Thursday, May 25, 2006

An American in America

So, we were back in the US. Two weeks of what was supposed to be a vacation for the family. You know spend a little time seeing friends, check out the neighborhood and maybe take in a movie without Spanish subtitles. But really it has turned into a trip that was too short with Janalee working everyday and us trying to see everyone that we miss when Janalee is not at work. Thankfully our wonderful friend Sarah has been willing to share child care duties (the kids call them “switch days”) so that I had a little bit of time to procure a laundry list of items that people have asked us to take back to Argentina. Any guess of what item is was most requested? Velveeta. I didn’t bring any back (with two bags over the weight limit the Velveeta was sacrificed for another bottle of Zinfandel – red, not white).

The strangest part of going to the states was being a social oddity everywhere we went. There are only so many times you can have people say to you, “you are the guy who moved to Argentina” before you run out of things to say. For me the number of times I heard that statement before I was tired of it was once. I think I am a curmudgeon (I spelled that correctly without spell check! Really, I did!) or at least a little bit antisocial.

The best part of being in the states was seeing our friends and neighbors (sounds like something Janalee would force me to say – I will neither confirm nor deny that rumor). I think this was especially true for Amelia who got to play with her friends (Mom, these kids speak Ingles!). When you are 4 it is really important that your playmates understand things like poopy diaper head and for some reason that just doesn’t translate to kids here. In what must be a strange case of karma gone bad, Mia’s best friends in Arlington are named Charlotte, Amelia, Charlotte and Sally. Charlotte is Mia’s friend from a nanny share we did a couple of years ago, Amelia and Charlotte moved in across the street last year. The kids had a ball, but the parents get the names screwed up all of the time. A sad note Amelia and Charlotte are moving to North Hampton, MA (with their parents Jolie and Alden). I guess we will have to visit North Hampton next year. Sally is just odd man out in this one (perhaps we can get her parents to change her name to Amelia). I will add a photos page in a couple of days (having a bit of technical difficulties (some bug in the system -- couldn't be anything that I am doing).

We timed our visit to coincide with our friends Peter and Zoe's wedding. Fun event! I have to say it is much different getting married when you are 30 something (I am being generous Peter) than when you are 21 (Janalee was a babe when I got her to say yes). One big difference we noticed is that there were no butterflies involved. My mom really wanted to decorate our entire ceremony in butterflies -- lord knows I loved the woman, but there are some things you just can't do. That is not meant to say that it is bad to have parents involved (I had better stop now, Jan's mom claims to read the blog...). Anyway here is picture of the big event.

Food choice of the month – Metro 29 Diner on Lee Highway – best pancakes, best omelets, the best breakfast. And, it is much closer than any place in Mendoza for those of you who are not going to make the trip.

I would go with the Orange Juice -- no wine with breakfast (we have to have some standards afterall).

Pink Punk

At the Lyon Park fair Amelia decided that she had to have her hair painted – being the ever giving in parent, I said yes. A couple of minutes later this is what we had – a pink headed kid.

OK, so having your hair painted at the neighborhood fair is not so punk, but did you notice that she is wearing a cat collar? If you look closely you can see that she is wearing the collar of one of our cats (and it looks great). I guess she couldn’t find a studded dog collar (sometimes you just have to make due with what you can find). If you can't see it (bad eyes, too small of a computer screen) you can double click on the photo and it will give you a full screen version of the photo. Anyway, on the way home I could hear her singing:

Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go
I wanna be sedated
Nothing to do
Nowhere to go
I wanna be sedated

It is only a matter of time before she grows her hair so it hangs in her eyes and starts dressing in all black (perhaps she will be a punk in pink). If she starts playing the guitar really poorly and snarling we will all know that she has been hanging out with Peter Loge too much (our only friend who actually likes the Ramones and not just says that he likes them).

This message is not meant to infer or suggest that 4 year olds should be sedated (the management).


