe it will happen.

The race between Norm "Can I Feel You Up" Coleman and Al Franken is headed for a mandatory recount- less than 800 votes separate them. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Toes too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Odd Conversation

Today:
Insurance Claims Adjuster: So, were you planning that these repairs will be covered by your insurance or that of the other party?

Me: I suppose mine since the deer ran off before I could get his insurance information.

Insurance Claims Adjuster: Yes, I suppose you're right.

Civic Duty? Check!

I voted today and I hope the rest of you did too. May the best man win- and we all know who that is!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Horrible Loss

I got a call from my dear friend Ruthie today. Unfortunately, the news was tragic. A great artist and human being, Tim Langholz, is no longer with us. I started collecting Tim's work several years ago and during that time got to know him on a more personal level. He was a tremedous guy who loved his family, had deep convictions, an amazing talent and a warm grin that always made you feel welcome. Sadly, Tim took his own life on Sunday. All I can say is that if you know anyone with untreated depression or other mental illness, please reach out to them. Also, please keep Tim's widow and beautiful daughter in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I'm Back

Holy smokes. What a week this has been. Re-entry from my trip doing charitable deeds was difficult. My first day back at work was spent wondering why these people were whining to me about their problems that seemed so insignificant. I forcibly had to remember my vow to come back a kinder, less judgemental individual. It worked in short spurts at first, but settled in after a while.

After work on Friday, I headed down to Iowa to see the family home for one last time before the new owners move in. I got to Decorah around 5:00 and spent about a half hour or so at the house. There frankly wasn't much to see. It was a house. On some levels it was very comforting that the memories of my parents aren't bound to the house or the things that once filled it. The memory of my folks, as it turns out are very, very portable and go with me every where I go. In that way I was relieved to see an empty house and not be crushed by it. I knew I was going to be back the next day with my sister, so didn't spend too much time.

After the house, I took off to Lansing, IA to my sister's cabin. On the way, I did my own brand of deer hunting- with the front of my car. Yes. I hit a deer. I was heading down the winding highway into the valley and caught sight of a fully adult deer in the left lane and hit my brakes pretty hard. Unfortunately, the deer panicked too and ran into my lane. I hit him/her on the back end on the passenger side of my car. I felt way worse for the deer than my car. Poor thing. I don't think the impact killed it immediately, which just pains me. Anyway, I was, of course, a little upset about the damage to my month old vehicle, but comforted by my super-preferred rates and a really low deductible.

After my dad's death, one of my sisters used a portion of her inheritance to buy an investment property that is nestled about a quarter mile into the woods near the Mississippi River. When I say cabin, I really mean fabulous 2000 sq ft, 4 bedroom, 2 bath home. A builder had built it in early 2007 and it had been just sitting there, going down, down, down in price until it was so ridiculously low she would have been a fool not to buy it. Let's just say that when she sells it in 5 years, if the housing market has gone up even a little, she will make a damn killing on this place and do far better than I will have done on my investments. Anyway, she is also a great person and I love to spend time with her. So the gorgeous surroundings are just icing on the cake.

On Saturday, my sister and I took off to spend the morning with our aunt. She is a lot of fun, too, so the morning just flew by. Later on my sisters two boys met us to go back down to Decorah to look at the house again.

After saying goodbye to the house again, we headed out to my friends Brenda and Marks place near Frankville, IA. Suzette was having her birthday today (Happy Birthday, Suzette! I can never remember if you're older or younger than me, so I'll choose to believe you are older. How's 43?) so she came over too. Brenda had a spread on of crackers, cheese, sweets and this frickin' killer olive dip that must have been laced with crack because we couldn't stop eating it. The only thing that restrained us was the embarrassment of lunging for the knife every few seconds. We laughed, cried a little and ate until we were stuffed, then had to head on our way. Before we left though we marveled at how darn handy and skilled Mark is at all things construction related. Brenda should seriously consider renting Mark out on weekends. She could make a mint. Mark might be a little tired, but Brenda would be RICH!

After a great night of sleep, I headed back to lovely Golden Valley, where my sweetness had done tons of yardwork and had on a pot of his mother's famous spaghetti sauce for dinner. I heart him.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Last Days in El Salvador

The last two days here have been a combination of hard work, celebration and sad good-byes. I've been a little out of touch since the Thursday update, because 8 of us, including me, got a little case of Montezuma's revenge. What did we ever do to him?? I was better by Friday morning after a very long night. Anyway, we aren't here to talk about bowel function, so let's talk about work instead.
By Thursday, we had finished the trenches and were ready to pour the concrete into the trenches for the foundation footings. So, how did we make the concrete you ask? By hauling the gravel, sand and bags of Portland cement, dumping them in a pile, mixing it by hand twice, adding water and mixing again, that's how. Let me tell you that this is hard, hard work, but the final result was pretty darn cool.

