Jun 30, 2007


I want this to be a lazy Saturday. I WANT it to be a lazy Saturday, but I have laundry and house cleaning to do, knitting to work on, and a dog to exercise. It doesn't sound like much, but it stretches out into hours. My days get away from me. How does this happen? One minute, I'm sitting here in the morning with a cup of chamomile tea, and the next, I'm looking at the clock and it says 11:30! WHAT? Almost noon?!? I need to get a move on, so I'll just do that. But before I do, I'll put up a photo of Celeste:

Jun 29, 2007

magic all around

Celeste got new pajamas yesterday. Mmmm...more like a bathrobe, heh. It's really a fleece dog sweater, but it's about 2 sizes too big and fits her loosely. So it drapes on her like a robe. She seems to love it, though, and went to bed in it last night. Voluntarily. I couldn't believe it. Usually, getting her to go to her own bed is like pulling teeth, but last night, with her fleece sweater on, she went to her own bed and was out like a light. She slept till almost 9 this morning! Another miracle! She's usually awake and destroying things at 5:30, but this morning was a different story. I was actually expecting to find a shredded fleece collar hanging from her neck and the rest of the sweater scattered around the laundry room, but it was intact! When I went into see if Celeste was still breathing, she just looked up at me from her laundry basket and yawned. As soon as I took her PJs off, she sprang into action and leaped around the apartment like a horny toad, so I know she's normal outside of the sweater...maybe they're magic pajamas! Maybe they keep the monsters away, like Ms. Violet did.

I went to the artisan fair today in the big parking lot just a couple of blocks away. It's open through Sunday. Most of the vendors are from the mountain areas, and they sell knitwear, mostly, but a few also have herbs and herbal remedies, and some folk magic stuff. As I walked through the aisles, I noticed a few gallon jars of preserved snakes, monopoly money, copal incense, and various animal bones...all for casting spells to bring money, chase away the evil eye, protection against other spells and curses, and the like. I passed a booth that had piles of herbs and incense on it and heard bells and chanting coming from behind a curtain, heavy incense smoke filling the air. I wasn't allowed to peek behind to see what was happening, but I know that voodoo workings are still practiced in some areas of Peru, including parts of Lima. I can't tell how seriously people take it or how often they make this part of their lives, although I do know that Omar's cousin is currently employed by a company from Spain, to read tarot cards over the phone. This is the first place I have ever been where "eye of newt" would be an item that people would go shopping for, and you really might find it on the shelf.

I wonder why I didn't see magic wands. Is the wand a European creation, not included in voodoo magic? When I have gone to craft shows and eclectic stores in the United States, I always see those kinds of items, including wands.

Anyway, I came away from the fair with 2 beautiful sweaters, one all alpaca and the other probably an acrylic blend, a pair of hand-knit socks with matching mittens, a jar of very strong-tasting honey, a jar of carob syrup, and the first three Harry Potter movies for about dollar a piece - the extent of my magic for the day. I didn't buy any herbs or snake bits. I think the movies might see me through Saturday. Omar had a change of plans and has to return Saturday afternoon...he has classes on Sunday, so is cutting his visit in Trujillo short by a day. I'm glad. I know he enjoys visiting his family and friends there but I miss his presence here in the house.

Jun 27, 2007

Free for a While :o)

Yeay! Classes are over for the month, it's payday, and I have time off till the 3rd of July. I celebrated tonight by bringing home roasted chicken, salad, and fries with yellow chile sauce (salsa de aji amarillo). Of all Peru's fabulous and varied foods, the chicken cooked over a wood fire is my all-time favorite. They call it pollo a la leña (chicken a la firewood or kindling). The aroma pouring out onto the street from the local polleria (chicken place) draws me like a moth to a flame. The smoky flavor is addictive for me.

But tomorrow, Omar will be going to Trujillo to visit his parents for a few days, so I'll be spending most of my time off alone with Celeste. It's not that I don't enjoy my time with Celeste - she can be fun when she's not pushing her luck - but I adore my Omar and covet my time with him. Celeste is my responsibility, though, and taking her on a bus for 8 hours wouldn't be bearable or even practical.

