Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's still raining...

We had a little break filled with sunshine on Friday but it's still raining.

Some updates...

The kids really enjoy their new school. So far, I'm not sure what I think. The kids have been fighting on the bus so I asked the bus driver and the teacher on the bus to separate them. I don't care if they're's best not to stick them together on the bus right now. It's been a week since their "separation" and things have gone well. There's an open house this week and I'm looking forward to meeting some other parents. Last year their school was so far away that it was difficult for our kids to get together with other children to play. What I really need is to find playmates for Foti. Since moving here, there's been a shortage of boys his age in our reach so I really hope that he can find some friends at this new school.

Iza has provided the class with a toad and now they're studying frogs and toads. That's pretty cool. Yesterday we caught a baby Balkan Green Lizard (thanks for pointing us in the right direction Syd), and soon it will be off to visit the classroom. I took some pictures last night but they didn't turn out because the flash reflected off of the glass jar that it's in and made things a little blurry. Finally, we are expecting a tortoise to arrive any day now. Iza is extremely excited about that. I think that it will be cool to have a tortoise hanging around here.

Gigi is recovering from an injury. Thursday morning I noticed that she was hopping around and she just wasn't herself.. I took her to the vet and it turns out that the tendons in her front left paw are stressed. It could have been caused by anything but who knows what for sure. So, the vet gave her an injection to ease her pain a little and I've been giving her an anti-inflammatory. The kicker here is the other part of her treatment. I'm supposed to keep her inside either on a leash or locked in a bathroom where she can't jump up on anything ...for a week! Ok, I want to do what's best for Gigi but after putting her on a leash for half a day she stressed herself out by crying and trying to get off the leash. She was so stressed that she made herself sick all over the rug. I put her in the bathroom and I thought that she was going to knock the door down. So, we're letting her recover in our company. She does hang out on the couch more than anything and we're trying to keep the kids from playing with her as much as usual. She seems to be better but only time will tell. She's wormed her way onto my bed these days. I always said that I love her but there's no way that she'll sleep on my bed, well, I'm all talk. How can I refuse her warm little body at my feet?

Friday we put together a new bed for Foti and he won't come out of his room. He loves it. We painted his room last weekend. What colors? Spiderman red and blue. Yes, we took a Spiderman doll to the store and chose the colors that way. Here are some photos from their adventures in painting last weekend....

That's all for today. I hope that everyone is having a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gigi sniffs out a Hummingbird Hawk-moth!

Monday morning Gigi was running around grunting and semi-barking. She paced back and forth around the couch. She jumped on the couch and then she jumped down. All that I could think was, "What now?!" So, I was pleasantly surprised when a little Hummingbird Hawk-moth fluttered itself up against our window. That's what Gigi was after! It was adorable to watch her with the moth because although she seemed irritated that she couldn't catch up to it, she was curious at the same time. I'm glad that I was able to get a few shots and this one is my favorite. There's never a dull moment en mi casa! Ay!

Thanks to Maria V's nudging...and I mean that in a good way...I'm going to participate in Camera Critters Meme. So, this is my first entry. I hope that everyone enjoys this picture.

Camera Critters

Thank you for the inspiration Maria!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Did I say that I wanted rain?

I should be careful of what I wish for. Our rain that was so welcomed last Monday night brought more rain and wind on Tuesday. After Alexandra prepared out dessert consisting of Iza's flip flop, the skies grew dark.We were getting ready to run to the grocery store for a few things and just about to get into the car when -WHOOSH! -a strong gust of wind blew in, tossing light items around the balcony. We turned around and went back up the stairs into the house, the kids were screaming with excitement and a little bit of fear. These winds that we get here are really powerful. Shortly after we settled inside the rain started falling. I shouldn't say "falling" because it was actually pouring.

With a combination gale force winds and pouring rain there was very little visibility...sheets of rain were coming down. The electric was blinking off & on so I quickly switched off all of our power strips in order to avoid any future problems with our electronics. This storm only lasted about 20 minutes, but in that short amount of time here's what happened...

First, our power went out-here's a picture of some of my candles. It brought back memories of spring.

