Friday, October 31, 2014

Thoughts I Have During a Masă

First off, I'll tell you what a masă is, in case you are unaware/forgot/never knew.. The word technically means "table" but when we say we went to a masă, we didn't go to a table - or we did, but there was a crap ton of food on the table. So it's what we say for birthday celebrations, holiday celebrations, Tuesday nights.. Basically whenever there is more food and drink than there should be for the amount of people attending the meal, it's a masă. 

Yesterday was someone's birthday (actually I don't think it was, but I think we were celebrating her birthday from a few days prior) and I went to the longest masă I'd ever been to. I thought I would never get to leave. Let me just bring you into my head for this experience. 

For example...

"Catea, come to my office at noon for a masă, it was my birthday." 

Yeah, okay, sure. 

Okay, it's past noon and I'm alone in my office.. Should I get up and find that woman? Maybe they forgot I'm here? They're probably just on Moldova time. 

"Catea, it's Pasha's birthday. Let's go!"

Yep, Moldova time. 

Huh, that's weird. A traveling salesman. Is this a coincidence or are we having like a Tupperware party masă, but with appliances? 

Okay, coincidence. But he's gonna join the masă, because, why not? 

Wow, she's really making sure all those shots of cognac are equal. I hope she runs out of it so we don't have to have more than one. 

Now, how can I avoid everything with mayonnaise? Wait, does everything have mayonnaise? 

Aha, some cucumber-cheese-bread slices. No mayo. Gotta sit near those. 

Is that Spongebob Squarepants on that candy wrapper? Yes it is. I'll have to try that later. 

Oh, man. What are those. Hot dogs? In buns? With... Oh, with mayo. Among other toppings. I'll avoid that. 

"Cat, here, have a hot dog." 


So how can I scrape off the top without anyone noticing me.. 

Nailed it. So stealth. 

Okay, let's do this. One shot of cognac and I will not have any more. 

They're really gonna toast forever. Maybe I won't even have to drink it. 


No, don't bring me any more of that. 

Fine, but it better be the tiniest amount. 

Do I want wine? Uh, duh. Especially if it means I don't have to have more cognac. 

Oh my gosh, these Spongebob things are so delicious. 

Sure, let's talk about my finding a nice Căplani boy. Or we could just not. 

Another glass of wine to toast to my finding a man.. If they toast it enough, do they think it will really happen? 

"Do you like Moldovan wine? It's the best, right?!"

"I like wine from every country."

"Ahhhh, excellent! Have some more!"


Getting kind of tired, wonder if I can leave anytime soon. 

That's a hard no, birthday girl is bringing out more bottles of wine. Is that bottle 2 liters or 3? It's gotta be 2, these women can't have had almost 3 liters. 

No thanks, I'm done. No more wine for me. 

Oh. Okay. Well since it's 2014 and not 2013, that must mean I have to try it; you're so right. 

"Caterina! How do you like Moldova?"

So that's three names for the day. 

"Katușa! Do you have a boyfriend?"

Four, and no. 

"What about one in America?"

Still no. 

"Cheers to Catea finding a nice man!"

Fine, cheers to that. If you're so concerned, just matchmake me already. 

No, wait, don't do that. 

I have to go to the bathroom. And then can I leave? 

Oh, I apparently need accompaniment. Birthday girl is going to come. Yay for communal outhouses. The new frontier.

Please do speak Russian to me, because I'm not lost enough of the time. 

Wait I know that word! Thanks, Chad.

No seriously, I know that word. You don't have to teach it to me again.

Okay, it's cold, let's get a move on.

Who filled up my glass while I was gone, I swear.

Whatever, I'm taking a nap after this anyway.

Sure, let's sing. Wow, that is a terrible song. 

"You don't understand when we talk fast, do you?"

Step back - we have a winner!

"Well yeah, and we're speaking Russian."


Oh, it WAS 3 liters.

No, I promise I can eat more Spongebobs with the wine - it's okay. I know the Spongebob thing is sweet. Don't worry about it. 

More singing. 

WHAT, it's past 3:00?? So, I can go, right?

Except I can't get a word in because of all the singing. How much have they HAD? 

Okay, let's make moves. 

No, I don't want anymore wine. 

Someone is here to see me? Oh good, I'll go talk to her! 

