Forgive Me, Father, for I Have Goofed

My housekeeper, Rosa, and her long time beau tied the knot this weekend. She’d invited Studly Doright and me to the ceremony, but of course he couldn’t miss his golf game, so I attended solo. I was excited to be on the guest list, and to dress up for the occasion. After Studly left for golf, I began the process of getting myself prettified even though the event was several hours in the future.

The only hiccup in the getting dressed category was putting on my hosiery. It’s been ages since I wore hose and I ripped three pair before I finally got a pair on correctly. There were words said that I haven’t used since the last time I had to wear hose. They were not nice words. I was somewhat mollified by my appearance in the mirror once I had my dress and heels on. Not bad for a newly-turned 63-year-old.

I had the invitation to the wedding in my car, and entered the address in my gps. Thank goodness for high school Spanish, and that the street and town names were in English. I left for Quincy, Florida, with plenty of time to spare. I followed the gps instructions through Quincy and down several back roads to a house in the country. It certainly didn’t look like the church Rosa had told me about, but there was a spot set aside for parking. No cars were there, though. Hmmm.

I read over the invitation again more carefully, and realized immediately what I’d done. The church name, St. Thomas, was listed but with no address. The reception site; however, had an address and that’s where I’d gone. Just like that, my ample time disappeared. I entered an address for the church after a quick google search and drove back to Quincy at the fastest speed I thought I could get away with. The gps said I’d be five minutes late. I said, “Challenge accepted.”

The route took me back through Quincy where I managed to make it to St. Thomas’s with only one stop for a red light. I was just three minutes late. Take that, gps! Still, I was late, so I entered quietly through a side door. The ceremony was well underway, so I took a seat towards the back of the sanctuary.

Now, I’m not Catholic, but I earned my degree from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, and I have attended mass dozens of times throughout the years. Some of my favorite people are Catholic including my mother-in-law, and my youngest sister-in-law, and her significant other. I’ve even spent a lovely weekend at a Catholic retreat. I know how to behave in mass…when it’s celebrated in English. Not so much in Spanish.

I followed the leads of those near me so I’d know when to stand, sit, and kneel. I tried to catch the words to the responses, but without luck. Finally the ushers approached with the offertory baskets. “Aha!” I thought. “I know how to handle this.”

I fished out some folding money and was putting it in the basket when I realized there were some small gifts in there. Hmm. Maybe I was supposed to put my card and gift for the couple in the basket. I did just that and then was startled to see it being taken directly to the priest who blessed it and set it aside behind the altar.

Remember some of the words I said while destroying my pantyhose? It’s a really good thing I’d gotten those out of my system before the priest blessed that gift. They wouldn’t have been appropriate in church.

As soon as the couple was pronounced husband and beautiful wife and all of the kissing of the bride and taking of pictures had occurred, I tracked down the priest, who surprisingly spoke English with a lovely Irish accent. I explained about my mistake, and he promised to get my gift to Rosa and her husband. I think he was fairly certain that I wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box, but he seemed like a good sort who’d make sure the newlyweds ended up with the blessed gift. And isn’t that really what matters?

Peace, people!

Crazy?

My beloved housekeeper might think I’m insane. Her English is slightly better than my Spanish, and my Spanish is sadly lacking.

I hope I’m wrong about this, but I might’ve asked her to clean my sheep.

I have no sheep. I do have an oven. By the way, oven in Spanish is horno, not oveja. 

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 Ay díos mio!

Peace, people!

Embarrassing Travel Moments

I have had mixed results speaking Spanish on my trip to Antigua, Guatemala.

Last night at dinner I was trying to tell the waiter we needed more time with our menus. I patted our table and said, “Por favor, leave them right here.” His puzzled look was my first indication of how lame that sounded. The laughter from my group was the second. He did leave the menus, though–he was probably afraid to be too near this crazy gringa.

Just a few minutes ago a few of us returned to our accommodations and after calling Studly to beg for money I retreated to my room for a nap.

It didn’t take me long to peel out of my sweaty clothes to bask au naturale on my bed. I’d just closed my eyes when I realized the gardener was standing just outside the very open window. I’m pretty sure my “oops!” translated into Spanish flawlessly.

Some Boys do not Get their Chocolate in Valentine´s Day

I found this post so interesting, and it fits perfectly into my Love Month theme. Plus, nagatayakyoto.com translates his posts into Spanish! I hope my make friends get choco this year.

Nagataya Kyoto Japanese Calligraphy, Shodō

Writing 'love' Writing ‘love’

 In Japan the tradition in Valentine´s day is that the girls give chocolates to the boys. There are two types of chocolates this day. One is Giri choco and another is Hon mei choco.

The Giri chocois the chocolate that is given as a courtesy to co-workers, friends, classmates, family, etc.  Just to give good impression, don’t raise too much your hope. It is obvious that the girls are not interested in you. Sometimes the work subordinates give the ‘giri choco’ to the boss just for courtesy, and they make clear ‘this is guiri choco’. My mother and my sister also bought me ‘giri choco’, and it tasted good, I appreciated!

The Hon Mei choco is the chocolate that you give to the boy who you love and sometimes it comes with a love letter or you confess your love when you hand out the chocolate…

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Guatemala Bound

I booked my flight to travel to Antigua, Guatemala! My trip isn’t until April, and Studly kept urging me to hold off on booking.

“Prices will come down,” he said.
“Be patient,” he cautioned.

Does he not know me better than that?Patience might be a virtue, but it’s not one of mine. Now that I’m booked I can start on the other tasks I’ve set for myself, namely shopping for appropriate Guate-wear and brushing up on my Spanish.

