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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Beer Bubbles

Last night, my father's country club (Oakdale Golf and Country Club), hosted a "Beer Night", with representatives of Sierra Nevada Brewery featuring some of it's custom brews. The big star of the night, however, was Chef Dan Quint, whose adventurous menu added spice to the evening. I am going to include his menu and tell me if it doesn't sound delicious.

However, the evening was started off by Chef Dan's presentation of Beer Balls. This is actually a new technique (developed in about 2002) called spherification. It is a matter of encapsulating a liquid in a thin sphere of itself- in other words (using a combination of calcium chloride and sodium algenate) the beer forms a thin skin of beer. More technical information can be found at this site: Cafe Atlantico. Chef Dan hinted that olives that are liquified in a blender could be incapsulating, providing a different texture with a familiar taste. Another suggestion was encapsulating a bernaise sauce and placing a globe on top of steak. Just another way to present familiar food in a new setting. The beer balls (when they were presented) just melt in the mouth. Very interesting.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Historic Moment

I have to post a picture of me with my sister and Dad. I post this, because there has never been a time when all of us have been together, attending a Memorial (like Denise described in her last post). Of course, my sister and I have attended regularly for many year. But Dad- never!

We were able to find a suit that Dad has purchased years ago and had worn infrequently. I convinced him that golf pants and cap were not suitable. And, Dad conducted himself well, with only a few comments, which I tried to ignore. All-in-all, it was a great evening and one that Val and I will remember and Dad will never forget.

Too bad that Denise couldn't be here. That would have made it epic. But, at least we were "united, though apart".

On a more prosaic matter- I still haven't played golf. But Tuesday, we are supposed to play. I will report on that.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Apart But United!

I am actually posting this a day ahead of schedule. This way, if any one wants to take advantage of the invitation for Sunday they have time to plan to do so. This is what an invitation in Spanish looks like.

As most of you know, my husband Wally is temporarily out of the country on funeral leave (concerning his mother). His leaving came about in a busy time of year for us religious wise.

Here in Uruguay they call the week from April 17 to the 24th semana Santa. So they leave Christ out completely. Since Uruguay is more of a socialist country they go even further to avoid religious tones and all of the businesses also call this week "Tourism Week" 

Up in North America some of you may notice the calendars say Easter is near. Easter however is actually a name for a pagan goddess, a fertility one at that, hence the eggs and rapidly reproducing rabbits to symbolize this. I was going to add a bunch of links showing the pagan origin of both the name Easter and the eggs and practices including Easter sun rise gatherings but there were just too many to list, so just google: "Pagan origins of easter eggs" and you will get dozens of sites admitting it's not a biblical practice. One site I found said that, that's where we get the name derived for the female hormone estrogen! So since we are not celebrating  Ishtar/Astarte/Ostara or Eastur some of the many names for that Spring goddess, what are we going to do?

Well, despite the fact that Wally and I are, literally thousands of miles apart, we will be united, because on the exact same evening,  Sunday April 17th, we will be attending (after sundown) "The Memorial of Christ's Death" at our respective Kingdom Halls. Me, here in Uruguay and Wally, there In California.

There is usually a full moon close to that date. We go by the Jewish calendar which lists the Original Jewish Passover date as Nisan 14th. The month of Nisan started after the new moon became visible in Jerusalem nearest the spring equinox. We are not Jewish but after Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover in 33 CE (he was Jewish remember?)  He went on to institute a new memorial supper that same night after the passover with his Apostles, Passing bread and wine symbolizing his flesh and blood.

