Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week 1

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I couldn't resist. Project 365 was such a good way to document our year, I have to do it again. Thanks, Sara, for continuing to host!

Driving into Cordoba yesterday afternoon, we were astonished at the number of spectators lining the road, waving and taking our photo.... Oh wait, it's the Dakar race participants they want to see and there are two Dakar vehicles right behind us.
(not my photo; it's from this website)

Our daughter was fascinated by the many Oreo flavors and snapped this photo.

But forget grocery stores; she'd rather be at the mall. In this area she is more than a seasoned pro ...spotting bargains at 50 yards, zeroing in on the lowest price, able to leap other customers in a single bound -- she's Super Shopper! Her shopping stamina is super human too; she shops 'til I drop :-)  Have to say, leather goods are some of my favorite eye candy.

Fireworks on New Year's Eve! We drove up the hill beyond where our co-workers live. We discovered last year that this is a great spot to look out over the city. I especially like this shot of Tina with fireworks in the background, even if we did cut off half her face.

On our drive around the lake New Year's day we stopped a number of times; this was by the old dam. Wikipedia has a short article about El Dique San Roque.

And finally, I think it will be my tradition to always include a photo of our peaches in the first Project 365 post each year.
One small and one large limb have broken from the weight of the fruit this year. We'll have to either prop them up in the future, or thin them out. The tree is absolutely LOADED.

That's all for this week. Welcome Project 365 newcomers and a shout out to all those who are returning!

Week 2

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We haven't done much due to all the sickness this week so not a lot of photos to choose from. But I'm committed to Project 365 so here we go with what we got.

(Forgive the poor grammar, but it's been a long week and estoy muy cansada).

There are vast numbers of large, ugly, loud birds near Centro Esperanza (remember the dead bird high in the tree around Halloween?). Last Sunday one of them roosted on top of the car port area and I snapped this photo. There's a screen-like material between the camera and the bird, so it's rather blurry.
Tina enjoys daily strolls down to the lake and took this photo on one of her walks. As you can see the lake is slowly, slowly creeping back up.
A lot of companies like to advertise on vehicles, since they're driven all over town and provide pretty broad coverage. Each circle on this truck says "Jet-Set" and underneath "Carlos Paz". I have no idea what Jet-Set is, but it's a pretty snazzy truck.
Our tree is dropping peaches faster than we can keep up. I had no idea that piles of rotting peaches could smell so bad. Ugh. Ivan's going to dig them into the compost pile and hopefully that will cut down on the stench.
I don't quite get the whole boot sandal thing going on here. Why would you want to encase your ankle in hot lavendar leather in the summer? You can't tell but the heel is open. Interesting look, don't you think?
Our sushi extravaganza on Friday was fun and VERY MESSY. Which you can't tell in this photo of Tina with the finished product. Finding the jar of pickled ginger at Walmart last time made it extra special. Luuuuurve sushi with lots of pickled ginger!
Ivan took some photos of his current project today but I somehow managed to lose them in the transition from camera to computer :-(  So no photo for today.

And now, if I don't hurry up I'm not going to get this posted Saturday night and I'll have missed my first day of posting this year.

Week 3

Way too many photos to choose from this week! More will probably pop up throughout the coming week although I did manage to edit down to eight for Project 365. But boy, that was hard work.

We enjoyed an asado last Sunday with the young men from Bible Institute who are helping this summer. Actually Oscar did most of the grilling. It was delicious!
Monday we traveled. And traveled and traveled. As I mentioned on Monday's post, we added a couple hours to our trip because of insufficient information and lack of road signage. But along the way we found time to stop and take some photos.
We seem to have followed the Dakar race. During our first walkabout downtown we came across this HUGE screen on the side of a building where they were showing clips from the portion of the race between Chile and Mendoza.
Wednesday we headed to Cerro de la Gloria where we could look out over the city. And take cheesy photos next to altitude signs.
Never managed to take any really good photos of the snow-capped Andes due to poor visibility. This is my best shot.
On one of our drives into the countryside we stopped at a place famous for its pork. We ate on the veranda beneath the beautiful grapevine canopy.
Mendoza is known for its fruit (there's a huge harvest festival in March) and for the vineyards. The restaurant where Tina works sells several wines from Argentina and this is one of the wineries. A breathtakingly beautiful setting with mountains in the background and row upon row of neatly tended grapevines.
Just down the road were hectares upon hectares of pear trees. I mentioned how strict the province is about not letting ANY fruit in that could possibly infect the crops...vehicles are not only searched and any fruit disposed of, but your car also has to go through a spraying station that apparently kills anything that might be on the exterior of the auto.

