Mural: Passions Kill

As I prayer walked the streets of my city, I came across many murals, on the sides of businesses, on crumbling block walls, around the corner of an apartment building where there was no street and no one to see it.

Some of the murals were funny. Some were really odd. But then there were those that made me stop and wonder: What was the artist trying to say?

Over the next couple of months, I’ll share some of the murals with you. You can wonder with me or leave an interpretation in the comments below.

Mural of lipstick and pencils in bullet shapes with words Passions Kill

Day of green

I took a vacation day to get out of town and soak in some green. Most of the immigrants got off the bus at the Mytown stop. An assorted crew of elderly Spaniards remained, talking like they all knew each other. Maybe they did. Then there was me, who probably left them wondering if I had missed my stop.

The weather was gorgeous, but I forgot how long the hike was from the bus stop. I also forgot just how intense the Spanish sun can be when you’re hiking uphill. I was sweaty when I finally parked myself under a tree to revive myself with L.M. Montgomery and roasted almonds.

The park was quiet, only the occasional picnickers and the North African couples who came to do their illicit smooching (who I tried to avoid until I decided that they should be avoiding me).

Winding down the mountain on the bus ride home, I was staring out the window at the departing green when I realized that the bus radio was playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” The refrain (however monotonous) was a fitting closure to a morning that had sent me back to my country girl roots.

Dylan

big brother holding baby brother

Last Friday across the ocean, a little blondie was born. Really, it was Saturday here in Spain and I kept myself awake with whodunnits and carrot sticks until the announcement came.

Welcome, Dylan Thomas, to the family that loved you long before you were born. You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God Himself. May this be your starting point as you find out who you are in this great big world.


Photo credits: B.K. and S.K.

Cuisine and pirates: what’s been happening recently

  • I decided it’s time to learn to cook the North African cuisine. I’ve put it off for years, learning things here and there, but always timid because of how unforgiving the culture can be with their own cuisine–“You used milk in your harcha?!” I don’t think like they do. I don’t grate my onions or peel my tomatoes. I don’t grab for the same spices. I don’t have the same cookware. But I’m trying. And my friends are delighted to train me. Although, truth be told, I still look up recipes, fusing my hands-on experience and American measurements. (Note: The photos below are of food made by friends who gave me cooking lessons.)
  • I finished editing Level 1, Units 1-2 of an English curriculum that I’ve been modifying for several years. I printed and bound the notebook (and now I feel positively published!), which will make for easy lesson prep in the future. Now, on to units 3-8…
  • One day, I asked my downstairs neighbor if I could pop in and play with her little boy. “I miss my nieces and nephews,” I explained. “Of course. Come.” Was her response. So we linked monkeys in a barrel and looked at books. He didn’t know what books were, supposing that they were just to be opened and closed. So I pulled him on my lap and pointed, “Blue hat, green hat…” Soon he was pointing too.
  • A teammate and I went to see a traveling pirate exhibit. It was interesting–horrifying, really. The barbarism was rooted in the understanding that a fight was a fight to the death. While eyeing the grubby wax figures, I couldn’t shake the realization that these people probably smelled worse than they looked. That oughta erase any of those romantic pirate notions for you! We topped off the day with saag and curry that is making my mouth water as I upload the picture.
  • We have been meeting new people as we pass out flyers in the settlements among the greenhouses. Way out there in the boonies, a man told me, “You’re from Immigrantville.” Apparently, we had both lived in the same town at one point. So maybe you can “dance like no one is watching” in the privacy of your own home, but never stroll down the street like no one is watching!

There has been much, much more that has been happening, but “time would fail me to tell” all that I could say, or what I should say on a public platform. So, I will end here and get back to work. 🙂

Welcome, #8

We eagerly waited… and waited for my nephew’s (Baby C’s) grand entrance into our world. Finally he came in his 8 pound 5 ounce splendor, delighting us with his little life. Baby C became Camden Ron. 

