Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm Home.. Sorta

Hello All.
It's been a minute since you have heard from me and a lot has happened in the last two weeks. I have "finished" up with my job in Switzerland, did some canyoning, some Euro Cup (Holland vs. Russia) madness, and am offically done and back home.

Almost. I stopped off in Fort Walton Beach Florida with my dear friends Ashley Deana, Deb and Anne et. atl. It's been awesome being back home and I only have a little bit of culture shock. (America... please eat better....seriously.) But I am very happy to be home. I was a little sad to leave all of my new friends on the one side, but they have their own gigs there and life will go on as before. I am in a strange place at this time. I feel elated to be back in the states but I have no clue what is next. My house group is in turmoil and likely is dissolved. Several babies have been born in my absence, making me wonder if I need to do a "baby tour 2008" I mean seriously (Bethels, Murphys, Murphys, Wackers, Fabbianos, McKinleys, two of my cousins on my dad's side, one on my mom's and I could keep going but I wont...). Engagements, new relationships, etc. In my gaining a lot, I have missed a lot as well. I feel like a foreign exchange student. I haven't seen an American commercial on Amerian TV in a looong time. Or eaten Peanut butter in a looooong time.

Plenty of time for catching up with all of that.

Life should return to normal. I have decided that I want normal to be the "non-bitter" version of normal. I left my "bitter bags" in Europe. I am done being angry. Maybe because I am done being in Europe, so that would seem easy, but maybe it is just that easy.

I am home. I am happy. I have no idea what my future holds and it's ok. Job, Church, Life? No clue. No clue except that I need to cling to God more. I need to get into scripture more and I needed to balance my work life and home life and fitness life better.

A few pictures for you. Liz came and visited for Canyoning and EuroCup craziness. Thanks Liz for a great time in helping me overcome my fear of falling off a sheer rock cliff backwards... er... I mean rappelling. Note one of the sand sculptures we did in Florida! Woo hoo. I'm only a little bit my eyeballs. Thanks D, Ash, Deb and Annie for meeting me at the airport with no expectations.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Monday, June 09, 2008

Play me a nice game of Orange?

This is Tami again. She and I went to Spain. We crashed her college buddy Matt's family vacation. Sooo glad we did....Spain gets my award for best culture.Madrid is sparkling and clean. Sapphire blue skies may have played tricks on us. We thought we were in Disneyland a lot of the time. LOOK, the Prettiest church I've EVER been in!! (yes EVER). Ceilings of brilliant color. JOY. In a big old church. Nuestra Senora de Aldamuna (Our lady of the somethin or other?). Gorgeous, brillliant, festive... drool.
The Spanish are not afraid of color, or Ham. Ham is a specialty in Spain, (and on this blog) as evidenced by the fact that the ONLY types of Pringles they sell are ... 'Jamon' flavored? We didn't try them.

Segovia is a day trip outside of Mardrid. It was also Disney-esque and painfully blue-skied. We toured a cathedral, a castle, 2000 year old roman aqueduct and ate the best suckling pig in Spain.

That IS a curly tail that you are seeing.A dance festival in Segovia. Girls with castanets in red and black dresses, boys with wooden sticks.

Flamenco dancing. Passionate, Firey, Sweaty and Stomp-y. I thought they would put holes in the stage, and I was a little frightened at times, but they were gorgeous. Smoldery, Dark and sombre, haunting and just completely into character. This culture is not messin' around. They dance like they mean it and they sing and play the Spanish guitars like they mean it...and they fight Bulls to relax:
My high school Spanish culture lessons paid off here... above the Banderillo (member of the Matador's "cuadrilla") and El Matador, below. "Matador" means "Insane" and "Not a member of PETA"
Also to relax...they drink wine and have Tapas. So when in Spain...
We went on a walking tapas tour with a crazy English/Irish genlteman as our guide who called himself 'The Chairman' as in the Chaiman of the Wellington society, which he created after he decided not to be a college prof anymore. I'm not sure what it is. But I am a member now. He was really not all about history, but more about showing the six of us a good time and telling funny and memorable stories, so it was a nice insiders look into Madrid.

I tried to order and get around in Spainish, I found myself understanding a lot of words, but not being able to arrange mine in any sensible order. Some mis-"que's" if you will...

1. I think I asked a waiter if he would "Buy us" when I asked for the check.

2. I called another waiter fat.

3. I basically ordered a game of orange juice. (In Mexico this would have been correct usage of the word, para no en Espana!)

Must hunker down and get work done now. Time is running out.

I am not special. A good friend tells me. It is good to hear.

I am just me.

Bueno. and Muchas Gracias mi amigo de Allemania. Gracias for piles of rubbish as the backdrop for life-giving conversations!

Two weeks more.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Italy, Baby!

Since I am coming HOME in JUNE (that's right folks... European jaunting will be over for me soon). I am taking the remaining weekends I have here to soak in all things European. This past weekend: ITALY!

We left a rainy Basel on Friday night and did one of those sleeper cars all night long thru Bern, Bolongna, to where the heck, Parma (it's where they make the 'sean cheese), to La Spezia where we finally stayed and explored. We did Cinque Terre. ("Chink-wah Tara" for you, Dad.) It stands for the Five cities. It was a seriously (I can't think of new words to describe it...) BEAUTIFUL place. We started in the first town and walked to the second one along the river. Being ever adventurous and not girly-girls in the least... we hiked the high path up to the mountains and down to the next villiage, it took us about three hours to do this leg (and I saw a SNAKE. Yes it was totally a snake and I DID NOT faint...what was I saying? Not girly at ALL, ahem. Yeah..)

Between the first two cities. We were only about 400m above sea level, but we felt like it should count for more since we actually STARTED climing at sea level. I think that counts for something... right?

We came back down to sea level and dipped our feed in the "Med"which is I how the hoi polloi refer to it. But I am not so very chic. Clearly...
We then took a bus and another train to the remaining two cities and bought some tasty wines and some local artwork from Oliver, the lovely Croatian painter man. He paints squiggly versions of the cities in brilliant colors. We had dinner at a nice restaurant, the people in Italy are MUCH friendlier than the Swiss. However, the trains are cleaner and they actually run the whole time... so there are trade offs.
From Cinque Terre, we made our way to Pisa and Florence. We hadn't necessarily planned to, but there was an Italian train strike, so we adjusted and hit the high points. And almost missed two trains.
Being in the same room as the statue of the David again made me all tears. I did get a little choked up the first time I saw him. It's just surreal. He is 500cm tall...that's way bigger than you think.
Duomo in Florence. Firenza, rather. I think by far my favorite Italian city. We checked out the leather and textile markets and probably spent way to much on purses and scarves, but it was fun to "bargain" with the groping Italians. (!). Ok, to be honest I was a little violated by Guido, but I think I got a deal. (On the purse...)

Tami is pushing the tower over on me...she made me stand in the distance so she would look fierce. I don't think she looks fierce.
I love nerds too. These bottles are (R) empty, and (L) not opened.

Being on a train for two of the last three nights made me INCREDIBLY tired... but good tired. We met all these "tourists" on the trains, mostly Americans and we felt all cool and "local". Geez. We are dorks.

How will I come back to normal life after this? I have no idea what normal is anymore.
Spoiled Rotten,