Friday, February 27, 2015

Foodie Friday~ Does Not Include Chopsticks

I'm kind of cheating for today's Foodie Friday. Cheating because this one doesn't involve pots or pans. Not even any heat. Unless you are sitting by a fire while eating. 

Chips! Chips are one of the funnest ways to experience a foreign country. We Americans have our favorites. Is your weakness BBQ Pringles? Are you defenseless against Nacho Cheese Doritos, as I am? Or, are you like Morgan and just want a potato chip to taste like a potato chip? 

If you think about America's chip history, though, it's only recently that we've wandered down the chip aisle and have had to face new and intimidating flavors. Dill pickle. Loved it. Garlic cheesy bread. May have won a million dollars for the person who suggested it, but was not a particular winner in my house. Chicken and waffles. Never bought a bag ever again. Tomato ketchup. I wasn't brave enough! I know. Shameful. 

In England they call chips crisps. In England, they have an assortment of flavors and shapes that will cause any meat-n-potato picky eater to shake in their muck covered boots.

I lived in England for four years during my adolescent years. I fell in love with the prawn cocktail flavor. I went back to visit as an adult and fell in love with the Worcestershire sauce flavor. 

Now, anytime I know someone going to England, I demand that they bring me back some crisps. One such someone was my friend, Dallas. She dragged her hubby to the source of our Anglo-philia and tenderly carried back a little bag of Worcestire flavored crisps. Just for me. 

That was the beginning of our chips-of-a-different-flavor exchange. 

Now, I introduce to you the little bag she introduced to me this week. 

Wasabi. Ginger. Kettle cooked. 

I shall describe it to you. 

Chinese food in bag. 

I love wasabi. I love ginger. I love Chinese food. 

To be honest. It is a strange sensation to start off eating a bag of chips and end up feeling like you just left the Zheng Zheng Garden. 

Give them a try. Tell us if you like them. If you hate them, let me make restitution by suggesting the Garden Tomato Basil flavor. They are ALmost exactly like the Worcestershire. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Our New House

I say house because it isn't quite home yet. We still need a real dining table and chairs. I haven't found all my kitchen boxes yet. 

Some of us are still living out of suitcases. 

In this picture you can see the stove is missing. Jake got it installed today. Our first meal? Is embarrassing to admit! Van de Kamp fish and mac-n-cheese. Seems both our mothers used to fall back on that one when we were little. 

I'm refusing to get rid of my boxes just in case this moving thing happens again. They won't mind sitting in storage. 

We got Porter's art desk set up and bought him some oil paints.  

He and I both picked a painting to copy. 

We bought one side of a three bedroom, two bath duplex. Brand new construction. The other side is only partially constructed and we hope to buy it, as well, to rent out. 

Beyond this, our goal is a house with land enough for the harsey. 

The girls love having their custom carved beds, and all their other stuff back in their space. 

And I have my piano back! Happy day! 

This was a really lousy tour of a really messy house, but I knew some of you would appreciate being kept up to date on our happenings. 

wElCOme hOMe

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

TED Talk Tuesday~ What kind of person tells you to stop learning?

I chose today's TED Talk because it opened up a conversation with my children about autism and spectrums and thinking and creating. Thinking and creating are built-ins that every human is endowed with. I hope that we will never avoid getting to know someone simply because they seem "weird", for every person has gems within them, but sometimes, the gems are hidden away and it is our loss if we do not take the time to search.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Foodie Friday~but it's really Monday.

Oh yeah! Tiana is back in the kitchen. It's not yet my own kitchen, but still! We have been temporarily driving grandma and grandpa crazy while getting the papers signed on our own place. We all gather for lunch, and it is great to again be able to find all our old favorites in the grocery store!

If you've ever wondered how to cook Brussels sprouts or have had them and hated them, give this a try. Olive oil, garlic slivers, Brussels sprouts cleaned up and quartered. 
Brown them a little on med. high, stirring frequently. Then, turn the heat down, add butter, salt and pepper, and cook covered until tender. 

