Thursday, September 18, 2014

Summer 2014 photo scavenger hunt, part six

I've decided that this is as close as I'm going to get to number 19, a public garden. After more than four months of virtually no rain, there just aren't really any flowers to be found in Cyprus, and it feels funny to me to call something a "garden" without flowers. This is Faneromeni park, which has a playground that the children enjoy and I particularly appreciate because virtually all of it is shaded. It's about a ten-minute walk from our home, even with the children, and in the springtime the bare and boring border at the foot of the picture is filled with colorful flowers, as is the area just on the other side of the path, before the bench.

And finally: number 20, a bus with a picture on the side! I've seen many buses and I've even seen many with pictures, some boring, some interesting, but getting a photo of one has been much more challenging than I could have imagined! For one thing, I most often see the side of a bus when it's turning a corner...and disappearing before I can even take my camera out of the case, much less turn it on.

So today after our Greek class, Jörn and I went downtown for a little while, and I took this photo of part of a bus parked on Finikoudes:

 Just for the record, the photo is only of part of the bus, but yes, the whole bus was there. I already didn't like what it was advertising, but no way was I taking a photo of the rest of the ad. (Marie is reading this as I type and said people are just going to be intrigued as to what the rest of the ad is. I doubt that, but it's a very scantily-clad female.)

Then on the way home, I got my husband to stop on Egyptou street, where buses are parked, and where I didn't want to take a photo because it felt like cheating. Still, I liked the airplane much better than the other ad:

And this one was kind of cool, although when only able to see the very back part of that swimmer on the right I thought it was of meat in a frying pan:

Not a bus, and no picture on the side, just my patient husband waiting in the car:

And one last photo of all of the buses parked:

And this absolutely definitely concludes my version of the Summer 2014 photo scavenger hunt. Aren't you glad??

Monday, September 15, 2014

Summer 2014 summer scavenger hunt, part five


noun \pə-ˈrād\

 : a long series of people or things that come one after the other

:  a pompous show :  exhibition 
 c :  a usually lengthy array or succession <a parade of visitors>
So there. Three definitions of "parade" that convince me that this photo absolutely qualifies for item number 14, a parade. Oh my, the looks we got. No person who said something to me directly had ever seen a bicycle trailer before, and it's not very common to see children riding bicycles, either, except maybe up and down the street in front of their house. And NO children wear helmets, nor many adults.

If you're on Facebook with me, you can skip the rest: it's just copied and pasted from there. :-) (Edited to add: with one extra photo. :-) )

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Jörn needed the car (I'm not overly hopeful that we'll ever get the other car back, the one that has been waiting for a new-to-it transmission for five weeks so far...), and yes, we have good friends who have offered to let us borrow their extra car, but I'd rather save that for when we NEED the plan was to use bicycles this afternoon.

First glitch: Jacob had the bike trailer. (Considering that yesterday was the first time I'd used it in nearly five years, and that was several hours before Jacob even got up so he probably doesn't even know that I did use it, it was totally understandable that it didn't occur to him to ask me if I needed it.) However, after I texted him, he DID make it home just in time for us to leave...

Except that the second glitch was that the front tire of Marie's bicycle was flat. (My bicycle isn't in working order...seeing as I haven't used it for five years...) While Jacob pumped that up, I got Elisabeth settled in the trailer, and then we finally took off.

Third glitch: as we got to the end of the street, I realized that I'd forgotten to change into shorts. We were already running so late, that I just took up the ends of my wrap-around skirt and tied them in a knot. Lukas disapproved. I didn't care.

Fourth glitch: by the time we were less than a kilometer from home, the front tire was flat again. However, we were nearly at a gas (petrol) station, so I put air in it there.

With all that, it was pretty cool that the girls were less than ten minutes late for their Greek class. I had Lukas take them in while I disconnected the trailer from the bicycle so that I could put it through the gate sideways...

Fifth glitch: when they were done, the tire was flat again. I pumped it up again.

Sixth glitch: road construction which left a path too narrow for the trailer to fit through. We had to make quite a detour.

A couple of hundred meters from LCC (where Katie and Helen were going to Discoveries), I stopped to pump up the tire again, while Lukas accompanied the girls down the street, then came back and met me so we could continue on to Elisabeth's drama class.

Losing count of the glitches here...but I think it was the fourth or fifth time between LCC and drama class that I had to stop to add air that I took Elisabeth out of the trailer and had Lukas walk her the rest of the way (about three blocks). I did catch up with them just as they arrived, though. Less than ten minutes late, which all things considered, wasn't bad.

I phoned Jacob, who came and fixed the tire...

