Friday, June 27, 2008

the absolute worst food I've ever eaten

I just couldn't resist. My Ontario class was scheduled to start at 6:30 instead of the usual 5:15, but because of traffic, I didn't leave home any later than usual. Of course that meant I arrived extremely early for my class, but better that than leaving later and stewing in rush hour forever.
I've gotten some good laughs out of the loco moco menu item, which, to be technical, would not be grammatically correct if it were Spanish, but still, the words mean crazy booger no matter what the grammar. With time to spare before class started, I thought it only fair to actually try eating this unique menu choice. You can see what the food was supposed to look like if it were made according to advertisement.

This was how it really looked...

It tasted even worse. The rice was the only truly edible part. I'm not sure what the meat was. Something processed that seemed to still have shards of bone - or at least something hard - ground up in it. I managed two bites before deciding it entirely inedible. The sauce was, to the best of my estimation, a mix of soy and teriyaki with corn starch in it. The egg was undercooked, and there were some limp leaves of cabbage thrown in for good measure. Let me advise you to avoid 'crazy boogers' unless that's the last thing left to eat on earth.

The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana has some of the Terracota Warriors on loan right now. The museum has this wonderful promotion that the first 100 people at 4, 5, 6, and 7 o'clock can get in free on Fridays. My sister, one of her friends, and I joined the line at 5:20. One of the curators earnestly wanted us to know we were in line for the 7 o'clock entrance, but we could get into the museum immediately. - if we wanted to pay $25 for tickets. No thanks. We chatted merrily for the hour and 40 minutes, and then received our listening devices and were let in to see, but not photograph, the warriors. Very fascinating!

Tomorrow I'll be joining a group of small group friends, and probably other people too, for the 30th birthday party of a friend, and then the small group friends and others will be getting together for a summer bar-b-q on Sunday afternoon. Fun times.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

very international food

I almost never eat in restaurants or go out to coffee shops, so this past week was really unusual. As previously written, I went with my sister and some friends for a lovely Moroccan meal on Monday night, but the eating out didn't end there. My brother had wanted to take me out to eat the first week I returned to So. Cal, but our work schedules didn't coincide until Thursday of this past week. At lunch, he took me to a Japanese restaurant which has excellent food. Just the day before, my parents paid for lunch at Souplantation. Well, I should go away for almost a year more often. As for coffee shops, a friend that I hadn't seen for over a year was in the area, and she paid for Starbucks twice when we went out walking at the beach.

Incidentally, I found a recipe for the Moroccan dish bastilla here. I made it Thursday, it was super easy to make, and it turned out very well.

Tuesday night I briefly visited the Huntington Beach Main Street fair, but I didn't get there in time to see the flamenco brothers or any of the other favorites of mine. I did get to briefly see this bagpiper, but even he didn't stick around long after I arrived.

Next week I'll be working all week at the church office, but this past week I only worked three days. Friday I answered phones which was mostly quite easy since not very many people called in. If many people had called in, it would have been quite stressful because I haven't learned all the extensions and information that the regular secretary knows.

These last few days have been really hot - which I actually enjoy where we live because we almost always have a lovely breeze. Yesterday was the perfect time for an evening kayak, and I joined a small group paddling around Back Bay for several hours. I had had a semester kayaking class with OCC about two years ago, and the instructor periodically emails us to ask for helpers when he puts together moonlight paddles. Since we're helpers, we don't have to pay - although last night I think there were many more 'helpers' than actual paid customers. We know a good thing when it's presented!

Thursday I prayed fervently and tackled the various online airline ticket sites to find the cheapest tickets to return to Puebla. The first half hour was grim - nothing under $550 was coming up, no matter how I altered the ticket search. However, after some searching, I found some reasonably decent tickets on Orbitz and snapped them up. I'll be returning to Puebla Aug. 19th. My dad also bought tickets for him and Mom to visit in September. No reason to wait, since tickets will only go up in price from now on. Guess what? Just after paying more than I really wanted to for tickets, I received my notice of the government's economic stimulus coming my way; they'll be paying for my tickets with some left over after! Hallelujah!

Monday, June 16, 2008

work, friends, class, rafting

On Monday and Tuesday I began part-time work at the Newport Mesa Church office. I'm hired as an odd-jobber, so I will be working here, there, and everywhere. So far I've mostly worked in the accounting department, but I also spent a little time answering the phones at reception.

My second summer school class started on Thursday. It is 49.2 miles away from my home and starts at 5:15, pretty much the height of rush hour. In order to ensure I arrived on time, I left home at 3 o'clock. That meant I got to the campus an hour early, but the way rush hour is, I'd better keep leaving at 3 and take some long walks around Ontario before class starts each week.

As I walked around on Thursday, I explored a small business center with restaurants near the school. I laughed out loud when I read one of the menu options in a Hawaiian restaurant - 'moco loco.' Crazy booger? No thanks! Also, the name of the Mexican restaurant - Chonitas - puzzled me. Why would you name a restaurant 'little underwear?' To each their own.

While I was still in Mexico, my sister sent me information about a white water rafting trip that some of her friends had signed up for. She and I also signed up, so on Friday we set out at 7pm for Kern County, four hours away. Kern County is very near Yosemite, and the scenery is stunning. Saturday morning all of us met for the rafting safety talk and strapped into extremely tight life jackets. Our guide's explanation, "If you can't breath, you can't drown." Okay.