Here's my selfish cake hot out of the oven. 
Creamy chicken...
...served over rice. 
Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

TED Talk Tuesday~ bUILD a sCHOOL iN tHE cLOUD

The Victorians created a global computer. This man asked the question, "What did the poor do wrong?" then, he touched the lives of children through a hole in the wall. I hope you enjoy this talk as much as we did.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ayuda Para I Komunidat

Help For The Community

The Americorp program on Guam sponsors college students to help them sustain themselves by offering service opportunities in trade for different kinds of sustenance. One of my first weekends here on Guam, Judy invited me, and any of the children, to help on a service project in Inarajan.

It was 90 degrees.
At first, Kiki, Porter, and I put up a Christmas tree and lights on the balcony of the old house Judy has been fixing up. Then, I had to drive the tiny pick-up down to the "flower house" which is the building pictured above. The entire front of this was completely covered with bougainvillea, among other things. These guys worked so hard. They had to cut the branches, load the branches in the truck (I helped with this!), and put up boards across the openings.

Not only was the heat miserable, but the branches had huge thorns which threatened any kind of zorrie and even some shoes. These guys were so smart. They took a couple of long, thick branches and laid  them down parallel on the ground and then place the rest of the cuttings across them. Then, they just picked up the long branches to lift the whole thing into the truck.

When the truck was loaded, and they PACKED it, Judy drove with me shotgun and two of the guys in back. We dumped it in a jungle where some political figure had given her permission to dump it. Well, Judy and I didn't dump it. The muscles had to do that. Which they did by using "leverage".

For you quilters out there, are your favorite scissors Fiskars? Well, did you know they make machetes. Oh yeaaaah. If you're going to live on an island, you gotta have a machete.
A couple of people were asked to clean out a cupboard under the stairs. NO, not for a boy to live under. This closet was not a good place. Decades of stuff was discovered including this wig. Someone actually asked to keep it. To sell. On Ebay. That is the world we live in, folks. Who knows how old this thing is.

The closet is nice and clean now.
This is Judy's building. I say it's Judy's but she actually just has an arrangement with the owners. They keep the building and she fixes it up. Who could turn that down, right? The great news is, the owners just recently agreed to sell to the Guam Preservation Trust, which means that the building will be restored completely as a museum/retail space downstairs, and a vacation rental space upstairs.
Judy made the inside a museum.
Then, she spent  days, weeks and months to get a two daggan kitchen to pass inspection so she could open a Hotnu, which means oven. Two daggan means two butt, but if it's a big butt, then it's pretty much uno.

This is the hotnu cleaned out.
Neighborhood kids started coming around. They would ask "How much?" for the pizza and rolls that Baker Tony would make. Then, the boys would go home and not return. Judy figured they probably didn't have enough money. So, she came up with a workshare type of system for kids, which also collaborated with school.

Every weekend, the boys will gather bamboo to bring to the hotnu and get it ready for baking. They are so respectful and helpful, and they have it all down to a very efficient routine.

The bamboo gets pushed to the back. The goods are baked in the front.
This rock sits in front of the store. It is called a lusong. It's a grinding stone which Chamorro people would use to remove the hull off of rice or to grind food. Two or four people would hold long-handled wooden pestles and pound in rhythm using the old counting system: hacha, hugua, tulu, fat-fat. Most unusual names...

This is the back side of the building. When I first came here, those doors were not there. Those were just openings, which left the building vulnerable to man and to sea. The doors had been sitting in storage for many, many moons, and now look! Put to good use, and looks like it belongs, no?

When you go up the stairs and in the side door this is what you see. The floor used to go all the way across but it was damaged by water and collapsed. Before Judy got her hands and heart on the building, there had been squatters living in there. They would throw garbage down in the hole. Squalid living. The contractor had his men sort through the garbage to separate anything that could be put to use. Can you imagine??? Gack. As Judy said, "There were hundreds of pampers down there."
Eventually, Judy would like to put a wall around this open space, possibly with some windows that look down to below.
We are very grateful to those who endured the nasty job of cleaning this out. Even if they did it because they were getting paid, it could not have been enough compensation for such an experience.
Old chandelier.

