Culture. Shock.

Most of the time when I read something about culture or I attempt the write something about culture, I know almost nothing. If I understand a particular man correctly, culture is that that is true, good and beautiful about a people.

But most of the time we talk about things like style, salaries, traditions, accepted practices; and we call this culture.

Since I don’t know what else to call it, I have to call it culture, at least in a very general sense. Missionaries tend to experience culture shock. And then when they return to their home/citizen country they experience reverse culture shock.

I experience culture shock at least on a weekly basis. Even after 6 years living here.

We took Sienna to one of those indoor play places. You know, the ones that have all the germs possible for your kid to come in contact with? Yep. That one. There is a little cafe area for the parents/guardians to have a snack or get a drink.

I’ve seen this before, but it still takes me off guard, even for a moment.

As I peruse the menu wondering if I should order something or just stick with my water bottle, I see that corner of the menu. And while I’ve seen it before, I was in the perfect position to whip out my camera and take a picture.

A run down of the menu goes like this. One the left are the different kinds of coffee you might be inclined to order. (Definitely not your Starbuck’s menu.) Upper right are the all the cold drinks ranging from water to Coke.

It’s the lower right corner that always makes me pause for a moment. I asked myself, Why? Why does it surprize me that there are alcoholic drinks available at a place where you bring your kids to play?

My answer always goes back to where I grew up. No, not the state, the country. At one point alcohol was illegal in my country, no so here. Everyone here still makes their own plum brandy. I would call that moonshine, hooch, white lightening.

McDonald’s in the States (to the best of my knowledge) and other “family type” restaurants don’t serve alcoholic drinks.

There is such a division between children and alcohol that if a bar were within a certain amount of distance from a school, a petition can be signed and the bar has to close or move.

That just isn’t the case here. Unfortunately, too many children are exposed to alcohol and face the horrible affects from it even before they’re born.

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This and That

Do you ever have those days when you know you need to update the ol’ blog, but you just don’t know what to write. This is definitely one of those days. I can think of things I might tell you, I might write about, but none of them seem to be worth taking the time to write about.

I could write about the weather, Sienna, my allergies, Sienna, my latest new recipe, Sienna, Paul’s adventures with his restoring the veneer on an old table, or Sienna. I wonder which one will win out? Oare?

We’ve been getting more rain the past few days. This really slows down my laundry process. And it’s even slower since the little 1/4 dryer that we  bought doesn’t work anymore. Paul thinks it might be the switch, but he’s too busy under these woodworking projects to have the time to check it out. The dog has “haired” up more blankets . . . she’s shedding. I’m looking forward to some more days with more sun. With the rain comes the wind, so we might go and fly some kites tomorrow.

Sienna is growing like a weed. Her “new” pants from her 3rd birthday are quickly becoming capris. I thought for sure they’d last a little longer . . . sigh.

With the warmer spring, my allergies have been more severe. Ugh. It just means more sneezing, more itchy eyes, itchy nose,  ears itching and making weird noises and sensations, more sneezing — did I say that already? Paul’s solution? A dust mask. So you remember the pictures from the news of the Chinese when the bird flu hit there? That’s what I look like tonight trying his idea.

Sienna seems to have slight allergies,but doesn’t seem to be bothered by them. We made some miniature kites the other day. They didn’t fly. Paul said we’d have to drag them behind the car to get them to fly.

Paul has undertaken the adventure of a lifetime for someone interested in woodworking. Our language professor has an antique table that had been taken to a repairman at some point who, in the end, wasn’t that great of a repairman and left it out in the weather. Horrible story. The veneer on top was cracked badly and lifted up to give  a look like wooden waves across the top of it. She asked Paul if he’d be willing to help to work on it. As is usual here, finding all the supplies for a venture like this is nearly impossible. As usual, some tools have to be handmade. One thing in particular (if you want to restore to period) is the glue. Hide glue. I’ve learned more about hide glue than I ever wanted to know. Don’t get me wrong, it is very interesting. But in the process he’s tried to make his own using a crock pot. (It’s ok, he used it with my blessing.) That stuff stinks!

He finally found a supplier in Bucharest, ordered and had it shipped. What was supposed to be about a week for the whole project is turning into 3, maybe 4.

Sienna. Precious Sienna. She’s a fantastic child. I might be prejudice. She surprizes us with what she wants to do. The other day, after numerous times of being told not to go in the neighbor’s house without asking, she, of course, went in. I went to rescue the neighbors and after we got inside and talked about it, she, alone, initiated wanting to go and tell the neighbors sorry for going in without asking her mommy first.

