Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We're so excited!

We leave tomorrow afternoon to go to Albuquerque. Our flight home leaves on Thursday, December 20 at 8am. Please pray for us as we travel. We are so excited to come home and see family. Hopefully, we will see many of you as well. We plan to be at Salem Mennonite Sunday, drive down to Columbus (maybe Thursday the 27th), and visit with family. Our blog will probably not be updated until we return (the 3rd). So, enjoy your break from logging in to the site, but mostly, have a great Christmas!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

weekend events

On Saturday, Jeremy and I went to the Outreach Christmas Party at the Shelter. (Outreach is a program of La Puente that helps people with their utilities, rent/mortgage, and medical bills.) I had no idea the way the party works, except there was a meal, Santa was there, and we give gifts to everyone. When Jeremy and I arrived, there was a really long line of people outside the shelter waiting to go in - some were waiting in T-shirts, some in shorts, some with coats, some with no hats, many with little on to save them from the 7F temperatures we had at noon. You can see Lance (La Puente's executive director) trying to get people to "sing Santa to the shelter." We waited for at least an hour to get in because they would take a small group at time to get in line to talk to Santa - everyone who talked to Santa received a gift. In front of Jeremy and me, there was a young woman who was expecting a baby girl in 3 months and her 4 (?) year old son. The woman had no coat on - sweat pants and a t-shirt only - and the little boy's teeth were chattering uncontrollably. He had on a coat, shirt, and athletic pants. I gave him my little stretchy gloves, while I held a cup of hot chocolate to stay warm. When I asked where her coat was, she simply said she didn't have one. I went into the shelter where I knew there should be a small donations of coats we had received the other day along with hand knitted hats someon had donated. I brought out a coat (which was too small to zip around her pregnant belly) for her and a knitted hat for the little boy. That helped some, but it was just so bitterly cold! Once inside, we had a great meal of ham, potatoes, broccoli, and homemade pies. Also, there was brief entertainment as Lynnea's (office accountant) daughter did the snow queen dance from Nutcracker. It was fun to sit and eat. We met Larry who had recently moved to Almosa area after buying some land and a trailer. He said it was very cold, and he would probably be going back to Florida soon. I never found out what brought him here in the first place.

On Sunday, the unit house had our Christmas Dinner. We invited Alice, Andy, Isabel, and her husband (I don't really know how to spell his name; I'll have to ask) over to eat with us. Each house member made something to contribute to the meal - Emmy, mock tirimisu dessert; David, spinach/artichocke dip with chips; Jeff, mashed potatoes; Claire, a fancy salad; Jeremy, honey glazed ham; and me, zwieback (rolls). Jeremy worked very hard on his ham, and I was very impressed. He studded the ham with whole cloves and basted it with the honey glaze every 20 minutes while it was in the oven. It was a big hit, as were all the dishes. The meal and the company were fantastic. I am full and hope to recover before feasting again when we get home.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

snow

Today the fog was thick until about noon. The trees were beautiful. It looks kinda like when you have an ice storm, but they are just laden with snow. I tried to take some pics; I don't know if it does it justice. It was also very cold - and will get colder... -10 on Friday night, I hear. When the sun started to peek out, the trees began to snow. It was such a cool thing to watch. Instead of melting off the trees as I remember seeing in Ohio, the snow just continued its fall to the ground from where it had rested briefly on the branches.
Tonight, we went to Jeremy's work's holiday party at Trujillo's restaurant in town. It was fun to meet the people that are on the board. There was a very entertaining older couple that sat beside us and acted like they had known us forever. They made me laugh and smile so much that cheeks hurt.

work week

Just a quick catch up...

Monday - I worked at Hunt Ave Boutique. Because it was a bit snowy, I figured it could be a slow day; however, I sold twice as much as I did last week! Plus, my new order of Ten Thousand Villages stuff came in. So, I had fun unpacking all of that - it is like my birthday when that stuff comes. I ordered a hammock chair that I love. I hope someone else loves it, too. :)

Tuesday - Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. We got quite a bit of snow over night and the wind was blowing it around viciously. Although we all were up and ready for work, we decided not to go in - SNOW DAY! I baked cinnamon rolls. They were the best I have ever made (almost equivelent to my mom's!). I was glad the altitude didn't ruin them.

Wednesday - I was at the office all day. Lots of people have mailed monetary donations come in the last few days, which is great, but it also means that my hand will be hurting from the hours of writing thank you notes. It was nice to catch up with Rhonda after our weekend and snow days. This evening we had Jason and Patricia (our pastor and his wife) over for supper. It was fun to talk with them. They are a fairly young couple (30s) with 4 kids and one on the way. They sent the kids to the grandparents' house, and came over for a night "alone."

I think that is it. We are counting down the days to coming home. We leave on our flight ONE WEEK from today. I am so excited.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Skiing!!!!