The father of this family had this desk made especially for his family. It is a very dense, heavy wood. The drawers are quite deep and each of his twelve children had their own personal "space" in these drawers. In a family this big, in a space this small, that is a touching sentiment. 

These are more old doors that Judy had in storage. You can see what the termites have done.
The family had a store downstairs with a long counter like a soda fountain.
At one time, it was also a bakery.
If you are living on Guam, and would like to take a beautiful drive to the south side of the island, what better reason than for fresh baked bread??? You can visit the museum and bakery every Saturday and Sunday until about 2 pm. Currently, it's only $5 for a pan of fresh baked, fluffy rolls, or $10 for a pizza. All made by hand by Baker Tony.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My Final Week in Guam

My final week on Guam, I made "dates" with people for one last hoorah. Sam-Apu, you and Cynthia owe me a lunch date!
I asked my Auntie Connie if her work let her escape for lunch and then I made her pick the place because she lives here and I knew she would pick a good place. Then, she gave me great directions, which I only messed up one time. Yay!

We had such a fun time talking and eating. She related many funny stories. One involved my mother visiting her at work. As mom left, she passed a bunch of guys who made some references, in Chamorro, about her. How shocked those guys were when she responded to them in Chamorro!

We went to a Chinese restaurant with a $5 lunch special. We ordered the beef broccoli and walnut shrimp. For $5, you could buy approximately 1/6th of a 4lb roast, or one bunch of broccoli. Sometimes, it's actually cheaper to eat out than to make certain foods here!

The shrimp was tempura fried with a white sauce of some kind. It was all very tasty.

I'm glad for the time I was able to spend getting to know my Auntie Connie a little better.

This hot sauce is made from locally grown hot peppers. The Chamorro word is doni, sounding like "don't eat". Morgan laughed at that and hypothesized that some mom probably named it that because she didn't want her kids to eat it. Well, I'm certain most kids wouldn't want to eat it.

I love this stuff!

Thanks for lunch, Auntie Connie!

I was so happy we were able to stay through the weekend so that I could be here for Kate's dad's baptism. It was so amazing. Her husband, Doug, baptized him, and when they stepped down into the water and Doug held his hand up to use the authority of the priesthood to baptize his father-in-law, tears welled up in my eyes because I could feel the Spirit there.

I knew that right at that moment there was a hand in heaven adding Ken's name to the records of God's Kingdom. So many more eternal blessings are in store for this entire family!

I love you guys!

What is up with Harrison's tie???? They were doing a great job of waiting reverently.

The Hagues graciously invited us over for one last dinner. Kate and the kids threw together delicious homemade pizzas, including one with a flourless crust which was actually really yummy.

We had to be out of our condo on Saturday, so on our last night I forced the boys to go for a night swim with me.

Morgan was very mad because we had to "move" again.

Our last two nights we camped out at Auntie Judy's place where the boys continued their Harry Potter marathon. It was nice to have the time with Judy and Sam's family. Without them, I could never have gotten my condo cleared out. Thanks SO much, guys!

And all you "extra" guys with the muscle!

Having to drive from Inarajan to make our early flight, we left at 4:30 am. I had the kids already in their clothes the night before. All they had to do was brush their teeth and put on their shoes. It was dark and rainy, so I didn't get to see the beautiful blues of the ocean or the amazing green of the land.

All went well with our flight from GUM to HNL, but in Honolulu our plane was broken! They said they had another plane, but that one was also broken! So, they planned to take parts from one plane to fix the other. Thankfully, they had not boarded us, they kept us at the gate where we were free to move around.

I had electronic devices to keep the boys occupied, but after I did my own "workout" using the stairs and such, I came up with a dastardly good plan to get the boys to move their bodies. I walked over to them and said, "Hey, do you guys wanna go up the down escalator?" They couldn't believe what I had said and made me repeat it. When they believed that I was serious, they were like, "Yeah!" So, they had a good 30 minutes of playing on the escalators.

