Dec 30, 2007

Dec 28, 2007

purple moebius scarf

One purple moebius scarf plus a blue-eyed Siberian siren equals pure drama...

It took a little doing to get comfortable...

And we are always our own harshest critic...the mirror is sooo unforgiving!

But in the end, there is a little babushka in every girl!

been tagged...

Okay, so I was tagged by The Goddess in the Groove (who I must link back to) to write a letter to my 13-year-old self. And, I must tag 5 more people to inflict this upon, whom I will list below the letter. Gads, I don't even like to think about my early teens...

Dear me at 13,

If you can overcome your shyness, please read this. Shyness CAN be overcome! Don't worry! You'll do fine in your life. Things don't always go according to society's plan, nor according to the family's plan, but things do change with age and experience. Don't stress so much over not fitting in. You will NEVER fit everywhere. No one does. Don't stress so much over school. If you could learn to TAKE NOTES in class, especially in any mathematics class, you would do better. And that math teacher that wears a grass skirt, hits students with his yard stick, and yells at people in class? He is only crying for some kind of attention. His son is teaching English across the hall and is outshining the old man. Don't take it as a personal affront. In time, you will be teaching, too.

Remember that you need to check your answers on tests. Check them twice. You think one thing and write another. I know you won't find this out for years to come, but if you could make this little change right now, it will save you years of bad grades and a poor self-image. You aren't stupid. You're just careless and don't take the time you need to to be sure you marked the correct answer. This is a problem that continues throughout your life, so make the change right now, and maybe you could actually go to college instead of joining the military.

Now that you are in a different school you will probably not hear your teachers constantly compare you to Debbie, so don't carry that around with you anymore, okay? Teachers don't really know how much they effect their students' thoughts and self-esteem; many of them aren't really teaching - they're experts in their field, but they don't really know how to teach what they know. So you have to lead them into the area that you need help with. Ask them questions. They're clueless, but they won't admit it to anyone, so you have to look past the teaching degree and see that they don't know about kids and what they need. Otherwise, they're just spewing facts.

And as far as going to college, you need to know right now that your counsellor will not be able to help you. He'll be busy chasing the senior girls, and won't be able to do his job. So know this right now: you can get a scholarship only if you apply for one. There's a lot of information about it, but you won't be able to get it from the counsellor. I know you don't even know where his office is, but if you talk to people in the front office where the principal is (and don't be to shy to go over someone's head to get the info you need), you'll be able to study at the college in town.

In fact, this is the very information you need! The part about being persistent and insistent enough to go over the head of a non-performer to get the information you need to do you own job well. You learn this later, but if you could figure this out right now, it might help.

Stop worrying about what people think about you. You will be fine. You will be so fine, in fact, that you overcome abuse and adversity. I wish you wouldn't have to go through all that you will, but maybe it's necessary to build you into the person you will become. The trials will continue throughout life, so throw off that shyness and poor self-image right now, stand up and be proud of yourself.

Now, for the unlucky 5 who are now tagged:

1. Green Fingers

2. Rani Knits

3. La Gringa

4. Maggie's Farm

5. The Wild Tomato

Dec 27, 2007

Back to life, mostly

Here's my teeny tiny little nativity scene in the lower right hand corner under the teeny tiny little Christmas tree, and the stereo - O's pride and joy.

I am just getting over a bout with strep throat, with complications. Who knew that strep throat turned into swollen hand, swollen elbow, swollen hip, and swollen ankle just on the left side? I wish I'd have known it was strep - I would have asked for penicillin long before things started to go downhill (the snakeskin cocktail didn't work, by the way). Anyway, all is better now, except for the ankle, which is still somewhat swollen and now has tiny blisters erupting on it in the portions of skin that have been stressed by the swelling. No gory details here, just happy to be back among the living.

Christmas was uneventful for the two of us. We gave one another no gifts, except wishes for continued love, happiness, and the sweetness of life. We did finally get a painting to put on the wall above the sofa - one bare wall down, several more to go!

Our Christmas tree was quite small and not a real tree, but we do still have the two avocado trees that seem to be flourishing! The jade tree is surviving, although it's either shedding its leaves or replacing them at kind of an alarming rate. A "love plant" also found its way into the house. Happily, Celeste hasn't shown much interest in the plants, so maybe her weeding binge in her puppyhood was just a passing fancy. Apparently, she is not an aspiring gardener anymore. Whew! That's a relief to me - and to the plants too, I'm sure.

My purple winter reading selection has arrived! "The People's Act of Love" is the chosen book for the reading discussion. It came today and I got the first chapter finished. Along with it came "The Red Tent", "The Thirteenth Tale", and "Deception Point". We aren't posting comments until February, so that should give me time to read through it. I haven't belonged to a book discussion group for a very long time, so I hope it will be fun. Sometimes my point of view is 180 degrees out from most everyone else's, which tends to make things difficult.

Yesterday was O's birthday, and we had some friends and a few of his cousins over. I have some pictures of that. I made appetizers and everyone expressed their complete surprise that I was able to make them and that they were edible. They were not made in the typical peruvian style, and everyone here knows that people from the US never learn to cook (we only eat in restaurants, you know). Aside from me feeling very insulted by all that, things went well.

In the photo above, O is wearing birthday cake frosting on his face. It seems to be a tradition here, at least with this group, that when one blows the candles out on the cake someone comes from behind and pushes the birthday person's face into the cake. Last night they pushed him so hard that the whole cake nearly hit the floor. I don't find it a particularly fun tradition.