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lifestyle Sabbatical

One thing I love about modern society is that everything eventually gets a name. Here I was thinking that I was doing something unique. You know, how many people walk away from their job, move to South America and take time away from their life? As it turns out, quite a few people do. At least enough have to have Newsweek give it a name “Lifestyle Sabbatical”. It is really nice to finally have a simple answer for people who ask me what I am doing this year. And, not only does it have a name – it has a URL as well. Thanks to Newsweek I feel validated as a person.

The next time someone asks me what I am doing I can just say, “I am on a Lifestyle Sabbatical”. What more could you ask for than a formally sanctioned way of life?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Guanaco Rule

So I am contemplating the amazing guanaco. A beautiful beast that languishes in the shadow of its much more famous cousins the alpaca and llama, guanacos are natives of Argentina. In fact, though its cousins are far more famous, the truth is llama and alpaca are just domesticated versions of guanacos. The guanaco is closely related to the camel, with a reddish-brown back, and paler, almost white, on the underside. Its tail is about ten inches long. The neck is long and slender; the head is long ending in a somewhat drooping upper lip, which is cleft in the middle. The ears are long, upright and mobile. Guanacos are endangered (meaning that you won’t see one on a parilla anytime soon).

Why do I know so much about the guanaco? Because Amelia’s assignment for her Dia del Animales project was to find a picture of an animal that was native to Argentina and report on what it looks like, eats and where it lives. Seems simple, but the translation didn’t quite work out for us and I sent Amelia to her school without a picture, but with the report. She brought it back with new instructions. This time I sent it back with the picture, but without written material. She brought it back with new instructions. After the third time, I think we got it right.

Makes me think that going back to school might not be a great plan for me at this point.

I still love the Suns

So I may have said bad things about the Suns a couple of weeks ago, but I am back on the bandwagon this week. What a crushing game last night (for the Lakers). I can't say that I am watching these games since they usually start at about 10:00 PM our time (the fact that we don't have a TV doesn't really help either), but I do check the scores at about 2:00 AM every day. Janalee usually asks what in the heck I am doing -- I tell her it is time for her to take a shower (she has work to do after all).

On to the point -- Steve Nash (plays for the Suns -- you gotta stay up with the conversation) won his second MVP award this morning. For those of you who don't follow the NBA this is nearly a miracle. Not only is he the only Canadian to be the MVP (not that there is anything wrong with being a Canadian), he is virtually a midget (standing barely 6’ 3”) and has what might be the worst haircut in all of professional sports (which inspires my latest style). I have included a photo for those of you who are sports impaired (of Nash, not me).

Here in Argentina they believe that Andres Niconi or Manu Ginobili should have been MVP (the only Argentines playing in the NBA) – but that is just crazy.

I have to run. Janalee just found out that I am blogging about sports and is threatening to start editing my work. Can’t have that – I just proclaimed myself editor in chief and I'm not willing to give up the title so quickly.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fall in May

It is finally Fall here in Mendoza with the leaves quickly turning amazing amarillo y roja (and piling up in front of the casa). While it seems slightly strange to be thinking about the Fall in May, it is quite beautiful to watch the colors change in the vineyards (we don't live near one -- in case anyone was wondering).

I have added some photos so that anyone who actually looks at this site can see the colors. I didn't take the pictures . Our friend Michael took them on a recent outing. Janalee, Amelia and I were in the mountains that day -- without our camera (we are always prepared just like the scouts).

Two funny things about the change in seasons:

Amelia said the other day, "Soon it will be winter and then it will be your birthday." Funny to hear, since my birthday is in June. (I added that to remind my wife that my birthday is coming.)

A friend of ours (who shall remain nameless) said the other day "Isn't it exciting that it is getting be Fall down here? Soon you will celebrating Christmas in Argentina." While is true that we will be celebrating Christmas in Argentina, Christmas is still in December. For some strange reason they don't change the date commemorating the birth of Jesus when you move south of the equator. Just a note for anyone who might be confused.

Happy Holidays!