MOOKBALL's SparkPeople Blog MOOKBALL's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community Totumo Mud Bath Photos <img src=""> <img src=""> <img src=""> <img src=""> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> The first photos is of my mini hostess, Estefania; the second on the rickety ladder; third, in the mud bath; fourth, My host in front of the Volca... Tue, 3 Dec 2013 17:51:54 EST Muddy On Saturday my host and his daughter took me to the mud volcano of Totumo about 50 miles outside of Cartagena. Driving along the turnpike Highway 90 in Northern Colombia we passed rich fields with views of the ocean and rolling hills with cattle grazing. A prettier drive could not exist, so I was somewhat unprepared for the "Volcano." <BR> <BR> We turned off the main road and headed down toward a cienaga, and there at its side stood this 15 m (49 feet) high mound of gray gunk with du... Sat, 30 Nov 2013 22:04:16 EST The Art of Bargaining Nothing has a set price. <BR> <BR> This is the first thing you must learn in a third world country. The art of bargaining is a must, and for many North Americans who only bargain for a house or a car, and who find that quite disagreeable, bargaining for just about everything seems like a waste of time, and and an imposition. After all, everything has its fair price. <BR> <BR> Even we, as North Americans bargain, although we may not think of it that way. When we go to the store with better... Sun, 24 Nov 2013 14:14:58 EST Cultural Differences Cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings. Ask me, I know. <BR> <BR> Yesterday I went into the kitchen to prepare oatmeal for breakfast. The Senora was there heating milk for my coffee. When I told her I wanted some "avena" and I would make it in a small pot with just water, she looked horrified. " Just with water?" she asked. At which point she sent her son to the corner store to bring back some cinnamon bark, added more milk to that heating up on the stove, threw in the package ... Fri, 22 Nov 2013 14:57:20 EST The Phone "Booth." Okay, the day of the phone booth has passed. Clark Kent will have to find another place to disrobe, and most of the world has found that cell phones, even in remote areas are the order of the day. But in many third world countries, some people are so poor that having a cell phone (the cheapest phone is $25, and unlimited service is about $12 per month) is not a possibility. <BR> <BR> So up springs a new micro business, corner cell phones. No booths, just a wooden table with a sign, a... Tue, 19 Nov 2013 19:52:25 EST The Corner Store In my youth the mom and pop corner store was a reality. Just about every corner in the Philadelphia neighborhoods had the corner zoned for commercial use. <BR> <BR> The luncheonette, the butcher, the druggist, the ice cream store and the small grocery store were the life blood of the neighborhood. Women (who in those days did not work if they were mothers) would meet and chat exchange gossip and child rearing tips. The corner store was a place one visited several times a day (or sent th... Tue, 19 Nov 2013 13:38:47 EST A Child on my Knee Years ago when I was an old mother (my child was born when I was almost 36) I enjoyed sitting in the rocker, nursing him, singing him to sleep, and later reading books. <BR> <BR> I still love doing that (well, not nurse) <em>170</em> <em>90</em> <em>188</em> <em>296</em> and now I get to do it everyday at the Cartagena day care where I volunteer. Some kids are not so interested in the book as the special lap time, and some want lap time only because others get it and they don't... Thu, 14 Nov 2013 15:18:36 EST The Shortest Distance Between Points My host knows nothing about mathematics or geometry. Except to the occasional student I am willing to bet that math is a subject to be taught in theory, for the pure devilment of educators, for with the exception of sums one does in one's head, it has little use in Colombia. <BR> <BR> If nature has no use for a straight line, then Colombians are all nature. Streets do not go in a straight line from one point to another but devilish curve and turn and spiral their way through a city. A bu... Thu, 7 Nov 2013 14:15:23 EST The Sounds of Cartagena Today, as I was doing the laundry in the wringer washer and waiting for