The living room and Celeste, post-birthday party:

Dec 20, 2007

Got the bug

Wah. Last evening, about 5:30, I got the shakes and the chills and a sore throat. All at one time. I was teaching a class, we were reviewing vocabulary and listening skills in preparation for the final exam on Friday. I was writing on the board and I began to shake so badly that I couldn't write. Later, I went to the cafeteria for a cup of tea and a friend noticed that I looked tired or just a little off. In my last class, I was freezing and had a headache and burning eyes. Couldn't think straight. When one of my students asked a question about grammar, I had to tell her that I'd have an answer for her on Friday, because I just couldn't think at the time. Today, I'm slow moving. I'm no longer freezing or shaking, but my throat is so sore and I feel tired and washed out. Celeste doesn't get it and today is probably the only day in her entire 11 month life that she doesn't want on my bed. I think I'm too cranky. I do not want to play.

I've opted for one of the local remedies that seemed the least nasty: hot lime juice with strong black tea. A 1/4 cup of Pisco (Peruvian brandy) should be added to it, but I can't stand the taste of it, so I've opted against that. Another remedy was to take Alka Seltzer in vinegar...luckily I don't have any Alka Seltzer in the house. There are 5 curanderas and a witch doctor in the artisan market down the block, but I'm not up to being smoked in copal resin incense with a chaser of snake tincture. For now, I think I'll stick to the tea and lime juice, and go to bed. If I'm not better by the weekend, maybe I'll go for the snakeskin cocktail.

Dec 18, 2007

Looks can be deceiving

I've been looking at Celeste's "mad face" for the past few days, and I feel bad that it doesn't reflect how she is most of the time. It doesn't show her giggling as we go down the stairs to play outside. It doesn't give anyone a clue as to how she bats her eyes, grins like a fool, and stumbles over her own feet as she's oogling the lovers that sit kissing on the bench on the bike path. And there's no hint of the happy go lucky gal that runs into a lamp post because she's busy rubber-necking while making eyes and flirting with the school kids walking behind us. No trace of the smooth mover as she steals a sniff of a passing grocery bag or briefcase, of the laughing pup that leaps into our arms when we open the front door, of the dog that throws herself at the unsuspecting passer-by who calls to her, just to get a look at those ice-blue eyes...and I mean ALL of herself. Call Celeste, and you've got her - every bit of her, all in your lap at once. She's an outgoing, no-holds-barred kinda gal.

Actually, if not for the camera, she would never have a mad face at all. I can't figure out why she's so adverse to having her picture taken.

Dec 15, 2007

Saturday stuff

Guess what we have again: a washer! Yeah! and it works very nicely. I've already done a load of clothes and they SMELL WONDERFUL! And they are spun almost dry. So now, even though we don't have much in the way of direct sunshine, the clothes should dry in a very short time, thus avoiding the mildew odor. I will only be taking the big stuff to the laundry now - heavy blankets and such.

Today I had a conversation class at the institute, and following that, there was a short Christmas get together. All the instructors were given Christmas "baskets"...actually, a small duffel bag containing a jar of strawberry preserves, two cans of condensed milk, a couple of bags of pasta, a liter of cooking oil, a half-kilo bag of sea salt, a bag of rice, a panetone, and a bottle of champagne. That was quite a surprise and quite heavy to haul home on my shoulder. I had to stop halfway home and catch a bus. The contents of the duffel bag is enough to make a couple of good meals for O and me. Celeste has been eyeing the duffel bag...maybe she's suspicious of the strange black lumpy thing in the living room, or maybe she can smell the panetone inside, I'm not sure which. I hope the panetone will be safe in the kitchen cupboard until Christmas... got two bites of the last one we had. Where the rest of it went I can only guess....

There is a fireworks fair in the park down the street from us. The other night, they shot off several displays and Celeste and I ran down to the park to watch. They were beautiful and very close. Celeste was intrigued by the lights and the booming of the pyrotechnics, but not afraid. Until the last, that is, when they shot off several at the same time for the finale. The noise was MUCH louder than before and it caught Ms. Blue Eyes off guard. She jumped some, but after this, I don't think she'll be one of those dogs that tries to hide under the bed on New Year's Eve.

Dec 14, 2007

Great Gray Owls

I found this article and video clip about owls on Bird Chick's blog. Apparently, great gray owls are again coming to visit Minnesota, but not in the huge numbers that were recorded at the time this article was written. It's a very interesting article, and after the video, there are a few others to enjoy.

Dec 12, 2007

The day in photos

I finally managed to get some photos today. The yarn is alpaca, from the Wooly Works. We spent a couple of days doing hand paints. What a blast it was! We managed to get it all finished just before it turned really cold. The dog, of course is Celeste...still taking herself too seriously, still showing her mad face. She's not realy mad, but every time I get the camera out, she puts on that face. Maybe she's just self-concious.

Colorway: Storm Clouds (hand painted by Bethy) and beautiful blues!

This carpet is MINE!

Avocado tree #1.

Avocado tree #2.

The mad face (and this carpet is MINE):

Please don't take my picture. And the carpet is mine. Just so you know. But don't take my picture with that soul-stealing electronic box.

Beautiful purple!

Colorway: Pasture Berries. And just for laughs, I stumbled upon this gem of a story, for those of us who know and love chickens. I laughed so hard I almost cried. And look at the indignant face on that chicken...I'll never show that to Celeste - she might come up with a new mad face.

Dec 11, 2007

The washer...err...

So we bought a new washer on Sunday. At least that was how it was billed.