Wow! I don't know if any of you Ohio skiers have skiied anywhere else, but Rocky Mountain skiing is a whole different ballgame. Crested Butte Ski Resort (see the resort from the slope) is having a promotional ski free from Nov. 25 - Dec. 15 where your lift ticket is free. (After Dec. 15, it is $80 for an adult lift ticket!) We thought this was a great deal and made the long trek north on Sunday as a unit. We had to go over Monarch Pass which was a bit snow covered and made the trip longer because of we had to drive slower. That is the problem with living in the Valley - everywhere you go, you have to go over a pass. We left at 7am, arrived around 11:45, got our (free) lift tickets, ate a sack lunch, rented skis, and were on the slopes by 12:30pm. Jeff had skied back in high school and was very unsure about trying again. Claire hadn't skiied since high school either, but was more enthusiastic. David and Emmy had come to Crested Butte with their friends on the Sunday after Thanksgiving; there was very little snow and only 1% of the slopes were open for skiing. Jeremy and I had skiied within the last year somewhere in the midwest. The mountain was beautiful (see left). It had been snowing - there was about a 46 inch base with about 6 inches of powder that had fallen the night before! I have never seen that much snow. We hopped on the lift and headed up, up, up. The first time down the green slope (called Houston) was pretty slow going as we taught Jeff and Claire the basics, and I relearned them myself. David (pic to right) tried to ski off trail in the deep snow - unsuccessful on attempt #1. Jeremy (pic to the left, looking frantically for his buried skis!) was also unsuccessful in the deep snow when trying to follow David (whose second attempt was successful). Emmy and I were the only ones to remain upright the whole way down; although, I did almost topple trying to ski and laugh - two things I can't do at the same time. The next time down a different green slope Claire had a memorable run. She was flying down the slope so fast and a little out of control when she lost control, hit the deep snow and came inches from the trunk of an Aspen tree (see pic to right). Later, Jeremy, David, Emmy, and I went up on the highest lift. It went so high; I thought I might throw up! When we got off the lift, I realized that I would have to ski down. We started on a pretty steep blue slope, which I wiped up 2x on (no one has a pic of this, since I was the one with the camera). Then, we ended with a pretty easy green called the Yellow Brick Road. I was mostly scared of being hit by the crazy people coming down the black diamond and double black diamonds and taking me out on the way. We made it safely to the bottom, but my legs were burning by the time we got to the bottom (about 20 minutes down on skis). I included a picture of me with my awesome ski goggles on. It was an amazing day of skiing. We wrapped up around 4pm, the slopes were closing, and the sun was going down. It felt good to take the ski boots on and head back to the car. We had supper in Gunnison, drove slowly back over Monarch pass, and trudged through the front door at 9:30pm. I fell into bed and didn't wake until Monday morning for work.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Charity Ball

Every year for the past 17 years, Valley Wide Health Care Systems has put on a charity ball which raises money for La Puente. We were able to attend this one. La Puente board members helped pay for tickets for the La Puente volunteers, and we bought a ticket for Jeremy. I mentioned before the grizzly bears that had been painted by local artists. This is where they were on display, and then auctioned off. On Thursday, Jeremy and I helped set up the 30 live Christmas trees to decorate for the Enchanted Forest theme of the night. When we arrived Friday night, it looked wonderful. You can see where the bears were "corraled" in the picture to the right. They auctioned off each bear in the center of the dining room after dinner. It was kinda exciting - like Salem's Thanksgiving Day Auction on steriods. The lowest costing bear was about $4500. The most expensive bear was done by a Native American artist and went for $20,000! The small bronze bear that was the orginal before the others were made went for $10,000. They estimated that $116,000 were raised for La Puente. It was a great time, and fun to dress up a bit. We're going skiing (hopefully) Sunday; I'll write more then.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Work Week #15??

Who knows which week this is.. I just can't think of a better title. I have stayed up later than normal the past two nights and am a grump because of it. (Let me just point out that late for me is past 10pm. I am definitely an early bird and not a night owl!)On Sunday, we stayed up playing a guys vs. girls game of Outburst II. The girls won; this was round 2 and we had lost the first time. There are some really hard categories in Outburst! This time playing the guys were stuck with a lot of hard topics, last time we were; so I think it's all fair. Then, last night we opened the game called What Were You Thinking? We didn't really play it because we didn't like the concept or the fact that the fact or fiction category didn't give the real answer, which means you never really knew if you were right or wrong. We did read the "would you rather.." type questions. This lasted for quite awhile, but it was entertaining to learn about each other.

Work has been good this week so far. Hunt Avenue Boutique was a little slow as far as customers, but better than last week. There were two women that came in to specifically look at Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) stuff. I thought that was exciting - it was also a first. I learned from TTV that I cannot put their logo outside the building, on ads, or use if for publicity because it is trademarked. Hopefully, putting their name in my blog will not get me in trouble. I guess that surprised me because I thought they would want their name out there as much as possible, but maybe our store doesn't meet their standards... who knows. I am just naive when it comes to this business stuff. I went to the college class on Marketing and Research who had done a project for Milagros. I thought they did a great job. I walked away well-informed. Lance (the director) walked away very enthusiastic and churning up new ideas. We'll see what happens with all our new information from the college classes (advertising and marketing/research).

Jeremy is working on some report to the board. He is also trying to come up with the best way to take samples and how to record the data effectively. I think it sounds pretty intimidating myself. I don't understand it completely either, which is why I just wrote two sentences!

This past weekend we house/pet sat for his boss. They have a beautiful southwest style house with a big TV and cable. They also have two dogs and three cats and a very specific routine for feeding them. It was a relaxing weekend, but also a learning experience. One of their cats had to be given a pill. Unfortunately, she wasn't a cat that would just eat anything. (She had had chemotherapy and food didn't appeal much.) So, we had to hold her, tightly wrapped in a towel, pry her mouth open, and toss the pill in, massaging her throat until it was swallowed. It took us almost a half hour the first night, but by the third night we had it down to under 5 minutes. It ws good to be around animals again and to have some time to ourselves. It was also fun to live in the "city" of Alamosa where things are easily accessible. Living in La Jara, you have to drive at least 25 minutes to get into town. This, I realized, probably saves us a lot of money spent on eating out, random shopping trips, and other miscellaneous spending. We are back in our unit house and doing great. We made french toast and bacon for supper last night - I love breakfast for supper. That is about because I am starting to ramble. Have a great Wednesday/rest of your week. Until next time...

Sunrise

I will write more - maybe tonight - but the sunrise was breathtaking Monday morning and I thought I would share it with everyone. This is what we saw on our way to the gym. Blanca's Peak is now covered with snow and it is the mountain you see in the picture on the bottom left.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

work Week #??

