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May 2001

Our shipment of things from California arrives and a trip to Mar del Plata
with Ignacio and Alejandro.

Wednesday May 2nd Ron talked to Lourdes’ mother about some leaking problems we’re having in the apartment bathroom.  Our landlady is a real sweetheart but our limited ability to communicate makes it hard to explain the specifics about leaking pipes!  She mentioned that the government had imposed a new 21% value added tax on “luxury” purchases, I quoted luxury because that includes things like movie tickets, video rentals, etc.  People are really upset about this new tax.

We received some brochures from our friends who took the Antarctic cruise and were very excited, except when we saw the price!  Now we are in the process of making plans for that same cruise next travel season, which runs from September thru November, but we’re hoping there are some cheaper options!

In anticipation of our stuff being delivered in the morning, we moved a lot of furniture from one side of the room to the other to make room for the boxes.

Thursday May 3rdWe set the alarm for 6 am to be ready for when the movers arrived.  They showed up very close to 7 am and started to unload the boxes.  Ron and I helped with the boxes and when they were all finished I was pleased to see that there wasn’t THAT much stuff, I had visions that the apartment would be floor to ceiling boxes.  I couldn’t remember how much there was going to be.



More Shipment Pics

Ron had made a pot of coffee and we offered the 3 movers a cup, which they readily accepted, while I signed some release forms for our things.  I wasn’t sure if they expected a tip but I gave them each $5, not a big tip, but there wasn’t that much stuff!  They seemed pleased with it.

Now the fun part came, we started to unbox things and discover what we really brought.  Ah, my electronic piano!  Ah, my music CDs!  Ah, my books!  Oh boy, the DVD player!  WHAT?!?!?  Who put all this cat food in here??  Scarlet!!!  Loretta!!!  Did you do this?  I can’t believe we shipped an entire box filled with cat food!  Well, at least we won’t have to buy any more cat food for one or two weeks!

Maria dropped by a little later to return my passport and make sure the delivery went fine.  I mentioned the cat food to her and she said that MANY people bring food for their pets until they adjust to the local cuisine.  Now I don’t feel so bad!

Friday May 4thSeveral days ago it was a cool morning but Ron and I didn’t bother wearing jackets when we walked to our Spanish lesson.  It’s only 6 blocks or so from our house to the school and both Ron and I enjoy the cooler weather.  However, when we got to our lesson our profesora, Lucila, scolded us for not wearing jackets and scarves.  She said we must bundle up when we go outside or we’ll get sick, then she told us how she tells her little children to bundle up!  I mean really!  It’s actually very nice outside but everyone is wearing big wool coats!

Saturday May 5thOf course, Lucila’s scolding about not wearing coats when we went outside put a hex on us and we both came down with our first Argentinean cold!  I went to http://www.epicurious.com and found a good old fashion chicken soup recipe.  Ron then bought some thick, fresh pasta noodles at our favorite pasta store for the soup.  That night we had Ron’s soup for dinner with the hearty fresh pasta noodles and boy was it delicious!

There has been this ad on TV that we really enjoy, again, since I don’t understand everything that’s being said I’m not exactly sure what is going on in the commercial.  It starts out with a person wearing a costume that makes them look like a big cup of pudding, laying on a couch talking to a psychologist.  The psychologist leans over and secretly opens a cup of the pudding and starts eating it, then you see him get KONKED over the head with a huge straw.  The next scene, you see another pudding with shapely, female legs walking up some stairs with some guys looking appreciatively after her when KONK they get knocked out by a big straw, lastly you see a view through an apartment window, another pudding is taking off a towel and getting into a shower, then you see a guy watching her with binoculars from the opposite building and you guessed it, he gets KONKED over the head by a big straw.  No matter how often we see this commercial it still cracks us up.  Of course, Ron, being the good consumer that he is bought some of the puddings to have for dessert that night after our soup.  Marketing is great isn’t it??!?!!  They were pretty expensive, $1.50 or so for a little plastic cup of pudding.  We opened our pudding (first checking the room to make sure there wasn’t someone with a big straw to KONK us out) and tried the pudding.  It was terrible!!  We won’t try that again now matter how much we like their ads!

Monday May 7th – It’s raining today as we walk to our Spanish class. It’s funny but every time it rains businesses put their plants out on the sidewalk to get a drink and dust off the leaves, the sidewalk is filled with houseplants.

