Sunday, November 16, 2014

Local Happenings

Not much to report here these days. Of course, we are as busy as ever, but most of what we do is not really blog worthy. I wouldn't want to bore you.

There have been a couple things worth posting about, however.

This past week I spent a couple days and a night in Columbus, Ohio. The purpose of the trip was the Ohio TESOL Conference (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), but the real highlight of the trip was catching up with a very old friend - my best friend from elementary school.

Somehow we did not get a photo together while I was there (darn!), but I guess we were just kickin' it old school style since we didn't document every moment of our time together for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. :)

I did, of course, get a photo of her cat, Rico (notice we're wearing matching socks):

While in Columbus, I visited The Ohio State University to tour their Intensive English Program (IEP). The campus is AMAZING, and they sure know how to brand themselves. By the time I left, I wanted to go to OSU.

Some shots of their brand new, 11-story library:

The "Classic" Study Room

A more modern study room, with embossed floor and wall of windows

The lobby of the library, with views of the stacks on each floor

Tiered balconies, each with study tables and arm chairs
(with the warm scent of roasting coffee wafting up from the 1st floor cafe)

View from the top floor study area

The campus "Oval" (OSU's version of the "Quad")

We were just catching the tail end of fall, with temps around 30 degrees and tiny snowflakes wafting down as we walked around campus. 

It was a great trip, and I really look forward to going back to Columbus. Maybe I can get a job in  OSU's English program...?

Anyway, the only other thing of note this past week was the concert that Ted and I went to in Hamilton, Ohio last night. We saw the musical group Huun Huur Tu from Tuva, a Russian federation republic on the border of Mongolia. Ted saw them in Tuva years ago while he was doing research for his dissertation. They are Tuvan throat singers, which means they use a special technique to sing multiple notes at one time. They play traditional instruments handmade from wood and animal skins, and some of the songs they sing date back to the 12th century. It was difficult to take photos in the dark auditorium, but this gives you an idea:

Here is a little sampling of their music...

...and a demonstration of what Tuvan throat singers can do with their voices:

We actually own both of their CDs and sometimes listen to them on long road trips. I hope you enjoyed this small sampling of their music! I leave you now with a recording of one of the songs they performed last night, about the revered golden horse:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2nd Annual Dia de los Muertos Fiesta

(cats are optional on your Day of the Dead ofrenda)

Get out your candles and your papel picado, it's that time of year again:  Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead! We had a little gathering last year, and it was so nice that I decided to make it an annual tradition.

This year our party doubled - or maybe tripled - in size, with quite an international mix of guests. We had Russians, Americans, and one Iraqi all under one roof to celebrate this Mexican tradition.

Instead of cooking a main course from scratch this year, I picked up an assortment of frozen Mexican foods to throw in the oven or steamer - tamales, toquitos, and crispy tostadas for taco salads. With the time this saved me, I was able to make two pumpkin pies and four loaves of pan de muertos. Mm-mm-mm!

There was plenty of food and drink at the party, and things got muy caliente inside, despite the freezing temperatures without.

We had our first snowfall of the year on Saturday morning.

Thankfully, the hearty mums (and the cats) survived.

When it's cold outside, it sure is nice to do some baking! I was definitely channeling happy homemaker as I made the bread and pies.

The humble beginnings of pan de muertos...

finished loaves of pan

And just to prove that the pumpkin pies were made from scratch:

Jarrahdales (blue pumpkins) make the best pumpkin pie

This was the ofrenda at the end of the night. You can see some decorated sugar skulls in the lower right corner (gotta have activities to keep the kids busy!). It was nice to have several people participate this year in adding photos of their departed loved ones. I decided to set up the altar in front of our window so the candlelight could be seen from the street. 

There was light on the front stoop as well, in the form of our hybrid Halloween/Day of the Dead jack-o-lantern:

(daytime view)

And now that the festivities are over, Ted and I are left with plenty of sugary churros and beer to keep us sated for the month of November! Won't you come join us? :)