So, I lost track of the work weeks. I think that is a good sign. We started back on Monday by going to the gym bright and early. I think it actually helped. I helped perk up my mood, gave me energy, and made it feel like Monday. I hardly made any money at Hunt Avenue today; I think only $80 in 8 hours. It was pretty slow, but had enough people filter through that I felt helpful. Rainbow's End did much better (maybe $400 - which is a really good day for them!). People are constantly complimenting the store - how clean it is, how big it looks, and so on. It feels really good. Vernon has done a lot. Jeremy worked on a logo for his non-pofit. It is pretty cool looking. I don't know if it is on the computer to upload and show you. If I can figure it out, I'll let you see it. Monday night I made tortellini soup for the unit. It was not as good as my mom's - I'll have to find out what she adds that is not on the recipe. In the evening (without The Bachelor to watch), we played a card game Jeff had brought called "Bang." It is definitely not a Mennonite game! :) It is kinda like the card game "Mafia", but much more advanced. It is pretty fun, and much less difficult than I pictured it to be.

Jeremy and I went to the gym again this morning (temperature check at 6:40am = 1 above 0... brrrr). This going everyday is something new I wanted to try; Jeremy's along for the ride this week. I am trying to get in shape for the volleyball league that I joined. It is a 4-on-4 women's league at the local rec center on Thursday nights starting in January. I can't hardly do one sprint down the basketball court, so I figure I have my work cut out for me. I am really looking forward to the start of the league. I am hoping for some good volleyball; it probably will be decent since you have to be pretty good to play 4 man volleyball successfully. Today at Rainbow's End I sorted the men's shirts out. They were definitely neglected! I will probably work on the men's jeans tomorrow. I will only have the dresses, skirts, maternity, children's clothes, and coats left to sort and size.

I finished the book Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult. It is about a fictional school shooting. I was very intrigued at the way she had organized the book - introducing the shooter and other characters and then linking their lives together through past and present stories. It was a well written book. Jeremy, on the other hand, reads books that make him smarter (rather just entertain him briefly). He finished Jimmy Carter's book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. Now he is reading a book by Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation. If you have book suggestions for either us, let us know. My grandpa J. recommended The Worst Hard Times, a book about the Great Depression. I happened to find it at Rainbow's End, so I'll get around to that one.

I think that's all have to say today. Jeremy would probably say that I said plenty. I hope you are all recovering from the Thanksgiving weekend. I look forward to seeing many of you at Christmas!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chocolate, Anyone?

Today we ventured to Creede (see pic to the left). Jeremy and I had been there for a quick trip to the theatre once, but hadn't had time to really look around. This time the unit (and our guests) went to Creede for the annual Chocolate Festival. We bought a ticket ($10) to walk around town to 14 different stores, restaurants, and taverns to sample the homemade chocolate goodie they had created. The only two rules were 1) it must be homemade, and 2) it must have chocolate. We tasted things like fudge made with velveeta cheese (pretty good - Jeremy says it is the best of both worlds), raspberry fudge, Mexican spice hot chocolate (very thick consistency and a horrible taste - Jeremy says it is would you would get if you sneezed up pumpkin pie), cherry mash (like cough syrup with a bit of chocolate on top), peanut clusters (different than you would expect because the peanuts were raw and not salty), fat mints (cookie with chocolate chips and peppermint bits in them), Bailey's hot cocoa (they only asked if Jeremy and I were 21 years old - we are the oldest in our group... I guess we were flattered?), chocolate chip chocolate cookies (these were my favorite, plus they were served with ice cold milk), craisan and pecan clusters, and a pure, smooth creamy fudge (a blue ribbon winner in a 4-H competition at one time). There were a few more that I am forgetting, but you get the idea. It was a lot of fun - and a lot of chocolate! We also saw Santa Claus; he looked pretty wore out... and it's not even Christmas! :) We saw the current fire station built into the rocks; it looks like a pretty cool place to house fire trucks. We saw a bar named The Wild Beaver (this pics for you Sandy... and other Bluffton grads) I think that's it. It was a good day.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

SNOW!!!

We had our first snowfall overnight. We woke up on Friday morning with the land covered in a blanket of snow - I would venture to guess six inches. Here are pictures from out the front door and the back door.
Jeremy and I also worked to bake our first apple pie together. I had never made a pie crust before - and he actually did that part of the pie. It tasted delicious, but didn't brown for some reason - even with over an hour in the oven! It was still fun to make and eat.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

Well, I imagine that everyone ate turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes until they were about to burst and then managed a piece of pumpkin pie! Jeremy and I went to the shelter to help out with the Thanksgiving Day meal they put on. Many people volunteer to cook turkeys, make stuffing, whip up some mash potatoes, and bake some pies. Then, Paul heads up the kitchen happenings. Everyone who came to eat - homeless and others - has a seat and waits as other volunteers serve them food. It is a great sit down meal with cloth tablecloths, festive decorations, and much conversation. Jeremy and I were able to help serve. (That's Jeremy in the left photo serving.) There were LOTS of volunteers though so the serving went fast. I estimate that we had about 150 people there to eat. It was great. Before the meal, there was a basketball game happening outside, while inside you could chat and listen to the live music provided by a guitarist/singer. We enjoyed the time at the shelter. I was able to wish Happy Thanksgiving to the few people I did know from working there. On the way home, we picked up a hitchhiker (I have already heard all the lectures from the last time I did this... don't need them again.) Jeremy and I took Lowe on his way from Alamosa to Capulin (a town near La Jara). He had hitched a ride from Boulder the night before and was probably going to try to do the same thing in the next few days. He had been at the shelter enjoying the meal just like us!

