A Weekly Journal Chronicling My Life
As It Intersects With The Garbage Dump Community Near La Ceiba, Honduras

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Random Scenes From the Past Month

I have no excuse. I have officially been on Christmas Break from school for more than a week now and still I have been loathe to blog. Jojo Daniele is here with me and so, as is my want, I may just shift the blame to her. She's the reason I don't blog - she just keeps me so busy. On this lazy New Year's Eve Day though, she suggested we run our morning errands and then hole up in a coffee shop and have a writing day. Here we are then and instead of writing and blogging I spent the first hour or two re-opening a Facebook account. I don't loathe blogging, I loathe myself. I have been keeping busy though and thus the following is a quick photo recap of my many pursuits these past few days. Oh, and Merry Christmas/Happy New Year from Jojo, the youth of Laureles and myself. It certainly doesn't feel like Christmastime, what with the 80 degree weather, but I suppose it's the right thing to do (send the Yuletide greetings that is).

Jojo with her "sister" Dariana. 
Trying out heels.
Not sure how I feel about that.

 Chucu, Norman, Gina and Me up in the mountains on a cloudy Saturday afternoon.

 Jojo tried having a convo with the Macaw.
The Macaw won.

 Darwin, child number 7 of 8 in Marta's family.
Love this child.
Completely and Absolutely.

 A random cousin of Duk's.
He insisted that I take his photo.
I did and then picked him up and threatened to carry him off to the U.S.
He cried.
I love children.

 Dariana on her birthday back in November.

 Mateo, child number 8 of 8 in Marta's family.
I do not love him completely.
Perhaps one of the most obnoxious children that I have ever met.
He carries the name well.

 He tried burning his mother's shoes.

Me on Christmas Day.
We spent the night there on the 24th and when I woke up at Duk's house they had coffee waiting for me.
Happy New Year from Los Laureles.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Working Down The Line

Saw this on my walk home the other day and liked the symmetry of it.
That's all.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Carlos Turns 14

One of my very favorite people of all time, Carlos Jose Ucles Ferrufino (affectionately known as Chucu), turned 14 the other day. I may not be in the community on a daily basis but I still keep my birthday calendar up-to-date and attempt to celebrate, or at the very least acknowledge, the many birthdays that come down the pike each month. Chucu though is special; he is bright, intelligent, always with a smile and quick to lend a hand. He exudes innocence and an innate sense of justice; he won my heart the day I met him back in 2009 and he's become part of the core group of Laureles folk that I trust and rely on. That said then, when his birthday came around we gathered together in his home, his mother made baleadas for the guests and we shared cake, coke and laughs. It was a lovely mid-week evening with even lovelier company.

Chucu y Mateo 
Probably the only good photo taken all night.
(even in spite of the two middle-fingers being thrown up behind my left shoulder) 
 
 
The rest of the photos on my camera, as taken by Chucu's older brother Tati, were of various relatives and neighbors, all of whom seemed to be in varying stages of Bell's Palsy or outright Shock.
 
 Eduardo, a random cousin and neighbor.
His palsy is barely noticeable but certainly beginning to take effect.
 
 Josep, another cousin.
His too is just coming on.
 
 This random, fatherless child, who was not related to anyone there as far as I could tell, had the nervous habit of repeatedly saluting people. I'm not making this up; I have 3 different photos as taken by Tati, and in everyone this little war-monger is saluting the camera.
 
 Chucu.
With a sudden and serious spell of the Bell's.
or
Demonic Possession...one of the two.
 
 Chucu's Mother.
Drunk on Coca-Cola.
 
 Chucu's Grandmother.
Bell's-ish.
 
 Lety, the crazy neighbor-lady.
Just barely alive.
 
 Another fatherless, mouth-breather.
Downright catatonic.
 
 And not to be outdone.
Chucu's gang-sign throwin' sister.
 
H.B. Chucu.
I love you.
 
I swear.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I'm A Grandfather

I hate when people refer to themselves as the parents of their pets, or worse, when older adults begin referring to the pets of their grown children as their grandchildren.
 