Friday May 11th – It’s great to have received our shipment of things from the USA.  I’ve been enjoying my music CDs during the day while working on my computer and with dinner at night.  I tried to get our DVD player working, but was having problems figuring out how to wire it through the VCR that I bought Ron.  I went to order some new DVDs through Amazon and when I went to finish the order it warned me that there are different security features that are used throughout the world to stop people from copying them.  Turns out the USA uses a different security copying method then Europe and some DVDs may not play depending on your player.  It said to look on the back of the DVD and check the little globe icon to see what code was being used on the DVD and what your player supported.  This was all news to me, I thought DVDs were a world wide standard.  Reading the warning further it turns out DVDs are all the same, it’s just the security feature to stop illegal copying that is the issue.  Humph!  I emailed the electronic list for expatriates living in Buenos Aires and sure enough others had run into this same problem.  The video recorder I bought Ron for XMas last year was just a cheapie one and didn’t have many input/ouput jacks.  I couldn’t get it working with the DVD player and wasn’t sure if it was the security feature on the DVD player or not.  I was just about ready to give up when I saw some input jacks on the front of the recorder!  Hah!  A few more tries and I got it working!  Now I can watch “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” on DVD!

Monday May 14thWent to school and felt really lousy throughout the class, when we got home I asked Ron to call and cancel our classes for the rest of the week until we feel better, he had to stop himself from running to the phone to do so!  Ron loves to cancel our Spanish classes!

Ron was trying to fix a leaking faucet in the bathroom when he discovered that the shut off valves to turn the water off were old, corroded and not working properly.  Unlike in the USA where the valves are outside of the wall, the valves here are buried within the wall.  There was no way we could think of to fix this and called Ignacio to ask him what we should do.  The apartment building has an association and since the valves were inside the wall the association would take care of paying the plumbers to fix the problem.  The plumbers came over and started chiseling out the wall to get at the valves, making a huge racket.  Seems most apartments are constructed of all concrete and brick, makes for a very quiet apartment, but makes it hell when you have to get into the walls to fix something.

After a few hours they chiseled away enough of the wall to get at the valves.  They had the water turned off to the entire building, then cut the pipes and wielded in some new pipes with new valves.

 The plumbers told us they would be back tomorrow to patch up the wall and not to use the bathroom.  Luckily we have another bathroom and shower in the apartment!  One of the plumbers had been smoking in the bathroom while they were working and BOY did it stink up the room.  I tried to light some incense, and spray it with a deodorizer, but GEEZ did it stink.  I figured after they’re all done we’ll wash the shower curtain and wash the walls with cleaner to try and get rid of the stink.

Tuesday May 15thWe took showers in the 2nd bathroom.  This is a very small bathroom with a small curved curtain rod to curtain off a shower area to stop water from splashing on the toilet and sink.  The water just drains into the floor drain.  You can barely turn around in the little space allowed, banging elbows on walls, knocking shampoo bottles resting on the toilet and generally making you feel like you’re taking a shower in a phone booth.  The plumbers returned and started patching up the wall.  They asked if we had spare tiles and we checked the storage room for some.  I guess it’s a common occurrence to keep extra tiles after any new project and luckily there were 4 large tiles left.  They finished for the day and told us not to use the bathroom again while the plaster dried.

Wednesday May 16thSince winter is starting, during our Spanish class we asked our profesora if she knew were we could get a flu shot.  Ron and I have been getting flu shots for the last 5 or 6 years and they seem to help us prevent getting the flu so we wanted to get them again.  We had heard that you don’t go to the doctor, but can get a flu shot at certain large pharmacies.  She told us of a large pharmacy on Corodoba where we could get one and headed there after class.  We saw a sign for “vacuna de gripe” in the pharmacy window and went inside to get our shot.  After paying for them, we waited outside a little room until a nurse came out to get us.  She quickly gave us our shot and we were headed home when I noticed that they also had inexpensive scarves (bufandas) in the window of the pharmacy.  With the cooler weather and the fact that we already had colds, we decided to go back in and buy a couple of scarves.  Now all we need is some gloves and a knit cap and we should be all “winterized”!

Once home the plumbers returned to finish up the tiling.  They needed to install the large tiles around the pipes for the toilet and bidet and drill holes for the toilet paper holder.  This caused lots of noise accompanied by the sound of a drill that sounded like it could go through 50 feet of concrete.  After they left we went in to check on the finished job.  They had broke 2 of the large tiles when they were cutting them and drilling the tiles for the holder.  I wasn’t too pleased with the quality of the work, but what would they do to fix it but chisel out the 2 tiles and start over.  Since we were out of tiles anyways, I figured we’d just accept the work as is.

