07 October 2014
28 September 2014
27 September 2014
Anyway, I can't blog if it just devolves into whining. No one wants to read that crap! Especially not me later. And most of my best mid-afternoon blogging time is spent passed out cold next to Isaac and his adorable squeaky toddler snores. Hee hee.
So we met a friend at the Farmers Fare East Beach farmers market and bought an absurdly---ABSURDLY---expensive gallon of Virginia maple syrup from the country's southernmost maple farm. With all the guests we'll have coming to care for us the next couple of months, I want to be prepared with local offerings! We had lunch at a tasty sandwich shop around the corner by the marina, then Isaac and I headed to the lovely bayside beach a couple streets north. In typical toddler fashion, Isaac wanted to go to the beach, threw a tantrum because we were going to the beach, then threw a tantrum when we left. I think that means we had a good time.
25 August 2014
|Photo and styling by Mary Fox|
My friend Nicole recommended "The Dirty Life," by Kristin Kimball a few months ago. The author falls in love with a farmer and they start a farm where people buy in, then get nearly everything they need from the farm, fresh and in season. Readable, and an interesting idea.
|Sample Garden Box! YUM.|
|Swai (white fish) with roasted red onion (from the box),|
pine nuts, and fennel bulb
My sample Garden Box had eggplants, tomatoes, nectarines, lettuce, red onions, squash, early apples and bell peppers. I weighed everything and priced it out for comparison. These are all fruits and veggies I buy fairly regularly (except maybe the eggplant), so I tried to use the cheapest price I could remember seeing recently. Even compared against that conservative estimate, my Garden Box came out competitively priced, and that's without even throwing in delivery. And having produce delivered while I have two young-uns and Chris is out to sea? OH YEAH, BABY! It will be extra worth it then! This week I'm expecting a Breakfast Box with fresh eggs and breakfast produce (fruit, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions). Mary gets the Chef Box, which has more prep produce like kale and tomatillos. Plus there are add-ons like shiitake mushrooms, artisan bread, extra veggies, local honey, etc.
|Torpedoing jellyfish in the Lafayette River on our evening walk! Kid's got good aim!|
|We love moving; we hate moving. This is the Unpack two days after we moved in. Looks better now!|
|See You Later, Alligator Tacos|
So while he wasn't looking, I fried up a pound of alligator meat in butter. It was SMOKEY. Meanwhile, my mom chopped up a yummy salsa topping of tomatoes, red onion, avocado and mango. Then we stirred up some plain yogurt sauce with cumin, lime, maybe some garlic. Isaac LOVES tortillas. I don't know if he had anything else. The rest of us stuffed our tortillas with alligator, salsa, sauce and cheese. YUM!
10 July 2014
We really do like moving. Isaac seems to as well, or at least is picking up on our enjoyment of moving. Ok, so we bickered in front of the movers on Day Three, but whatever.
Our Day One and Two (all female) packers were AMAZING! You know they'll do better job with the dishes!! No offense, male movers, but this was confirmed when you dropped a box down the stairs before 8:30am the next day. The Day Three moving/loading crew was absolutely ridiculous. They showed up earlier than the packers had, so Isaac and I were at the breakfast table. The first thing they removed from the house were the breakfast table chairs. I got up to get something for Isaac and by the time I got back to the table, my chair was gone too! At least they didn't pack Isaac.
The same thing happened at lunch---they were on a lunch break, so Chris and I sat in the only chairs left in the house out on the back porch to eat random fridge clean out leftovers. From nowhere a mover came and removed all the chairs we weren't currently touching. Then those chairs sat in the driveway for hours. Moving the chairs we wanted was the only thing they did quickly. The driver told us later two of the four-guy crew were barely working at all, and that's why they were done hours after they could have been. Eye roll. Of course it rained all afternoon---it's Florida in the summer! Yay, moving.
