Wednesday, September 7, 2011


We've had a traumatic past few days..

There is a family of cats living around the back door of this sublet we're staying at until we close on our house.  There is a momma cat, Martina, and five babies.  Occasionally the father-figure, Ricky, shows up.  We decided that if no one was taking care of them and we started to do so, then when we made the move, the family could come with us and live in our ginormous garage.  Tuesday we get some cat food and when Chris went to their area to put it away, he discovered someone had put rat poison all around there.  They had even put mothballs in the hole they like to climb under that corner of the house.  This made us sick.  Long story short, it seems that Martina ate some of the poison before we got to it.  Then we saw her nursing her 4-week old babies.  We haven't seen them since yesterday, late afternoon.  As soon as we saw the poison we realized that if these cats are going to stand any chance, we can't keep them here.  They have to go somewhere safe.  We had no luck catching them last night and didn't have anywhere to take them anyhow.  We're not indoor pet people.  Especially because they might have fleas.

Then today on one of his many visits to check on the cats, Chris found Charlie.

He stuck him in our bathroom and spent the rest of the day looking for the others.  Unfortunately, he didn't find anyone else.  We're heartbroken, but at least we've managed to save one of them.  Hopefully something will work out and we can find the others.

Until then... what have we gotten ourselves into?!

So when you all visit our new home, get ready to meet the sweetest little kitty.  His name is Charlie, but his friends call him Chuck.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh yeah... We're back.

Thank you all for following us this summer! We had no idea so many of you were doing so! Soon we hope to get some more pictures posted. As for our current lives.. We are buying a fixer-upper in Cincinnati!! We just love projects! :)

As a few you have suggested, we might try to use this blog as a "normal" blog occasionally now that we're back. We'll try!

Have a good rest of August everyone!
Chris & Lisa

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So. What did you do last night?

We had quite possibly the strangest experience of our vacation.  (we feel that is really saying a lot.  after all, on Sunday we attended a church service of a religion we don't belong to in a language we do not speak, alone.)

The festivities came to an end last night.  To celebrate, Emanuel, The King of Pimba, played a concert.  Pimba is a type of pop folk music here in Portugal.  Apparently the lyrics can be pretty vulgar, but due to the accordions and snappy beats, it is wonderful music to listen to.

Here's a sample of a live performance from YouTube:

The King of Pimba is in his fifties now.  He isn't too animated on stage, however as you can see, that is compensated for by having background dancers/singers that look a lot like 80's cheerleaders doing work-out videos.  To help you better understand, this is how the concert started..

The stage was filled with fog.  A huge crowd had gathered in between the bumper cars and churros stands.  We all watched the stage in anticipation.  Suddenly a person appears amidst the fog, holding one of those keyboard things that has a neck like a guitar.  We hear a few notes and the musician walks to his spot on stage.  Then we see a pair of rather fit female legs on stage.  The fog rolls away a little more to reveal short white boots and a dress of what appears to be a satin white pillowcase edged in silver sequins.  We can't see the figure's head, as it is wearing a small hooded cape, just like Little Red Riding Hood.  An arm appears outside the cape.  Then another.  And another.  Slowly, driven by some synthesizer music, the female figure is revealed to be 4  figures, wearing the same outfit.  They proceed to start doing a work-out video dance routine.  Then another wave of fog rolls in just as the music begins to pick up in intensity.  The exercisers remove their hoods.  Out steps the King, wearing an all white suit.  As he lifts the microphone to his mouth to begin to sing, the audience is blinded by the bits of silver in his sportcoat.  The party has begun.  Pimba music fills the festival.  A little while later, the King tells the audience  "Let's make a party!"

Here's a little video we took, after their first costume change:

Aside from the concert being totally weird and the King of Pimba looking like a creep dancing with young girls, it was really fun!  The music was really good!  Yes, we have no idea what most of the lyrics were, but the dance moves were definitely like an exercise video I have.

Well.. that was our night last night!  Hope you all had fun Monday nights as well!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Friday morning we took the train down to Lisbon.  It was a nice city to visit.  ...Porto is better though!  It seems to have more personality or something..  We had some delicious fresh fish in Lisbon.  We could get used to eating really fresh fish for cheap..  We spent most of our time there just walking around the city.  It was very hilly, so that was kind of a chore.  All in all, it was a fun little visit.  This afternoon we took the train back to Porto.