The machine arrived last night at about 9:30. The delivery men dropped it in the laundry room and promptly skedaddled. No removal from the box, no set-up, no nothing, just dropped it and ran. Hmmm. We removed it from the box and we hooked it up to the electricity and water. We read through and followed the directions, step by step. Turn it on - YES! There's power to it. Program the wash cycle and put 3 shirts in it, just to try. Fill the detergent cup. Hit the INICIO button - YES! Water fills the tub. Then some noise starts and the tub moves ever so slightly. More noise. The instruction manual assures us that some noise is normal. We watch as our clothes sit quietly in the tub of the washer, soaking up detergent and water, but not getting any closer to being clean. The wash cycle is complete. The clothes haven't moved from their original position. They are still soaked with water and detergent, no cleaner than before. We are enjoying the noise - a soft, non-irritating noise. But no movement and no clean clothes. The tub drains and the rinse water comes in, but no agitation and no spin in the spin cycle. The sign on the machine in the store said that the clothes finished the cycle and came out of the washer 90% dry. Why are mine still wet? Hmmm.

O says, "This is Peru. Everything happens in its own time." I wonder how long it takes for a Peruvian washing machine to decide to wash the clothes. Hmmm. Creo que la maquina no funcciona...I'm thinking the machine doesn't work as advertised.

I called the service line today, and after talking with two customer service people, arranged for a technician to visit Thursday morning, between 9 am and 2 pm. It's not really morning after noon, is it? In the meantime, I'm still washing clothes in the laundry tub by hand. The washer IS very pretty and modern-looking, though. Hmmm.

Dec 10, 2007

¿Que Frio?

A couple of months ago, the mother of a friend died. I had the opportunity to observe the local customs regarding death. A lot of it was confusing to me, appeared disrespectful to the family and the one who has just passed on, and it all gave me pause for a few days. When I discussed the differences in the way I have known people to handle the arrangements of burial and everything related with the way it is all handled here, plus the differences in attitudes, I was judged as being very cold.

This past weekend O had an attack of gastritis, during which he was bent double and sweating bullets. We went to the hospital emergency room and O's friend Mario went with us. When we arrived, I was told to wait in the car. In the shadows, literally. What a load of crap that was. When I went in, there was no doctor attending O, or anyone else. No one would talk to me; in fact, they completely ignored me. All the nurses were flitting around, comparing new shoes and uniforms. I looked in the waiting room, where other families were waiting, and had been waiting since before we arrived. No report of any progress, no information about patients was given, nothing. The families were completely left out of the loop there, waiting for hours with no idea of what's going on with their person or people in the emergency room. Their person could have died, and they wouldn't have known until it was convenient for one of the nurses to break away from the "best shoe" competition inside the treatment area.

I guess this weekend was my turn to think how very cold and uncaring this all appeared. Once again, I'm struck by how different things are. People seem to revere people once they're dead, but in the process of getting to the dead part, nobody gives a hoot. I asked O about this, and he said that the emergency room is very inconvenient. No one wants to work there, it's always on a weekend that things happen, it cuts into other people's time, weekends are party times and people resent being called to work, etc., so the care is less than it should be.

Oh my. God forbid we be inconsiderate and have a health "inconvenience" on the weekend. How very cold.

Dec 9, 2007

Thank heaven for small favors

I'm happy to report that the avocado trees seem to be thriving! Yeay! There's one thing that I'm doing right, for now. The jade tree is also still alive. So maybe I don't have a "brown thumb" after all, or maybe it's just that Celeste hasn't taken an active interest in gardening again. She ripped my last two plants out by the roots several times, until there just weren't enough roots to sustain the poor things. I suppose getting transplanted over and over gets tiresome, too, so they eventually gave up and just quit on me. I wonder how big the avocado pits will grow to be...I haven't actually SEEN an avocado plant, although I believe they are trees.

Yes, Toady, the jade plant is one with a woody stem and cushiony leaves. Kind of a succulent or cactus relative. No thorns, but a desert plant.

For the time being, Celeste is preoccupied with getting herself into our bed. She seems to be obsessed with the idea. She's big, though, and a dog her size in the bed makes it uncomfortable for the two of us. Yesterday afternoon, I looked in when O was taking a nap, and she was there on the bed in the usual dog posture: head toward the foot of the bed, with the butt end almost on the pillows. It was just a mercy that she didn't have her usual case of noxious fumes...poor O might have passed away or at least passed out while Celeste was passing gas.

Our Big News today is that we got a washing machine. It will be delivered and installed tomorrow. Yeay! We are rejoicing here - no more weekly trips to haul dirty clothes to the laundry; no more washing heavy jeans and coats by hand; no more clothes hanging for three days in a row and smelling nasty. I can't seem to wring enough water out by hand to get them to dry in less than three days. And I've even got a clothesline to hang them on! And they threw in a vacuum cleaner with the purchase of the washer. Woot! We killed two birds with one stone!

I have only two fiber projects in the works for now and lots of reading: a purple moebius scarf/shawl and a black alpaca skirt for Greenlee. Both are progressing at a decent rate, so I hope to have them finished in about a week. And, while I was in the US, I discovered that I was STARVING for reading material. So I bought a few of the latest spy novels and some other literature, and Suzzanne gave me a couple of good ones to read too...8 good-sized books in all. One of them I read while at the farm. I whizzed through "The Mistress of Spices" on the plane back to Peru. Yesterday I finished "Spy", by Ted Bell. Presently, I am reading "Angels and Demons", by Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code fame. Oh no! I can see the end of my summer reading before the end of the summer! Thank goodness for I'll be perusing the best seller list for my next reading adventure. Any suggestions for good reads?

Dec 4, 2007

The Daily Grind

Well, I'm back to the daily grind. I returned home last Thursday, went to work on Friday, then we traveled to Trujillo (an 8 hour bus ride) to celebrate Juan Carlos's birthday, then back in the bus Sunday night to return home at 7 am...and to work an hour later. Can I say that I'm WHUPPED?