Why is this short, once a year Anniversary so important to attend and observe? Well, in the Bible Book of Luke or the Gospel of Luke Chapter 22 verse 19 Jesus said "Keep doing this in remembrance of me"

Without going into any detail on us believing that Jesus is The Messiah and Mediator between God and Man, our God given Savior ransoming our sins. I thought instead, of the many customs people do celebrate. In researching this season I learned that many people celebrate Lent representing the 40 days of Jesus reflection in the wilderness. Yet, Jesus never said to do that! Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, a time of fun and food before fasting is also celebrated, yet, Jesus never said to do that! Easter sun rise service even though touted as representing the Resurrection of Christ. (mixing worshipping the sun with true beliefs never condoned in the Bible (Ezekiel 8:15-18) well, Jesus never said to do that! Even Christmas with all the gift giving, caroling and here in Uruguay, Fire works! Yeah, fireworks! Jesus, never said to do that! There is the Scary Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations Jesus never said to do that!. Then comes our individual celebrations, Wedding Anniversaries, Birthdays, showers etc... All the while, Jesus never said to do that!  People just do! Now, comes the one time of the year that Jesus said to, "Keep doing this in remembrance of me". The one night only, he said to actually celebrate, with his approval, to be held on the original Passover date, the night of Nisan 14th, after sun down and guess what? Most people haven't really ever heard of this or do it for that matter. In the Bible book of 1 Corinthians Chapter 11: verses 23 thru 26 the Apostle Paul said in verse 26 "For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup you keep proclaiming the death of our Lord until he arrives".

So, as the earth turns and night descends onto each island nation and continent, this Sunday, April 17th, you are cordially invited to attend this celebration/observance at your local Kingdom hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, check local times. In Salinas, Uruguay ours starts at 6:30PM (18:30)

The meetings are always free with no contribution plates passed, ever! You will hear a short discourse on the significance of this night and then watch as Bread and Wine are passed to symbolize exactly what  took place that night. These tokens Christ himself said represented his body and blood. I say it will be take no more than 45 mins.

We all celebrate special occasions once a year, we keep our Anniversaries and special moments dear. I like to think of keeping the Memorial of Christ's death like an annual role call. Once a year Jesus can look down on Wally and I along with millions of others and say Wow, I said to do that and they did! 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wally's Sad Day!

News of a sad kind.
Wally's mother just died/passed away, so he's had to leave Uruguay for a little while to take care of business. He is in California, staying with his father, at his fathers house. 

Having to buy tickets back to the states, on such short notice, has set us pensioners back quite a bit, dollar wise ($1500 for a round trip ticket).  Because of "Spring break" the airlines were especially booked up and finding seats available was hard at this time of year. So to make the most of the trip he will be staying in California for a few months. I assure you, however that Wally has already bought the ticket back to Uruguay,  Ida Y Vuelta (going & return), and no we haven't been fighting!

Leo #1, because we know two Leo's (and the other one is younger), was kind enough to take Wally to the port. I'm not good at driving a stick shift but especially having to drive through the crazy traffic in Montevideo, which Wally doesn't even do, we decided we wanted Wally to arrive at the Buquebus ferry in one piece. Leo who works downtown in Montevideo offered to pick Wally up and deliver him safely to the ferry, Leo we owe you, big time! You'll notice Wally was greeted by the traditional kiss, the Uruguay way of greeting close friends.
Wally missing me already!

Wally found out that it was cheaper to travel across the Rio de la Plata by ferry to Argentina then to leave directly from our airport in Carrasco, just outside of MVD. 
I know he arrived okay, because he emailed me from the Ezeiza  airport in Argentina (45 mins outside of BA by bus) using their internet for only $5 pesos arg. Wally arrived in Argentina by ferry then he went to the Retiro bus/train station to get a shuttle bus service called Manuel Leon to the airport. It cost $55 pesos arg. as compared to $194 Pesos arg. for a taxi ride there.

We are staying in touch by phoning. Wally and I used to use Skpe to call the USA. He loaded that up with some minutes so I could call. It uses the computer to ring a persons phone, this way they don't need a computer to receive your calls. It's very reasonable cost wise to use. If a person does have a computer and they should get Skpe as well, then a computer to computer call is free. Right now we have a better deal going on, as we are now using Google through Gmail to call the USA for free!

