Saturday, April 6, 2013

Easter sunrise

Yesterday I wrote way too much, so today I'll balance it out by posting way too many photos. :-)
When I got to the aqueduct, I was surprised to find a brand-new sign up. I took a photo of it, but since it was very difficult to see in the near-darkness anyway, I decided to pretend I hadn't noticed it, and climbed up on the aqueduct anyway. (And for those who know how to figure out the time stamp on here and bother to check, yes, I know it says 5:21, but the camera clock runs fast AND we'd gone onto Daylight Savings Time in the night, so it was actually about 6:10.)

The children and I have been on the aqueduct several times. It's not something for anyone who's afraid of heights, but I do think it's fairly safe if one isn't being stupid. I've actually felt better about having toddlers up there than certain older children, since the sides of the channel come up well past their waists, but only to just past my knees...

I didn't go very far before I found a slightly wider place where I could sit down cross-legged, facing the Salt Lake. The bright lights towards the right are the airport.

From where I was sitting, I couldn't really take a decent photo of where the sun would actually rise, though, so I moved further along.

This view down the channel of the aqueduct looks like a rather large passageway, I think...

...but a photo with my feet (which are sticking straight out in front of me, because there wasn't room here to sit cross-legged) puts it more in the correct perspective.

The photos totally don't do justice to the beauty, and the half hour I was up there I couldn't help but sing "All heaven declares the glory of the risen Lord" about five times, as well as "Christ the Lord is Risen Today", "Low in the Grave He Lay", and even Sandi Patty's "Was it a Morning Like This?" and I think a couple of others. (Don't worry, nobody could hear me!)
The sky is getting noticably lighter here, at 6:27:



6:30 slightly north...



A photo of the other side (north-ish) of the aqueduct...

Looking down at the marshy land underneath the aqueduct...

Sunrise! 6:39 for peeping over houses, which isn't too far off from the official time, which I think was 6:37.

A final photo from the aqueduct, at 6:40:
I didn't cross the aqueduct, just went back down the way I'd gone up. Couldn't help seeing the sign now. I think it's silly, for several reasons. For one, nothing is blocked off, which, if they really want to keep people off, they ought to do. For another, people who are likely to be careful are now less likely to go up (I may not have a lot of respect for silly rules, but I DO try not to disobey them when my children are watching...), and since it's now "not allowed", I think it might become something that people showing off and daring each other to do might do, which COULD be dangerous. But I digress, as usual.

It's impossible to get the whole aqueduct in one photo from where I was, but here's a lot of it. I think I was at about the second arch from the right.

The Salt Lake trail.

And finally...two photos to illustrate why March is known as "the yellow month." The colors were actually much brighter, but the overcast day made them look kind of dull on the photos.

Friday, April 5, 2013

My last five Sundays

A couple of months ago an acquaintance asked me, "Where do you worship?" Without stopping to think, because stopping to think isn't something I tend to do, I accidentally answered with the truth: "Mostly in the Salt Lake park." She did look a little startled for a moment, but to give her credit, not shocked. With a little more conversation, it was easy to understand how she could understand, because she's also not a fan of the traditional institutional church experience, but also at least as much in love with Jesus as I am. I love making those connections.

I could make a much, much longer story out of it all (in fact, I did, and then deleted it--it was way too much), but the short version is that as of about two and a half years ago, I have not been a "regular attender" of a particular congregation, nor of any congregation at all. The first half year or so, I had all three of the little girls home with me Sunday mornings, and we often went to the playground with our friend Sue. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why that kind of dwindled away! Probably it started getting too hot or too cold or Sue was away or we were, and we never got back in the habit. That's okay--doing things just because they're a habit is one of the things I rebel against.  Which doesn't mean I wouldn't like to go to the playground again some Sunday morning!

In the meantime, however, Katie (7 3/4) eventually started going to the house church with Jörn and the boys most Sundays, and now Helen (4 1/2) usually does as well, so just Elisabeth (2 3/4)and I are home. (Marie has been attending a different church for just over two years, was baptized there last year, for the last several months has been part of the music team, and last week participated in a membership class and will soon join as an official member.) So I started taking advantage of that time to clean the girls' room. I put on music and dance and sing and put stuff away and throw stuff away and Elisabeth and I have a great time, and once a week for a few hours, the girls' room looks almost decent. I should maybe occasionally put on music at other times, though, because not too long ago when Elisabeth saw me with the tape recorder, she said, "Are you going to listen to music and dance and clean up this horrible mess?" My habit of not thinking before I speak can especially come back to bite me with toddlers in the house...

So with all of that's funny (to me, anyway) that I've "been to church" for the last five Sundays in a row. Five different churches, in three different countries, I might add.

Five weeks ago we were in Costa Rica and Jörn, Helen, Elisabeth, and I went to mass at the Catholic church near where my host family lives. (Mami and my sisters were at a seminar/retreat all day, and Papi and my brothers stayed home with the other children.) The sermon (um...I think it's called something else in a Catholic church, but I can't remember what in English...) was quite good, what I can remember of it, but between interpreting for Jörn and trying to keep Helen and Elisabeth quiet, I didn't get more than half of it. There was some amazing music and without any good explanation for it, taking communion was important to me and I was glad we had gone.

