Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Istanbul, not Constantinople

We were out walking Dilly early on this hot and humid day.  We passed a car parked across the street. It had an odd sticker in the rear window. It said, "Make Istanbul Constantinople Again."

Right away a fragment from an old song from the 40's began playing in my head. I asked my husband about it. He remembered it, too.  Here's all I remember from that song:

It's Istanbul, not Constantinople,
Istanbul, not Constantinople,
It's Istanbul, not Constantinople,
Why did "Constantinople" get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks.

A little later, more lines surfaced from the old memory fishing bank:

Even Old New York
Was once New Amsterdam.
Why they changed it
I can't say,
Maybe they just liked it better that way.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

This Week in Babylon

Sometimes I feel like as ancient as an ancient Babylonian. Now is one of those times. For the past month or so, I've been busy getting some craft projects ready for our church's vacation Bible school. 

It starts tomorrow and ends Friday evening. Unlike many other vacation Bible schools, it's an all-day affair. Parents can drop their kids off as early as 8 AM and pick them up at 5 PM. 

Usually we have nearly 45 "campers." (The name of our vacation Bible school is "Camp Saint Philip's.") This year, we have only 33 registrations. In January and February, a thief began raiding our church's outdoor mailbox. He or she or they stole not only checks made out to the church, but also early registrations for Camp Saint Philip's. Our "summer camp" is popular even with people who don't belong to the church, because it's a well-run all-day camp. Unfortunately, we just don't know who might have tried to register and never got a reply. Needless to say, the church now has a post office box.

I help with crafts. Other years, the crafts were handled by at least three adults and a half-dozen high-school-age counselors. This year, there are just two adults.  I spent way too many hours planning, cutting, pasting, and priming. Not doing this next year unless we have another adult. 

So it's been both fun and drudgery.  Tomorrow the youngest group (the "LIONS" --10 kids going into Kindergarten, first and second grades) will make lion faces out of paper plates. I got all my ideas from the internet, mostly from other women who dream up craft projects that keep the kids busy and can be made on a shoestring budget.  Sisters, you rock!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Deer on the Beltway

I've read somewhere that there are now more deer in this country than there were when the first Europeans landed. Our modern emphasis on the production of corn is partly to blame. The deer themselves have evolved to survive almost anywhere, feasting on corn and garden crops in the country and plants and flowers in the suburbs.

Over the years, we've seen an occasional deer lying dead at the side of the Washington Beltway, a busy highway that sometimes widens to six lanes. I'd always assumed these run-over animals had somehow strayed from some large, wooded suburban tract.

Yesterday my husband and I travelled westward along the northern arc of the Beltway, between U.S. Route One and I-270, which links Washington, DC to  I-70 at Frederick, MD. Very busy roads, all of them. To my surprise, I counted no fewer than 5 deer foraging in a narrow wooded strip between the Beltway and a high cement barrier running parallel to the Beltway, about 100 feet from the edge of the road. This strip, less than 5 miles long, lies between Maryland Route 29 (Colesville)  and Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. How can so many deer survive in such a tiny space?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Costa Rica Part 8

The morning after the Big Bang we headed for Nosara, a little beach town on the western coast. We had a 3-hour ride over mostly bumpy, dusty roads. The roads through the larger towns were mostly paved and so were occasional patches out in the country, mostly, it seemed, in front of impressive-looking houses. On the way, we passed this man herding  cattle.

We had a wonderfully relaxing time in Nosara.  We rented a house owned by an American--probably an aging surfer--who had bought the house years ago as an investment. He was now ready to move on to something else, so the house was for sale.

The house came with a pool.  Although David and Simone braved the ocean,  the older folks waded in the ocean but swam in the pool that came with the house.

Barbara made breakfast every morning,

but we had lunch and dinner at local restaurants, all of them very good.

We were charmed by what we took to be "our" resident cat. He darted into the house whenever he had the chance.  Simone and David bought food for him, which he chowed down voraciously. The landlord later informed us that he actually belonged to a neighbor.

On our next-to-the-last evening, we celebrated Ron's birthday by having dinner in the festive outdoor garden of a hotel.  It was a warm, starlit night within sight of the Pacific. A slender crescent moon appeared in the sky, but it did not look like the upright crescent moon seen back home on outhouse doors. This crescent moon looked more like a bowl. We called it the "smiley-face" moon.

On our last full day in Nosara, we went to a nearby hotel for a self-guided nature walk. After descending a newly-built stairway of over 100 steps, we walked along a trail for awhile and soon decided we must have missed a turnoff. The signs were confusing. The older folks decided to return to the hotel. David and Simone opted to continue.

After ascending the 100+ steps, we  found a table on a breezy 0cean-view patio and ordered drinks.  After awhile, we began to be a little concerned about David and Simone. Why weren't they back? We waited some more, chatted some more, drank some more, quietly fretted and still they didn't appear.  Just as Barbara was about to inform the woman at the reception desk that they were lost, David and Simone came crawling up the stairs, sweaty and muddy. The trail was poorly marked. They'd gotten lost.  After wandering forlornly in the wilderness, they found a log stretched across a river and shinnied across that on their butts, trying not to think of crocodiles.

Simone explains how they found their way out of the jungle.

We took little 3-wheel taxis back to the house. Ours got a flat tire. Fortunately, we were fairly close to the house when the tire gave out.

The next morning, our van took us back to San Jose, a ride of about 5 hours. We spent our final night at the Hotel Buena Vista. The hotel van took us to the airport early Monday morning. We said good bye to each other there,  as each couple had a different departure time. Barbara and Ron were headed for Chicago; David and Simone, to Los Angeles, and Phil and I to Baltimore.

Houston was a nightmare. Only three officials were available to check the passports of at least 500 returning, travel-worn, tax-paying citizens. Some people, pleading the need to make a connecting flight in 20 minutes, jumped ahead in line. Others just weaseled under the cordon because they felt entitled.  Tempers flared. Babies cried. Bored officials yawned. 

We reached Baltimore after midnight, watched hopefully for our suitcase to arrive on the carousel, filed a missing suitcase report, found our car without too much trouble in the jam-packed parking lot, went home, fell into our welcoming bed. What a wonderful trip!