...and everything else went smoothly. Back to LCC to get Katie and Helen, and home.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Summer 2014 photo scavenger hunt, part four

I've been rather slow finishing up, but here are a few more photos from this week.
To begin with, our Greek classes started up again this week, with Katie, Helen, and Elisabeth being in the same class (and, so far, being THE whole class), Monday afternoons. They were excited to go, but Helen wanted me to stay there, so I did, with the intention of sitting in a corner and reading a book. I did do that eventually, but I first looked around the new-to-us classroom...and lo and behold, there were four hot air balloons hanging from the ceiling! I only managed to get three of them in the photo, but I figure this is as close as I'm going to get to "substitute alternative A", a kite, hot air balloon, or blimp.
 Technically, I'm only supposed to be able to substitute for one thing on the list of 21 items, but also technically, this isn't a competition and I can do whatever I want. :-) What I'd actually like to do is get all 21 items AND both substitute alternatives, but I'm doubtful about getting a parade in the next week.

While I was at it, I also took a picture of the girls with their teacher, who is wonderful with them:

I continued Thursday morning with a whole series of photos for number 9, a bakery. We have a bakery very close by and I could have taken a photo at any time, but wanted it to be at least a little more interesting, hence the delay. We went there nearly daily for our first year here, until I started making bread for a quarter of the price, and pass it very often on foot and in the car. However, I do not always manage to have as much bread made as my German family wants to eat, so we still buy bread there probably every two or three weeks. Lukas often goes by himself, or takes a younger sister or two, but he was still asleep Thursday morning and Katie begged to go with Helen. I gave them the money and the politechni card (10% discount! :-)) and said goodbye...and then grabbed the camera and slipped out after them.

The first photo, taken while I lean out of our front gate:
 At the end of the street they turned left and walked to the place where we always cross the street and did an excellent job looking for cars. I couldn't take any photos, because I was hiding behind a bush and didn't dare move.

After crossing the street, they walked through this pedestrian passageway:
 When they got to the end, they stopped to examine a piece of glass leaning against the wall on the right and I flattened myself against the fence, right behind those big bushes on the left. Once they'd turned the corner to the left, I ran to catch up with them.

You can just see Helen on the other side of the furthest tree, and you can also see the shadow of me taking the photo. And this is a good illustration of why it's rather difficult to push buggies/strollers/prams/pushchairs in many places in Cyprus, with the trees in the middle of the sidewalks:

Inside the bakery, Katie and Helen turned right, and as I entered the bakery, one of the workers came out from the back, startled to see me--she hadn't heard either the girls or me come in. She apologized and asked if she could help me, and I said, "Shh! My two daughters are there and don't know I'm here!" She grinned and nodded conspiratorially and I took the next photo, then darted out of the bakery as I saw Katie pick up the bread and start to turn back. (It's sad how pleased I was to have managed that exchange in Greek.)

Here Katie and Helen are having the bread sliced and paying for it, and I'm actually standing outside of the bakery:

They were taking a rather long time to come out, and then I realized that they were choosing balloons. If you look carefully, you can see them through the window at the left-hand corner:

Exiting the bakery, where one can sort of see the ΖΟΡΠΑΣ sign:

And finally...they saw me. :-)

The trip to the bakery was only the first activity (not counting my morning walk, which was before that) of a very busy day, and I took the following photo for item number 15, a juggler:
 Two jugglers, actually. We juggled children, the car, activities, and STUFF. (On the off-chance someone who doesn't actually know me happens to read this, this is a photo of my husband, Jörn, and me. AND it's a so-called "selfie", something I don't ever normally do.)

Now that the school year has started again, Thursdays are busy anyway, and that much more so with only one car, as our other car has been out of commission for five weeks now. (The place where we usually take it had been holding it since then, hoping for a used transmission to become available. Wednesday we had it towed somewhere else, where someone thinks he can actually fix it, but he hasn't looked at it yet.)

A little before 9:00, Jörn took Louisa and Helen to LCC, as Louisa had to be there by 9:00 to help set up, and Helen went along because there wasn't going to be room in the car for all of us later. I'd been planning to drive her, but I'd suddenly remembered it was my turn to take the snack for Tots and Co., so I stayed home cutting up carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, apples, cheese, and bread.

Jörn brought the car back and Lukas, Katie, Elisabeth and I got into it while Jörn walked to Dena's house, quite near LCC, as they had to discuss the new art studio.

Here's our one working car: two of the doors don't open from the outside and the paint is peeling in quite a few places, and as of Thursday mid-day it has a few extra bumps and scratches, and five seats aren't really enough for a family of eight (nine with Louisa, who arrived ten days ago and will be here for the next 10 months, helping in the family and doing community service) but it RUNS, and that is GOOD:

We drove to Livadia to pick up Zoe, a three-year-old I take to Tots, and got there not too long after the official starting time of 9:30. It took Jörn another 10 minutes or so to arrive to collect Lukas, Katie, and the car. Normally, Lukas and Katie would be able to stay home on a Thursday morning while I'm out and Jörn runs errands, but Marie had a job interview and Jacob was planning to go to the doctor because his hip hurt.
 Jörn ended up taking Lukas and Katie to Dena's, as she'd offered to have them for the morning while Jörn ran errands, and the rest of us enjoyed Tots.

