Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Guillermo del Toro would be proud

I've been working on homework almost all day, so I feel entitled to some silly commentary. If you are new to reading this blog, please don't be frightened off by some randomness.

When I returned from Mexico to the States, one of the first pictures to welcome me was on a massive billboard - it was this frightful pig/man/thing smirking down from on high. I glanced away quickly, rather unnerved by the creature. And it hasn't gone away. Since arriving, I have seen this picture on bus stops and billboards all over the place. Admittedly, it has my attention, and I'm further spreading the advertisement by posting it here, so I guess it's an effective ad campaign (?). Still, I have to wonder, do the creators of this pig/man/thing think he's cute? Cuddly? Likely to persuade me to use the company's services? I think that if Guillermo del Toro ever runs out of ideas for making scary creatures, he could gain inspiration by visiting There's even a download-able calendar.

Here's a sampling of my personal anti-favorites from the calendar:
The pig himself. To be fair, on the ads he's not blue. Not sure why he saved blue on my computer
Would you go shopping in a store if you saw this walking around!?!
Words fail me...
And if the still images weren't enough to frighten you, try the video shorts found here. They go way above and beyond the call of horror movie.

What were they thinking?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Serve Day, Canvas, and US Surf Open

Besides the usual weekly events - work, Wednesday pilates at church, Thursday class in Ontario, and homework, I had quite the weekend. Serve Day, when hundreds of churches in LA and Orange Counties join together for service projects in their communities, was on Saturday. I chose to help at an elementary school in Costa Mesa, and there was plenty to do. My first project was to spray paint two library carts black. The first cart was already mostly black, so that didn't take long to do, but the second was toothpaste green, so I had to use up three cans of paint on it. What a smell!

The principal had also brought out the piles of garbage bags full of the lost and found items from the last two months of school. She asked us to sort them by size, so that's what I spent the rest of the morning doing. Amazing what the kids will forget. If some of the jackets had been bigger, I would have "found" them!

As soon as we finished at the school, I hurried home, ate some lunch, and tried to scrub black spray paint off my hands and arms. Once I'd changed, I hopped back in my car and drove to church to hang my pictures for Canvas, Newport Mesa's art expo. Fortunately people were willing to share their tools, because I didn't know we needed to bring our own. Anyway, since I only had six pieces, it didn't take long to put them up, and then I wandered around, seeing other people's entries and helping with a few last minutes labeling crisis.

People began to arrive at the show at 3. Unfortunately for some of us, our work was hung inside, and for the first two hours there was no sign directing people indoors. With plenty to see outside, many of them never made it to us. A few more came our way when someone hung signs.

It was quite the event. I'm not sure how many people came through, but I know there were some mighty talented artists displaying watercolors, oil paintings, acrylics, photos, and drawings. Live musicians played both indoors and outdoors. At 10pm, we took down our pictures, and the display boards were moved outside so that we could hang the works again in the morning for church-goers to see. To hang the pictures back up before service, we had to be at church as close to 8 as possible, so after I'd hung my pictures and some others, I attended the 9 o'clock service, and when that ended, waited until 11 had started and then took the pictures down.

The timing worked out well, because this afternoon also happened to be the men's US Surf Open finals, and some friends and I wanted to see them. My friends met me at home in Huntington Beach, and we walked to the beach where some 100,000 other people had preceded us to the shore. We found a small patch of sand near the tide line and watched through the finals' end. The scoring computer went down just as the last two surfers, a French guy and an American, finished their heat. Poor announcers, they couldn't announce the results, because no one knew who had won. I think the American won.

We caught the tail end of the freestyle motorcross session, and then walked back home. A long day...

Monday, July 21, 2008

What a week!

Some of you may already know about the drama of this week. My mom developed a suddenly spiking fever that went to 105 Monday afternoon. When my dad called the doctor, she recommended aspirin and the fever went down. That night, however, the fever returned, but again responded to aspirin. My parents went to a clinic to find out what was going on, and the doctor gave Mom an antibiotic shot, x-rayed for pneumonia, and prescribed more antibiotics.

Case closed? Far from it. Once again that afternoon Mom's fever shot up to 105. She became incoherent, pale, and unable to stand or walk. Dad decided to take her to the hospital, but when we couldn't get her into the car, he called 911. She was taken to Orange County Memorial Hospital, the doctors diagnosed blood poisoning. and the treatment began. Her first IV dosage of antibiotics brought the fever down somewhat, but she still had a fever, and the bacteria count in her blood remained high. At this point my dad, my sisters, my brother, and I emailed or called everyone we knew to ask for prayer. She had four churches, two prayer chains, and lots of friends praying.

Praying made all the difference. By Thursday afternoon Mom's blood was clear and the doctors had found no secondary infection. She returned home Friday afternoon. She's still tired and still has a cough, but the serious infection disappeared after everyone prayed.

