Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Fred Arnason 10-24-27 to 8-15-12

My dad was born in a farmhouse in Hensel , North Dakota, the 3rd son of Richard and Sigrid Arnason. The farm had been homesteaded by Sigrid's parents in the mid 1800's, proud Icelanders and proud Americans. Dad (Fred) went to school in the nearby city of Cavalier and worked summers on his Aunt and Uncle's farm, Harry and Margaret Johnson.  More children came in quick succession, another son, triplet girls, another daughter, and much later one more little boy. As a child, I visited that farm and farmhouse, and he showed me a creek where Peter Valtysson had taught him to swim.

During Fred's high school years, the family moved to California. He worked in the shipyards during the early years of WWII, probably the setting of asbestos exposure that caused severe breathing difficulty in the later years of his life. On return to North Dakota, he graduated from Central High School in Grand Forks, and joined the US Army. Since his brother Ray was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Fred was able to remain stateside. His station was Arlington, Virginia doing cryptography and coding. When I was 9 or 10, he showed me how to write and use a simple code. I think I still remember most of it.

Fred returned to Grand Forks after his discharge from the army and went to the University of North Dakota on the GI bill. He was a proud member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He met my mother, Helene and married her just after his law school graduation. It was a love affair that was to last almost 52 years. I was the first of 7 children who were born over 11 years time.

In March of 1956, tragedy visited the Arnason family. Fred's dad and youngest brother (age 16) were killed in a plane crash on their way back from Fargo, North Dakota. Dad was 28 years old. This established his role as the family "helper" in times of trouble. He became the "go to" guy for his mom and sisters, and ultimately his children and friends as well.

With a budding law practice and a growing family, we moved in October 1958 to a house on Chestnut Street. In conversation we called it simply "2304." It was to be home for 50 years. We grew up through the lean years and into more prosperous times. Though we originally went to St Mary's Church; Holy Family Church was founded in 1960. At that time Mom and Dad promised our new pastor, Father John Axtman that they would send their children to Holy Family School, and all seven of us attended.

Dad took good care of his mother, Sigrid, over the remaining years of her life. She had dinner with us nearly every Sunday for about 40 years.  She was often joined by my widowed Auntie Anna Dippee, or Auntie Maude. Father Axtman, Father Potter and a few others were also frequent guests. The Sunday meals I remember best were fried chicken or swiss steak.

Dad and Mom were able to travel in his retirement years, going to France, Iceland, Italy, the Dominican Republic and some places I've forgotten. Dad had several bouts of pneumonia in his later years and his lungs never fully recovered.

Mom died in 2004 after cardiac surgery, and in Dad's own words, his heart was broken. Shortly thereafter, he became dependent on supplemental oxygen as his breathing deteriorated. He continued to drive to daily mass at Holy Family Church, usually followed by breakfast at Perkins. Through most of his final years, he continued to attend  UND Sioux sporting events, and milestone events for his children and grandchildren.

In 2010, he moved to a townhouse on Lark Circle. It was all on one level, and easier to get around. He continued to be fiercely independent, driving, writing out his grocery lists and even using the computer until his very last day. He went to join mom, his parents, and some of his siblings on August 15th , 2012. There was a fire of unknown origin, and with his poor lungs, the smoke took his life.

A light went out in the lives of his children, grandchildren and many, many friends on that day. He had huge presence and gave huge amounts of love. I know God welcomed him with open arms.

Daddy, I miss you. The pain is greater than I dreamed possible, but you taught me to live, love, and endure. Thank you. I love you,

Monday, August 6, 2012

Antigua-Sunday Night

Perhaps the most difficult part of staying in Antigua for a year has been seeing the other volunteers come and go. These are truly my kindred souls; the helpers, the softies, the world's bleeding hearts. Most of them arrive and stay for 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 2 months; sometimes more, sometimes less.