Oh, and then we'll both return to the masă, great. 

We'll leave together? Okay, sweet, finish your drink. 

No, I don't want anymore wine.

"Where is your glass?!"

"I don't have one! Too bad!" 

So since I'm not drinking anymore, I can leave, right? Oh. More singing. 

"Where is your glass?!"


Yes, they're letting me go get my stuff! 


It was past 4:00 by the time I got to leave, and I did not actually get that nap. But I went to bed very early! (After having MORE wine, because you can't have plăcintă without wine, for some reason..) These thoughts are quite condensed, as I was there for literally 4 hours, but this is basically the gist. The women of Moldova want me to eat more, drink more, and find a man.. And it turns out when they're doing 2/3 of those things, they're really all about the third. 

Now do you want to join me for a masă already or what?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Site Visit

This last week, a few of us had our site visits, which means our Program Manager, Violeta, made a trip down to our sites to talk with us and our partners. 

Violeta had a time and date in mind so I asked my partner about it and she said that would work. At the weekly meeting on Monday (with the site visit that Thursday) I was so ready to ask the mayor if he wanted to join us. I had planned what I was going to say, and he goes around to everyone to ask for updates, so I was totally ready.. And then my partner stole my thunder and told him before I could. But, whatever! Then he knew, so.

Thursday morning our meeting was set for 10:30, so a few minutes before 10 the mayor comes in and asks where Violeta is, because he has places to be. So we call her and she is on the way and ends up getting there around 10, so we just get right into it (or they do, it's a lot of fast Romanian). Luckily she got there before the mayor returned to our office, so I was able to tell her something that she could get in the conversation before he had to leave. 

We talked about all kinds of stuff - potential additional partners for me (my current one is not going to be one to actually work on stuff with), potential projects and things I can start trying to do, people I can meet, an NGO that we apparently have that I couldn't figure out anything about until then, and tons of other stuff. Violeta was an expert translator as usual, which was very helpful because I obviously don't know how to say everything I want to say. For example, they had decided I would go to the kindergarten once a week, which.. I mean, I like children and all, but there's a reason I don't currently have any and there's a reason I'm not a kindergarten teacher, and both of those reasons are that as cute as they are, they are also obnoxious, and I don't plan to do that anytime soon. Last time I was there I was with the youngest group (ages 2-3) and I was essentially just there to help babysit, which, as it turns out, is not in my job description. So Violeta got me out of that situation, thankfully.

After talking about all the important stuff and after my partner had stopped paying attention to us talking in English, she looked at me with that sympathetic head tilt people do and said, "So how are you feeling?" And I thought I had done pretty well with not being emotional the whole meeting, but that was all over and I had to cry about it. It's easy to be lonely all the time and be sort of okay with it, but then when someone asks you about it and you can tell they really care and want to know, well. I eventually recovered and my partner didn't even bat an eye (I would say they're as used to it as everyone else is, but really I've only cried like one time at work - they just know because my host mom tells EVERYONE about everything), and it was probably around time for Violeta to leave, so she got up to get her things and my partner thought that was the perfect time to make coffee. 

Violeta politely declined, but as I've learned, my partner does not take no for an answer when it comes to food and drinks, and she had both ready, so Violeta had to sit back down and they talked for a while while I attempted to understand (so I mostly just didn't, and ate cookies). It was past 1:00 by then, so Violeta drove me home (heck yeah, didn't have to walk through the mud for 20 minutes! She also set a GPS point at my house so if anything ever happens and I need Peace Corps to get to me, they can just plug that in and find me ASAP). We said goodbye, but I told her she has to come back and hang out, and she said she would, so I'm holding her to that. 

I was not really looking forward to this visit, because even though I knew it would be nice to see her, I was discouraged about not having done anything (I assumed we'd have nothing to talk about.. 3+ hours with her says I was clearly wrong) and no one wants to disappoint Violeta, and I hadn't been having the greatest week.. But it turned out to be all fine and even pleasant and encouraging, so hopefully tomorrow will be the start of a brand new, better week!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Currently #3


Reading Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind by Sarah Wildman. The author wants to find more information about her Jewish grandfather and his true love, who wasn't able to flee Europe with him during World War II. It's really interesting and I'm learning more about the way things were for Jewish people during the war. I visited a WWII memorial this weekend and it made me think of my grandpa, too.