This photo is of some of the children helping put things away after we were finished:
 (I'm not allowed to publish photos of children's faces without their parents' consent, but the only face visible here is Elisabeth's.)

Then I was supposed to take Zoe home, but accidentally drove to our I let Louisa out, then took Zoe home, running into something being pulled behind a pick-up at the roundabout by Kleima on the way there. The driver got out and asked me if everything was okay. He didn't speak any English, but we didn't have a very complicated conversation. All I could think was "I'm the one behind, so it's my fault, and we only have third-party insurance on this car," so when he wasn't at all upset and said that HIS whatever-it-was was fine, I was quite happy to accept that, and we both drove off. As he turned the corner (and I went straight), I realized that the reason he was so pleasant was that he was definitely pulling something illegally: whatever it was (some kind of farm equipment? a generator? I don't know, and it's doubtful that I would have known even if I'd gotten a good look), it was more-or-less the color of the road, it was quite low (except from the big dent on our hood I can tell it had something long and skinny sticking out just at the level of our hood...), and it had no lights, no license plate, and no warning flag of any kind. I'd certainly been aware of the pick-up truck, but was also watching for traffic from the right so only had it in my peripheral vision and was very startled to feel the bump, when I KNEW that I was a safe distance behind the truck. Oh well. The bumper is a bit pushed in on one side, but the catch on the hood works, as do all the lights. This isn't Germany, so we won't be doing anything about it. (NOT that Jörn was happy about it when I confessed. But it's the first time I've run into another vehicle in over 27 years of driving, so I don't feel too terrible.)

While I was at Tots, Jacob had texted a couple of times to update me on progress at the doctor's. It's strange for me to think that I have children old enough to go by themselves, but Jacob (15) didn't think so at all! He'd gone to the old general hospital, which no longer functions as a hospital, but as a clinic for walk-in non-emergencies. (I'd made EIGHT phone calls the day before to figure out how to use the public health system...up until now, for the rare trip to the doctor, we've gone to a private doctor, then waited three to six months to have our health insurance in Germany reimburse us for part of the cost.) As Jacob has a European health card, the visit cost 2 Euros. He saw somebody without insurance registering, and they paid 20 Euros. Private doctors generally take between 35 and 50 Euros a visit and our health insurance reimburses about 20.

Jacob was diagnosed with tendonitis and given two prescriptions and told to take it easy, no bike-riding until at least Monday. He didn't mention to the doctor that he'd come on his bicycle and was going to be returning on his bicycle...but he HAS been very good since. Very frustrated, as he usually rides around 200 kilometers a week, but he's stayed off the bike.

One of the prescriptions was available at the pharmacy at the old hospital, and they told him he'd have to go to the pharmacy at the new hospital for the other one.  (The two prescriptions had a co-pay of 50 cents each, so the entire cost to us was 3 Euros.)

Jacob arrived home just after lunch, not long before 2:00. Since we thought the pharmacy at the new hospital closed at 2:00 (we found out it actually closes at 3:00), I jumped in the car, along with Jacob and Lukas (who always wants to go along for the ride, no matter who is going where), and got there at 1:55, let Jacob out, and parked in the shade, where I sat in the car and read, and Lukas climbed trees:

That's the last photo I managed for the day, but not the end of the juggling.

At 2:45, Jörn, Jacob, Lukas, and I left, leaving Louisa and Marie home with Katie, Helen, and Elisabeth. We dropped Lukas off at his drama class and went to our Greek class, where the three of us make up only 75% of the class instead of 100%, as we did by the end of last year.

At 5:00 Jörn took Marie and Jacob to their drama class and picked up Lukas and brought him home, then went swimming (for exercise--he's been going nearly every single day), came home and we had dinner, and at 7:00 I picked up Marie and Jacob. (They normally get themselves there and back, but Jacob had to be collected because of the tendonitis, so we obviously didn't make Marie walk!)

And I'm sure I'm missing something, besides the usual evening juggling of teethbrushing, drinks of water, books read, and BED, but as this is already so long and so disjointed with all the interruptions I've had, I'm going to publish it now.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Summer 2014 photo scavenger hunt, part three

My first post with scavenger hunt photos consisted only of photos that were NOT taken on purpose for the scavenger hunt, and my second was photos that I took just because of it and wouldn't have taken otherwise. Those were both rather easy, but I've been having trouble completing the list!