each load to finish I sat in the patio of this railroad-car style house and just listened. <BR> <BR> Of course there was the swishing of the washer but as I sat in the sun I heard a tropical bird flying from one mango tree to another, the midday croak of a rooster, a vendor in the street with his repeated high pitch "mangoes, aquacates. limones." <BR> <BR> Because "our" street is the access to a bridge that crosses a... Tue, 5 Nov 2013 19:01:38 EST Not a Drop to Flush We take so many things for granted...water, electricity, food, instant access to the world by the Internet. So when first world inhabitants don't have these things they feel deprived and maybe a little or a lot inconvenienced. <BR> <BR> This morning after my walk on the beach I learned that there was a city water shut-off. What little water was left in my water bottle I used to wet a washcloth and wipe myself down, But there is no water for showers, for cooking, for washing dishes,, for... Thu, 31 Oct 2013 11:17:24 EST It's Not on The Tracker This is nothing new to me, nor is the frustration of not being able to find common South American fruits and vegetables on the tracker. <BR> <BR> Oh, for sure, you can find, papaya, mango and plantains on the tracker. Ditto, pineapple, apples and pears. But the more commonly served fruits, maracuya, guava, guabana, pithaya,nispero, where are they? <BR> <BR> Colombia is a land where there are so many tropical fruits that it is difficult to find their names or English translations on the ... Sun, 27 Oct 2013 14:32:48 EST Share a walk through the Historic District of Cartagena<BR>r_detailpage&v=oJq0Hw8IyD4 <BR> <BR> Highlight and Right click on open link. hope that works for you. Fri, 25 Oct 2013 20:56:32 EST Clean? Sweep It's barely 8 am and all the ladies on my block in Cartagena are out on the street sweeping. Lucilla, the grandmother is out, sweeping leaves, dirt, trash that people have carelessly thrown and water from last night's rain shower. <BR> <BR> <BR> She is joined by about ten other ladies that I can see as I walk up the block on the way to the daycare center. As I walk the five or six blocks to the Center there are a bevy of other women and men sweeping, using old nylon brooms, palm fronds, and... Wed, 23 Oct 2013 18:41:13 EST First Day at Sta. Rita Daycare My hair was hardly dry when Libary, the volunteer coordinator peeked into my room and asked "Are you ready to go?" I put down the dryer, gathered up my books and toys, stashed then in my canvas bag and headed out the door and down the road with her. <BR> <BR> We walked through unpaved, and partially paved, and broken up pavement and lots of rutted streets to get to the children's daycare center, Hogar Infantil Comunitaria Sta. Rita. Around the corner from the motocycle repair shops, o... Mon, 21 Oct 2013 17:43:38 EST The Day at the Beach that Never Was I was waiting around for almuerzo (mid day meal) with the intention of going to the beach afterward. At 2 pm Max said, "Ruth, Vamos!" ' Where?', I asked, "To the beach,' he replied. They were going to take me to one of the local beaches, but instead we got on the highway to Baranquilla and drove and drove through swampland and some places with very Miami like hotels and condominiums and out into the country. It began to rain, a real downpour and water came slanting like pins and needles th... Sun, 20 Oct 2013 19:35:33 EST Walking into the 16th Century <img src="">Part of the charm of this Caribbean port city is the walled city or historic district as it is known here. Founders of Cartagena wanted to protect this city on all sides from pirates and gold thieves and thus built a thick wall (probably with Indian slave labor)to protect this developing city. <BR> <BR> As conquistadors stole gold and enslaved the Indians to mine more so that it could be sent back to Spain there was a need... Sat, 19 Oct 2013 18:02:05 EST No help from the dinnerware industry Recently I decided to buy new dinnerware, the old having served for many years and being minus some items by attrition. <BR> <BR> But, Lo and Behold, I could not find dinner plates that would fit in my dishwasher. Whereas the old dinnerware had 10 inch plates with ample borders to help me with portion control, the majority of the dinnerware on the American market today had 11 inch