Writing letters. I successfully mailed 8 of them! That's an accomplishment because the post office is in Romanian (yeah, I know, everything's in Romanian) and they always ask questions I don't know how to answer. Hopefully they all make it home! 

Listening to Nicki Minaj, for some reason. In my defense, we used her song for our dance.

Thinking about this week's site visit. Our Program Manager is making the rounds, and she's coming to my office on Thursday. She's the greatest and I am excited to see her, but I don't feel very confident in what I'm doing so I don't know how the conversation will go. Plus, she's got this way of talking to me and looking into my soul that often makes me want to cry, so I really don't want that to happen at work. 

Smelling fall. I don't actually smell this in Căplani, but I was in Ștefan Vodă this weekend and walked through parks with actual trees and leaves changing color and falling, and it was the greatest. 

Wishing my roomie a wonderful wedding week, and wishing I could be there for her on her big day Saturday. But I'll be there in spirit! (Delta Pi spirit?? My favorite kind?!)

Hoping that my host mom knows what she's doing in deciding on a tutor for me. Haven't met the woman yet, but host mom called her last night so I'm finally going to have a Romanian tutor. 

Wearing sweaters on sweaters on sweaters. Our wood has been delivered and the sobă (wood stove) has been turned on (started? What's the correct verb for this?) so the house is being heated and it's warm and cozy inside.. But it's chilly at work! Luckily sweaters/sweatshirts are possibly my favorite item of clothing.

Loving the people reading this right now. Yes, you! 

Wanting food from home. No, I'm dreaming about it. But literally. I had a very vivid dream last night involving tacos and soda, so that was weird, but. Basically I just want my mother to cook for me. I'm going to make a menu for 2016 when I come home, and it's going to be great.

Needing Hercules to come out so I can watch it. I'm obsessed and can't wait. Tomorrow, tomorrow, you're only a day away! 

Feeling sore from moving all the wood! (Even though I did this days ago.) A big truck came and delivered a huge amount of wood, and oddly enough, you can't just leave it all outside your gate on the road. So we had to move this huge pile inside. We started working together (host mom and I) but she left shortly after beginning to do something else, so I kept working. Kids came by and watched me, and eventually the pile was much smaller. Host mom came back out, saw the kids watching and the size of the pile, and told them to get off their butts and help me, so we got the rest finished in about 15 minutes with four of us working! And I felt very accomplished, so there's that. 

Clicking this awesome "color thesaurus" and this cute Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants reunion, which makes me want to read all the books again. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hram in Căplani

Tuesday was Hram in my village! Hram is a celebration that each town/village has sometime during the year. The date is based on (I hope I'm getting this right) the patron saint of the town, as each saint has a day on the Orthodox calendar. This means that occasionally villages will share dates - Hram in Măgdăcești was the same day as Hram in Stauceni and Molovata and probably others, as September 21 is a day of a popular saint (the Virgin Mary, I believe? It's impossible to figure out which Orthodox calendar is the one they use here, so I don't even know which saint is for Căplani). So Căplani's Hram was actually the same day as Chișinău's! I think my host mom asked if I wanted to go up for Chișinău's, but I definitely wanted to stay in the village to see the celebration here. 

We had been discussing Hram for the past two weeks in the weekly Primaria meeting, and both times they mentioned the căruţă and asked me whether I'd like to ride in it - obviously, and the mayor had known this already for quite some time. The căruţă is just a cart pulled by a horse - I don't know why I'm so obsessed with it and people use it for real life and work and stuff, but I just think it's the greatest. So naturally I wanted to ride in one. 

I had the day off and after lunch I heard a knock on the door - it was the mayor! He took one look at me and said, I'll give you 5 minutes to get dressed. In my defense, I was absolutely dressed. All I had to do was put on a sweater, but tank tops are just really scandalous apparently. 

We went to the House of Culture and there was the căruţă! With men in national costume decorating the horse and everything - my one regret in life is that I was really awful about taking pictures so there aren't any.. It got dark eventually and then I regretted it more because the mayor "took" a bunch of pictures but I can 100% tell you that he doesn't know how to use a camera so I don't think any actually exist. There's always next year? 

Anyway, a woman ushered me into the House of Culture and dressed me in costume too! I did manage to take a selfie after she left the room, because, duh. 