"Miss, are you going to the store?" one of the guys asked me in the morning chaos of trying to get in the car and out of their way, breakfast interrupted, box falling downstairs. I hadn't eaten anything, Isaac was still in jammies. I frowned. "Do you need something?" "I need ice for the cooler," he said. You are so my last priority right now is what I thought. I didn't say that, just frowned distractedly and went back to trying to get Isaac dressed in the sweltering garage because my car was blocked in by the moving truck. Later one of the guys told Chris he needed to eat our M&Ms on the counter because he had low blood sugar. At 9am. And finally, another mover told me he needed to use my iphone charger when I was done. Not the best movers he's ever worked with, the driver confirmed after they left. But not the worst. HELP US ALL.
I thought Isaac might be freaked out by the packing and moving, but...he wasn't. He wasn't delighted when his garbage truck of cars was packed, but the rest of the time he did really well. He even helped mop the entryway!
Ice cream for dinner?! YEAH I like moving!
"Drive all day?" Isaac asked. "Chicken place?" Fast food makes everything better (for a toddler).
I put on some Ace of Base for the drive and Isaac said, "No Mama's song. I want Mac's song."
One quick download later we were flying along 65 somewhere in Alabama jamming to the Rascal Flat's "Life is a Highway." Isaac calls it "Mac's song" because it plays in Cars when Lightning McQueen and Mac are road tripping. This is SO my kid.
Crepe myrtles bloomed enthusiastically through Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. At highway rest stops we were able to sit comfortably outside in the middle of the day under shaded pavillions with a light, cool breeze. Is this what summer is like outside of flat-hot USA? I like the restrained glamour, the dusty magenta, of crepe myrtles. Landscaped, manicured and wild, they waved roadside the whole ride.
"Whoa! It's a pretty sunset!" Isaac said as we zipped through a tunnel and over a bridge, arriving in Norfolk at a rather charming time of day. And we're here! We pick up our keys (and see our house for the first time----!!!) today!
05 July 2014
Happy Independence Day! I used to love going to a pool party or church picnic for the 4th and fireworks after dark. In recent years, though, we've flopped on the festivities---Isaac hated the pops and bangs, it rained, and he was in bed before dark anyway. This year, though, my parents were in town! We all had BBQ and hot dogs with our friends the Edwards. Isaac's summer crush, Evie, convinced him to hop in the pool, chase her around, share ice cream cake, etc etc. He actually got up from my side and took his ice cream cake over to sit four feet away next to her. So it begins! He still wasn't a fan of the firecracker pops and bangs, but the sparklers were pretty entertaining. Our house will be full of boxes and movers in 48 hours, but we are SO much readier to move thanks to my folks. They washed windows, scrubbed oil stains, bleached moldy strollers, tossed junk from the fridge and pantry---all the projects I've been dreading!! THANKS, Mom and Dad! I don't know what we would have done without you! Probably moved a lot of moldy stuff! Have a safe drive back to Texas!
01 July 2014
I had this fantasy of what living here again would be like, and it involved a lot of citrus fruits and THE BEACH. Our last week in Florida was exactly that: tons of Florida orange juice and a mini beach stay-cation. Isaac finally loves playing in the waves and thinks he's a dolphin. My parents came to visit and gave us a night away at the beach for our anniversary, so we got to watch the sun set over Santa Rosa Sound from lounge chairs at Red Fish Blue Fish before a moonlit walk on the beach! Our night away may or may not have been delayed by Chris' iphone getting left on top of the car (he found it on the side of the highway a couple hours later thanks to his 'find it' app)...but we had fun anyway! We watched from our balcony dolphins and stingrays jumping in the Gulf of Mexico. The water was clear, calm and cool. My parents met us with a picnic and Isaac for a relaxed beach day. It was the fulfillment of everything I'd hoped this tour could be!
Our final day at the beach began with glassy waters. By the time the surf kicked up into waves hours later, we were getting sun-crispy and ready to go. So long, Pensacola Beach! 2013 may have been a wash, but 2014 has been everything we hoped for so far!
28 June 2014
|In downtown Santa Cruz|
We wandered around Santa Cruz's Plaza 26 de Septiembre, the cathedral, some shops, then popped into a little cafe.
"Afternoon tea is big here," Carola explained. I love teatime!