I've caught my breath, though, and have a few things to report:

First, my avocado pits have sprouted both roots and stalks! I dismounted them from their toothpick harnesses and transplanted them from their jelly jars of water to regular pots with soil in them. I did that today, just about an hour ago, so there hasn't been time for me to see if they will survive and thrive. I know there will be a period of transition while they make the jump from a liquid diet to the earth diet - I'm hoping they don't go into shock and die. At least not both of them.

And, I augmented my plant population with a little jade tree that I found in the street market. I have my fingers crossed for that one, too. It, at least is already established in its own pot, so at least I can't accidentally ruin it while transplanting it.

While I was home, I picked up a few word games to help get my conversation students talking. One is called "Mad Lib", where one makes sentences using only the words on their cards. The idea is to construct a grammatically correct, but outrageous sentence. An example would be something like "gigantic hairy eyeballs bashfully bulldoze greedy fingernails." This seems to be a problem with my students. They find the combination of words to be difficult. After all, who has ever seen hairy eyeballs? Can fingernails actually be greedy? The answer is NO, so they tried telling me that they could not possibly play this game. I wouldn't accept that, so they resigned themselves to making the sentences, but I could see the distaste on their faces. Hmmm. Maybe next Saturday, I'll try "In a Pickle" or Scrabble and see if that goes over any better.

I also got some books from my sister, Suzzanne, to play with. One is "Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks". Yesterday, we worked with one that talked about changing the world by changing oneself. It's interesting to hear the differences in opinions and viewpoints. My next topic will be how total distruction might make way for something more beautiful than before...think Yellowstone Park! Burnt to the ground and back more lush and vibrant than ever.

Nov 29, 2007

catching up

We're back home again, and the apartment had a little of that "nobody's home" smell to it. A little bit stale, windows shut for an extended period of time, and a little bit lonely smell. But now, we're home again and with a bit of sweeping and mopping, the lonely odor has flown out the window. I'm glad to be back home - it was great spending time with my family and friends, but it was definitely time to get back to my own life.

While I was there, I swooped into Walmart and found some great new books to read. I love a good mystery or suspense novel and I happened upon some really great ones! Yeay! All my favorite authors had books out: Robert Ludlum, Dan Brown, John Le Carrè - I'll be engrossed in books for some time to come...I even found one of my all time favorite stories, "The Mistress of Spices". From the Wooly Works, my sister lent me some great material for my English classes, too. I even brought a puppet to help me in my classes - O almost split a gut when the little guy smoothed his hair back and then sneezed it back into his face...Bethy knows what I'm talking about. I can't wait to introduce him to my students! I already have two classroom characters who help me with grammar, Lulu and Eggworthy. I haven't got a name for this little fellow...Bethy! What's his name?

So! It's good to be back and I'll post some photos as soon as I get time. I have a lot of catching up to do around here!

Nov 9, 2007

life goes on at the Woolly Works

I'm here at the Woolly Works, playing with the dogs and talking with Pansy. Hermes is of course his magnificent self, and the driveway into the yard is awash with Eau D' Hermes cologne when the wind is just right. Luckily, it's autumn and the wind doesn't often blow toward the drive. He'd love a good scratch between his horns and behind the ears, but at the moment, his aftershave is so overpowering that touching any part of his body leaves me with a strong and lingering scent of big black buck. Sunny is here and escorts me back and forth between the houses and the animals pens, as any middle-aged gentleman should. He'll be 6 years old in January, and is beginning to show a little white in his whiskers.

I've been working on a sweater since I've been here; hopefully it will be complete by show time. The standard $35 sweater is a staple for us and is a good seller. We make them in a variety of colors and often with adventurous buttons - warm and a little wild, people seem to enjoy them. And, we have capes and shawls and vests of various designs and, of course, the skirts!

We did ultrasounds on the alpaca gals and all but two are pregnant. That's good news! We can look forward to babies next year!

Nov 4, 2007

Time off

I'm off for my vacation in the US! The next time I post, I'll be writing with multi-colored fingers, from dyeing yarn at the Wooly Works! I'll be glad to see Sunny and Pansy once again, and talk with everyone there. I'll keep you updated with my doings, and of course Wooly works will be continuing full speed ahead. Celeste will also be taking a vacation, perhaps to Trujillo to stay with her grandma, or maybe to stay with her favorite kids at Lili's house.

See you in a few days!

Nov 3, 2007

Life in the Big City

It's Saturday afternoon and we are all whupped. We spent the long weekend (Thursday through Saturday) playing in the park and camping at Ceande. Celeste got to play with lot of other dogs and kids, and we took her for long she's now in the living room, snoring the rest of the afternoon away. O is crashed in bed and here I am, almost ready to do the same. Tomorrow, I have a midnight flight to Denver, and am kind of looking forward to that, but I hope to have classes again in December!

After the last class of the month of October, I went to Miraflores with friends for lunch. We ate at Pardo's Chicken, a nice restaurant with great chicken, cooked over a wood fire. They also have nice steaks, but they don't do rare meat. That's a pity, but I still enjoyed the steak. I can't say that the meat is on a par with the Texas Roadhouse, but it's still good. The chicken, though, is their specialty, and it's the best. So if you happen to go there, get the chicken.

The restaurant is on the beach in a place called Larcomar. Larcomar is a trendy, upscale place, focused mainly on tourism. The view from several restaurants there that overlook the ocean is wonderful. You can often see hang gliders floating on the wind currents over the beach and the ocean...and they're closer than you might think! It's a nice place to visit on occasion, but shopping there is a little too expensive for my wallet.