That night Ron washed the shower curtain and I found some Lysol cleaner that we had shipped with our things from the USA.  Ron and I both scrubbed the walls, floors, bathtub and even the ceiling to try and get rid of the smoke smell.  I could still smell it when we were all done, but it was much better.  Next time, I’ll be sure to say I have allergies and ask them not to smoke in the house.

Thursday May 17th - On the expatriates email list, someone said that they had a fantastic cruise in Antarctica.  Some of the “friends of a friend” we met previously had also told us about their trip there and how much they loved it.  I emailed back the person who said they had just been on the cruise and got the name of their travel agent.  We gave her a call and it turns out she lives in our neighborhood and we made plans to meet with her the following week to get more information on the cruise from her.

Ignacio called and asked if we wanted to go with him and Alejandro to Mar del Plata for a little vacation trip?  We thought for about 2 seconds before saying, “OF COURSE we would love to go with you!”  Mar del Plata is a seaside resort that Argentines flock to in the summer.  He told us this time of year the weather would be cool but still very pleasant and there would be no crowds.  In the summertime it is so crowded that you have to “rent” a reserved spot on the beach.  He said that we could take a bus to get there but Alex thought it would be nicer to go in his car.  Sounded perfect.  He said they’d be by Monday morning to pick us up around 6 am to beat the morning rush hour traffic. “SIX AM???!?!?!?”, we groaned!  I guess we’ll set the alarm!

Ron made some more chicken noodle soup for dinner, you can just feel the soup doing it’s job and making us healthy again, good stuff!

Friday May 18th –  We talked to our profesora about our little trip to Mar del Plata and she mentioned some things we might do while we’re there.  She said there’s a monument of a famous Argentine poet who walked into the sea and killed herself.  Of course she’s saying all of this in Spanish and talking about flowing hair and gown.  Testing our understanding of what she was saying, Ron asked if the monument was of her actually walking into the sea and started chuckling.  Lucila was NOT amused and didn’t think it was funny at all, “Es muy trajic!”, she said.  She then mentioned that her family has a vacation home in a smaller town down the coast from Mar del Plata called “Miramar”.  I mentioned that we’ll have a car and would she recommend that we visit Miramar.  She chuckled and said the town is very small and not really worth an extra trip, but she did mention that the town’s claim to fame is that they have forests where OVNI’s supposedly land, and people go there to meditate, rub crystals and chant and hope to meet one.  We were trying to figure out what she meant when we finally understood that UFO’s in Spanish is OVNI’s, meaning objeto vuelo no identificado (object flight no identified).  I’ve always had a thing for UFO’s so this intrigued me!

Ron wanted to build some shelves in our office where we keep the computers so that we could get some space on our desk, he designed a really nice set of shelves on the computer and printed out the plans.  I was very impressed by how it all looked, but not surprised, Ron loves to do these kinds of projects.  He wanted to go to Home Depot to get all the parts but wasn’t sure what their hours were.  We went through the phone book and could not find the number for Home Depot, so I looked in the yellow pages, but I couldn’t figure out which heading it would be under.  I looked under “mejora casera” for home improvement, “dotación física” for hardware, and many other guesses.  We finally gave up!  Ron would just have to risk that they would be open.

Saturday May 19th – Ron went to Home Depot to buy the wood and parts for his shelf project.  I decided to stay home and work on the computer.  Ron was going to take the bus to Home Depot but I told him, “After you buy everything, take a taxi home with all the supplies to save you the hassle of trudging home on the bus!”, after all taxis are relatively cheap here.  Ron showed up a few hours later, grinning from ear to ear because he has a new project to work on.  I asked him if he took a taxi, and he said, “No, I designed a harness to bundle and carry the wood and took the bus home!  Only cost me 80 centavos!”  Sometimes the mind boogles!  He was anxious to start working on his project but we had other things we needed to do that night so he reluctantly postponed working on it.

This is the bundle of wood that Ron bought for his shelf project.
Ron designed the handle mechanism to carry the wood home on the bus.

Monday May 21st – We set the alarm to get us up at 5am.  When we awoke it was raining cats and dogs outside, what a day to travel!  Ignacio and Alex showed up right on time and we headed off on our trip.  It was so rainy and cloudy that it didn’t really get light until around 9 am.  Poor Alex had to drive in the lousy weather.

