velas + miel.

Before noon today, not only did I prepare some fresh pineapple orange juice, but I also learned a new word in Spanish: velar. Meaning: to look after or to be vigilant about something. What's so sweet about this is that vela means candle.  You know, that little flickering light that helps one look after things, or that sometimes looks after you, depending on the inversion.
{Casa Sugar}
Yesterday's English word of the day (yes, I am a nerd) busticated me into fits of laughter. Well, kinda. Busticate: to break into pieces. As in, if you don't gimme what I want, I'm gonna busticate you. Well, kinda. We should be more zen than that, because it's true that we catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. 

{Spring Darjeeling by Penlington Manor}
Have a sweet weekend!

friday present: from warm to complete.

This week I'm thankful for...

...being warm inside

It's bitter cold out; we're back to below zero weather. But inside our insulated house, the little heater is doing its job. I even walk around the house barefoot (in flip-flops) on occasion.

...being able to catch up with old + new friends 

I've been having fantastic conversations with a number of friends (new + old + all lovely) over the past couple of weeks. On the phone, in person, various ways in the internet... All I can say is that it's so wonderful to feel in touch.

...& cuddling in bed with my best friend + watching movies,

{photo: unknown, please let me know if it's yours}
We've been sleeping in a single bed for the past week or so, and watching movies there at night before we go to sleep. It's been cozy and warm. Today we just got our mattress and put together our big-people bed, but I think I may miss spooning so warmly, so closely. 

...knowing I have all the necessary cheesecake-baking goodness,

{photo: unknown, please let me know if it's yours}

I love all kinds of cake (who doesn't?) but cheesecake is my all-time favorite. Finding cream cheese here, aside from being ridiculously expensive (+ imported) is hit or miss. But we've traveled out of town a couple of times this week. Now we have a happy lot of cream cheese in the fridge and blueberries in the freezer! In Argentina, our neighbor by 20 minutes (not counting border crossings), I found a pan with a removable bottom. It's pretty shallow for cheesecake, but we'll see how it goes.  I've made a couple of mini-cheesecakes using a bread pan. They tasted good, but earned zero points on presentation.

...after having successfully completed an emotional week.

This means big things, like my Chilean ID is finally on its way after months and months and months + having found a doctor I like after visiting several (each three hours away). And little things, like I've finished my odd article deadlines + and I've mostly caught up on my email.

Now I'm going to bake some oatmeal cookies, which I've been meaning to whip up all week. 

What are you thankful for most right now? First thing that pops into your head...

blueberries, UFOs + visas, oh my.

Yesterday we spent lots of hours on the road for a quick day trip to the nearest city, which is three hours away. Doctor appointments, a whole lotta shopping and eating tedious amounts of snack food as we made our way from stop to stop in icy-windy gusts of snow. We bought the bed base we needed, odds, ends and some hard to find groceries, like rucula, asparagus, broccoli, cream cheese and get this: frozen blueberries! I couldn't believe my luck! I even drank blueberry juice at lunch. I asked what kind of jugos naturales there were, and he said arandanos. And I said, wait wait wait, are you serious??? I was so excited, he even gave us the phone number of his clandestine blueberry supplier. Sshhhh. But then a look in the frozen fruit section made it all the easier. So, blueberry cheesecake, get ready for me! 

Last night I was talking to my girlfriend in the backseat while I took a driving break. For some reason, there is a part of the road between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, where people start talking about UFOs. I've had similar conversations on this stretch of road a few times now, with different people. OVNIs (as those unidentified objects are acroynymed here) are spied frequently in this corner of Patagonia. UFO stories led to ghost stories led to talk about chakras, energy fields and intuition. 

{stars found here}

It was one of those rather fluid and beautiful conversations that every so often we're lucky enough to splash into. And it led to this word: desencajarse. Meaning something akin to: unplugging oneself. Caja = box. Let's, for a moment, think of our bodies as boxes. If we can disbox ourselves from... well, ourselves, I think we can identify this event as something akin to freedom. I found myself loving anew the flexibility of the Spanish language. You can will just about any noun into a verb. 

