Bendy

 

Downtown Bend, Oregon

Downtown Bend, Oregon

 

Springfield is my home, but I love Bend, Oregon. Two hours’ drive from our house lies the city of Bend, which we visit annually. Usually, this visit falls in the lovely month of October (only the best month), but this time it was in December. We are staying (as usual) in the Seventh Mountain Resort, which features an ice skating rink, multiple pools and hot tubs, a basketball court, a spider web, and wi-fi– saving the best for last.

While these are certainly perks, one of my favorite parts of Bend is Zydeco, a restaurant in downtown that serves amazing food- probably my favorite anywhere (except maybe Taco Bell). It is to die for. I usually get the steelhead, which comes with mashed potatoes, green beans, pearl onions, and plenty of capers. Delicious. So I ordered the steelhead tonight– but it came with red quinoa, asparagus, and more than plenty of capers. The pearl onions were definitely missed, but the dessert more than made up for that: chocolate pot de crème, which is basically a very rich chocolate mousse. Mom and I shared a serving, while somehow Dad and Ethan managed to polish off a jar (that’s how the dessert was served) each. It was rather incredible, really, watching them put away that much food.

We got back to the hotel too late to go swimming, so we retired to our room, which is roomy enough to have separate bedrooms for Ethan and me.

It’s snowy/slushy/icy here, but not more than Springfield: for those of you who may not have noticed, the Willamette Valley was blasted by an Arctic cold front for two weeks, giving us lovely temperatures, ranging, on the average day, from -2 to 22. And yes, that is Fahrenheit. Since it was so dry for most of the time, school wasn’t delayed because there were no icy roads– it was just super cold. Tuesday, December 3, was very exciting because it snowed. At school. Like, in the middle of the day. It snowed about half an inch at our house and stuck until Friday, which had snow predicted.

All my teachers were banking on a snow day, and my friends put spoons under their pillows and wore their pajamas inside-out.

And it must have worked, because on Friday there was no school. When I woke up at 6 am, we had two inches of snow at our house. By four o’clock there were eight inches and counting, and somehow Dad had driven home from the Eugene airport. (Actually, it’s not somehow– it’s four-wheel-drive.)

Saturday, we were four of the very few who braved the roads to church. On Sunday, we ventured into town for a piano recital at Barnes & Noble (featuring, due to weather, ONLY Ethan and me) and necessary shopping. Monday, the schools were once again closed. I went over to a friend’s house, and we walked to my school to pick up band music. There’s hardly any ice, I thought.

Tuesday was another snow day. Friday and Monday were the two snow days for which my school had allowed– Tuesday started filling up our two furlough days. When Wednesday proved hopeless, all I could do was hope that Thursday would be a school day. Also on Wednesday, there was a voluntary band rehearsal to which about twenty of the ninety-nine involved in the concert come this Tuesday showed up.

Thursday there was no school.

I cried.

And then, lo and behold–

There was school today! (Which was a really good thing, because how would they be able to explain keeping school closed in 40-degree (Fahrenheit) weather when their only excuse for school closure was ice on the roads?)

It may have been a Friday schedule, with all of our eight classes meeting forty-four minutes each, but it was school!

And yes, there is a good chance I was the only one of sixteen hundred students who was absolutely thrilled to have school.

Ciao!

Cloudy With a Chance of Grape Leaf Rolls

Nothing much was ‘really’ done today. In reality, quite a lot of work on the computer was completed, and we devoured a lot of grape leaf rolls, olives, and strawberry gummies. But no one calls those ‘real’ work.

The ‘real’ work revolved around finding dinner. Since today was cloudy and cool, we knew that the waterfront restaurant on which we had been planning to visit was a poor choice. We tried heading to Mesi and Faragi, both tavernas, but we could never find them. In the end, we settled on roadside Hovoli. There, we ordered seven (!!!) dishes: tzatziki, Greek salad, grape leaf rolls, stuffed tomatoes, herb pastries, fried zucchini, and the ‘village rooster.’ Although the name acted as a slight deterrent (we were planning on ordering the chicken with okra, but it wasn’t available), I found my piece of the village rooster to be tasty, tender, and mostly boneless.

The highlight of the meal was the petulant cat (even more petulant than two nights ago, on the south side of Crete), who ran to any hands dangling below chair level. It was a very clingy cat and hung around us because all the other guests at the restaurant were oblivious to its needs.

Ciao!