I'm not quite sure what makes me loathe it so. 
 
I have to think that the stoic folk of my great-grandparents' generation weren't giddily anthropomorphizing every whimper and sigh that their four-legged children emitted.
 
Did they send pictures of their pets 'round at Christmastime to help announce the Birth of Christ? Did they screen their cats for HIV/AIDS? Did they take their dogs to "Doggie-Daycare" or the local "pet spa"? Did they spend as much money on their pet's health and entertainment as they did on the children that they actually, biologically produced? 
 
No!
 
The salt-of-the-earth, level-headed folk of 70 years ago treated their pets like animals. They chained them outside to a tree, they gave them scraps of food off the supper-table for their dinner, they expected them to perform a useful function, and, when their health finally failed them they quickly and painlessly disposed of them with a .22 caliber rifle.
 
Thus, maybe my disdain then comes from something I see at work in the modern psyche, something that has undermined the modern family and societal interrelationship, something that keeps parents clinging to child-rearing more generally because their own children have become cold and unfeeling and have rejected...never mind, that's too deep for this blog...we'll talk about it later.
 
I think more superficially though that the OCD monster in me likes to categorize things properly and without a blurring of the lines: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Genus, Species, Race. Everything has its place and order and ne'er shall we blend the categories simply because you have a ridiculous emotional attachment to a soul-less, conscience-less beast that only "loves you" insofar as it can receive pleasure and sustenance from you. In other words, unless you've actually married and produced children with Checkers the Miniature Schnauzer please put the kibosh on the whole my-pet-is-my-child hokum because it's just not true and it makes you appear infantile and absurd. Again that's the OCD monster speaking, not me.
 
When I first purchased my animal I vowed to never anthropomorphize her actions or intentions. She is a lower life-form driven entirely by survival habits and pleasure-seeking chemicals in the brain. She no more loves and is attached to me than any other person that could satisfy, on a consistent basis, those two basic drives. If a vacuum cleaner could consistently feed, caress, and shelter her she would just as soon attach to it.
 
Most importantly though, I vowed never to call her my daughter or allow my mother to refer to her as a grandchild.
 
Two weeks ago Keiser, who has lived at Maureen's house for nearly 2 years, had puppies. Maureen had planned this event; she cross-bred her with a Belgian Shepherd back in September. The resulting mix is supposed to be something akin to the perfect dog. The puppies are perfect...I feel something inside of me that is similar to warmth and affection when I think of them. Oh feelings. 
 
It was with much chagrin and dissimulation then when today, upon leaving church that Maureen's mother approached me, hugged me and asked if I'd be stopping by to see if my grandchildren had opened their eyes. I smiled nodded and said that absolutely I'd be stopping by to see them. What kind of parent would I be if I didn't?
 
Keiser. 
Perhaps the most beautiful animal ever.
 
 Except for maybe her offspring.
 
 They eat non-stop.
 
 Keiser is a patient parent.
Much like her father.
 
love.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Duke Turns 17

Ok, I know I've been lax in blogging, to be honest I'd thought to give it up; really the last thing I feel like doing at the end of a long day of grading, reading and lesson planning is to start writing. What's more, I have to believe that after such a long hiatus the only person left on the planet that checks this blog with some regularity is my mother. That being said I've decided to try and give this blog-writing thing one last shot; if nothing else than for a repository of my own personal memories and photos.

What better way to start then, than with Duke and his birthday. It wasn't much of one actually, he came to church with Jojo and I this morning, left for the afternoon to play soccer and then came back to the house to watch me lesson plan. We had previously made plans to go to the beach and eat seafood with his family but his mother had to work today so he asked that we wait until this Saturday when she'll have a free day to join us. I love this kid more and more every day...that's really all I can say. I'm just so proud of him.

 Duke on his 17th Birthday
 
 He happened to mention that he was quickly approaching my height and I asked him if he remembered when he thought reaching my shoulder was a big deal.
 
 It's fun to pick on Duke
 
 Jojo thinks so too
 
H.B. Duke
We love you.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I'm Back!

