Saturday, March 24, 2012

In the wilds of Bogotá!

OK, maybe it's not so wild.  You can find a lot of strange things (see previous blog posts) but they still have stores that look suspiciously like Lowe's franchises.  They're called "Home Center," and it's not "Casa Centro" or some other bogus translation.  Just Home Center.
And by the way, you can tell the picture was Photo-Shopped.  Why?  It's not raining!
Yes, if you look closely there on Aisle 77, there's a display for DeWalt power tools, and on the left, there's a Dremel for sale.
You have to be careful, however.  I still hurt where Paula hit me with an 18-ounce composite-handled lifetime-guaranteed claw hammer when I suggested she get some boots like the young woman over on Aisle 32.
We hope your visits to the hardware mega-store in your town are not so painful.
Dave (and Paula, who wears far-more appropriate footwear)

When life hands you lemons...

you can make great lemonade, and the "limones," (they look a whole lot like limes) are pretty cheap.
OK, but how about if life hands you a bunch of sand?  
If you're in Bogotá, you make stupendous sand sculptures!
You invite artists from all over, supply them with the right materials, and stand back for about two weeks while they work with incredible imagination and tons of the stuff.
You then charge people admission and give tours for about four months.
So, why are they all inside of what look like huge, plastic-covered tents??
 C'mon people!  THINK!!  This is BOGOTÁ!!!  Remember?!  RAIN???!!
Also, with all of the little kids (and big people) going through and just having to touch, a certain Norwegian artist has been employed since November to do maintenance for at least two hours every day.  Apparently, he's a funny guy, and the guide was pointing out the little touches he's added along the way; a peace symbol here, a yin/yang thing there, a grin on the gargoyle, etc.
The scale of these things was amazing.  The Colossus of Rhodes really was colossal, standing about 20 feet high.
And the manger scene had its own hangar.
So I've made up my mind; after seeing that, I'm never building a sand castle again.
We hope that the little kids leave your sand sculptures alone also.
Dave & Paula

Thursday, March 15, 2012

So how do we keep ourselves occupied?

Actually, there is very little problem doing so.  As previous posts have indicated, there's the entire "living-in-a-foreign-but-cool-place" to deal with.  Shopping, cooking, finding a repair guy to fix the leaky shower, etc. all take time, and a bit more than back home.
For instance, we had to wait most of this morning for the arrival and work of the natural gas guy.  This was after the gas company was about to shut off the supply to the entire building because we had ignored their order to have the water heater tuned (hey, we were out of the country!).
My official duties take some time, mostly by way of the internet and telephone.  Note the intent look, obviously staged.
Paula works in the Bogotá North Mission office part-time when we're in town.
We study Spanish.  This means 30 minutes in the morning with the books.  She has to give me a kiss every time she doesn't roll the 'r's.
Paula listens to Radio Caracol ("Snail Radio!") to try to tune her ear to people talking fast.  You cannot believe what the "lease includes 1st month's payment, taxes, title and registrations....some restrictions apply." sounds like in fast Colombian Spanish.  She also works on her salsa steps when the music plays.
When the next door neighbors went home, they left us a beat-up exercycle, which we further abuse for 30 minutes every day, and yes, my legs are that skinny.
And that's when we're in town.  More on mission travel later.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

She would have enjoyed the reunion

Paula and I got permission and traveled to Utah for Mom's funeral this week.  All my siblings attended, as well as three of our five kids, and the other two had a decent excuse; one's in London on his two-year mission, and the other's in Azerbaijan (look it up).
Typical for such occasions, it was a family reunion also, with cousins not seen for years getting reacquainted,
and an outpouring of love for my dear Dad, who unselfishly served Mom in her decline, caring for her at home until the very end.
It was a good reminder of why I personally have very little to brag about.  If any of us stand tall, it is only because we do so on the shoulders of some quietly great people.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thoughts before dawn

My mother died last night. 

At age 92, she couldn’t recover from the anesthesia needed to pin her broken hip.  Dad did her a last kindness, and declined that she be re-intubated.  She was tired, and stuff finally wears out.
Mom’s life crossed many big transitions in the world.  When she was born at home in the mining hills of Pennsylvania in 1919 to a blacksmith/coal miner and his wife, an airplane passing overhead brought everyone outside.  She led her high school class, but young women rarely attended college; the Depression sealed the deal.
This was a tough woman, who married a kind, steady rock of a man just after the war.  When she went in to labor with the last of us six kids, he walked her the half-mile trail he had shoveled in deep snow through the farm fields to the car he’d parked up on Ox Hill Road. 
Mom had a mule for a pet as a girl, and she gave us kids our heads, as they say.  She and Dad didn’t seem to even swallow hard when I said I wanted to learn to fly, just asked me how I was going to pay for it.
She found the Church in DC before she met Dad, and they were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple, the closest one at that point.  They scraped and planned and placed their hopes on real estate, sometimes good, sometimes not.  Meanwhile, she raised dogs and kids, sold goats’ milk to visiting Saudi kings, and held things together.
So here at the end, how to sum up a life?  I’d call it a quiet success.  
She and Dad were honest to a fault, raised good kids, and did it on the foundation of the Gospel.  If “by their fruits ye shall know them,” then those awaiting her arrival on the distant shore will early recognize the glow of a good woman headed their way.