plates, many without borders, to hold more food and more calories. Dinnerware has expanded to accommodate our... Tue, 29 Jan 2013 10:40:02 EST Secret garden I was blown away. Today I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as I do every month. But today I was stunned by the sheer beauty of this assembled curtain of silk flowers that is on Exhibiton in the Perleman Building of the Philadelphia Musuem of Art. <BR> <BR><BR>59.html <BR> <BR> Click on Jim Hodge's curtain of reassembled silk flowers and enlarge to see detail. This photo is not as good as seeing it in person, but I am blown away by its co... Thu, 19 Apr 2012 21:19:46 EST The Devil Made Me Do It If there was ever a great excuse for cleaning your house, it has got to be Guatemala´s Quema del Diablo, Burning of the devil. <BR> <BR> Today is that day, and at 6 pm. people, who have been cleaning out all their trash and excesses from their houses take their trash and old worries into the streets and burn it, saying they are burning the devil. <BR> <BR> Now I know this would be a major catastrophe of ecological proportions in the US where we all have too much ¨stuff¨¨ in our homes, many... Wed, 7 Dec 2011 19:44:17 EST Walking Tall in Guatemala I don``t have any facts or figures, just observations, but from two weeks of witnessing the indigenous women of Guatemala I would have to say that what they lack in height they make up for in good posture. <BR> <BR> It could be the diet or the genes that contribute to their stature, most are under 5 feet tall, and I, at 5`2" look over their heads. But these women have great poise and excellent posture. It could be that many of them lack cars, lack shopping carts, lack backpacks to carry t... Fri, 18 Nov 2011 18:46:15 EST No drums, no rain, no maracas <BR> <BR> The hotel in Chichicastenango was lovely, had a fireplace in the room, which I took advantage of to take the chill off the night air. I went to sleep to the crackle and pop of wood burning in the chiminea...lulled me to sleep quickly. <BR> <BR> After breakfast on Sunday I took off for the market. Bought two cane ¨drums¨, a rain maker and was bargaining for maracas, but the people offering them thought I was an idiot with too much money in my pockets. On second thought, the maraca... Mon, 14 Nov 2011 19:39:52 EST A Day in Chichi Today I got up early and went to the chicken bus terminal to take the locals bus to Chichicastenango. <BR> <BR> Well that ride was certainly thrilling, serpentine roads all the way, lots of sleeping policemen -speed bumps- in one area, and a macho bus driver who wanted to make time by passing on curves. We almost crashed into another bus. By the time I got here I needed a stiff drink, but settled for almuerzo- main mea, instead. <BR> <BR> I am staying in the most beautiful hotel, a large ... Sat, 12 Nov 2011 19:49:38 EST The Itch It has been more than a year and a half since I was in Ecuador and Peru volunteering with pre-schoolers in orphanages and day care centers. <BR> <BR> Since returning I have been taking classes in early childhood education and and art for children. I have been amassing books, educational materials, non-stop toys non-stop. I have packed and repacked my bags and bins, eliminating everything that wasn't necessary, and re-eliminating when I decided to throw something in at the last moment. I... Tue, 1 Nov 2011 11:10:24 EST Trite Ok, I am getting jaded. <BR> <BR> Last night I went to the theater, and for the umpteenth time I saw a play that followed the trite theme of "young girl goes to the big city to make it, meets a boy, falls in love, leaves the boy, later reunites with the boy and big musical finale." <BR> <BR> Last night it was Rock of Ages, but it could have been any of a dozen musical theater plays I've seen in the pas t20 years. Is it that this is such an endearing theme, or does it lend itself to musical... Thu, 20 Oct 2011 11:03:48 EST Here's the Problem. What would you do? My consternation is running high as I write this blog. My now 32 year old son has come home to roost, and I am not happy about it. In addition he has brought along a homeless man who is now occupying my office/sitting room. <BR> <BR> These two are supposed to be looking for jobs, getting a life, but they are spending the days in bed and the nights watching