Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pulando Carnaval!!

Today is Carnaval--the most celebrated holiday in all of Brazil. In this country it is more important than Christmas or Easter and runs a close second to New Year's Eve. "Pulando Carnval" is literally, "Jumping Carnival" and refers to the samba beat, Brazil's famous dance music. Today is the day you indulge all your carnal (hence "carna-val") passions before the beginning of lent. So, Pat and I did just that. We slept in until 9 a.m., drank extra-strong coffee for breakfast, gave ourselves the luxury of reading for hours, delighted ourselves with a "double dose" of Hershey's chocolate for our after-lunch dessert, fried up a 100% all beef burger WITH CHEESE for dinner, then headed for McDonald's to top it off with ice cream. Pat chose a modest ice cream cone (as always), but I indulged in a chocolate sundae!

It was a lovely Carnaval.

Is This Julia?

Julia gets very excited when she sees her picture on the frig and heartily agrees with her mommy that she is, indeed, Julia.

You Can Do It, Julia!

Julia is trying to figure out how to make her legs and arms work together. Keep trying, Julia!

Toolin' through God's country...

Traveling home from Curitiba we drove through parts of three states: Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Two routes led to the same destination--one by the coast and the other through the mountains. We chose the mountains. They are not the Rocky Mountains by any stretch of the imagination, but they are mountains, nonetheless. We drove through apple country and grape vineyards, on steep roads cut through the rock and on the plains. We passed umpteen trucks hauling timber, passed neat rows of soybeans and hills of corn, miles of stone fences, a row of cactus along the road and dozens--nay hundreds-- of fluffy fronds like those in the pictures. We saw hydrangea bushes past their prime and houses nestled against the hills, majestic pine trees--their branches lifted to God in praise. There were tree-covered mountains, breath-taking valleys and curvy descents by the River of the Antas. And the grottos appeared recessed in the rock with Mary looking after baby Jesus, and truck after truck after truck carrying burdens too heavy to bear. Yes, it was a long 12-hour drive with many stops but an opportunity to drink in a small part of the beauty of God's great creation.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!

This is a family tradition passed on from my parents. When we're all together, we like to sing this grace.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Little Flower!

Michelle, you were my first "Brazilian" baby and while you were still in the hospital, friends came to visit us and brought two pairs of pierced earrings! I didn't know what to do because it wasn't the custom in the USA to pierce little babies' ears and the idea seemed strange to me. Before coming to Brazil I had seen little Mexican girls with pierced ears and thought it very ugly, but now I wondered if I would offend my Brazilian friends by not doing the piercing. In the end, I didn't have the courage, and we went home from the hospital without doing it. Then I changed my mind when you were two months old. I took you back to the same clinic where you were born to get your shots and had the nurses pierce your ears. They assured me you wouldn't feel a thing, but if my memory serves me well, I heard you crying....I ended up being glad I had your ears pierced. I got used to seeing Brazilian babies with pierced ears and what had once looked strange now looked normal and beautiful, and you looked so dainty and feminine and beautiful, too.
And you still do. You're a beautiful woman now. Happiest of Birthdays to you!! I love you very much and am proud to be your mama.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Westinghouse!

My Westinghouse washing machine turned 19 years old in January and a week ago I thought it had breathed its last. Thankfully, it only needed a "basket" change. As you can see in the picture, the inner part of the basket just rusted away. This may not appear significant to you, but there is a sweet story behind it.

At the end of 1989 we were preparing for a big move...after 16 years of community-style living, we were going to move to a single-family dwelling and that meant buying a houseful of furniture. At the time of our move I was a school teacher for the missionary kids and would occasionally get a phone call from a fellow teacher who lived in the city we were moving to--Belo Horizonte. One day she called and asked if we were going to buy a washing machine. I said, no, that we were planning on having someone come in to do the washing (by hand I guess!!!) Today that sounds crazy, but those were the plans. I think my friend thought we were crazy, too. She called me two or three times and each time asked about the washing machine. We didn't buy one.