We arrived at our hotel and it turned out that included with the price of the room, they give out vouchers for each person to eat lunch or dinner at a local restaurant.  We headed off to find the restaurant for a late lunch which turned out very good, a very nice little restaurant.  Afterwards we got in Alex’s car and he took us on a little tour around some of the nice neighborhoods.  Years ago many families owned a vacation home in Mar del Plata because Argentine’s used to take 3 months off in the summer for vacation.  Now that they are in a recession, people are lucky to get 2 weeks paid vacation.  Since it’s expensive to own an extra home that is used only 2 weeks a year, there are MANY, many homes for sale.  It is very sad to see, but if you want to get a good deal, and you have the cash, now is a very good time to buy!  The homes are beautiful and it’s impossible not to dream of owning one.

                         Alex, Pete and Ignacio

The first day was VERY cloudy!

We drove by the monument of the woman poet who killed herself by walking into the sea.  It was a small monument, not too impressive (I think Ron’s exact words were, “Is that it??”), but at least we can tell our profesora we saw it!

That night for dinner we drove to a restaurant that the clerk at the front desk recommended.  Once we arrived it turned out that many of the restaurants were closed because it was Monday night.  We entered one that had two restaurants in one and one of them just happened to be a Sushi restaurant.  Ron and I both ordered different nigiri and sashimi combination plates and Ignacio and Alex ordered a fish combination platter.  Ignacio said that he had never tried sushi or sashimi before and I tried to keep a neutral expression from turning incredulous over someone who has not enjoyed the pleasures of sushi.  We offered him and Alex a bite and Ignacio said, “That isn’t cooked is it?”  I said that some nigiri is cooked, but what I was offering him was indeed raw fish.  Both him and Alex seemed to enjoy it, along with the head rush from the wasabi!

As we walked back to our car, some young teenage boys come up and talked to Ron and I, of course we couldn’t understand a single word they said.  Alex gave them 50 centavos and after getting in the car I asked him what that was for.  Seems it’s common for someone to “watch” and protect your car from theft, and then ask for some payment later.

After dinner we played 500 and Hearts in the lobby of the hotel.  We were all pretty tired from getting up early that day to drive there, but we ended up staying up till 2:30 am playing cards and enjoying ourselves.

Tuesday May 22ndWe took a trip along the coast in Alex’s car towards the town of Miramar.  We pulled off the road at a remote beach to get out and hike and Alex went to get something out of the trunk.  Alex’s mother had recently passed away and this area of the coast is where their family would come every year to vacation.  Over the years his mother had collected many beautiful shells she had found on the beach.  As part of his healing process, he wanted to return the shells to the ocean from whence they came.  I was very touched by this, watching him as he placed the shells on the sand in the surf.  I really wanted to keep one of the shells but didn’t want to offend him in any way by asking him if I could have one.  I knew that if I asked to keep one he would surely let me have one, but I didn’t know if that would bother him, the whole reason he was there was to return the shells to the ocean, remembering his mother as he did so.  I watched him as he went down the beach placing the shells on the sand in the surf.  Ignacio went out and started pitching the shells further out into the surf, I didn’t know if that would bother Alex either, but Ignacio was doing it and not I!

Alex returning the shells to the ocean.

When we first arrived there was a guy who was by himself surfing in the water, since we were the only ones at the beach besides the surfer, we joked that it must have looked very suspicious for 4 guys to get out of the car at this remote beach, get a large plastic bag out of the trunk and start pitching the contents into the sea.

We drove further on to Miramar and walked out onto a peer that went into the ocean.  There were lots of fishermen and quite a bit of fish being caught.

That night we played cards again but not staying up quite so late!

Wednesday May 23rdRon and I visited a small museum which turned out to have a HUGE collection of sea shells that an Argentine had collected over the course of 60 years.  Some of the shells were just unbelievable and I had never seen many of the shells displayed before.  Sometimes you think you’ve seen every kind of shell imaginable, but this display was just awesome.

     Ron trying to get his bearings, I tell him to give it up!              This was just a really cool building
                                                                                                                on the way to the museum!

                                    WOW!!  COOL!!

This was our last night there so we asked if we could treat Ignacio and Alex to a nice dinner to thank them for taking us with them.  We had a great dinner and played some more cards afterwards in the hotel lobby.

Thursday May 24thAlex suggests that we stop at La Plata on the way home.  The city has a beautiful cathedral that they have restored.

 

After visiting the church we stop and have lunch in the park across the street.


Considering it's early winter, this was a fantastic day!