During all this, Newport Mesa Church's Marketplace VBS was going on. My sister took charge of the paper making "shop" and I was "mother" to ten children in the tribe of Joseph. I'll post more pictures of the VBS when I have them. At the finale Friday night, Gabe announced that we'd had 175 children attending and 111 volunteers helping throughout the week. Quite the production. Because I've been a "mother" so many times - I don't even know how many - one of the coordinators asked if I could do the Shabbat and Havdalah rituals for a training video for new "mothers." On Thursday after VBS ended they rounded up several children to be in an impromptu tribe for the video.

Saturday I spent most of the morning and early afternoon in a CPR class. I had to renew as part of the credential requirements. It was after the class had ended that the instructor told me I didn't have to sit through the whole thing since I'm required to renew yearly. I could have come in and asked the instructor for the exit exam. If I'd passed the exam, that would have been enough to renew. Oh.

Saturday afternoon Joy and I went to the Orange County Fair. We first spent quite a long time in Home and Hobbies, looking for Joy's entries and admiring (or, I admit, sometimes laughing at) others' entries. There are some incredibly talented people in Orange County. We went to see my mom's paintings in Visual Arts next and then browsed the rest of the fair.

Fortunately for us, there was a taiko drum performance scheduled at one of the free stages, so we got to see that as well.

Sunday after church and after lunching with some people from my small group, I walked to the beach with my sister. As usual, there was plenty to see there. The beach was extremely crowded, and people were preparing for the US Surf Open. We walked a ways down the beach, and then returned to watch the Pier Plaza performers.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

VBS coming up

I wasn't home much this last week. At Newport Mesa Church, I was scheduled to work every day, so that's where I was during the day. On Monday evening we were all home to see the much anticipated episode 2 of the final season of Foyle's War. If you haven't seen that series, find someone you can beg, borrow, or steal it from and get busy watching. Anyway, we watched the very last episode (sniff, sniff) last night, and the show's writers did themselves proud.

On Tuesday evening my dad and I walked to the Huntington Beach street fair. It's still going strong, and many people crowd onto Main St to buy fresh produce and various handmade items or to watch the street performers. My favorites are the Argentinian flamenco guitarists, and judging by the people clustered around them, I'm not the only one with this opinion.

Wednesday I stayed at church after work, because there was a barbecue dinner for the women that evening. For the next four weeks we'll have a Bible study class, an exercise class, and a fun class offered . It'll be a fun way for us to get to know each other a bit better.

Throughout the week, I worked for many hours putting together a powerpoint slide show about what I do in Puebla. Some of you will be receiving a cd of the slide show in the mail soon. Coming soon to a mailbox near you... It's amazing how many hours it takes to put together seven slides!
Today instead of attending both the Newport Mesa church service and Centro de Fe as I had originally intended, I went to NMC in the morning and went to lunch with small group friends. We finished lunch at just about the right time for me to go to Centro de Fe, but then I decided to set up what I could for my part in Jerusalem Marketplace VBS which starts tomorrow. That didn't take too long, so I drove to the Huntington Beach Central Library, restocked on books, and then joined my sister Joy in the park for the free concert available every summer Sunday.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

America at its best

Happy 4th of July! I've been house and cat-sitting for a friend of mine this last week, so I spent the holiday morning quietly at her house. In the afternoon, I drove home to Huntington Beach and passed several hours making puff paint and felt animals to go with some of Eric Carle's books. My sister came from her home in Garden Grove, my dad bar-b-q'd salmon, steak, chicken, potatoes, and corn, and we all feasted at dinner. Once we'd cleaned up, Jessica, Joy, and I walked to the beach for the HB fireworks display at 9. Thank goodness we live within walking distance! The crowds and traffic were stunning, and more and more packed in the closer we got to the beach.This is the crowd as seen from the beach at 8:30pm. It only got more crowded from there.
This is what the beach looked like at 8:30. By 9, there wasn't a single blank space of sand.

We found a spot on the sand and settled down amid the noise and confusion of thousands of people, some of them rather worse for having been drinking all day, but on the whole not too rowdy. While we waited, I decided to join the line for the Starbucks samples four hurried employees were making and distributing as fast as their blenders and hands could work. During the 5ish minutes I waited, I reflected on the privilege of being in this country. Here were people waiting patiently in line, no shoving or complaining. The diversity around me was amazing. The family in front of me spoke Arabic, I heard German from another family passing by, and many other ethnicities and languages were represented in the thousands of people waiting for fireworks.

At 9, the pier lights went off, and soon the show began - a half-hour of brilliant lights and music, accompanied by the 'oo' 'aahh' and applause of the spectators.

Once the show ended at 9:30, we joined the slow migration away from the beach. Again, we had cause to be thankful that we could return home on foot. Pity the poor folks in cars! They had no chance against the streams of people moving methodically off to home or more celebration in the busy restaurants and bars.

If you live in the United States, I hope you had a truly fun and memorable Independence Day celebration with family and friends. God bless America!