I stood outside the House of Culture for a while (looking fantastic, obviously) waiting for the men to come back, as they had left to get more decorations (and probably wine) because waiting on a woman is virtually impossible, as you all know, so they had to start without me. 
Casa de Cultura decorated for the evening

Then they picked me up and away we went! No one spoke English, and I said very few words the entire time, but we (a few men, one boy about 16, and two girls younger than the boy) went all through the village inviting people to Hram. This consisted of bringing them a shot of wine and some cookies/candy and occasionally some shouting and banging on a broken drum. They knew we were coming, because most houses had another jug of wine to share with us, more candy and cookies, and even real food at some. 

The inside of the cart - complete with a bunch of corn and a jug of wine
Whenever we saw people I knew, they were very pleased that I was there and dressed up for the occasion. We even went to one of the rutiera driver's houses and he gave me wine and said, you were on my bus! When? Yesterday? Great! So I'm pretty excited about that.

The young boy would push the girls forward and say, look, we have ladies too, and even a foreigner! He was quite confident in all that he did and it was adorable. Even though I was the foreigner. Nici o problema. It was a lot of fun to ride through the village, especially when we went to the side I had never been to - we went up the hill and you can see the whole town from that side! So pretty, and I'll definitely be walking up there later. 

The gypsies dancing
We eventually made it back to the center of town where many many people were gathered (we had told them to come, after all) for dancing and fun. There was a gypsy show, which everyone was really excited about. We had a masa at the Primaria (before AND after dancing) and it was a lot of fun! Well, until I got tired and my host mom didn't want to leave. I may have gotten a smidge cranky, but overall it was a pretty good time. I do think I may have danced with the man who had had THE MOST to drink, and it just happened to be the longest song in the history of the world, but I got over that too, and eventually we went back to the house and went to bed. 

There were many more people after dancing - I think we kind of sneaked in for our first round

Here's hoping my next căruţă ride is sooner than a year away! I'd really like it to be my main form of transportation, if possible.....

Monday, October 13, 2014

8 hours and 300 km later...

This weekend, World Hospice and Palliative Care Day was celebrated around the world. One of my COD friends is working with an NGO in southern Moldova called Hospice Angelus Taraclia, and she helped them to plan an event for this that she asked me to be a part of. Since I am in the southeast area of Moldova and Miki is in the south, logically it would be easy to get to her for this event, buuuuut.. You can't use logic here when it comes to transportation, so you'd be wrong. 

Friday I woke up at 4:30 a.m... Did you know there was a 4 in the morning as well as in the afternoon? Now I do. The earliest rutiera out of Căplani leaves at 5:30 and I had to be sure to catch that. Leaving before the sun is up is not my preferred travel time, but I did get to sleep on the warm, heated bus and watch the sunrise while we were on the road. 

I made it to Chișinău's central bus station around 8:30, but my 9:10 bus was leaving for Taraclia at the south bus station, which I'd never been to and didn't know how long it took to get to, so.. I booked it from the central station to the main road to catch a trolley bus to the south station. I made it there a few minutes after 9 and quickly found what I assumed was the right bus. I asked the driver if I needed a ticket and he told me where the ticket office was and what to tell the cashier, so I successfully did that as well (list of accomplishments for the day was already pretty high, given the hour). Turns out there was a more direct bus that didn't go through some of the towns I went through, but it was cool to see all of those, especially knowing that I have/had friends in some of them, so I didn't mind! (Now I can say, Naomi, I passed through your town! and stuff.)

I got to Taraclia around 12:45 and Miki and her partner were there to meet me! Before going back to her house for lunch, we stopped and hung up some posters for the event.. The event that would be happening the next day.. I could just feel Mass Comm. professors cringing from around the world.

After lunch we went to the House of Culture and we met with the people who work there. Hospice Angelus needed their permission to use the town square, so they wanted to make sure everything was a-OK. Miki's idea for the event was to perform a hip hop dance and then teach it to anyone who attended who might want to learn it. So during PST III, I taught her the dance (thanks to Olivia, fabulous Airband choreographer, for letting me steal her moves!) that we planned to use. She showed it to the House of Culture people and we had to change some of it, but mostly we figured it would be fine. 