All in all, I'm enjoying living in Lima. I'm getting around the city now without much difficulty, and either the bus drivers are getting used to my American accent, or I'm improving my pronunciation. Now they rarely ask me to repeat myself when I tell them were I want to go. Every once in a while, I go a little farther than the last time. I like exploring new places and seeing what's out there. And I like feeling independent. Sometimes I miss being able to just jump into the car and take off to wherever I want to go, but even if I had my car here, I wouldn't want to drive it much in the city. They drive a little too differently here for me, and the taxi drivers are aggressive on the road. I prefer to walk. As long as I have two good feet to carry me, I'm happy. I really feel blessed to be able to walk wherever I want to and that my legs can carry me with ease. I know there are people who don't have that ability. I see many of them here in Lima. The only time I take a bus or taxi now is if I'm on a timetable and don't have the time to make the walk.

Nov 1, 2007

circles and beads

This year seems to have been all about playing with circles. I've been fascinated with the circular vests and have a round gray shawl in the works right now. I'm not sure why I'm so interested in circles, but hmmm...there it is. The shawl looks like a table cloth, so maybe it will be one of those garments with more than one use - when it's not being worn, it can just be thrown over a round table for afternoon tea! I hope to have all my current projects finished by Sunday.

I've also gotten into beading more this year than ever before. I understand the technique of beading crocheted pieces better and things don't look so clumsy now.

Oct 27, 2007

Oct 25, 2007

Nothing ever comes easy

Let's see...where were we? Oh yeah, the hot water heater. Yes! We bought the heater. And on Tuesday, the man came and installed it. However, he did NOT hook it up electrically. He said an electrician would have to do that, and he didn't bring one with him. How inconvenient, but since we had been without hot water only for ALL FRICKIN WINTER, we probably could wait till whenever the electrician came. But first we'd have to get an engineering consultation, then call the electrician, but he'd have to look first, then come back at a second appointment to install the parts and connect the wires. And, of course, he wouldn't be responsible if he did it wrong.

WHAT??? That was a crock of bull.

This morning, I sent O to the hardware store for the breaker and gathered a few tools. I opened the switch box and took off the face plate. Shutting off the main power to the apartment, I removed the wires to the hot water heater from their little slot and stripped the ends of them. O arrived with the breaker and I connected the wires in the same way that the others were on the left, red on the right. Tightened the connectors down, snapped the breaker into place, and yup - time for the "smoke check"! (That's aircraft electrician lingo for "see if you did it right." Yes, I was an aircraft mechanic and electrician in my former life.) And the little red indicator light came on and the water began to heat. We NOW have hot water. Did I mention that O momentarily stepped out of the room before I flipped the breaker on? Oh, ye of little faith. No guts, no glory, I always say.

And, I finished a vest done in a triple curve stitch. The yarn is in shades of pink and old rose. I took several photos of Celeste modeling it and a few of it spread in the traditional way on the bed, but then the batteries in the camera went out and I need to replace them before I can post them.

I am doing one more triple curve vest in shades of blue, and this time a size larger and longer, because I want one for myself. It's about a third of the way done.

AND...I painted the laundry room. No more Celeste finger paintings on the walls and the window sills. It is painted in satin finish, washable paint - salmon color. I can wipe off the dirt without the paint coming off too. I still want to decorate the walls with stencil or border, but there are neither of those items to be found in my part of town. So I'll go to Hobby Lobby when I get back and check out the stencils and stenciling materials. And to Walmart to look at borders...maybe I'll find something that suits me, or maybe I'll get the stuff to make my own. I'm thinking of a sun stencil on the wall, done in metallic gold. Against a salmon background? Ooooo, pretty!

Oct 21, 2007

Sunday stuff

Yesterday, the sun was out and I was bursting with energy! I finished the black circular vest, scrubbed the floors, packed up almost all of my projects to transport to the US, and went walking with Celeste 4 or 5 times through the day. In the evening, we went to Ace Home Center and bought a hot water heater. FINALLY!!! They'll install it on Tuesday. Oh, I can't wait! It will be my first hot shower in almost nine months. I'm so tired of taking a bath in a little wash tub, heating my bath water in the teapot. Then we got groceries and came home to take Celeste out once more, when she peed on the floor. GRRRAAAAUUUGH! She's in that stage where, no matter what we do, she's excited about it and has to pee herself and whatever happens to be where she is. She spent the rest of the evening in the doghouse - literally and figuratively. She managed to do it again this morning, when I was brushing her. The brush touched her coat, and she peed herself. Just little, just enough to make the house smell like a wet diaper, if left for the day. This morning she smells like she spent the night in the dirty laundry hamper, so I'm not sure what she was up to last night, but she must have had a good time doing it.

Today is census day. Everyone has to stay in their homes to be counted, so there are no businesses open, and only places like hospitals are in operation till the census is taken. So last night, everyone was out buying provisions for the day inside. When we went to Ace to buy the hot water heater, it seemed like all of Lima was at that particular shopping center. It took us 45 minutes to find a place to park. Afterwords, we went to the grocery store to get some lunch meat and bread, and it was jammed full of people, desperate to buy goodies for the day at home. I've never seen anything like it. People grabbing at things and elbowing one another aside for a piece of bread - these are not poor and desperate people; they are all middle to upper class ones who eat well every day - acting like so many animals at the feed trough.

Also, today I have no projects in the works. I've finished everything I have started and am in that in-between place where I'm idle and uninspired. I hope that later I can figure out something to do...I have plenty of beautiful yarns to make something with, but today I lack the impetus to choose something and get started. Hmm. Maybe today would be a good day to finish my spring cleaning or get all my yarns wound into balls.