 
No really, I am. 
Tomorrow, I begin my blogging in earnest.
Tonight, I plan my lessons.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nelmi Noehmy Artiaga Martinez

My dear friend and indefatigable supporter, Nelmi Artiaga, died last Monday. From what, no one really knows. She had been fighting chronic illness of some sort or another and had been in and out of the hospital for the past year. I am told that this past month she lost a tremendous amount of weight, bled profusely from random orifices and simply stopped eating. Nelmi leaves behind 4 children, 3 of whom are under the age of 15, and a serious void in the Los Laureles community. Always aglow with joy, always a servant, always eager to chat - Nelmi was dearly loved by everyone in the community and people there tell me that already the place seems a little deader without her laughter and quick wit. For my part, I balled when I got the call from her sister last week. Nelmi was one of the first adults to befriend me and her friendship was rock-solid; when I lived in the community she would stop by the house occasionally just to check-up on me, when ugly and false rumors once surfaced she stamped them out and this past year, and in spite of her failing health, she called me regularly to make sure that I was doing well and still intent on returning to Los Laureles. Nelmi was one of the adults I turned to when I needed "grown-up help" with certain projects; I remember specifically when a young, homeless boy named Jeffrey was dying from poison it was she that offered to help watch him in the hospital with me 24/7 and then helped with the funeral arrangements later on. There was a period of time during my year in the community that I couldn't afford to feed all of the kids that were living with me; Nelmi, and without my asking, took it upon herself to set aside food from her make-shift stand every Sunday night and deliver it to my door so that the kids could eat a decent meal. Even though she was only two years my senior she called me her nephew and treated me as such; when I came back for a visit this past January she roused herself and prepared a feast in my honor, whenever I might pass her in the community she would bless me, and she asked me to be her youngest daughter's godfather. More than all of that though, I simply enjoyed being with her; she was a joy to talk to, always with a funny story, a word of encouragement or a strong correction to set me straight. I am heartbroken over the loss of my aunt - I know she's in a place with no pain and great joy, that she's with her Lord; I just wasn't ready to see her go quite so soon.
 
Nelmi with two of her four children; Naomi and Abel

Monday, June 10, 2013

Life Upended...Again.

I'm a sentimentalist at heart and can rarely be content with the way things are "in-the-moment". In my heart I have this constant nagging suspicion that the present state of things is an aberration, a fall or slide of sorts from a more perfect time when things were more as they ought to be. I often feel as though the organizations I choose to associate with are in their death-throws and that if I could only wind back the clock a bit I might be a part of something that were in its heyday. I feel this way about my beloved city of Williamsport, about the recreational Summer swim team that I'm currently coaching, about the Mennonite Church at-large and my own home congregation, about our public school system here; heck I even get the feeling sometimes that the Lycoming Creek that flows through the City is less full than what I remember as a child. And I don't wish to turn back time to a specific date, though I do get the sense that I would have loved living in the 1920's-1950's; rather I just wish things were more as I remember them when I was younger - or imagined them to be. In my head I know that the swim team I coached in the early 2000's wasn't perfect, in my head I realize that the Mennonite Church has always had problems and issues to deal with, in my head I know that any organization is made up of flawed people with flawed motives and is thusly and inherently flawed. In my heart though I am blind to the flaws and idealize the past - suffice it to say, I don't like change. I don't want people to move, or change, or die - though I myself am free to do so. I want people and organizations and businesses to be just as I left them. I want life to be familiar and fixed. I want control and abhor the chaos that time brings. I am this way and hopelessly so, though I have to think that that's part of what it means to be nostalgic. I write this now and am thinking about it right now because as you may or may not know, I am headed back to La Ceiba as a private citizen at the end of July. I look forward to the new adventure, the new chapter in an unfinished story; I want though for life there to be just as I left it. And it definitely isn't.