Friday May 25th – It was raining as we went to our Spanish class.  I saw the dog walker coming down the street and almost all the dogs had doggy raincoats on!  It was a very funny site, the dogs seemed absolutely happy to be nice and dry under their coats and I’m sure the owners were much happier then having a big, wet, stinky dog in their house after their walk!

After class, Ron immediately started working on his new shelf project for our office, cheerfully whistling away as he assembled his new creation.  As he worked in the other room I couldn’t be more happier myself as I had the office to myself, without him asking me if I’m done with using the network on my PC yet so he can have it for his PC (only one of us can be on the network at a time).

Office Before Ron added the shelves (Notice: Clutter, disarray and total chaos!)

All to quickly he finished and wanted to install it.  It looked very impressive and blended in beautifully with the existing desk.  I was worried that it would be too high and feel like a bookcase about to fall into my lap, but as always, Ron had done a great job of designing it so that we can have some shelf space above the computers and leave some space to work on the desk below.  I happily put up some family pics to make me feel at home.

That evening we visited the travel agent, Zelfa, about the Antarctic cruise.  We received Zelfa’s name from an acquaintance on the BANewComers email list for expatriates living in Bs.As.  She invited us to her apartment, which turned out to be only a few blocks from our apartment, to talk about the cruise.  The apartment was great with high ceilings and very open.  I complimented her on the apartment and she said that she and her husband had been renting it and it was all these tiny little separate rooms with a long dingy hallway going from the front of the apartment to the back.  They purchased the apartment and knocked down all the walls to open it up.  It was really a nice place.  Zelfa offered us champagne and of course how could we refuse?  She then showed us a photo album of pictures she had taken on some of the trips she had been on, they were awesome!  The friends who visited us a few months ago had used a different cruise line called Marine Expeditions, http://www.marineex.com/ .  When we talked to Zelpha about comparing cruises with her company and Marine Expeditions, she said, "Oh, they're not a very good company, they're having lots of financial problems."  I thought she was just trying to sway us to use her company but sure enough, I just went to their website and it said, "Marine Expeditions Ceases Operations."  Good thing we didn't go with them and give them a deposit!  Zelpha said she will only work with Quark Expeditions, she said the other companies aren't as good or as reliable, since I saw Marine Expeditions closed down, now I believe she wasn't just pulling our leg.  She said that there are helicopters on the ice breaker ship that take you out once or twice over the glaciers and you also get a free parka with the trip!  What I'm going to do with an Antarctic parka after the cruise will take some inspirational thinking.  There are landings twice a day to visit the penguins, seals and whatever else is crawling around on the beaches and she said the Russian Ice Breaker can go places the larger ships can't go.  Russian ice breakers are supposed to be known for their strength and power and she has photos of the boat crunching through thick ice, it stops, and people just get out and walk on the ice in front of the ship, amazing!  Leave it to the Russians to build something so strong and ugly. 

She did say that crossing the Drake Passage to get to Antarctica is a crap shoot, sometimes it's fine, other times it's heavy seas and rock and roll!  Of course she quickly said they have a doctor and Dramamine on board.  Zelfa then said there is a cruise over XMas that we could go on that is at a slight discount because not many people want to travel over XMas.  Since we’re “down” here without our family, we thought this would be great to be in the Antarctic over XMas.  The price of the cruise is very expensive so we told Zelfa that we’ll have to think about.

Monday May 28thOlga called and said that she had another apartment to show us if we were interested in seeing it.  Of course I agree immediately, what’s the harm in looking?  We agree to meet outside the entrance at 7pm.  It’s only about 10 blocks from our house so we walked there.  The evenings are definitely getting colder so we wore our leather jackets and our new scarves.  We pass a house I call the “Herman Munster House” because it looks so menacing and scary, it’s all closed up and not in use anymore, but there’s no signs on it to sell it.  I guess it must be a government building and it’s just sitting there, taking up about ¼ of a city block.  There are great, ugly gargoyles on top of the roofline and a big wrought iron gate around it.  Looks like the kind of building you read of in a Stephen King horror novel.

The apartment was right on Av. Libertador which is a VERY busy, multi-laned street.  As we wait for Olga to arrive we can barely hear each other talk, but Olga knows we like quiet places so I’m sure the apartment is in the rear or very quiet.  Olga arrived and sure enough the apartment is in the rear of the building.  It’s a ground floor apartment so it had a large patio outside area but it’s almost entirely surrounded by tall buildings.  I doubt it ever gets direct sunlight.  The apartment is in pretty bad shape and would almost need to be entirely redone, and we’re not just talking a coat of paint here.  She told us how we could tear down the walls and redesign the apartment to give us an idea of the potential of the apartment.  A large remodeling project doesn’t deter me, in fact I think it would be fun to do, but the apartment doesn’t have a lot going for it.  Ron and I really like our current neighborhood with its close proximity of two large grocery stores, lots of “mom and pop” specialty stores, butchers, the gym, our favorite pasta store and all the neighborhood restaurants.  Besides the lack of close stores, the apartment didn’t have a view, I don’t think the light would be good, the lobby was very plain and the hallways to the apartments were dingy and dank.  We nix the apartment right away as a possibility to purchase.