Oct 18, 2007


Look how big and beautiful she's getting to be! She was born on July 4th of this year.

The Illusionist, Mimsy, and crochet...

I recently found a new movie (well, new for me), The Illusionist. As usual, I watched it several times. At first, I thought it was a beautiful love story. But with successive viewings, I began to understand that there was a hidden plot to kill one of the characters. The more I watch it, the more I understand that, yes, it it a love story, but also there is a plot to do away with one of the characters, very meticulously planned. Granted, the character of Prince Leopold is a dangerous one, but I watched the plot unfold and it could not possibly have happened without the cooperation of many, including the chief of police. The more I watch, the more intrigued I am at the subtleties on the plot and the story line. Amazing!

I also am still watching The Last Mimsy. Although there are many who apparently disliked this film, I am enjoying it.

Have you seen these? If so, what did you think of them?

I've also almost finished the black circulat vest. I'm on the last and seemingly endless round of the outer edge. I'm almost out of yarn, and I hope I can finish this without having to rip it out and think of another, less yarn-intensive edging, because I have no more black alpaca yarn, nor do I have more black novelty yarn after these last half-skeins. Then I need to block the vest, and I will not wash it, since there's still no regular sunshine and warmth, and I don't want it to mold. So I'll press it with steam and take care not to melt the gold monofilament in the novelty yarn.

I've got another hat finished that's ready to felt - it's of bright pink alpaca yarn and gray Peruvian sheep wool, one strand of each knitted together. I'm hoping for a nice mauve color, but I won't be felting it here, once again because there's no sign of the sun on a regular basis, and I can't risk putting a wad of mildew on a potential customer's head, not to mention that my hat form (the insert of an ancient tamale cooker) is in storage there at the farm, at least I hope it is...So I'll wait until I arrive at The Wooly Works to do the felting.

Oct 15, 2007


Yeay! My package from Mountain Rose Herbs arrived! I ordered goodies in preparation for the drier months that should be coming. I use their massage oils on my legs because they help my skin and because the aromas are so YUMMY! This time, I chose "Goddess Dreams" massage oil. Although I'm not using the oil yet, I couldn't resist popping open the top to sniff...MMMmmmm. I also ordered a tiny bottle of Amber Patchouli aroma oil. It's a very subtle and lasting perfume oil, just strong enough that I can smell it and still not overcome the room with scent. And I ordered 2 essential oils - corn mint and patchouli. Patchouli gets better as it ages, so I can use it sparingly and if it lasts for a few years, all the better.

I also received a package in the mail from Doris Chan's "Amazing Crochet Lace" and "Folk Style", by Mags Khandis will be keeping me busy for months! I had also ordered another book, but it hasn't been released yet, and, duh, I didn't notice that fact until they sent me a notice to tell me that it would be shipped when the publisher released it. I hope it arrives before I go to the US! I want to see it!

Oct 14, 2007

The Farm Blog

My sister, Suzzanne, has begun to blog about her wool business and her animals! Yeay! Her blog, Wooly Works, is full of photos of the goats and the alpacas, dogs, kitties, and her girls modeling sweaters. Please check it out when you have time and leave her comments! My old gal, Pansy, is on the header, and what a sweet old face she has.

Oct 13, 2007

Celeste models a doily

The Siberian Siren has stooped to modeling half-finished garments and doilies. Behold the blue-eyed wonder sporting a purple doily and relaxing in the unfinished black circular vest:

It all seems to be okay if she has a slipper near or can rest her head on my shoe.

And here's a shot of the unfinished vest, from my perch above my bed.

A Difference in Cultures

Thursday afternoon, Rosita's mother died. They brought her home from the hospital and dressed her in her funeral clothes. Then she laid in the living room of Rosita's home for a couple of days, until the funeral, which took place today, at about 1 pm. During that time, friends and relatives came to spend time with her - all night and all day - sharing drinks and telling jokes, reliving the times they had with her while Rosita feeds them all. They will continue this through the weekend, and then on Monday, everything will be back to normal.

It's a little different than what I've experienced. I'm not really sure that it's accepted to leave the body in the home for that amount of time, in the US. And I think usually the morticians prepare the body for burial, so they want it as soon as possible. Here in Peru, it seems like there is less done in the way of preparing the cadaver for burial, and the family does it all. Apparently there is no embalming done and most feel that when the body passes into the hands of someone outside of the family, there is a loss of respect for the dead person.

It took me a little time to sort through my thoughts about death and customs surrounding it. O and I went for a few hours to visit with Rosita and her husband, Pastor, but we didn't stay all night, and we didn't have any jokes to tell about dead bodies. And I felt no compunction to kiss the dead woman's cheeks or smooth her hair. In discussing the differences with a couple of friends here, one finds my experiences very cold and unfeeling and doesn't understand why anyone wouldn't want to spend as many days as possible with the body of a fallen loved one, while the other thinks it might be better if things were done a different way in Peru, though maybe not exactly as they are done in the US. I talked with O and told him that although I loved him, if he should die, I didn't think I could have him lingering in the living room for several days while the neighbors cracked jokes about him. That would hurt me much more than help.

I wonder if we in the culture of the United States really are that cold and unfeeling, or if we are viewed as such by the rest of the world. I felt that in my experience, everything was handled very gently and with the utmost respect for the dead and great courtesy toward the family, even though the body was removed from the house the same day of the death. I'm still thinking about that.

I know that there will be more differences in culture that take me by surprise or make me pause to think for a while as I spend more time here. I'm looking forward to finding out what those differences are.

Oct 8, 2007

I want to make this!