The first one that I thought would be very easy was number 3, birds on a wire. The friend of mine from whom I have the scavenger hunt in the first place lives in London and she had difficulty, because there aren't very many overhead wires in London! Here in Cyprus, however, there are plenty, and not only that, I KNOW that birds often sit on the wires in front of our house, by the dozens or scores or possibly hundreds. Our cat, Makenzy, makes me rather nervous for her safety when she's out in the middle of the intersection (we live at the top of a T-intersection) trying to catch the swallows swooping around and landing some 10 meters above her head. I expected to take a photo of birds the morning that Jörn and I spent running errands, and that's when I discovered...there don't appear to be many birds here in the summer! I kept looking, at all hours of the day, and saw very few birds, none of them sitting.

Now that the weather has cooled down a bit, at least in the early morning, my friend Sue joins me on my morning walk three times a week. She often has a camera with her (and blogs considerably more often and more interestingly than I do) and knew about my failed search for birds on a wire, so when we saw some last Monday, she quickly took a photo. Not quite quickly enough, though, as one flew away just as she snapped the picture:

In the nearly hour we were out, we didn't see any more.

Then on Thursday morning, almost at the end of our walk, Sue got this photo in the street behind our house:

...and another one trying to get a close-up:

So even though I didn't personally take the photos, I WAS present when they were taken, and they WERE taken specifically for my blog. So it was no longer necessary to do what I thought I was going to have to do, namely, photograph some of my earrings, but I did so anyway:

I have no idea where I got these earrings, and I'm not sure that I'd even ever worn them until a couple of weeks ago, when my three youngest daughters mounted a campaign to get me wearing earrings again and have been taking turns each day choosing which ones I wear.

The one pictured below is one that I did wear very, very often, though, until I lost one of them. I imagine I made it (them) when I was 14, as that year (1985) was the 40th anniversary of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so learning about Japan was a big deal and our church made 1000 paper cranes. These were the smallest paper cranes I managed.

Oh, and here's another photo for number 11, a horn, just because;
Lukas was given this vuvuzela in the colors of the German flag while we were in Germany in July, which also happened to be while the World Cup was happening. Germans are generally very wary of being patriotic, seeming to have a difficult time distinguishing between patriotism ("my country, may she be right, but my country, right or wrong") and nationalism ("my country is always right"), but their guard drops considerably during the football (soccer) World Cup every four years. I think they deserve to be proud, having won this year for the fourth time (the first time as a united country), the only country to have won more times being Brazil, and the only other country to have won more than twice (also four times) being Italy. Incidentally, the United States did better this year than ever before, which just might have something to do with having had a German coach. But I digress. As usual.

My most triumphant photo for this post, indeed, for the whole scavenger hunt so far, is number 8, a tattoo on a person. I doubt that a single day has gone by since we moved to Cyprus on which I have left the house and NOT seen a person with a tattoo--I don't know if this is because they are more common in Cyprus than Germany, or if they've gained in popularity, or if it's just that the much warmer weather here means that more skin is exposed and so tattoos are visible, but there is NO problem finding people with tattoos. However...I didn't want to photograph a random stranger, and one person I know that I thought of doesn't like it now that he HAS a tattoo, so I didn't want to ask him, and I very nearly did ask an acquaintance whom I ran into last week if I could take a photo of her, but I wimped out. I was telling Marie about my dilemma (and how last Wednesday I finally decided that I would take a photo of the very pretty rose on the shoulder of a woman standing in front of me at the airport, but the camera batteries died JUST as a got up my courage to do so!), and she pointed out that her good friend, Elina, was very likely to be happy to be photographed. So I took the camera with me to church yesterday and asked her, and she certainly was, and also gave me permission to put it on my blog:
I didn't quite get the whole tattoo in the photo (we were already laughing together about me asking her to partially undress in the middle of a church!), but I do like this picture. I also asked Elina if there was a story about the tattoo that she would want to share, and she said, "Oh, yes!"

First of all, she'd wanted a tattoo from when she was about 12, but her mother (wisely, she agreed, as do I) said she should wait until she was 18 to do something so permanent. She chose the location for quite a few logical reasons that interested me as well, for instance, it's easily covered up if she doesn't want it visible, especially with how large it is, and the skin in that area will change little as she ages, so the picture won't get distorted with time. As for the design, Elina is an artist and freelance animator and designed it herself, taking a full year to do so to make sure it was just right. She chose a dragon because it represents strength and power, which in her own words, represents her, and she's always loved dragon lore anyway, but most intriguingly to me, the whole dragon is shaped from her name in Arabic (لينى, and yes, I got that from Elina, because I do not know ANY Arabic at all).  Elina speaks Arabic, as her mother is from Syria, so this isn't one of those random using-some-foreign-language-because-it-looks-cool things that many people do. She said that it's not really very visible in this photo and I'm welcome to take another photo the next time I see her, so this post might be edited eventually. :-) And finally, the dragon is wearing a cross earring, partly because Elina likes earrings (she had ten ear-piercings), but also because earrings can be lost, but the tattooed cross, representing that she is a Christian, cannot be, thereby symbolizing the permanency of being a Christian.

