Saturday, October 29, 2011


The pollen here is so bad right now, it's collecting in the corners of the apartment every few hours!

Spring has sprung and this year it seems like it's going to be short and summer will zoom right in. I think back to my first Spring here, two years ago and it's soooo different than that one. It rained and was cloudy the entire first month we were here. I remember it didn't even get warm until Thanksgiving! I was sure that's just how Spring went here, but last year was beautiful and this year it was just like someone threw a switch on the season and there it was.

I haven't gotten to spend as much of the Spring at the farm as I wanted. We went to the US for a couple of weeks in September to attend 2 weddings. I had been really psyched about going because I looooove September in Cleveland typically, but this year was, of course, not typical. It rained the whole time we were there! In the end it was so busy that we couldn't have enjoyed the weather anyway, but it was a shame to anticipate all the fun fall things and then not be able to do them.

The happy news is that we bought an apartment while we were there. Maybe this seems excessive but the market was right. The prices on condos were (are) unbelievably low. We want to have kids and once you introduce a third person to your trip, it's hard to stay at a friend's house or in one guest room at my parents' house. We did the math on getting a hotel while we're there and guess what? The apartment was cheaper. Pretty wild. Of course the bonus is that it's ours! We painted it and slaved over trying to furnish it (everything second hand this time) on this past trip but now when we go back for Christmas it's there! We still need a bed and sheets and towels, but I kitted out the kitchen pretty well thanks to a few trips to Goodwill and some donations from awesome people in ours lives, so we're almost there. I can't tell you how excited I am to pull out our Christmas decorations for the first time in a few years!!!

Christmas and Spring. Where else but here?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My garden

I got a BIG SUR-PRISE when we got back from our summer vacation this year: My little garden which would hardly grow anything last year? Weeds three feet high!!!

My herb garden is some-where under here.....

I knew things would grow in a month but I didn't realize they would grow so much! I figured the cold would keep them down, but alas. So I have spent the entire last MONTH chopping it all down. The upside is that I have become intimately familiar with the weeds that grow here. I have easily found and identified (thanks to it getting dark early and some good reference books) 20 species of rather non-exciting herby plants growing in my yard. Also, all that ground coverage, even in a little bit of time, has really build a moist, dense soil. The key will be keeping it around this summer! I am planning to mulch with some aged tree chips--hoping they are aged enough. Last year I mulched with reeeeally old chips from the chopping pile near the old house, but there's a pretty finite supply of that, so I'm not sure I can get enough for this year too.

So excited for another flowery summer!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 18, 2011, Most Annoying Day On Record

It was supposed to rain today, starting sometime late in the day. A few weeks ago, we got a dire rain forecast, and not much happened (we got 5mm of rain) so I prepared a little less this time, figuring this would be about the same. But I awoke at 9am to rain that had already begun. I had planned to run (IKR? I'm trying to do Couch-to-5k) but honestly it doesn't make me sad when I can't run. So I made a cup of coffee and settled on to the couch to catch up on the news and my emails, when--ZAP--hummmmm--ZAP--hummmmm--ZAP the power started flickering.

Great. Power outages here are no small problem. After the earthquake, we didn't have power for almost 2 weeks. But it was daylight, I figured I could make do. I turned on my Nook and cuddled up to read this dry-but-witty piece I'm reading about the British Museum. Not 10 minutes later I hear a violent roar. The cats went berserk. I knew exactly what had happened somehow. The roof blew off.

I should clarify that we don't have a traditional Ohio-style roof, and it's not structural, but it does the job. The winds were pretty bad, but we've had them before and hadn't had problems with the roof, but this storm was no match. Luckily our house is sealed on the inside so it wasn't like I was without a ceiling, too, but it was definitely leaking in spots. I called Nick to let him know, donned my finest rain gear, and went out to try to do something.

But the ladder was gone. I don't know where it had gotten to, but there wasn't any way I was going to get on the roof without one. I tried to gather the roof sheets (the roof is covered with zinc sheets) but every time I'd get one back to the house, it'd blow away again. Not only that but it essentially became giant shrapnel. I had to go back inside.

Luckily Nick got home with 3 of the farm employees to put things back together. They had the ladder, and I just had to move the car out of the way. I got in and turned the key-----nothing. Sigh. So with the guys tied up with the roof, I figured I had to go get the cables to jump the battery. They were down in the farm truck, a 10 minute walk away. So I faced the lashing wind and got them, and when I came back I decided to try the car one more time and ... what do you know? It started.

Por fin, the guys got the roof back up and they actually tied it down to the house so it couldn't blow away again. It's very attractive. I wish I had gotten to take a photo of the whole incident, but what else goes with an annoying day than a phone that dies right after I make the SOS call to Nick?

But wait! There's more!