So much about Los Laureles and the people there has changed in an inexorable way this past year that when I think on trying to find a place again within its daily rhythms, a certain malaise takes hold and I quick have to think on something else for fear of growing despondent and thus emoting. I don't like to emote; you know this. I know life and time marches on and that nothing remains fixed; only God is immutable, and I think sometimes that my desire to see things unchanged is one more of a need for control and a desire to actually be God than anything else. I too blame myself for some of the more negative change that has occurred in my absence; thinking, wrongly of course, that if only I'd been there that life might have gone differently for certain people. I think this about Cristian mostly, I have to believe that he wouldn't have dared pulled his stunt if I were still a fixture in the Laureles community. I think this too about Sergio. He called me a month ago to inform me that his girlfriend was pregnant and that they would be moving in together in short order.

I wanted to cry.

A lot.

I didn't.

All that I had worked for, the youth that I had invested in the most with my time and money and love had rejected everything I had taught them just for some simple, base pleasure.

Not so unlike their mentor then as it turns out.

Sergio called me to inform and quasi-confess but I could hear his voice straining for something more and my hesitation at an audible response was a little disconcerting to him. He asked me in a shaky voice if I still loved him. I responded immediately that I did and that I always would, no matter thee circumstance. The tension between us faded instantly and we began talking about the future, about his impending responsibilities and fatherhood. Change was upon us and we had to make the best of it.

I hate change but it is inevitable and the more it happens, the more I realize how much God truly is in control and is working all things out for the Good. Moreover, I realize more and more how little control I have in this life, and that that's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Off-Topic

I know it's been a long a time since I've written and whilst there is news from Laureles to recount I want to take a moment and post a quote from a book on the history of education that I'm reading. Out of context, this will mean nothing for most of you that happen to read this. In context though it is profound and chilling and has reverberations for my own "next step" in life. For that reason alone I feel that I need to get it down somewhere so that I might have it handy and referrable in the near-future. If your interest is piqued by the quote, drop me a line, if not, stay tuned and a report from Laureles shall be forthcoming.

With only niggling reservations, the Fabian brain trust had no difficulty employing force to shape recalcitrant individuals, groups, and organizations. Force in the absence of divine injunctions is a tool to be employed unsentimentally. Fabian George Bernard Shaw established the principle wittily in 1920 when he said that under a Fabian future government:

You would not be allowed to be poor. You would be forcibly fed, clothed, lodged, taught, and employed whether you like it or not. If it were discovered that you have not character and industry, you might possibly be executed in a kindly manner.
The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism

- John Taylor Gatto

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cristian Decides It's Time To Become A Man

I asked once, to no one in particular, how I might respond the first time I discovered that one of my boys had gone and impregnated a girl...or worse: "Rain & Death In The Garbage Dump". The other week I surprised myself at the way I responded; though to be honest, there's only so much response one can give at a distance of 3000 miles.

Cristian has not impregnated anyone, at least not that I know of. He did though, at the mature and responsible age of 17 decide that it was time he took a wife. Last week one evening, while their respective families were in church, Cristian's girlfriend Lezmy, packed up her few meager belongings, leapt from her bedroom window (her aunt was in the other room) and trekked up the hill that separates her family's home from that of Cristian's. By Laureles custom the two are now married -- at least until one of the two decides that they aren't any longer -- but that's also a Laureles custom; there will probably be a child or two though before that happens. They call it "robbing your girlfriend" because presumably, the family of the girl, those people that have cared for her and raised her, are not privy to or in agreement with the idea of the young girl and boy suddenly moving in together and setting up a home. Nevertheless, this is par for the course in Los Laureles and the way that most young couples end up getting together. As an aside, I know of one young couple where the boy hid his girlfriend under his bed for a week until the father of the girl gave up hope and stopped looking for her; at which point she promptly reappeared in public and announced that she was pregnant. The thing of it is, it's not exactly something that's frowned upon because everyone does it and very often it's the mothers of the girls that are literally pushing their young daughters out the door and onto their boyfriends; it means one less mouth to feed.