Which leads me to what I was trying to do today: let myself flow into the universe a little. At some point during my travels, I landed into a state of calm and clarity, which seemed to hold me like water for a good long time. But at some point, my water bubble burst. And calm--I'm sad to admit--has not been my forte lately. I wholly believe that we create the world around us not only by our thoughts, but also by the energy that the whorl of our thoughts creates. However, knowing this doesn't just automatically cleanse the thoughtstream. My stream's been muddy lately, and the mud's been suctioning my boots; I've been getting a little stuck. 

{Simple is Best by Julia Davis}

So now to get unstuck. I actively practiced unsticking myself today while trying to get the last of my Chilean residency figured out. I've been waiting on this process, in some form or another, since November of last year. Today I was just about to get my picture taken, and the drama started. Basically my expired Chilean ID uses my maiden name, my passport contains my current name and the document that legalized our marriage in Chile also used my maiden name. Which would seem obvious (since my name changed after marriage), but c'est la vie.

I was lectured about how women don't change their names here at least three times today. This has been such a struggle that before I even started this round paperwork, I asked several times if there was going to be a problem with the name discrepancy. Each time the person in the foreign office pacified me. But today I was told I would have to restart the process, which would include traveling to Santiago to re-legalize our marriage here. (This took nearly a week of running around to embassies and foreign affairs offices the first time we did it.) Then I would have to restart all the paperwork, and wait another four months or so. I wept in the lawyer's office. Not full-on bawling, but a full-on well in the eyes and a slightly pitched voice. 

{photo from maybeweforgot}

But during all this I tried to remember to breathe and not get angry. I started working on Plan B in my head while the lawyer waved my papers in my face telling me I needed to get my maiden name back. What happened next is the most remarkable part. For nearly two hours this morning, two ladies from two different departments actually called Santiago to discuss my case. This level of work and dedication is  pretty much unheard of here. And after it all, they found out that there is a way for someone like me to change her name in the Chilean system. One piece of paper, where I authorize my name change. Then we attach some document photocopies showing the validity of the change. So simple. I started tearing up again when they told me the problem would be resolved. 

{black-necked swan lovers by serkan}

So, why is this ID so important? It is my ticket to be able to file Serkan's USA immigration papers from Chile. That way we can stay together while we're waiting for the process, and instead of waiting 6-12 months (or more) submitting everything from the U.S., the wait time is supposed to be only 2-4 months. Soon, friends, soon. 

I am so thankful that everything turned out today. It could have been such a different ending if the stars weren't aligned as they are or if I truly blew my cool, even on the inside. (Tears aside, of course.)

♥ blog love ♥

Over the past couple of weeks, I have received three blog awards from three remarkable women.

The Blog With Substance comes from Carrie, blogger of the stylish, evocative This Free Bird

Carrie's posts are often giggle-out-loud funny, as she shares her superb (and totally accessible!) sense of fashion with her readers (not to mention yummy food finds and touching moments). Full of personality and with a flair for snark, visit This Free Bird for your daily pickmeup.

Blog With Substance Award Rules: Select five words that describe your blogging philosophy, motivation, and experience.

Philosophy: I'd describe my blogging philosophy as upbeat and pretty and honest. I try to keep the mood upbeat, share some prettiness to make you smile, while simultaneously trying to keep it real. I love language, so language often ties all this together. 

Motivation: I'll aim for just one word to describe what motivates me about blogging: (sharing) happiness. It's a vague word, really. But it's wonderful in that it covers everything. I want to share bright shining moments with y'all. Happy may not even be my state of mind as I start writing, but I've found that in exhaling little moments of happiness brightens my day as well.

Experience: All I can say is it's been an exciting, beautiful journey. This started out as a rarely updated travel blog, after I left the States. I recently breathed some life into it, and it's been breathing life back into me. Your sweet thoughts, comments and support make me smile big every day. 

I'm passing the Blog of Substance Award on to these fantastic bloggers...

The (first) Versatile Blogger Award hails from Claire at Bicoastally

Claire is my friend in real life, and she is one of the most phenomenal people I've ever known. She's a tough + tender poet + teacher (she taught poetry to inmates at San Quentin! for example) with amazing taste in heels and dresses. All this shines through in her musings at Bicoastally.