videos and inviting "friends" into the house. <BR> <BR> I am not sure why I am allowing this, except that my son, and his "friend" met ... Wed, 17 Aug 2011 15:47:08 EST Trying to find my Chill Trying to find some cool things to do today. <BR> <BR> There's always swimming at the gym but that is soooo boring. <BR> <BR> I could walk the mall, but I need to keep the credit card in the trunk. <BR> <BR> I could play in the sprinkler...but wouldn't I look silly? <BR> <BR> I could walk in the woods...but they're only about 10 degrees cooler...maybe not so cool. <BR> <BR> Sure wish I could find an ice skating rink that's open! <BR> <BR> What do YOU do to beat the heat? Give me some CO... Sat, 30 Jul 2011 12:22:27 EST Trompe l'oeil wins again! I have this weight problem. It fluctuates, goes up and down the scale, and it bothers me that I still have the stomach of a 5-month pregnant woman, although I am past the age and with enough gray hair to cancel out that assumption for anyone. <BR> <BR> So there is this belly fat, that just adheres to me, no matter how much I watch the calories, swim, kayak, ride bikes or walk. It does not want to leave me. A few years ago I found a pants outfit. I has a v-neck blouse with an empire wais... Mon, 25 Jul 2011 12:23:32 EST Temps up, Ruth's down As the temperature soars to a near or maybe over 100 degrees F today I am planning to keep cool, at home. <BR> <BR> Here are some of the things I do not do to avoid raising the temperature in my house. Cook on the stove or oven, wash dishes in the diswasher, wash or dy clothes, use any appliances that will heat up my house. Not use the car which will only raise the temperatures out of doors with gas emissions. <BR> <BR> I plan to spend some hours in the basement where it is coolest (and ... Fri, 22 Jul 2011 11:48:28 EST Rain drops are hurting my ears For all those who don't visit my occasional blogs very often (or never) my 32- year old son has moved back in with me after a seizure disorder which put him twice in the hospital, left him jobless and a laundry list of other ills. <BR> <BR> Except after he had had a seizure he has trouble sleeping, and so he plays this "white noise" of rain, low thumber, and drip, drip drip to help him sleep .He plays it so loud it carries through the entire upper floor of the house. When I am computing ... Sun, 10 Jul 2011 11:05:55 EST How many times can you patch a tire? It's been more than a year since I saw my cousin, Joan. She lives a six-hour drive away. She was released from the hospital today, gong home. <BR> <BR> My sister, cousin and I will see her next week after a year's worth of medical interventions for one thing or another. In additon to being diagnosed with Lupus and Emphasyma (she breathes with oxygen tank when she is in bed) Joan also carried too much weight which made it hard for her to climb stairs. She has had knee replacements. Rece... Fri, 8 Jul 2011 23:19:34 EST Yoga-ing At the request of my chiropractor I am participating in a hatha yoga class for a half hour two days a week. <BR> <BR> I know that this type of stretching might be useful to me if I did it more frequently, and it might also help my limberness (is that a word?) and my agility. But does it really calm a person to participate in yoga? I find that I am highly stressed just trying to attain some of the positions that the instructor is doing. Should I just do what I can or should I try to stre... Thu, 23 Jun 2011 12:33:58 EST The problem hypocrisy. Why do I wish for my son to participate in a program that I only partially believe in? <BR> <BR> We're talking here about the American Medical Profession. I avoid doctors, medicines, and all that stuff. I seek out good nutrition, exercise and hope to stay healthy. <BR> <BR> Yet when it comes to my son with his seizure disorder I want him to go to doctors, take medicines, and take the advice of the people who practice the art of healing...even when many of them are more legal drug pusher... Wed, 8 Jun 2011 23:28:59 EST Siezing the day (and night) Thursday will mark two weeks since my adult son entered the hospital with uncontrolled seizures. Our suburban hospital did not have the technology or medical staff to help him and he was transferred to a top neurology unit at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. <BR> <BR> For