Sunday, April 26, 2009

True Colours Thursday on Sunday

Once again, I've gotten behind on my posting. Sad thing is, I actually took these photos on Thursday, but somehow, didn't get around to cropping them until today! Better late than never, I suppose.

A bit of rusty signpost I spotted during a late afternoon walk.

Rust-colo(u)red hedge along the same walk.

True Colours Thursday is hosted by friend Blue.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thank You, Paul Simon

It's been a pretty good day: Mom and I got a little walk in, though I must confess it was a walk to a maltshop for lunch. No matter--we did a little exercise over lunch hour. Additionally, I worked on an embroidery project (messed up a little, but really, who's gonna notice?) But I just wasn't feeling all that productive. So I put a couple loads of clothes to dry and took a brief nap. Somehow I couldn't seem to get Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" out of my head, so I hunted out my CD and am playing it via Xbox. It was amazing... at the first strains of "Mother and Child Reunion" I instantly felt about 10 years younger. Suddenly, feeding and watering my birds wasn't such a chore. I even swept up the birdseed they'd spilled with no complaints. I found myself singing along to "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard," and even DANCING to "Loves Me Like a Rock." Okay, granted, I'm blogging now, but trust me, I was really productive for a while there. And since I have the CD set to loop, I may become quite efficient with the housework.

Another plus: I forgot to take my pedometer off when I started my dancing fit, so I now have 1.3 miles in for the day. Heck yeah, I'm counting it--dancing is good exercise. Okie doke--gonna get back to that housework now. Peace out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monochrome Maniacs: Mexico x 2!

Once again, I failed to do a monochrome last week, so I'm making up for it by posting two this week. These are both from my recent trip to south Texas and Mexico. These are both from the border town of Nuevo Progreso, Mexico.

This is a monument just inside the city limits of Nuevo Progreso.

A shot of the busy city street. There's something of a traffic jam of cars trying to cross the border.

For more monomania, visit Aileni's Monochrome Maniacs

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Was That, Again?

On Sunday, April 5, 2009 (two weeks ago today), I attended my first all-Spanish church service. Mind you, I don't speak fluent Spanish. Mine is broken, at best. So why did I go to a Spanish church service, you might ask. Here's the deal: my cousin's bilingual fiance, who has relatives in Mexico, had agreed to go with Andre to show my mom and me Nuevo Progreso, Mexico on Sunday afternoon. However, Mom and I also wanted to hear Pierce play piano, and it just so happened that he was playing at a Mennonite Brethren church that week. The first service was in Spanish, and the second in English. Being somewhat pressed for time, we agreed to go to the earlier service, leaving time for Mexico in the afternoon.

As we walked into the church, we were greeted, in Spanish, and had no idea how to respond. I think I may have just said "gracias." Then, after being led down a corridor toward the double-doors of the main sanctuary, a youngish fellow appeared seemingly out of nowhere and asked, in English, if we were here for the English service.

Before anyone had time to think, my mom replied, "Yes!" enthusiastically.

Andre looked at us, puzzled. So I tried to fix the situation with, "No. Espanol," which, in retrospect, probably sounded like I was affirming that I, indeed, could not speak Spanish. This time, it was the boy who looked puzzled. I shrugged my shoulders and suggested we just go in and sit down, as we were 10 minutes late.

But that is another story.

So we made it in time to hear Pierce play "Levanto Mis Manos" and "Here I Am to Worship" in Spanish. Please don't ask me to translate that one. It was very nice. Between the four of us, we sort of got the gist of the sermon, and then were ready to leave. It had gone rather smoothly. Now, it was time for the road trip to Mexico.

We drove for a good length of time until we reached the border. Andre left the car in a parking lot and we crossed the Rio Grande on foot. As soon as we entered Nuevo Progreso, it occurred to me that I wasn't really up on my Spanish. Fortunately, we had Diego, who could act as interpreter.

I found myself using one Spanish phrase so frequently that it became second-nature: "Perdoneme." Nuevo Progreso was a bit crowded, and I was constantly in someone's way. "Perdoneme," I would apologize, seemingly under my breath, as my voice did not carry well in the overcrowded business districts.

After eating our tacos and this corn dish that was served in a cup, we headed back toward the border. But I was so disoriented that I thought we were going deeper into the city. When I saw the border station, I knew I was almost out of time for buying souvenirs, and I wanted at least a little something to bring home. So, Diego suggested that I visit one of his favorite shops that wasn't far away.

