Thursday, May 30, 2013

They Grow Up So Fast

Cliche, I know.
But I'm not talking about kids.
Our library project, Biblioteca Comunitaria Dr. William House, has decided to grow out of its space before we've even moved in. Parents of wee ones know all too well: better get them into that cute outfit from Aunt Mildred before she grows out--oh, dangit! Kid is already too chubby. And so is the library. While the hunt continues for a home, supporters continue to offer up books, supplies and time to open the doors (where the doors are, we're not entirely sure). It has become so much more than one community's project. Over 200 people from 14 different countries have contributed money, time, supplies, and books. 'Tis a beautifully diverse and unified effort. And also means that we are now looking for a larger space than we'd planned at the outset. Dream bigger!
In the meantime, we have been organizing and cataloguing and cleaning and covering and repairing and peeling stickers and placing stickers on all of these BOOKS! It would be a huge fib if I told you we weren't reading them as we went.
You can follow our entry progress on Library Thing. This is us:




That list will continue to grow in coming weeks as the barrels and boxes arrive. If any of you have a few days to come help out, come on down! Mango season is upon us, after all. And we might just have a good book to read for a short break hammock-side.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Roach Resort -- by Josh

Yesterday evening, I stumbled on a surprising scientific discovery involving some of God's tiniest, most disgusting creatures.  I've never been too horribly bothered by roaches, because they're ALWAYS preferable to rats.  However, there were the ones that would fall out of the trees and into my hair on the coast in Bulgaria.  There were also the discoveries of roach nests in an alarm clock and a wireless phone receiver in our apartment in Oregon (let's just say I rubbed off a good layer of facial skin before I felt clean).
But my latest encounter with these epic survivors makes me think they're becoming spiteful.  For a while, we only had the big roaches, including the flying kind, which are more like beetles and serve  principally as playthings for Danger the Cat.  Those I don't mind. But lately, their smaller, crappier (literally) cousins decided to move in as well.
I knew a great battle had begun as soon as I spotted the first little ones.  After our many years of fighting this arthropodic plague in Oregon, those six-legged terrorists who would hide in our wooden walls and withstand our onslaughts, I could only imagine, with horror, the scale of warfare it would take to push back such an offensive critter here in the Tropics.
Last night, once we'd finished our Declaration of the Bab pizza party and prayers, I opened the kitchen drawer to get a plastic baggy for the last slices of pie.  What I saw immediately reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude:


  • "[T]he cockroach, the oldest winged insect on the face of the earth, had already been the victim of slippers in the Old Testament, but...since the species was definitely resistant to any and all methods of extermination, from tomato dices with borax to flour and sugar, and with its one thousand six hundred three varieties had resisted the most ancient, tenacious, and pitiless persecution that mankind had unleashed against any living thing since the beginnings, including man himself, to such an extent that just as an instinct for reproduction was attributed to humankind, so there must have been another one more definite and pressing, which was the instinct to kill cockroaches, and if the latter had succeeded in escaping human ferocity it was because they had taken refuge in the shadows, where they became invulnerable because of man’s congenital fear of the dark, but on the other hand they became susceptible to the glow of noon, so that by the Middle Ages already, and in present times, and per omnia secula seculorum, the only effective method for killing cockroaches was the glare of the sun."

Behold my great, ferocious light (and shoe)!
Much like Al-Qaeda's mission to instill fear and insecurity by striking where one least expects, where one feels safest, these little critters' antennae had led them to a place designed to be impermeable to their presence.  The very purpose of those plastic bags is to protect my favorite treats and luscious leftovers from their filthy feet.
As it turns out, cockroaches love to settle in small cardboard boxes. The first, 1/4 full box I simply emptied out the bags, chasing down and killing the roaches one by one. Although there was some insect feces on each bag, they were all still new and sealed, so I figured I'd just wash them in some disinfectant and call it good.
Then Rebecca asked, "Did they get into the other boxes?"
"What other boxes?" I replied with a sense of foreboding.
Sure enough, another drawer had two full boxes, one partially open.  I gritted my teeth and pried up the lid. "Crap!" I thought.  Literally. Lots of it, and in the folds of the bags I could see their sickening bodies squirming and crawling. "Rebecca!"
It broke my heart, but there was only one, very wasteful, solution. In the garbage it went. They won. I didn't even get to slaughter them.  Maybe I should've poured some lighter fluid on the box and blown it up, like Rebecca tried a while back.  Bitter defeat was mine.
Ultimately, the lesson I think Marquez was trying to teach us, and which I struggle constantly to learn, is that although it's valiant and worthwhile to keep on struggling and cleaning and re-building and renewing ourselves, some things are simply out of our control.
Ah, the power of literature. It can make even cockroaches seem philosophical, though I still hope they stay out of our library.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Paper Airplanes Give Us Wings! -- by Josh

