Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lindsey comes to Bulgaria

We were so happy to welcome Lindsey to Bulgaria this week, for a short stay in Sofia, a day trip to Koprivshtitsa, and a couple of nights in Athens. Many photos will be coming, but here is a short introduction to Lindsey's visit.

The Karyatids hold up the top level of the Erechthion temple at the top of Athens.

Not to be outdone, Betsy and Lindsey hold up the Acropolis.

Brett enjoys "the most delicious pistachio gelato in Athens" (according to the gelato man) and Lindsey enjoys plain old strawberry.

Brett and Betsy, with temple. (photo by Lindsey, what an excellent photographer)

Wherever Lindsey goes, adorable horses seem to appear. Even in her apartment in Durham...

Lindsey and Betsy pretend to enjoy a cart ride in the Bulgarian countryside.

(Important thinking going on. Do not disrupt.)

More pictures to come...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010


My mother and Joe have arrived in Sofia for their long-awaited visit. They're here warming up for a bike ride from Prague to Vienna, so we spent a day on the mountain, getting in shape. It was a long six-hour hike, but we enjoyed several treats along the way, including some lingering blossoms still flowering up high, and a frog orgy (that's right -- a frog orgy) down low. As we approached Boyana Lake, we heard thousands of frogs croaking and squawking. Tadpoles lined the bottom of the lake near the shore, and frogs were piggy-backing everywhere. Betsy will post video (G-rated) soon, but you'll see a close-up of a waiting frog below.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Happy Mother's Day Week Mom!

These are what I would pick for you if I was there. And I would arrange them in ten tiny vases all over the house. But since I'm not, I picked them out from the internet and I am sending them this way. Just three months until I can deliver better presents in person...

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there. And to all the kids, don't forget, it's this Sunday!

La Fiesta de Nachos - Cinco de Mayo en Bulgaria

Yesterday, as I'm sure you all know, was Cinco de Mayo. We used to let this great holiday slip by us without much notice, but after last night, we have set a new precedent. Our neighbors, Kate and Mike, decided to host a Cinco de Mayo party, the main feature of which was a nacho competition. That's right - a no holds barred, no excuses accepted, no congealed cheese allowed, nacho competition. Contestants brought their efforts at 5:30, placed them at one of the numbered spaces on the picnic tables, and dreamed of glory (and a "Campeon de Nachos" hat). Soon, the judges arrived, with bright plastic ponchos and their judging rubrics.

Though Brett and I did not win champion hats, we did win two people's choice awards - for most interesting flavor combo (mango/grape/avocado/cumin) and for best homemade tortilla chips. So we're proud. We went unconventional...
Our first entry: avocado-strawberry-mint salsa with cinnamon lime chips

Our second entry: cumin chips with mango guacamole and grape halves (seeds expertly removed by Brett)

The prize hats, displayed on the Nacho Buffet

The Judging Rubric - get teachers together and...

The judges arrive, en masse

The entries

The Judging (which lasted about an hour!). We all started eating with them when they were still on category #1 of the rubric ("appearance") 10 minutes in.

For nacho recipes, head over to my food blog.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Snow? Snow! @%$#!

Jeff and I spent a good part of Sunday on Mt. Vitosha, and a good part of Sunday evening in the emergency room. But more on that in a second. We've had 70 and sunny for about a solid week now, so we decided to head to the snow-covered flanks of Vitosha. Given the weather and the popularity of hiking here, we were glad we took a less-traveled route to the top. Just the drive to the trailhead saw us wade through several traffic jams on the mountain as the hordes of Sofians headed to various areas for hikes. Once we got above tree line, however, the crowd thinned out. We picked our steps carefully as the snow was melting, and a false landing could plunge us to our thighs, or, as Jeff discovered, into a stream. As he said right afterward, "And I thought my feet were as wet as they could get." After a three-hour ascent, we spent some time enjoying the quietude at the top, and then began picking our way down in even softer snow. About an hour from the car, I heard Jeff scream in pain behind me, and turned to see his leg sunk into a deep hole. Jeff is rather stoic, so to see the look on his face (and to hear the words streaming from his mouth) meant that something was not right. I was relieved to see Jeff pull his leg out with no dangling pieces, but concerned when I saw that blood had already seeped through his pants. It turns out that a jagged stone was hiding right next to a deep hole, and Jeff basically ran his shin along it as he fell. There was a gaping wound that we promptly dressed with a bandana. I personally did not want to look at it for any length of time, given my predilection for passing out at the sight of major wounds, and the fact that one glance was enough to establish that this would require a hospital. Jeff decided he would try and walk. Which he could do, slowly. I urged him on, stopping only once to let blood flow to my head again. It's good that Jeff isn't as faint-of-heart as I am. This was easily the worst flesh wound I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Very deep, very red, and even a little white. But Jeff was strong, and we made it to the car with no further obstacles. The surgeon's face when he saw the wound was enough to convince Jeff that this was indeed serious. Two hours and nine stitches later, we finally left the hospital.

A not-so-hazardous creek crossing

Though this guy would have jumped over it more gracefully than I did

The peak is up and to the left.

Jeff surveying the world, with a healthy shin.

One of the holes I found on the way down. Luckily, no rocks blocking the way to the ground.

On the way down, we met a man named Stoyan who was following a strange but not unusual Bulgarian custom of hiking in his speedo. Stoyan was a lively, talkative fellow who didn't seem to care that we didn't understand him. He told us all about the beauty around us, though we (for some reason) were focused mostly on him.