And now watch this space for a good photo of the whole picture!

This is my third year in a row doing this photo scavenger hunt (although I didn't actually finish last year), and I've asked myself a couple of times why I'm doing it. Any excuse to ramble, I suppose, and it's fun to see how many photos I can get out of everyday life, or use to illustrate everyday life. Elina's tattoo and the story with it are hands-down my favorite thing so far.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer 2014 photo scavenger hunt part two and some other photos

Full disclosure: these aren't just scavenger hunt photos. But this will at least be much shorter than the last post!

To start the week...Monday morning, Marie, Jacob, and Lukas left for camp with the Larnaka Inter-church youth group. Here they are at the meeting place, waiting to get on the bus:

And they just happened to all get on the bus at the same time, so I got another photo:

This is Marie's sixth year (sixth year!!!) going to camp. Five years ago, I was maybe a tiny bit teary, took lots of photos, missed her a bit, and looked forward to her return. Now...well, Jacob's there for his fourth time, and Lukas for his first, and I was pretty much "Hey, get on the bus so I can leave now!"

Jörn was out all day Monday, so lunch was my job, but with only the girls, I didn't have to do anything exciting. (Jacob very much and Lukas to a certain extent expect an actual MEAL...) I'd thawed some pitta bread for the three camp-goers to make sandwiches for their packed lunches, since I'd forgotten to make bread, and I'd even bought some lounza (ham, I guess) for them, which is a huge treat, because we generally avoid cold-cuts because of MSG and salt, AND I'd given them each a juice box, an even rarer treat. (They were left over from when Jörn was in the hospital in June--the hospital only gave him water and tea to drink, and in Nikosia they didn't even give him water, saying that the water wasn't very good and that he should buy his own!) So...we also had pitta bread and lounza and juice for lunch (and cheese and carrot sticks and whole cucumbers), AND I let the girls take theirs outside to eat:

This resulted in me hearing from Katie that I am "amazing" and "the best mother in the world", over and over again. Which, although rather exaggerated, was admittedly rather nice to hear, since I usually hear quite the opposite from her. AND there were no dishes to wash, so win-win.

Monday the girls also started packing for the sleepover they'd been counting the days to for a week or so, and I'd been counting down to for three years, we figured out. Apparently, it was when Jacob first went to camp and I commented about not knowing what to do with "only" four children at home, that Sue suggested (offered? joked? promised? spoke in a moment of temporary insanity?) that when Lukas was 12 and also went to camp, and assuming Elisabeth was weaned and we didn't have any more children, she would take the three younger girls for an overnight at her house. Elisabeth weaned on her fourth birthday two months ago, yes, she's still the youngest, and Lukas is 12 and at camp.


Jörn worked all day Monday and all day Tuesday and had Wednesday and Thursday off. Wednesday morning at 7:00 or so the girls started asking how many minutes until they were going to Sue's house. They didn't like the answer of 240 minutes. They were much happier at 10:13 when I said 47 minutes, because that was less than an hour, so Katie set the oven timer and I had a whole 47 minutes of nobody asking me how long.

At 11:00 they piled into the car with what they'd packed (which included pillows, two dolls and clothes for the dolls, and some clothes for the girls themselves, but two of the three apparently forgot underpants...Elisabeth was the only one who remembered!) and we drove the 500 meters that we normally walk. We'd been there about two minutes when Helen said, very politely, "Can you two please leave now?" So we did. :-) However, we'd forgotten the crib/cot mattress as an extra bed, so returned a few minutes later with it, but just left it outside and then escaped. Here is Sue's account of their stay.

And WE spent the rest of the day all by ourselves, together!! (To be sure, Lukas phoned at around 7:00 just to chat, and while we were eating dinner at Souvlaki Express after that we suddenly heard "Hi, Mommy!!" and got a wave from Helen and Elisabeth, who were just returning from the playground with Richard, so I did have SOME contact with my children that day, but rather minimal. :-) )

This morning we decided to run some errands, and as we were going out the door I grabbed the camera and the scavenger hunt list and said I could possibly photograph a garden gnome at Kleima. As I read the list to Jörn, he asked what kind of horn  (number 11: a horn), and I said I had no idea, it was up to me. I'd been thinking of taking a photo of Helen or Lukas blowing one of their many tubes, but since we were in the car, I pointed out that there WAS a horn right there, so I took a photo, and here you have it:

Our first stop was Estia, a stationery shop downtown, where we got a birthday present for a friend having a birthday party this afternoon, and I talked Jörn into posing for this photo for number 5, a rack of postcards:

Then we went to the copyshop near Metro, where nothing inspired me to take a photo, and then to the Politechni office. "Politechni" means "many children", and we're members there for 25 Euros a year, which gives us discounts at all sorts of places, such as several bookstores, pharmacies, and bakeries. The biggest single saving is swimming lessons: instead of 30 Euros a month for the first two children, it's 20, and for the rest of the children, 10 instead of 20, so we saved 40 Euros in May and 40 in June, when Jacob, Lukas, Katie, and Helen took swimming lessons, and 50 Euros in July, when Elisabeth also joined in. Anyway, the reason we went there was to pick up a backpack for Helen, who is school-aged now, as each of their members receive one at age six. (Helen will be six next week.) And since I sort of cheated on number 16, a sign in a language other than English, Jörn thought I should take a photo of the politechni office sign, so I did:

And then I took a photo of the sign next to the elevator, because if I understood it correctly, it's pretty funny, at least in our opinions:
 Are there people who don't know to push the button for the elevator and try to push open the doors??