The (second) Versatile Blogger Award was a lovely surprise from Nicole at Scraps of Color

I recently found Nicole's blog, and it never disappoints with healthful doses of gratitude, wide smiles, inspirational bits of loveliness and adventure. If you're not already familiar with Scraps of Color, check her out!

Versatile Blogger Award Rules: Share seven things about yourself, and then tag 15 blogs. I tagged a few more, since I received the award twice. 

Seven things about me in the order they were written...

1. When I was little, my mom taught me how to put my shirts on inside-out (backwards through the neck hole first, and then pushing the sleeves out from the inside by cupping and opening my kid fingers). I suppose she taught us how to do this out of laziness, hence making that extra right-side-out step in folding obsolete. But I prefer to think that she was practical! This is how I put my shirts on to this day. (And I'll likely teach our children the same method.)
Edit: When I originally wrote this I was thinking of family traditions. Now my aunt just wrote to me saying that Nana (my great grandma) taught all of them to put their shirts on that way. Gotta love family!

2. I speak English and Spanish fluently, and I'm trying to learn Turkish (though I've been a little lazy about it.)

3. I once took a vow of silence and sat in meditation for 10 days. And I'm doing it again at the end of September (with my husband! Still can't believe he's going to do this with me!) The method of meditation is Vipassana and they hold these 10-day courses all over the world. 

4. I'm originally from California's Bay Area. On the auspicious St. Patrick's Day of 2007, I traveled to Chilean Patagonia on a two-month solo journey throughout South America. I kept my (essentially) dream job at Yahoo!, but upon my return, I quit, donated my car, sold off a bunch of my stuff, and left again to continue my travels. Many stories and many moons later, I met my husband. We're planning to move to the States within the next year.

5. I can't say that I had any real sense of home, until about a year after I left. And I'm slightly obsessed with "home" and what it means.

6. I've started over and gotten rid of just about everything I own more times than I care to think about. But throughout all these transitions, my mother's hope chest always accompanies me. As does my ever (slowly) growing collection of books. The hope chest and several book boxes collect time in my aunt's garage, awaiting my eventual return.

7. I went to poetry school in San Francisco and earned an MFA in Creative Writing. I love calling it poetry school. 

Tagging these blogs of awesomeness with Versatility...

Whew! That was a mouthful. Another huge thank you to the lovely ladies who gave me these awards. Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead!

friday present: moving to alegre

This week was chock full of wonderful bits, enough to overshadow the not so wonderfuls. (Thank goodness!) It's probably obvious from my recent posts that this week I am crazy thankful for having completed our move.

yay! our move!

 {photo: unknown, please let me know if it's yours.}

I don't want to dwell on all the ghetto (not so) fabulous difficulties of where we were living before. But you know how when you put up with something for so long and finally move on, you are left lighter, unloaded, nothing on your back save that huge sigh of relief? This feeling can be found in lots of life's corners: relationships gone south for the winter--winters ago; the chronic pain in your jaw--that you barely even notice anymore--that changes the your swagger enough for you to eventually require foot surgery; that phone number you dreaded to dial and finally did, insomnia halted. That's how this move feels. 

The tijeretas (earwigs), which weren't even that bad by local standards: gone. Electric and gas piping outside the walls: inside. Wind entering the house and all heat escaping through a zero-ly insulated roof and walls: insulated. This house is much smaller than our last one, but now that we're moved in and our lives are stowed, it feels plenty big enough for the two of us. And we're warm!

a letter from a dear friend. 

On my huge to-do list the day we were scheduled to completely vacate our old abode, was to visit the post office and plea with them not to deliver a letter from my beautiful friend Claire, Bicoastally extraordinaire. There's really no reliable mail forwarding system here, at least not where we live. But I figured if I kept going to the post office to check, it wouldn't get stuck at the other house to likely be tossed out in the trash. Just as I sat down to catch a bit of rest, the mailman knocked on the door with a special delivery. This must be the most beautiful card I have received in years, right down to the adorable envelope! At that moment, I don't think anything could have made me happier! 

i get to play with cuppie! 

