Feb 26, 2007

back to life...

Whew...you know, it pays to have your own doctor in the house. Omar is a pharmacist, studying in the hospital as a resident. So when I fell to pieces yesterday morning, he was right there to help me back together.

We had gone out the night before with one of the cousins, Ivan and wife Luz. Before we went out, the guys went down the street and bought 4 chicken dinners. I LOVE the roasted chicken they make here. I recommend it to everyone. If you ever come to Peru, get the chicken.

But DON'T eat the accompanying salad and dressing. Never, never, never. I've done that twice, and gotten sick both times. If the meal comes with salad, just throw the salad away with the box. And pretend it was never there. Don't even THINK about eating it. The the green stuff is loaded with BAD STUFF. I thought I was going to die yesterday. Thankfully, Dr. Omar was right there and fairly flew to the pharmacy to bring back something to bust this gut bug. I wasn't puking yet, but was on the verge, with fever, diarrhea and body aches all over. After a mostly sleepless night for both of us, relief came about 4 am. Finally. He had to go to work, but I am "lucky" enough not to be working yet, so I got to stay in bed. Omar came home about 10 am, having asked for the day to be sure that I was going to be okay. I am so privileged to have this man in my life. He spent the day putzing around the house and looking in every so often just to see if I was still alive.

But anyway, I still have one more tablet to take to kill this bug, and I should be done with it. My joints still ache in places, but it's not the "whole body" effect. And I'm back to life again.

I am almost finished with my dish cloth, which has become more of a towel. I think it was the gut bug that made me feel unmotivated. This afternoon, I used all the leftover yarn from the boho sweater, and moved on to a couple of skeins left from the afghan that I was saving to make flowers out of. Oh well, I need a dish towel more than I need knitted flowers, at the moment. Actually, I could do with several dish towels. When I asked Omar to pick some up last time he was at the grocery store, he came back with Handy Wipes. Remember those? I didn't know they even existed anymore.

I just made myself a cup of tea, and happened to read the box:

Hierba Luisa (aka lemon verbena) comes from selected plantations in the Amazon region, whose climate produces a product of grand flavor and aroma, ideal for relaxing from the day's tensions, and for every moment.

Wow. In my mind's eye, I see Ricardo Montalban saying these words while sitting in his velvet-covered over-stuffed chair, cigar in hand, sultry steam wafting from a tea cup on the coffee table. Two Great Danes lie on the Persian carpet before the fireplace. Oil lamps burn in a softly-lit great room... I look around my tiny apartment. I do have a rug, but my Basset hound is in the states, I hate the smell of cigars, the stuffing in the sofa is flat, the lighting in the living room is provided by a bare bulb in the ceiling, and it's too friggin' hot to even think of a fireplace.

Ooo la la.

Feb 25, 2007

dish cloth

I've begun a crocheted dishcloth of the leftover yarn from the Bohemian Squares sweater. I'm not very inspired, so the little project isn't moving very quickly. I do need one, though, and that's the only reason I'm making it.

I've been using tea of Hierba Luisa in the mornings. I didn't really know what it was, but the flavor is very lemony. I thought maybe it was lemongrass, but a check on the internet revealed it to be Lemon Verbena. Every culinary garden here has a patch of Hierba Luisa. They use it in cooking, and for teas. I've found it to be a very relaxing tisane, and a pleasant digestive aid. A hot cup in the morning gets things moving, although I have the same results with any hot drink in the morning. Okay...probably more info than anyone needs in that last sentence.

I'm feeling kind of icky today, so I think I'll head back to take a nap for a little while.

Feb 24, 2007

Saturday Mornings and Criolla Nights

It's Saturday. Omar went to work at 7 this morning, and will probably be gone till 5 this afternoon. I don't like the fact that he works 6 days a week. It would be nice to be able to sleep in and have a leisurely Saturday, like the rest of the Monday through Friday, 9 - 5 workforce. It will be better when I start work...I hope, though, that they give me a full week's worth of hours. Omar told me that sometimes they don't give teachers many hours. THAT would be the pits. Oh, sure, I'm a teacher, but I if I only teach one class 3 times a week...uuuuffff...still, it's experience, and that should count for something.

If I end up working only part time, it will at least be a place to spend my time and find new friends. That will go a long way towards fighting the winter blues that hit me when the sun is blocked out by the cloud cover. Last year, it seemed like there were 3 months of gray, depressing days that threw me into the dark, bummed out blues. Of course, I felt like I had nothing to do, either, except sit in the house and wait for Omar to come home. This year it's different; we have our OWN apartment, which makes a HUGE difference, and we are in a nicer neighborhood, so I'm not afraid to go outside of my 4-block radius. There's a bike trail through the middle of Jesus Maria and Lince, and I can walk that for hours, when I need to. And a small market nearby to give me something to look at, even if I only have enough money to buy bread. And starting up an online store might help to inspire me to do more fiber work and create some unique pieces.