At this meeting, they wanted us to show them the dance (cool) and show them how we were going to teach it (for sure). However.. They kind of had their own ideas about the teaching part, and basically told us, do this now, do this after, then do this.. Even if all of that wouldn't really work. Some of what they wanted wouldn't work for a simple reason, so logically I could just explain that to them, right? 

I forgot to mention something about Taraclia, and about Miki. Miki learned Russian while I learned Romanian. No big deal, people speak both, right? Welllllll not in Taraclia. So I was back to not understanding anything. (After this weekend, I know a few more Russian words, but there's no way those few words together can lead to any comprehension other than guessing based on context.) So while we're floundering in there and not being understood, they say, oh hold on, we'll bring in a translator (Miki translated that for me). Great! That'll be awesome. 

The translator speaks Romanian! 

So they tell us something in Russian, which she translates to Romanian, which I translate to English. Miki understands much of what they say but the translator is very helpful when we want to tell them something that I have the words for but Miki doesn't, and eventually we (hopefully) get our point across. We dance and try to teach them the dance for hours (I think I can say "1, 2, 3, 4" in Russian now.. So that's helpful) and finally we are set free! Our hope for the next day is that it will be nothing like our practice session, because if so, we will have no control over how we do anything.. Our optimism levels falter slightly, but we try to be positive and hopeful about the event!

Then we have.. The best day ever. 

Miki let me sleep in, which was the start of a wonderful day, as we stayed up quite late the night before hanging out with one of her friends and as I was really tired from 8 hours and 300 km of travel.

We went for a walk and I got to see how BEAUTIFUL Taraclia and the surrounding villages are. We were just walking along and everything was flat, the fields met the sky and it was lovely, and then we walked a few more steps and suddenly you could see valleys for miles! It was stunning. We practiced our dance out there, performing for the valleys and the far off villages and it was amazing. 
Our captivating audience

After our walk, we went back to her apartment where her host mom had cooked the best meal either of us had had in these whole four months we've been in Moldova. It was so simple, but so great - lamb and potatoes with some sort of seasoning, and a bunch of great vegetables.. I'm practically drooling just thinking about it. 

With the morning having been so great, I'm thinking that even if the event is a bust, we've still had a pretty good day. 

We head over to the square and try to help set up. The event is to start at 4:00, and at 4:00, no one is really there. But they are playing loud music so Miki and I dance and try without success to get the few kids there to dance with us. There is an MC who says stuff I don't understand, and a woman from the news arrives to tape stuff.. So it's not too exciting for her, either. We hope that more people will show up eventually. Another PCV in Taraclia comes to support us and while we're talking to her, the MC says our names and we are apparently supposed to go up to the front to perform. 

I'm thinking, but why now?? No one is here! (Miki told me later that she was thinking the same thing.) 

We head to the front of the square near the stage, and the song starts and even though the sun is in our eyes, we can see that suddenly there are about 20 young girls in front of us waiting to see the dance, and more people around the square than there had been literally minutes ago. It was as if they all appeared out of nowhere. 

We performed the dance, and then the MC said we were going to teach it.. And ALL THOSE GIRLS were lined up, ready to learn. They all wanted to do it with us! We went from getting rejected by 8 year old boys to having a line of girls all excited for us to teach them. 

They learned so quickly and we only taught half of it before switching to teaching line dances (Cupid Shuffle, Macarena), which they all participated in. It was so exhilarating, and Miki and I could not believe how amazing it was. Everything happened so fast; it was such a rush! Miki had also lined up a kid to play electric guitar (a precious and super talented 11 year old that she is obsessed with and now I see why), so we stopped the dancing for that to happen, and I thought we were done with it. 

But the girls didn't want to be done. While the kid played guitar, they were off on the sides practicing the beginning of the dance and asking me to teach them the rest of it, which was difficult, because they were trying in Russian and a little Romanian and a little English.. But all at once so I didn't really get anything out of the conversation, ha. They couldn't wait for his set to be done so we could teach them more! (A little sad, because he was SO good.)

We taught them the rest of the dance and we all performed it a few times. They wanted their pictures taken with us, and they were so excited to talk to us and to dance with us.. It was so awesome. 