Carrie at This Free Bird just sent me Cuppie, so I will lovingly share in a lovely androgynous cupcake, part of the OneCraftyFox Cupcake Challenge hosted by Diana. The whole challenge is hilarious and absolute fundom. If you haven't already seen it, you must check out the boisterous romps of Cuppie while on Carrie's watch. Can't wait to receive the cutiepie and see if I can decipher her gender. Or his gender :) Adventures coming soon!

breaking in the digs with a killer breakfast. 

Long, slow breakfasts are close to one of my favorite things on Earth. This morning I rolled out of bed--early and awake and happy--with an urge to eat a Mexican-style breakfast with homemade tortillas. So I got to work kneading and rolling out tortillas, chopping tomatoes for pico de gallo, scrambling eggs and grating cheese. We ate the little breakfast burritos with some yummy lentil paste that Serkan had made last night for dinner. And I devoured one sweet one with butter and cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on top.

chirimoya alegre.

{chirimoya found here}

In case you don't already know, it's winter here for us. And reading all y'all's blogs had me craving cherries and blueberries! (No canned or frozen versions in these parts.) I've also been chatting with my dad about cheesecakes every so often, so I'm itching to bake one soon. The last one I made blushed with a raspberry topping. For some reason, (that I won't complain about) the local supermarket always carries frozen raspberries.

So what does this have to do with chirimoya? Well, even though we're far far away from fresh berries, today we randomly scored a chirimoya, which I also haven't seen for months! What is chirimoya, you ask? Chirimoya is a wonderful Latin American fruit, whose tree is sometimes referred to as the ice cream tree. (Now who wouldn't want to try ice cream fruit?) It's high in fiber, calcium and vitamin C! Now we're talkin', right? Sometimes we eat it orangified. One of the most common ice cream flavors here is called chirimoya alegre, or happy chirimoya, and it's happiness comes from the dash of sunshine that is orange.

Have you ever tasted chirimoya?

And do you have any cheesecake topping suggestions or special recipes that you adore? I would love to hear them and maybe try one (or several) out!

And what are you thankful for right now?

thrilled to be back + showered in light.

Thrilled to be moved and even more thrilled to be back online! They'd told us that it *may* take up to 10 days to move our internet service. It only took 2.5 days, whew! In the meantime, I've received so many lovely messages, and I just can't say thank you enough. So happy to be able to catch up with everyone!

We were able to mostly finish painting (with some help!) before we moved all of our stuff into the house. We still have a fair bit of unpacking to do, and we still need to recover our mattress from another friend's house. Our last house was furnished, so we gave away our mattress. This house is furnished too, but they did take all their bedroom stuff. Now we're taking back our mattress--what indian givers we are! And as I write that I wonder where in tarnations that horrible/ridiculous saying came from? There is a single mattress in the second bedroom, so we've been sleeping on that for the past two nights. It must be a little bigger than a twin, though, because there's plenty of room and we've been sleeping like champs!

The house, though quite small, is so bright and warm! It feels much better to be here, especially now that we're connected. Soon we'll reach the fun decorating stage. Right now, we're going to do a little beach combing in our lovely 3-degree (C) sun, enjoy some fresh air and nourish our achy backs. 

{view of the sound by serkan yalin}

a room of one's own.

First I want to say, thank you so much for all your fun and lovely moving wishes! We're reaching the home stretch, and tonight we'll be sleeping in our new digs!

{more milk here}

But sometimes I just don't know when to quit. Times when my whole being is rung out yet I'm still so high strung I can't actually stop. I've had pretty gnarly insomnia lately, something I haven't even had a wink of since, say, 2006. Last night, for example, a quarter after 3 in the morning and I'm glugging hot milk and honey. (No, this isn't a normal drink for me. This is my first milk&honey experience.) 

                            {honey by kristyn shobert
Serkan and I scurried around together all day: packing, moving, errand running and eventual painting with the help of one of Serkan's friends. I confess, all in all I was not a happy camper nor honey company. But in the end I was able to say yes to going out to eat instead of cooking with what odds and ends we could muster in the nearly emptied house. Not only was our meal delicious, but we shared some great conversation as well. 