Yesterday, August 5, 2012 was a remarkable day. Deb's mom went to heaven, it was Katie's 15th birthday, and NASA landed the rover "Curiosity" on Mars. For me it was a little lonely. No one I knew to have dinner with.Time to scout for some new friends.

In the evening I walked to Dona Luisa's for a bowl of great chili and a huge piece of carrot cake. Afterwards (6:30 PM ish) I disobeyed the first and foremost rule of being a foreigner in Guatemala. NEVER walk ALONE after dark. I stayed in well lit areas, near restaurants and groups of tourists. The air was a cool and calm 74 degrees. Marimbas could be heard from most hotels and restaurants. With sunset, the vendors quit trying to get you to buy textiles and toys.

Out comes the food! The sub sandwiches abound. Beans, cabbage, veggies, enchiladas, sweets of every kind. There are huge vats of hot oil, electric cords, kids and bright lights. The rythmn and smells are enticing and unique.
I slipped into La Merced for 7 PM Mass and lost myself in an ocean of ebony haired gente. I listened to the story of the Transfiguration in Spanish and watched some obviously homeless folk reverently go to communion.

I scooted home quickly at the end, avoiding San Sebastian Park and opting to hurry down Calle Anche. I don't recommend this excursion unless you are "in group" and saavy in the ways of Central American cities. Until then, enjoy my pictures from the safety of home.

P.S. This morning I have a new friend! Welcome to my life E.S. from Missouri/Guatemala/Colombia/ and Uganda

Love to all of you in Blogland, Noanie/Joanne

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Antigua in Five Days


She really came! Joanne (Ryan) Boyle and I have been friends for 50+ years, so it was a special 5 day visit during my year away from home. The challenge was to show her Antigua, San Felipe, and this beautiful country in FIVE days. We gave it a really good attempt. Here we are with our host family Jose and Esperanza Abril in their home.


Here  we are on the roof with Volcano Agua behind us. We had some rain, some cloudy days, but sunshine as well.

On Day ONE we headed for The Dreamer Center, (Nuestros Ahijados) where I teach English in the 2nd grade. We reviewed countries and flags, then started learning "opposites."

Here we are with some of the kids. In the second picture, my arm is around my new Goddaughter, Julissa. On Monday, day four, we visited her home.

Friday afternoon, we visited a Jade store, a chocolate factory (Guatemala is known for its lovely jade, and great cocoa beans.) We ended the afternoon at Dona Luisa's Restaurant,  just in time for hot banana bread out of the oven.

Day TWO- Guatemala City

This day was filled with new experiences for both of us. I had been to visit a few places in Guatemala City; Luis Bedoya's home, a huge mall, and some poor, very dirty streets. Saturday we went with my friend and driver, Josue Castellanos, and my Godson Luis, to see the National Palace,  the National Cathedral, and the market.

 Here is a view of the Palace flying the Guatemalan flag. We had a tour with a very nice guide. The Palace is the site where visiting dignitaries are received and fed. It was also the place where the peace accord ending the civil war was signed.

 In the courtyard is a commemorative statue. Two left hands, coming from the heart join in a commitment to peace.

 This is the reception hall.

This is the National Cathedral of the Annunciation. We were not allowed pictures inside, but we attended the last half of a quincinera, a ceremony marking a girl's reaching womanhood.
 This guy is a mime on the street outside the mercado. We had lunch at a little bar frequented in the past by Che Guavera called El Portal and had supper at  Saul's. Picture below with our friend the zebra and a young Grace Kelly. We had squash (pumpkin?) soup, and some crepes to die for.
Joanne, Josue, and Joanne at Saul's Restaurant

