Friday, September 21, 2012

I think the rainy season has started again...

Tonight is the third night in a row that it has thundered and then poured down rain. The green festival, Festiver, finally had to concede that it could not have any outdoor movies at the Parques des Artes (the auditorium) and moved the night showing of movies to the church.

My three ceramic works for this session at the taller.
This afternoon, with a few of my ceramic classmates, I went and saw the presentation about getting the lead out of ceramic glazes in Mexican potters creations because of the damage that lead does, most especially to the children. Dr. James Sargent of Dartmouth College is among those taking the lead about the awareness of lead poisoning. Since I've been here in Colombia I've learned a lot about ceramics and glazing and we are exceptionally cautious when mixing colors.

When I first returned to Barichara, I got several interesting responses: 1) We thought you got lost and couldn't find your way back here; 2) I thought the twins were holding you hostage; 3) We were wondering if you died... (what?) and 4) We want to see photos of the bebes now that you are back. I was happy to tell all the ceramic students who offered up some wonderful 'benedicions' on behalf of my family that everything and everyone was good.

But what has been very hard for me is realizing that the little casita I have been enjoying so much isn't really mine and the owner wants it back. She isn't pushing me, thankfully, but realistically I will have to move again and I've been evaluating the options. And I've been thinking about what has to be moved - again. I totally HATE the actual moving process, even though the pre-move appeals to my organizational mind. So today I spent some time making up some lists of a) things I cannot bear to sell or give away, b) things I am ambivalent about and c) stuff that can be replaced or disposed of without much energy. It is amazing what one person can accumulate in two years. But to be fair, I have used everything in one way or another.

The next door neighbor has a baby. Whenever that baby cries, my antenna tune up. Last night in the middle of the night, I heard it crying and crying and I woke up. I was so alert I was out of bed before I even realized I was standing by the window wondering where I was. One of my cats was lying in front of the window and meowed as if to say,"What are you doing anyhow?" Then I realized I was still recovering from a kind of fatigue I've not experienced since... the twins. LOL! And how I miss them. I wonder off and on through the day what they are doing, how they are sounding... sigh.

This is my street. This is actually an improvement.
The installation of sewer lines throughout the city is still progressing, but fortunately my street is completed, more or less. There is still some cleanup required (see the photo) and those large boulders need to be removed. Probably they were dug up when they did the trenches, but there are huge stones scattered all over the village streets, waiting to be picked up. I wonder what they will do with them. There actually is a paved street under that mud, and quite a lot of that mud got washed into my casita while I was away when a sudden downpour forced it under my door and into both the living room and the bedroom. It took me three days to get it all cleaned up.

Well, guess that's it for this week. It's still raining, and the only good thing about it is all the streets are getting rinsed clean.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

United Nations World Day of Peace - Sept. 21

A Chihuly lily in glass in Seattle.
I will make this brief. My grandmother, Elsa, tried to bring about a day of world peace back in the 1930's when she traveled around the world - on her own dollar - to meet the nation's leaders. She also wrote a book of poetry called "Unity in the Spirit," which was never a best seller, and in fact she was self-published and I think, for the most part, gave the book away. But I honor her memory today because she made the effort to stop wars, never knowing that most countries have them as an economic necessity.

Today is the beginning of the Lothlorian Peace Festival in France and a world-wide effort to bring about a three-day moratorium on all news to give people a chance to meditate on the approach of Elenin (September 26 Elenin creates a cosmic convergence by passing between the sun and the earth.) and to focus on hope, not despair, since it is rare for news to report on anything good.

I have an idea -- why not sell the open space in newspapers, like the Emperor's New Clothes?

Tony Burroughs, a founder of the Intenders and the Vision Alignment Project, is one of many leaders of this effort to "be the change you want to see." From the information about the movement: "The critical mass number is 144,000, which concerns the energy of numerology referring to the number 9, as in 1+4+4+000 = 9 and representing completion and Divine Will. Because both the day of the global meditation on peace 9/23/2011, and the Mayan Calendar designating this period the 9th wave, the energy of 3x9s is present. In numerology tripling anything increases its energy exponentially, which is why there is a unique opportunity here."

Please join us in this effort... please.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Baby K and Miss Pretty

Miss Pretty

Baby K in his dozing burghermeister pose.
Thanks to one of my more devoted readers and commentors, (I'm talking about you, Karen!) the twins have received nicknames that really seem to suit them right now. They also have other nicknames used en famille which are hopefully not going to stay with them forever so I won't use them here.

Holding Baby K's hands for a bottle feeding.
Baby K is a strong fellow. He is way ahead of the norms for strength and so giving him a bottle is like trying to wrestle with a small python... "No, I'm the granny, I'll give you the bottle." His forceful, unworded reply, "No, I'm the baby and I'm starving here, so I'll just take the bottle!" Sometimes he looks like a burghermeister about to give his ruling on the taste test for some rather nasty beer, and other times he smiles with such a winning and dimply smile my heart simply flips over and I know he is going to have that same effect on some vulnerable young lady years from now.

Miss Pretty's big smile.

Baby K trying to hold his own bottle with his papa.
Miss Pretty could easily be on all those baby commercials with her delicate pursed up mouth and an amazing smile that is truly given in recognition, not from gas. She was the leader in weight when she arrived, but her brother has out-distanced her by several pounds now. Not too surprising as once he started really eating, he is taking in 1/3 more at each feeding than she is. But it is her delicacy that has earned her this blog moniker, and when you hold her, (for all you doll people) she is reminder of those days when you played with a friend's life-size doll-baby and wished you'd get one of your own for Christmas.