Last night we went to the Circulo Militar (the officer's club that is just at the end of our block). On Friday evenings, they have Noches Criollas. Live music, and it costs nothing to get in. Of course, they are hoping that you'll buy food and drink, but it's not required. So we had a couple of beers and danced for a few hours. It was fun. The thing about Peruvians is that they love their music (and it really is beautiful music) so much that they want to share it with the whole world...by turning up the volume loud enough that it will blast you right out of the room. There's no escaping the racket. I would prefer to be a little farther away from the blast and conserve my hearing. Still, it was nice to dance for a while, and then walk home in the cool of the night...slightly deaf, but still swaying to the sound of the Latin guitar.

Feb 23, 2007

...and lunch at the Sweaty King Restaurant

This morning, we went to Immigrations to get the process started on my residence visa. It's a ton of red tape. Everyone needs to have their hands in every process, maybe so they can justify their jobs, or maybe so no one person gets blamed if there's a screw-up. The system is created around the idea of a lot of offices to visit, long lines to be waited in, and myriad red stamps all over the paperwork. And of course, one has to pay. That is most important. We only got part of the process done. Maybe next week we can go back and finish it. Then we'll have to go to another country to get my visa for living in Peru. Does that make any sense at all? One applies in Peru to live here, then it's necessary to collect the visa in some other country. Gads. Let's do our part to make things hard.

Anyway, after that, we stopped at a restaurant, called El Sudado Del Rey...I, with my non-fluent Spanish, pondered this name for several minutes. "Sudar" means "to sweat". "Sudado" must mean "sweated" or sweaty; "del Rey" meaning "of the King". In my little mind, I came up with the "The Sweaty King". Actually, the restaurant was named for their signature dish, sudado del rey. Omar explained to me that "sudado" is a soup, and there was a large chunk of fish and several cooked shrimp in a huge bowl of piquant tomato soup, with chopped cilantro leaves sprinkled over the top. It really was a good meal. Fish soup isn't what I would go for, if I were ordering, but this really was quite good. Served with rice on the side, it is quite a filling and satisfying meal, without that nasty odor that I associate with fish.

I am impressed with the Sweaty King Restaurant. I hope we visit there again sometime soon!

Avocado Breakfast

Gads, it's 6 am and last night we ate all the bread, all the fruit, all the anything that's worth eating for breakfast.

Searching through the fridge, I can find an egg, half an avocado, a dried up lime, and a piece of stinky cheese. Okay, so I take out the avocado and peel the rest of it, throw out the pit, and mash it up with a little salt and cumin. I chop through the shell of the dry lime and squeeze out what little juice is left inside onto the mashed pile on the plate. Stir that up and let it rest. Then, I crack an egg into the frying pan and let it cook for a minute, while I cut some of the stinky cheese...two slices...and as I turn the egg, I lay the cheese underneath the egg and turn off the heat. The cheese melts and I turn the whole works out onto the mashed avocado mess.

A furtive taste...well! Not too bad! It looks slightly disgusting, but really tastes pretty good. The lime was a waste - there's not enough juice there to add any flavor at all to the avocado or to keep it from turning brown, so it's eat it now, or throw it out.

I eat it...and desperate to find something to write about, I decide to use it as the subject for today's post. Don't try to feed it to the man in your life...he'll look dubiously from the plate to you, from the plate to you, from the plate to you...and then opt for the soda cracker dust that has been sitting on the counter since yesterday, when you stepped on the package and crushed them into smithereens.

Feb 22, 2007

to sell or not to sell...that is the question

I'm sitting here, thinking about opening up an Etsy shop. I could really use some extra money to finance everything I want to buy, yarn-wise. I love the knitting and crocheting, and creating-one-of-a-kind items. The problem is that I don't have enough knitted goods to stock a little store. So I'm thinking about branching out and offering Peruvian artisan objects, too...I wonder how they would go over. I bought the alpaca pot that's in one of the photos I've posted, and I wonder how that might weather the shipping process. I know that most people in the US seem to prefer hand knitted items that LOOK like handknits, and not machine made. Peruvian knitters, on the other hand, strive for perfection in their handknits, to the point that they look like commercially produced articles. I have a hard time selling those, even the ones with intricate intarsia patterns, so I hesitate to invest in very many of those. I think they're beautiful, but they just don't seem to suit the fancy of the people who like my stuff.