One of the people we talked to said the farms hire lots of additional pickers during harvest and it is traditional to pay the workers with coins. A coin for each container of fruit picked (not sure if it's a bushel or some other form of measurement). Since coins are VERY hard to come by in this country I'm wondering how they manage this. We often get candy instead of coins back in "change" or else the store owner knocks off the cents from the bill. But maybe it's BECAUSE of this tradition that coins are so difficult to find -- they're all here in Mendoza! Hmmmm, will have to study that further.

Argentina is most famous for its beef and with all that beef comes leather. Tina saved her pennies (and everything else she earned recently) in order to get some boots but she also managed to score a purse as well as this adorable jacket.
We found leather prices to be lower here than in Cordoba. No idea why, but Tina was just happy to be able to get everything for about what she would have paid just for boots in the U.S. My bargain-hunting girl is a happy camper!

I haven't been a lot of places in Argentina but so far Mendoza is my absolute favorite. The city is clean, streets are tree-lined, the food is great, there's a lot to see and do (we didn't even begin to scratch the surface) and people are friendly. We'll definitely be coming back!

Week 4

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Have you ever gotten to Friday and realized you haven't gone anywhere all week, or done anything, or taken any pictures for Project 365? This was that kind of week. So in the interest of full disclosure, my midweek photos are actually Sunday morning photos but they represent my week (I did think long and hard -- at least five minutes -- about what to shoot this morning that was indicative of the week).

Sunday was the all-day trip back from Mendoza. When we stopped for gas in San Luis, I was fascinated by this beautiful mural.
Especially in cities, the vast majority of homes are surrounded by fences and while most have the decorative metal kind, some folks are a little more security conscious and erect these huge block walls. But I had never seen one where the owner painted it in such a lovely manner. (Did you notice the razor wire on top, too?)

We broke up the trip with one stop besides lunch (and the necessary potty breaks) by visiting a small olive oil factory. I use the word factory loosely. It's an orchard in Villa de Las Rosas, an area famous for their olives and olive oil. [Side note: this is where we tried to take our anniversary trip last year which was cut short when the hotel didn't have sufficient heat.] Doesn't look like much from the outside, does it? Sort of like a regular house almost.
Can you see the machinery at the far end of the porch? The olives are picked and immediately cleaned in that contraption before being sent inside for processing. Quite fascinating (for a foodie, anyway) to hear how they extract the oil. The young lady who showed us around and explained the process was very patient and obviously excited about what they do.
They use the cold press (centrifugal extraction) method which, according to Lynne Rossetto Kasper from The Splendid Table, is the best. Bigger processors take the pulp waste and run it through an additional heat treatment to extract even more, but inferior, oil. This place just collects the pulp and uses it for fertilizer. These smaller places are referred to as being artesanal (in the U.S. they're called artisanal). We bought several bottles to try and I have to say it is the best olive oil I've ever had. So delicious! My favorite is the basil infused oil.
Oh my word, I could just drink it from the bottle. But since it's not a very big bottle and I want it to last as long as possible, I use it sparingly on salads. I really wish I could share this with you because it's the kind of thing you try and then want everyone else to try too.

As wonderful as our time in Mendoza was, we were all happy to get home (especially after that killer drive). Here's what you see from my front gate. My geraniums are going crazy now that the rains have returned, and the oleander is blooming like crazy too. Not sure what happened to the little patch of grass beneath the tree though; looks like the rain came too late to save it.
Most of the week you could find Tina in this very same spot.
(My couch looks very comfy, doesn't it?)

Our garden is flourishing. We've begun harvesting lettuce, swiss chard and green onions. The beans are going great guns but it'll be a while before they're ready. Same with the squash and peppers.
Friday Tina and I spent the day shopping in Cordoba. Well, she shopped and I had fun going along. My girl is a bargain-hunting, deal-finding, super shopper and I love to watch her in action :-)  We also enjoyed afternoon merienda at a restaurant in the mall. It was too late in the day for me to indulge in coffee but Tina thoroughly enjoyed her cappuccino. The chocolate cake was quite yummy too!
We stayed there a looooooong time because it was quiet, cool and peaceful. The perfect ending to a busy day spent mostly on hot, noisy city streets crowded with thousands of pedestrians.

A photographical update on the project next door:
Is there any wonder I can't keep my house clean with all the dust flying around?!

That wraps up the week for me. Head over to Sara's for more Project 365!

