Landed 3

The bit across the Atlantic can get a bit turbulent… every time it started bumping around, the toddler tugged my elbow and asked “plane fall down now?” He didn’t seem scared, just interested. Thus my body arrived at Terminal 5 on Tuesday, courtesy of British Airways. My brain arrived on Wednesday, courtesy of coffee, a comfortable double bed, and throwing a chosen selection of kids outside to sleep in the tent, hoorah. Unfortunately we killed the computer on Thursday, so we’ve been anonymous ever since. So, here we are in the UK. At this stage the computer isn’t yet sufficiently rebuilt to be able to put up photographs, or do anything much more sophisticated than say hello, but hopefully normal service will be resumed in the next couple of days. In the meantime, we’re hanging out with friends and family, doing a few meetings, stocking up on a years supply of clothes from the charity shop, and in about ten minutes time, heading out for a pint.

Two days, one life

We do get asked sometimes what a typical day looks like for us. This is quite a hard question to answer as a “typical” day can usually be defined as one that is completely different to those on either side of it.
Tuesday has been the busiest day so far this week…. collect a pile of photocopying at 8 am, come home, slurp a coffee, feed and dress child, strap him to the back bike, drop him off at nursery, go on to the special school, drop off same photocopies, stop for a conversation with one of the support staff who I needed to catch, on to the fruit and veg shop, home for another shot of caffeine, change mode of transport, drive to Quebracho Herrado, meet with social worker – for various reasons including collecting petrol money for the month hoorah – drive home again, take dogs for a quick walk via the butchers, cook lunch (midday is the main meal here and I try and have it nearly ready for when Joni comes in tired and hungry from nursery), feed the zoo, clear up, put washing out, kiddo has a siesta, we watch whatever we’ve currently got downloaded onto the computer, back on the bike go to mums and toddlers swimming, via the nursery to pay for the month (having got cash from social worker this morning), meet Martin in town, go to the English institute, meet with the directora who is hopefully going to be employing us for conversation classes after we get back from the UK, Martin’s also writing her a website so we take some photos for that while we’re there, home via the bus station to collect tickets to Buenos Aires for Sunday night, throw child in bath, stories, songs etc child bedtime routine, answer emails, feed ourselves, throw dogs out, gather them in again, adult bedtime routine.

Compared with today for example which has been much gentler on the soul…. morning routines for child, dogs and husband (well, he usually manages to put his own clothes on, but sometimes I make the coffee), drop child off at nursery, come back, make more coffee, start putting together a powerpoint for a couple of forthcoming presentations, decide we need some more photographs, go out and take a few, faff around with the powerpoint, give up and take dogs for a walk, come back and set the stew off to cook itself, continue to faff around with powerpoint, interspersed by throwing things into stew and stirring periodically, receive Joni home, have lunch, drive to Luis Sauces to collect disabled kid and mum, deliver them to special school, home, prise my own child away from Bob the Builder and slop him into his bed for a siesta, watch Rev (BB2, you can find it online, we love it!) boy wakes up, decides he doesn’t want to go swimming today, so we take the dogs for their second walk out to the canal (irrigation ditch) and have a look at the horses, cows and chickens, throw some stones into the canal, return for “cooking with mummy” – popcorn, pizza bases and bread, that’s all the major food groups covered isn’t it – throw child in bath, stories, songs, child bedtime routine, Martin’s disappeared off to see the directora of the institute again, so I clear up, put a pizza together for when he gets in, light the fire, and here I am.

See what I mean?

An interesting exercise would be to sort the above into a Venn diagram according to what’s building the kingdom of God, what’s the stuff that we have to do to stay alive, and what’s needless chasing of one’s tail. On second thoughts, I’d rather you didn’t, if that’s OK with everyone.

Switching On

As I watched the kid making splodges by holding a paint-brush between her toes, I thought “fantastic… they’ve managed to identify a body-part which she has some voluntary control over”. And then I thought “I wonder why they don’t seem to have figured out that this might be a useful starting point for teaching her a communication system”. As I was lying in bed later I thought “I wonder what it would take to invent some sort of low tech switching activities to try out” and that thought led to “I wonder if we could get hold of an old computer and set it up with some software and different switches… I wonder if that mad guy still works at the place where I used to teach… I wonder if I could persuade him to help me…” and by the morning, I had most of a project designed in my head.
That was a couple of weeks ago. Today I was summoned into the Director’s office, I’m not sure why she was so formal about it, seemed like a bit of a chat to me, so I took my chance and dropped in a few switch-based ideas to see what she thought. My jaw nearly hit the floor with her response; “Oh, we’ve got a whole lot of things like that. They’re in a cupboard because no-one knows how to make them work”. Twelve hours later and I’m still not sure whether I’m more horrified that this whole amazing resource is languishing in a cupboard, or delighted that my middle of the night project proposal is halfway to being realised without even having to get out of bed yet.