This is dedicated to Ms. Jessie Firestone, the best 2nd grade teacher ever (according to a vote by her sweet students).

Today, while waiting for Max during his music class, some kindhearted, entrepreneurial high school girls came by to offer their summertime babysitting services. They wrote their number down for me, then, not noticing they'd dropped an extra sheet of paper on the ground, went on their way.
A minute later, one of Max's classmates, a particularly energetic fellow named Justin, strolled by. "Whoa! A piece of paper!" he exclaimed, promptly grabbing it off the ground and crumpling it up.
"What are you doing?" I interjected, "Why would you crumple it up when you could make an airplane?"
"I don't know how," he lamented. Just then, a little girl snatched it from his hand. "I do!" she said.
She put together a rudimentary paper airplane which didn't go far, so I creased the wings a bit more.  It still wasn't an aerodynamic wonder, but it did the trick!

You can see in the background the avion of note.
Justin ran off, throwing it all over the place, then attracted another group of boys when he began tossing it from the top of the stairs.  After about 15 minutes of this, Justin's mom showed up and he unwillingly went with her.  The other boys kept on playing with this marvel of engineering, having the time of their lives, for at least another 15 minutes, until it got stuck in some corner.
It was great to see such excitement from such a simple object, that easily could've been tossed in the trash joylessly.  Fun is in the eye of the beholder.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Claro: The Break-Up

If you've followed the Cell Phone Saga (Part One, Part Two), you know I've been counting down and simultaneously dreading the day I would have to face the Claro folks one last time in their big, air-conditioned office for the break-up. Today was the day.
I went to the Santiago office, since they "prefer" that you close accounts in the same place that you open them (and I wasn't about to mess with any alternatives). Right there my journey to Santiago, an 80 minute one-way trip by crowded bus has me traveling and spending more money than the US version of canceling an account: logging in online and making a few clicks from your home or office computer. Josh has been out of town, so keep in mind that I'm also traveling with both kiddos everywhere I want to go.
From our winter school trip. This is often what traveling by bus with the chitlins looks like.
Thank goodness Josh kept them frequently out & about last year, so they are excellent travelers by bus, by concho or even on foot. He made the chore easy for me with the intense amount of training he did last year (which included almost weekly trips by foot, concho and shady, bumpy mountain bus--a 1.5 hour journey outside the city--to A Mother's Wish Foundation). Shout out to awesome dads.
We made our way inside the massive building about 15 minutes after they opened for business. Our early arrival was planned to avoid lines. It worked! I did notice that the ropes they use to direct people into a line had been shoved so close together that the kids and I were forced to stand one in front of the other. This is good, I thought. That should definitely minimize people cutting in front of you.