The next step was to form a bucket brigade to help fill the foundations. By Thursday afternoon both sites had the trenches full of cement. We had our regular helpers, Ingrid, Rafael and Mauricio, on site to add assistance and to just increase the cute factor by about 100%. Rafael is such a hard little worker and tough. He could carry the cement buckets just like the rest of us. A pretty amazing 8 year old, I should say.
Here I am carrying Rafael back to the work site after lunch. Notice his little boots. He knew were concerned about him hurting his feet when he was carrying bricks, so he showed up Thursday with a pair of rubber boots that were obviously too small for him. So, an interesting thing happened with Rafael on Friday. Our local Habitat affiliate contact was on site with us and Rafael sat down with Katie from our team and said to Katie in Spanish "Tell me a story." Sweet. So, Katie with the translation help of Luis, told Rafael about Jack and the Bean Stalk. When they got the part about Jack waking up to find the giant bean stalk, Luis asked Rafael what he thought Jack did next and Rafael said "He started picking beans for his family." Katie continued with the story and ended it with Jack ending up with a goose that laid golden eggs after the giant fell from the sky and died. Luis asked Rafael again what he thought Jack did with the goose then. Rafael responded "He gave it to his mother for dinner." I don't even think I can explain how deeply this touched us. Here is this good little boy who couldn't focus on the idea of riches provided by the golden goose, but was focused on the next meal for his family. Katie also got the okay to bring Rafael a new pair of shoes that day- some red Converse low tops. Cute. Luis explained to him that he had earned them for his hard work on the site. Rafael responded that he would like them but that he hadn't done enough yet to earn the shoes. We made sure his brother Mauricio took the shoes for him. I will always, always, always remember this sweet little boy.
Friday was our last day on the work site. We worked only a half day, but got to see the wall so of both homes start to rise from the ground. The masons Raul and Jacob are incredible. They were picking up the bricks single handed, lifting them over their heads with one hand while bending the rebar with the other and sliding them down the rebar to the ground. Crazy. We were thrilled to see the walls start to go up. I can't explain how exciting that was. Silly, but true.

After lunch, we had our closing ceremony with the families and the others in the village who came out to help. We were thanked for our efforts, but I can tell you that we are the ones walking away with so much more than we gave. This has been one of the most humbling and spiritually enriching weeks of my life. It was so hard to leave behind the work we had started and the beautiful friends we had made. We were all just completely blubbering messes as the van drove away from the work site for the last time.
Friday night we drove through a hell of a thunderstorm toward our day of rest and relaxation on the coast at the Hotel Pacific Paradise in Costa del Sol. We had a fun day relaxing around the pool, walking the beach and napping as needed. Tomorrow is our travel day back home. Thanks for reading my updates on this trip. It has been hard to translate the experience into words but I hope you've gotten a sense for it. See you soon!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yet More Greetings From El Salvador

Hello again! Yesterday was another completely amazing day here. Our teams switched work sites, so each group would have an opportunity to contribute to each home. Our team moved from the more remote site to the site in the center of the village. Oh, forgot to mention that the village name we're in is Bolanos. It would be the equivalent of a distant suburb of Santa Ana, probably 15-20 miles from the center of Santa Ana.

In case you had any doubts, I'm not just standing around taking pictures. I'm actually working. These were taken at the beginning of the day when we were all relatively clean. By the end of the day, our team was covered in the sand/cement mixture that we were using all day. Gritty.
We got a little surprise when we arrived on site today. There is no shade from trees at the site we were on today. So a neighbor saw all the gringos suffering in the hot sun and let the family borrow this parachute like thing. After we left the site on Tuesday, the families cut a big bamboo pole and positioned this giant umbrella over the work site held in place with the pole and multiple ropes. It was a huge help today.

A load of lumber arrived at the work site today and wa la! Creativity!

This is 8 year old Rafael. He is a pretty smiley boy, but when I asked to take his picture he said okay then got all serious on me. So, I've got one shot of seriousness, then this shot that I got after acting sufficiently like a buffoon to make him smile. He was helping the team on the more remote site. Rafael is the little brother of Ingrid who was helping us with the wheelbarrow in yesterday's post. Rafael was barefoot and without gloves all day and carrying 35lb cement blocks on his shoulder. We tried to give him gloves at least, but he didn't want to use them. Our Habitat contact explained to us that Rafael helped to build his own family's home and is very proud of his experience. We were worried about his feet getting hurt, but his sister Ingrid told us that his last pair of shoes got worn out and he doesn't have any shoes to wear. Rafael, Ingrid, Blanca and Mauricio also don't go to school. The older kids are needed around the house and we understand that they can't afford the uniforms. How sad. One of our team members Katie is going to leave a pair of sandals at the site when Rafael is around to see is he might take them. We are told that he would probably refuse them if they were offered.

