Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's the Little Things/A Perfect Day in Chile

There is an almost sensual feeling one gets when you climb into bed and feel the slightly cool sheets on your bare toes. Not cold-I hate the cold! Yes, I've experienced it before(you can anywhere you live) but I don't think I reveled in the simple enjoyment of it until I moved to Chile, especially out here in the country. Maybe it's because there is little else to do but pay attention to the little things. Maybe it's because the cool nights all summer always ensure that cool sheet feeling. Maybe it's because life has been simplified to such a degree that I can appreciate those small pleasures better than before. Or maybe it's the physical work we do-cutting weeds, creating and tending flower beds, a labor of love but we do sweat like....well, like workers!

A perfect day, these days, is getting up early(to avoid the heat that will come later) and working outside for 3-5 hours, then a hot shower, a late lunch and a nap. Each one makes the next one perfect. A hot shower after getting sweaty and dirty, then even simple food for lunch is like the nectar of the gods, and culminating in a delicious yet well-deserved nap. That is truly decadence.

After a nice siesta, we have a some free time before dinner. I might play around on the computer while he reads a book. Perhaps we'll go back outside and survey the landscape and talk about what projects might be next. Or clip some dead flowers here and there. By then it's getting close to dinnertime so we leisurely make dinner while listening to Dean Martin(the tile floors are perfect for an impromptu dance in between) and enjoy whatever we've concocted that day.

After dinner, we take our coffee(or wine) outside on the patio and(depending on the time of year) sit in the dark enjoying the stars or watching the sunset. When our souls have had their fill of the dark landscape, we traipse inside and settle down in our room to watch a movie or have some more computer time. There is no particular schedule.

And I get in my my big t-shirt and settle in under the covers with a book(that I am re-reading because we've read everything we have) and my bare feet reach out for the cool sheets and I enjoy that almost sensual feeling again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fall is here and the Plants know it

The weather here is still beautiful. But the nights are cooler. Gardening is challenging because there are new rules. I have to stop and think "March here is like....September maybe?" The growing season is longer so it's difficult to gauge just which month is comparable. a month ago many flowers were going to seed(collecting seeds has become a obsession to me) and now a number of them are blooming again. We planted our vegetable garden too late yet our two foot tall corn stalks still attempted to tassel and grow corn cobs just like the big guys in the field! We did get some tiny watermelons which were tasty nonetheless. Plants have an internal clock and it's different here. Even though we don't know when things should be planted or ripe, they do. So i'm trying to listen to them.

Some flowers continue to flower through the winter and I'm watching closely to see which ones thrive then. Those are the ones I want a lot of, blooming all year. The patio has been a laboratory(with many pots of all sizes and shapes) all summer where I plant seeds and transplant the babies elsewhere to fill in flowerbeds.We have had ongoing issues with when we get water flowing in the canal (ditch) but Alejandro is growing alfalfa behind us and uses the same canal so we have water. I have a feeling we can always ask Alejandro why we have no water and he'll know. He is 74 years old and you can see him walking around early in the morning and at dusk. We work for 3-4 hours outside in the morning and can hardly walk! He knows a little English and seems to enjoy a friendly chat for a few minutes when he sees us. It's nice to have another friend to help us untangle the mysteries of Chile.

And Another One Bites The Dust

NEW YORK — Bernard Madoff's longtime accountant was arrested on fraud charges Wednesday, accused of aiding the man who has admitted cheating thousands of investors out of billions of dollars in the past two decades.

The charges against David Friehling, 49, come as federal authorities turn their attention to those who they believe helped Madoff fool 4,800 investors into thinking that their longtime investments were growing comfortably each year. Friehling is the first person to be arrested since the Madoff scandal broke three months ago.

Friehling ran an accounting office in a nondescript suburban building north of New York City, and quickly drew scrutiny. Experts in accounting said it would be preposterous for such a tiny firm to audit properly an operation the size of Madoff's.

He had served as Madoff's auditor from 1991 through 2008 while he worked at the sole practitioner at Friehling & Horowitz. He was paid a tidy sum by Madoff: Prosecutors said he made between $12,000 and $14,500 a month from 2004 to 2007, or $144,000 to $174,000 a year.

Friehling faces up to 105 years in prison if he is convicted. He is charged with securities fraud, aiding and abetting investment adviser fraud and four counts of filing false audit reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

And this...

Federal prosecutors in New York and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are preparing to file a legal action against Ruth Madoff, wife of jailed fraudster Bernie, amid fears that she will try to flee the United States or move her $70m fortune beyond their reach.

Department of Justice sources told the Observer that prosecutors were "working around the clock" to build a criminal complaint against Mrs Madoff in an effort to ask a judge to freeze her bank accounts, which they believe are filled with the proceeds of her husband's crimes.

And this....

US prosecutors on Tuesday targeted wealth held by fraudster Bernard Madoff's two sons, in a widening attempt to recover billions of stolen dollars.

They also argued that Madoff, 70, must be denied bail at a hearing this Thursday because he is likely to try to escape, possibly to France, where he has a luxury seaside home.

Madoff was jailed last week after pleading guilty to 11 counts of fraud, money laundering, perjury and theft in what may be the biggest scam in history. He will be sentenced on June 16 and is likely to be condemned to life in prison.

The attempt by prosecutors to seize 31.55 million dollars from Andrew and Mark Madoff, both close business associates of their father, followed a similar move to seize the assets of Madoff's wife Ruth.

No one else has been charged in the multi-billion-dollar investment fraud and Madoff claims he acted alone.

However, speculation is growing that his immediate family are under scrutiny over the decades-long fraud, in which billions of dollars given by wealthy investors disappeared into Madoff's personal accounts.

Which reminds me of the Whiffenpoof song:

We are poor little lambs
Who have lost our way.
Baa! Baa! Baa!
We are little black sheep
Who have gone astray.
Baa! Baa! Baa!

Gentlemen songsters off on a spree
Damned from here to eternity
God have mercy on such as we.
Baa! Baa! Baa!

It would be nice if they sing on their way to jail.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chile falls back, the US springs forward (timewise)

I added a handy-dandy little gadget to the blog showing the time differences in a few places. You'll notice Chile is the same as EST right now. Before you people set your clocks forward and a few weeks later, we set ours back, there was a 4 hour difference between here and Colorado. Now only two.

The Yale Whiffenpoofs in Pirque

One of our English students who has become a friend wanted to go see a "chorus" in Pirque. From the US she said, the famous university "Jolly". We thought she might mean Yale but she insisted she was told "Jolly". So, sure enough, at a little old building in downtown Pirque, there were 14 young men, dressed formally and singing a cappella, from Yale. It was amazingly fun and I was sorry to hear the last song. And we got our photo taken for the next Pirque Revista magazine. They sang I'll Be Seeing You and Midnight Train to Georgia and Bye Bye Blackbird and many more. I'll be seeing all the old familiar to me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sour cream and molasses Found!

Well, sort of. I used Chancaca as a molasses replacement. Chancaca smells exactly like molasses. It comes as a sugary solid and you melt it in water. I'm still working on consistency but I think it will do quite well. I use the double pack of chancaca with about a cup of water.

My other small victory was finding a good sour cream substitute. I used cream with a couple teaspoons lemon juice and made beef stroganoff which seemed like heaven to taste...but it may be partly because I had given up hope. Never give up hope!