Four weeks ago we were in Germany and the children and I went to our "home church", the International Baptist Church of Düsseldorf. (Jörn was at a conference in Duisburg.) I seem to remember liking the sermon, but can't remember what it was about, but the best part was chatting with people after the service. Oh yeah, and it was my birthday...which meant that I got to (had to...) go up to the front and have everyone sing "happy birthday" to me. It was pretty funny, actually, because the last time my birthday was on a Sunday was 2002, and for some reason, I wasn't in church on that Sunday. I got jokingly "accused" of skipping it just because it was my birthday, and then when we moved to Cyprus four years ago, the same person teased me that we were leaving just to avoid that...and now that we don't live there, I WAS there for my birthday!

Three weeks ago I went to the house church because we had visitors (a mission team from Germany) and to get them all there, I had to help drive, so went ahead and stayed. We got there around 10:45 and at 2:45 they finally started getting lunch ready. Just one of the reasons I haven't been going there for over two years.

Two weeks ago the team was still there, but I couldn't take the house church two weeks in a row, and besides, Jacob just joined the Larnaka Inter-Church Youth Band (playing djembe) and they were playing at Marie's church, Larnaka Community Church. By taking all three little girls with me, Jörn had enough room in the car he was driving to take Lukas and the team, and after LCC, I drove Jacob, Katie, and Helen over to the house church, and several hours later, picked them up again.

Last week was Easter Sunday in the Western church. (Orthodox Easter this year isn't until May 5th.) Some of the non-Orthodox churches celebrate Western Easter, some Eastern, some both, and some neither. I did think about going to LCC's sunrise service, but it didn't start until 7:30, an hour after sunrise, and to have our annual family breakfast together I needed to be home again from my walk by then anyway. I left the house at 5:50 (very glad that we'd gone onto Daylight Savings Time in that night, because even though my body might have felt like it was 4:50, seeing the number 5 instead of 4 made it easier psychologically) and by the time is was just barely starting to get light, I was at the aqueduct. I climbed up on it and sat there for about half an hour, watching the sunrise and singing all my favorite Easter songs and taking photos. Yes, it was worship, and yes, it was wonderful, and not less so for being what I do every single morning. (Okay, I don't usually climb up on the aqueduct, but being out in the Salt Lake park in the morning makes it impossible for me NOT to worship.) I was home by 7:15 and just barely got breakfast on the table by 8:45, and that only because other people helped set the table. At 9:20 Marie and I left, so that she could get to LCC for band practice at 9:30 and I could go to St. Helena's, the Anglican church, also at 9:30. Which, when they say it starts at 9:30, they mean I was the last person in before they started and got just about the last seat, but at least it was next to the only four people I knew there! (Maybe they actually saved it for me? I didn't ask...) I could write a lot more about the service, but it would get a bit too much into with whom I was upset and whether I felt like I should be taking communion or not and how sometimes a liturgical service feels like a prison and is sometimes freeing and was both that day, so I think I'll just leave it there. If you need to know, go ahead and ask--maybe I'll get brave enough to write another post on that topic. Anyway, when I got home at 10:45, Jörn was able to leave for the house church with four children, and Elisabeth and I put on music and danced and cleaned the living room. At 12:30 we went over to Sue and Richard's house for Easter lunch with them and two other couples, and I did mean to come home again before our whole family was due to arrive there at 4:00...but didn't notice the time until 3:45, so we stayed. :-)

I'd been meaning to put in photos from the sunrise, but it's already very late and this post is much longer than I'd intended it to be, and I know from experience that if I save it in drafts meaning to add photos later, I'll never post it, so that's it for now. (Edited to add: yes, I posted photos. :-) But if you clicked on the link above, where I said I watched the sunrise, you already saw them.)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

More walking and new shoes

Within a few days of moving into this house just over four years ago, I went for an early morning walk in the Salt Lake park, taking six-month-old Helen with me in the Ergo carrier. I thought I'd go regularly, but I didn't, and don't really know why I didn't. I enjoyed every walk I took, but only took two or three a YEAR my first three years here. Last year in April I got new shoes and went a few times, and as of May 18th, started walking every single day, with extremely few exceptions. Those shoes I bought a year ago were my first tennis shoes in at least ten years, but they are very near the end of their useful life, so while in Germany last month, I bought another pair of tennis shoes, and started wearing them last week. So here is an ever-so-exciting photo of both pairs of shoes:
The pair on the left is (obviously, I hope!) the new pair, worn three or four days by the time I thought of taking a photo. Most days I get a stone or two caught in the tread--something that is impossible with the old pair now. No blisters or sore hips or anything negative with either pair: the first pair were cheap ones from Aldi, the second cheap ones from Deichmann! The old ones are still actually quite comfortable, but little rocks keep getting in through holes around my toes (can't see them in the photo), which on the packed-sand/dirt path is rather impractical.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April surprise

Jörn and Lukas drove to the skip at Makenzy Beach this afternoon to dispose of an old broken armchair we had. (Is "skip" understandable in American English? If not, well, it's a huge metal container that can be carried on a truck and is used for garbage of all sorts, and there are actually four of these things there, Jörn just informed me. Oh, I think they might be called dumpsters? Something like that, anyway...) Not many people call our home phone, so when the phone rang, I wasn't surprised that it was Jörn, and since Jörn and Lukas were there at a huge rubbish heap (garbage pile...), I wasn't surprised in any case that they were calling, and wondered what they wanted to bring home THIS time. I was at least glad that they were asking, for a change.