Slow Saturday

After a long period of procrastination, we set out for Kournas Lake, one of Crete’s few freshwater lakes. There were plenty of people paddle-boating, but we declined to try it.

Back home we tanned (shocker, anyone?), read, and looked at well-decorated cupcakes online before supper at Dionysos. There, we ordered six dishes but decided not to get the tzatziki since it was a side with every dish. We got stuffed tomatoes, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed courgette flowers, chicken filet, and Greek salad, plus one orange juice for Mom.

Ciao!

Schooling and Supper

Today was quite the down day. However, I did one important thing:

With an answer about why Bill Clinton’s impeachment was significant, I finished my schooling for the 2012-2013 school year. That is a great accomplishment, by the way. Thousands of questions were answered (I only got about 2% wrong) and I’m finally, finally done.

But it starts again in September—so soon!

 

For supper we re-visited Thavma. At the end of the meal, all four of us—yes, including Ethan and me—were offered tiny glasses of raki, the national alcoholic beverage.

Ciao!

Breaking News: Tourist Town Trap Traps Tourists!!

The wind was really blowing this morning, and now, at 8:23 p.m., the wind has subsided but you can’t see the ocean from our house. Our pool was filled with leaves, and it was at least partially refilled with a hose, so it’s probably really, really cold.

Apart from that excitement, our day was rather dull. We visited Lidl and the bakery for food but didn’t check out the restaurant at which we planned on eating until we were back in Rethymno and looking for it. It was on a very touristy street (although Rethymno itself is quite touristy) and the menu had pictures on it. As I learned in Rome three years ago, when menus have pictures all over them the food usually isn’t very good and it is very overpriced.

This would be the exception.

The food was typically Greek—meaning it was delicious (especially the vine leaf rolls stuffed with rice and the fried peppers) and inexpensive. The atmosphere was rather unimpressive, but what could we expect?

Ciao!

Schoolwork, Supper, Sports, and Stuff

After schoolwork, supper, and other homey activities, Maria and Bobby, along with their two cousins, ages six and nine, were joined by Ethan and me in the lot next door. We started off playing football. The nine-year-old, Maria, and I were winning 6-3 when someone called a time-out. I took the opportunity to climb the steps behind our pool up to the area above the lot and throw down the footballs that were there.

Maria came with me, and as soon as we were up there the boys started throwing balls at us. It ended when someone threw the star football into the thorny bushes and we couldn’t find it.

While we were all standing around feeling guilty, Maria brought ice cream cones, which were eaten with gusto. Before the cones were finished, a new football game was started with the same teams as before. By the time the game ended with Bobby and Ethan riding on a bike, my team had three goals to the other team’s one. And I scored two goals!!

Ciao!

Food & Fat

All we officially achieved today was letting down our ten-year-old neighbors, Bobby and Maria, by getting home from supper too late to play basketball like we’d promised last night.

On the other hand, supper was excellent: Greek salad (feta, tomato, and cucumber), oven-grilled feta, chicken with a lemon sauce, grilled chicken, zucchini chips, and more, all for less than a meal for one person in Switzerland. On a related note, did you know that Greece has the highest obesity rate of any country in the European Union?

Ciao!

D-O-W-N D-A-Y– What’s That Spell?

Doing the breakfast dishes—scraping off egg shells and orange peels

Other chores (such as reading Baby Blues) go by

Winning Scrabble—against Mom and then myself

Nagged to do schoolwork—the ‘happy days’ of the 1950s

Dishing up the chocolate cake with crème anglaise

All enjoy the (super yummy) treat

Yesterday the weather was better—it rained today

 

 

Ciao!

Fez in Morocco (Poem Version)

Food includes couscous, and, in the extreme,

Everybody’s favorite—the good old tagine

Zis is the life,” say foreigners here

It is the truth—if you don’t drink beer

Now muezzin is singing—it’s seven o’clock

My brother is thinking ‘Now I wanna rock’

Our dinnertime has come, so we go outside

Ready for some food—more vegetables fried

On time comes our meal. Guess what it is?

Couscous for three—the tagine is his

Chef comes over to break up a fight

Of waitron and waitron… oh, well, good night

 

Ciao!

Needing to Phorget at Physical Torture

80 days to go!

 

I went with Mom to her Physical Torture today. She cried at several times and at one point begged for me to read to her to take her mind off the pain. I’m not sure she would have been interested in what I was reading—reading about the US’s economy in the 1920s for school isn’t all that interesting.