We came home and went to Alice and Andy's house for our second feast of the day. The current MVSers were there, along with David and Emmy's friends from Indiana, a former MVSer and his wife, and Isabel. It was fun to laugh and talk. There is something about being in the presence of many people that makes a holiday feel like a holiday to me. I missed my family, but not nearly to the extent as if it would have just been me and Jeremy sitting around all day. When I called home in the morning, they were eating lunch and it sounded CRAZY!!! I will get to enjoy that at Christmas and am definitely looking forward to it. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday 11/21

Today was a fairly quiet day at the office. I was there all day because Rhonda had taken the day off. I worked on "Milagros Bucks" for a advertising thing for December. It takes a lot of time to get graphics and text to do what you want them to do. In the afternoon, Jeremy picked me up to go check the mail for work and visit the falcons. There is a group of Falconers in town; these are people who raise and train birds of prey. There was a demo in the morning, but I wasn't able to go. So, we just went to see the birds. It was actually pretty cool. You can see in the pic to the right the stands they had for the birds. I think there were at least 100 stands set up in this small area. It is a strange sight. We saw a golden eagle, a snowy owl, another bird that posed for our picture with its wings spread, and a few perigrine falcons. The Golden Eagle was definitely the largest of the birds. The Peregrines are small and beautiful birds.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday 11/20

Two things....
1. The day was beautiful - 60F and sunshine! The drive home provided a gorgeous sunset. We tried to capture it with a camera, but it is nearly impossible to do. Here are the two shots we took - one looking over the western mountain range (the San Juan), and one at Mt. Blanca. Enjoy!

2. I have to confess that ... we watch The Bachelor at the MVS house. Yes, I know it is not high quality television or even good reality TV, but nothing else to do on Monday night and it is a strange ritual we had for this season. (For those of you who know the Monday night line-up, we do watch most of Dancing with the Stars as well - can't believe Marie Osmond is still in!) Anyway, the final rose ceremony was Monday night with huge drama - it was unprecedented! The Bachelor picked - no one! I know, don' t fall off your chair! It was, actually, terribly sad. Two women had told him that they loved him opened their hearts up to him. (I do realize they chose to be on national television doing it, but still) He told both of them good-bye because he couldn't say he loved either one. I give him credit for being honest in the end, but he did a great job of leading them on throughout the show. I'll stop on my tirade. I realize that this has nothing really to do with what we do out here, but sometimes, that's okay.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday

I went to Hunt Ave Boutique to work today. I met some nice people who came in. There was one guy that hung around and talked for 2 HOURS to me. I would like to say he was interesting, but he was more controversial in my opinion - I just didn't agree with a lot of things he said and didn't really know how to disagree in a polite way. He comes in almost daily, so I tried to maintain good relations with the customer. There was a family who came in and purchased quite a few things; they were fun to listen to as they shopped.

Jeremy went to see the Grizzly Bear exhibit. Some of you may know of the cows that were placed around Chicago (I think) to encourage art and improve scenery. (Well, I don't really know why they were there, but this is my best guess.) Anyway, these Grizzly Bears were created out of fiberglass and given to local artist to decorate. They will be auctioned off at the Charity Ball in early December put on by Valley Wide Health Center in Alamosa. All proceeds of the charity ball and the auction of the bears goes to support La Puente. They expect to raise $10,000 per bear; there are 8 bears total. Jeremy said the bears were pretty cool. Hopefully, the exhibit will be open tomorrow and I can get out to go see them. If I do, I will take my camera and post some pics.

Have a great Thanksgiving week - and don't forget to RELAX during the week, too!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Rest of the Week

I have been a little unpredictable about my blogs; my goal is to try to blog at least 3-5 times a week. For those who glance daily/weekly for updates, thank you. I appreciate people taking time to sneak a peek at what's happening here.

My incident with Bill at Hunt Ave Boutique (rearranging his stuff) turned out fine. He was not mad at me; so that's good. I rearranged the women's jeans - two day project - for the rest of the week. The store is looking much better. They are trying to clean it up and keep things that way. There have been many compliments from customers, and that feels good to the staff.

Friday night, Andy, Alice, and Isabel (their daughter) came over for supper. Jeremy and I were in charge of the cooking for this one. We made soft tacos and salsa black bean soup with bread pudding and chocolate sauce for dessert. It has been fun to cook with Jeremy. We didn't have that opportunity much in Columbus because we would get home from work at different hours. This - assigned cooking nights - has forced us to do it. Jeremy worked on all the taco stuff - browning meat, chopping, grating, etc. I worked on the salsa bean soup (a new recipe for me), bread pudding, and chocolate sauce. The meal turned out well; the bread pudding was tasty as well, but had deflated when I removed it from the oven - a hazard of the high altitude.

Saturday, Jeremy and I woke up "early" to go watch the Ohio State v. Michigan game at the home of some church friends, Eric and Tessa. He grew up in Ohio and is, therefore, a Buckeye fan. The game, as you may recall was a nice noon start time - great time for you eastern folks. 10am seems a little early to begin the festivities for a big game day, but nonetheless off we went to enjoy it with fellow Buckeye fans. It was a good time to hang out with new people and try to form some friendships outside of the unit house. They have a 75-lb German short-haired named Blue that sheds horribly! I couldn't believe how much hair a dog with such short hair could lose with one pat of the hand. He is a sweetheart, however. We offered to pet sit when they need one.

Today we had a Thanksgiving feast after church. It was an organized Thanksgiving Day potluck - a delicious head start to the real deal on Thursday. It led to an afternoon nap for me :) Tonight we have Bible study together. Then we return to our positions of service tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Work Week #13

The weekend was amazing. I did absolutely nothing. I know that was very lazy, but it was just what I needed. I slept in, cleaned, went for a walk, watched TV (football, of course); Jeremy and I went on a hot date to McDonald's on Saturday night (I wanted ice cream from there); went to church (Lighthouse, again), went to the Conejos County library hoping to find a movie (nothing but educational ones), but found a few good books, read, played Taboo and a speed game of Trivial Pursuit. Okay, when I list it like that it looks like I did something, but the turth is I did only what I wanted to do - and that makes all the difference.