The good thing is that Omar will be bringing a crate for Celeste back with him. This dog crate has been made by his brother, Dante, who is a master carpenter and more generally a jack of all trades. It is supposedly able to be dismantled and bundled into a bundle that can be carried. He does excellent work always, but I hope that this crate is not so well built that it is too heavy to haul around comfortably. We searched for a crate for Celeste, but the shipping drove the prices up to around $350 for a crate that would normally cost only about $65.00. This crate that Dante has made will cost us about $45.

I've decided that during my upcoming time off, I'll be spending lots of time playing with Celeste, finishing Maggie's hat, and my Spring Colors sweater, and making Omar a pair of knitted slippers. I don't have the wool to make felted ones, but I do have plenty of dark brown yarn and can surprise him with a thick pair of slippers to slip on in these chilly mornings. Knowing him, he'll be wearing them to bed...

Jun 26, 2007

A Life Worth Singing About

I have just read a recent post on Honestly Speaking about what she is grateful for. I also have a lot to be grateful for. I'm so grateful that I am able to speak my mind and, well, just speak - freely, truthfully, frankly. I am with the rest of South America, observing Venezuela in the loss of a television station that included programming the was critical of the current Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. It seems like freedom of expression is on the way out in Venezuela.

I'm grateful that I have my husband, Omar. He loves me, and I love him passionately. We support one another in everything we do. He's gentle, tactful, funny, and talented. He's musical and rhythmic, singing and dancing with a beautiful Latino style. I'm grateful that I can sing and dance with him!

I'm grateful for the family that I have. I love them all, unconditionally. I have a beautiful, hot-tempered daughter, who I hope learns to manage her temper soon. I have sisters. They are also hot-tempered at times, but they are mine. I have a wonderful father who is compassionate and gentle, and just experiencing a complete independence and is beginning to re-create his life after the death of my mother. And I am grateful for having had a tremendous mother. She passed away last year, and I do miss her. She taught all of us so much, right up to the time that she died.

I have my health. I have a healthy body that seems to get me around quite well. I am able to walk to work and dance in the evenings, and get from place to place without pain or upset. Happily, I don't smoke, so I have quite a good set of pipes on me that enable me to project my voice throughout the classroom, to my students, and to sing with. So far, I haven't suffered from any recurring illness and hopefully, that will be the case for some years to come!

I have been thinking about all that I have in my life, and although I'm not rich by any monetary means, I am rich in spirit. I have been given health, love, family, and LIFE. And it's a life worth singing about!

I got the music in me, I got the music...

I did sing myself to work yesterday and it honestly did raise my spirits, in spite of the thick cloud cover and the slight drizzle. This morning, I awoke to a song in my head (Sunshine on My Shoulders) and hummed it all the way to the cleaners to pick up my blankets. I should have thought of singing much, much earlier. I have my favorite HEART music on right now and I think I'll just be listening to that till time to go to work.

Celeste went with me to the cleaners. She behaved (mostly) like a charm! Hmmm...that makes me wonder what she's up to. We had a few rough spots, but for the most part, she acted like a little lady. The pigeons bother her. When she spots a pigeon on the ground or flying low, her hair stands up and she has to pause to make sure she knows where they're going. I don't think she quite gets it that there are other ways of moving around besides on legs and on wheels. And there was the occasional person that also caused her hair to stand on end, and I'm not sure why. I'm glad she's looking and is aware but I wish I knew what she sees or feels. We generally avoid those hair-raising people.

I've tried twice this morning to get into a scarf and ripped it out both times. I gues I'm still in a knitting slump, so I'll just wait until I finish Maggie's third hat before I start something else new. I also need to get a project started in alpaca, but haven't come up with any good ideas yet. I only have 4 months to go before we go to Windsor to sell our stuff, and I haven't got much made at all. I gotta get inspired! I got the music in me, now I need to use it to get the inspiration in me.

What's that song?...I got the music in me, I got the music IN me, I got the MUSIC in MEEEEEEEE!!!!