And at Jörn's request, I also took a photo of the list of all the businesses in that building, which happens to include the dentist I went to last year for a root canal and the pediatrician who came to our house after Elisabeth was born:

From there we went to Kleima, a store on four levels, and I don't know what to call it. A department store, maybe? Anyway, Jörn's mission was a particular plastic garden shed, which we accomplished, and mine was to get a photo for number 2, a garden gnome. In English, there's a difference (in my opinion, anyway...) between "gnomes" and "dwarves", and I would call these "dwarves", but this is Cyprus, not Germany (too bad I didn't think about needing this photo while we were in Germany, because there are garden gnomes EVERYWHERE!!), so a nanos is just going to have to count:

There were some more on the stairs:

And as we drove past the garden center part of Kleima, I asked Jörn to stop and let me run in and see if I could find some REAL garden gnomes, but nope, just shelves and shelves of dwarves in weird green light:

And while I was there, I took a photo of some birdhouses for substitute alternative B, although Jörn thinks I should photograph the empty swallow nest above our kitchen door, which I still might do.

Then we went to Micro (a grocery store) where laundry detergent was on sale, and while there I texted Sue that our 24 hours were up, but she said that they'd voted to stay until 3:00. Okay, then! :-)

Before lunch Jörn went swimming, which he's been doing daily (Cyprus is all about connections, and we have a friend with connections to hotels that mean Jörn can swim without paying) and I sat in the shade and read a book. (I do NOT go in the sun if I can help it!)

After lunch (scrumptious salad prepared by Jörn, of course), I happened to glance at my phone and see that Sue had texted about 15 minutes earlier, just before 2:00, that Elisabeth was ready to come home. So we went and collected the girls after 27 hours without children, the longest I have ever been away from all of my children at the same time. And except for the hour I spent at the Salt Lake park this morning, all of that time was spent with Jörn. :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer so far, with scavenger hunt photos!

There's simply no way that I can catch up with this summer, but two of the I think three people who read this blog are with me on Facebook anyway and will have seen all or most of these photos. Still, since I just now I suddenly remembered my last post of non-information, about the 2014 Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt, I decided to at least look through my photos from June, July, and August (so far) and see how many of the 21 items I just by chance already have. So here are a few...
The second week of June (so technically, not yet summer, but as I said last year, considering that it feels like summer as of May at the latest, I'm counting all of June!!) my husband's art team coordinated an outreach at Finikoudes, the main street along the beach, during Kataklysmos. To the Western world (such as know that it exists at all...), this is Pentecost, the celebration of the sending of the Holy Spirit to the Church in Jerusalem. Here, it's about the flood (so-called "Noah's flood") and there are lots of competitions and such involving water, and I haven't entirely (or at all...) understood it yet. Anyway, every evening for the whole week after Pentecost, Finikoudes was closed to traffic and booths were set up selling stuff and games. The only booth in the whole place that was unique was the one Jörn's team was running, offering free drawings. And for some reason, there's no photo of the sign in Greek (it looked just like this one, but in Greek...), but this was DEFINITELY a weird language to most people going by, and a LOT of people stopped to find out what on earth it was about. It was totally cool.

So, whether I consider that to have checked off number 16, a sign in a language other than English, or not, I wanted to share it.

These next two, however, of Finikoudes during the festival, almost definitely count for number 4, a group of tourists, as there are ALWAYS tourists in Larnaka, and especially in the summer, and obviously for numbers 6, an urban street scene, and particularly amply, 17, a lamp post.

Everybody in my world long since knows that my husband had a "mild" heart attack (myocardial infarct) June 13th or 14th (or perhaps several--I took him to the hospital June 14th at 5:30 a.m. because of chest pains), and then a "major" heart attack (cardiac arrest) while in the ICU at Larnaka General Hospital in the early hours of June 16th. He was then taken to Nikosia for an angiogram, where they also inserted two overlapping stents into the artery that had been completely blocked, and a few days later, returned to Larnaka. I took this photo from his hospital room: what looks like snow in the distance is the completely dried up Salt Lake which is 400 meters from our house. Although our house is not actually visible, as all the houses around it are higher than ours, it's somewhere in this picture. And it doesn't really fulfill any of the scavenger hunt photos, but I wanted to share it, so here it is.