Mom and I decided on a few ceramics. Diego and Andre picked out a huge pinata. As Mom was paying for our gifts, I noticed she was speaking English. This was really annoying me because we were in Mexico, and Mom had minored in Spanish in college. The clerk did not seem pleased with her unwillingness to use Spanish. Finally, when the transaction was complete, and the clerk was handed Mom her receipt, I heard the words, "Muchas gracias" escape my lips. The clerk's whole countenance lit up, and he gave my mother and I a welcome smile.

For more tales of language, visit Sunday Scribblings

Thursday, April 16, 2009

True Colours Thursday--Lime!

Just a couple of limes I found in my room:

This is the logo on top of my old-school Xbox. Yeah, I still play games and watch movies on it.

And this is some scented simmer oil that I pour into the top of a warmer. There's a tea light underneath that warms the oil, creating a pleasant fragrance throughout the room... well... unless I go off and forget about it and come back to thick, sludgey burnt-smelling oil. Safety tip: never leave those suckers unattended!

Visit my friend Blue for more True Colours Thursday offerings!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

To the (Top of the) Lighthouse...

A week ago yesterday, I was in South Texas with family, as some of you may know. I was very excited about visiting South Padre Island, which was on the schedule for things to do that Saturday. Along the way, however, my cousin stopped at the Port Isabel lighthouse. I thought perhaps we were going to look at it and then head to the Island. I soon realized this was not the case. We were not only going to look at the lighthouse, we were going to go inside the lighthouse.

Now, my fear of heights has been so severe over the years that walking to the second floor computer lab at my community college’s library could provoke panic attacks. Just about the time I conquered this second floor library room, I graduated community college and enrolled in a university. Wouldn’t you know, the English classes were all on the 3rd floor at the university, so to make a long story short, I was constantly off the first floor. To make matters worse, the university’s library computer lab was on the 4th floor. There was no escape, so I tried facing my fear. I always chose window seats in my 3rd floor English classes, and I occasionally walked by the windows on the 4th floor of the library. After some time, I got used to these heights.

When I took my first airplane flight, I didn’t know how I would react to altitudes of more than 30,000 feet. Still, I chose the window seat and watched the takeoff. No panic attacks.

Thinking I was cured of my fear of heights, I remember my shock at being creeped out by the escalators to the SkyLink at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Subsequently, with each flight I took, I tried reminding myself that the heights I feared were nowhere near the height I’d been while in the air. Still, standing at the base of the Port Isabel lighthouse, I found myself wishing we could skip the lighthouse and soak up some rays on the beach. My palms were sweating profusely as I started up the steps. I thought this might be a good time to tell Andre and Pierce that I was scared to death. I mean, in the event that I might pass out at the top or freak out and run down the steps without warning.

“You’re scared of… heights?” Andre asked.
“Yeah, quite a bit. Facing that fear though,” I answered, more to reassure myself than to actually respond to the question.
“Funny, I’d never expect that out of you,” she mused.

I was actually doing okay until about halfway up the lighthouse or so, when some joker coming down said, “Be careful—steps get pretty narrow up there.”

“Don’t say that!” I whispered loudly.

So I kept climbing, a little slower this time, until I almost stopped. Andre said, “Just keep climbing—just like the stairs at Dad’s house, ‘cept there’s more of ‘em.”

She had a point. Her dad’s house has a spiral staircase that, as a child, I loved to climb, so much so that I would dream up excuses to go upstairs. That sorta helped.

Suddenly the stairs ended and I faced a short ladder. At this point, I seriously considered doubling back, but instead I started up the ladder. In my flip flops. And my feet were cold and sweating. In fact, my whole body was cold and sweaty, because I knew that this was it—the observation deck. Once at the top, I grabbed onto the door and planted myself firmly in that position. Problem was, I didn’t want to go out on the deck, I didn’t want to ascend to the upper glassed-in level, I didn’t want to go back down, and I didn’t want to be where I was. Eventually, I took a few pictures from my post, still clinging onto the door with my left hand. Pierce saw me standing there and said, “So… I take it that acting like I’m going to push you over for a photo op is out of the question then?” He sounded a little disappointed.

“Uh, YEAH.”