Monday was a difficult day to get up, probably because I had been so lazy all weekend. I worked at Hunt Ave Boutique, so that Bill could have a day off of work. Do you ever do something that you know you'll regret, but you have no choice except to do it? Monday was one of those days. Steve (my boss) said, "Erin, I want you to clean out behind Bill's counter and get this counter cleaned off." (Bill tends to work in piles.) I said, "Steve, Bill will be so mad!" He had me go ahead and do it anyway. I worked on putting piles into labeled boxes, vacuuming, throwing away the trash that cluttered his area, and just tidying up. I thought it looked pretty nice - after spending 5 hours on it!

Fast Forward to today - Vernon (manager at the Boutique) calls to give me the "heads up" that Bill is not just mad, he is furious! Bill, even when furious, doesn't look angry, but then again, he hardly gets mad. I feel horrible. I know that it was not my fault because I had to do what Steve told me to. Bill said he worked for two hours trying to find where everything was. He said it is like when you have company over and they do the dishes and put everything away in the wrong place. I can imagine what it felt like, but at the same time I don't think that I put things in to many wrong places. I tried to keep his inventory books where they were visible, as well as all his pricing supplies. I threw nothing away except old receipts and actual trash. I labeled all the boxes by category and then stacked them by category as well - all the jewelry in one pile, clothes in another, collectibles in another. But maybe it wasn't so clear to Bill. I am see-sawing between feeling bad and feeling annoyed that he couldn't figure out the system. I am sure (if I would have gone there today) he would have everything all over the counter, on the floor, and in his special piles. Well, I tried and I am a good listener. :)


Otherwise, nothing much happening at work. On Friday (sorry, I am skipping around a bit), Jeremy went out to do some sampling on the Rio Grande. They had to do cross-sections at different points of the river. When I climbed in the car after work and asked how his day was he said, "I almost got swept away." I asked if he was serious. He said that the river was powerful in some areas and quite deep. Luckily, he is still with us today. In reality, he said if he was swept away, he would have only traveled about 10 yards or so before hitting shallower water. Good thing; he had me scared for awhile.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Almost Friday

Well, the week continues. I don't know if the day went any faster today, but yesterday it was like every hour was a brick wall. I even had things to do, which usually helps time pass quickly. Today, I worked at the office in the morning. I didn't have a whole lot to do - some things for Lance, a large poster for Rainbow's End, no thank yous!, and some paper shredding. I went to Rainbow's End in the afternoon. My big project was to reorganize the women's shirts. They were by color and then by size - ie all blue shirts were together and then sized, all red shirts together then sized. I didn't so much enjoy having to hang items on the rack because if I had 5 medium shirts in my hands, I would have to travel to (potentially) 5 different racks. And what do you do with a multicolored shirt that had no dominant color??? Oh, the questions you could ask when hanging clothing. Now, all medium shirts are hung together - there is no color discrimination within the shirt section any longer! It literally took me from 1pm until 5pm to do this one project. The shirts were not always hung in the correct size anyway, so I looked at each individual shirt today. I also threw (sent to the baling machine) a number of women's blazers. Think back to Designing Women with muliple colors, bold patterns, and huge shoulder pads. I figured I would just be the fashion police in that area of clothing. It never hurts to save someone the embarrassment.

Last night we ate supper with Alice and Andy (our MVS leaders). We exchange a meal with them each week - one week they cook, the next week we cook. It is a good system we have. Last night, we went to their house and added a movie to our evening activities. David and Emmy had just bought the newly released Pixar film, Ratatouille. (I am pretty sure I spelled that wrong, but I don't feel like looking it up to change it.) If you have not seen this movie, I recommend it. I am not always really into renting (or paying for a ticket) an animated movie, but I did really enjoy this one. It makes you laugh, and you actually feel a bond with a rat! Anyway, that's about it for what I have to say. I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend. We have no plans this weekend, and that is fine with me! Have a great Friday, Everyone.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Work Week #11

Well, it is Monday. Monday, Monday, Monday. Jeremy and I went to the gym this morning - in the light!! I cannot believe what a one hour time change will do. I will say it is easier to get out of bed in the morning when the sun is actually coming up. It really stinks to leave work at 5pm, and it is getting very dark! I can pretty much guarentee that running after work will be even more difficult to get motivated to do. I am sure I will get used to it.

I was at Hunt Ave. Boutique alllllll daaaaaay. It was not incredibly busy, but no Monday really is. I sold very few products from TTV big sale. It was only the first day, but still. It is a little deflating. One couple though was telling me how cool the stuff was; that helped me feel a little better.

Jeremy had some meeting at work. Tomorrow he is going to go to a gathering in Gunnison with - as far as he knows - only 2 other people. They are sharing data and learning from each other about their research on the Arkansas River. He is going as a learning experience because his organization is going to do a similar thing in the spring. Jeremy won the National Championship game with the Titans going undefeated in the Big 10 to get there. This is all, of course, on the PS2. It is his new challenge. I didn't realize there were so many possibilities. I thought since he won the National Championship his PS2 days were over, but I was wrong. He now is the ONU team playing in the MAC. However, he made his skill level a little lower, so he may have to work a bit to win.

I made English Muffin Bread for supper tonight (scrambled eggs, bacon, and English Muffin Bread). I love English Muffin Bread, and it actually baked well even though it was a yeast bread. Those who know what English Muffin Bread is, are probably a bit jealous; those who don't know the goodness of English Muffin Bread have no idea what I am talking about - I am sorry. Remind me when I get home, and I may make you some! Have a great Tuesday everyone!