In a lot of languages, the word for "pet" is related to the English word "mascot", such as the German "Maskottchen" (the "chen" on the end simply being diminutive), so I chose a photo of Conny and her kittens for number 12, a mascot:
 Conny adopted us against our (or at least, MY) will, sort of in December. By the end of January I was kind of admitting she was ours and was putting out two bowls of cat food (because Makenzy would NOT share), but by the time I'd decided we should really admit she was staying and get her spayed, we realized it was too late. Her kittens were born April 4th, and this photo was taken June 19th, so they were 2 1/2 months old. From left to right, Lady Jane Grey, Joan of Arc, and Alexander the Great. They have happily all been adopted, and even more happily, by good friends, so we will get to continue to watch them grow up. And also happily, Conny has now been spayed. As have the kittens. (Well, in the case of Alexander, castrated.)

On July 4th, Lukas, Elisabeth, and I flew to Germany. There was so much fog in Larnaka, however, that the plane coming from Frankfurt couldn't land here, so at 4:00 a.m., when we should have been taking off, we were boarding a bus to be taken to Paphos. A little before 6:00 a.m., we got put on the shuttle bus to the airplane, and I leaned out of the door to take these two photos:

 And so actually have a photo of a sunrise, number 13! Throughout June I saw the sunrise most mornings on my daily walks, but never had the camera. In July I started getting up a bit later and missed about a third of the days, and so far in August I've missed four days but haven't seen a single sunrise, so I'm happy to have this one.

And here are Lukas and Elisabeth in the bus to the plane, just because they're cute:

The journey to Germany continued to be eventful, because we missed our train connection in Frankfurt. However, as it was booked as part of the flight, Lufthansa was still responsible for getting us to Düsseldorf, and we ended up flying instead of taking the train. The approach to the airport was amazing. First of all, of all the many, many times I have flown into Düsseldorf, I have not often seen much of anything until literally seconds before landing, because of heavy cloud cover, but this time, it was practically completely clear. For a good 15 minutes or so we had a perfect view, and I recognized place after place after place, from the Kettwiger Stausee in Essen (we lived in Essen when we were first married, although not in Kettwig), down through Mulheim an der Ruhr, where we lived for the seven years before moving to Cyprus, past Duisburg where I took German classes for two years, across Ratingen Lintorf where I actually saw the house where we lived when Marie was born, over the Lintorfer Wald and Angermund, where I lived for my first three and a third years in Germany, to the airport. Totally my "old stomping ground" and I loved it. I'm not actually sure if this photo is of the Rhein or the Ruhr, but I could figure it out if I put enough effort into it. Either way, it might be pushing it a bit to consider this number 1, a sign welcoming people to your home town (or a nearby town), but I'm going to anyway.

The above photo does illustrate well that the Rhein-Ruhr Gebiet (area) is the most densely populated part of Germany and, along with Paris and London, one of the most densely populated places in Europe. However, that's not all there is there, as the next photo shows, incidentally being scavenger hunt photo number 7, a rural landscape:

We arrived in Germany on a Friday and stayed with Phil and Margaret in Angermund until Tuesday. Friday evening we went up to Mulheim to see Peggy, Hannu, and Florian, and Lukas spent the night there. (He and Florian have been friends since they were two years old, Peggy and I the same length of time, although we were rather older than two when we met. :-) )

Saturday morning Elisabeth and I went back to Mülheim to visit with Katrina, Heinz, and Hannah, whom we were supposed to see Friday afternoon but had had to change because of our late arrival. Then Hannu collected us and took Lukas, Elisabeth, and me to Kaiserswerth to see Aileen, where we had coffee and cake and then went for a walk along the Rhein, before she took us back to Angermund.

Sunday morning we went to our home church, IBCD, and saw some people we knew and many more we didn't. Soooo many people have moved, and of those left that I still know, several had already left for the summer, as July 4th was the last day of school, so I didn't get to see some of my closest friends, including the ONLY person who has been a member of IBCD longer than I have been. We went home from church with Gary and Elisabeth and had a wonderful afternoon with them, where I took a photo that meets the requirements of number 10, a photo bomb (someone found lurking in the background of photo; the lurker may have intended to disrupt the picture or may be doing it unintentionally, but the background lurker is a surprise to the photographer), and I am the photobomber!

 We enjoyed the afternoon very much, and I also took one very quick trip to their attic, where we still have too many boxes stored, and quickly located my box of journals, over 40 in total, kept from when I was 11 years old until 37. (And yes, I've continued to keep a journal since then, but I've been in Cyprus since then, so already had those journals here.) It was difficult to leave behind some other things I came across, such as a doll Jörn gave me in 1996, but I knew that getting the journals home was going to be challenging enough, and I managed to take NOTHING else. Lukas, however, found all the little people and animals from the castle Jörn had had as a child, and brought those back with him. (The journals had been left behind because I didn't want to trust them to the shipment and couldn't justify taking up a whole suitcase with them, and the people had been left there because while I was packing stuff to move here, the children had refused to put them away, so I'd tossed them in a box to be stored...)