Okay, so...an online store. I'll be giving that much more thought, and working on building up a stock to offer.

Feb 21, 2007

musings over tea & strawberry jam

Yup, here it is...just past 11 am in Peru, and I am sitting here pondering my tea cup. I have yet to get my shower...I'm dreading the cold water, even though this IS Peru and it's still summer here. Cold water on warmish skin is a shock to the system, no matter where one is. One of things I miss most is my hot water heater at home in Cheyenne. I Do, though, have a very nice cup of tea made of Hierba Luisa (I suspect that it's what I know as lemongrass) and a bun of bread with butter and strawberry jam. Omar's father finally did go home last week, and bless him, he's doing the same garbage to his wife and other family members there in Trujillo. He went on a drinking binge last Friday night and came home Sunday morning, drunk, bloodied, and of course, the center of his little universe. On a more positive note, I now have my laundry room free, since he left, and the bathroom is no longer a multi-purpose area. I can find the good in every situation, if I just look hard enough.

Over the last week, I've been discussing a kimono-style sweater with Zoebird. I hope I can get this made to her satisfaction. I have the yarn - she wants alpaca - and I have an image of the piece in my mind. I just hope she has the same image in her thoughts. Oriental style, assymmetrical, bell sleeves, hip length. Colors of dark chocolate, dark fawn, and champagne.

I took a couple of weeks and made an afghan to throw over the back of the couch. It's done in two big granny squares. I still want to knit some flowers to attach to it, but that can come with time. Now that the basic afghan is done, I can embellish it as my whims hit me. I remember last July, when it was SOOO COLD, and an afghan would be a great comfort on those chilly nights. I have also started a dark blue and white star shrug...just barely started when I dropped it to do the afghan. I think I may pick it up again, and work on it until Zoe B makes her final decisions on her sweater.

I talked to my tax man yesterday and I should be getting some money back this year. Maybe with some of it, we can get a hot water heater! And maybe get the washer fixed so I'm not always washing our clothes in a tub...8 items every two days, depending on how long it actually takes for the washed clothes to dry. I don't really mind that, but sometimes the hamper fills more quickly than I can get the clothes to dry, and there is a perpetual line of dripping shirts hanging in the laundry room.

I would also like to enroll in one of Susun Weed's herbal corespondence courses. I've been wanting to for several years, but never gave myself permission to do it. Maybe this year would be a good time. There are so many herbs and plants here in Peru that I don't know about. I think using them to study with through a correspondence course would be a great way to explore them, and probably safer than my own "chew and spit" method. Maybe the idea of what doesn't kill me will make me stronger isn't that great of an approach?

Just to clarify, I am not normally such a sloth. Yesterday, I went to the institute and taught the model class in intermediate English. That actually was the last step in getting hired there as a teacher. Surprizingly, they accepted me and I start teaching on March 5, so I have about 2 weeks more of sloth-time before I have to start earning my keep. Until then, I'll be cleaning the apartment, washing clothes, knitting, crocheting, and looking for a new and interesting project to make.

Happy sloth-day! I've almost got the nerve to try a cold shower now!

Feb 12, 2007

earthworms, cats, and ocean breezes

I decided to keep the earthworm for a little while, at least, because I read on a bag of potting soil that soil in a pot looses all its nutrients after the plant has been in it for a year. My thought was that the worm might help to keep the soil in better shape...don't earthworms eat dead plant material? I was thinking that the worm poop would benefit everything else in the pot. I hope that when I water or when the worm population increases, that I won't find worms on the floor outside the pot! Eeewww...

I wanted a kitty, but there are surprisingly very few stray cats around. Dogs on the street abound, but cats...well there's one that lives on the military compound just at the end of the block, but other than that, I have not seen any. I would love to have a big fat, friendly cat to sit in my lap or on the back of the couch. The only thing I don't enjoy about cats is that they always seem to begin their time with me by climbing the curtains, which I do not tolerate. And we have to make it clear that the dining room table and the counter tops are not available to kitty feet. After that has been done, the cat spends the next day or two under the couch or the bed, and finally gets over being scared or mad at me. Only when those rules are understood can we be friends. I really do love cats, but we all have boundaries and mine are mostly unbendable in those 2 basic areas. No cats on the curtains and no cats walking around on surfaces where my food might be. I asked Omar about it, and he told me that he prefers dogs. Hopefully soon we can find a puppy.