Tuesday May 29th – I had ordered some movie DVDs from Amazon and after ordering them my email confirmation said that it would take 5 to 23 business days to arrive via WorldMail.  I didn’t bother with FedEx since I wasn’t in a hurry to get my order and knew it would add a lot to the cost of shipping.  Two weeks later I got a postcard from the International Post Office here that said I received a package and that I needed to pick it up there.  Well, this is the same Post Office where my sister Phyllis sent us a XMas package and Ron had to wait in their waiting room for 3 hours to pick it up.  I tried to talk Ron into going to pickup my package for me but for some reason he wouldn’t do it.  I asked if he could at least go with me to show me how the system works and he agreed to that.  When you first walk into the International Post Office you of course take a number and wait.  As I suspected, they just shout the number out very quickly, there is no nice lighted sign to tell you which number they are on.  A woman next to me had a number five digits less then mine so I was waiting until she got up and then I would just count five more times they announced some number and hope for the best.  After 15 minutes the lady just got up and left so I went up to the window, turned out they had called my number several minutes before.  Oh well, it was a good idea in theory.  They charged me $4.90 for each box, I don’t know if this was a tariff, an import tax or a handling charge, but since it didn’t seem like much I paid it.  The Argentinean love of paperwork was in full swing as they generated several receipts and proceeded to stamp and sign it several times.  They handed me the receipts and Ron told me that now we get to wait in the other room.  We entered a large waiting room as numbers were being shouted over a staticky, crackling loudspeaker from the Perón era.  With all of our Spanish schooling, it was frustrating that I could ONLY catch the last number read, but at least I can understand that much!  I finally hear a number shouted that ends with 8 so we leap up to claim our package.  The woman behind the counter opens the package and asked me something, I of course say my standard line, “¡Lo siento, mi español es muy poco!”  She just smiled, shrugged, taped the box up and cut off part of the label.  I thanked her and headed out.  There was a really gruff looking old guy at a counter with a cash register who grunted something and pointed behind me.  I turned and saw a bank teller window.  I tried to explain, “Yo pago aún!” and he just shrugged and waved me on.  Made me think of that phrase I heard all the time when we first moved here, “Anything is possible in Argentina!”  In this case my lack of Spanish probably sped up the process of getting my package.

Wednesday May 30thI was working in the kitchen when I saw a big puddle of brown liquid by the cat’s bowls.  When one has a pet and sees something strange on the floor, one always assumes the worst!  I couldn’t image the cats would have coughed up such a large puddle of fluid so I began to look for the source of the leak.  I trailed it to the pantry and reached in to pull out a big plastic bottle of Pepsi when it practically exploded.  I looked at the bottom and it looked like someone knocked a hole in it with a hammer.  I’d never seen such a thing.  Ron said that he would take the bottle back to the grocery store to get a new one as I started to clean up the shelf in the pantry where we store Pepsi, Toro and wine.  As I was cleaning the shelf I noticed the wall was very warm to the touch and quickly realized that the steam heating pipes for the building must run along that wall.  The heat had built up so much in the Pepsi bottle that it blew out the bottom of the container.  Of course Pepsi is cheap, I was much more concerned about the wine!  I found some empty plastic containers that Ron had been keeping in our storage room.  I decided to use them as a “buffer” between the shelf contents and the warm wall.  Ron quickly added, “See, you make fun of me for cleaning and storing old plastic bottles, see how useful they were?”  I just mumbled, “Hummmpth!”

Ron bought some more of the wonderfully flavorful dried mushrooms to make a fresh batch of lentil soup.  The house smelled great!

Thursday May 31st – We invited Ignacio and Pierre over to play Bridge.  My Aunt Cindy had taught us Bridge on our vacation in Mexico together and both Ignacio and Pierre love bridge.  I explained that we have only played 5 or 6 hands so they would have to go easy on us.  We had a great time even though Ignacio would constantly roll his eyes and challenge us to explain why we were playing cards so terribly??