It was a kind of family and funerals talk. And suddenly I was talking about Norman, this stuffed moose that must be tucked away in one of the boxes stacked in my aunt's garage. How I'd written a letter to my grandpa after Grandma passed away. It's gist was this:  
Dear Grandpa, Dad gave me this (Northern Exposure) moose the Christmas after Mom died. Now I'm passing it on to you, so he can keep you company too. 
I ended up with the moose again once Grandpa, too, passed away. I've been thinking about that moose a lot lately. 

{girl&bear by dim baidachnyi}

So, naturally, Norman the moose surfaced during the conversation about my family. You see, my husband has yet to meet the fam. We were married in Turkey (where he's from) about a year ago, we live in Chile, and the immigration process to get into the States is a pain in the ass arduous.

But right now I'm not thinking of Norman so much as I'm thinking about letters. For some reason, thinking about the letter that I wrote to my grandpa jostles me open a little. Looking back at it, I cringe. Something inside me (the editor? some icky authoritarian voice?) winces at the naivete. It's not just this letter, though. It's poems, it's stories. It's many. other. letters--several as yet undelivered. Raw, impale-your-vital-organ type post-its. Asking for mercy, wishing for grace, expressing pure love and, at their heart, asking to be loved. 

 {letters found here}

In my mind's eye looking back, there's something so (violently) innocent about these pieces of writing that remembering them makes me flinch. Of course, I'm likely the only one looking back with such a look on my face. But let's not confuse this look with something of regret. I don't regret anything I've written and delivered. Well, not deep down at least. Mostly the cringe is followed by a shudder of awe. That I had the courage to share that starkly honest & pulsing bit of me.


Recently I was on a roll creating postcards. The roll halted for several reasons. But now I'm looking forward to letter writing and postcard making at the sunny table in our new abode. For a while I had a writing desk set up in our soon to be old house with a collage of family photos beneath a piece of glass. Once winter set in, the room dimmed, and the desk was overrun by dust and discard piles. So I'm really looking forward to rediscovering a comfortable, bright workspace. 

              {of course, outside is nice too.}
What is your creative/workscape look like? Is it a special place? Have you ever created something that's given you goosebumps at some later stage? What is another word for that feeling, since it's not regret? So many questions, but I'm curious.
{photos 5&6: unknown, please let me know if they're yours.}

packing up + dusting off.

After procrastinating the start of our packing up boxes for ages, we are finally getting on it. Well, kinda. I guess you can tell if I'm writing this, I can't actually be packing, can I?

We're moving to a much better house, even though we don't exactly know how much long we'll be here. I've moved nearly 30 times in my life, and the transient lifestyle I've led for the past few years has kept me from accumulating. So it shouldn't be that difficult, but I find myself the laziest I've ever been *ever* for a move. 

{oh lovely sfo: where we'll be moving next, soon, hopefully...}

There are many reasons for my relative immobility... But instead of dwelling on those, I'm lighting some incense to cover up the dust smell that came with getting friend's stuff down from our ceiling rafters. Yep. Hardly anybody who "lives" here actually stays here in the winter. So people need a place to store the few items they have when they flee the winter months for warmer climes. Since we were staying throughout the winter and weren't planning on changing houses, we ended up with a bunch of extra goodies to move. 

{wouldn't it be beautiful if moving looked like this?}

I know it will all be worth it when we are in our new digs, even if we'll only stay another half a year!

Happy weekending.

friday present:

Friday's dose of gratitude.

1. Languages. 
When you learn a second language as an adult, it cracks open the poetry of your mother tongue. Strange things happen: The pitch of your voice kites up, your dreams lean in vividly, your thoughts--when walking alone--shift. I've found that my Spanish voice lilts a higher pitch. And, while I can't really claim to speak Turkish, I have had two technicolor dreams in Turkish: one last year while we were traveling through Turkey and one more recently. Of course I can't remember what was said, but maybe some dormant nook of me speaks a little Turkish after all. 

If you're immersed in a new language long enough, you might even relearn emotions: sadness, kindness, friendship, love. It is in some ways the perfect opportunity to recreate yourself. Then again, after a while, you are still you. No matter what you say. And who are you? And who am I? And really aren't we just one? No matter what we say.