Being married to techno-geek has its advantages… high on the priority list for post-UK-visit will be the techno-geek-goes-to-school-to-set-their-stuff-up event. Then we’ll need to think properly about matching kids with technology… might still need to get in touch with the mad guy… anyone know if he’s still there? And how to get hold of relevant software given that the big-name products seem mostly to be sold in pounds (Dollars/Euros) by companies who assume that their customers are northern-hemisphere based institutions and thus able to afford same. And finally how to involve and enthuse at least one or two of the staff at the school, which I suspect may be the most important part of the plan, otherwise presumably they might have tried a bit harder to find someone to set the hardware up in the first place.

Fresh Air

The thermometer in our car hovered between minus one and minus three as we made our way back to San Francisco last night.  Luckily the car has central heating.  Unfortunately the house does not.  What our house does have is the most ridiculous system of roller blinds ever imagined; the mechanism is installed by taking a great chunk out of the wall, and then vaguely covering it with a wooden box, qua;


As is instantly observable, daylight, accompanied by corresponding fresh air enters through the gap between same box and the wall.  The above is the office, repeat same in Joni’s room;


plus dining room and spare room. The one in our bedroom is the worst;


The change of light in the middle third is outside as viewed from inside, as it were.  Minus three without, equals something pretty similar within.  We’re looking forward to a couple of weeks of gently damp European summer. 

As all the above demonstrates, we made it back from Carlos Paz.  Although we may not have fully answered the question posed on the previous blog entry, it was definitely good to catch up with folk.  Maybe we should just stop being so western and decide that we don’t need a programme in order to justify having fellowship.  The fellowship was good, and having birthdays to celebrate on two out of four days meant that cake was a high feature, always a good unifying factor;


For me the most exciting thing was the bird I spotted in the scrub on the way here.  That’s not entirely to denigrate the rest of the event, just that I find birds exciting and this one in particular.  Called a Chuña, it’s a greyish wader with long red legs, dishevelled ruff and a purple eye patch.  They’re not normally found in our province and I hadn’t seen one before.  So I drew it, in lieu of one of the other probably-more spiritual exercises that I couldn’t manage to get my head round;


And now it’s ten o’clock at night again, and the temperature’s dropping like a rock again, so I’m about to partake of a drop of red, as an alternative form of heating you understand. 

Not-bank holiday

The moral of the story is… don’t plan a sophisticated outing if you’re travelling with a two year old. We went off to Rafaela today, in lieu of the bank holiday tomorrow (bank holidays are really rubbish here; the roads are completely blocked with people visiting their relatives, and if you don’t have any relatives to visit, you’ll find everywhere else shut anyway). Rafaela’s just a big town really, bit bigger than San Fran, similar sort of design, probably founded at around the same time… but last time we went on a bank holiday, so this time we thought we’d like to see it with some life on the streets. In the centre is a large green plaza with a kind of arboretum affair, lots of native trees, each with its corresponding information plaque. Joni tailed us around, until he finally whispered “mummy, where’s the slide?”
Luckily, about five blocks away, opposite the police building (nicely kept solid colonial affair) we found a small park, complete with one monstrous death-slide which we avoided, and several smaller ones which we put through their paces before heading to a handy cafe for spaghetti bolognaise (“Spasta” he calls it, which I do think sounds quite derogatory, but maybe I’m just over sensitized after too many years working in learning disabilities).

Roots and Shoots

When I grow up I’m going to be a:-
raddish shoot


cabbage shoot


beetroot shoot


chicory shoot


Joni on the patio

Scientist? Train-driver? Bob the Builder?

I’m really excited about those baby plants (naturally I’m also excited about my son’s future, but that’s more of a long term project). The seeds were being given out for free by an organisation called INTA which stands for something that I can’t remember, in conjunction with a government project to encourage people to eat more vegetables. I planted them ages ago and nothing happened, and I read the book which said that they should be through by now, so I thought the frost had finished them off, and then suddenly, here they all are… I’m not a great gardener, but there is something magic about little shoots pushing upwards, bringing with them the promise of something edible later.