"Hello, Rebecca. My name is Indhira. How can I help you?" said a representative I've never seen before. In that moment, I decided to squelch all of the negative feelings I have surrounding this contract and play real nice. I almost did just that.
"Hi, Indhira. I would like to end my Flota contract today," I forced a smile.
"Okay, may I see your identification please?"
I pulled out my passport card, immediately realizing that I should have brought the blessed passport book instead, remembering my bank-identification-fiasco.
She turned it over in her hands and looked puzzled.
"Its a passport card," I said.
"Yes," she responded pointing at her screen, "do you have the ID that matches this passport number?"
Oh! I thought, that actually sounds somewhat legitimate, even though my picture is clearly me.
"I don't, but passport numbers do change each time you get a new one. They aren't entirely comparable to the cedula. The cedula equivalent in the US would be our social security number, since those are the same our entire lives. Passport numbers, however, change with each new passport. But as you can clearly see, that is me," I realize that was a mouthful, but I was desperately trying to be friendly and at the same time avoid rejection.
"Well," she looked a bit worried, "do you have a copy of your passport?"
I shook my head, no.
"Hmmm... Let me go talk to my supervisor," and she walked over to the important-looking lady on her perch.
Geez. We haven't even gotten past step one and she's already going to the supervisor. Breathe, Rebecca, breathe. I did some deep breathing and told the kids to go sit down. Although I hadn't brought my passport book, I had brought children's books. Max started reading to Zora.
Indhira returned.
"While we wait on that," she waved her hand in the air, "let's get the next step going."
I like how this woman works. That smells like efficiency to me, if I remember it correctly. She did a few more things with her computer and then handed me a slip with the final amount to pay on it. I went to another part of the building and paid, then returned with a receipt.
"Okay," she looked up from her keyboard, "Why are you ending your Flota contract?"
I couldn't help it, "Oh, I have a long list of reasons." I smiled. Then kicked myself inside and started over. "No, let's just say that the others we opened the account with left the country a year ago and I've been waiting for the contract to expire. We only need two phones."
"So, you'd like to cancel the other phones and continue the contract with just two?"
An audible laugh escaped me, "No, I want to keep the two phone numbers on a pre-paid basis and cancel the contract all together."
She nodded.
"That is such a beautiful necklace you're wearing. What bright, happy colors," I said, slightly desperate and willing to try anything.
She typed some more, left twice and eventually came back with my passport card and a few slips of paper.
"Alright, you will have to come back in 1-2 days with a copy of your passport that matches this number. For now, take this form to the next building over to the representative named Katherine. Is there anything else I can do for you?" she smiled.
"Thank you very much," I picked up my things, gathered the behaved children (a small miracle considering our very early morning) and left, unsure if I'd just had a victory.
We walked out into the blazing sun and down the path to the other building. I immediately did not like the feeling in that building. The air conditioning was not the only thing giving me chills. We checked in and waited, though this time significantly longer even though one could clearly see that only five Claro employees and the three of us were there.
Eventually, CheckIn Lady called me, "Katherine won't be able to help you today, you can go to that young person there."
We gathered up our things and lo and behold, that other young person was someone I had spoken to quite frequently at the beginning of our contract time.
"Hi! How have you been?" I was overly cheerful.
"Good, good," he smiled in a kind of dreadful recognition.
"Well," I launched right in," its finally that time. Those long 18 months are over!"
He chuckled politely and I handed him the papers I'd been given.
"Do you have your passport book?" was his first question.
I shook my head, "But as you can see, it's me!" I laughed, attempting to make light of the situation.
"Yes," he pointed at his screen, "It says right here that you don't have it today."
I just knew they had a file on me, tracking every one of my Claro sins.
"So," I tried the compliment route with him too, "Is this a new position for you? Your own office seems like a move up. You got a promotion, eh?"
He nodded.
"Wow! Congratulations!" I shot him a cheesy grin.
"Thank you."
He continued typing. He used the phone. He shuffled some papers. He walked out. He came back. He had me sign a paper. He called another person.
"Okay," he looked at me for the first time in 20 minutes, "Your contract has been terminated. To move to pre-paid status, however, it will take 24-48 hours before your profile is ready. You need to bring in a copy of your passport book so they can complete your profile."
"Wow. Thank you. So, as of this moment I don't have any phone service and won't have any phone options for 24-48 hours?" I have taken to summarizing what I've understood since some things I either find too odd/incredible/nonsensical and there is always a chance that I just wasn't able to hurdle a language barrier.
"Correct."
"And, do I have to bring that copy into this office, or can I do that in San Francisco de Macoris where I live?" I had hope in my voice.
"Well," he sucked air through his teeth, "do they have a main office there?"
"Yes."
"You can do it there then."