Weekend Events

Well, the weekend came and went. We did go to Taos, but we didn't build the horno oven as planned. Somehow that fell through. We saw lots of things on the way to Taos; I will highlight them for you....

the recycled castle in Antonito (again) - see previous post for pic

earthship colony - no, this is not some alien thing. It is a place where lots of supposed environmentalists have built homes called "earthships" out of tires, adobe, glass bottles, etc. They run their homes "off the grid." If you don't know what this means (which I didn't until moving here), it means that they use all natural means of powering their daily life. For example, they have sunrooms for warmth and growing things, solar panels for electricity, and rainwater catches which they use for a water source (but maybe not for drinking - I don't know how they get their drinking water), and other things. I say these are supposed environmentalists because many of these homes are second homes for people - seems to be a little contradictory to their cause... The homes are pretty though with the colored glass bottles making mosaics for the sun to filter through or just as decoration.
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Rio Grande Gorge bridge. This was pretty darn cool. We drove on the mostly flat terrain and came upon this bridge. It is "The Most Beautiful Steel Bridge" (long span, second longest cantilever - if you know what that means). This award was given in 1966 by the American Institute of Steel Construction. It is a nice bridge, but the drop down the gorge is more impressive. It is 640 feet to the bottom, but feels like even more. I think it felt like the bottom was farther than when I stood on the Golden Gate Bridge, which I am pretty sure is higher. Anyway, it was an amazing sight. If I had been a pioneer riding my horse, it would have been frightening and disheartening to come upon this.. of course, you would have only thought these things if you didn't plummet over the edge!
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Finally, we arrived in Taos. It is a cute little town with LOTS of art galleries and shops. It has a great pizza place - Pizza OutBack - that Jeremy's brother had recommended to us. Great variety of pizza you can order by the slice, so, we all tried something different. I don't really have pictures of Taos; it is not necessarily a photogenic town, at least not from where we were at. I will include the only picture I have from the square in town; you can see Jeremy and Jeff walking toward me.

Sunday, we went back to the Lighthouse Church. The people there are friendly; I think we will probably make this our church home. Jeremy watched the Patriots vs. Colts game - a disappointing loss by the Colts. I hear that the game was probably not seen by many Ohioans since the Browns were playing (and losing) at the same time. We may not get the Buckeyes (who continue their winning streak), but we get "the game fo the century" as Jeremy kept calling it. :) We had worship and devotions Sunday night - hopefully getting back into the routine of game night/devotion night each week. That was about it for our weekend.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Work Week #10

Well, the week is almost up, and I am only now writing. I will have to improve my blogging practices next week. This week, although uneventful, has been busy for me at work. The new manager, Vernon, at Rainbow's End officially began this week. He has great ideas for what he would like to happen in the store, but the transition period will be a little shaky. It takes time to retrain people and get them - and the community - to break bad habits. We are going to be more picky with acceptance of donations - that way our quality of product improves in the store, and people will take pride in their donations. I worked on an ad for the newspaper for next week. I have no idea what makes for a good ad, but I managed to create one. Maybe I can put it on the blog and you can view it.

I have been continuing to unpack and arrange our small area for Ten Thousand Villages (TTV). This picture shows almost all of the store area TTV takes up. About the only thing you can't see is the jewelry case. Steve (my boss) keeps saying, "Order more stuff for TTV." I keep saying, "I want to know what will sell before I keep spending more money." I suppose I should get a preliminary order ready. It would be bad if the store was empty after the first week. We are selling the new items at 20% off to get people in to buy them. I think that is a good deal. The cookbooks will only be around $16 with the discount. I opened the package to the Simply in Season cookbook (great cookbook by the way; if you don't have it, go get one!) and noticed the new hardback cover with the spiral enclosed. I liked it.

Jeremy is still working. I think he is a little bored - not given enough projects at this point. He has been trying to train on this ARC mapping software at the NRCS (National Resource Conservation Service). Unfortunately, there has been some sort of computer glich that has held him up - the joys of technology.

We got our first package in the mail on Monday. It felt like when you are at college and get a care package at exam time. It was just a great surprise because we weren't expecting it. (I am not writing this so you all go and send a package; we definitely don't expect that!) It is great to see comments on the blog, to hear from our parents that people have talked to them about our blog, to know people are continuing to pray for us, and to have phone calls from home. We have definitely felt the support of friends and family both while we prepared to come and now that we are here. Thank you for not forgetting us! You are not forgotten either. (Yes, I know that "you" is a pretty general pronoun, but no one wants to read the list of all the people we remember!)

People have asked us if we are enjoying our time here, if it is all we hoped it would be, if we miss home, etc. I have a hard time answering questions like those. We are enjoying the time we have in Colorado with MVS. I think having an opportunity to serve is never a bad thing. I am learning that each time I serve, I learn something about myself - in Mozambique, I learned that I need at least one other person to energize me; here, I am learning that I need a work environment with a variety of people that I relate with daily. I don't necessarily work with a lot of people. I do a lot of behind the scenes work, and I miss that people interaction. I think I would say that I don't miss Ohio - the state. There isn't a huge spot in my heart that feels Ohio is the best place in the world. I like it - the hills, the colors, the Amish :) But I don't know if there is any one place/state/country that I would feel a deep longing to live in forever. That being said, I miss the people. I miss friendships that were beginning in Columbus, my family, longtime friends spread out around the state and neighboring states. I just miss the people. If we could just convince everyone to move here, I would be perfectly happy to stay here. :) I have not formed deep relationships here yet - but I've only been here a couple months. We'll see what happens as the year progresses. I look forward to Christmas time to visit with the part of Ohio we do miss - the people. Did I say I miss all of you people??? :)

Anyway, this has gotten long winded. Congratulations to those who made it to the end with only one picture to spur you on! We are headed to Taos this weekend to help build a horno - Mexican oven - for Jeff's boss. We will also do a little exploring around the town. I am sure I will come back with some pictures. Until then, have a great Friday and weekend.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Weekend Events