We were at the mall the other day and we grabbed a bite to eat. She was still hungry, so she gets up, tells me to wait and she heads off to McDonald’s to get some more nuggets. I arrive and she tells me to go sit down. I tell her she doesn’t have any money to pay for the nuggets. She holds out her hand, I put in a 10 lei bill. A moment passes. “And a coin, mommy,” she says. I give her the coin. I wait behind her (the line for all the fast food “joints” are right in the middle of the aisle — strange set up. She gets to the counter and the lady leans down and asks her what she wants (in Romanian). At first Sienna doesn’t answer. So the lady asks again. So Sienna says, “Nannie want more nuggets, please.” Poor lady, she didn’t understand, so I interpreted (in more ways than one).

She’s SO independent.

One day, Paul found her across the street. YIKES!

We have to work on when it’s ok to be independent.

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Answered Prayer

Our tickets are reserved for furlough.

Our car needed work done on the front end and the bi-annual inspection done.

Paul made the appointment. We all got up early and took the car in to the shop early Friday morning. I’d packed a bag ready to stay or we had the jogging stroller so we could walk home, too. It all depended on the time it would take for them to fix it.

Typically the receptionist, mechanic, and technician were all quite sure that since we are foreign that we don’t know how to maintain the car. The maintenance book is missing the last three entries since we changed the oil and did light maintenance on it once it was past the guarantee. We didn’t sign and stamp it ourselves, so that must mean we didn’t do these things (here, stamps, books, three scribble  signatures, and other such nonsense are most important). It took some convincing, but I think we finally got the receptionist to believe that we had changed the oil 15,000 kilometers ago and put in synthetic oil. He was still a bit fuzzy on if we wanted it changed that day.

So, we’re told that it will take 2 1/2 to 3 hours for all the needed work. I’ve watched them work, well, I’ve watched the mechanics in Targoviste work, these guys did seem to be faster.

We decided to head home. It was sprinkling and it sprinkled on us all the way home. We weren’t bothered by it. Besides the entire walk was downhill.

The money made it to our account in time for us to withdraw to pay for the work done.

On our way back up the hill (walking and pushing the stroller) it started to rain pretty hard. We waited under a tree. It let up. Off we went again. We made it more than 1/2 way there, but it was really starting to pour, so we made a break from another wait under some trees to the gas station on the corner.

We don’t call taxis, we usually just find one if we need one, so I had no number for a taxi in my phone.

We prayed. Lord, we need a taxi, the garage called and the car’s ready.

It wasn’t long and while there were taxis going every direction this one was free. YES!

Most times you don’t find people that will help you in some way. But that wasn’t true of the car inspector. He found a problem with our title and registration and took it upon himself to fix it. We didn’t even know there was a problem and he had it fixed before we knew it was there.

So, the car is all fixed, inspected, and it was clean.

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Nothing Exciting

Stray dogs, Bucharest, Romania
This travel blog photo’s source is TravelPod page: Arrival in Romania, Sergiu, Bataan Death March

I keep thinking I’ll come up with something exciting to share with you all, but nothing exciting has happened. OH, WAIT!! Something exciting DID happen.

It was Wednesday. I had gone and picked Paul up from class and we went out to pay the bills. On the way back I wanted to stop by the little farmer’s market stand near our place.  Sienna had asked if she could go to the park and so while I was at the fruit and veggie stand, Paul and Sienna started walking the 2 blocks to the park.

Since the fruit and veggie stand is a one-man show, waiting in line takes a while. I finally got the lettuce, corn, and probably cherries or something like that and got in the car. I was wondering how far Paul and Sienna had gotten.

As I was driving up the street, slowly, I see them. Sienna is bawling and Paul is looking angry. I see women coming out of the houses and yelling. My first thought is that Sienna had done something and it made one of the women mad. Paul waved me down, ran across the street with Sienna, put her in the car and grabbed the steering wheel club from the front seat and started back across the street. I had NO idea what was going on, but I could see the cars piling up behind me — it’s a narrow street — so I pulled forward and took the next street and parked.

Paul didn’t head in the direction of the yelling women, so that was good. Instead, as I turned the corner, I see that he’s chasing a dog.

Stray dogs here are abundant, if that’s a word that you want to use to describe the phenomenon. Here, in Cluj, there aren’t nearly the amount as there are in Targoviste. Targoviste is much smaller than Cluj. But Bucharest has a real problem with stray dogs. These dogs form packs and attack when they are famished.