We shall see. It felt odd to walk out of the office without any paperwork. No confirmations other than the lack of phone service. I'm genuinely curious if a bill will show up next month.
So here I am, a Claro divorcee. Finally. I really thought the process would be significantly more painful than that, but upon further reflection it makes absolute sense that the part they are the best at is the break-up. Thanks for the good times, Claro. Peace.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Entrepreneur of the Year

This guy knows exactly what he is doing.
Forget about the novelty of fair food, every kid with coins in his pocket at noon is eating fresh-ish cotton candy. Every single day.
When I pick Max up from school, I have to weave through a line of vendors to get to the front door. They know where the money is--children with poor impulse control (a.k.a. every one of them).
Any student who didn't spend his "snack money" (there is no lunch since school gets out at noon) on soda and fried food at 10 am is headed straight for Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) when that last bell rings. They shove past the scruffy dude with a wooden box hung around his neck, filled with hard candies for 1 peso a piece. Eager kiddos squeeze between the guy with 5 peso popsicles and the skinny one squatting with his pot of semi-fresh quipes (deep-fried bulgar rolls). And they crowd around the rumbling, smoking and overworked generator, mouths agape and watering. 
EOY-Boy drives a moped, which hauls a cart, that holds a generator, which runs...
A COTTON CANDY MACHINE
Its amazing.
EOY rides his scooter up to the school doors, sparks that generator to life, sets the cotton candy machine on a big, pink bucket and gets to work. Making blue fluffy stuff on straws with a side of generator exhaust. 
EOY himself. He totally posed for the camera. Just before the crowds arrive.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesdays & Peas

Wednesdays here are for being out of the house. Every Wednesday you are guaranteed a few hours without power, so you might as well be chatting with neighbors and drinking coffee to get through the heat sans the fans.
Its a bit past four in the afternoon now, my fan magically sprang to life and an internet connection appeared. How wonderful electricity is!
Before I upload the assignments I've been grading on the remaining battery life of my trusty laptop, I wanted to share a few pictures with you, dear reader.
At the neighbor's house this afternoon, I encountered the following:

Two old friends shelling peas and gossiping (actually, talking about paint colors). Life is good.
"No, Rebecca! I haven't combed my hair."
He later asked for copies of the photo to send his kids in New York.
And his gossip buddy kept right on laughing.
Back to work I go.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pees and Thank You

"Just put it on the stack," commanding woman in a white uniform directed my eyes above her.
Ever-so-gently, I reached above her head to a shelf full of clear plastic containers stacked three high--each a smidge over half full of yellow liquid.
Yeah, it's what you think. Me & all my fellow-immigrants' pee, teetering above her head. I'm guessing there'd been 40 or 50 urinators before me that day.
"Sit," she demanded, pointing to a student desk behind her.
I sat.
As my blood filled her vials, I felt somewhat woozy. It was 3 pm and I hadn't eaten yet that day. I imagined falling off the chair, knocking the CommanderNurse back into her tiny desk and both of us being soaked in gallons of immigrant pee, thereby sealing the deal: No way, lady. You must leave the country immediately. Thankfully, I kept my cool and headed to the last task of a long, long day: the chest x-ray. 
X-Ray Tech was bordering x-rated as he told dirty jokes in the waiting room while we waited for ever-more paperwork. The mood was light though, and I was light-headed. At least he was jolly. 
Having read that we'd be peeing in a cup whilst someone watched (not true), I wore a dress and leggings thinking I'd be mostly covered during the process. CommanderNurse had no desire to watch me change the canary's water, so my attire was made moot. And then worked against me with XRated. 

"Take everything off above the waist, and put this on," XRated tossed me what I thought was a gown. Until I stripped down to my leggings. The "gown" was a square pillow case with holes for my arms & head. It was so short, in fact, you could almost see my belly-button. Pants would have been the better option as nothing was covering me below my waist except for some slightly-sheer leggings. You could see a bit through the pillow case too, I'm quite certain. I'd probably be a bit x-rated myself if that was my day to day. Or perhaps its all that radiation. So much for planned modesty.