Tomorrow there is a local holiday of sorts.  People keep referring to it as the "festivities."  Meaning: We're attending Mass with Andre's mom in the morning, then participating in a procession, eating a huge meal (with only 5 "real cakes") with Andre's family, taking a nap, eating more, hearing some concert thing in the village, eating some more...  I guess it's like a solid day of eating, with occasional distractions to give your hands a break from holding the silverware.  We're excited!

And finally, we are proud to announce to everyone that we have seen a total of 100 cats on our trip.  Yes, if you had 8 weeks to do what ever you want.. wouldn't you keep track of all the cats you've seen?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Look at us... regular bloggers!

Hello from Portugal!

We arrived in Portugal with Andre this morning, thankful to have survived a Ryanair experience.  It is really really really hot and humid here.  What we have seen of Porto and the surrounding area so far, reminds me of a mix between the landscape of Southern California and the beauty of Mexico.  It really makes me want to find a way back to visit Mexico with Chris...  hmm...

Since it was so hot and we were very tired, we took it easy most of the day.  During the late afternoon we went on a hike along part of Andre's yard and up a big hill.  Then we walked down the other side of the hill through a village.  We spent a little time at a small beach on the river down there.  Then tonight we enjoyed an authentic Portuguese meal, during which nearly the entire conversation revolved around what to eat for the next meal.  Too funny!  Andre's parents are great!  Just like him!  This next week will be wonderful!  Oh, and we had squid for dinner.  It was delicious!

Well, it's time for bed!  Tomorrow we are spending the day in the large city of Porto.  Fun fun fun! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In Bologna and Doing Great!

Hello hello!

We are currently in Bologna, Italy.  The past two days we have been exploring the city.  Tonight we conquered a multiple-course Italian meal at this restaurant at the top of tiny mountain.  Tomorrow we're spending the day in Florence.  Tuesday will be in Milan.  Early Wednesday we are flying to Porto, Portugal with Andre.  There's apparently some village celebration happening that weekend.  Again, what great timing!

Well, we hope everyone else had a great weekend!  We definitely did with Daniele and Andre!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


We're in Venice!

Things have been going very well on the National Lands' European Vacation the past week!!  After Valence, France, we went to Thun, Switzerland for two nights.  We stayed with a wonderful couple that we wish lived much much closer!  We went on a delightful bike ride to Bern on Saturday.  It was along the river, with snow-covered peaks in the background.  Then Sunday we went to a small town about 45 minutes east of Zurich.  Again, we had wonderful hosts!  They helped prep us for our upcoming visit to Portugal! :)

We arrived in Venice on Tuesday and have spent most of our time walking along the beautiful streets, eating gelato.  We're also alternating between pizza and pasta for each meal.  James Taylor played a concert in the Piazza San Marco on Tuesday night.  We listed to about a song and a half.  Then it started raining, so we left.  Yesterday we got a free gondola ride with our Eurail passes.  After a picnic dinner we went back to the Piazza San Marco and heard an orchestra play for a while.  What great timing - free concerts and free gondola rides!

Today we spent the first part of the day at the Venice Biennale.  It's a huge art show with work from some of the world's best contemporary artists.  We saw about half of the main galleries today.  Tomorrow we will visit the rest.  We also spent a few hours on the island of Murano this afternoon.  This is where they make all those glass dolphin figurines.

Tomorrow we are spending the day in Venice.  During the evening we will be taking a train to Bologna, Italy.  It's a short trip.  There we will meet up with our friend Andre and our soon to be friend Daniele.  We know it's going to be a great time!

And finally, three thoughts in closing...

1. Throughout Europe, the size of squares of toilet paper seem to be the same width, but longer.  We've noticed this everywhere we've been on this trip.

2. My sunglasses seem to be virtually indestructible.  They have only suffered a minor scratch.  I've thrown them out of photographs in the split seconds before the shutter snaps too..

3. My (Lisa's) eyes look more blue now.  Not like really blue, just not as green.  Strange, huh?

Hope everyone is having a great summer!!
Lisa & Chris