2. Flowers.

Life's other poem. Fresh cut flowers rarely make it down to these parts, and I miss them dearly. Especially economical daffodils, irises and planted orchids from Trader Joe's! Last night after downloading some YouTube how-to's, Serkan origamied me these delicate napkin roses.

 3. Old family photos.
Yesterday we walked to the cemetery in town to snap some photos. Neither one of us had been before. It was a gray day, and the Puerto Natales cemetery is surrounded by a huge cement wall--as gray as gray gets. Perhaps not the most uplifting of activities, but I always find cemeteries peaceful and calming. And seeing the old photos reminded me of the old family photos I hold so dearly. Not to mention my beautiful family members.

4. B+.
This week I finally re-identified my blood type: B positive. I used to give blood as often as I could in the States, but I truly couldn't remember my type. What I love most about B positive is, of course, its message. A sweet serendipitous reminder, in English, that is.

5. You!
You, too, are my serendipity. Your comments, encouragement and the happy accidental discoveries I trip over throughout the day make me smile. You light up my mornings, noons and nights. Sometimes warm fuzzies emanate. And, really, the timing couldn't be better. All I can say is thank you thank you thank you!

{photos: 1&3: unknown; please let me know if they're yours, 2: me, 3: moonyen}

What are you thankful for today?

feather lightness.

After spending much of yesterday's sun trying to fix my poor, overloaded computer, I started thinking of... well, feather boas, of course. Pretty, soft things, a tad luxurious and bit ridiculous--in equal parts. 

 {photo: unknown: please let me know if it's yours}

It's safe to say: Sometimes feathers work as my personal Calgon, take me away moment. (Am I dating myself to reference Calgon at my moment of saving?)

{falling from heaven by pepytta / Simona Mădălina}

What do you think about when you feel the need to get away?

i ♥ sky.

One of my favorite things in the whole wide world is to lay down in a field, on a rock, in the sand--at an incline with my head on downward slope--and watch the world upside down. I love how the blood reverses its rush. How fast the clouds glide overhead, the shapes they create as they huddle then dissipate, the condors or geese circle and v between. It's seeing world far away, sped up and simultaneously slowed. If I'm gazing at all this with a loved one, all the better. 

A tad before twilight yesterday, the moon fully eclipsed the sun. We knew it would be difficult for us to see here, what with the sun already heading to sink behind the southernmost Andes. Clouds rolled in to further filter our view. 
{just before the darkest moments}

Advisory: Never never never look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse. I remember how important my teacher made this out to be when we tried to view a partial eclipse in grade school. Just as you can set fire to grass using the sun and magnifying glass, so does the lens in your eye concentrate the sun's power toward the back of your eyeball. It will burn your retina, causing severe eye damage or blindness. Before any eclipse event, look up all the ways in which you can safely view an eclipse. Most are simple and inexpensive methods, requiring that your back is to the sun and that you view the shadow play of the moon covering up the sun--projected onto something else. 
 {post eclipse light + sunset}

But even though our view wasn't as good as it was, say, on Easter Island, it was still super cool. Sunlight pinked the hills as it set, and then for about two minutes all was dark. In a transition so smooth, the sky and peaks brightened again. But since it was sunset time anyway, the clouds lit up in a stunning display, first colored the flesh of mandarins and mangoes, deepening to ruby grapefruit and watermelons, finishing off with red and purple grapes. (I miss fruit, can you tell?)


Find more love here, for Much Love Mondays.

{image 1: unknown, please let me know if it's yours; all others by me}

mundial + eclipse.

 {astrophotograps by Miloslav Druckmuller}

Not only does today mark the end of the World Cup, but there is also a total solar eclipse. But the two events conflict a bit. I've known about the eclipse for ages, and many of us here thought we would have to cross the border to Calafate (Argentine-side) to view it. But really that's just because Argentina markets itself well and has a Chamber of Tourism. Most places around here you can pitch a cat and it'll land in Argentina, but the mentality, culture and so on between Chile and its neighbor couldn't be more different.