After Caribe Tours brought us most of the way, we then took the subway.
It is awesome. 
We may love public transit a bit too much.
Erika, Zora, Max & me are super excited.
At each station they have a "Compumetro" which has computers and a mini-library.
How cool is that?! See those books on the shelf behind us?
Our day ended with a very late lunch and ice cream with someone Josh & I absolutely adore. He is a wonder, from his big heart to his ever-present giggle. Sorry singletons, he is spoken for by someone every bit as marvelous.

_______________________________________________________
For those of you who want the nitty-gritty details, since they aren't published anywhere that makes a great deal of sense at the moment, I offer the following:

After getting the provisional visa which expires two months after issuing from the Dominican consulate in your "country of origin", the Dominican government website says the next step is to go to the immigration office in Santo Domingo and ask what to do next. Love that. We just brought everything that was asked for by the Dominican Consulate in the US and anything else that looked official. We didn't have our dental records. Thank goodness they didn't ask for those.

This is what we did at the immigration office (mind you it wasn't this straight-forward, since we asked an average of 3 people each time we did anything):

1. Go to window #1. Note that only windows #5-11 are marked and there are more than four windows to the left of #5. Just go to the window that is all the way to the left. People will push past you, this is normal. Should you decide to use your elbows, that is between you and your own moral compass--though I doubt it will actually make the process go faster.

2. Once at the window, you will receive a small slip of paper:
Residency Request
2 Copies Face Passport
2 Copies Residency Visa
1 Copy of Apostilled Birth Certificate
(If you have not made enough copies of said documents, they kindly offer that service. We used it, happily.)

3. Once you have all your documents together, go back to window #1 (though if you're reading this, I sure hope you skipped step #2). There, the kind, soft-spoken woman behind the glass will shuffle your papers, circle different things, staple some things and put a big paper clip on them. Then she'll rubber-band it all together and hand it to another woman. This other woman is rarely at her post. She smiles often and walks back and forth between different offices. She is clearly very busy, but enjoying it. Then SoftSpeaker will tell you to go and wait for your name to be called. She'll repeat herself a couple times for you because the likelihood is (like me), you're an immigrant, Spanish is not your first language, she speaks softly and its near impossible to hear her behind the thick glass which doesn't have a handy hole for talking like others you've seen in similar situations.

4. You wait. And wait. And wait some more. Bring a book. I'm currently reading this and you can borrow it from our library if you like (we have a good number of options, actually).
Then you'll notice that no names are being called. There isn't actually a speaker of any kind. Hmmm.
I'll spare you the details, but there is a lot of back-n-forth, asking random people (who you've seen there for about the same amount of time) and discovering more information. Its like detective work. What fun! Most of the people there are lawyers who are there on their clients' behalf. I met five of them. If you have enough money and aren't one for adventure, definitely go for this option. We don't exactly fit into that category.

5. Eventually one of the times you show your face at the counter, just lounging about on another round of asking questions & schmoozing with lawyers in full polyester--SoftSpeaker catches your eye and waves your rubber-banded passport + documents at you. This means that your name is being called. Note: You will hear nothing.

6. Then you pay the equivalent of your month's rent. I forked over the cash (DR$4500 per adult-type-person) and got a stamped receipt in return. SoftSpeaker then gave me a lot of instructions, about 20% of which I heard and understood. What I did get was that we HAD to complete the medical stuff that same day and they were closing soon.

One page of very helpful information posted at the window (otherwise there is little to no text visible in the building):



7. Don't have to tell me twice, we hopped in a taxi and headed to the medical offices. We passed by the nicer looking ones and went straight to the government looking ones, if you know what I mean. There is some more waiting to do there, though not nearly as much likely thanks to CommanderNurse's efficiency, albeit it abrupt.

8. You then keep every slip of paper you've been given and guard it with your life. In about two weeks you return to the immigration office. I'll let you know what happens. We've been told we can call ahead of time to see if our results are in, but I'm a bit skeptical. 