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Saturday Adventure

Saturdays are becoming my tourist days, when I go to visit some place in the area that is frequented by touistas. Yesterday, Kayla, Roberto, and I headed out for a large coffee finca (farm) in SanFelipe named "Filadelphia." This is a huge family operation, and it is possible to see every aspect of the farming, processing, and selling of coffee. Wow, did I have a lot to learn! I think I will become a much better label reader since I now realize the many possible differences.. and I might even quit complaining so much about the price of a pound of really GOOD coffee.
Living in Guatemala may  spoil me since I have now been able to drink many a very GOOD cup of coffee, free of acidity, bitterness, and oxidation. No more instant, no more decaf, probably no more Folgers either. Above is a photo of Alex, our VERY informative English speaking guide. To the left he is showing us the grafting process for the plants. Since great coffee only lives for a few years, it is grafted to the stem of a "robust" plant. The first few years it produces purely the
great coffee, then in successive years, a hybid. At the right is a red coffee berry squeezed to produce the inner kernel. The very sweet berry (Yes, I ate some) is used to make jams and jellies (and sometimes fertilizer.) The gooey outside of the kernal is used to make Kalua. (Yes, I tasted that too.) The the kernal goes on through a process of a dozen steps to produce a very fine coffee, and separate the kernals which will become good, but not the BEST coffee instead.
After several separations, washings, and roasting, this is the bean, now separated from the chaff. On the right is a pretty  little dude involved in pollination. Below is a worker who hand picks in season, and cuts the lumber from the shade trees when the coffee is not producing.

Below Kayla, Roberto, and I stop of an "after" cup of smooth coffee, and enjoy the view of San Felipe in front of Volcano Aqua. Kayla wanted to go zip lining but the rainy season weather got in the way. (Maybe on Monday Kayla)

It rained so hard most of the afternoon that the water bounced off the livingroom roof right into the house. It was dark and a bit chilly then.. a good time for siestas or reading.... or in my case, lesson planning.

That is what it is doing again today. I had a great morning and early afternoon shopping in Central Park and running errands. Now it is dark and pouring rain. I guess it makes me appreciate the sunlight when it is here.

Have a great week in Blogland. Love and hugs, Noanie-Mom

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chichicastenango, Panajachel, Lake Atitlan

 Last weekend we took a trip to Lake Atitlan and several of the surrounding cities. This volcanic lake was formed centuries ago when an eruption blocked the flow of water from a mountain river, creating a beautiful lake, one of the world's coldest and deepest. The day we visited was misty and the water was choppy, but it had a majesty of it's own. The inlet above was still, while the fisherman in his handmade boat,
had to manage the rough water.
Some of the boats lined up on the shore had straw to sit on and other personal add-ons.

This is the church at Panajachel. It was built in the 1500s, repaired after a huge earthquake in 1773, and still in use today. Below is an inside view of hand made pews, and icons dressed in fabric clothing.

 Below is Teri, having a look at native crafts for sale in the streets. Though they have changed a little to appeal to the tourists; the traditional woven patterns, paintings, ironwork and woodwork are nearly identical to those crafted several hundred years ago.


To the left is some hand painted leather using traditional Mayan symbols. Many depict the 19 months of the Mayan calendar, or the various gods that "controlled" life, death, crops, pregnancies, and nearly every other aspect of life.


This is a picture of a stall where the vendor has combined native weaving and a large selection of t-shirts. The weaving includes, purses, toys,table linens and clothing. The tees bear trendy slogans like "Guat-ever."

We enjoyed the accommodations, the good food,history and beautiful scenery. The skilled artisans know their crafts, their businesses and the skillful art of striking a bargain. 

Have a great week in Blogland. Stay well. Love, Noanie-Mom

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Macadamias and Black Sand

Hi Everyone. Hope you had a happy May Day.. It is unbelievable that my time in Guatemala is passing so quickly. The small plant above is a baby macadamia tree. Teri and I ventured to an organic macadamia nut farm last week, and I was amazed at the work that went into growing and processing these tasty nuggets of nature.