They brought home a kitten.

She was on a pile of stuff, underneath what might have been the rack from an oven. Another man there saw the kitten first and moved the rack and picked the kitten up, and asked Jörn and Lukas if they wanted a kitten. Jörn at least didn't say no, and he's the one who called me to ask what I thought. Okay, so maybe I wasn't thrilled, but I HAVE been toying with the idea of getting a cat for awhile, and there was no way I could tell them to just leave the kitten there!

I don't know how old she is, of course, but I'm guessing three or four weeks. Her eyes are well open and she's quite alert, and she can walk fairly well, although she wobbles a bit. She's totally not afraid of people or of loud noises (and all the people in this house are generators of loud noises), and is cuddly and friendly, so I don't think she could possibly be a feral cat, but she's also definitely too young to be voluntarily away from her mother, and wasn't close enough to any buildings to have possibly walked there herself. It seems impossible to believe that somebody just dumped her there, but I don't know how else she could have gotten there.

While I was on the phone with a friend asking for advice, Jörn and Lukas tried to give her some water from a saucer. Lukas said she lapped some, but Jörn didn't see it, and she certainly didn't seem to know how to lap milk later on.
Joan said she should probably have kitten formula, but of course, today is a public holiday (Cyprus Independence Day), so everything is closed. I Googled "homemade kitten formula" and found an amazing number of recipes, most of which called for all sorts of things that I didn't have in the house and couldn't buy with closed shops and wouldn't know if I could buy even with open shops. However, one recipe was doable: 1 cup of milk, 2 egg yolks, and 1 teaspoon of salad oil. We even had milk, which we don't usually have, because I was going to make hot chocolate for breakfast yesterday, but didn't end up doing so, which is another topic and was going to be what I was going to post, but the kitten is more interesting. To me, anyway.

So I mixed this up (actually only half, since that was already a lot more than the kitten could possibly eat), and attempted to feed it to the kitten. I didn't have an eye dropper, exactly, but the syringe-ish sort of thing that comes with children's Nurofen (which we don't have any of, and that was going to be the topic of another blogpost, but kittens are still more interesting) sort of worked. It doesn't have a tapered tip, though, and the kitten was having a hard time dealing with the wide, flat tip, from which she couldn't suck. While I was doing this, one friend responded to me on gmail chat and another to me on Facebook, saying that condensed milk (or evaporated milk, and now I don't remember which one is which language--Germans call it coffee milk, and what it IS is evaporated milk: no sugar or anything else added, just water taken out) would work for a couple of days. We even have some, but oh well, I'd already mixed up this other formula. Despite some of my children trying to convince me to express some of MY milk, but I informed them that there was no reason to think that human milk would be any more appropriate for a baby cat than cow milk would be, and nope, that wasn't happening.

No photos of feeding the kitten, since Jörn had taken the camera with him when he took Helen to Antidote (drama class, and that would be another cool blogpost topic!), but here's a nice one of a happy kitty with about 15 milliliters of formula in her tummy.
Lukas, by the way, is still claiming that this is HIS kitten, but I'm not happy with that. No matter whose we call it, she's going to be mainly my responsibility, and I'd rather just take care of her than remind Lukas a million times to do so.

When Katie cuddled her, she went right to sleep, but just as I was about to take a photo, some little sister came running in and shouted, which made the kitten slightly wiggle and open her eyes just as I took the photo.

She went right back to sleep, though.

She also very much liked sleeping on Marie.

And here she's sleeping on Marie's lap, covering her eyes.

Last photo for today, and not a great one: we put her in a box, with a towel underneath and and old t-shirt, and a black cat cuddly toy, of which the kitten approves. She sniffed all over, then curled up half under the toy cat.
And the biggest miracle: we all agreed on a name without too much trouble! Nobody except Lukas liked a single one of Lukas's suggestions (Buckbeak is the only one I remember, but the others weren't any better), nobody except Marie liked Marie's suggestion (Minerva), nobody including myself liked any of mine, not that I remember what they were, until I suggested Makenzy, after the place where she was found. We thought about M.B. for Makenzy Beach, thinking about the fact that my mother has a dog named K.B. after King's Beach, but we stuck with just plain Makenzy. We might change the spelling, though--not even the various signs around town and on maps and in ads agree on the spelling.
So we have a cat. And now I'm going to have to go warm up some formula and try to feed her before I go to bed. Our friend Sue sent over a kitten feeding bottle, which works a little better than what I was using, but most successful is letting her suck the milk off of my fingers. I hope I don't have to do that in the night...I'm not at all good at actually standing up and being coherent before I'm ready to get up. Watch this space...