9. Wrap-up: Plan for this to take a whole day. We left our village at 7:30 am and didn't get home until 9 pm. To be fair, we stopped for ice cream. 


Saturday, May 4, 2013

By the Time You Read This Note, I'll Be Gone. Love, Electricity

Out.
Again.

I work online, so I keep kicking myself every time I haven't prepared for the power to be out (downloading students' assignments ahead of time) or for outright squandering electricity-time doing other things (writing for you here). When we first moved to San Francisco de Macoris the end of July, the power was regularly out for about 5 hours on Wednesdays, then maybe one other day a week for about 2 hours. Well, times they are a changin'.
In the last week, we've had one day with power all day. One. Yesterday, I sat down with my cup of coffee at 8:30 am, ready to go and 17 minutes later, the power was cut. Until 4:20 in the afternoon. Today, its been teasing me off again, on again, like a high-school relationship. As any love-sick teenager would, I asked "why?" earnestly hoping for a legitimate answer to ease the pain. A friend in Santiago told me about some fierce storms that left many sectors without electricity. Oh. Except I looked it up and the company website says it was only in Santiago. My neighbor immediately started flailing his arms and spitting, talking about the government, naming names and cursing the pervasive nature of corruption. I didn't find any recent sources about it, though that does seem to frequently be part of conversation in the streets. Anyhow, I kept looking. Of course, I found this map, but it doesn't give a great visual since it doesn't simultaneously give an idea of population. Sure, they don't use much electricity, but who is there anyway?

"Electricity consumption per country, from CIA World Factbook" Source: Urchin Movement

This next map was an interesting take on the subject. It is beautifully explained here in this .pdf

"Territory size shows the proportion of all people with some electrical power in their homes living there." Source: Worldmapper
Ummm. Where'd Africa go? And the Dominican Republic is looking a bit chubby.
I guess I'll stop complaining now and start downloading assignments before Pretty Power breaks up with me again. Don't cry. She'll be back.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

You Look Like a Convict

"It's a passport picture. Why is he photoshopping it?" I asked Josh as we waited ever-longer for our instant 2X2 photos.
"Honey, you look like a convict. Believe me, let the man do his work."
"What?!" I walked over to the computer screen. Sure enough, the photo was terrifying. But who enlarges a passport photo 2000%, revealing every wrinkle, wild white hair and under-eye bags? Really.
"See? We don't need any reasons stacked against us for them not to issue these visas. We'll wait," Josh smiled. I stuck out my tongue at him.

My grandmother took passport pictures like they were glamour shots.

But I come from my father. Admittedly, his hair and skin look great.
But in my defense, he's 10 in this photo.
A few weeks ago we received our passports in the mail stateside from the Dominican Consulate in New York. I jumped up and down as I tore open the envelope. Did they issue our residency visas?! The very reason we had left our home on the island was to come back with these visas--to stay legally for longer than 30 days.
Sure enough. That beautiful stamp was in there. My name was spelled wrong, but I wasn't about to complain. These were our tickets back home (figuratively, of course--we still had to shell out more buckeroos to the airlines). I handed them to Josh.
"Look!" my face was beaming.
His brow furled.
"Ummm... why do these expire in two months?"
"What?!" I grabbed one. There it was. Expiration: June 2013

It seems that this process, which has cost thousands of dollars and started sometime in November 2012 is still not finished. People keep checking our sanity asking, "It's for citizenship, right?" Nope. "Well, for 5 or 10 years residency then, yes?" Nope.
This whole long, crazy process is for a one year residency visa. One. Single. Year. Its the first step, if you will, in an even longer process towards a more permanent status. We will, however, likely never be citizens--even if we end up dying here. C'est la vie. Or la death, if you will.

Now we have to go to the capital--a two-hour bus ride--give them our blood, 2x2 convict photos and pee in a cup while someone watches. I've never thought about what underwear I should wear to a government building.
These might do the trick:
I kid, I kid.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

12th Day of Ridvan

Today marks the end of the 150th anniversary of the best going away party I know of. I can't imagine having to say goodbye to someone I love more than my own mother, but renting a garden dubbed "paradise" for 12 days sounds like an excellent start.
A beautiful map found on David Merrick's site. The green is the location of said garden. 
When Baha'u'llah was exiled from Baghdad to what is now Istanbul, a garden just outside the city was rented for the heart-wrenching farewell.