The furry catepiller is the flower, and the resulting cluster of fruit is next. It takes a baby tree 5 or 6 years to start producing fruit, but then look out! When the fruit is ready, it simply drops from the tree. No picking, just picking up or raking. The fruits are opened (like the one in my hand), then dried. (see the table) When the nut rattles inside the fruit, the brown shell is removed and you have the precious nut. The shells are used in manufacturing everything from scrubbing materials to makeup. The nuts themselves are perfect with a bit of salt, or as a nutty spread with toast.  This is an industry that could certainly grow a lot bigger in Guatemala's hot and humid climate. It doesn't require much equipment or a lot of training.. I see HOPE.

Our second big adventure of the week was to go to Montericco. We visited the Pacific coast with Teri's Godchild, her family, and Lindsey (my friend from Missouri.) I have a new respect for everyone who works on or with the ocean.
Teri and I sat on the (hot) black sand near the water. We were posing our sandy toes for a sexy picture. Along comes a wave, picks us both up, rolls us over and SLAMS us into the beach. That was a lot of woman to be tossing around! The sand was in every crevase of my body. My suit weighed a ton, and I shed sand everywhere until 2 days and 3 showers later. I had no idea those waves had so much power.  My son,WJ has had a few wave encounters and I probably should have known better, but some lessons we need to learn for ourselves. I was content to sit under the umbrella with my iced tea and nachos thereafter. It was a tremendous experience and totally memorable for all those kids.

And leaving the best for last, this is our little Javier. He weighs double what he did when he arrived at Casa Jackson, but his eyes still look too big for his face. His muscle tone and overall development are progressing by leaps and bounds, and he should go home soon as a healthy baby.

Personally, I have yet to go over to help the babies with supper this week, because I have had a miserable cold and cough. It is kind of lonely.... but there have been lots of other voluntarios this week.. and I am coming !! Have a great week in blogland. Love to all. Noanie

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Not All the Same

Today, I am going to use the Blog to advance my readers education. I recently found out that there are different kinds of starvation and malnutrition. I don't think this is even covered in pharmacy school in developed nations, so I've had to plead ignorance until recently.

Cristina, like a good number of our babies at Casa Jackson, came to us very underweight for her age. She had "pocket gopher cheeks," a very swollen tummy and feet, and matchstick legs. This is a condition known as Kwashiorkor. The funny name means "the disease an older baby gets when the new baby comes."

Typically, this is when kids in poor countries are weaned from the breast and put on a diet of mostly carbohydrates. The symptoms are caused by an almost total lack of proteins and trace elements, often coupled with exposure to some type of grain fungus. It causes irritability, anorexia, liver failure and death. Doh, enter Casa Jackson.

At CJ, the nutritionist prescribes a reintroduction of protein, along with supplemental trace elements. I have sometimes heard volunteers at CJ complain that some babes are "still hungry" after finishing their meals. This is because of the SLOW reintroduction of proteins, along with moderate carbohydrates necessary to achieve a healthy liver. Taxing the liver too much in the early days of recovery will put the child in liver failure.

Here is an early picture of Alberto. He was starving from a total lack of nutrients. He was

very thin and frail, unable to sit or even lift his head when he arrived. Babies like this often have trouble keeping ANY food down. Beto made several trips to the hospital for diarrhea, vomiting etc, before we got him on the road to recovery.

Other babies we care for are twins and premies. Some lack the ability to suck because they were born too soon. These babies have to be coaxed with a dropper, then gradually fed tiny amounts with a bottle several times a day.

Lastly, there are babies with physical disabilities. I am sure you have noticed little Enmanuel who has Down's Syndrome. We've also taken care of Sylvan who had a collapsed breastbone, and lots of babies with asthma like problems that made eating difficult.

It doesn't take long for the appetite and the diet to balance out, and that's when we seen the irritability subside and little personalities emerge. As the swollen tummies and feet resolve, LOTS of CJ kids learn to walk while recovering. That is a great perk for us. I hope the parents don't mild too much.
 Have a great week in Blogland. I am thinking of you.
Love, Noanie/Joanne