Sunday, February 11, 2007

Amar's one-week trip

(Beautiful Spanish handcrafted plate that Amar got for me as a souvenir from Spain)

Amar made a one-week trip for conferences in Michigan, US, and a workshop in Seville, south Spain, from Jan. 31st to Feb. 8th, and has just got back home 3 days ago.

His trip turned out to be the one he would never forget, because of so many "calamities" and a lot of "good luck that came out of bad luck". The first one was the delay of his flight from Michigan to Spain due to the snow. Not only the delay itself but the fact that he had to drive his rented car in the blizzard from the hotel to the airport in Michigan made it so "unforgettable", Amar told me. He said it was the most scary experience in his driving history. (Well, so I can imagine...) After all this driving, he had to go back to downtown in Grand Rapids, Michigan to stay overnight there (luckily one of the faculty in Calvin University gave him a lodging), and next morning he took a train to Chicago to catch the plane for his trip to Spain.

But this misfortune brought him good luck: thanks to the flight change, he was allowed about 18 hours in London for transit, and he managed to see both his father and sister living in London and stayed overnight with his sister and her husband.
His stay in Spain became short and quite hectic because of these changes, but of course he was much happier to see his family than otherwise.

The last of the "calamities" was that his luggage was delayed somewhere on his way home from Spain, and that he happened to have put his car key in this luggage(!). Since I have got my driver's license just two months ago and am not a very good confident driver yet, he had driven to the airport by himself with his car and had parked his car in the airport parking, so that he could drive back home by himself. But now, his lost luggage made it impossible for him to use his car to come home. So he called me from Chicago airport and asked me if I was up to driving my car to the airport to pick him up. It was such a big challenge for me, who had been phobic about driving in the past 15 years. I had never driven such a long way by myself yet, and to make things even worse, it was midnight and I would have had to get on the freeway as well (!)....
I felt so bad knowing that Amar must have been very tired, and after a lot of debating in my head, I said, "OK, then I'll come to pick you up," with a tragic but brave resolution (well, as far as I was concerned).

When we almost finished reviewing the direction and map together (on the phone) to check all the tricky points on the way to the airport, however, there came help from God or some Benevolent Will: a friend of ours, Erika, happened to be there at the Chicago airport waiting for the same plane as he was, noticed him and came up to say hi to him. What a coincidence and what good luck we had!!
So, after all these, Amar was given a ride by Erika and her husband Simon and came home safe and sound at 1AM on Thursday night. You can imagine how grateful I was for Erika and Simon, and for whatever good luck contributed to save us (^^).

After we went to the airport to fetch his car yesterday (Saturday), Amar started feeling a bit sick with a sore throat and headache. So I made a home-made chicken soup (upon his request), and after watching a DVD ("The Planet of Apes" --- classic!), we went to bed as early as 9pm. Fortunately he is feeling much better today.


While Amar was away, I kept myself quite busy catching up with several girl friends (lunch with Amy, visiting a couple of Japanese friends' houses, and having Natsuki, my piano teacher, at our home for a girl's pyjama party), sorting out and cleaning the house, practicing the piano a lot, and doing quite a few "kitchen experiments". Among such home experiments are homemade "natto" (=Japanese fermented soy beans), home-grown broccoli sprouts, a wild yeast culture raised from an apple, and a loaf of bread using this yeast culture (see the pictures). This "apple wild yeast culture" is somewhat similar to a sourdough culture, but different in that the wild yeast used here are the ones which reside on the apple skins, instead of the ones living in the wheat flour.

(The picture on the left is the bread I baked using the apple wild yeast.) The bread made with this home-made apple yeast turned out quite tasty (not very sour and yet has a subtle apple flavour). But the bread didn't rise as much as the other bread I have baked using a commercial yeast, so I guess my experiment on the home-made wild yeast is just on its starting point - and this is the kind of challenge that I like ;-).

Although I enjoyed my "girl's week" during the time he was away, I surely missed him all the week and it was really nice to see him again after as long as 9 days!

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