On Saturday, Jeremy, Jeff, and I woke up and headed into Alamosa for the big Monster Mash Dash that started at 10am. It was my first 5K to ever run in costume. Part of the fun of this race was they encouraged costumes in lieu of Halloween. I was a fairy princess - kinda - and Jeremy was a ninja. It was also my first 5K since Race for the Cure in May. And my first 5K at 7,500 feet. I don't know which of these last two factors contributed to my slowest time ever, but I am pretty sure the costume only helped! :) There were about 27 participants. The weather was gorgeous - sunshine, about 40F, and hardly a breeze. I started off slowly - Jeremy and Jeff began (with the rest) at a good clip. I just figured slow and steady allows me to survive. We headed north out of town, past the golf course, hung a right down a long stretch of road, before turning right again and then veering onto the dirt trail leading to the bridge that crosses into the park - the finish line! I felt like I ran FOREVER!!! Running the country mile is a difficult thing - there are no landmarks (well, there weren't for me since I had never run this route before). The road just stretches out before you and you feel like it will never end. To top it off, there was no one running with me. I could see Jeremy up ahead quite a distance, but it was just me and the wilds of Alamosa farmlands. There were a couple points of interest along the way - the landmark to Amelia Earhart (she filled her plane up with gas at a farm here in the valley) and there was a dead deer. The other piece of excitement was wondering what people thought as they drove by this lonely girl running with a yellow fluffy crown, pink long johns, and a fairy skirt. I only hope they noted my racing bib with my number - I was an official race participant after all! Jeff blew Jeremy and I out of the water (but didn't come in first) with a time of 23 minutes and some odd seconds. Jeremy crossed the finish line at 32:10. I followed with a "record-breaking" time of 35:19. (The pic to the right is me approaching the finish line. I thought you may want to see the whole outfit - just click on it to see the close up!) It was good to know that I finished though without walking for more than five 30 second breaks. After the race, we had prizes awarded for the best costume. I won first place, and Jeremy won second (mostly because his feet were big enough to fit the socks they had as the prize). The rest of the day was spent laying around and trying to recover from the looooong run. I will try to get some finish line pics tomorrow for you.... check back :)

I did get some very exciting news on Saturday. Steph (my sister-in-law) and Luke had their baby. It was a BOY!!! I had three neices before the summer started, and now I have three nephews to balance it out. His name is Samuel Lawrance (don't quote me on the spelling - I don't have the official spelling yet). I am excited to see pictures. Luke tried to send me a pic via his cell phone. However, due to the technology here in La Jara, I have to wait until we drive to town to get this - our phones seem to only register that there are messages when we get halfway to Alamosa. UGH!

Sunday, we went back to the Lighthouse Church. It is a good church. I am trying to be open to the fact that it is just starting up. We met some more people. There seem to be quite a few people our age. One of them has the Big 10 channel and invited Jeremy over for the Buckeyes games!!! Yeah! We'll keep you updated.

Ummm.... nothing else really. I watched Premonition today. Strange, but not horrible movie. It wasn't as good as I suspected, but I wouldn't consider it bad. The gag reel was worth renting the movie for. We played Outburst tonight as a house - girls vs guys. Guys won, but the girls were one short. (Claire is out of town this weekend.) I think there will be a rematch when she returns. We are watching baseball for what feels like the 20th straight night. The Rockies are not doing so well - and part of me wishes they will just lose tonight so it will just be over. But then again, what else is really on TV??? I think that is all I can say for the day. I will leave you with one parting picture from the City Market (Kroger) parking lot today. Can you guess what animal is in season for hunting?

Friday, October 26, 2007

End of Work Week

Well, it is my first blog of the week - how unusual! I have been between the office and REA (thrift store).
On Tuesday, we had our staff training from 8 - 11am. Just like trainings at school, sometimes I wonder the value of these things. We sat for 3 hours and learned about drugs and gangs in the Valley. I am not really sure what I walked away with, but I only had to go to the office for an hour before lunch!

On Wednesday, I was given the privelege (note sarcasm) of entering all the data into the computer at REA - the same daily summary info I enter here at the office in journal form. Really, it's not bad; it is just that I enter the exact same thing two times, but one onto an excel spreadsheet and one into the accounting program here at the office. It went pretty quickly. I am all caught up except for this past week, which I need to get from Jason (asst. manager).

On Thursday, I took a group of three people from Raton, New Mexico on a tour of the programs. They have a small hunger pantry started with support of the ministerial alliance (various denominations working together) and wanted to possibly expand their services. They were basically on a learning tour. That lasted from 10 - 1:30pm with lunch at Milagros at the end. It was nice to get out of the office and talk with people.

Today, my merchandise from TTV (Ten Thousand Villages) arrived. I was not expecting this to come until next week. So, my huge advertising campaign (with one poster created) has not begun. I guess I will change date and try to get it started by next week. Steve is leaving everything up to me - ordering, advertising, running sales, changing prices, etc - hopefully, this won't flop! I could use prayer with this because it really kinda stresses me out when I think about it. I have not yet been over to look at the products or to try to arrange any type of display, so I'll let you know how that goes!

In other news, we have started watching the Red Sox v Rockies games. I'll be glad when the World Series is finished just so we can see something else/do something else. I will admit that I am more knowledgeable about baseball than I have ever been in my life. The Rockies lost 12-1 the first night (at least I think that was the score - it became a little boring and I didn't pay much attention at the end). Last night, they did better, but still lost 2-1. They are headed to Denver for the next game and hopefully that will bring them more luck. Go Rockies! - you should always cheer for the underdogs, even if they are not in the American League.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jeremy's Two Cents II


