Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's Almost That Spooky Time Again

I love music. I love using music to celebrate life as we go through it. I love most holiday music or television specials. Combine that with the fact that I liked to get spooked. I know, I know, there aren't such thing as ghosts, but tell that to my goose pimples and standing hair. I like movies that get me a little scared and stories that make me second guess if someone is staring at me in the dark. So, when October hits, I like listening to halloween music and spooky stories. Alas, I broke early this year and listened to some already. One annual favorite is an old armed forces radio show where a journalist is sent to describe the old frankenstein castle in Darnstadt, Germany. Each year, it was replayed each year on the Tulsa news/talk radio station KRMG. By following that link you can find the six minute radio clip online. It was also featured on Boing Boing. It is definitely one of my favorite old radio stories. Make sure you dim the lights before you listen.

In January 2005, Angie and I were driving back from the Mid-Witner Rally in Germany and we stopped in at the old Frankenstein Castle. I first reported back in January 2005, but I am finally getting around to posting some pictures from there.

Also, one of my favorite spooky songs is "Hey There Little Red Riding Hood" by Sam Sham and the Pharaohs. It isn't the lyrics particularly, although they sing them a little scary, but rather because when I was little my brothers (who were ten and twelve years older than I) would play it at night, while telling me there was someone skulking around in the backyard. There wasn't.

Kebabs, Not Shish-Kebabs

So for years, our team in Ancona has enjoyed a delicacy which does not hail from here. It is....(hold for it)....the Kebab. Not to be confused with the shishkebab, which is the small cubes of meat and vegetables skewered for grilling. But this comes from the Döner kebab variant, which in Turkish literally means "rotating meat". It's called this because the meat is on a vertical rotating spit that turns so that it is slowly roasted in front of a vertical glowing orange oven. As it turns the outer edges cook and the slice it off. They put this in a pita bread with various vegetables, including french fries, and mayonnaise and yogurt sauces. If you like it hot, they will also put some hot red pepper sauce. Wikipedia refers to the popularity of the take out kebab throughout europe..."Döner kebab is said to be the best-selling fast food in Germany, Poland and Romania as well as being popular in the UK, France, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Canada, and Australia." The meat used is usually beef, chicken or lamb. Our favorite place in Ancona has beef and chicken. Here are some pictures of our last outing at Tunital.

Homemade Stuffed Ravioli

So, one of the great things about living in Italy is experiencing the food. Another great thing is learning new recipes. Contrary to popular belief not everyone in Italy can cook, no more than everyone in America can barbecue. However, great recipes can be found. We try to share some of these in our newsletters as a way of involving you in our cultural experience. If you aren't receiving our paper newsletter and would like to receive it, email us.

Angie decided she was going to take some of what she had learned so far and create something of her own creation. She made homemade stuffed ravioli! It was good, as you can imagine. Here are some pics from cooking to plate.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Elvis in Ancona?

So, we were leaving our facility awhile back after easter and on the wall of a communist social club was this poster....

That's right. It's a resurrection party with the other king. However, as much as I like listening to Elvis, I don't plan on putting my afterlife in his hands.

Prayer of Thankfulness

This morning I decided to tackle packing the books in the living room. I turned on my favorite DVD of the Gilmore Girls and happily set to work. I hadn’t been working long when I noticed that I could hear a group of kids outside. I went to the window to see and there below in our piazza were kids on a field trip. One of the schools near our house has a teacher who on occasion brings his students to our piazza for class. It is a nice piazza with lots of trees and a small area with stadium like seating where the kids can sit and the teacher stands below so all the kids can see him. I have seen him down there many times and he seems like a fun teacher making the kids laugh and often including songs in his teaching.
I stood outside and watched them for awhile. I noticed two other people in our piazza a elderly man named Gino who is an older man who has lived in this piazza since he was a child. He has some form of dementia. Every day he walks around meeting new friends, of course these are the same people he meets everyday, and he is always willing give you a warm smile and to tell you a war story or two. Then there was Stefania who is a woman who wanders around the downtown area of Ancona. Some days she is as lucid as you and I and you can actually have a real conversation with her. Other days she walks the streets singing at the top of her lungs or on the really bad days screaming as if she is reliving a haunting memory over and over again. Every morning she walks from somewhere up back behind our building around and across the piazza off to wherever she is going that day. Then again in the evening she takes the same path but in reverse back to wherever it is that she calls home.
I know that in a few hours when school is out for the day our piazza will once again be filled with the voices of children playing. Every afternoon from about 5 until the sun goes down our piazza is filled with life. Children playing on the swings, sliding down the slide, playing hide and go seek, boys playing soccer and girls making up dances. The parents and grandparents sit around and talk about their children.
These are the people that we hear, see and talk to each day. They describe the daily life in our piazza and as I stood this morning and watched I felt comforted. All was right and normal today but then I remembered…not all is normal because I am packing my house into cardboard boxes. These people and sounds that have over the years become home to me are soon to be a memory. This will only be my home for a few more weeks. I don’t know what I will see when I look out my window in Verona but I pray that the people and sounds will again become comfortable to us. I will miss our piazza and I am so thankful that God has given us the years we have had here. So with a prayer of thankfulness in my heart I return to my boxes wondering what sounds I will hear coming in my windows when it is time to unpack these boxes.