Moving day came and a new reality set in. The first day in our new house we were unpacking boxes and trying to get settled when a pickup pulled up to the house and my teacher friend and her husband got out. In the back of the pickup was a brand-new, 6 kilo Westinghouse washing machine! I couldn't believe my eyes. "I decided that if I was so worried about you having a washing machine, that maybe that was the Lord telling me I should do something about it," my friend explained. I was overwhelmed...and overjoyed. God knew better than we did that washing clothes by hand was not a good idea--not even for another person (which didn't happen).

Throughout these long 19 years, the washing machine has needed no major repair work. Our neighbor, who is also a washing machine repairman, says our machine is worth fixing up. "They don't make machines to last any more, " he's told us more than once.

So, Karen & Tom, once again I thank you from the bottom of my wee heart for your generous and useful gift that keeps on giving and blessing our lives. (And I hope you have a good washing machine, too!)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

35 Years Ago...

...I remember it like yesterday. A new adventure is hard to forget. We arrived looking quite white from the ravages of Minnesota's winter, but it wasn't hard at all to ease into the balmy weather in Brazil. The first week is most memorable because we stayed at the Editora Betânia with my sister and family. I had my first taste of sugar cane juice. I thought it was terrible; it looked dirty and had pieces of the cane fibers mixed in with the juice, but I drank it obediently like new missionaries should. I don't know if that was my Waterloo, but shortly thereafter I developed Montezuma's Revenge. My sister, who is a nurse, treated me with packets of white powder dissolved in milk, and I would obediently take my medicine to get me through the days. We were wined and dined at several other missionaries' homes, and every day I was taking my white powder which was a lot like putting the plug in the sink. My sister and husband treated us to a fancy dinner in a fancy restaurant called "The Hungarian" that looked like a castle. We sat in medieval, stone-walled booths, and in the low lights the swords and shields created a Camelot atmosphere. I am sure it was God that led us to the particular booth we choose that night because about half way through the dinner, I only had time to make an Olympian dash to the bathroom that was situated only a few feet away when Montezuma hit with a revenge. If you want to know the truth, that's what I remember most about my first week in Brazil.

Orzo Pasta Salad

My daughter Michelle sent me this delicious (according to her) recipe so I decided to try it today for lunch. I went to the kitchen and didn't find orzo pasta, balsamic vinegar, radicchio, Parmesan cheese, fresh basil or pine nuts. That left only the olive oil, the black olives and the garlic, but I was up for the challenge.

Original version of Orzo Pasta Salad
1 1/2 C. orzo pasta
1/3 c. packed sundried tomatoes
5 Tbps. olive oil
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. black olives, chopped
1 c. radicchio, finely chopped
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts

Cook pasta, mix with oil , vinegar and olives. Let cool and mix in rest of ingredients.

Instead of the orzo pasta, I chose bow-tie, whole wheat pasta because I think bow-ties are pretty. For the sundried tomatoes I used healthier, freshly chopped ones. I squeezed most of one lime and 6 squirts of Molho Inglês (because it is the same color as the balsamic). Instead of radicchio, I blanched two tufts of broccoli in the pasta water as the pasta was cooking (to save on energy). I decided on one quarter round of light, fresh Riccotta Cheese and happily threw in a half tablespoon of dried basil. For the pine nuts, I used 8 (I am known for my ecomonic policies) pecan halves, broken by hand by yours truly. By this time my brain was spinning out of control and I added half of a large carrot, finely grated and a can of sardines, or if you prefer, sardines from one can, washed under hot water to take off the oil. It needed salt so I guessed on the amount. Presto! It was a huge success and there was enough left over so I won't have to make Sunday lunch, and if I'm lucky, Monday lunch.

Well, okay, so maybe I should change the name to something else.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Raining Cats & Dogs & ...

The rain is raining all around,

It falls on field and tree, (in our backyard)

It rains on the umbrellas here,

And on the ships at sea.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Belated Happy Birthday, Leno!

Feeling groovy
The lovely Pappis family

I surprised Leno with these birthday cupcakes made in my new slick silicon baking cups.

We drove south and the kids drove north and we all met halfway at a restaurant for Leno's "family"birthday.

Let Me Entertain You

With his daddy's help, Eric entertains Julia at the restaurant where we celebrated Leno's birthday.