Wednesday, August 29, 2018

crunch week

It’s crunch week, y’all. We’re racing the clock to get as much done as possible before flying home on Sunday.

Thank goodness we have two expert workers chipping in this week. My cousin is back (for the third time!) and he done did bring his daddy-o.

The two of them, plus my husband and kids, are whirling around the property like mini tornadoes (the good kind), pouring another porch step, grouting tile, installing doors, putting in the kitchen counter and cabinets, doing the porch roofs, finishing the painting, cleaning up the property.

We won’t be quite done when we leave — but the place will be liveable, fingers crossed — so my cousin will stay for another week, trying to get it as close to done done as possible.

In addition to the work crunch, there’s the social crunch — trying to pack in as much friend time as possible. Saturday night we stayed up late watching a movie and munching on popcorn, almonds, and craisins at our friends’ house. Sunday there was bowling and games and hanging out at Church’s. Monday, Marita, a friend from church, and Carmen came over to teach me how to make mofongo.

They also made churrasco and whipped up a bowl of mayoketchup, and I made a cabbage slaw and blondies. Also, Carmen brought along her massage chair so we could take turns fighting over it.

But hang on a sec. I gotta say a little more about Carmen. Just this, really: She is a HOOT.

Over at the jobsite, she instigated a game of swords with my younger son, and then, because she was worried that my husband would get upset, she went home and crafted swords from foam noodles. My husband said he looked out the window and there she was, battling it out with the kid!

Also, she doesn’t approve of my daughter’s new piercing, so when my daughter came out with an ice cube pressed against her ear, Carmen snapped in Spanish, “You’re the one who wanted a piercing so now just deal with it, ha!” and to me, “translate THAT!” and so I did, and then she leveled my daughter with the hairy eyeball to beat all hairy eyeballs and we shrieked with laughter, my older daughter loudest of all.

So, continuing on....

Last night I cooked supper for Nilda, Carmen, Nicole, and Norleene (and the two volunteers). All summer long they’ve been cooking for us, so it’s high time we turned the tables, I figured. And then afterward, everyone ran off to a basketball game, and now tonight a friend is coming over for a baking lesson....

And today is only Wednesday, pant-pant.

Two other things before I forget!

First, I never told you about The Pan de Agua Car. Nearly every morning a car wends its way through our neighborhood, a recorded voice telling everyone to take advantage now. When my parents were here, my dad kept asking, What are they saying? What are they selling?

I have no idea, I said. I didn't care to know, really. Ad cars pass all the time, their speakers so offensively loud that I had long since tuned them out as a silent boycott against their rudeness. Whatever that car was selling, I wanted none of it. Just some peace and quiet please.

And then, a few weeks after my parents left, it suddenly dawned on me: that car was selling bread! And then, of course, I had to flag it down to investigate.

In the backseat was a huge sack of pan de agua, the long thin loaves standing on their ends like a bouquet of flowers. Up front on the passenger’s seat, was a box of smaller loaves of pan sobao, and couple bags of sweet buns with raisins.

That first morning, I bought some of everything, and ever since, I’ve been a faithful customer. Mornings when I hear the recording (which isn’t nearly as offensively loud as most, I’ve realized) and we’re low on bread, I snatch a couple pesos from the money jar and dash outside to stock up.

pan sobao on the left, pan de agua on the right

It’s super convenient (though I am eager to get back to homemade sourdough!).

Second, a question: Can I pack homemade (unsealed — it comes in old rum bottles) vinegar in my checked baggage?

At the same fruit stand where I discovered parcha, I found a homemade vinegar. It’s called pique, and, packed with red peppers, fresh garlic, stems of oregano, and olive oil, it’s the perfect blend of flavor and heat.

I pour it on anything — eggs, rice, meat — and have become rather addicted, so naturally I want to bring back a few bottles.

However, I’m not sure the vinegar will be allowed through customs since it’s homemade and the bottles aren’t sealed. On the other hand, Puerto Rico is part of the US, so maybe they wouldn’t be as picky? Anyone have any experience with this?