This particular rafting package was on a stretch of class II and III rapids. Guess what? Class II and III rapids are really mild. You'd basically have to try to get thrown out of the raft. Our guide's primary job was directing us into the rougher patches of water and instructing us to spin the boat so we'd have more thrills that we would have otherwise. Still, although it lacked the adrenaline factor, we did have lots of fun getting wet and spending a beautiful day in the sun with lots of friends.

Sunday night I had the chance to spend several hours with a friend I haven't seen in over a year. She just moved to Oregon and drove down for a few days. We bought some coffee and took a lovely stroll on the beach, catching up on a year's worth of news.

Monday evening I met with some friends from small group, my sister, and my visiting friend from Oregon to try a restaurant I've been interested in for years. Marrakesh is located fairly near where I work. If you live anywhere near Costa Mesa, I shamelessly advertise that this is one excellent place to eat! Seven courses of fabulous food, nifty decor, Moroccan music, friendly and prompt waiters, and good prices. What more could you want? We enjoyed ourselves and left satisfied.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

thoughts on fashion - a totally non-serious post

My sister went with me to Target this morning to help me shop for a swim suit, a daunting prospect for anyone. When we began browsing the swim wear section, I was amazed to see that the employees of Target had apparently allowed termites, goats, or some other cloth-consuming creature to chew on the suits. The price tags coolly requested amounts of $35 or more for suits strategically held together with string and perhaps prayers. I won't insult your sensibilities by including any pictures of those on me. While I love to try on and laugh at ridiculous fashions, that was a bit more than I was willing to try.

The shoes were another matter. You can see my usual comfortable, if definitely not attractive, preference here.
Target offered a few less comfortable options. I apologize if you actually like these shoes. To each their own, but I found them hilarious.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Back to the beach!

The first place I went on my first full day in sunny So. Cal. was the Huntington Beach library. Ah, the sight and smell of thousands of books... The PCS library tries hard, but one room with a few hundred books just doesn't compare to three floors of thousands of books, including newly published ones. What fun to find that Jan Karon and Beverly Lewis both had books recently published.

My second visit was to the beach. I dearly love Puebla, but it has the distinct disadvantage of being land-locked. The nearest beach is several hours away. By contrast, our house in Huntington Beach is within walking distance of the beach. Wonderful!

Because it is Friday, the artisans and farmers' market were set up along Pier Plaza. We enjoyed samples of the farmers' fresh fruits and took in the lively colors of handicrafts also offered for sale.

Once I had visited the two places I missed most while in Puebla, I settled down for a marathon of watching the two Biola classes my dad had attended and recorded for me, since they started while PCS was still in session. Now I'm caught up with those classes, but I still have some late homework to do. Tomorrow is soon enough for that.

Monday, June 2, 2008

So it ends...

My empty classroom
I have almost finished report cards and will soon carry all the plants from the classroom to the apartment for Janelle to take care of while I'm in the U.S. Friday was the final day of the 2007-08 school year. The kids packed up piles of paper, books, random stuff, and Father's Day gifts, and hurried out the door at noon. Thus ended the school year.
We had three parties in two days. At 2 p.m. Friday most of the staff and many of the students and their families met at a home near here for the despedida of the only staff person not returning next year. Judy worked at PCS for five years after retiring from teaching in the U.S. Now she is leaving Mexico in answer to God's calling back to Arizona.

In the evening, many of the same people who had been at Judy's despedida gathered again to celebrate the first anniversary of Pete Gross' 39th birthday. He was a part-time teacher at PCS, and one of his sons was my student. The Grosses will be in the States next year on home assignment.

If two parties weren't enough, well that was okay, because Saturday morning we had the board-staff end of the year breakfast. We ate buffet at the California Kitchen - those of you from California wouldn't recognize most of the food as being particularly Californian, but oh well - and then Jenna and Joe gave a gift to each teacher and to the departing board members.

It was a week of celebration but also of good-byes. We said good-bye to students and to each other. Far more profoundly, it was a week of another good-bye for the family of Dios es Amor. Janelle told me Tuesday morning that the 18-year-old sister of Omar, a teenager in the youth group, had been shot in the abdomen and was not expected to live. She survived through Wednesday morning, and then she died.

Wednesday evening, after OANSA, about 50 people from the church caravaned over for the wake at Omar's grandparents' house in Tlaxcala, a neighboring state. Omar's other sister and brother had just arrived from New York, and his mother was on her way as well. Omar, his sisters, his brother, and his mother are all Christians, but his grandparents are devoutly Catholic. The pastor of Dios es Amor spoke a message of hope and resurrection that night, stressing that Brenda is now with her Savior, but the Catholic burial service the following morning emphasized grief and sorrow, praying and wailing for Brenda's soul in purgatory.

God has been using this tragedy for Omar and his family to share their faith and also He has used this to bring the family back together, since Omar and Brenda had been living in Mexico while the rest of the family lived in the States. Nonetheless, the grief is real. Please pray for their comfort, strength, and wisdom.

...and so it begins as well. On Thursday I'll be flying out of Mexico City to LAX to begin the summer. One of my credential classes has already started, and I've emailed in some homework assignments for it, although I'll have to catch up on some things I missed in the first week. The other class begins 6/9 in Ontario. What a drive! I'll be working part time at Newport Mesa Church in addition to taking classes. It won't exactly be a summer of vacation, but it will be good to see friends and family again. Keep tabs on the blog, because I'll continue updating weekly.