The light blue hat may be my next project. I love the look of it, and I want to make it. I want to make it. i think it's time I had a change in the felted hats that I've been doing. They sell well, but they tend to look pretty much the same. Did I say that I want to make the light blue hat? I want to make one of these!

the vest is proven

I was on the verge of ripping out the hippy vest yesterday. I'd made the mistake of reading the review of the pattern book I used while window shopping on Someone said that everything in the book had to be re-calculated because it was written in Great Britain, and that nothing turned out correctly if one didn't do the calculations to make the proper changes in terminology. AND that the reviewer hated the vest pattern because it looked like a tablecloth.

But something told me to hold off, so I just laid the vest across the back of the sofa and let it rest. Later, Mario and Lili came over and Lili saw the piece on the sofa. Lili is a short, round, voluptous woman - flamboyant to say the least - and she couldn't resist trying the vest on. Holy Smokes!!! The vest transformed her round shape into an hourglass figure and she was THRILLED. She was busy twirling in front of the mirror for a few minutes before I managed to get the thing off her. I guess we'll see how things go. But I know now what to get Lili for Christmas.

Oct 7, 2007

Good morning!

Well, it's late morning, but still a good one! I have photos to share from the farm!

Rose is the unchallenged queen. She rules the pen with an iron.......horn? I think you'd call her the alpha female.

This is my Sunny boy. You've seen him before, but here he is, contemplating the joys of having his ears rubbed.

And here is Sunny once again, just about to deliver the punchline of his latest joke. He's a happy boy and a charm to be with. I miss him.

Here's Pansy, our old Grandma goat. She's a 14 year old Nubian, retired from her milking career. In her prime, she was a gallon-a-day producer. Now she's a babysitter and has her say about what goes on around the farm. Very outspoken and friendly, she's still got an ornery streak through her and really enjoys a good back rub now and then.

Oct 2, 2007

Hippy-style Vest

It looks like a small round tablecloth. It's a little bit too hippy-ish for my taste, but still, I like this piece. It turned out to be a size 14 - 16; too big for me, but on the right person, this could be a knock-out!

Here's a shot of it a few days ago, when I had about 3 rounds left:

And here's a couple of shots of the back of the finished vest:

And finally, the detail of the front...the green top kind of clashes and the wooden button is hidden by the crocheted lace, but I hope you can get the idea of the thing...this vest is for sale.

What tarot card am I?

You are the World

Completion, Good Reward.

The World is the final card of the Major Arcana, and as such represents saturnian energies, time, and completion.

The World card pictures a dancer in a Yoni (sometimes made of laurel leaves). The Yoni symbolizes the great Mother, the cervix through which everything is born, and also the doorway to the next life after death. It is indicative of a complete circle. Everything is finally coming together, successfully and at last. You will get that Ph.D. you've been working for years to complete, graduate at long last, marry after a long engagement, or finish that huge project. This card is not for little ends, but for big ones, important ones, ones that come with well earned cheers and acknowledgements. Your hard work, knowledge, wisdom, patience, etc, will absolutely pay-off; you've done everything right.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Oct 1, 2007

Finally, THE RULES have arrived

Yeay! The English grammar book that I ordered way back in the first part of June has FINALLY arrived. I had one before, but lent it out and it never returned. So, finally, when those students ask WHY?, I can answer. I ordered "English Grammar For Dummies", and the title is exact. I learned by immersion, and never was taught the names for the grammatical structures nor the rules. It simply WAS the proper way to speak, and there was a proper way and an improper way. So, finally, I have the RULES. The students here want THE RULES of grammar.

"The child confessed to have eaten all the candy" does not mean the same as "the child confessed to have been eaten all the candy" simply is not the same, but how to explain it to a non-English speaker without THE RULES of grammar? So, since I was not taught all THE RULES in rule terms, I need a book of grammar rules. Yeay. Now I have it, and what's more, it's for dummies, so it suits me just fine.

Along with English for Dummies came PRACTICAL MAGIC, a movie I have loved for years. Stockard Channing is one of my favorite actors. She makes a wonderfully eccentric witchy aunt, and is very SALTY. Just the right touch of magic, wit, and drama to be entertaining. I'm off to watch it now, as soon as I get the cellophane off of it!

Sep 27, 2007

Stick Etiquette

Celeste has discovered sticks. They are her new favorite things. Last weekend, she destroyed her tennis ball at the park, so we searched around for something else to chase, and came up with a stick. I think it was like a revelation for her. Now there is a pile of tree branches and twigs on the bike path, and Celeste almost had a stroke when she saw it. She leaped into the middle of the pile searching for a loose stick. When she found one, she triumphantly carried it all the way back home, up the two flights of stairs, and into the apartment. The people on the street laughed and make their little comments, but Celeste knew that they had no idea just what they were missing, if they didn't have a stick of their own. So the people were forgiven or simply ignored as she paraded back home with her treasure between her teeth.

Advice from Celeste:

There is a specific way to destroy a stick. One has to peel the bark off and discard it in shreds around the living room, placing it just so, so that others will know that there is a stick in the house. It's kind of like leaving a trail of bread crumbs, so people can find their way to the actual stick and of course the stick chewer - that way they can watch in admiration and the owner of the stick resolutely destroys the stick.

After the stick is peeled, one has to start at one end of the stick and delicately CRUNCH the end, until the stick splinters or is mangled enough to fall on the floor. We do not eat the splintered bit; we only spit them out daintily in an secret pattern that only the stick owner understands. It also makes it easier for the serving maid to sweep them up. One can, however, carry the stick to various places within the abode, leaving small scatterings of saliva-covered wooden bits around, so that again one can be admired as the chewing talents develop.