Monday were doctors' appointments, and that night, Jörn, Katie, and Helen arrived in Germany. I had the beginnings of a sore throat, and the next morning I was absolutely miserable, unable to swallow comfortably or talk, had a fever, and could hardly get out of bed. (And didn't, until after 9:00.) Phil and Jörn took me to a doctor, who was concerned that it might be an abscess, so they sent me to the hospital in Duisburg where, incidentally, Jacob had been born. No abscess, but acute tonsillitis, and they wanted to admit me!! I refused and had to sign that I was leaving against medical advice, which was difficult to do as I literally could barely hold the pen.

We thought we wouldn't be able to travel up to Hamminkeln that day, as I definitely could not carry a suitcase for the two train changes, and Jörn still wasn't allowed to, barely three weeks after his heart attack, but Phil ended up driving me and three children, and Jörn and Helen went by train.

The family camp with our mission organization was, once again, absolutely wonderful. I'd gone to the first one they had, two years ago, with the three little girls, and it was only decided a week before it started that Jörn, Katie, and Helen would join us this time. Every detail worked out perfectly, and I'm so glad we went. Under the influence of drugs (antibiotics and prescription painkillers), I was able to participate in everything, but also slept much more than I usually do. By the end of the week I felt fine.

It ended Saturday morning and then we took the train to Oberhausen to have lunch and the afternoon with Barbara, Karl-Heinz, Andrea, Nils, and Nils. :-) (One Nils is the son and brother, the other is Andrea's boyfriend.) Then back to Angermund.

Sunday morning Phil took Jörn, Katie, and Helen to IBCD, then came back and took Lukas, Elisabeth, and me to the airport. We had a six-hour layover in Vienna, where, as it was raining the whole time, we didn't even attempt to go out, but there was quite a nice play area. We arrived home in the early hours of Monday morning, where Tim P. collected us, and that evening, Jörn and the others arrived home. Jacob didn't get back from participating with Operation Joshua distributing Bibles in Greece until the Thursday, when the whole family was together again after having been scattered in four countries. (On the Sunday afternoon, Jörn and two children were still in Germany, two children and I were in Austria, Jacob was in Greece, and Marie was home in Cyprus!)

Wow, this is getting long. If you've gotten this far, go ahead and bookmark it and save it for another day, or just skim the rest of the photos, or whatever. I won't know the difference! But I'm going to go ahead and continue narrating the rest of the photos that I've already put in here...

There are very, very few photos of me, partly because I'm more often on the other side of the camera, and partly because I'm not generally in cute or interesting situations that people want to photograph! But I thought this one did a somewhat decent job of number 21, a photograph of (you) with something representing the season, as although we have visitors year-round, we tend to have MORE in the summer. It was great getting to meet an internet friend, Michelle, and her husband Andreas and their three children:

However, I do have more (and possibly closer to on-topic photos) for that one, which I'll get to in a moment. First, though, a teaser as to our major project of this summer: building a loft and bed for Katie in the girls' room. I may or may not eventually do a blogpost just on that, since I took a lot of photos and I really enjoyed it. In the meantime, here's a photo of Jacob in Richard's and Tim P's workshop, where we got to use all sorts of power tools, and another "photobomb" qualification, as I had no idea that Richard was visible through the window into the electronics workshop until after the photo was posted on Facebook.

Oh yeah, another photo of a "mascot", Lady Jane Grey, the day before she went to her new home with Tim F.

August 6th to 10th we went up to Rocky Point campground in the mountains, a wonderful escape from the heat and humidity here. So here's another photo for 21, if you see me there behind Lukas's tent.

And another photobomb...

And another of me with something representing the "season"--a season of relaxing, hanging out with my family, and playing LOTS of Boggle with Marie:

Unequivocally, barbecues and s'mores represent summer:

And a candid photo of me with five out of six children!

One day, Jacob, Lukas, Elisabeth and I drove to the top of the trail to Caledonia Waterfall (number 18, a waterfall, and the last topic for this post!) and hiked down to it. If you look carefully, Jacob and Lukas are above it, looking considerably more dangerously close to the edge than they are.

Jacob scared me a lot more in this photo:

And Lukas was the only one who went in completely:

Then Lukas and Jacob continued down the trail, while Elisabeth and I walked back to the car and drove down to meet them. Elisabeth is an amazing little hiker!

On Sunday we all went to Millomeri waterfall, which is my favorite, and spent an hour or so there. Katie, Helen, and Elisabeth all went in the water, too, but only Lukas went under the waterfall:

And that concludes this installment...