Sunday, June 24, 2007

Week Three (Ken)

A few days after we returned, my friend, Alison, called to see if I was availabel to play a show at Theater on the Hill in Westminster, Maryland--"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." I gratefully accepted.

One of the things I really missed about being in Buenos Aires was that I didn't get a chance to play any music--I tried, there just was no opportunity. So this was great. Here I am in the orchestra pit at McDaniel College (glamorous huh?).

I was cleaning up the yard and had a little campfire.

Here is the site I am preparing to build my parrilla.

I am still feeling a bit out of sorts about being home--it's like I am neither here nor there. I am glad to be home, but someting is not quite right.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

News from our backyard (Ken)

We have been home for two weeks now. There is still a lot of work to do to get the house and yard (and Cars) back in shape.

The cherry tree out front gave us more than enough cherries for Helen adn Leah to make their annual grandmother/granddaughter cherry pie.

Both cars have been int he shop this week. Helen';s for a oil problem and mine for brakes. It makes me miss the colectivos and subways.

The strawberry patch we put in last year has begun producing. And the blueberries will begin to ripen in about two more weeks. We always have enough in time to bring a blueberry pie to our friend's house for a 4th of July party.

I rented a tiller and got the vegetable garden back in shape. We are little late, but I think we can still get some tomatoes and zuccini by Labor Day. The good part is that the little plants are on sale, so I got two-for-one.

There has been some interesting wild life in the backyard. I spotted tis red shouldered hawk sitting on a sheperd's hook taking a look at my fish pond. I looked him up in the bird book and fish are not part of his diet, so I won't worry about him too much.

I was happy to see the Northern Bluebirds in the yard. They have been in deline in recent years. Many people (including me) put up bluebird boxes and they seem to be recovering.

Friday, June 01, 2007

First week back (Ken)

We arrived in the USA one week ago today. It has been a much easier transition back than I thought it would be. There is a lot a spring cleaning to do around the house since we were not here for the spring to do it. I still have to file my taxes—but that is another story.

I have been driving again for the first time in over 5 months. I noticed that it was not an adjustment at all. I am, however, surprised at hoe I immediately got aggravated at the other drivers. When I was in BA and taking colectivos everywhere, I never got aggravated at the other drivers. If we sat in traffic, I assumed that there was a good reason. I gave all the responsibility for getting from A to B to the colectivo driver. But here, in my own little pick-up truck, I get impatient if someone takes too long to make a turn or drives too slowly in the left lane.

I see restaurants are differently now. Since we had no food in the house when we got home, and because both of our daughters work in restaurants, we have been to several restaurants in the fist week. What I like about Buenos Aires restaurants is that the mozos are available but not ever-present. I met a friend for lunch Friday and we were greeted by a hostess who lead us to our table—rather than seating ourselves wherever we wished. The waitress took our drink orders and gave us menus. She was back in two minutes, “Have you decided?” she asked. “Decided!” I replied; I haven’t even considered.”

After ordering and the food arriving, she was back every five minutes inquiring if we needed anything else. She brought the check without being asked. At a breakfast restaurant the other day, the waiter was so overly familiar, that I thought he was auditioning to be a part of the family. I miss the Argentine “I am over here if you want me” style of service.

I have been to work a few times, and I already feel like people have a list of projects with me included. I really don’t have to be back at work until the end of August, but I am already feeling that pull to get back there and involved.

Tomorrow, Helen and I start Spanish classes again. We will go two days a week for four hours a day. We are afraid that if we don’t keep studying—we’ll lose all that we learned. It will be interesting to see the difference in teaching Spanish here from UBA.

We went to a neighborhood party Saturday. Everyone was asking, “Did you have a great time?” Well, it’s not like we can answer that question in 10 seconds over the steamed shrimp platter. Helen came up with the perfect answer: “It was like any other five-month period of your life. There were good days and bad days. Some time it was fascinating, sometimes frustrating. We didn’t go there to be on vacation; we went there to live.”

While it is good to be home, there are things and people I miss about Buenos Aires: morning coffee at Balcarce, an afternoon beer at El Alamo, long walks through the city. It is so quiet here at my house. I welcome the rest and ease, (and the streets are really clean here) but I think I will soon miss some of the excitement.

Leah (Ken)

It was Field Day at our granddaughter, Leah's, elementary school yesterday. Our daughter, Kristin, Leah's mom, was starting a new job, so Leah stayed the previous night with us. I took her to school that morning.

Helen and I went back to the school and sat with Leah during lunch. I stayed and volunteered to help run the Field Day for the kids.

It was really hot here yesterday--today as well--with temperatures well into the 90s and high humidity. The kids were all well behaved and had a good time. The litle girl next to Leah, in the second picture is Alexandra. Surprisingly, her parents are from Argentina.

One thing I liked about Argentine schools was the "uniform." I thought it was brilliant that all the kids wore lab jakets. They could wear whatever they wanted under them--but they had to wear the lab jacket.

(We are always having discussion here in the USA about school uniforms. As far as I am concerned, Argentina has that one already figured out.)

In another three weeks, Leah goes to spend the summer in Oregon with her father, and we won't see her again until the end of August. So we are spending as much time with her as we can. She'll spend this weekend with us.

She is almost seven now and growing up very fast. But, at least for now, she is very sweet and likes spending time with us. So, we'll take advantage of these days.