Once the twig or stick is completely shredded, one should leave it for the servant to clean up, but do keep an eye out for those larger pieces that might be retrieved from the trash in cases of emergency - for example, one might find oneself without any toy whatsoever, and then the larger piece of stick serves as an excellent diversion and can also be scattered about the home as one deems necessary, although in smaller quantities. This is unimportant, for it still gives the servant a reason for being and allows her to feel needed within the household.

Photos to follow.

Sep 25, 2007

Tuesday stuff

Not much going on here...I'm in the midst of the circular crocheted vest. It WAS on the way to being a sweater, but morphed while I was looking through other patterns, and now it's a vest. There's a lot of repetitive stitch work, and it's getting tedious, although I'm just about finished with it. Actually, that is why I'm writing now - I had to take a break from it. It's done in alpaca, the inside circle is a hand painted skein and the outside is the natural light fawn color of some alpacas. The whole piece is nice, but with the hand painted portion, it's beginning to look just a little too hippy, even for me.

Have you seen this? I can't remember how I came across her blog, but wow. It's done by Greenfingers. She does beautiful work! I really like the white doll.

I've been watching "The Last Mimsy". I love it. What a charming little story! I bought the cd. I only buy the movies that I'm sure I will watch more than once, since I tend to do that. I watch them several times, a habit I got into when my daughter was little, because inevitably I would be called away from the movie for something. So now I only buy the movies that I'm sure I will love. My next purchase will be "Stardust", if it ever comes to the theaters here. I've been waiting for it, but so far, only the posters have arrived here in Lima.

I finally got on Ravelry! Yey! But now I'm so busy surfing through it that I have not put up any of my own stuff - my stash, my FOs, my UFOs, etc. With time, I suppose. For now, I need to get a Flicker account, so I can add photos and, I guess, be seen.

And, lastly, I do try to be adventurous in food. But there is a limit to what I can handle. On Sunday afternoon, O and I went to eat at a place we'd never tried before. The food style was from northern Peru, specifically from Ferrañafe, which is quite close to Chiclayo. We tried tacu tacu. Everything I've read says it's made with beans, rice, bacon, and other basically harmless ingredients, so I was open to try it. And we ordered a cold dark malt beer to drink with it. When the food arrived, it was not as I was expecting, but hey, I'm not an expert here, so I ate.

Apparently, Ferrañafe style tacu tacu is different than the rest of the world's idea of what it should be. The meat was definitely NOT bacon. The flavor was quite good, and the sauce was wonderful. But the meat...well, let's say I suspected it was not something that I would be eating at any time. I thought it was the skin of a tongue, but later (O prudently refrained from telling me what it was while I was eating) I found out that it was the lining of a cow's stomach. But I had eaten it, and it was okay. Later that evening, though, the cow's stomach began to pitch a fit and fought with my own stomach, resulting in a HUGE case of heartburn. Luckily I do have quite a strong gut, and my stomach proved to be the stronger of the two. I hope I don't run into another cow stomach too soon.


Ingredients :
3 cups canary beans
150 lb (300 g) pork fat or bacon, diced
2 cups of cooked rice
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 fresh yellow aji/chili (aji amarillo fresco), seeded and deveined


Soak beans overnight. Drain and cook in unsalted water together with pork fat or bacon until soft.

Remove from heat and let cool. Beat with a wooden spoon to form a coarse purée. Set aside and let cool.

Heat oil in a large skillet and add onion, garlic and aji. Saute onion and aji until soft and tender and correct seasoning. Add the beans and the cooked rice, mix well and correct seasoning. Cook stirring, until golden and remove from heat.

To make the tacu tacu:
Take one part of the mixture into your hands and form a small oblong tamale.

Cover with bread crumbs or crackers to maintain shape.

Heat oil in skillet, place one part of the bean mixture, and fry turning constantly to avoid sticking. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Serve with breaded fried tenderloin, fried banana, fried egg and Creole sauce.

6 servings

Sep 24, 2007

Crocheted skirts and a shawl

I seem to have worked my way through the skirt obsession. I am posting the results of my last few weeks of crocheting - the multi-colored skirt, a blue skirt, and a beaded purple skirt. The blue skirt is looong - ankle length - and flared at the end, in deference to Westerwitch's comments. Worn with my slouchy boots, I feel like I'm in the old West, with my long, flouncy, swirly skirt. All I need is a shawl to wear with it.

The skirts are for sale, or I will be glad to make the same patterns in other sizes. The purple skirt, the gray skirt that I posted earlier, and the multi-colored skirt are all size 8 - 10, tea length, and the blue skirt is a size 6 - 8, ankle length. Price is $65.00 postpaid.

I plan to take all of them to Colorado in November, but if interested in something, please let me know and I will get it to you. Shipping time from Lima is about 10 days.

I think the multi-colored skirt would look fabulous with a denim jacket and sandals!

And speaking of shawls, I also came up with a black crocheted shawl. It started out circular, but then I folded it and crocheted a shell edging on it. Shells - you'd think I could come up with a different stitch, but it seems like everything I do ends up in a shell edging. Also for sale, $55.00 postpaid.

Sep 22, 2007

Odyssey's Able

Able is a young male who hasn't reached his stride yet. He's still in the growth mode and has a lot of filling out to do. His fleece is one of the softest and finest on our farm and he carries a lot of it. His conformation is excellent, with a stylish head and good proportions, although he still looks a little like a teenager. We expect him to fill out and become a viable jr. herdsire this year.

Here is an excellent opportunity to acquire an outstanding fiber animal or start your herd for a very small investment. Nearly all of our young males are related to our females, so they have to go. Other fine young alpaca machos are also available at reduced prices. The animals are located in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States.

Price: $500