I understand that youth grow up faster there and that the norms for what is and isn't acceptable, at least with regards to the age two people ought to marry, is certainly much different in Honduras, especially amongst the poor of Honduras. What I can't abide though is this notion, especially prevalent among the males, that manhood doesn't really arrive until you've moved into your own place and brought a girl there to live with you and take care of you. Until you "rob your girlfriend" and start your own family you're suspect and less than a man. Manuel, who lived with me for time, was always scolded by the older women who told him that he shouldn't be living with me, that he ought to steal a girl and go find his own place. He would chuckle and keep walking but I knew their words always stung him and that part of him really did want to do just that.

When I talked to Cristian about this the other night this is the sentiment that he essentially expressed. That he felt it was time that he become a man and that Lezmy would suit him just fine -- the unspoken subtext was "for now". I threw everything that I could think of at him and in the gentlest way possible. I asked him to think of both their futures, of what he was throwing away for both of them, the estrangement that it might cause with her family, and the fact that he had a job that couldn't even support himself let alone another person. Finally, I asked him to remember his committiment to Christ, one that he had made a year prior. I asked him if it was correct to "steal his girlfriend" as it were, or if instead the correct way to proceed would be to get married in the church. He answered no, that it wasn't correct and that they really ought to be properly married. Knowing which was the right path to take I told him that he really needed to return Lezmy to her family because no true minister would marry the two of them in their current state. To which he replied that he would not be doing that, he was content with Lezmy where she was, as was she.

I had nothing left to say, I fancy myself a fairly persuasive person and can usually get people to come around to my way of thinking -- nothing can persuade teenagers with hormones that are accustomed to doing whatever they please. I told him that I loved him, that his decision carried with it unforeseen consequences, but that I loved him regardless and that I always would. He giggled. I hung up.


 Cristian Josue Chirinos Alvarez, 12
February, 2008
At the beach one Sunday after church
Just 2 months after I'd first met him

Monday, March 18, 2013


A little bird alighted on my window sill the other day - he ran hither and thither on the roof in front of the window, allowed me to photograph him briefly and then fluttered off.
 
I spend a lot of time staring out my window, often wishing I were like that bird; able to flutter off on a whim, content to let the breeze blow me where'er it might.
 
It's a form of escapism I know; for some it's Middle Earth, others it's Gossip Girl, mine though is a combination of coffee, cloves and The Shins whilst staring out the window or in the warmer months, sitting out the window, and wishing I weren't here. 
 
It's not an entirely unproductive passtime to be sure. I strike deals with God, make life decisions and approach true inner-peace.
Escapism though is not a conduit for living in the present.
 
For much of this past year I feared moving beyond my window gazing into interaction with others. I feared being drawn into their lives and by degrees, coming to love them.
 
I was tired of loving people.
 
Loving people requires compassion and action and involvement - it requires actively living in the present.
 
I feared loving people here, the way we are called to love people, would require that I abandon those that I hold most dear but that are not with me physically.
 
More than that, I feared that being deeply involved in the lives of people here would either:
 
a.) cause me to love the people of Los Laureles less.
or
b.) cause yet more pain and emptiness when I one day move on from life here.
 
Or both.
 
I believe my personal vacation, as someone I know has termed it, this past January, as much as anything broke down that wall of fear that had hemmed me in for the previous 7 months.
 
Broke it down I say, not toppled it entirely.
I still hold onto the duality a bit.
 
Since returning though I have felt myself compelled to take a more active role in the lives of certain people here. To the love them as Jesus calls us to love them - for his sake.
 
For their sake.
 
For my sake.
 
Now that I know I won't be here forever I'm beginning to wish I had begun this process sooner; that I had heeded the nudge of the Spirit when I first felt it months ago.
 
I feel the clock ticking. There is much to do and not much time.
Certainly no time for window gazing...
 
For what it's worth, this is what was outside my window this afternoon:
Not exactly a "Springy" Spring.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How About That Duke!


I've always known Duke is an amazing fellow and I've said as much not a few times; namely here, here and here. He continues to amaze me though with the man he is turning into. He's no longer simply a kid that I love and am investing in but rather a trusted friend and partner in the ongoing work in Los Laureles.