(Funny thing about Pierce, he loves to ham it up for the camera. Had I not been so scared of the heights, I’d have been all for it. But this was serious).

Then, he offered to take my camera around the observation deck so I could have some photos without having to step out of my comfort zone.

“Careful, I got the camera a little sweaty,” I informed him, ashamed of myself.

“Oh yeah. Thanks for the warning. Don’t wanna, drop it over the edge.”

Seriously, Pierce really is a good kid—he just likes to tease.

While he was out taking pictures, I got brave and started climbing the steps to the upper level… and promptly chickened out. I knew I’d hate myself if I went that far and then wouldn’t go to the very top, but these things take time. Then Mom did it. I said, “Hey, I thought you were scared of heights.”

“I am,” she replied.

That was far too offensive for me to handle. Offensive enough to provide an impetus for me to scale the steps to the top. But of course, I had to wait until Mom came down. Finally, I started. Mom said, “I’ll go up there with you.” I know she was trying to be helpful, but I declined, as another person might make me feel claustrophobic. Though I don’t usually have a problem with close spaces, I didn’t want to take any chances. So, I made it to the top. Took some pictures (Pierce had returned me my camera), but I didn’t walk around. Then I really hated it that I hadn’t even set foot on the observation deck. It looked like the lighthouse tour was winding down, so I stood with one foot on the deck and took some terrible photos of nothing in particular. But that just wouldn’t do. There had to be documented proof that I was actually there. Don’t ask me what made me do it, but the next thing I knew, I was actually on the observation deck. It wasn’t so bad, really, but until I get used to these things, they still make me a little nervous. Pierce happened to be out there, so my Mom grabbed a shot of us together.

Now, climbing down the ladder was, of course, worse than going up, but with Andre holding onto me and giving me pep talks, I made it. Then, going down the actual steps wasn’t so bad. I did tell a couple of total strangers that I was terrified of heights, but I had gone to the top. I think they were proud of me?

After we got to the bottom, I looked up. I honestly couldn’t believe that I had just conquered the lighthouse. “So,” I asked Andre, “when we get to South Padre, you wanna go parasailing?”

For more scary posts, visit Sunday Scribblings

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Monochrome Maniacs--Iwo Jima Memorial

On Saturday, my cousins, mom, and I went to South Padre Island, but along the way, we stopped at Harlingen to see the Iwo Jima statue.

For more monomania, check out Monochrome Maniacs

Monday, April 06, 2009

Back Home

Just dropping in to let everyone know I'm back from the Texas trip. Have more stories to tell later--I'm tired now. 'Night, ya'll.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Another Brief Update...

Okay, so today I attended a church service in Spanish. I actually picked up on most of what the pastor was saying. Afterwards, I went to Mexico with my mom, cousin, and cousin's fiance. It was a lot of fun. Heading back home tomorrow. Once again, just a brief update--hope to have more in-depth stories when we get back :)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

My Arms and Feet: Either a Nice Tan or a Painful Sunburn Tomorrow...

...hopefully it will be the tan!

Today we visited the beach. It was awesome. Didn't do much, but that's okay. Had my first taste of Whataburger (I had fries) and was quite impressed! Went for a walk in the park as well. Oh yes, and how could I forget? I actually went to the top of a lighthouse today! Pretty impressive when you consider my fear of heights (which, I may add, I'm facing and slowly conquering). I didn't walk around, mind you, but I did go to the top, and I did step out onto the open observation deck a time or two.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Checking In...

Just wanted to drop by and say I'm having a lot of fun in Texas. I really enjoyed seeing a friend I had not seen since I was three years old and meeting her son, that I'd never before met. He's a great little guy--we had a ton of fun together. The little guy insisted that Mom play the Wii, so she gave in and tried tennis. Once she figured out the strokes, she promptly smashed into a glass that had formerly housed Sprite and ice for me, which was sitting on the coffee table. In hindsight, we probably should have moved the coffee table. Other than that little incident, the stay went rather well.

Had the interview today. I felt that it went well. However, I won't hear back for a while. Met up with my cousins for some Mongolian food afterward. It was pretty good. I'm surprised, because it was a line where you choose your pasta, veggies, meats, spices, oil, and sauce. I say I'm surprised at the good flavor because I kinda got excited about the different veggies and spices. Anyway, I put some seasoned salt, paprika, cayenne, fajita seasoning, and garlic. And then, I added the chili garlic sauce. Mmm!