This same time, years previous: don't wear deoderant, the quotidian (8.29.16), tomatoes in cream, peach crisp, Bezaleel scenes, puppy love, fresh tomato salad, roasted tomato sauce.

Monday, August 27, 2018

the quotidian (8.27.18)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Plate of happy.

Now I can (probably) make them myself.

Banana cake workshop.

Wiring up.


The second coat of primer.

Carpenter's list.


I think someone would rather be working.

Keeping track of where it all goes.

Punching holes.


Art installation.

They can make a game out of anything — in this case, shredded bits of napkin.

Mapping out the last week. 

This same time, years previous: fresh nectarine galette, family extended, a big deal, on love and leftovers, don't even get me started, atop the ruins, the quotidian (8.27.12), coming up for air.

Friday, August 24, 2018

full circle

Back in April, a few days before we left Virginia for Puerto Rico, Rolando, the island coordinator for MDS and our boss, sent us some photos and videos of his family cleaning up the rental house that we’d be living in. It made my eyes smart, seeing all those strangers mucking around with brooms and scrub brushes, preparing for our arrival.

And now, almost exactly four months later, in a weirdly wonderful turn of events, Rolando and his wife are staying in our home while they transition their older daughter into college at the local university and it’s our son sending the getting-ready updates. All last week, he sent us photos of his progress: of the guest room all made up with fresh towels at the ready, the porches power-washed, the windows scrubbed. He even bought thrift store art and hung it on the wall (though I’m not quite sure how I feel about that).

And then on Wednesday night, suddenly there they were, our friends in my kitchen.

The photos keep coming, of them eating eggs and toast at the kitchen table, walking around the university campus, setting up the dorm room, touring my dad’s workshop, making applesauce with my mom, hanging out with my nephew and nieces. It makes my eyes smart all over again.

The day after they arrived in Virginia, my son texted: "It feels weird having Puerto Rico in my house… I LOVE IT!"

My thoughts exactly, kiddo. My thoughts exactly.

photo credits: Rolando

This same time, years previous: it's what's for supper, the quotidian (8.23.16). sundried tomato and basil pesto torte, that special date, bruschetta, he got me.

Monday, August 20, 2018

the quotidian (8.20.18)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Coming right up: pepperoni rolls.

Same lunch, different arrangement.

On fear: an effective episode of Brain Games.

Well, hello there, sweetie.

Team Paint.

Rolling right along (sorry).

The Look: I get it (and give it) all the time. 

A full day of work and proud of it.

In the right light, drywall dust and concrete almost look like snow.

Visitors are fun.

This week, so many meetings.

Pop goes the tire.

This same time, years previous: miracle cat, kale tabbouleh with cucumbers and tomatoes, the quotidian (8.19.13), the quotidian (8.20.12), what crazy looks like, how to get your refrigerator clean in two hours, tomato and red wine sauce.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

a little house tour

My mother pointed out that my photos of the house often only show bits and pieces of the construction, so here are a few big-picture shots to give you a better sense of the house in its entirety.

The north side of the house. The porch door leads into the living room. 

This is the back, east side of the house, butting up against the neighbor's house. The dining/living room is on the end closest to me. The first door leads to the kitchen, and the second "doorway" is actually a little open-air alcove where the washing machine will go.

Here, I'm standing in the alley kitchen, looking into the dining/living room. The main room has four double sets of windows spread over three walls, plus a door, so the ocean air breezes right through.

The bathroom: Smile! We've got tile!

Nilda wants the entire inside of the house white and we wholeheartedly agree. 
The white paint brightens up the place, making everything feel light and breezy.

The photographer (my younger daughter, I think) is taking the photo from the living room. The hall divides the house down in the middle, from north to south: the alley kitchen, bathroom, and a bedroom to the left; a larger bedroom and a smaller bedroom on the right; a linen closet at the end.

The west and south sides of the house. Currently, all that remains to be plastered is the south side, and the subcontractors should be able to complete the work on Monday.

Next up: finishing the electrical and installing the floor tile. Two weeks to go, wheee!

This same time, years previous: a new room, in progress, the quotidian (8.18.14). garlicky spaghetti sauce.