And Toddlers A and B, Camden’s twin big brothers, are still finding out that their lives will be irrevocably changed… and for the better.

twins with baby brother

Delicate babies remind me how we begin, so vulnerable and moldable, with our entire futures rolled out in front of us, waiting. That can make us thrill or tremble… or both. 

Camden, I pray that as you start your life, you would delight in life, delight in your present, and yes, even the unknown of your future. I love you, little boy!


Photo credits: M.L.H.

Room with a view

Lord willing, in a few short days, I plan to move. As excited as I am about this next step, I am sad to leave Immigrantville behind. There are lots of things I will miss. Some things are big, but I will miss the small things too… like the daily view from my bedroom window.

I have been snapping photos, trying to enjoy the view to the fullest before I start waking up to a view of my new neighbors’ windows. 

So enjoy the photos with me.

Weddings and the Wild West

Two weddings in two weeks. Whew. They were lovely weddings. Both fairly small and fairly simple. One was a dear friend’s wedding; the other, my baby sister’s. One couple puttered away in an old car; the other roared off in a helicopter on what turned out to be an unfortunately windy day.

I helped coordinate the ceremony for one wedding and was a bridesmaid in the other. By the time both were done and we had gorged ourselves on Casey’s pizza that last Saturday night, I was ready for a change of pace.

So I headed west.

But my Wild West trip was not wild. It was hardly the West either, but even to us in Illinois, anything west of the Mississippi is pretty far west. Besides, it’s not often we Illinoisans see “Pavement ends” or “Gravel ends” signs like you see in Nebraska.

gravel ends road sign

I stayed with a dear childhood friend. We lounged, talked, read, took a snack to the church’s school, visited friends, shot a dirt pile (so, I have a ways to go yet before I’ll be hunting Bambi and Thumper), had runzas, and did oodles more things.

Nebraska runza

One of the “oodles” was a tour of a state park in Fairbury, NE built around wagon “swails” from the Oregon Trail route.

prairie grass

Later that week, the scenery on the way to Kansas was bland and comfortable. After spending the afternoon pricing books at Choice Books, another dear friend and I spent much of the weekend talking and reading in a beautiful, plant-filled apartment.

plants on window sill

We also managed to hang some lights, decorate for fall, and do a little downtown shopping… in between our lounging. 🙂

market store front

No, indeed, my Wild West trip did not turn out wild at all, but exactly, exactly as I had hoped.

Along the coast

I felt more at home with the worn travelers and scruffy men bumming cigarettes than I had browsing a mall full of things I didn’t need and lounging in Pad Thai Wok after my pad thai was gone and all I had left was C.S. Lewis.

I moved on to Willa Cather at the bus station. A French speaker asked for a cigarette. A worn man asked for 80 cents. Neither bothered me. I belonged enough not to care that I had a bad hair day and the hem of my skirt was brown from being too long on dirty streets two days in a row.

A group of loud Americans clambered off the bus. I knew they were American before I heard them speak. –Why are we such a loud culture?– Their laughter pulsated under the metal roof.

A retired Baptist preacher introduced himself. We’re involved in the same sort of work, he said. But he’s short term and I’m long term. That’s about as far as we got before my bus pulled up and nearly bumped us with its stout nose.

It was the end of my stay in Málaga for a two-day literacy training. I could post pictures of my trip, but the truth is, the hours I wasn’t in training, I was parked on my airbnb couch, basking in the aloneness.

Besides my trip to Málaga shortly before the coronavirus lockdown, my roommate and I also spent a day in Adra. Yes, there is a pattern: both Málaga and Adra are along the coast. Sound lovely?

Well, I’m not going to lie; the trip to Adra wasn’t great. The wind quickly banished my dream of lounging on the beach for countless hours. To say nothing of the few rude people that cast a shadow over the rest of the trip. But, I’ll flood you with pictures that make you believe our trip was a blast. Really, it was okay, but it might be a while before I go back. (And next time, I’ll bring my own personal bathroom and a can of pepper spray.)