This is Natalie and her posse. The girls in the village just LOVE Natalie. After work the kids took us on a walk around the village to show us their churches. I've never seen kids so enthusiastic about their churches. It was a great walk and interesting in that we got to a part of the village that obviously had more wealth, but was only about 2 blocks from the sites where we are working.

It was Diane's Birthday today. Our team leaders had informed the Habitat affiliate of this and asked if they could arrange for a cake. Instead they went all out and prepared a lunch of traditional indigenous soup and smoked chicken. Then after work, the local families had arranged for their children to sing Feliz Cumpleanos for her, followed by hugs from all the kids. It was very sweet and Diane was incredibly touched. Diane's crying got lots of our team crying, then some of the kids started crying and it was a big blubbery sweet mess.
Part of the after work activities was an inter-cultural exchange. The local families prepared traditional foods including pupusas (a filled tortilla), cooked yuca root (yum!), papeles (I think I spelled that right), and an amazing hot pudding. Again, we were completely spoiled. For our part of the presentation, we had prepared some pictures and did some talking about the seasons we experience up north. Everyone was really, really curious about the snow and got a big kick out of the snow angel picture. We also sang some seasonal songs.

Part of the birthday celebration included a pinata. As you can see everyone got their turn to swat at it.
This Hedi Daniela, the daughter of the family we are building for. Cute, eh?








Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Further Greetings From El Salvador

Yesterday was another great day on the build site. After our workout the day before, our bodies were more accustomed to the labor and the day flew by. We spent the day finishing the trenching and rebar. At the very end of the day we learned how we'll be mixing the cement for the concrete footing- by hand in a concrete basin we dug into the ground and lined with hand mixed concrete. I'll show you some pictures of that later.
This is little Ingrid, who is 10, helping us on the work site. She is the sweetest thing. She comes around about mid-morning and helps us pick dirt and rocks out of the trenches. No one has asked her to help, of course, but she is right there. She is really curious about us- particularly the American versions of our names. The name Michael puts an odd expression on her face, but when I translate to Miguel, she gets it. The woman helping her in the picture is named Tara. We were wondering why every time she introduced herself to locals by saying 'me llamo Tara' they would give her a look like she was joking. So, today we looked up Tara in my dictionary and it means 'defect.' Sweet. These people are probably thinking to themselves "Why does this gringo lady have such low self esteem?" So now she is saying "Tara like Sara" and they don't wince as much.

At our lunch break, we walked Carlito, the son of the owners of one of the homes we are building, to his school. So, here is another gratuitous shot of how darling Salvadoran children are. Not only are the adorable, they are all sweet and polite, even with each other. We were talking last night as a group about how kind Salvadorans are with each other, at least in the village that we're working in. There are no parents hollering at kids ever. Older siblings willingly watch the younger siblings without fuss. Kids play cooperatively with each other and the hyper-must-win competitiveness that we see in the U.S. just isn't there. Everybody gets their turn to be the winner. Oh, and they are so soft spoken compared to us. We sound like we are speaking in bullhorns. They get their points across with fewer decibels.

The women of the family we are building for are spoiling us with this kind of fare for lunch. That potato you see was the best potato I had ever had in my life. We were all trying to figure out what magic they worked on it.

Here is what we accomplished by day 2 on the work site. We had all the trenches dug to their full depth. You can now get a real sense for how small the home is by the size of the rooms. Three gringo ladies virtually take up all the space in the room on the right. Let me tell you though that the families that are going to be occupying these homes are so very proud of them. It really makes me think again about how much we have and question how much we need.

Another gratuitous shot of cute Salvadoran children. These three stopped by to visit us a few times yesterday. We love it when the kids come by so we can underwhelm them with our Spanish skills and they can laugh at us. They are wonderful kids. I'm still amazed how much can be communicated with gestures and facial expressions.
This is a shot of the trenches we were digging. They are about 28-30 inches deep. You can see the difference between the mud/clay layer and the stone layer. I guess the other work site is having some trouble reaching the stone layer. So instead of getting to stop at our depth, they need to go down a full meter in depth. Yikes.

I was so glad when this truck pulled up to the hotel. We see this brand of bread/pastry in Mexico and I'm endlessly amused by the name.