When I was on the Dance Team in college, if you had told me that I'd be teaching a dance in America, I would say, no, I think not, literally any other girl on the team would be better and more qualified to do that. If you had told me that I would successfully teach a dance to young girls in Eastern Europe without really even being able to count in their language, I would NEVER have believed it. But that's what happened! Sure, I didn't understand anything people were saying, but you don't need to be able to translate to understand emotions and excitement and engagement. And dance is universal. 

The event may not have raised as much money or awareness for World Hospice Day as the organization hoped, but I think most of the people there had fun - even if they didn't participate, we were likely entertaining to watch. 

Most importantly in our lives, it was such a personal victory for Miki and me. We felt great about it (still do, hello!) and felt great about ourselves.. Which might sound slightly selfish, and it does feel like that a little bit, but at four months into Peace Corps and two months into being at permanent site, I feel like the personal victories are immeasurably crucial. This will motivate us to keep moving forward and to keep trying new things and to stay positive, and I think we kind of need that motivation. It's like this day revitalized us and now we know we can DO things, which yeah, we could have told you that before, but it's way easier to believe you can do something if you've done something. We were bouncing off the walls excited during and after, and I would have gone 600 km if I'd needed to to be at this event with Miki. 

I'm so glad she thought of me for this and included me in her event, and if I loved Miki before (which I did), now we're even closer. Which is awesome, because she's awesome, and we are clearly awesome together. 

We can definitely conquer another year and 10 months now, so I hope Moldova's ready. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bostaniada Festival

Another part of PST III I didn't mention in my recap was Bostaniada, affectionately called (aka, in English) Pumpkin Fest. This was a festival in Lozova, about an hour or so out of Chișinău, with crafts, music, performances, food, games, and of course, pumpkins. 

Some of the organizations that some of the PCVs in Moldova work with had booths, so a bunch of us volunteered at said booths. There was a food booth with American pumpkin pie and other delicious treats, all baked in various kitchens around Chișinău, and a booth for Salut, Moldova in the children's area, which was where I worked. The food booth's proceeds went towards Speranta Terrei, which is an NGO that raises awareness of and supports people with TB. Salut, Moldova is an initiative that promotes volunteering, especially among youth, as volunteering can be kind of an interesting topic in Moldova. 

The week before Bostaniada I helped a few different friends with preparations - from cutting 60 squares of orange fabric for mason jars to be sold at the food booth to making props for the photo booth at Salut, Moldova. 

On the day of, I was in the children's area for most of the day (I did manage a short break to wander and see all the sights, which is where most of these photos came from - the others were taken by people at the Salut booth. It was a lot of fun hanging out with PCVs while getting to practice Romanian - normally those things are somewhat separate. I say "practice Romanian" like I don't use it in real life.. Which, I do. But having been in language class all week, it felt like I was being sent out into the field for real world experience or something. And I think it turned out pretty well! Although I guess you'd have to ask the Moldovans I spoke with. 

At the booth, we had information about Salut, a dream tree where kids (and some adults!) would write down wishes or dreams they have for Moldova, and a photo booth. So I had to explain the dream tree and ask people if they wanted to get their pictures taken in the photo booth, and then give them a handout and tell them where they could see the photos. In Romanian! I mean, relatively simple stuff, and I did mostly say the same thing over and over, but I still reserve the right to be proud of my conversation skills. 

It was a long day, but I had fun talking to people, dancing, looking at everything, and hanging out with friends! Plus, I feel like every day is long here. I am honestly quite confused about how over a week of October is gone already.. Every day feels so long, but then suddenly a week has passed, and I've been here over four months now. I can't figure out if it feels like I've been here a decade or if it feels like I just stepped off the plane (thankfully, it rarely feels exactly like THAT day, because that one wasn't the easiest). My host mom was talking to me today and she suddenly said, you've only got a year and ten months left. I had to double take, like, sorry what? Then she said, it's practically your last day here! ("Will you stay in Moldova or go back to America?" Ummm.. Let me make it through that year and 10 months and I'll let you know, but I can pretty much confirm the latter.) I'm glad she feels the same way I do about the passage of time. 

Enjoy the pictures of Bostaniada, and have something pumpkin-flavored for me! (Sadly, I'm not a fan.)

Also, Ionela REALLY enjoyed the props later. Hours of play from those. She is too sweet.

That's probably the last post about my time during PST III, so now we're all caught up and Wining & Whining can move on to the next adventure! Whatever that may be...