Heading into fall means that the nights are cooler and the wind changes in the evenings to come from the west...bringing the smell of the ocean with it. I can't say that I enjoy that Pacific aroma too much if I'm not at the beach, or even if I AM at the beach. I enjoy watching the waves come crashing in, and maybe walking along the shore, just getting my feet and legs wet, but to actually go swimming is not my favorite thing, especially if the water is dirty or if there are a lot of people around. Even a full swimming pool isn't where I would spend my hot summer afternoon. Ocean breeze sounds like such a romantic fragrance, but only in an incense stick, a candle, or a room deodorizer. Other than that, I think it smells like fish water. Fish and I are not such great buddies that I want to smell like one.

The foliage doesn't change colors here in the fall. It usually just stays green and things get a little drier. As it gets colder, we get earthquakes every so often. The local theory is that without earthquakes, the season could not change. My thinking is that as the surface of the earth cools, the change in temperature causes expansion or contraction in various parts of the earth's surface, causing movement. Hence, earthquakes. I don't know. I'm probably way off the mark.

Usually the sun is blocked by a cloud layer, too, which is when I tend to become depressed. That is the reason that I am trying to make the apartment a cozy place with a garden-like atmosphere to escape to when things get icky outside. This time I brought some of my favorite music, and a couple of good books (which I have unfortunately already read), just did order a few more from Amazon, and that is also why it became so important to me to get some plants growing in here. I need to beat the depression that comes with little or no sunshine. It also helps that I may have this teaching job to keep my mind occupied through the day and give me a sense of purpose.

garden dreams

I finally got 3 actual plants and potted them today: 2 ivy plants with great vines already, and some kind of little blooming thing that has dark green foliage and bright pink flowers. I love working with plants. It renewed me a bit as I was planting the ivy in clay pots. And I got a little bonus - and earthworm showed itself as I was unwrapping the roots. At first, I thought it was a cutworm or something similar and was about to fling it out the window for the pigeons to share, but nope! It's a little earthworm! I hope I don't overwater and drown the little guy. While I am here, my days of gardening has to be adjusted dramatically...strictly container gardening and indoors at that. I have plans to make the laundry room into not only a laundry, but a space for doing the plant work, too. Not reason I shouldn't make the most of what we have. We bought a fold-up clothes drying thingy today, hahahaha...because Omar is afraid that with a regular clothesline in the laundry room, that he will catch it around his head or neck. So with the folding thing (I hope it works well and isn't one of those "As seen on TV!" cheap things...at least it isn't plastic), I have hopes of a gardening room, too.

And I got a table cloth...a tan background with lots of other colors woven into it...it's a Peruvian textile, and very pretty. I was a little worried about it, because Omar sometimes seems not to want those folkloric and artisan pieces. I picked up a vase, also an artisan piece, but I think it might be a "no water" vase because the inside of it is unglazed, so if I find some particularly beautiful silk flowers, I'll get a few to splash some color around the living room. I like COLOR. Omar seems to like browns and tans...typical man there, I think. The vase is shades of brown and orange with black. Little llamas stand on each side. I would have much preferred something floral and colorful and we saw that, but the Peruvian folk art is just as nice. Next month, I'm going back for a couple of paintings to put on the walls. I asked him about wall hangings, but he said he preferred framed pictures. No rug yet, though. The rug places were all closed today, so maybe that will happen next month, along with the paintings.

I'm still thinking of snagging some cuttings along the sidewalk tomorrow. I saw a batch of spider plants that had new starts coming of them on Friday. If they haven't been trimmed, I'll just nip a few off and drop them into my purse on the way home tomorrow.

Garden dreams abound...and we're heading into autumn here...

Feb 5, 2007

scraps of yarn and thought...

So with the scraps of yarn left from the Boheman sweater and some pretty beads, I made a little capelet. I think this might be for myself, but it seems like when I make something that I like, I end up selling it. Almost all of my stuff sold in November at the craft show in Windsor, Colorado, and I'm starting from scratch again. Before I came back to Lims this time, I made 2 sweaters and 2 felted hats...the hats I made for me, and I actually brought the brown one with me, so I think that one will be mine. But I made a wonderful red one that I like better, with a wide brim and a deep crown. It sits down on my head and keeps my ears warm, with no danger of flying off in the wind. The brim is wider than the brim on the brown hat, so I took the one that was more practical to carry on the plane with me...and the red one sits in the closet in Cheyenne. I want it. I miss it, even though I only wore it around the house. I love it. My hat, my beautiful red hat...my kingdom for my hat! Too bad I don't have a kingdom. I don't have my red hat, either.

I'm trying to upload a photo of the lavender hat I made last year. It took a little time for that one to sell, too, but in Windsor, a lady saw it and love it. She was looking for something that would be weather proof, stay on her head, and still look like a hat. I'm glad it found a home.