Thursday, September 30, 2010

Organized Chaos

I know this looks like chaos... but its my chaos and within the chaos there is actually organization. Its my typical mission trip packing ritual. I hardly have that much stuff that I bring with me for my own personal use -- its usually jars of peanut butter, chocolate chip cookie mix, ranch dressing, ziploc bags -- you name it, whatever can't be gotten in other countries (you wouldn't believe the list) I come to the rescue. My friends usually start giving me their list a month or two before I visit and then I start shopping and just dispense all the goodies in one area. Then, the week I leave, I pull out my good old trusty suitcases that I use specifically for these trips (the spotted leopard bag and BIG Blue -- bought especially for lots of stuff!). I scatter everthing I have to pack around and then I begin putting things in bags like they were puzzle pieces.

Once I get everything into the bags, I take the old trusty scale, fearfully step on (as I don't usually weigh myself, I'm always horrified to see what the poundage is up to with me... I'm actually a lot heavier than most would think :)) and then I grab a bag and step back up and for about 3 minutes, mom and I play this game where I'm ready to die and she rounds the scale everywhich way trying to read it. I must admit, the virtue of patience is not present at these moments... Its hard to hold a 70 lb bag while someone else changes their "answer" every 3 seconds. Ugh! But - once the weight is determined, I start the whittling and rearranging process.

Tonight, I finished Leopard and Big Blue was about 10 pounds over, so now I need to see what I can transfer over to my bag once I finish packing it up tomorrow.

The moment I get to the airport and step into line, I always wait with baited breath to see if we had the correct weight on the bags. I always hate it when the bag is like 65 lbs as I always think of what else I could have put in with that spare 5 lbs.

We'll see where I'm at tomorrow! Stay tuned for what all my little bags look like once they're stuffed and ready to go!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lost And Found - Just In Time

I have about 30 umbrellas. I have around 3 raincoats. I currently have 4 cameras.

These are not just statistics of my possessions - these are indicators of my memory and my laissez-faire attitude (I sadly own up to this flaw...:)). I am always misplacing things and then, in consequence, am just going out and buying new replacements. Everytime I travel, I lose an umbrella, shrug and then buy a new one. My cameras, I live with them, but yet, I can frequently misplace them and because I need them often for work, I once again shrug and go and buy a new one. I will admit, though, that I always keep on looking for the old ones and, when they are finally found, I end up giving one to someone who needs it. Silly me because I end up needing another camera again so the cycle repeats.

So, my story is that, ever since last year's trip to Budapest, I couldn't find my little mini Olympus camera so I always ended up toting around my big old Kodak camera with the big lens and all. A good camera, just bulky. I had bought a new little Fuji camera, but I just never liked the way the pictures looked.

As Jodi and I are going to take a little side trip on a hiking trail, I really wanted my small camera. I'm working through my packing process and so one of the things I had kept my eye out for was my wonderful little Olympus. Last night, I was just praying that I really really wanted to find that camera and - wouldn't you know, almost a year later, I looked through one of my desktop organizers and BINGO! Found it!

The funny thing is, I really could have sworn that I had gotten all my pictures downloaded from last year, but the Olympus had a card on it with pictures I had never gotten.

So - I thought I'd share a few picts that were lost but, now are found!

I was trying to do a "Day In the Life of Jodi" - this was her old apartment's kitchen...

Shopping at the market - I love it there because they get fresh stuff almost daily as they have these markets all over the place...

One of the last days I was in Budapest, Jodi and I went out to see the town... unfortunately, it was hard to see with all the fog. But, I did get some interesting picts!

This was actually on our trip to Krakow, Poland.

Jodi and I outside of Schindler's Factory Museum
This was Thanksgiving... piecing a turkey together through two HUGE legs and two MASSIVE turkey breasts.
And last - this was at the orphange in Romania. I won't have a chance to go this year, and I'll definitely miss seeing all those adorabel kids!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Time For Some New Books!

I'm so excited!

I had bought about 12 books when I was at the Strand in NY a while back, and I've bought a few books here and there since, but I finally have worked my way through them all -- and now, its time for some new books!

I've taken to listening to MPR as of late as it seems like I'm in the car all the time and all the rentals that I've gotten have been sans satellite and so I've had to rely on FM radio. MPR has been a God-send as I've driven some long distances.

On my drive from Grand Rapids, MN to Minneapolis, I was listening to an interview with this woman who reads books for a living! Can you imagine! Thats all she does -- she spends like 10 hours a day just reading because she HAS to! UGH! Dream job! She reads because she writes and she writes these books called "Booklust". They're books that just talk about some of the best reads out there. The whole program was reviewing books and letting people call in to talk about books. I had my daytimer and my pen by my side and I kept on jotting down book names.

I knew that I needed to get more books for Budapest for the flight there and also, I'm probably going to have a day or two of actually nothing to do after the project.

I ran out to Borders late last night and picked up the books that they had. As I've been totally hooked on Bill Bryson as of late, I had to grab the ones that they had that I've not read.... "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" and "A Walk in the Woods". Those will be easy breezy read and I always laugh the whole way through his stuff!

One book that I'm especially excited to read is called "Gertrude Bell Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations". I've honestly never heard of her before, but she was born in the 1800s and she actually helped to literally form the borders of Iraq and put its first King in place. She sounds like she had an amazing and full life and it intrigued me so much, I had to go out and grab it.