Is there a Girl Scout badge for this?
Big Sis & huge cookie!
We took the children to a Girl Scout picnic where everyone got a chance to hold them, and two of the little girls in Big Sis E's troop took quite a bit of time away from the water sports to practice their holding skills. By my calculations, in eight years these two young ladies may be good candidates for baby-sitting and by then Big Sis may need all the help she can get!

Now comes the sad part, friends. I have to head back to Colombia for awhile and while Big Sis E has her moments of being frustrated with all the crying, shrieking, babbling, and flatulent noises that babies make, it has been made clear to me that I will be fully checked before leaving the house to make sure I haven't tried to hide one or both of them in my luggage.

So tiny those little feet...
Baby K on his daddy's arm.
I don't want to go, and this time with the family has been an awesome one. It was approached with trepidation, not knowing how much any of us could stand of the other being around ALL the time, but we have proved that we could manage the stress, the fatigue - and the joys - for the singular objective of giving these twins the best start they could have in life.

Baby K is growing exponentially daily...
Amazingly these two months have flown by and like so many life experiences, there will never be any like this again. I am glad I made the offer to be here and as it turned out, there were several times when it was clear it was Divine Planning for me to do so. And it also means this is the end of twin-shots until I see them again.

No tears... no wailing or gnashing of teeth. No long, drawn-out goodbyes, no special promises... just going. I will miss these two little rascals desperately and hope I am given the chance to return and to re-acquaint myself with them... it is up to the Higher Authority as to when that might be.
Mt. Rainier in the dusky light of sunset in September.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sandy and the Chocolate Factory

Apologies to Willy Wonka... but I have the very best Son In Law ever! Knowing my love for chocolate, he decided to make an appointment for a tour of the Theo Chocolate Factory here in Seattle and to go with me... that's sweet, isn't it?

As you will see on their website, their mission statement is "Proud to be the only Organic, Fair Trade, Fair for Life certified Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Factory in North America." (Like many public relations and mission statements, this is their statement, and I do not know if it is completely factual. There are lots and lots of chocolatiers in this area and in North America... can they really be the ONLY one?)

Isn't it amazing that there are people all around the world working together for the good of all concerned, and mostly what we hear about is those who aren't? Like the naughty children who get attention while the well-behaved ones seem to disappear into the background...
Last week for blueberries, but not beer...

But due to a variety of things, we decided to cancel it until my next trip out here. I have now put it on the Must-Do things when you visit Seattle. In looking at their website I learned so much about chocolate and growing the cacao and the importance of keeping your chocolate properly cooled - it's definitely not like those chocolate things you pick up in a rush which I will not dignify by naming. That would be like trying to compare a well-aged wine to something inside a paper bag.

The qualities of fine chocolate are just like those of fine wine... and like wine, when you are going to taste chocolates, there are some things to do first:
1) Make sure you have eaten something ahead of time. If you are taste-testing chocolates and you are hungry, you will gobble it and miss the fine nuances that going slowly will allow.
2) Not a good idea to have complicated foods beforehand... garlic and onion linger to affect the taste of chocolate. (I was such an uneducated heathen before that I thought that is why you ate the chocolate - to get rid of the onion after-taste!)
3) Have a pitcher of room temperature water and a plain cracker (saltines without the salt, for example) nearby to wash out your mouth between tastes. (Wonderful! As this suggests, you are going to have lots of different kinds of chocolate to test and taste... sounds like a really fun way to have a party, doesn't it?)

Did you know that chocolate can have a temper? (I have a temper tantrum when I cannot get good chocolate - LOL!) "Temper" (from the Theo websiterefers to the crystalline structure the cocoa butter molecules form in the chocolate when cooling from a melted state (during production) to a solid form. The cocoa butter takes on a different structure based on the temperature at which it’s cooled, resulting in a chocolate that is soft, greasy and spotted (at the wrong cooling temp) or hard with a nice shiny, even surface (at the right cooling temp)." 

The proper temperature at which to eat chocolate is at 'room' temperature - about 75 degrees F; not pulled out of a bag from a hot car, or grabbed from the refrigerator, or horrors-of-horrors, eating the one that sat in your rucksack for three weeks being heated and cooled depending on where you were.

Like tasting wine, tasting chocolate requires some patience, some time, and plenty of chocolate options. I honestly think this tour helped to make me more of a chocolate connoisseur and further justifies my philosophy that good chocolate is good for me/you. The antioxidants and the theobromine, a mild stimulant similar to caffeine, are reportedly beneficial. But this is only in chocolate with careful processing because if it is overworked, all those benefits disappear. But Theo Chocolates take it another step by saying that eating and buying their products improve things worldwide... now that is a great reason to eat their chocolate!
Mt. Rainier in August on a particularly clear day...

All this information was gained from the website and you can read the details there. They also have some awesome recipes using chocolate. While I missed out on the chance to be a chocolate taster, my waistline is the better for it and hopefully on my next visit I will have had plenty of sleep and can fully appreciate the tour.

NOTE: There are over 50 chocolatiers in the Seattle area... this is only one of them, so if you are coming this way, perhaps you will want to take the Pike Market Chocolate Lover's tour as well so you can sample other decadent, delicious and dreamy possibilities. You can see why I love this area, can't you?