Friday, August 31, 2007

183 Years Old

São Leopoldo had a birthday on July 25th and the party lasted 10 days...It's always a time for remembering the German immigrants, for dancing the polka, eating apple strudel, sausages, chocolate tortes, for displaying the German flag, it's red, yellow and black colors dominating the atmosphere. The gaucho culture somehow gets mixed in with the Germans and even the little tots show they can learn the folk dances. Pat and I do our duty every year...we eat our way through the food stands (the chocolate mousse was heavenly!), admire the dancers, wander through myriads of vendors selling everything from massage recliners to Bolivian ponchos and stop to listen to some of the bands. For Pat it was free admission--the first time it payed off being the big 6-0, but he was upset that no one asked to see his ID when he went through the gates.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

He said, "That's life!"

I was jumping up and down in the water doing my exercises with my classmates when suddenly a new lady to the group blurted out, "I was assaulted Friday night!" She continued to bob up and down as if she'd said, "I had my hair cut last night," then went on to describe the scene. Her father-in-law was bringing her and her five-year-old son home (just a block or two away from our gym) when a car pulled up next to theirs and a guy jumped out and put a gun to her head while his companion parked a short distance away, gun pointed toward heaven. The lady screamed, gave him her purse while the little five-year-old cried out, "Don't take my backpack! Don't take my backpack!" (His Mom said it was because he had 50 cents in his backpack.) At the lady's second scream, her husband came running out from inside the house, pointed the remote control from the TV at the criminals and screamed that he would shoot. They evidently thought he was holding a gun and took off--fortunately!

A man in our class asked the lady, "Is this the first time it's happened to you?" Well, it was. He'd been held up some five times, he said, the worst being when the criminals got in his car and forced him to keep driving...Then he ended with, "It's a good thing this happened because now your little boy can learn this is life."

Is that a sad commentary on our society or what??

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ole, olá, amigos!

Seventeen of us gathered at our home for a Mexican Evening with couples from our church...

It was a night to be remembered because...
--I had worked all day and the day before to bring this off!
--Everyone seemed to have a great time
--We laughed a lot
--Pat gave a very good word about the legacy we want to leave behind
--We ate delicious Mexican lasagne
--There were eight different desserts to choose from
--We had a visit from a couple from Mexico (haha!)

What a wonderful world!

You gotta love this!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I couldn't believe it but there it was--three sackfuls, not cans-- of cachew nuts on the table. My hubby just got home from a trip to northeastern Brazil and while there went to the city market to see the odd and different with a group of friends who were also visiting. Since everyone in the group expressed a desire to buy nuts, one of the group bartered with the cachew guy to lower his price if they bought a 17.6 lb. bag! Deal done! Except now there wasn't much enthusiasm on the part of some to buy the nuts--hence, my hubby came home with three sacks of unsalted, home-roasted nuts. It's amazing to realize how many pieces of fruit are represented by those nuts because each piece of fruit only produces one (1) nut. Now you know why they are so expensive. And they will.. (munch) keep... (crunch) in the freezer. Ahhhh! So delicious.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Music flowed from his fingers and toes as he bent over the keyboard absorbed in bringing life from the pipes and bellows of the organ. I sat in the balcony of the Clock Church with my neighbor, Zélia, letting the sounds of the pipe organ take me back in dad's excitement at playing one, watching him delightedly push stops in and out until he found the perfect sound, driving miles to attend a concert. Then I remembered my Mom and I on a nostalgia trip visiting a church close to where she'd attended Bible School in Chicago so many years before and discovering this huge pipe organ there. And when the pastor's wife played a song just for us, the vibrations, the immense structure of those pipes and the power in them was thrilling.
But this night I am listening to Matthias Eisenberg from Germany play on a little pipe organ in my little town in a little church on a Friday night and I'm so thankful.
After the concert I asked the organist, who could speak English, how many pipe organs existed in Germany. He paused and thought a minute, then said, about 10,000. His friend who was accompanying him, added, "A new pipe organ costs about 300,000 euros."