Of course, you can't put me next to a book and expect me to not pick it up, so I immediately went home last night and opened up the Gertrude Bell book.

A great start, but I think the sad thing that stuck with me as I worked through the introduction was a comment on Bell's spiritual life.

"At fifteen, she decided that the unprovable did not exist, and told her scripture teach so without prevarication." The text continues to talk about how gutsy she was in telling people her opinion, etc, and thats all admirable, but that first comment just stuck with me and made me so sad. Sad that someone who, from what I'm reading, is so vivacious and so smart, but had nothing else in her life except for what she did and who she was. When her life is written, you can talk about all her accomplishments, which seem to be great, but the sad thing is that I know that if she could talk about her life now - all the stuff she did would be insignificant because she came to a conclusion long ago that nulled the eternal portion of her life. She basically made her life on earth the only life that existed and the only life that mattered. I can't even explain how sad it makes me. I'm still very interested in finding out more about who she is, but I do admit that as I worked my way through the first few chapters, that sad fact just sat in the back of my head and I saw Gertrude Bell's like in a different way - all that she accomplished is only history and a story to tell and one day those stories and those accomplishments won't even matter anymore.

We'll see what books I finish while I'm on my trip! :) I know that once I get to Budapest, that first week will have almost NO spare time, we'll see what happens the second week!

P.S... If anyone has any good books to read - make a comment as I'm always up for a good read, and I know a lot of people who read my blog are also looking for good reads!

Time WIth the BFF

My schedule last week was C-R-A-Z-Y!

Monday - mom and Calvin drop me off at the airport.... Doesn't Cal look all relaxed and chilled out?!

My flight took me to Conneticut. I spent the night on Monday and then was up and working in Bridgeport and some other little Conneticute seaside town. I love the architecture out there and how its all so old... this was the gable of a school across the street from the hospital I was at. I don't think I've seen a roof like this in the midwest - sad....

After three hospital in Connecticut, I had to run back to the airport to fly back to Chicago so I could grab a flight over to Grand Rapids, MI (too short of a stay for any pictures there...). I worked two facilities and then had to go back to the airport to catch another flight back to Chicago in order to catch a flight for Minneapolis. I then grabbed a car and drove up to see my eternal BFF in Grand Rapids, MN.

We did have Thursday so I took Mel and Emily over to Duluth to this awesome little Norwegian restaurant there.

It was completely foggy as we drove and then we came up over a hill and it was still dark, but you could see Superior in the horizon below... Love seeing those Lakes!

Takk for Maten is this amazing restaurant that has this lefsa to die for and the Swedish pancakes and norwegian waffles are just the best ever! Coffee -- some of the best and these big old mugs!
We had an hour before we had to get back to G.R. to pick up Jack at school. Just enough time to hit a local strip of shops at this place called Fitger's, this German beer garden kind of place.

I can't believe how big Emily has gotten! I remember when they first got her and she was this little baby with no hair and used to climb out of her crib. She climbed out so much that this one time I was there -- maybe I shouldn't tell this (sorry Mel :)), we took a baby gate and strapped it to the top of the crib so that she couldn't get out. It was like a little baby hamster cage, minus the spinny wheel and the water bottle. She was a pretty funny little baby - and now she's almost taller than me :(

That Thursday gave me a nice little break and gave me some time to get some computer work done as its been really hard with as much as I've been gone. My laptop hasn't been holding a good charge so I get a little done on the plane and then we either have to land or I lose the charge.
May I take a minute to add that it will be SO nice to not have to check my e-mail everyday for the next few weeks! Although, I have to add, I know I will check it more than I should. Oh well, at least they all won't expect an immediate response!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Posting My Vacation Pictures Finally!

The first full day we had in Munising, MI at Pictured Rocks was terrifically windy and rainy. One woman who was from Munising said that these were some of the biggest waves she's seen. They were up to 15-20 feet! Crazy and windy!

A little wind surfing in our rain coats!
This puppy made me miss my dog! A little too fuzzy, but he was still an airedale!
We took a little hike down to the beach to see the waves up close...
There are a lot of rivers flowing down to the lake. Most of them are this lovely brown look from all the copper in the area. Most of the mines are closed down now, but it doesn't mean that the copper is gone.
Cathy takes a run down to the beach...
Enjoying watching the waves coming in...
...Unfortunately, sometimes the waves come in too fast!
Time to dry off!
My supermodel friends....

Now to figure out which way to go back....

Cathy cooks in the camper...

Kim goes over the tree...
Cathy goes under the tree....
Our second day out in the woods was actually Sunday so we took a little time to read scripture on one of the beautiful shores of Lake Superior.
Cathy modeling her new Camelback...
Isn't this the weirdest thing! A pine tree that fell and then the brances started growing their own trees.
We couldn't figure out what this was, but it did look like a ship's mast or something that got burned. What's your guess?
Pictured Rocks are these sandstone cliffs on the shores of Lake Superior. Its the weirdest and coolest thing. All of these layers of sandstone that make up cliffs and run down to beaches.
Cathy found that walking was difficult at points...

Dinner - fresh fish again....
Kim is insistent on making a fire - didn't go quite so well and we finally got her to come in for the night. No s'mores this time.. :(
Where we bought our fresh fish - we had to pick some up to go. The Whitefish was awesome!