On our way home, we stopped by Marjane (the local super-sized grocery store) building for haircuts. My hair is now blessedly straight, but as soon as I get under the water of the shower tomorrow, my joy will be gone…

Back at the flat, it was raining. From the time we got home from PT to the time we left for supper, we did just about nothing except schoolwork, push-ups, and working on Crete (that would be Dad).

For supper, I had Thai chicken. Between the ginger and coconut milk, it definitely reminded me of Thailand.

Ciao!

Disappointments on a Down Day

Today was our last day in Valparaiso, so guess how we spent it?

Looking for lunch!

Mom chose El Pimentón after hours of lounging around, doing schoolwork, drawing, and typing (and all sorts of other exciting stuff!). Oh, and Dad napped (even more exciting!).

Anyway, this morning was kind of low-key.

 

On TripAdvisor, someone said that the rush at El Pimentón started at 1 pm. We left at two so as to (hopefully) get there after the rush.

We walked up Rainbow Alley (really called Santa Margarita) and up to Hector Calvo. After a few blocks heading downhill, we turned off onto Chopin (another side alley). Then we turned onto Walker Martinez (another alley), passing Strauss on the way. Finally we got down to Yerbas Buenas. Dad, looking at a map on his phone (which is not exactly correct) said that it was down a few blocks. So we went down and got to a four-way intersection. We decided to go General Mackenna. After about 100 meters or so, Dad realized it was the wrong street. So back we marched up Yerbas Buenas, passing Walker Martinez, Julio Caesar, and, finally, Eden.

“Okay, so you know that intersection back there?” Dad asked.

“Yeah.”

“Well, we were supposed to take the other street.”

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo… back we went down Yerbas Buenas and up Ecuador. It was just one block up. And then we read the sign: (in Spanish) No minors under the age of 18 permitted.

So.

We went down to the plaza where we had the (not very good) raspberry-mint ice cream a few days ago and found a place for lunch. Dad and I shared a salad and spaghetti, and Mom and Ethan had pizza. While we were there, we finally looked up maneki-neko. Maneki-neko are those cats that wave their arms. White symbolizes luck in general, black is for good health, and gold means monetary fortune.

Plaza Victoria was our next destination, and I got my typical cinnamon ice cream. Dad ordered a cup with chocolate, cherimoya, and lucuma. I didn’t really care for the latter two, but the chocolate mixed with the cinnamon was, as always, delicioso.

Ciao!

A Pretty Poem por Hoy

This morning we did basically nothing (except schoolwork, but that doesn’t count)

Work done, we walked to the tower that served as a prison to one man

Our next stop was a plaza, that we thought was the park we were looking for (it wasn’t). So we had ice cream

 

Parque Harneker was where we eventually found ourselves. Ethan and I used the playground, flipping and flopping on the bars

Attempts to climb poles were also made (we failed). However, we (ahem… I mean “I”) succeeded at doing sit-ups on the exercise equipment

Running away from the black dog was what we tried to avoid doing, but sometimes I felt like it as we tried to find a way out of the park

Kids ran wild in the arcade at the mall

Supper was at El Rincon Italiano. We chose the Primavera Pizza Familiare, which had palm hearts, green beans, and corn on a wonderfully thin crust. Eventually, it was time to get our laundry and say, to the mall, Ciao!

–[untitled post]–

Today was definitely a down day. Mom and Dad only went to take the laundry to the service while I made breakfast and Ethan showered. After that I made more bracelets with Paz while Ethan and Juan Cruz worked on the bow, Luna (the cat) napped, Mom and Dad read, Lucas followed his mother and baby brother Jose around, and Mary Lou made lunch. I was invited to stay for the meal, and Ethan lurked long enough to join in. It was chicken, salad, carrot and corn, and pasta. For dessert we enjoyed homemade raspberry ice cream.

Paz and I went back to making bracelets while the grown-ups talked. After all the adults, Lucas, and Jose went away for the siesta, Ethan and Juan continued working on their bow and Paz and I decided to take a quick dip in the (very cold) pool.

The family eventually left for Lago Puelo. We’ll have supper at Pizza Uno, where three of us ate while Mom was at the clinic.

Ciao!

Azul y Helado

Today was more of a Down Day than yesterday. We didn’t leave until about three in the afternoon. Before then, I made breakfast and made more bracelets with Paz while Ethan played with Juan Cruz and Lucas. Felipe, Manuel, and their mom left this morning, but there was another little boy today. Inez was also there, and she threw her stuffed animal into a tree. She climbed in to get it down, with Paz and me braiding serenely below. Paz’s dad was trying to learn the name of the animal.