Week 5

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Enough about the heat already. No more posts about how hot it is. Unless it's still like this in March. Then you might hear about it again.

Anyhoo... despite the soaring temperatures this week we enjoyed a number of get-togethers with friends and that's reflected in this week's Project 365 photos. For a change there are more people photos than inanimate ones (although several also feature food).

Last Sunday we finally got our act together and Tina took a number of photos of us since we needed a new one to send to our home church. She had to take a lot in an attempt to get a decent shot. I cannot stress how much I hate having my picture taken. It's a genetic thing I inherited from my mom, along with the nervous tic that causes me to close my eyes right along with the shutter on the camera which results in me looking demented, drunk or just plain dumb. I think Sunday the count was 15 to 1.
Monday we changed the guys perception of sushi forever, adding two more converts to the cause. We just had so much fun creating our own sushi rolls!
Little by little the lake is rising. All that lush green next to the water extended completely across the lake bed just a couple months ago, creating a swampy field rather than the serene body of water you see now.
We stopped to see our friends in Cordoba this week. This was the first time since Ivan went to Juan's funeral on Christmas day. Although his wife Mirta and adult children, Lorena and Guillermo, miss him very much, they are thankful he is free of pain and with Jesus now. They and the rest of the family are going out to the house in Sta. Rosa this coming week. The first time without Juan; I'm sure it will be a time of rest but also remembering all the wonderful times they've gone there in the past with him.
When we stopped at their house, they didn't have power so not even a fan to help cool off in that awful 100+ temperature and there's not enough photo magic in the world to get rid of all the red in this picture without rendering them unrecognizable. 

Thursday night we had Nestor and Graciela over for asado. We joked that Ivan is Nestor's "asado disciple". Those two really enjoy preparing asado. And the rest of us enjoying eating it!
They brought the postre (dessert) which happened to be a kilo of ice cream from Venezia's. An interesting flavor combination of strawberry (real, whole strawberries included!), chocolate, fig with nuts, and kumquat with whiskey. Yes, a very interesting combination. Here's Ivan filling cones to order.
Friday I visited my optometrist since I couldn't see very well with my new glasses. NO, these are not the new glasses! Ivan snapped this photo of me while the optometrist was double checking his original measurements to make sure everything was right -- and it was.
Looks like the lab who made the lenses messed up so we took them back to the shop where we bought them and the woman there is sending them back to the lab. We'll find out Wednesday what they say. This pair is multi-focal and I could see fine out the very tippy top but when I looked through the middle or lower part it felt like I was in one of those mirrored fun houses at the fair, and I could not see clearly AT ALL to read. It's been a rather frustrating quest to get a pair of functional glasses. I'm ready to go back to regular old bi-focals and am hoping that's an option when we talk to them on Wednesday.

Cooler weather on Saturday meant we could actually enjoy sitting outdoors with friends for (yes, another!) asado. Our friend Abram invited us to join him and his kids, his neighbors, other relatives and friends...16 in all. We made new friends and had a great time.
As I sit here I can hear the pitter-patter of rain on the sidewalk outside. Not the huge torrential storm we expected but a nice soft, looks-like-it-might-keep-it-up-all-day kind of rain. I sure hope it does! We need the moisture along with the cooling effects.

While we contend with the summer heat, it'll be fun to read the winter adventures of other Project 365 participants. Maybe that will make me feel cooler too.

Week 6

Lots of photos this week and even a video! We packed quite a bit into the week, with a trip to La Cumbre, another to Alta Gracia, dinner with friends one night, and Ivan and Tina took the Aerosilla up to the top of Carlos Paz. So let's not waste any time with wordiness. On with the photos!