Jun 25, 2007

The power of song

I was reading another blog, when I noticed a post about singing. I love singing. I realize that I haven't been singing much these days. I think it's time to get back to it. Singing for me is a lot like laughing and walking - it stimulates those endorphins and those brain chemicals that make me feel happy. I sang with my husband on Friday evening, and we loved it! What fun when we both know the same song and can harmonize together! We need to do it more often!

So from now on, I am making it my policy to sing every morning. Oh no, not loud enough to drive the neighbors out, but enough to start out my days happily! ahem...mi mi mi mi mi...lalalalala!! I think I'll sing myself to work this afternoon.

Morning musings

I love tea. I love watching the steam curl as it rises from the cup. I love the aroma, whether the tea contains herbs and spices or whether it is black or green tea. It fills my mind with memories and wakes me up in the morning. As I drink my tea, I am often inspired to write my thoughts down, and that has ultimately resulted in this blog.

I love to write, also. I always have. Since I was a child, I wrote my thoughts and feelings, stories and poems. Sometimes I found my writings being ridiculed by others and that put a damper on things, but it couldn't squelch the writer in me. Writing is a hard thing, though, because none of the facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language is able to be included without additional narrative.

I love knitting. When I knit, it's as if I am creating a story with the yarn and needles. Each row of stitches is created with intent, stories and feelings woven in between each stitch, thoughts and emotions follow the yarn around the needles, creating a lacy history for someone to love and wear. I think of my knitted creations as filled with magic and love, each one made with a special meaning, each one a work of my imagination. Each one with a happy ending when it is ready to be worn.

when conversation breaks down

I have recently had the experience of someone becoming so angry with me that this person was unable to see anything, except what they had in their minds. Conversation broke down to the point where I was unable to share my thoughts with them. I'm not sure what kind of response was expected from me and was afraid to continue, for fear of an even larger misunderstanding, which happened in short order. I thought that a conversation was two or more people exchanging ideas and thoughts in a civil way, but she very shortly became less than civil. I could see that there was a misunderstanding and even though I tried, I couldn't repair it. When the conversation degraded to the point of me being told what I was thinking and what I was feeling (and most of that was completely off base), what I should be thinking and feeling, that I needed to stop thinking about what I needed, and swear words being thrown at me, I opted to step out of the conversation. I felt like there was just no constructive way for me to continue with this. There was no communication going on there, just the beginnings of verbal abuse. I wasn't aware that someone would address a friend in such a way.

Now there are hurt feelings on both sides. I'm told that I'm angry, although this is not the case. I don't feel angry, I feel hurt and disappointed and, right now, very leery of this person I consider to be a friend. I think I need to re-evaluate how much I share with people. I think I need to figure out just how much is safe to reveal and when to discontinue the involvement for my own safety. But there I am again, thinking of what I need, which is apparently a bad thing. I don't know how to repair this or if it is wise for me to try.

What do you all think out there? I know this is difficult, without knowing all the details and I am unwilling to divulge all the details on here on my blog. Do I have the wrong idea about how to communicate? Are my thoughts in a conversation not to be considered and are most conversations one-sided? I feel like each person is responsible for their own words, and I am taking full responsibility for mine.

Jun 24, 2007

Celeste loses her fans - time to grow up

Today I plan to get out of the house for a while. I've been kind of waiting to hear from one of my sisters, but haven't yet. Yesterday I spent my day inside mostly, waiting for her to call, and then waiting for Omar to come home from work, but they were both wrapped up in something else and so nothing happened here. I did some laundry, cleaned the apartment, and went to the market for some food. Celeste didn't get to go with me to the market, although we did go for a walk in the afternoon. She's getting big enough that I can't handle her and carry my groceries home at the same time now. She is getting big, but still has a puppy mentality.