It's no secret that I no longer live in Los Laureles...or Honduras for that matter. Life as a mission worker there has come to an end and so have the many projects that once both defined my work and were the structure and support for so many kids there. The largest and in many ways most important project we ran there was the high school scholarship fund - I've written aplenty about it and won't rehash the fundamentals of it here. While down in Honduras visiting this past Christmas though, I heard from not a few youth that they wanted to keep on studying and were wondering if I might help them. I have a hard time saying no. More importantly, I didn't feel like I could once again abandon these kids and dash any chance they might have of escaping their cyclical poverty. Especially when I most certainly had the resources to help them at my disposal. I told them I'd consider it but to not count on me as their only resource; some heeded that advice, most did not.

I talked it over with Duke one night while I was there and explained that I was concerned about the logistics. In years past it's been me or another worker that's gone to the schools to sign the students up, gone with them to market to buy uniforms and supplies, checked in on them periodically to make sure grades were on par and all was going well. This year though I wouldn't be there and there would be no one else to do all the leg work. Duke looked at me seriously and offered to do it himself. I smiled, looked at him and shook his hand.

In the next few weeks before school began, Duke compiled a list of 20 high school students, some veterans of the project and others just starting out from 6th Grade. He enrolled each one in their public high school of choice and started a file on each student. He went to market and brokered deals with the uniform vendors, the shoe salesmen and the school supply houses and came back to me with lists of needed items and their prices. He went to the Western Union once or twice a week to receieve the funds as I sent them down and then went back to market with each individual student to purchase their supplies. School began 2 weeks ago and he's now taken on the task of making sure our students are punctual, prepared and fulfilling their end of the deal; a month ago he sat them all down as a group and informed them that if they didn't try their hardest to get good grades that he would personally kick them out of the project and take back their school uniform. He called the other night asking that I make a warning call to one of the girls because he didn't like her lazy attitude.

I've felt for Duke this past month, I'm not sure if he realized just what he was getting himself into; what kind of gargantuan task he'd taken on. He's had mothers of children not in the project begging him to let their child in so that they too can study. He's had to herd 20 high schoolers through the process of enrollment and supply procurement with plenty of complaints along the way and he's had to be stingy with what little money we have. I've been impressed though, he's grown a lot in just the last month both as a person and in the eyes of the community. I'm excited for the what future holds for him.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sergio Turns 18

Checho told me last night that he wants to kill himself.

I almost lost it.

It was his birthday yesterday and only his older sister and myself remembered to send him greetings. His mother, who lives across the country, and his father, who lives in the same community, both forgot about him.

He seems lost...more than ever.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Keiser's Fixin' To Be A Momma

Maureen sent this photo yesterday with word that our beloved companion may soon be a mother. Maureen, as is her wont and nature, has been meticulous though with approving just the right suitor. She's compiled a fairly extensive list of potential mates but for various reasons; including dislike of the owner, general demeanor of the animal and gut feeling, has done a fine job of crossing off nearly every eligible bachelor within a 20 mile radius. Keiser for her part, is none the wiser and as far as we can tell is just as content to chase rats and opossums around the yard as she is to engage her maternal instinct.

An interesting sidebar: I am in near daily contact with the people of Los Laureles; I try to stay engaged in the lives of a few of the boys, but a goodly number of the adults and other children usually call me throughout the week as well, to inquire on my state and status. Inevitably the question of Keiser and her whereabouts always comes up and I always reply that Keiser still resides in La Ceiba with Maureen. Furthermore, if they would like to visit her, they are more than welcome to schlep down to Barrio Alvarado and stand at Maureen's gate where they will be sure to see a black streak chasing small animals and any children that happen to be in the yard. There's almost always a brief pause and then the question:

"Is Keiser yet pregnant?"

"No, not yet...Maureen thinks it's not yet time." Is my typical response.

"We'll please tell her to give us a puppy when the time does come." They usually say.

"Oh most definitely." I return.

As it stands now Keiser is on the hook for about 40 offspring...she'd better get crackin'!