All that talk about trips and fun stuff and my first photo is the bottles we're recycling. They don't recycle much here but we do what we can. We save these for our friend at the ferreteria (hardware store) because he buys huge containers of pool chemicals and then re-packages them in bottles like these. Obviously we need to stop just collecting and actually take him the bottles (it's been a few months).
On our trip to La Cumbre on Tuesday we stopped at the Eden Hotel in La Falda so we could get some photos of the hotel where Hitler supposedly vacationed (a rumor only, no documented proof) when the hotel was owned by close friends and Nazi supporters, Walter and Ida Eichorn.
The main purpose of our trip was to visit the Paseo de Los Artesanos, a winding dirt road leading into La Cumbre where a colony of artists have built homes, studios and stores. A lot of it was the same old-same old stuff we see in every tourist store in every city, but there were some unusual things too. We found gorgeous items handcrafted from alpaca silver at this place. Striking store front, isn't it?
I talked about the amazing meal we had with friends in Cordoba on Wednesday. Here's Guillermo getting dessert ready and then the final product. Gorgeous and delicious!
I've been working on a couple of small wall quilts with the idea of having a little etsy store to fund my fabric addiction. Here's the first piece I finished for it.
"Friendship is cozy, warming me like fresh, hot tea. Endless refills please."
Overcast skies and rainy weather pushed Ivan and Tina's trip up the mountain to the end of the week. Finally the sun came out long enough for them to take the Aerosilla (ski lift) up.
Even though it was looking a little iffy with the rain on Saturday night we headed to Alta Gracia once again, and this time the clouds blew over and we enjoyed our visit to the Encuentro Anual de Colectividades (Annual International Food and Music Festival). Here's a collage of  the Jesuit enclave that fronts the millpond where they hold the festival. Parts of it date from the 1600s.
We weren't so impressed with the food. Wanting to pace ourselves, we bought one thing at a time and shared it (the theory being that we wouldn't get full too fast). The bagna cauda from the Italian booth was pretty good but the stuffed pork from Poland, not so much. Shish-cabob from France was okay. The line at the German booth was ridiculously long when we were ready to get dessert so we grabbed something from Italy and it was disappointing. Oh well. Like fair food anywhere, there are really great things and not-so-great ones.

The only entertainment we saw before leaving at 11:30 was the Argentine folk dancers. Love their traditional costumes!

Make sure you stop by Sara's and check out the other Project 365 participants.

Week 7

I had so hoped I'd have some AFTER photos of the study/sewing room project that has consumed the last few days but, while a good portion of it is done, it is not FINISHED. Maybe next Sunday.

About 3 p.m. today my back loudly protested all the hauling of heavy objects (large plastic bins of fabric weigh a LOT) as well as the weird positions I've been in during the cleaning binge that expanded beyond the study to include the guest room. So even though I've gotten a little done this afternoon/evening, it hasn't been nearly what I'd planned on.

[I almost included a photo of my bag of frozen corn that has been my friend today; it works GREAT as an ice pack on ouchy backs. But Ivan came up with a much better photo :-) ]

I decided to send back some letters with Tina to mail and a few gifts she'll deliver. I couldn't send as many as I would have liked but I especially wanted to say "thank you" to some special people who have blessed us greatly in different ways. This is one of the things I sent; it's a wooden salad fork and spoon set. The greenish sections are palo santa which is a very aromatic wood. I thought the parrots added a fun element to a functional item. (And are so appropriate considering how prolific they are in Argentina!)
Monday my friend Gaby stopped by with her mom and her daughter. Mavi is one of the little girls I made a quilt for last Spring. Isn't she a cutie?! She's normally a very happy baby but that afternoon she was teething and rather fussy so Tina and I took turns entertaining her. Not altogether successful, but at this point she was still smiling.
While Ivan and Tina were out picking up last minute things on Tuesday they stopped by to see the new puppies at Marcela's. Her dog had six but two died within the first few days. This little fellow quite liked being held and snuggled right up to Tina.
Tina's flight left at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday which meant she had to be at the airport by 2:30 so we left the house at 1:30. None of us were feeling very photogenic at that hour of the morning but I did snap this photo of Tina's "man" shoes that she bought in Cordoba. They were very comfortable for traveling and easy to slip off and on.
Despite concerns about the weather (multiple delayed and canceled flights in Chicago on the day before she left) her trip was smooth and on schedule and she arrived safely home later that night.

While waiting to hear from her I kept busy cleaning out the kitchen cupboards. Which led to being motivated to start on the study/sewing room on Thursday. That, in turn, led to me being basically absent from Blogland the past few days except for quick daily posts. I've already shared this photo of the dining room, where chaos ensued after moving almost the entire contents of the study in there so I could sort and organize while Ivan built the shelving unit for over the desk. But since it's the only thing I photographed that day, I'm repeating it here. (Only 3/5 of the fabric was sorted at the time of this photo and NONE of the office stuff.)
Same deal on Friday, with these GORGEOUS shelving units Ivan built. Frankly, I was doing good to take ANY photos the past few days :-)
Ivan, having done his part in the project, went to help a friend today. His aviation buddy built this plane but had a slight mishap upon landing it one time so he's re-engineered part of it and Ivan's helped with the re-construction on several occasions. [Julio is the one who had the accident with the plane propeller on a different plane a few months ago.]
That's all for this week. Make sure to stop by Sara's and check out the other Project 365 participants.