Well, just wanted to drop in and say hello. May even try to catch up on Word of the Day a bit.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Shouldn't Be Surprised...

Your Ideal Pet is a Little Dog

You're both high strung, hyper, and cute.

You're one of the few people who can get away with carrying your little dog in a little bag.

Bookish Meme

BJ tagged me for this meme quite some time ago, but I needed some time to think about my answers, so, though late, here it is!

Four childhood books I've read.
1. "Little House" series
2. Caddie Woodlawn
3. The Secret Garden
4. Mathilda

Four Classic books read & never forgotten.
1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. (Yep!)
2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
3. The Maltese Falcon (even though it's a 20th century novel)
4. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (another 20th century novel)

Four personal modern 'Classic' novels...
1. The Catcher in the Rye
2. My Antonia by Willa Cather (I'll keep this one too, BJ!)
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (Agreed again!)

Four authors I read again and again...
1. William Faulkner
2. Edgar Allan Poe (We must be related, BJ!)
3. John Steinbeck
4. David Sedaris

Four authors &/or books I'll never read again.
(Well, I don't want to say never, but...)
1. Not a fan of Shakespeare
2. or Austen
3. ?
4. ?

Four books on my 'To-Be-Read' list...
1. Jude the Obscure What is my problem?!
2. The Great Gatsby Imagine being an English graduate and having never read Gatsby!
3. Finnegan's Wake Man, I am a glutton for punishment!
4. Oliver Twist

The four books I'd take to a desert island...
1. Some sort of foreign language learning book.
2. Finnegan's Wake! If I were stranded, then I might have time to actually try to make sense of it!
3. The Bourne Trilogy (in the form of one bound book)--if this is possible
4. Something by James Thurber so I can have a good laugh now and again

Four books recommendations you have followed:-
1. The Bourne Identity. Recommended by Alisa; though it was on a to-read someday list, she told me that I'd really like it--and I did! That's all I can think of, at the moment!
2. " " Supremacy, also from Alisa.
3. When I finish Supremacy, I plan to read Ultimatum (so I'm sorta cheating with the meme answers...)
4. ?

The last lines of one of my favorite books:
"Spade, looking down at his desk, nodded almost imperceptibly. 'Yes,' he said, and shivered. 'Well, send her in.' (Dashiell Hammett The Maltese Falcon)--sorry--this doesn't make sense unless you've read the book, but I didn't want to give any plot away.

I'll tag anyone who wishes to do this meme, but I especially hope that Alisa decides to participate, because I'd love to see her answers!

The Name Game 2009 Meme

The Name Game - 2009

BJ tagged me for this meme, so I'll give it a go!

By the way, some of these are things I like, while others are stream-of-consciousness reactions. Enjoy :)

1. What is your name? SUNSHINE (for blogging purposes)

Since my name begins with S, all my answers to the below list must begin with the letter S.

2. Four letter word: Whoa! Careful there... SNOW?

3. Girl Name: SUSAN (or SUSSUDIO, if you like Phil Collins)

4. Boy Name: SAM SPADE!

5. Occupation: SALESMAN. Not something I'd like to do, but necessary, I guess.

6. Color: SAGE

7. Piece of clothing: SANDALS. Does footwear count?

8. Food: SOUP

9. Item in the bathroom: SOAP

10. Place/City: SCOTTSDALE, Arizona--where I attended my first writing conference.

11. A reason for being late: SINGING in the shower. APRIL FOOL'S!!!

12. Something I’d yell: SWEET!

13. Movie: SIXTH Sense

14. Something you drink: SWEET tea

15. Band: SIMON and Garfunkle :)

16. Animal: SNAKE

17. Street name: SECOND

18. Car: SUBARU--once, on a field trip, we crammed about 8 students into one (it was being used as a campus shuttle at a university) not for the same reason BJ did, but just because we wanted to stay together as a group. Fun times!

19. Song: SUGAR Magnolia :)

20. Activity that includes more than one participant: Excuse me?! SING-a-Long

The End!

Tagging anyone who wants to participate!

Texas Time!

Just wanted to let ya'll know that I'm heading to Texas tomorrow (business/pleasure) and plan to be back sometime Monday night. If I appear MIA, that's why. For those who follow Word of the Day, I plan to search the archives to write posts for each of the days of my absence.