Monday, July 19, 2010

Back to the grind

You'd think that winter would be more tolerable down here because it is so much warmer than in the Cleveland area. However, I am finding myself with the same level of jetlag that I'd get going back to Cleveland after a February Chile trip. Somehow when I land in summer, I have no problem, but the last two days have been a blur of sleep, headaches and clouds. Blech.

Anyway, it's back to work for us for 4 weeks. We are going to have to keep burning the candle at both ends because we have a LOT of work to fit into this time: On Aug 14, we leave again but this time for 6 weeks. We are going to Cleveland, Jackson Hole, back to Cleveland for a wedding, then to AUSTRALIA! to buy/order sheep embryos, then BACK to Cleveland and finally back here. No joke, I am going to go from being a regular old frequent flier to a gold flier just with these trips. I am excited about Australia, but it will be mostly work-- sheep farms, fairs, mucho hay and manure I imagine. I am most looking forward to Jackson because I need a few days of relaxation and zero obligations. Brian and Becky are coming so goodness knows the food will be good, too!

So, here's what's on our plate:

HOUSE As you all know, the farm house was destroyed in the earthquake. I haven't really updated about that situation because I have been out of my mind busy with that. Nick and I have looked at this past trip as a symbolic closure of the Earthquake Period here-- the straw house is done, and we have a temporary place to live-- we bought a mobile-home-type ditty that was delivered ready-to-go, but it's TINY (two bedrooms/450 square feet) and anyway we were going to build our own house even before the earthquake hit. So since before we moved here, Nick and I dealt with an architect to design a house. We shopped it around to various builders but unfortunately the price was just WAY too high for us (1/4-1/2 million USD! wth!). Back in February we were about to sign a contract with the company that made our casita (it's what we call the mobile house... nicer, isn't it?) to build a full-sized house for us. It was affordable and reasonably nice. Since we've had the casita, though, we've realized that we have a bit more time to think about things and also we weren't crazy about the quality of it. It's fine, but it gave us pause when we realized a whole house like that could be a pain to live in... soo.....

Nick and I have decided to build our own house... ! ..... ! We are going to continue on the straw theme, and employ the same two farm guys that helped build the one on the farm the employee. We came to the realization that in order to get the quality that we wanted (and are used to in the US) for the price that we want, this is the only way. Plus, the only people accountable to us are us. If we don't show up for work one day, we know where we are. If we go over budget, we know why. And saving so much on labor will enable us to have the best quality materials, ensuring that our house will last longer than something we'd contract out. The building project will start around November, but we are going this afternoon to discuss it with an architect, so start looking for posts about this soon. I am really excited to be able to blog about our own straw house!

BUSINESS The other big thing I have on my plate is a business that Nick and I, a friend from the US, and possibly a partner here in Chile have talked about starting for some months. I don't want to put too many details on the internet because it's a very competitive industry, but I look forward to talking about it more as we progress. But for now I have to write a business plan to get us operational as soon as possible. One thing I learned from attending a entrepreneurship seminar here is not to sit on your ideas because there are ten other people our there trying to make them work already! So we decided that in order to get things into motion, I was the least busy member of this group and I could start the heavy work on things as soon as possible. Exciting, but lots of work.

Ok gotta run to this meeting, but it feels nice to have some clarity of mind, and moreover TIME, to be back here blogging and telling everyone about life in Chile! See you soon!

Back to the USA

Wow, what a visit home. Nick and I went to the US on July 1 and came back to Chile yesterday. It was the first time we had been there since the earthquake and so coming in was extremely emotional for me. The landscape itself is so different than here in Chile, and when I saw the flat land filled with green, green, green and the lake in the distance, I can't even describe the feeling that welled up in me. It was coming home, but it was different, more powerful. It was a place I knew that was still there, unchanged, unshaken.

I won't bore you with too many details of what we did and who we saw because many of you were either there or don't know the people I am talking about! However, I would like to mention a few highlights:

GO TRIBE-- The day we got back, crazy person that I am, I arranged for us to go to an Indians game. They lost miserably and played like an AA team, but it was great to be there. The fireworks were amazing, and it was about as All-American as you can get after 6 months away. Considering all of the drama always surrounding the other teams in town, I hope the Indians can get it together in the coming years... lots more opinions here but this is not a baseball blog.... :)

ROOT CAFE-- I hadn't been here since they moved/changed from the Phoenix, aside from a quick dash in over Christmas to get coffee. I have been hooked on Phoenix coffee since Brian introduced me to it (Phoenix and Equal Exchange decaf are my signature blends!) but the old place wasn't exactly my kind of hole in the wall (and hole in the wall, it was). But the Root is the really comfortable, relaxing kind of coffee house I haven't seen around town since the Red Star was open down on Detroit & 116th. I went once just to try it and we ended up going on several consecutive days. The food, which is sourced locally when available, was great and reasonably priced. I am hooked on the beetnik muffin-- a beet & blueberry creation that is dense, moist and really tasty. I am going to have to experiment with beets in bakery now! They are much sweeter here in Chile, so it will be interesting to see how that works out... Recipes to come?

BAC-- This was the other dining discovery of the trip. Nick, Brian & Becky and I were in Tremont and wanted some interesting food for dinner, so we decided to try Bac. The family who runs it includes a friend-of-several-friends so I had seen details about it while we were here in Chile but obviously didn't have the chance to try it until this trip. The menu had me DROOLING a few months ago when I read it and it turns out that it lived up to its hype. The dumpling and rangoon appetizers we had were excellent, and the sauces flavorful (and not just soy sauce with chili in it like some places). I had Pad Thai because I can't resist trying it wherever I am. It was really different from any I have had but really good. A reviewer on another site said it was better than the one at Ty Fun, which is my favorite pad thai around... I wouldn't say it was better but it was just as good in a different way.

HILL CUMORAH-- After many years of talking about it, Sarah, Alison and I finally went to the Hill Cumorah pageant in upstate NY. For those of you not familiar with it, it's a dramatic rendition of part of the book of Mormon and how it was rediscovered. Sociologically speaking, it was fascinating to see so many mormons in one place, and with the dichotomy of the attendees with the anti-mormon protestors surrounding the place. Despite my fascination with mormon culture and my disbelief in the book of mormon, I really do not understand anti-mormon protestors. I, too, find it quite odd that there is no historical evidence of a book many people believe to be accurate (although this was explained away in the pageant by God having wiped the historical evidence off the face of the Earth), but I have never been driven to yell at believers over it. Also, Mormons? Probably the least likely people in the world to engage in any sort of dialect over their beliefs. The pageant itself was ... odd.. It was about an hour and a half long, and probably 1:15 of that was a summary of fighting between groups of people. Then it got on to what I thought was the important stuff-- the discovery by Joseph Smith of the book of Mormon at the very site we were sitting! But it spent maybe 10 minutes saying "And so Joseph Smith found the book of Mormon here on Hill Cumorah. The end, have a good night!"