Monday, July 20, 2009

The Day My Life Changed...

This is a little clip that I put together with some of the photos I took at Casa Harului the day before I left Romania. I can't do justice to what I actually experienced that day, but I can allow God to keep moving me forward...

A Prescription For Melancholy

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pics of How Conservationists Have Fun in Canada!

How Conservationists Have Fun in Canada, eh?

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about being the driver for a bunch of conservationist/scientists over the Canadian border for the day...I wasn't nervous about the people, it's those guards at the border crossing that creep me out! The last time I went, I thought I'd never see my native land again. In fact, Mike offered to pull over so I could kiss the sweet American soil when we finally crossed back over! But that's another story...(scary, I'm starting to sound like my husband - "just another Harper story!")

Anyway, Wednesday ended up being one of the finest days since being home from Romania! I got paid to visit beaches, Point Pelee, toured nature areas and marshes, learned about some fascinating new ideas using native plants, wildflowers and pits and mounds, and some sustainable farming techniques. I saw lots of wildlife, got to shoot Shelby's camera (mine's at Nikon's repair facilities...sniff), and overall had a jolly good time!

I especially liked the power of being the designated driver! I never worried about getting left behind, I always sat in front, and I got to drive a Tahoe! Oh, and the best part, I got paid to do all this!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Falling Off Trains and Other Stories My Friends Find Amusing!

Note: Actually these trains are at the station in Samaria, not Deva. These are shots I took when Carolyn and I went to the Botanical Gardens and rode the train back to Hunedoara. My train in Deva was a bit more modern...

Oh, and here is one of the eerie reflection self portraits. I enjoyed myself so much that I shot more in Helsinki!

Not many people back in Hunedoara know much about what happened after I left the Center on Thursday morning, June 18, 2009 at 5:30 in the morning. In fact, no one, save Liviu even saw me after Wednesday. I do need to give Liviu his due credit for really taking care of me that last morning, but that is another story for another time; perhaps when I write about the people I grew to love in such a short time in Romania...

This is the rest of the story... the amusing-if-you-can-laugh-at-yourself part of the story! Now on the train, not at first realizing that Liviu wasn't behind me with my larger bag; instead a stranger is following me with it, I find my seat and he helps me hoist my bags onto the racks above the spacious compartment. As I looked out the huge window, I see Liviu waving goodbye. I waved back as the train pulled away mouthing the words, "Thank you", hoping he could read lips!

As I settled myself, preparing to make the most of the 6 hour train ride, I realized that I had tears silently streaming down my face (ok, this isn't the funny part, yet!). I didn't want to leave, I wasn't ready. There was so much more for me to see, to do, to learn, to help with...

What is funny is how after the second hour, I was wishing that I had let Pastor Corneliu book me in a sleeping compartment, as I could barely keep my eyes open. Soon however, the fatigue passed and I started noticing the people around me. I had a man across the table from me and no one next to either of us...yet.

The only odd thing about the man was that he began pulling beers out of his satchel at about 9:30 in the morning and put away 3 in no time. I'm not certain if this is a cultural difference or if the man had a drinking problem. I have to admit, it was so hard not to stare at him at lunch time as he sliced slabs of sausage and cheeses to lay on thick wedges of home baked bread. It was as if our table became this deli station and the way he cut the sausage made me sure he would end up with a part of his thumb in it! After a couple of more beers, he was sound asleep, leaving me to the fun and first stage of boredom busters; self portrait taking in the reflective black panel above. It was really kind of fun! After all, I am usually behind the camera.

They turned out a little eerie, but fun!

I'm going to skip right over the annoying 2 women who ended up sharing the adjoining seats for the second half of the trip. The only thing I will say, is that if I ever have the urge to give myself a complete manicure and pedicure in a public place, the experience of watching a complete stranger do this completely turned my stomach, especially when it involved the previously mentioned deli counter!

I actually managed well for an English-speaking woman in a completely Romanian-speaking train. Even when the conductor came to check the tickets, no language was needed. And when it was, the nice man across from me, after hearing me numerous times repeat,"Nu înţeleg, vorbesc engleza " I don't understand, I speak English, helped out. At one point, the conductor came back to me and asked for something, I have no idea what, but the man interceded for me and the conductor went on his way! I still have no idea, what was said!

The important communication like, "Bucharest?" were managed with similar answers but different inflections! Da, Bucharest - yes, (this is) Bucharest! Of course this was my mostly silent, beer appreciating fellow passenger. He helped me get my bags down and headed off on his way. Thankfully the aisles were wide, as I had a giant, though not too heavy suitcase (although we really should check with Liviu and the 2 men who helped me with it on this fact!) on wheels, a slightly smaller suitcase on wheels, and 2 carry-ons.

I started to hurry, remembering that the train barely waited more than just a few minutes before leaving at each stop. This was my fatal error...

As I balanced the weight of the larger suitcase behind me, and lifted the smaller case in front of me, I stepped onto the first narrow metal step and watched unbelieving as my foot slipped and I pitched forward into the arms of a man waiting to board the train. Then I realized that I wasn't crushed by the giant suitcase behind me either. As I gushed "thank you" over and over in Romanian, my rescuer untangled himself from me and my luggage after assuring me that it was no problem (in Romanian, of course) and boarded the train. The man above me, my rescuer from the surety of being crushed beneath my behemoth case, carried it down the steps and handed the handle back to me. "mulţumesc " I said again and he replied, "I'm afraid I don't speak the language." in a very nice Irish accent... Oh, English! I exclaimed, "Thank you so much!" I said stupidly, "Oh, you're Irish! My husband and daughter just got back from Northern Ireland." After assuring him that someone was meeting me, we went our separate ways.

The funny thing is, that he sat only 2 seats away on the train. I could have communicated for at least part of the 6 hours if I'd only known! But those who know me probably thought it was good practice for me to be quiet for such a span!