Next, our bathroom drain on the first floor backed up. Yuck. Iza discovered it as she was walking toward the bathroom. She slipped and fell only to blame Gigi. "Mom! Gigi peed on the floor and the whole bathroom is wet!" Hmmm...first, the dog doesn't make those little mistakes anymore and second, she wouldn't have filled the whole bathroom. Time to investigate. It turns out that so much water came down is such little time that the drain on the porch outside of the bathroom backed up our drain in the bathroom. Fantastic. Mopping by candlelight was something I had never experienced before.
After the storm ended it was bedtime. Iza and Foti thought that it was cool to fall asleep by candlelight so they went to bed without much coaxing. Alexandra, on the other hand, wasn't letting us out of her sight. So, she fell asleep on the couch with Gigi.
Kosta and I decided to go out on the balcony to see if anyone else had power. It seems that everyone in the surrounding area had it except for our little neighborhood. I took some pictures of the moon since the sky was so gorgeous after the storm.
The flash from my camera drew our neighbors outside. They suggested that we join them for a glass of wine on their porch. What a great idea, but we had our kids sleeping in the house and we couldn't leave them. Their house isn't that close to ours either. "Achh-Seri...den birazi...ela atho"... ("Achh! doesn't matter...come over!") Well, yes, it does matter and thank you for the offer! We both declined. Besides, Kosta was waiting anxiously for the power to go back on so that he could get back to work. That brings me to his phone call to DEH.
After three hours without power we decided to call the power company, DEH, to see if we could be given an estimated time for the power to be restored. Well, since our home phones don't work without power he used his cell phone to call. He called an "emergency" number, the only number available for us to get in touch with anyone at DEH at that time of night.
Before Kosta could say anything the man that answered the phone started yelling at him. Here's how the exchange unfolded:

K: "Hi, I'm calling because our power went out a few hours...(interrupted by yelling man)

DEH: " You can't use this number, you're not calling from a land line!"

K: "That's because my land line doesn't work without power..."

DEH: " I don't care, you can't call from a mobile...go to a periptoro!" (periptoros are stands on corners and elsewhere that sell newspapers, magazines, cigarettes...etc. It's like a convenience store.)

K: (getting very irritated)" Listen to me, I don't have a land line that works and I'm nowhere near a periptoro! Are you going to help me?"

DEH: (shouting so loud I heard every word clearly from the other side of the room)"I can't help you!" Click.

The guy hung up.

After a few choice words in both Greek and English Kosta hit redial.

The same man answered.

K: "Was I just talking to you?"

DEH: (yelling) "Yes! You can't use this number!"

K: "What's your boss's name and number?!"

DEH: "I'm the boss!"

K: "No! (now yelling) I want the name of the person that will be there in the morning!!"

The man at DEH shouted two names, his and his superior's and hung up.

After that, Kosta just vented his frustration and then we started laughing about how ridiculous the man's behavior was. If we really couldn't call that number then why was it working? And, if the man wasn't crazy and actually spoke to Kosta instead of shouting at him, things could've been a lot different. So, let's say that we couldn't use the number because their system tracks where the calls are coming in by phone numbers...that can be explained in a civil manner with understanding. But, the man was a beast. That's how most things work here. A lot of yelling and screaming for no good cause. At this point we can only laugh. It's time for DEH to invest in an automated answering system.

So, I went to bed shortly after midnight. Apparently, the power was restored at around 4:00 am. The next day we heard that one of the utility poles was damaged by the storm. So, that was that.

Finally, we've lost a lot of apples and peaches due to the high winds. We had a full peach tree before last Sunday and as of Wednesday there were only about 10 left on the tree. I went out and tried to salvage what I could from the ground but there weren't too many left untouched by the birds or insects. I guess if you snooze you lose! :(

Since last week it's been windy and cool. The temperature during most days has been in the high 60's. We've had our fireplace burning since we haven't ordered diesel for the boiler yet. It's been refreshing. We've been wearing our socks and slippers and I've been forced to dig out the kids' fall clothes, something I just wasn't prepared for. Oh, wait, back to slippers...the kids are wearing theirs and I've been wearing just socks because Gigi takes mine outside all of the time. For almost a week I've been asking myself out loud, "where's my other slipper?" I hadn't been able to locate the other one until late last week. It appears that Gigi has found a new spot to hide our things...under the bushes that line the driveway. Here's my missing slipper. Cold, wet, muddy and alone...under a bush.