the first week he was zombie like with all the medication the doctors ordered to control his seizures. He walked with a walker like a little old man and needed to have physical therapy to help him over th... Tue, 7 Jun 2011 12:04:56 EST At the Stoplight I was sitting at the stoplight yesterday, waiting for the light to change. There across the street in the corner store called "Free" was a dress of dreams. It was a black and white stripe one shoulder number cut on the bias with the stripes going diagonally across the body. It had an uneven hemline, dipping at front center. It was, in my opinion, the ultimate in chic. <BR> <BR> I looked, looked again, and decided that it was not for me. It may have been forty years ago, and it might be ... Wed, 25 May 2011 10:40:46 EST Hate <img src=""> <BR> (That's me bonding with the dog) <BR> <BR> Sunday I participated in my first charity walk. It's wasn't that hard, three miles, easy peasy. <BR> But now I am motivated to do more of these walks, not for the tee shirts, (I don't wear them), not even for the exercise (although it helps the day's total steps), but because they are such a wonderful bonding experience with others who support the same causes or have similar ... Mon, 16 May 2011 11:56:10 EST Never to be repeated I am sitting at my computer and occasionally I look over at the wall by the window. There is the most amazing light show going on, sun filtering through the pines and dappling light and shapes and shadows in a continual dance of pattern, almost like a kaleidoscope with the same pattern never being repeated. <BR> <BR> I think of trees as static, but now I see though rooted in the ground, they are amazingly graceful, full of life, movement and whimsical dance, all for my viewing pleasure. I... Thu, 5 May 2011 08:59:42 EST Am I right or wrong? Travel used to be a pleasure. <BR> <BR> Aboard the train, plane or ship you were treated with courtesy, served small but decent meals, and treated as a valued customer of the liner. People who traveled dressed in their best, brought their best manners aboard, and were deserving of the special treatment they got . <BR> <BR> Today we wear our worst clothes, flip flops, ragged tees ; we wait in horrid lines to get through security and customs,;wait in less than comfortable waiting areas for... Sat, 23 Apr 2011 20:14:18 EST Getting my art on It's taken almost an entire semester to get into the mood of this "art for young children" class I'm taking at the community college. <BR> <BR> Most of the projects we have done are for school-age children, not for pre-schoolers, and I find it hard to adapt most of the techniques we are learning to the little ones I work with. <BR> <BR> But last week we made stencils and this week used them to screen print on cotton tee shirts. I can tell you that this is not something I'd try with 2 and... Fri, 22 Apr 2011 21:30:46 EST How much is enough? How much is enough? <BR> <BR> I am between a rock and a hard place at present. My adult son who suffers from epilepsy, who has lost his jobs because of the episodes, who is suffering from depression because of the medical problems, his inability to pay for medical treatment, his loss of dignity that comes with loss of work, and who is breaking up with his fiancée for various reason, some of which are connected to the above problems, needs help. <BR> <BR> I have helped him get medical insu... Thu, 21 Apr 2011 10:28:35 EST That dangerous milkshake I read a news article today that said that the same areas of the brain are activated when <BR> women are shown pictures of tasty foods as when drug addicts see drugs. In other words obesity, for some, is a form of addiction. <BR> <BR><BR>/food-addiction-brain_n_844931.html?ic<BR>id=maing-grid7%7Caim%7Cdl6%7Csec1_lnk3<BR>%7C54470 <BR> <BR> So those billboards with a juicy hamburger and fries, a photo of a beautiful milkshake will set off the same re... Wed, 6 Apr 2011 11:02:36 EST Disarming It's been fifteen or sixteen years since I first awoke with that numbing sensation and tingling in my arm. It is not exactly dis-arming, although it sometimes feels like that. Tomorrow will I wake up with a dead extremity beside my pillow? <BR> <BR> Went to the doctor; he explained how the nerves compress as we age, suggested a contour