Monday, February 4, 2013

I'd Forgotten How Much I Love This Song

en medio de mi confusion se alzaba tu bandera...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lauro pt. 2

I saw Lauro recently - I went visiting in the last week of December and into the first of January. I saw him the first night I arrived. He was loping down the dirt road that runs to my home there; a nonchalant gait, directionless and purposeless. He didn't know that I had arrived in the community, otherwise he wouldn't have been so conspicuous. I was huddled around an old rusting truck talking with Sergio and a few others and when I saw him coming, I hid. As he passed by I lept out at him, grabbed him and pulled him close. He smiled, twisted out of my arms and ran away. I let him go without protest. I knew he appreciated the gesture and loathed what he perceived to be the public embarrassment of it all. He stayed on our periphery the rest of the night though; making wide arcs around us and listening in on our conversation but not coming close enough to be engaged or worse yet, hugged.

I spent the night at Duke's house as it was too late to catch a taxi and the next morning, when I stepped out onto the front stoop, there was Lauro hanging on the front gate, staring at me. I sat down on my haunches in the dirt front yard and gestured with my hand that he should come in. Without hesitation he opened the gate and shuffled over to my side where he squatted and stared down at the ground. I didn't know what else to say to him so I said:

     "Lauro I've missed you. I love you too."

     He smiled. "What's up Gringo?" he asked.

     "Nada" I said "Just here, hanging out. What are we gonna do today?" I asked.

     He looked up at me. "I don't know, what do you think?"

     "Well for starters I need to run some errands, let's get cleaned up and head downtown."

He jumped up, ran off to his house and was back within 15 minutes, changed and ready to go.

I know I've remarked on Lauro's eccentricities before and after having known him for 4 years, really nothing ought to surprise me. Yet everytime Lauro behaves as Lauro does I am astounded by the depth of his raw emotion - how easily jilted and betrayed he can feel; also how affectionate and faithful he can be. He must have snubbed me and in turn begged me for attention at least 10 times while I was there visiting. It no longer phases me, I just know that with time and an apology (whether deserved or not) that he will always return to being one of my closest companions.

I do worry for him - he's since left Los Laureles; gone to the south of the country to find his mother whom he hasn't seen in nearly 7 years. He so desperately wants someone to love him and take care of him - needs it really, and sooner rather than later. He's growing up, he'll turn 16 in April, he's yet impressionable and not completely hardened. I don't know if it's good that he went looking for his mother or not, he may not like what he finds. I do know that he needs someone to fill that void that has been in his life since he was a young child. Pray that he finds them.



Monday, January 28, 2013

A Winter Wonderland

It's been bitterly cold here as of late; though as I write this the mercury is steadily rising and promises to climax near 60 by Wednesday. Regardless, last week was downright Siberian in terms of weather and feel and our beloved Susquehanna River froze over just to prove it. This past Saturday, on a whim we decided to test the ice.
 
 Standing in the middle of the river looking east towards the new Arch Street Bridge.
 
 I sent the boys on ahead just to make sure the ice would indeed hold us.
 
 When Bryce didn't crash through the ice we knew it was probably safe to go gallavanting.
 
 And so I followed on behind, ever-cautious and listening for that ominous popping sound in the ice.
 
 To be honest, it was the first that I had ever been on the Susquehanna when it was frozen solid and I was duly impressed by the splendor and majesty of the snow-covered river set against the snow-covered mountains.
 
Josiah, with ever the eye for art, pointed me to to ice formations.

In the middle of the river where two competing ice flows met.
 
 
We eventually grew tired of the river and decided to head north into the mountains.
 
 We drove through Rose Valley
 
 And ended up in the middle of Rose Valley Lake, helping the local ice fisherman drill holes.
 
 It took the strength of 3 to drill through 5 inches of ice.
 


 We said goodbye to Rose Valley and via a circuitous route that took us through Blackwell and Slate Run we headed home.
 
 The Pine Creek Gourge outside of Blackwell
 
 An unfrozen and swiftly moving Pine Creek

There was not a person to be seen in the entire town of Cedar Run but this signpost did grab our attention.