Thinking the storm madness had settled, and with the power still out, Nick and I decided we were going to fly the coop back to Santiago. We had a few chores to do before we could do that, which left us soaking wet. When we were back at the house changing into dried clothes, ZAP! The power went back on. By this time we were pretty exhausted and it was going to be dark soon, so we thought this was a sign to stay in our cozy, warm house, rather than drive in the dark and rain back to our cold apartment. Plus I had planned on making lamb ragu and homemade gnocchi, and who wants to pass that up for take-out????

So we decided to stay. I put the ragu on, Nick stoked the fire and we cozied in with the rain still falling outside and the wind having calmed a bit. 2 hours into cooking..... ZAP. At this point, I just silently started packing everything up. But what do you do with a half-cooked, piping hot pot of sauce? We hemmed and hawed over what to do for about a half an hour. If we stayed, we could have dinner by candlelight but it would be kind of creepy up on the hill, in our house, with no power. Somehow electricity feels safe. If we left, we could be in town by 9pm, in a bright (but cold) apartment and could pick up a pizza along the way.

Hem, haw, hem haw.

Finally I said, ok, let's just GO because then we can't second-guess ourselves all night. We'll have made a decision that we can't go back on. Nick agreed. We finished packing everything. I put the food in the cooler. I even tied up the half-cooked pot of sauce and wrapped it in a red towel (I figured then the tomato couldn't stain it?) Nick looked hesitant like he really didn't want to leave. But we made up our minds. We were in the mud room, getting ready to lock the door when -- ZAP. Back on.

And that's when I decided that June 18, 2011 was the most annoying day of the year.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Quote I saw this morning that I found kind of bizarre:
"Estoy más preocupado de los chilenos, porque las personas merecen más protección que los árboles. Nos preocupa mucho la protección del medio ambiente, pero nos preocupa mucho más la salud y la calidad de vida de los chilenos"
--Sebastian Piñera, President of Chile

This roughly translates to, "I am concerned about the Chileans, because people deserve more protection than trees. We worry a lot about the environment, but we worry more about health and quality of life for the Chileans."

This is in reference to the HidroAysen project, which would build a large hydro electric plant in Patagonia, in an area previously untouched by people, and require transmission lines be built for hundreds of miles through native forest to reach Santiago. It has been the subject of many protests around Chile and even throughout the world recently because a) it endangers areas considered pristine and would cause a lot of environmental havoc (in a nutshell) and b) it's to provide energy for a smoggy, overpopulated city over a thousand miles away.

Look, I am not going to get all crazy about this because there are zillions of blog posts about the Aysen project and why or why not it should be done, but how stupid is this quote? Does Piñera really think that people worry about trees just for the sake of trees? How can you disconnect that from the health and quality of life of the people?

Friday, February 18, 2011

President of the World

Last week, the President of the World came to stay with us. He's actually a really nice guy. You'd think that with a title like that, it'd go to his head, all that power. He stayed with us in our little house and we shared a bathroom and he pet our cats. He didn't even come with an entourage.

Oh. I forgot to put the rest of his title. He's the President of the World..... Federation of Merino Producers. I guess maybe that brings it down to Earth a little bit.

The POTW happens to be the cousin of the guy we bought out sheep from (who, by the way is the President of Australia....Merinos again) and he happened to be in Argentina this month and wanted to stop by to see our little farm and get to know a little more about the Chilean sheep industry.

We were happy to oblige because, if I'm being honest here, we have never been received so well or so genuinely as we were in Australia, and particularly by his family. I admit that I left that continent a bit infatuated. It sounds so trite, but it's true-- people there were SO NICE. Even at the farm supply store we stopped at, a stocker engaged me in a conversation about what I was doing in Australia and where I was from, and he really seemed to CARE. I guess maybe some people would find this intrusive, but I do come from Ohio, after all. We are a culture of people who are interested in one another and after a year in which most of my human interaction occurred in a major city full of self-absorbed and antisocial pedestrians, it was a big breath of fresh air. (Yes, I said it, public interaction in Santiago can be on par with getting teeth pulled in terms of pleasant experiences.)

But I digress. So the president arrived and we had a whirlwind 3 days with him. Rob, as those of us in the elite circle call him, is a fascinating person. Born and raised on a large farm in South Australia, he is more cultured than many people I know who were educated and lived in more cosmopolitan places. While we showed him our sheep culture here, he educated us about eh sheep he has seen around the world and how they vary so much by region and climate, but all with the humble charm of a shepherd.

The important thing that we did while he was here was to plant the seed of having a breeder's organization in Chile. Right now, that doesn't exist, and we are sort of at the mercy of of corporations who buy our product and even that borders on monopoly here. Unfortunately, it can't be at the top of our list of priorities at the moment because of the pressing issues of sheep mating and crop planting (nature waits for nobody), but I am looking forward to it as a big impact we can make on Chile in the future!