Because of her size and mentality, she is losing her fans. She's no cute little baby anymore. She's long and gangly, replacing her baby teeth with bigger ones, her feet are big and dirty now, but she still thinks she can charm people by jumping at them and trying to crawl up their legs. Fewer and fewer people call to her, although there still are some who do. They call to her as they pass us on the sidewalk, then scream or get indignant when she jumps to greet them or puts her big, dirty paws on their clean clothing. She doesn't understand that growing up means changing that spoiled baby behavior or risk losing her friends. Very few people enjoy seeing a mouthful of big teeth coming toward their faces, even if it is most assuredly followed by kisses and playfulness. The fact that she is no longer the cute little baby was driven home to her last week in the vet's office. Last month, people were still taken by her sweet face and blue eyes. This month, at 5 months old, she was ignored while the people looked over the new pups in the office, the cute, roly-poly fuzzy babies that squealed and whined while the people made a fuss over them. No matter how many times Celeste threw herself on her back and waved her feet in the air, no matter how many times she barked at them, no matter how she whined and cried, the people were attracted to the babies and not to the rotten half-grown dog throwing a tantrum there on the floor. With a little time, she understood that they were not going to visit her, as they stepped over her without noticing or avoided her altogether, and she decided she could lay there quietly, tantrum over.

Aha. Life is not all about Celeste anymore.

She's still an "it's all about me" girl, but I think that with time, she'll come to the realization that in order to keep her friends, she needs to change her selfish point of view. She's growing up and fighting it all the way. I think it will serve her better, now that she is older, to stop fighting the fact that she is growing up and behave herself. She will be much more welcomed if she can figure out how to present herself quietly and calmly, without trying to climb into their laps, up their legs or jump at their faces. As it is, she's hitting the end of the choke chain before she actually makes contact, most of the time. A couple of times, when people call her, I don't get her stopped before the feet dirty up their work clothes and then we get those angry looks. Of course, that does put a stop to them calling to her as often.

Celeste does love her mirror, though. She now understands that there's not another dog in the room with she sees her reflection. She pauses ever so slightly to bat an eye at her reflection as she passes. She turns herself to see every side of her perfectly teen-aged body. She gives a light kiss to her reflection as she passes from the living room to the hallway. She spends 20 minutes at a time lying in front of the mirror, gazing at herself.

Ah. There are still some things in life that are all about Celeste.

Jun 23, 2007

Looking within and wondering what's there

I read a wonderful essay on the concept of beauty today. I understand that beauty is more than skin deep, and that personality counts as a large part of that beauty. I look at my Omar and see his sparkling personality, his quiet grace and tact, and his gentleness and understanding. It far outshines any physical beauty, although it certainly serves to enhance it.

I often have difficulty finding the beauty in myself. I seem to be plagued with misunderstandings lately, between family and friends, and these misunderstandings influence the way I view myself. I have, recently, learned that I am often too direct in stating my concerns. I'm not too sure why people do not react well to my direct, head-on approach, but I have not found another way of handling things that worry me, or that I feel need to be addressed. I have my thoughts about it, but those might be better off left out of this. I'm looking for a way to work my thoughts into a discussion or conversation with more tact and grace. I feel very lucky that I have Omar in my life, because he is able to discuss things with me, even though I have strong concerns about things and often butt into him head-on with these things and he hasn't run screaming from my life yet. For now, I think I'll just stop talking about misunderstandings and concerns before I put both of my feet even farther into my mouth than I already have. And then maybe I'll work my way back to finding the beauty in myself.

on cocoa and chocolate.

After drinking my hot cocoa, I found myself wondering about cocoa, or cacao, so I looked it up on the internet and found some info on it. So I'm posting it here, for anyone who might be also interested. :o) This is only a shred of the info available on cocoa; I haven't looked deeper into yet. I found it interesting that Montezuma had his cocoa made in a similar way to what I tasted yesterday - with vanilla and spices.

There are other words that sound similar to cocoa. Coca and coco are two of them. Coca is the plant that is harvested to produce cocaine. People here use the leaves to make tea from or to chew, to remedy headaches or altitude sickness. Coco is a palm tree and its fruit is the coconut.

Cocoa is the dried and partially fermented fatty seed of the cacao tree from which chocolate is made. "Cocoa" can often also refer to cocoa powder, the dry powder made by grinding cocoa seeds and removing the cocoa butter from the dark, bitter cocoa solids.