A new spin on Effie Baker's photograph looking across the river Tigris to the city of Baghdad around 1930.
Original photo found here.
Sadness gave way to absolute bliss when He proclaimed His Purpose, the whole of humanity refreshed and renewed. No words I could ever conjure would do this day justice, but I am ever grateful to be living on this side of it with all the advances and comforts of today that a new humanity has brought about. The closest I've come to being transported to that time and place was reading Adib Taherzedeh's account, an excerpt of which can be found here.

Photo Credit: Secret Sounds Second Sun

Draw near, and tarry not, though it be for one short moment…

Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha, as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken...
Baha'u'llah
Here we go rejoicing. I just made chocolate filled crescent rolls for breakfast. They happen to be our neighbor's favorite, so we can chat about the day of supreme felicity with her and her full belly. The kiddos are old enough now that they're the ones planning things. Max is creating a coloring book for kids as a service. Zora plans to make popcorn balls and dress up real fancy for children's class. 
And the educator in me won't be able to resist the geography & history lessons therein.
On the last day, today--150 years ago--Baha'u'llah left the garden, mounted on a roan stallion, beginning a three month journey to Constantinople as He passed by hundreds of friends, officials, notables and religious leaders gathered for a last glimpse. 
Shoghi Effendi writesA caravan, consisting of fifty mules, a mounted guard of ten soldiers with their officer, and seven pairs of howdahs, each pair surmounted by four parasols, was formed, and wended its way, by easy stages, and in the space of no less than a hundred and ten days, across the uplands, and through the defiles, the woods, valleys and pastures, comprising the picturesque scenery of eastern Anatolia, to the port of Samsun, on the Black Sea.
If you wander over to Google maps, you can chart a path from Baghdad, Iraq, to Istanbul, Turkey, and get directions for a journey on foot. Google seems to believe that it will take you 395 hours (taking the shortest route), but warns: "Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths." Duly noted. 
A fellow pioneer and blogger, James Howden, ends his Ridvan post:
“In the rose garden of changeless splendour” – and in my home and adopted towns, and yours, too – “a flower hath begun to bloom, compared to which every other flower is but a thorn, and before the brightness of whose glory the very essence of beauty must pale and wither…” -Baha’u'llah
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This post is part of a series shared with bloggers who far out-rank me in talent and loveliness (they probably even smell better, so thank goodness for cyber relationships), hosted by All Done Monkey. Check out the complete list of awesomeness here.

Tooth-fairy on Strike

This girl
That tooth
Parted ways
Last Saturday
One night passed
Mama home, at last

I arrived home Sunday afternoon to this:
"Zora! Close that window, its getting breezy!"
"I can't, Mama." She grinned her gummy grin.
"Did the tooth-fairy visit you?" I asked.
"No, she was in Santo Domingo," the Z hugged my leg tightly.
"Really? Huh. I wonder if she'll visit tonight."
"Maybe!" The child is ever-hopeful.

She whistles while she gabs (which she does a lot).
The next morning her tooth was still under her pillow.
Maybe good 'ol TF didn't come because it was a holiday.
And the next morning?
Tooth remained.
And the next?
Still there.

"The tooth-fairy wants better hours, Zora."
She shook her head no.
"But she falls asleep or forgets or is just plain too lazy after 9 pm."
"I'll remind you tonight, Mama."
"Thanks, Bean."

Side note: Yes, our kids are fully aware of these truths of the world. No, they never thought otherwise because we've always just told them what's what. No, it doesn't seem to take the excitement out of it. The last tooth that Max lost he just immediately traded in for some pesos--and was happy about it. Then he changed his mind and wanted to keep the tooth.
Why keep up the tooth-fairy gig? Well, I obviously am crap at my job, but the offspring love to make believe. What kid doesn't?
I'm still fighting for better hours.