Saturday, November 24, 2007

Baby it's cold outside!

Hello from chilly Oregon!  Last night it was 22 degrees - farenheit!  I've been going for walks nearly every day, which have been just gorgeous in the country, but have resorted to wearing gloves because a couple days ago my hands felt frost-bitten!  I am thoroughly enjoying the cold, especially when I can come into a warm house with a fire in the fireplace.  AND - bun-warmers in the car!  There was snow on the not-too-distant hilltops.  In two days I'll be driving to California and I really hope the snow stays on the hills rather than on the roads.

I had such a lovely Thanksgiving!  It was such a treat to be here for it after not being here for the last few years.  It was nice to celebrate with family, to share what we're thankful for in the year that has passed and it was really nice to eat the delicious (if I do say so myself) pumpkin cheesecake that I made!  Times like this make me miss my Kitchen Aid mixer in Mozambique!

I have so much to be thankful for!  God has blessed my life with so many riches, so much joy, so much beauty to behold!  I look forward to seeing what tomorrow holds!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hanging out with Mom and Larry in New Jersey

I've been in New Jersey since Saturday and I leave tomorrow. I've really enjoyed my time with my mom and Larry, visiting people, going to a couple thrift shops, eating early . . . this was our "dinner" at 3:00 in the afternoon! My mom is doing really well which is nice to see in person. She is currently doing so well, she doesn't need chemo now and won't go back to the doctor until the end of November. We're praying she won't need chemo then either! I'm not sure the exact terms to use because they don't talk in terms of remission but the number and size of cancerous areas seem to determine the need for chemo treatment. I'm just glad she's feeling so great!

Thanks for everything Mom - it's been a great visit! Love you!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fun with Family in Florida!

My sister Sandra and I love this photo of her with her boyfriend Doug and our Dad. Usually, my dad has his eyes closed and his mouth open in photos so we were really excited that he got it right in this one!

I had a lot of fun with my two youngest nephews, Sean and James. We played Bocci Ball and although my athletic prowress was held in check, I didn't do half bad. James became a teeneager the day after I left, November 4th, so we had a fun little party as well. I loved being able to hang out with them.

I realized as I was about to leave for the airport that my dad and I didn't take a photo together during this trip so I took one of those long-arm shots - not bad I don't think.
I had a great time in Florida - now I'm off to my mom's in New Jersey.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bilene was a lovely little getaway with friends!

I was so thrilled to have my friends, Debbie and Katrin, visiting me in September and October. They both used to live here in Mozambique with me. Katrin left for Germany in December of 2005 and Debbie left for the US in February of 2006. I've missed them a ton! Katrin actually came in August, with her boyfriend Michael. Then Debbie came at the end of September. Debbie stayed at my house with me and left for home one day before I left for Europe/Home. I will be sad to go back and them not be there. But I'm so blessed they came and it was fun to have them at the same time. We used to have getaways together so we were determined to do so during their visits. So we went to Bilene, a little town on a lagoon, about 2 1/2 hours north of my house.

Amazingly, we decided we wanted some shrimp for dinner and about two minutes later, up popped a man walking on the street selling a bag of shrimp! Here's photos of our adventure:

We asked the guards if there was anyone who might come help us clean and prepare the shrimp to make sure we were doing it right. Good thing we did, she helped us prepare them lickedy-split! It was a lot of shrimp! Five kilos I think.

Katrin and I were the chefs for the night in our amazing kitchen. We had fun!

The finished product.

We discovered we could take a boat for free over to the other side of the lagoon if we ate lunch at the resort there. I am so glad we discovered that place. The food was great, the beach was private the service was terrific. There was one server in fact who tried three separate times to get our phone numbers!

Me and Debbie on the lagoon beach. The first day was cloudy and cool, the last day was sunny and gorgeous.

Three countries in one week!

I flew into Frankfurt at 7am on Tuesday morning. I took a Rhine River cruise and passed many castles and beautiful scenery, with fall colors in full flouish! It was lovely and chilly!

I spent the night at my friend Katrin's parents in Koblenz and they were such great hosts, making me traditional German food and showing me around. I would love to spend more time there with them - next time Katrin needs to be there instead of in Mozambique!

Then I headed down to Stuttgart to meet my friend Debora and her two friends, Susa and Tabia. We had planned to go to Vienna, Austria for the weekend. Here, I'm on the overnight train - I felt like I was in a movie. I'm such a tourist!

My German friend Debora greeted me at the train with the question: "Do you want to go to Hungary while we're in Vienna? We can take a boat up the Danube to Bratislava!" I said Sure, let's go! Well, when I did a search online for Bratislava, Hungary, it turns out it's in Slovakia (the southern half of what was Czechoslovakia)! So we had a good laugh about that but went anyway. We opted for the train which was only 14 Euros, return. We had a great time in this charming old city. Slovakia only entered the EU this year and it still has a very Eastern European feel. It was perfect to explore for the afternoon.

Vienna was lovely, with beautiful architecture and lots of gardens. It would be amazing in the spring or summer to sit in the many parks and try and spot traditional Austrians, as I was trying to do - men with feathers in their caps! It was too cold to sit around much, we had to keep moving! We even got on one bus, just to drive around to nowhere and get warm. it was about 40 degrees on average during the day!

After coming back from Vienna, I spent the night at Debora's house in Winterbach, outside of Stuttgart. We went to the main restaurant in their village for my last traditional German meal and . . . they were celebrating Sweden week! So everything was Swedish! It was still good! I slept on the divan in the living room, right in front of the fire - that was so amazing! The next day, I went to Heidelberg to meet Katrin's fiance, Michael. I spent the day exploring by myself and met him in the evening after his exam. This photo was taken through one of the lookouts from the Castle.

Here I'm on the bridge below the castle, jsut before Michael and I walked The Philospher's Path, up along the treeline.

I "slept" that night in the Frankfurt airport. I had to be there at 6am and decided it was just as easy to hang out there instead of try and find a room and get to the airport super early. Then I flew home to California!

I really hope to fly through Germany again because there is so much I still want to see and do. Plus, I'd like to visit when Katrin's there! And, see Debora again. Maybe for Katrin and Michael's wedding !!!

Blogging Break!

Well, I didn't intentionally take a break from blogging but it's been almost one month! I don't believe it! I guess it's because I had visitors with me in Mozambique until I left on October 13th to come to the US. I spent one week in Germany (with a weekend trip to Vienna and a day trip to Slovakia thrown in for good measure) as part of my free layover in Frankfurt. That was lovely! I'll post photos when I have a better internet connection.

I arrived in California on the 23rd of October. Since then, I've spent a week at my dad's in Florida and then I arrived yesterday at my mom's in New Jersey. I'm here now, watching football - aahhhh! I can't wait for the Colts to beat, I mean play, the Patriots!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAMES! Welcome to teenager-hood! (That's for my youngest nephew Sean, he turns 13 today!)

I'll be back, as much as my internet connections allow.
Happy November everyone!