that's our james

Disclaimer: This is my blog. No one else's. This is what I think about stuff. If others think the same thing, it's up to them to express it. The sole purpose of my writings is to keep my friends and family informed. My opinions are just that, opinions so don't get to worked up if something offends you. Thanks.

29 November 2007

Third pie’s the charm…

A week ago today I, like you, was celebrating Thanksgiving. For some odd reason, Thanksgiving is not that significant in Albania. I suppose it has something to do with the lack of Pilgrims and Indians. So to celebrate in proper fashion, we headed to Tirana. The Embassy and other American organizations or Americans working in Tirana do this really cool thing for us Peace Corps Volunteers. They invite us into their homes for a lovely traditional (more or less) Thanksgiving meal. Last year I had an amazing dinner with a great couple so I was very eager to replicate that experience.

I went up to Tirana on Wednesday for a presentation about careers in Foreign Service. Now one of the things that becomes of utmost concern as volunteer visiting Tirana is where to sleep. It’s just not fun to have to pay for a hotel, granted it’s not too expensive but we’re uber cheap. I thought I was going to be able to stay with a friend but that fell through. My friend Juliet, who was going to stay with me at a different friend’s apartment Thursday night, told me that she didn’t a place because her Thanksgiving hosts offered to let her stay at their house Wednesday and Thursday. Prior to be in the Peace Corps I don’t think I would have done this (though I cannot say for certain) but I asked her to ask her hosts if I too could stay Wednesday night. To my delight, they said yes.

After the presentation they drove us to their house and offered to make some pizzas, cheese dip, brownies, and even margaritas. It was great. We really do miss the food a LOT. We had great food, used the Internet, watched Harry Potter, and then went out to meet some friends. All in all, a very good night.

It got even better. The next morning they made pancakes and bacon. So good. Then since they were having Thanksgiving early, around noon, and my host was having it in the evening, they invited me to have Thanksgiving lunch with them. Of course I said yes. We had the works. Two turkeys (one oven-baked, one deep-fried), stuffing, green bean casserole, corn, cranberry sauce, and pie. It was so good. I was smart and did not stuff myself, keeping in mind that I had a big dinner to go to at 5pm.

After helping with clean-up and finishing reading Harry Potter (the 5th book), they drove me to meet my host for my Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving #2 was a bit unorthodox. My host wasn’t able to procure turkey so he opted for four varieties of lasagna. After the power came back on, the lasagna finished cooking and I ate another large, tasty meal. The other guests were really interesting people and I enjoyed hearing about their different backgrounds. Around 10pm or so, we left.

However, my Thanksgiving festivities were not quite over. I headed over to my Thanksgiving #3, my final one for the day, to get the keys to my friend’s apartment. I was stuffed and didn’t even try to eat anymore turkey, but… PECAN PIE! My friend had made pecan pie. It was the only thing missing from my Thanksgiving day. I always eat a slice of pumpkin and a slice of pecan. I was so happy to see that. I managed to find some room in my belly and enjoyed every last crumb.

After that I went to my friend’s place and was able to call my family and talk for a while. Granted it was after midnight my time and I don’t know how coherent I was, it was the perfect end to a perfect day.

20 November 2007

Professor James...

Right now I am preparing my first lesson. I am teaching again today but this time I am preparing something extra to add to the lesson. Of course it's not a formal lesson plan or anything but I did have to prepare and put a little extra effort into it.

I've decided I wanted to teach my class the usage of "like". I'm into grammar and informal speech so I thought I'd lay some knowledge down on 'em. Realizing this might be boring to them or above their level, I have other material prepared, just like a good teacher :)

I think I am ready for this. I am like a little nervous so like wish me luck. Thanks.

15 November 2007


Today I am in Tirana. Shortly I'll head out to try my luck at exchanging my modem, again. Until then, I am enjoying the cozy comforts of the apartment of a friend of mine who is graciously hosting me today.

Surprisingly, I am still running. I do good to get out twice a week. It's really hard to find a dry day and dry-ish roads. Plus I've noticed it's harder to run my usual distance. I've been sorer (grammar lesson for the day: though "sorer" sounds funny I think it is correct. I've been more interested in proper English now that I am teaching the stuff). Today it is rainy. I got soaked last night walking around Tirana. So even though I brought my running stuff to enjoy a good trail run in the park, I am out of luck. Or am I? Now that I am a Peace Corps Volunteer I have to use the "f" word a lot, flexible :) So in lieu of running, I've found an alternative. I am going to hop on an ellipse-like piece of exercise equipment and get my workout on.

Luckily I found VH1 on the TV and it's playing Top Ten of ABBA. Love it. Don't you judge. You know you can't resist their singable pop hooks. Plus you try living in Sweden for half a year and not growing to love them. I'm betting Fernando is Number 1.

Just so you know, I am typing over, under, around a seven month old puppy that's not very puppy sized. Coincidently her name is Honey just like my sister's dog. Very cute even though she keeps farting by/on me.

13 November 2007

down & out...

So my Internet is down again. I think my modem got fried by a power surge, which are pretty common here. It doesn't seem fair that we don't have power all the time (last night I lost it for 7.5 hrs) and when do have it, its too strong. Go figure.

On a good note, we had a great early Thanksgiving dinner this weekend. I made some uber delicious pumpkin pies. I even had to find recipes that didn't call for shortening or lard. I'm sure there is some somewhere in this country but I haven't found it yet. Our spread featured four small chickens in lieu of a turkey, salads, mashed potatoes, homemade apple sauce, biscuits, and a Chilean dish featuring ground beef, raisins, olives, boiled eggs, cream corn (which we had to make ourselves), brown sugar. We had plans for more but power went out earlier than expected. Of course this was enough food to feed all of us quite well.

For now I am off to class. Hopefully I will be back online soon.