I have stayed behind here in Uruguay because... We have pets, the house (to attend to) and because of the airfare costs. Wally is staying with his father, Wally Sr. (Yes, there are two Wally s) at his father's house. We feel that this will allow some father and son time, alone without the distractions of a woman along (me). Wally Sr. is busy showing his son off to friends, so we think the bounding is working!

All in all, it's been quite hectic running around making last Minute  preparations to leave.

Wally spent the night before he left making a video of us singing karaoke together. He was a bit disappointed, he thought he sang better than he saw on tape, but I love his singing! He also made a dvd of some Uruguay photos of our trips together. This way he can show everybody what Uruguay, it's coastline and our house looks like!

As I watched, Wally and Leo backdown our drive way, always worried some car will backup too far and land in that new ditch alongside the road, I wondered what to do now? So I went inside my house and watched a fishing boat go by.

I've already been invited to 2 bachelorsett parties/showers. One is too soon in coming, so I begged out. The other was 2 days away and near my house. I could walk there and back. I'll post on that one soon.

Being in Uruguay, I am surrounded by loving and caring people ready to include me in their lives and watch over me. I'm glad I'm here and Wally wishes he were too, trust me, he does!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

They Treated Us Like Kings

This past weekend, we enjoyed a trip to Rocha and then up to the Brazilian border town of Chuy. We were invited by a lovely couple from Rocha, who happen to be readers of the blog. Gustavo and his wife, Sylvia treated us like kings. Gustavo is the one who sent us an emergency bottle of Tequila, about a week ago.

Gustavo and Silvia (left) met us near Rocha (about a 2 1/2 hour drive from our house) and then showed us to a small house, where they had arranged for us to stay overnight. Then, he took us in his car and toured us up the coast, stopping at many of the wonderful beach towns. Most striking was the difference in the water. Up there, past Punta del Este, we actually were formally on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. While our beach is lovely, and the sand is nice and white and clean and the water is often very blue (though much of the time it is brownish)- we are not technically on the ocean. The mouth of the Rio Plata (the widest river in the world) reaches out for miles- so technically we live on the river. Most of the times, it seems like the ocean to me. But when you reach the real ocean, up in Rocha, there is a difference. The smell of the ocean is so lovely and the waves are large enough for surfing. So the trip up the coast was quite a pleasure.

When we arrived in Chuy (about 100 km further up from Rocha), we parked on the Brazilian side. One side of the main road is in Brazil and the other in Uruguay. Gustavo took us to one of his favorite restaurants (he works in Chuy several times a week), on the Brazilian side of the street. It had the feel of a cafeteria, with salad, pasta and dessert bar. But then we noticed about a dozen waiters walked (constantly) through the restaurant with beef, pork, chicken and sausages on skewers. They would stop by each table and offer you cuts.

The waiter on the left was offering melted gorgonzola smoked cheese. Another offered warm pineapple, rolled in cinnamon (Denise made me try this, and I am glad). This would go on for as long as you stayed, since this was an ALL YOU CAN EAT restaurant! It was fantastic. Unfortunately, I can't tell you the cost, since Gustavo (against all my protestations) insisted on paying.

Then, we went across the street to one of the duty free shops (on the UY side) and made a few purchases (bring your passport to take advantage of the deals). The prices were very good and lower on some things than even in the US. A 4 hour ride may seem like a lot, but if you were purchasing electronics or some other items, it might very well be worth it.

On the way back we stopped at some lovely gardens and a beautiful Spanish fort. When we finally got back to the little guest cottage, near Laguna Rocha, it was late. Denise and I took a little walk, then had a good night's sleep. It was very, very quiet. The next morning (we slept almost to noon) before we left for home, we took a tour around the water and learned a lot about Lagunas. One thing we learned it that blue crab live there. Well, that is a tale for another day. We drove straight back, through a blinding rainstorm and were happy to be home, but glad for our visit. We felt we had been shown immense hospitality and gained an appreciation of Rocha and it's surrounding area. We look forward to being able to spend more time there.