Abi and Carola conferred, then ordered a pitcher of mocochinchi---an iced Bolivian drink made by boiling dried peaches with sugar, cinnamon and cloves, served over peaches. Delish! Since we'd tried cunapes (cheese and corn meal biscuits) at breakfast, they ordered tamal a la olla (Bolivian tamales), empanadas and sonso (I think that was yuca root, cheese and butter---it was everyone's favorite).
I asked about the next pair of kiddos heading north for surgeries. Carola, the Bolivian country manager for the Children's Heart Project, took a deep breath. She'd recently received a call from the mom of the girl next up next for surgery asking her to take her daughter off the list. The nine month old had already been accepted by a hospital on the East Coast of the USA and was just waiting for the paperwork's completion. But she passed away before she could make it to the hospital that would have saved her life.
"It's the bad part of my job," Carola looked down at her juice. She's hoping another baby she has in mind can get cleared to take the girl's place, but she's not sure.
The other kid accepted for surgery---a teenage boy---doesn't have a guardian who can travel with him, and it's slowing down his visa. His mom abandoned their family when he was five. The boy was living on the streets and drinking heavily when he was taken to live in an orphanage, although his dad is still alive and around somewhere.
|In downtown Santa Cruz, sort of dancing to indigenous-style music (her mom is just out of the photo with a baby)|
Part of Carola's job is to attend clinics where North American cardiologists come to Bolivia to see patients. She translates, calls people to remind them to come, etc. She routinely calls people who say they won't be coming back---the baby died. "I'm just sitting there, unable to do anything for them from the other side of the phone, and I don't know what to say," Carola said. "I said, 'I'll pray for you,' but I don't know if that will comfort her. It's the bad part of my job," she repeated.
The bad part is offset by joyful reunions like Santi's, of course, and visits to other patients who have returned home completely recovered from their heart conditions. The day I left she was going to visit the girl Santi and his mom had originally traveled with to Canada and stayed with at their host family's house, a precious, big-eyed, healthy toddler with pig tails.
|Plaza 26 de Septiembre|
But Carola is also the one who has to translate the bad news at clinic sessions. Earlier this year, a family brought in their daughter, who, although four years old, had a blueish cast to her skin and had to sit in a stroller because she was too weak to learn to walk. Carola had to translate as the doctor explained the bitter reality of their situation: their daughter wasn't nearly strong enough to survive the long flights to North America. Even if she miraculously got there, surgery could treat some of her symptoms, but there was really nothing anyone could do for her. Her heart defect was too profound, too complicated, and she was too weak.
"The best thing I can tell you is to enjoy your daughter for the time she has left," the doctor had told them.
"And I'm focusing on translating what he says, but there are tears running down my cheeks," Carola said. "I think it's good the doctor isn't so emotional, but I think it's ok that I am."
When I told Isaac's cardiologist I was transporting Santi back to Bolivia he told me he had once planned to help at a Mongolian clinic. An ill-timed hurricane damaged his home and he had to cancel his trip, but his wife, a social worker, was still able to go help out for three weeks. I thought that was cool.
|A little outside downtown|
|Moto-taxi: we did not take one of these to the airport|
A: Usually, people outside the cities dress more traditionally. Within the city, people dressed traditionally are more likely to be new immigrants.
Q: And do Bolivians see Bolivians of indigenous heritage as all one and the same Bolivian, or is it more European-descent Bolivians and indigenous Bolivians as separate groups? (this involved some consideration and discussion)
A: Maybe sort of separate, because usually it falls into urban vs. rural populations. But even in the cities traditional heritage is becoming more and more popular.
Q: So at school, university, work, where ever, would you sometimes find yourself sitting next to someone dressed traditionally?
A: Well, schools have uniforms, so no. In the cities, maybe people like to wear traditional clothes at home, to feel comfortable.
I really enjoyed meeting these ladies, and have lots of respect for the awesome, sometimes difficult, work they do!
|Carola and Abi! And our teatime spread.|
|No idea what this place is, but I love the barbed wire/rainbow combo|