Sunday, February 16, 2014

El Pato Patricio

Today we were going to visit Romy's Frutillares branch in Tome, but at the last minute she wasn't going to be there, so instead we went to the Chillancito Ward in the Andalien Stake. Very sweet people, welcoming and kind. But that is what we have come to know of Chileans. One of the ladies had come to the Centro de Autosuficiencia for the computer lessons I was giving and recognized us. 

We notice that a lot of ward leaders have taken out Perpetual Education Fund loans and are in the process of paying them back. It has been a blessing in their lives. People without a professional education in Chile usually earn very little, and thus do not have the resources needed to be able to donate time and talents to leadership callings. Elder K. is often asked to speak to the wards when we visit, and usually someone will approach us after the meeting for help with employment or education. It is one of the most fun things we do, to visit these wards.

Galvarino, our apartment building's gregarious morning concierge, told us about an apartment for rent that is twice as big as the one we are in, only ten mil (twenty dollars) more per month, and not owned by Senor Fuchs (pronounced Foosh), whose separated wife Senora Fuchs keeps trying to get us to call her so she can collect the rent from us herself. Galvarino warned us against this, since the contract is with Senor Fuchs. Apparently you can buy and sell these apartments, like condos, and Senor Fuchs happens to own the one we live in. We handed all the information to Hermano Parras, a dead ringer for George Clooney in looks and charm, who works in the same building as the Centro de Autosuficiencia, and speaks Castellan very fast. He is the one who got us our current tiny apartment, which, he admits, is tiny, but was all that was available during the college year. Rental agreements here are usually easy to break after 30 days, but it helps if it is Chilean talking to Chilean. Especially when they talk as fast as Hno. Parras.

By the end of the day he had talked to Senor Fuchs' attorney and everyone else, and arrangements are coming along nicely. Maybe in a few weeks I will have somewhere to put this montón de lana (big bunch of yarn) taking up too much room in Departamento #1307.

I finally finished my Copihue wall hanging, after incorporating some excellent suggestions from Elder K. Hna. Dagnig brought in a bunch of poles of the Colihue, the Andean bamboo plant, and gave me these to hang it on. It had to pass inspection from every lady in the workshop, but in the end they pronounced it "lindo," and me "muy talentosa." Mi primera murala tejida. (My first woven wall hanging.)  My next project is a request from Hna. Pulsipher, who with her husband is returning to the U.S. next month. She wants an authentic Chilean murala, and I am, after all, a nearly-certified Chilean murala weaver.

On Monday we had our hair cut again. Here Andrea is using her trimmer on Elder K in her little front room on Calle Manuel Bulnes. All the missionary couples in the mission office want her to cut their hair after seeing our haircuts. This will be of help, since her husband recently lost his job. He has been into the Centro de Autosuficiencia to talk with Hna. Rosa about auto-empleo, self-employment. We brought Manolito a gift of paper and colored pencils, so he ran off to draw pictures. He is as artistic as his mother.

We were able to finally see the legendary Patricio, pato mascota (pet duck) of Manuel Mendoza. Manuel called for Patricio across the laguna, so here he comes with his latest novia, sweetheart. Manuel and Andrea thought he was faithful to only one female duck, but they figured out that there were at least three female ducks he was in the habit of escorting around the laguna. Occasionally they meet and have short sharp duck-words with each other. Patricio is non-plussed by all of this.

I haven't been able to find Verdeflor maté in the grocery stores, so Andrea gave me an empty bag so I would know what to look for. She gave me a big bunch of fresh Poleo, Pennyroyal, a mint-related herb with a very strong fresh smell, used in some maté mixtures. It is also used to repel pulgas, fleas, along with eucalyptus leaves, which you sprinkle under the bed and in the cushions and pillows of upholstered furniture. Hna. Balden, the mission nurse, has been handing eucalyptus leaves from Andrea to all the grateful missionaries. Whatever fleas come our way never bite me, in favor of biting Elder K., who obviously has warmer blood than I do. One of the few instances where it pays to have cold hands and cold feet. Since we have been strewing the herbs (and spraying Raid) we, or should I say Elder Kennington, hasn't had trouble with them.

At the Centro de Autosuficiencia, a third group of ladies exhibit their items at a mock-sale. They bill themselves as "Abeja Obrera," worker bee. It somehow sounds better in Castellan.

An hermana from the Lorenzo Arenas ward, Andrea's sister, demonstrates her artistic talent in this work in progress.

Elder K., everyone's favorite model, here with a pair of lavender gloves.

Since by now the entire city of Concepcion knows I am making a wall hanging of the Chilean national flower, all the sisters want to make sure I appreciate it thoroughly. One sweet sister brought in several vining stems of the Copihue in a bag  of wet dirt. (No roots, unfortunately.) It is completely gorgeous. On the right hand plate you can see the seed pod, which is edible. These are tricky plants to grow, although some coastal California gardeners have been successful.

 The leaves of the Copihue are leathery and the flowers are substantial, but for all that, they are exquisite, and fleeting.


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