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February 2004

Pete’s Birthday!

Monday February 2nd, 2004 – Ron was asking me what I would like to do for my birthday the following day.  After turning 30 I really don’t like to celebrate my birthday any longer, I’ve never enjoyed being the center of attention anyways, and celebrating getting another year older just doesn’t seem right to me!  Every year Ron makes me a German Chocolate Cake from scratch, I’m not a big dessert person, that’s Ron’s job, but I do love German Chocolate Cake.  Ever since he started making me German Chocolate Cake for my birthday I can no longer order it in a restaurant since it just doesn’t taste ANYWHERE near as good as Ron’s, it’s just not worth it if it’s not Ron’s. 

Ron insisted, “What do you want to do for your birthday?”, I said, “Just the two of us, a quiet dinner, champagne, and your cake!”, Ron kept prodding, “It’s your birthday, we have to do SOMETHING!!!!”, I said, “It’s my birthday, I should get what I want and I want a nice quiet dinner, just the two of us (and the kitty katz of course)”, Ron said, “No No No, you have to do SOMETHING, just let me invite a few friends to enjoy some German Chocolate Cake, nothing fancy”  I gave up and said, “OK, just a few friends.”  Ron then shot off into the other room to start calling friends.

That night Ron was whistling to himself as he bounced around in the kitchen, making my German Chocolate Cake.

Tuesday February 3rd, 2004 – My 42nd birthday, considering that we gave no one any advance notice, we still had 9 friends who showed up for some empanadas, munchies, drinks and German Chocolate Cake.  Russell got up to give me a toast, my ears burning, even though everyone in the room I consider good and close friends, I still don’t like everyone looking at me and telling me what a great guy I am, I think my cheeks could have lit the room if the lights were off.

Of course I was thrilled everyone was there and was glad Ron forced me into it.  Life should not be so structured and organized, the house doesn’t has to be perfectly clean, the food doesn’t have to be all hand made, the windows don’t have to be washed, the real thing is to have friends over, share some good times, drinks, food, hugs and friendship.  A very special night indeed.

             Ron, Gustavo, Russell, Alberto, Luis

                                Olga, Ron, Gonzalo         

         Olga (with cake) Pedro, Alberto, Carlos and Gustavo                       Pete, Olga, Alberto, Carlos and Gustavo

Thursday February 5th, 2004 – We asked Martina, the wife of our doorman, if she could care for our cats while we’re on vacation.  Usually Lourdes, the daughter of our friend Ignacio looks after them, but she was going on vacation with her father and couldn’t do it this time.  Martina doesn’t speak any English but I thought I could explain to her what to do with no problems.  Everything was going fine until we got to the automatic cat feeder.  We like to feed the cats twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.  We don’t want someone to have to make two trips to the apartment each day so we found this automatic feeder with a rotating top on it with a timer, so you can set it to feed 4 different meals depending on how you set the timer.  When the time comes up, the timer goes off and the lid rotates to the next tray of food.  The feeder has 4 slots in it, so it will hold enough food for 4 feedings.  The idea is that she would feed them in the morning and then I would set the timer to go off in the afternoon.  The only “trick” to it is that you have to refill the feeder every 4 days.  I created a little schedule and calendar with dates on it for her and started explaining as best I could how she needs to reset it.  The funny thing about living here is that I feel that life is a 24 hour a day game of charades, I’m trying to use Spanish, and then also pantomiming, using hand gestures, making little “tik tik tik” sounds to represent the timer, my finger going back and forth like a metronome.  Poor Martina…, she had the look of a woman who was sure she was going to kill our cats; we would come back in a month and the cats would have starved to death, I could just see it in her eyes.  I tried several times and I could just see she was not understanding a single word of what I was trying to describe. 

I then remembered that my friend Pedro was coming over that day and I told her not to worry, we would come get her while Pedro was there and explain it to her.  She went out the door looking very worried.

At 3 pm Pedro came over and I asked him if he would help us out, of course he agreed.  I explained to him about Martina and trying to tell her how to refill the cat feeder, but first I would explain it to him so that he could explain it to her.  I was explaining it to Pedro, and I saw the same panicked look on his face that Martina had, he was worried that he wasn’t understanding me and he wouldn’t be able to explain it properly to Martina, and we would come back in a month and the cats would be dead and it would be his fault!  I tried to assure him that our cats were well fed and even if they missed a meal or two, that that would not hurt their waistline.  After explaining it until Pedro was clear and he understood it properly, Ron then went to get Martina so Pedro could explain it to her.  Martina came up and introductions were made, and then I heard Pedro explain the mysterious cat feeder to Martina.  She did lots of “OOOOOOOOH, claro!” and “Ahora yo intiendo!”  I swear Pedro used the exact same words I did, but oooh well, as long as she understood now!

You could see the visual relief on her face knowing that she would not now accidentally starve our cats to death.  I thanked Pedro for his help and he offered to call Martina and make sure everything was ok when we were gone.

Saturday February 7th, 2004 – One thing I LOVE about Buenos Aires is we have fantastic lightening and thunder storms.  I grew up in Michigan where we had great thunderstorms.  In 19 years of living in California I was greatly disappointed, they have really wimpy storms there, no BANG, CRACK, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES kind of sounds, just drizzle and fog. 

Now, whenever there is a good storm, Ron and I grab a cognac and sit on the balcony and watch the pyrotechnics while I blare Mahler on the stereo, just amazing.  Ron loves Mahler, I think he’s kind of intense and dark, perfect for a good lightening storm.

Rummmmmmmble!!!!!!!

Monday February 9th, 2004 – I was chatting with my friend Bill who lives in Sacramento, California and I was telling him about our upcoming trip that we were leaving on that Friday.  He said, “Well it's nice that neither of you have triskaidekaphobia!”  I had no idea what that was, I knew it wasn’t the fear of flying, so I said, “OK, you got me, what the hell is triskaidekaphobia?”, turns out it’s the abnormal fear of Friday the 13th.  I remember my step dad Bob, who is British and VERY superstitious.  On the 13th of the month he usually called in sick at work and if it was Friday the 13th, he wouldn’t even get out of bed!

Wednesday February 11th , 2004 – I saw a new friend Guillermo in the gym and we had a nice conversation, Guillermo is a very nice guy and a friend of Pedro’s.  He told me that he spoke with Pedro and Pedro told him how we have this “fantastic” machine that feeds that cats while we’re away on vacation.  This cracked me up, he said, “You Americans have machines for EVERYTHING!”

Friday February 13th , 2004 – We left for our yearly trek to San Francisco to visit family and then go to Cabo San Lucas for 2 weeks.