I guess I won't be buying a pipe organ any time soon.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Ever since we moved into our present home on April 14, 1997, I have looked wistfully at the empty lot next-door and wished it were ours. Pat put up a basketball hoop on the outside wall of the house, which was built right on the dividing line between the lots and for a while he and the kids turned a patch of the empty lot into a basketball court. One day I even planted some special corn seed I'd brought back from the States in the back of this empty lot, but the cows got it!! (There was no Little Boy Blue around to blow his horn!). Several times we paid someone to cut the weeds through the years we've been babysitting, so to speak, hoping that one day it would be ours. One day I sat down and made a design of what I would put in that lot. I'm sure you understand that all these years I have been praying for the means to buy the lot! Well, one day we saw a FOR SALE sign on the lot. It sent cold shivers up my spine, but I still believed God was reserving the lot for us. The sign disappeared and I kept my hopes up. Uhh-ooh! Not to be! One day, a truck pulled up and two guys installed a light post in the empty lot. I realized then that God had answered my prayers afterall--but his answer was "No." All right, Lord, your will be done.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Shoe Shiners

The night we traveled to Curitiba we were loitering at the bus station idly waiting for our bus to come when a 14 year-old boy came by with his shoe shine equipment and sat down in front of us. This is what transpired (to the best of my memory…).
Boy: Shine, Uncle?
Pat: No.
Boy: Ah, com’on, Uncle.
Pat: I don’t want a shine.
Boy reaches out and smears a streak of polish on one of Pat’s shoes.
Pat, jumping back: Hey, kid, I said no.
This was followed by more talking and bartering when suddenly boy reaches out and streaks polish on one of my boots. (I feel my space is violated!)
The boy then offers to polish both of our shoes for $2.65. Pat takes him up on the offer and he begins earnestly, head bent over Pat’s shoes. Efficiently and quickly he polishes, buffs and shines and we discover that he does go to school, but polishes shoes at night.
Pat: What do you want to do with your life?
Boy, a little surprised at the question: May it be whatever God wants.
(This is a very common answer— and one that I hate—fatalism is in the warp & woof of this culture).
Another shoe shiner comes by and parks his paraphernalia on the floor. We soon discover that the two boys are brothers, the newcomer younger. He remarks, “I give my earnings to my brother to keep me from spending it on foolish things.”
The older boy is now buffing my boots and they look like new. I am pleased with the results. Pat pays the boy and he goes on his way, but the younger one hangs around.
Younger Boy: Oh, Uncle, give me some change.
Pat: Nope.
Younger Boy: Please, Uncle, just some change…(whiney voice now).
Pat: Nope.
He walks away. Our bus arrives and we ride off into the night.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What street kids and street dogs have in common

Sorry about these pix...I can't seem to put them where I want them! Top left to right: Tramp's house, Suzy & her garbage, Tramp, The fiesty son, The abandoned mother

1. They live on the street
2. They beg for food
3. They form gangs
4. The girls get pregnant
5. People don't want to adopt them
6. They fend for themselves
7. They look through the garbage
8. They make people uncomfortable

Our street currently has 3 street dogs plus 2 more that wander over on our block at times. A pregnant, little black dog was surreptitiously dropped off on our street and she has since given our street two more street dogs (but one disappeared). Neighbors take food to them at their shelter on an abandoned construction site. The neighbor kids think it's a lark. Another nice, brown & white doggie "appeared" that my neighbor takes care, though he won't adopt her. He made her a house and buys dog food for her, treats her sores and fleas, but she continues to be called a "street dog." I named her Suzy. (My grandchildren had fun feeding chocolate chip cookies to her when they were here this past weekend). Today while I was trying to get pictures of them, the son of the little black dog took off after Suzy, his bark sharp and angry, in a successful attempt to defend his end of the street. (You see, they already formed street gangs!)
Further down my street, but on the next block, lives "Tramp", an ugly dog that someone else takes care of--but again, he continues to live on the street! It is uncomfortable for some people to walk on the street and, of course, they don't usually like the postman. The city is trying to remedy the situation, and they maintain a dog pound at the price of $3,000 per month!! Have they confused street kids with dogs???

Monday, August 13, 2007

What's New at the Zoo?

In Brazil Father's Day falls on the 2nd Sunday in August. This year we were blessed by having our daughter, Reesha, and husband, Leno, and grandkids Emily and Eric for the weekend. We did fun things like going to the playground near our home, having ice cream at McDonald's and screaming and scrambling on their playground equipment, walking (the kids wanted to walk to the center of town!) and on Sunday going to the zoo! While the fathers barbecued chicken and buffalo meat (It was delicious!), the women & children visited the animals (Later the men joined us for a stroll.) Here's what we saw...

