As I sit down to write our blog for today, it looks very different outside my window here–the sun is shining!! This makes only the 2nd time we’ve seen the sun so I ran to get my camera and shot a couple of pictures out the window so I’d remember what it looks like just in case this is the last time until April. The constant cloudiness really doesn’t bother me too much but it is good to see the sun. A couple of days ago, Rachel and I went downtown shopping–the wind was howling, it was cold and wet. I was thinking that back home we’d just wait for a better day but, as we cannot hope for a better day, we just had to get on with it—joining other wet, bedraggled folks waiting for the bus.
Today’s comments are pretty random–just some things I wanted to share. First of all some observations at the grocery store. I do think grocery shopping and cooking are going to be the hardest things for me to deal with. I can’t find things I want–no chili powder and no little cans of green chilies– and I can’t identify some of the food that is there. There is no brown sugar–you must buy molasses sugar and mix it with white sugar to approximate our brown sugar. I could not find Parmesan cheese–certainly not in the handy shaker can–but I thought I might have found a wedge of it–very expensive though. I will need to buy it right when I need it. There is very little salad dressing except for mayonnaise and boy, is there mayonnaise. There was probably a third of an aisle length just full of different brands of mayonnaise from the lowest to the highest shelves. Then I turned around and there was a special display of mayonnaise in big tubs. Whatever do they do with it? I use about a jar a year. Another popular item is garlic. Now we all like garlic and there are little packages of fresh garlic in our produce sections, but here there is a big section heaped with loose garlic and people were buying bags of it. The carrots were so huge I laughed out loud when I saw them and the grapefruit was about 3 times the size of ours–I wonder where it is grown. Though a lot of the prices–for meat for instance–are comparable to the prices we pay back home, there are some real bargains –today we bought about 5 pounds of potatoes for around 76 cents. We also had wonderful pastries at a little coffee shop down in Old Town for about 50 cents each. In general, eating out is very affordable. I’m enclosing a picture of a menu at a nice hotel restaurant downtown. It has some amusing descriptions.
One thing which is a big relief for me is that dogs are well-cared for here. I see people walking their dogs constantly and most of them are purebred and most of them are maybe just a bit overweight as opposed to the starving dogs in some other countries. Today I saw a beautiful German Short Haired pointer which made me homesick for Savannah. John says he has seen not one stray dog since he’s been here. I am so relieved. I thought maybe I’d have to start a shelter here. The dogs in the neighborhood across the street are generally very large and they bark a lot so I think they are kept mainly for guard dogs. They probably don’t get to come inside but they are healthy and have dog houses.
Our living room and Office
Clothes are very expensive here which means that used clothing stores are very popular. John and Rachel decided that the coats we brought with us were never going to be warm enough so we have been checking out these stores. I found a nice down coat for Chuck for about $2.80. Alas, I have not yet found one for myself. We both bought new boots though because we know the snow is coming though it is late this year.
Today I’m enclosing some shots of the inside of our apartment. Notice that in the cupboard above the sink is a built in dish drainer. I just open the cupboard, wash the dishes and put them up there in the drainer and then close the doors. This way, there is not a drainer sitting on the sink piled with dishes so you don’t feel you have to dry them and put them right away. Given there is no dishwasher, I think this is a great idea.
Tomorrow, rather than hike to the other church, we are going to try the Catholic church which is just 2 or 3 blocks up the street. We will not be able to understand the homily but we will be able to follow the liturgy pretty well.
Some of those big carrots.
Tonight is my first opportunity to babysit my grandchildren, Chayah and Noah. John is the keynote speaker tonight at a big youth conference, the Saltshaker Conference, which is put on by the University each January for high school juniors and seniors–about 200 if them. I asked John how long he would have to speak and he said about an hour or so. That sounds hard to me but I remember how John had so much to say when he was little. A woman in the grocery store once asked me if my little boy ever stopped talking. He was meant for long talks. I’m sorry to miss his talk but it will be recorded and it is more important that Rachel goes. Besides, it is such a better way to spend New Year’s Eve than a raucous party and watching that ball drop.
In a few days, Chuck will share some of his random thoughts..