Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hey! Those are MY roses!

I think I've mentioned before that I've taken a liking for our knockout roses lately, because they're low-maintenance, grow like crazy and are pretty hardy. Considering everything I've been going through to get rid of the mealy bugs on my other plants, I've come to REALLY appreciate the knockout roses, especially when they're in full bloom!

WELL..! This afternoon after I came back from work, Sam and I went to our little side garden, only to see... that one of my knockout rose bushes had every single leaf full of little holes! We got closer to take a careful look, and saw these awful-looking and -moving bugs:

See the knockout rose bush cemetery on the second image??? The madness!!

Sam did a little research and found out they're some kind of caterpillars, some very hungry caterpillars (and as you can see in the pic, NOT as cute as the star of the "Very Hungry Caterpillar" book by Mr. Eric Carle). Gah! So we had to start cutting all the bushes and spray pesticide to kill these things.

Mimi told me not long ago that there's an old saying (I guess in Venezuela, not sure) that goes, "Plants and gardens can kill you", because in order to keep up a garden looking pretty, you have to do the work and keep a constant eye on them to prevent disease from spreading. SO true! But worth it.. :)

P.S.: Mimi loves plants and still has a lot in her terraces, so she's fully aware of how much work it takes to keep plants looking pretty and healthy :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Maracaibo, Mi Tierra

Last night we got back from Venezuela; we spent a little over a week in my hometown Maracaibo and I must say, I feel renewed! I feel just a little more alive :) I needed to be back so badly. I'm sure it sounds silly, but I was feeling like I was losing my identity a little, I was thirsty for the unforgiving heat, the sounds of the car horns as the drivers made their way through the city, the hustle and bustle, the people. There is so much passion in Maracaibo. I absolutely loved every minute of it :)

Thankfully Sam enjoyed it quite a bit as well; he got to try nearly every type of traditional foods we have, and also got to visit the majority of our landmarks we "Maracuchos" are so proud of. I was a little afraid because he would surely stand out quite a bit, what with his red hair and white skin. And we were in a 3+ million-people city after all, so you've got to be careful and watch your surroundings at all times. But we really never felt threatened by anything, we actually got to enjoy every sighting 100 percent :) Mi Maracaibo, mi gente!

Most of all, I deeply enjoyed spending time with Mimi and Papito. The first night in their apartment was just a little sad though: their home is full of photos of Diana everywhere; I could genuinely feel Mimi's sadness and loneliness all around. There are also a lot more photos and small statues of Mary, Jesus and saints than I remembered. It was just another piece of evidence of how much Mimi has had to hold on to her faith to make it through life without Diana.

Mimi was so wonderful; that first night, she was so eager to show us the "honeymoon suite", as she called the room she had diligently worked on making nice for us. Prior to our arrival, she'd changed the sheets of the beds, washed the curtains, dusted the furniture, and had the carpet professionally cleaned. I truly feel her and Papito's spirits were lifted with our visit. I'm committed to go back and visit soon; nothing compares to making them happy. Their love, there's nothing like it...

Papito one day told us, "Let me do that for you; I feel bad that you're doing it because we should be treating you like kings, you're the guests!" He'd bought a bunch of ice cream cakes and other goodies so we'd get to try them all; he also showed up several mornings with empanadas and tequenos (he loves to spoil his kids ;) ) I can't help but tear up when I think of how happy our visit made them. It hurts that they're so far away. It makes me feel better that Sam enjoyed the visit so much, that he's told me he'd be more than happy to go back either for Christmas or early next year to be with them again. My husband's so wonderful! :)

This vacation was absolutely amazing; I'm truly grateful to Mimi and Papito for making us feel like we were at home. Thank GOODNESS for Vonage: now that we've been there and shared so much with them, I know I'll feel like listening to their voices a lot more often than before :)

(Oh yeah.. Translation for the title: Maracaibo, My Land :) )