After four hours of updates about how they were making zero progress, they finally cancelled our flight and we all had to go downstairs and be rebooked for the next day as well as issued hotel and meal vouchers. By this time, our biological clock was getting into the late evening.

As I inched my way along the line, I amused myself by talking with the Canadian-French couple in front of me. That was fun. They had a good sense of humor and a great French accent. I was surprised to learn that their first language was French, yet they had grown up in Canada. Apparently, Quebec is the only province in Canada which has French as the main language. Who knew!?!

I also would move my two-boys from one sitting place to another by doing a soft whistle and directing them to the next "spot". Mr. Quebec really got a kick out of this, remarking that it was like calling a dog. I said no, not like a dog, but it prevents me having to yell their names. They were impressed by how well behaved the boys were.

We went down one more floor to gather our monstrous baggage collection, went out the exit doors to shove ourselves into a shuttle, and had 3-1/2 hours in the hotel. I decided not to even try and sleep. The shower was what I was really after. Morgan was acting like a hyper active kid, but Harris fell asleep. For which, I was sorry because I had to wake him to do the shuttle again. And the counter/baggage checking again. At our gate, I held him in my lap and he fell asleep for the half hour we waited to board. Poor kid- up again, please- onto the plane where you can sleep for hours. Which he did. They both did. I... was not blessed to be able to sleep sitting up.

One plus about the cancelled flight (besides the SHOWeR!) was that they rerouted us through SFO instead of Houston. But, in San Francisco we had four more hours to wait around. I had been more than 30 hours without sleep by then. I did manage to doze off sitting on the bench. Why did they put armrests!?!

When there was only 15 minutes till boarding, I began to wonder why they weren't making announcements. So, I walked over to the desk and saw that the screen did not show our flight! I showed my boarding pass to the lady behind the counter and asked where we were supposed to be. She said, "Here.", but checked the computer and found that NO, the gate had been changed. Good grief.

So, we hustled like Chris (Will Smith's character) in The Pursuit of Happiness when he's trying to get himself and his kid to the homeless shelter before they close. We made it to gate 73 to discover that they, TOO, were experiencing mechanical difficulties and were anticipating a delay of 30 minutes. My stomach plummeted with the previous night's experience fresh in my mind and in my feet. I prayed dearly. I bought hot cocoa for the boys and Chinese noodles for myself. I almost jumped for joy when the dude announced that we would, indeed, be boarding and getting the crap out of San Francisco.

Here's the tiny plane. The boys loved being able to see the cockpit as we approached the door. On this flight's descent, the plane shook just like a giant's kid was throwing a tantrum with us in his hand. A big, beefy, tattooed kid two seats forward jumped and gripped the armrest for dear life. I guess he was a nervous flyer.

Poor Harry looked up at me with his little face full of fear. I place my arm across him and held onto the armrest just in case he would get jerked forward. I placed my other arm on the seat in front of me just in case I would get jerked forward. I very encouragingly told him, "It's fine, no worries."

The man behind me said, "It's all in Jesus's hands now." His little girl was crying and wanted to close the window, but her dad wouldn't let her. She then related to that as the "foggy part" being very scary.

Mookie did not even know we had experienced turbulence. He had been folded in half sleeping and did sit up, but I guess he never actually woke up. He was behind us one row, across the aisle, in the window seat. The man next to him was not concerned at all. Obviously, we didn't die a horrible death smashing into the ground somewhere near Salt Lake City. Once we left "the fog" all was well.

We piled our lives and ourselves into the Rover with Jake and drove through the dark cold to the hotel. The next morning, we came out to this. Snow covered mountains. Bare trees. Crisp cool air. Brown grass.

We then went shopping.

I'm 42 and I just bought my first car.

Yeah, I was giddy like a little kid.

Here was the view coming up over the south end of Star Valley.

It feels great to be back. It feels to me like we never left.

What lies ahead? Who knows!? I'm sure it will be exciting, though.