pillow to support the neck while I sleep at night. I have been through two contour pillows in the ensuing years, (these pillows compress and don't do their... Mon, 4 Apr 2011 12:23:22 EST Can Sex Make a Difference? Well, this blog is not really about sex. It is about what kind of headline attracks readers. <BR> <BR> If you were attracked to this blog because of the headline, please post an emoticon like <em>211</em> Sat, 19 Mar 2011 23:42:09 EST What a day! Early morning the snow was crusty and scaping for skiing, but by noon it was total slush and I had to take off my jacket, hat and ski gloves as the temperature rose into the 60's. I have been longing for a spring ski day for a long time, but slush really works the legs and I had trouble navigating the slopes as my skis cut ever deeper grooves into the "slurpee" trails. <BR> <BR> But what a joy to lower my convertible top on the drive home in 66 degree F weather. <BR> <BR> The day was sens... Thu, 17 Mar 2011 19:16:39 EST The girl in my bedroom The girl in my bedroom sits above my left shoulder when I'm in bed. She has a history; and is the most intimidating girl in my life. <BR> <BR> She is a lithe beauty, no stomach, perky small breasts, sensuous slim body, seated by a rural river, dallying in the languid sun while arranging her hair atop her head. She has just bathed in the river and now sits on the rock to dry naturally in the sun while going about her toilette. <BR> <BR> She began life as an idea, then a model, then a painte... Tue, 15 Mar 2011 12:01:54 EST Which would you do? I am inconsistent. Sometimes I will spend way too much money on something then have to cut back in another area. Other times I will be tighter than a snare drum and do something wild like splurge on an unnecessary item. <BR> <BR> So here is my question for you? <BR> <BR> Do you shop at Aldi's so you CAN shop at Bloomingdales? <BR> <BR> Or do you shop at Bloomingdale's so you HAVE TO shop at Aldi? <BR> <BR> Or maybe it's neither? <BR> Tue, 8 Mar 2011 10:08:21 EST The Walk began in NC, ended in PA The quiet of the Pennypack Wilderness was broken today as I multi-tasked and walked three miles. Hate calling people on my cell while I'm in the woods, but a three mile walk can get boring day after day when you don't have a walking buddy to catch you up on the there I was hand to ear catching up with my friends in NC, VA, NY and PA. <BR> <BR> Do you multitask when you walk, run, jog? What do you do? <em>38</em> Sat, 5 Mar 2011 18:20:36 EST Liposucting a hippo Today I was part of the team, well actually the head surgeon facing the impossible task of performing liposuction on a hippo, and reconstruction of major organs. <BR> <BR> One wonders why anyone would do this type of surgery on an animal who has no right of denial of the services or even consent for the operation. In humans this is considered cosmetic surgery, but for this hippotamus, it was an act of love . <BR> <BR> The hippo was a gift to my new "grandog", a labrador-beagle mix, who has... Tue, 1 Mar 2011 20:46:06 EST Silver What? At one time here was such a thing as silver dollars and they were made of real silver, but as silver got more expensive the US mint began using other metals for its "silver" dollars. <BR> <BR> Today the silver dollars are made mostly of copper with some kind of shiny "gold-like" surface. <BR> <BR> After living in Ecuador where even paper dollars are suspect of being forgeries (Ecuador went to the USD as its monetary unit in 2000) I began using the US dollar coins, the Sacajeweas or Susa... Fri, 25 Feb 2011 12:17:56 EST Palm Trees in Pennsylvania Now I have to admit that I think palm trees would look pretty silly in Pennsylvania, but there are those people who just wish for warmth all the time, in other words they are the ones who want palm trees in Pennsylvania. <BR> <BR> I am a big believer in taking advantage of the gifts you are given. If you have snow, learn to sled, snowshoe, cross country ski or at least build a snowman or a snow fort and blast your friends with snowballs. But take advantage of what you have, don't be wish... Tue, 22 Feb 2011 18:52:29 EST Downhill all the way Last week it was water slides, this week it's snow chutes, but life couldn't get any better when it is downhill all the way! Thu, 10 Feb 2011 16:49:15 EST