“How do you say… an animal that lives in the ocean and on land?”

I had seen the stuffed seal and offered the name. He shook his head. “No, it goes arr, arr. Arr, arr,” he demonstrated, hands clasped in front of him. “Seal,” I repeated. Ethan grabbed the stuffed animal, which was on the ground, and, pointing to it, announced, “Seal.”

Paz’s dad agreed, and that was solved. Eventually the family had lunch, and Ethan and I went back up to our cabaña. We eventually left, stopping first at the laundry to get our clean clothes and then at Mitski for ice cream. Ethan said that Super Sambayón was really good, with “chocolate and nuts and stuff”, so we ordered it along with Frambuesa a la Crema, Chocolate Mitski, and Banana Split. We drove to Rio Azul and walked a little ways before eating on a bench.

The Sambayón was awful. Ethan was gracious, however, and ate most of it. Banana Split had chunks of chocolate in it, and the banana part was good, too. Frambuesa a la Crema was just typical raspberry ice cream, but the Chocolate Mitski was wonderful. It had chunks of white chocolate and almonds in it—muy delicioso. We walked farther up Rio Azul and down to the rocky shore. As we threw stones and dipped our feet in the river’s chilly waters, we saw first a kayaker and then three rafts brave the (not very impressive) rapids. They got wet, by the way.

Ciao!

Sales and Sweet Dinosaurs

Because of Mom’s injury, today was sort of a down day. We slept in til ten, which seemed waaay to early, and Ethan and I had to make breakfast. Once that was over, I washed the dishes and we finally headed out.

Our first stop was the laundry place, where Mom and Ethan dropped off a basket of our clothes. Then came the bank, the clinic (for the x-rays), and the grocery store, where we bought breakfast foods and a scarf that is now Mom’s sling. We drove home and stayed there for about two hours as Dad dealt with the insurance company and I did schoolwork and made more bracelets like the ones that Paz, Mary Lou’s granddaughter, makes. We eventually left for Lago Puelo after a slight delay. On the way, we bought ice cream from Saurios Heladeria Artesenal, whose mascot is a swimming purple dinosaur. Dad and I chose the flavors—four in the kilo container. The woman who scooped our ice cream weighed the tub: 1.005 kilos.

The .005 extra is for the tub’s weight. It’s now become standard that they get really close in weight: at Sumo in BA, our ¾ kilo weighed .755 kilos, and in Bariloche, someone’s quarter-kilo tub weighed .250.

We eventually got to the beach of the choppy Lago Puelo, where we devoured the Black Jungle, Boysenberry, Semi-Bitter Chocolate, and Saurios Chocolate. It was delicious. Ethan went for a walk afterwards, and came running back to us: “They’re here!”

They, of course, means Juan, Paz, and co. Ethan changed into his swimsuit so he could go out on the raft with ten-year-old Juan, and I made bracelets with twelve-year-old Paz. Inez, who was with Paz when I first met her, and her family also came. All of Paz’s immediate family—mother, father, and three brothers, Juan, Lucas, and baby Jose—were there. Lucas went around with Paz’s bracelets and sold them for ten pesos apiece. During the time I was there, Paz earned eighty pesos. Ten of those pesos were brought in by a blue bracelet I made.

Ciao!

Waffles!

We finally, finally had waffles for the first time since Chiang Mai, Thailand. Frozen strawberries, chocolate ice cream, and whipped cream adorned mine as we ate above the Mitski chocolate shop in El Bolson. This was after we walked through the craft market and bought bread and pastries at the bakery.

A rectangular pool was put up here at Cerro Amigos, and Ethan played soccer with the owners’ grandkids. Mother also got us to do some schoolwork today, which we’d been avoiding for the past few days.

Dad commented on how odd it is to be in the chocolate capital of the Southern Hemisphere, and here we are, eating Swiss chocolate that we bought in Dubai.

Ciao!

Drakensberg Down Day

Today was a ‘Down Day,’ which means we did schoolwork, sorted pictures, and surfed the web until 13:00.We left for the Spar (a grocery store) in Winterton and to look at Cathedral Peak. We didn’t enter the Drakensberg UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of seven in the world to be chosen as a World Heritage Site for three reasons (in this case, geology, vegetation, and archaeology), because we weren’t wearing hiking shoes and it was four o’clock.

So we drove back to our house, stopping occasionally to look at birds, and working on a newspaper crossword brought from home.

Ciao!