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I'm blessed by my children. This past weekend Patricia and Neval were here for a visit. Patricia took it upon herself to do some much needed cleaning in my laundry room and kitchen. She even waxed the living room floor, made lunch for us while I was at my water exercise class and searched through my Christmas boxes to find a framed picture I'd put away in December to make room for my Christmas decorating--and never found again! Well, now it's back hanging in its rightful place--and all of this done in Patricia's effervescent, giving way. Neval's niece turned the Big 15 and this pix is how the elegant couple looked as they stepped out the door on their way to the big bash!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bus Sleeping

We went by bus to Curitiba--a twelve hour affair--for a mission meeting a week ago. The bus seats are comfortable and recline, we are furnished with a pillow and blanket and a little packet of snacks and there is free cold water available at all times. Early in the morning the man sleeping in the seat ahead of me began to cry out in his sleep. I thought he was having a nightmare until I saw his hands stiffen and curl up and his body begin to shake! It was scary. The man sitting next to him jumped out of his seat and never returned to his place. Everyone sitting close by stared at him and a couple of ladies came up to ask how he was and why didn't the bus have first aid and to please tell the driver to stop. We kept a close watch on the man to make sure he didn't swallow his tongue or get his breathing passages blocked. Finally the bus driver did stop, but by that time he was coming out of the seizure and the driver turned the man on his side. He slowly came to, must have felt embarrassed to have so many eyes turned on him, turned on his side and tried to sleep. After a few minutes, he got up, vomited a little on the floor and without saying anything, went to the back of the bus to the restroom. We felt so sorry for him. During the night we heard his cell phone, but he never answered it, so we thought it was just a reminder of some sort (to take his medicine??) and after the seizure, the phone made the same ring and this time he did answer it. May God bless and heal him.

We spent the day in Curitiba and returned that very night by bus, but this time no one had a seizure. Two nights on the bus, but it wasn't sooo bad...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bembleman's Bread, Brazil Nuts & Registering for a Wedding!

I woke up today thinking about making bread, and while Pat had a Bible study with a church member at the breakfast table, I quietly measured flour and stirred up a batch of Beth's delicious brown bread. I set it aside to rise and wrapped it in a blanket cuz it's still a little on the chilly side here. I cleaned up my mess, then decided I wanted to eat sweet rolls, too, and dirtied all my counter space again. You see, my daughter Patricia, arrived this afternoon and her husband, Neval, will arrive on Saturday, and he loves my sweet rolls with apricot I started making apricot filling, but had to stop to crack Brazil nuts that came from a real tree! (I know all Brazil nuts come from a real tree, but these nuts came from a YWAMer that got them from their own private tree in the faraway state of Rondonia in the Amazon. Now, doesn't that make them more important?) And better yet, my Brazilian friend, Joana, recently disclosed to me the ingenious way she cracks Brazil nuts in her home by wedging them in the hinged part of a door, then shutting it! She claims it works fine. (I used a nutcracker.) I had to stop all operations to make lunch and eat it hurridly because we needed to make a hospital visit to our neighbor boy during the noon hour. We got to the hospital in time, but when we got to João's room, he wasn't there! After inquiring we discovered he was still in surgery to remove a cist (?) from his cheek. (His surgery had been scheduled for 8 a.m., but obvbiously delayed.) We went home, and I put my brown bread in the oven, part of it was two pizza crusts...

Our neighbor called to set up a time for us to go with them to the register of deeds. His divorce finally came through and now he and his live-in can get married. This has been a matter of prayer and concern for years (!) and we are so happy their situation will be finally legalized. They asked us to be the legal witnesses, so today we had to register the fact that they are getting married and sign papers and then they type up more papers and when you're all done there are a lot of papers! I was surprised that the wife to be isn't going to change her name--to not have to go through all the red tape to change her other documents, like her driver's license, her voting card, her social security card, and who knows how many other cards. It took an hour and a half to get that done and I'm now worried about the bread I'd left to rise while we were gone. They invited us over for coffee, but I excused myself to first check on my bread. When I uncovered the one I'd shaped into a crescent roll, filled with apricots (and Brazil nuts), I immediately thought of Bembleman's Bakery (a children's story that I absolutely love) and the bread that grew and grew until it filled up the whole house and crept out the windows and kept growing. Well, my bread wasn't that big, but it was lopping off one end of the cookie sheet and was at least 4 or 5 inches high! I popped it into the oven and headed out the door to have coffee with the neighbors. (Dangerous, dangerous). And...when I finished coffee and was crossing the street, I could already smell the bread, and with my heart in my mouth, I cautiously opened the front door and was relieved there wasn't smoke billowing out the oven door (as had happened recently on another occasion, but we will let that lie...). My crescent bread had patches of burns-not 3rd degree burns, but maybe 1st degree--and later we were forced to try out the bread to see if I could serve it to Neval, and, well, I'll let the picture tell the outcome.
Patricia had to write a paper for school tonight, but when she was done, she asked if we wanted to take a buzz around town. It was actually 11:30 p.m. but hey, when your daughter wants to do something--even if it's 11:30 p.m--you do it. (She lives in this little town...) So, we "dragged the main" (that's what we called it when I was a teenager) and then strangely found ourselves seated at an ice cream place devouring (1) guava (2) baccio and/or (3) nozes ice cream, and it was truly delicious even at that hour of the night...and now I'm going to bed.