Having grown up in Texas, I have a decent vocabulary of inappropriate Spanish. I won’t plan on using any of those unless I get into a heated discussion with someone smaller than me.

I did take two years of high school Spanish. I remember how to ask where the bathroom is located, and I can tell someone that they should take only one piece of toast because two is too many. Surely that phrase will come in handy with the toast-eating crowd.

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Viva Guatemala!

Peace, People!

Going Guatemalan: Apology

Did you know that Guatemala is in Central America, not South America? After posting my article, “Going Guatemalan” last night I slept like a baby, but I awakened this morning to learn that I’d placed Guatemala in the wrong place.

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My sincerest apologies to those from Guatemala. I should have looked on a map. I hope they don’t bar me from traveling there based on this error. I’ll just have to double down on my Spanish and learn how to blame this on Studly. How does one say, “scapegoat” in espanol?

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A scene from Antigua:

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Peace, people!

Occupied/Ocupado

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Picture this, if you will: You find yourself far from home and in need of using the restroom. Your only option is at a convenience store gas station. The bathroom is a one-seater, and you carefully lock the door behind you before placing at least three layers of tissue on the well worn public toilet seat. Even with the toilet thus protected you still hover slightly above the seat, anxious to keep a distance twixt your pristine nether cheeks and the oft used porcelain. Whew!

Then, someone turns the knob, or gives a polite knock. What is your response?

“Just a minute!”

“Someone’s in here!”

“Hold your horses!”

“Ocupado!”

My personal favorite is, “Hey, don’t get your panties in a wad!”

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I heard this question posed on NPR’s “A Way With Words,” last week. Surprisingly, a good many English speakers admit to saying “Ocupado” (Spanish for “Occupied”) in this situation. The hosts of the show thought perhaps this response could be traced to the bilingual labeling on restroom door locks on airplanes. It also could reflect Americans’ love of foreign phrases: ciao and adios for goodbye, for example.

I’m curious. What do you say in this bathroom scenario?

(Program plug: I highly recommend the program, “A Way With Words.” They can be found at http://www.waywordradio.org and on Facebook, as well. If you love words, like I love words, check them out.)

Just in case you need a bathroom etiquette guide, I found this one on Pinterest:

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Peace, people!

Ajax, Psycho Dog From Hell

Studly once brought home a dog from work, having offered to care for it for a co-worker. You can imagine my, ahem, delight when this large, white, furry ball of frenetic energy entered our home for the first time, jumped on my lap and began slobbering on my face. He then bounced about our living room like a demon dog on steroids, snapping at invisible enemies and licking anything that moved.

His name was Ajax and he really was a beautiful dog. His coat was a glossy white and his eyes a vivid blue. We thought perhaps he might be part Husky. According to his owner he was really smart and knew multiple commands. In Spanish. The only words Studly and I knew in Spanish were of a base nature, and they certainly weren’t words one would use to control a dog. His ears did perk up to phrases such as “por favor” and “adios amigo” but neither of those worked well either.

Fortunately we had a large fenced backyard with plenty of room for Ajax to run and play. I had no intention of having him live inside our home. He was just too big and too energetic. But we played with him every day and made sure he was well cared for.

Those days were really tough for our family, and for the country as a whole. I had gone back to college to finish my degree and Studly was working his butt off in a rather unsavory job at a hide tanning company, earning next to nothing. On top of that we had two small kids and a mountain of debt. All we needed was a bit of a break, a couple of years, and my diploma.

Unfortunately, we found ourselves in a huge financial bind and needed to sell our home before ownership reverted to the bank. So we staged the house for prospective buyers and listed it with a realtor. Every single morning before we left for our respective destinations we made sure the house was immaculate. And yet no one came to view our home. No viewers equalled no buyers. No buyers equalled no sale. No sale equalled possible foreclosure. We really were desperate.

One sunny Saturday morning Studly and I decided to take the kids on a day trip to see his folks in Hereford, Texas. We made sure the house was perfect, the dog was fed and hugged and off we went. Several hours later we returned home, tired, but happy after a much needed break from our routine.

I was the first one in the house. I stopped, backed out, shut the door, and looked at Studly in horror. “Someone has ransacked the house!” I gasped.
We had nothing worth stealing, so it was unimaginable that we’d been robbed, but that was exactly what it appeared had happened.

Studly cautiously opened the door while I stayed outside holding on to the kids for dear life. When I heard him say, “Dammit Ajax!” I knew our culprit had been found. Apparently Ajax became bored. He figured out a way to open the back door and then chewed a hole in the screen door. While we were away and blissfully unaware of his antics, he tried to pull everything from inside the house to his domain in the backyard. There was a trail of bedding, clothing, shoes, and athletic equipment all in various stages of transfer. We didn’t know whether to laugh in relief or cry in despair.

Until we noticed the realtor’s calling card on the kitchen counter. Then I cried. I cried and cried and cried as I tried to put the house back together. I was so humiliated that someone, multiple someones, had seen our home in that condition. Of all days for someone to come looking! Any hope I had that perhaps Ajax had done his deed after the realtor had left were dashed by the note she’d written on her card. It said something like, “Perhaps in the future we should call to make sure your house is in viewing condition.”

Eventually Ajax went back to live with his old family, and we never did sell the house. The bank foreclosed and it seemed like the world had come to an end. But in reality we emerged stronger, smarter, and more determined to survive together. Ajax, the psycho dog from hell was one really bad chapter, but he wasn’t the whole book. That’s still being written.

Peace, People!

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