So, at the last minute, we decided to stay home and drive out to the steppe to view the eclipse. The town of Puerto Natales hugs the sound with a view of the fjord and Patagonian Andes jutting up out of the sea.This of course conflicts with our World Cup viewing plans. Looks like now we'll mosey over to the local pub to catch the first half of the game and then head for higher plains. Since the eclipse will start around 3.45 p.m. and the sun's already sunk by 5 (it's winter!), we have to seek some higher ground. 

When I was a wee one I vaguely remember making some sort of pinhole projection device from a paper towel roll carton as a class project, so we could view a partial eclipse. But other than that fuzzy memory, this will be my first eclipse. (Serkan's seen a few umbrae in his time luckily accompanied by huge eclipse parties in Turkey.)

Have you ever seen a total eclipse?

friday present: from fives to friends

After last week's Friday gratitude post, I've decided to continue posting this weekly gift of thanks. Five seems like a fair number for the list. 

1. Fives. 

I like fives, their evenly intermittent evens and odds. How easy multiples of five add, multiply, divide. And square root (not that I ever do that). I like how "five" contains F and V, because I like the intimate relationship that F&V share in English. I like how if you write F&V like so, it looks kinda like fave.

2. Scones. 

I've been trying to bake up a heat wave inside the house. It works, sometimes, but still I'm mostly cold. When others stop by to visit, they often mention the words: sauna or Turkish bath. Yet, there I am in some wool sweater, shivering lightly. Yesterday, I baked some apricot-currant scones (with a touch of orange zest). 

I think scones are the world's perfect breakfast, tea-time snack and dessert. So versatile, light and delicately sweet! I have been using this simple scone recipe from Allrecipes and adding whatever pizzazz is in our kitchen. I substitute wheat flour for white and plain yogurt for the sour cream, because we can't get sour cream down in these parts. And I've found grating frozen butter with a cheese grater to be the best way to handle frozen butter ever, especially if your kitchen has a limited stock of pastry-making appliances. 

3. Bubblebathable tub.

{rose bath found here}

We are moving in a couple of weeks to a more comfortable house. Yay! It's much smaller than where we are now, but it's better constructed. There's a foundation, insulation on the roof and in the walls, the windows are properly sealed, the water pipes are underground and everything inside is new and sturdy. 

Most houses here don't have foundation, and insulation is few and far between. Houses here mostly consist of two layers of plywood--with nothing in between them--and a painted corrugated or flat tin wall for the outside of the house. The inner pieces of plywood are painted directly and all the electrical and gas guts line the outside of the walls. The ceiling is similarly, one non-insulated layer of plywood, a crawlspace and a triangular tin roof. While not ideal, it's supportable in the summer when it's not that cold, but in the winter... Oh, you can imagine. 

Construction faux pas aside, our current house has a large bathtub, which is a pretty groovy find in these parts. The house we're moving into has a tiny half-size tub, so I'll be taking advantage of a bubble bathing this week and next.

4. Old tunes.

A while back, I searched and searched for a music player for Mac, other than iTunes. I couldn't find one, so I relinquished myself to the month-long task of organizing my music by hand (with the help of some applications, but nothing out there solved the disaster of my music library 100%). One of these days I hope to gather up some instructions for customizing your iTunes. There are lots of tutorials out there, but there are also lots of glitches making workarounds vital. Yesterday, I went to the Rock section of my library, and let it play for hours. When I left to teach classes Tom Waits was crooning, when I returned it was Dylan. Springsteen, Chris Isaak, Cat Stevens, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, a little Zeppelin. It's music we haven't listened to in ages, and it made for lovely lasagna making and eating music. Later we played Gin Rummy, which also reminded me how much I love fives.

5. Friends.

Who isn't just absolutely thankful for their friends. There are those friends that you may not speak to for months at a time, but you can just pick up easily from where you left off. There are the mini relationships sharing smiles and hugs in the supermarket, leaving you with a spring in your step. Then there are the lovely friends, who offer to send you things from the States (Thank you Laura and Tim!), the friends who mail you kindnesses (Thank you Ian and Claire!). And then there are blog friends. I had no idea I would start to feel connected to such people all over the world through blogging. Here are five of my current loves in alpha order. Check them out if you haven't already!

{lavender scone (yum!) photo from Country Days}


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