I personally like the leaves that have gathered inside.
Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September Rain

The rain has been in the forecast for a few days and we've been anxiously waiting for its arrival. I didn't water the garden for two days in anticipation. Yesterday, we stayed in all day as the clouds seemed to drift past us. We heard rumbles of thunder in the distance and the strong winds cooled us all day. Finally, our storm arrived during the early evening. As it hasn't rained here in well over one month we were all giddy when it finally started pouring down. Although this is the beginning of a long, wet winter we welcome the rain.

After the storm passed we dug out our long sleeved pajamas and the kids cuddled on the couch. I made a hearty dinner that included pork schnitzel and white rice, a meal that was a little too heavy to eat in the heat of summer. Autumn is one of may favorite seasons in Wisconsin and yesterday's storm brought a coolness that reminded me of home...I'm loving it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bee in Flower

It's been a while since I've posted pictures of flowers and other things around home. As the weather is cooling a bit I enjoy being outside so I'm starting to stop and notice the little things once again .

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Garden gate...

Here's a gate on the property that we never use. I think that the vines curled around it with their orange flowers are beautiful.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Alexandra's Birthday

Well, our baby is now 2 years old and I can't believe it. Her birthday and name day landed on a Saturday this year so we had a party that evening. The weather wasn't bad. It was still hot but there was a very comfortable wind. It was definitely a wind, not a breeze. But anyway I had expected around thirty people to show up and only four did. A few weddings, an illness, a very pregnant woman and a couple on vacation were all very legitimate reasons for missing Alexandra's celebration. We had a great time nevertheless.

We had a great variety of foods. Here's the a picture of the table. I took it after we started to eat so things got a little messy.
I used my last can of gandules that I brought with me from home for this very special day. No celebration in my family would be complete without arroz con gandules-or as we refer to it as "the rice". It's missing a few key ingredients that I don't have available right now but it was still acceptable. I'm missing fresh cilantro and alcaparrado. Here's the pot of rice...

I need my husband to buy me new a caldero...the best Puerto Rican rice is always cooked in a caldero. I remember the calderos that belonged to all of my female relatives were always on the stove top...never taken from their position for family gatherings. The rice is in the know where to get it. Always. To this day, I can visit an aunt of mine and she doesn't serve us, she just says "there are plates on the counter and you know where the food is". I really miss that and I really miss my mom's rice-the rice of all rice. I never mentioned it, but last year my mom sent some of her rice home with Kosta and we were able to enjoy it here. She made it the night before he left and filled a gallon sized Ziploc bag...(double bagged) and we ate rice for two days. (Kosta traveled in the winter so heat wasn't an issue-the rice was safe)The kids were so excited and so was I.

Back to the party-

I also made guacamole...
This was the hit of the night! Everyone had their fair share and if I would have made more it would have been devoured. Even MIL loved it. We've turned her on to Mexican food so she's had this before and really enjoys it. This recipe was inspired by our trip to Puerto Vallarta when I was just 6 weeks pregnant with Izabella. The waiter at a local restaurant made the guacamole fresh at the table so I watched carefully as he assembled our order. Here's the recipe for Saturday's guacamole. (I change the recipe all of the time).

Saturday's guacamole

4 large ripe avocados
1 small onion-diced
1 small tomato-diced
1 lime
1 tsp dried cilantro
Salt to taste

Mash the avocados in a bowl using a fork. After you have a smooth/lumpy consistency add the onions and tomato. Mix to combine the ingredients. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice of the lime into the mixture. Add the salt. Add the cilantro. Mix and let stand for at least ten minutes.

That's it-it's that simple. But again, a handful of fresh cilantro(chopped) is preferred so if you have it use that instead of dried cilantro. It makes a world of difference.

After we ate there was an evening walk in our "woods". With nothing more than a flashlight and the light of my video camera we took a dark, almost scary walk through our olive trees. The kids loved it! I had fun too, I just didn't like pulling all of the burs from my skirt afterward. So, after our walk we cut the cake. As I was scooping ice cream onto a plate with the cake my koubara's daughter asked, " we get ice cream with our cake?" I said, " of course you do, it wouldn't be a birthday without ice cream & cake served on a plate together". In Greece, typically, ice cream is only eaten in the summer(which it technically is) and on its own. So, little Irene was thrilled to have both ice cream and cake on her plate. Her brother, Nick, was so thrilled he ate 2 servings of ice cream. Everyone had so much fun.