When Paul returned from chasing the dog off, I, for the first time, got the full story.

Paul and Sienna were walking up the sidewalk when the dog passed them going the opposite direction. He then turned around and started following them. Next, as Paul watched, he lunged at Sienna. Paul was able to pull her out of his grasp, the dog followed Sienna and kept attacking her and Paul kept pulling her out of the way. He was yelling as loud as he could and trying to kick the dog or hit it with the water bottle, all the no avail.

The yelling brought the women from their homes and they were yelling at Paul to know what happened.

Sienna was traumatized and didn’t stop crying.

Several women came to the corner where we all inspected Sienna carefully to see if the dog had actually broken the skin. In God’s almighty care, she escaped without a scratch.

Since the skin wasn’t broken, we didn’t pursue the matter. Had he actually bitten her we might have been in for a round of rabies shots for her. YUCK!

Romania has a major problem with stray dogs. If someone’s dog has puppies and the owner can’t get rid of them, he just takes them out and dumps them near where the other stray dogs are found. If someone doesn’t want a dog, they just turn it loose.

Most of the animals that are turned loosed are not spayed or neutered, so they go about their natural duties and make more puppies. People have been killed, a bill was sitting in the parliament waiting to be signed to give the go-ahead to euthanize 100,000 dogs, but the people still protest. No one is willing to adopt the dogs. Most people that want a pet want a pedigree. These stray dogs are mutts. Smart mutts, some of them, we have one, but mutts nonetheless.

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The Dress

It was the best I could do, Mom. She grew so fast, she must be taller than I was at her age. I tried, but I just didn’t have a way to truly duplicate it.

Over 30 years ago, my Gammie made me a dress. I think I remember wearing it. I definitely remember seeing myself in pictures of it.

I tried to duplicate the picture, since my mom kept that dress, with Sienna. I don’t have access to a picture of myself in it, but when I do, I’ll post it here.

The top was lost, probably worn out, maybe badly stained, but the dress, the dress was kept. I found a top here, just a plain ol’ t-shirt, and fixed it right. The original had a casing along the bottom with a tie. I tried to duplicate this and ended up with the best I could do.

The picture consisted of me standing behind a wooden post, with my hands on top, folded nicely, and smiling rather unnaturally.

Actually, maybe I did duplicate that.

Well, I’m pretty sure that the picture of me had a nice scenic background and this background isn’t quite as scenic. Oh well. At least I got a picture of her, with a wooden post, her hands folded nicely on top, and she’s smiling, unnaturally.

This picture was taken by a friend last August. Here’s another just to give you an idea of how she looked in the dress.

You noticed where the edge of the skirt hits her leg? Just above the knee, right?

I decided to take some pictures in an outside setting to see if I could get some good shots. Check it out. She’s grown some.

Now it hits her a few inches above the knee. This is the last time she’ll wear the dress. I’ll put it away, maybe it will make another round, either a sister or another generation.

Thanks, Gammie, for making me a dress, and for making it well enough that Sienna got to wear it, too!

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Mother’s Day – A Month Late

I meant to write about the beautiful flowers I received for Mother’s day.

I meant to write about the fantastic card I received for Mother’s day.

And the inside says . . .

Both were great!

But Mother’s day this year we also celebrated Sienna’s 3 and 1/2 birthday. I did mention the cake and the fact that we celebrated her 1/2 birthday, but I didn’t mention that it fell on Mother’s day. It was a nice thing to celebrate since this year Mother’s day was a little blue for me. This year, on Mother’s day, I would have been 37 weeks pregnant, had I not miscarried.

I didn’t want to write about then.

This year, Mother’s day was different. I focused more on my one little one and tried not to focus on the other little one that would have been.

As I snapped pictures of the flowers and the card Sienna wanted me to take her picture, too. I love her morning hair.

She brings smiles to my day, every day!

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Fill ‘er up

It was the slogan of the days when fuel, gas, petroleum, was cheaper, significantly cheaper.

I remember shortly after I moved in ’98 to a desert state the gas on the corner was $.99 a gallon! Yes, you read that right, just $.99 a gallon, not a pint, not a quart, a gallon.

I just filled the car up. It was very low, the light was on suggesting an imminent shortage in the tank. It took 12.46 gallons. Cost? Oh, not much, just $87.69.

I’ll let you figure the cost per gallon. I’m thinkin’ it might be less than you are currently paying, even in the higher priced areas like Michgan, Illinois, and Indiana; even large parts of California or Aspen, Colorado.

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