First of all I would like to apologize for the photos from Pagosa that appeared in the previous post. I didn't know that Erin was going to put my those on the www for the entire planet to see, and actually it must have been something in the mineral springs that even let those pictures be taken in first place!!! Have no fear I have attached a censored version for that is safe for the kids, and those sensitive to whiteness (I spent hours and hours on it as you can tell). Don't worry the snow is starting to fall, and the temperatures are starting to drop here, so any photos without many layers of clothes will be few and far between. Actually we did have a really good weekend, though Erin would say I was in a crabby mood after watching the Indians Saturday and Sunday nights. Unfortunately it was a feeling as Cleveland sports fans, we have grown accustomed too. So as we say every year...wait till next year!!!..and how about those Buckeyes!!!
Things with my job are still going pretty well. I had a good conference in Breckenridge earlier this month. I met lots of people and learned all kinds of things about watersheds and different water issues that are occurring all over the state. Nothing too exciting has been going on, most of the field work is done till spring, so lately I have been working on more office things (helping with reports, the website, etc.)
I think Erin mentioned we are still looking for a church here, hopefully we will find something soon. Our unit is unusual in that there isn't a local church that we are associated with, so we have to search for on our own. If you have recently moved, you know that whole process can be quite tiring. One thing for sure is that there aren't many strong churches here, seems everyone that we have attend has been struggling in one way or another... so you can be praying for us for that and for all the churches in the valley on a whole.
Thank you for the emails and blog comments (even if they were about my appearance in the hot springs...or about how my fantasy football team is doing..you guys are just jealous) and feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call. We definitely miss visiting with and seeing everybody.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend Events

We were supposed to go visit my aunt and uncle, but plans changed. Bruce (my uncle) was having difficulty with his back because of painting - back stuff must run in the family, huh? So, Sherry (my aunt) said she would give us a call when they were back in Colorado. Jeremy made alternative plans for Saturday for us since the family plans fell through.

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning (6am) to go be a part of a hot air ballooning crew. Jeremy's boss (Mike) and his wife (Gigi) are both hot air balloon pilots. They needed to do 3 take-offs and landings each to keep their licenses current. Jeremy, Emmy, Claire, and I rolled out of bed and went to help. They take off near the Spanish Peaks, which is about 30 minutes west of Alamosa. It was really a cool thing to be a part of. The first thing Gigi said during our "training" was - "Hot air ballooning is an inherently dangerous sport"! Made me feel pretty comfortable with the events that were to unfold that morning :) Jeremy helped hold the throat of the balloon open to "blow it up" with the cold air from the fan (see picture to top left). I helped hold the grounding rope at the top of the balloon to slowly let it rise in the air; if there is not enough tension, the throat of the balloon will burn from the flame and be ruined. Mike and Gigi did their take-offs and landings. They then took up two other crew members for a short ride. When they landed, we told Claire and Emmy they could be next (figuring we would go after them or come again). They went up higher than the others and came down harder than the others. They had a pretty rough landing, skidding across the ground curled up in the basket. This picture shows what we saw when we made it to the grounded balloon, which was slowly deflating in the open field. (Note there are three people in the basket - look carefully for all their heads, or hair!) Because the wind was predicted to pick up at 9am, we didn't re-inflate the balloon to take anyone else up; Jeremy and I will just have to wait until next time. We went out the the crew and the pilots for a great breakfast in Monte Vista. There were some neat people that came to be a part of the crew. We are realizing that around here people live a long way away and consider it no big deal to drive a distance to get to work, activities, or church.

Claire, Jeremy, and I went on from there to Pagosa Springs to use the free tickets I had to Springs Resort. This is where lots of people go to enjoy the natural hot springs. It seems to be a pricey resort in general; tickets just for the "hot tubs" were $17 a day. They had many pools fed by the hot springs and nestled alongside the river. Each pool was labeled with a nickname and the approximate temperature. We started in the 102F pool, moved to the 103F pool, and settled at "Clouds in my Coffee" pool with 101F water. We liked this last pool the best because it set higher than the other pools, and we were pretty much alone to talk, soak, and observe other guests. I personally thought all the pools were very hot! I sat with a majority of my body out of the water most of the time, but it was also relaxing. Before we ended our time at the pools we tried the "Lobster Pot" pool which has a heat estimated to be 113F. I could only put my feet and calves in before removing them quickly. It felt like I was being boiled! Claire and Jeremy submerged themselves up to their chest, but then didn't move because it stirred up the water and made them too hot! I included a pic of Jeremy in the Lobster Pot with the sign in the background. We left after showering. Showering was pretty much a futile thing though because the smell of the sulfur had soaked into our skin - even today I still smell it on my body! We traveled home via the southern route through Chama and then to Antonito and La Jara. The Chama-Antonito route is a spot for a tourist train. The aspens, had they not already lost their leaves, would have been gorgeous! It definitely would have been a more colorful route than the train we took to La Veta. Because of all the hot water soaking, our muscles felt like jelly as we rode home. We drug our bodies into the house at 6pm and felt like it was bedtime. Jeremy turned on the Indians game, hoping for a perfect end to a great day. He was fed up by the end of the first inning and resorted to watching the Michigan (yes, you read that right) vs. Illinois football game by the 4th inning.
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No big news for Sunday. We went to a new church today - Lighthouse Christian Church - that meets in the Senior Citizen Center. We enjoyed the pastor's message and met a very friendly younger couple. It is a faction of the Alamosa Christian Church that Jeremy and I had visited two weeks ago that had just lost their pastor. This is the only thing that holds us back from really liking this church. It is hard to believe how often churches split for reasons that can seem so minor to outsiders; was the issue so big that healing couldn't take place? I don't know what the issue(s) were, but it is just saddening to me. If we were to go, I think that I would like to know why they left because I want to know what it was they believe so strongly in that they would pull away from their church body. I love being a Christian. I am thankful for the grace of God. I appreciate the diversity within the Christian community. I value the Mennonite example of service and peace. But I wonder at the devisiveness of Satan. I question the example we set when we, as Christians, cannot resolve our differences - we may not fight wars with weapons, but we can certainly leave wounds among brothers and sisters. I praise God that He is bigger than what we can comprehend and that when we fail to love, He does not.
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Oh yeah, and it snowed here - real snow flurries, some even sticking to the ground for a brief period of time. I'm planning on running (or walking, whichever I can do) in the Monster Mash Dash (5K) sponsored by La Puente next weekend. Hopefully, I am not running in snow! I'll keep you updated.