Sick and Tired

I've been sick.

I don't like to be sick.

I think I have been going, going and going, as well as experiencing high levels of stress from moving, changing jobs, changing churches, leaving friends behind, etc.... When I finally slowed down for some time off, my body said, great now we can shut down. I have been going through a cycle of having cold like symptoms for a couple of days, then being congested and just feeling less than 100%. Oh well, I'll take some extra time to relax and feel better, so I can get back to being 100%.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Newsletter - September 2007

Here's our latest newsletter, enjoy. Click the thumbnail above to view it or right click and choose "save target as" to download it to your computer.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Some Things Never Change....

We have mentioned in the past how much Angie and I love the Fall season. It is our favorite time of year. One of the many reasons why is that we LOVE football, expecially OU football. Each Saturday, getting ready for the game, grilling or making chili, it all has comfort written all over it. So, it has been a great joy to still be able to watch our team live via the internet while living so far away from home. Normally, we use our slingbox (follow this link to see what it is), which is connected at my brother's house. The slingbox lets us watch normal cable channels via the internet. Well, this week the game was on pay-per-view, which meant that my brother had to move around the slingbox to a different spot in order for us to see the game. Thanks Greg. It makes living so far away a little less difficult.

Monday, September 10, 2007

And the Packing Begins

Fortunately for us, there is a Mailbox etc, right around the corner from our house. Angie and I went and picked up some boxes and bubblewrap so that the packing could commence. Rather than doing it all in one week, we are focusing on one room at a time and getting small sections packed away. The boxes in the dining room bring sadness due to the reality of leaving, and excitement in anticipation of a new adventure.

Dueling Rainbows After a Rainy Ancona Day

Have you ever seen two rainbows in the sky at the same time? Angie and I couldn't believe it. We just stared at it for awhile.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Stuck in Time

One of my favorite TV shows is The Andy Griffith show. We have been watching it every day at lunch time, while we eat. Life back then, was different, more simple, in small towns for sure people were more trustworthy. The other day, here in Ancona, I was meeting Brian Rotert for coffee and I got to the Cafe a little early. I was the only customer, so I ordered a cafe latte (in Italian it is a Latte Macchiato) and sat down, waiting. I go there often for meetings of accountability and such so the worker knows who I am, but not much mind you. She called over and said that she would be right back, she needed to run down the street and do an errand. So, she left and there I was for several minutes completely alone in a small cafe in Italy. This would happen in America, normally only if you really knew the person, but most of the time, it just wouldn't happen. That is one of the things I like about Italy, the trusting nature of life here. Like when I left a ring to be fixed at a shop and didn't get a receipt or when my watch battery needed to be fixed and the guy told me when to come back and pick it up, yet didn't give me any evidence that I owned that watch for my return.

It's not all roses when it comes to trust though. Most often foreigners are not trusted, usually those from countries other than the US or Britain or somewhere equivalent. And when it comes to religion, politics or people in charge there is quite a wall to be broached. I believe in time this wall can be broached and I pray for it to happen.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I love the fall! There is something about that cooler weather rolling in that I find energizing. I love to burn some candles and set to work in the kitchen on a hearty fall soup. Usually fall is filled with excitement and energy at our house with the anticipation that the holiday season is just around the corner. This year our house is also filled with excitement and energy but instead of our focus being on on the upcoming holidays we are preparing for a new city, to return to the states for a home service visit and moving our home into storage. A year ago we certainly didn't anticipate this! God has moved in some amazing ways over the past year. His hand has guided us to a new place, new roles, new team and new home. It is a lot of change but He is with us. In the midst of so much change He is constant, a pillar of strength, presence and comfort. I am so thankful!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Our Last Day at the Beach

So, the we spent our last day at the beach. Amazingly, almost every year, September brings in very cool temperatures and it has done so once again. The beach officially closes this coming Sunday, however, yesterday brought temperatures once more in the 80's and gave Angie and I one more day at the beach. It is more than just the last day at the beach for the summer, but our last day at our beach in Ancona. We are moving and leaving it and a million other little things behind. Often, in Italy, you go to the same beach all summer and Angie and I have been going to this same beach since 2002. That's six summers! That is many memories, many sack lunches and icees under an umbrella. God provided us with a wondefully relaxing "last" day, we needed it and we are so thankful to Him for it. Here are some pictures from this refreshing day.

Here's "our" beach, we spent many days off over the past six summers.
Here I am, with the Adriatic Sea behind me.

This is a restaurant on the beach that we like, so we ate there once more for lunch.

We had sauteed clams as an appetizer.

I had the homemade tagliatelle noodles with red sauce, clams, and scampi.
Angie had the homemade ravioli, with a butter sauce, shrimp and cherry tomatoes.

Here's Angie reclining after dinner, with the Ikea signs posted on the wall behind her.

They have great homemade french fries.

The last view of Ancona from our summer beach.