The cacao tree may have originated in the foothills of the Andes in the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America where today, examples of wild cacao still can be found. However, it may have had a larger range in the past, evidence for which may be obscured because of its cultivation in these areas long before, as well as after, the Spanish arrived. It may have been introduced into Central America by the ancient Mayas, and cultivated in Mexico by the Toltecs and later by the Aztecs. It was a common currency throughout MesoAmerica and the Caribbean before the Spanish conquests.

Cacao bushes will grow in a very limited geographical zone, of approximately 10 degrees to the north and south of the Equator. Nearly 70% of the world crop is grown in West Africa.

Cocoa was an important commodity in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Spanish chroniclers of the conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés relate that when Montezuma II, emperor of the Aztecs, dined he took no other beverage than chocolate, served in a golden goblet and eaten with a golden spoon. Flavored with vanilla and spices, his chocolate was whipped into a froth that dissolved in the mouth. No fewer than 50 pitchers of it were prepared for the emperor each day, and 2000 more for nobles of his court.

Chocolate was introduced to Europe by the Spaniards and became a popular beverage by the mid 1500s. They also introduced the cacao bush into the West Indies and the Philippines.

The cacao plant was first given its botanical name by Swedish natural scientist Carl von Linné (1707-1778), who called it "Theobroma ("food of the gods") cacao".

There are three main varieties of the Theobroma cacao: Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario. The first comprises 95% of the world production of cacao, and is the most widely used. Overall, the highest quality of cacao comes from the Criollo variety and is considered a delicacy[2]; however, Criollo is harder to produce, hence very few countries produce it, with the majority of production coming from Venezuela (Chuao and Porcelana). The Trinitario is a mix between Criollo and Forastero[3].

The Netherlands is the leading cocoa processing country, followed by the U.S..

Cocoa and its products (including chocolate) are used world-wide. Belgium had the highest per-capita consumption at 5.5 kg in 1995/96, 10 times the world average [1].

When the pods ripen, they are harvested from the trunks and branches of the Cocoa tree with a curved knife on a long pole. The pod itself is green when ready to harvest, rather than red or orange. Normally, red or orange pods are considered of a lesser quality because their flavors and aromas are poorer; these are used for industrial chocolate. The pods are either opened on the field and the seeds extracted and carried to the fermentation area on the plantation, or the whole pods are taken to the fermentation area.

The harvested pods are opened with a machete, the pulp and cocoa seeds are removed and the rind is discarded. The pulp and seeds are then piled in heaps, placed in bins, or laid out on grates for several days. During this time, the seeds and pulp undergo "sweating", where the thick pulp liquifies as it ferments. The fermented pulp trickles away, leaving cocoa seeds behind to be collected. Sweating is important for the quality of the beans, which originally have a strong bitter taste. If sweating is interrupted, the resulting cocoa may be ruined; if underdone the cocoa seed maintains a flavor similar to raw potatoes and becomes susceptible to mildew.

The liquified pulp is used by some cocoa producing countries to distill alcoholic spirits.

This information and more can be found at the following website:

Jun 22, 2007

cacao and chicharrònes

Today, for lunch, I walked down to the artisan market and bought a hot chocolate and a sandwich made of fresh pork chicharrònes and slices of sweet potato. The hot chocolate is made from the cacao paste, sugar, and water, and heated with a vanilla bean and a few cloves in the liquid. It's wonderful. The only thing I would add to it would be a touch of ground cayenne pepper. I have trouble with the gray winter days in Lima, I have trouble with the language sometimes, and I am often caught unaware by the peculiarities of the culture, but the food is always wonderful for me. I have discovered that certain vendors are clean and careful with their food preparation and certain others are completely unsafe in their methods, so I go to my tried and true ones.

They sell hot chocolate made with cacao in the institute where I work, but very often, they don't add enough water or milk to the cacao and it turns out really thick and greasy. Still, where else would I get to experience real chocolate made straight from the cocoa* bean while loud Andean pipes and singers with falsetto voices wailed in the background?

*edited to read "cocoa" instead of "coco" for the sake of clarity.

Jun 20, 2007

Wednesday ramblings

For the last few months, I've been feeling kind of guilty. I used to work full time, all the time, and loved it. In my last "real" job, I worked as a missile maintenance technician for the Air Force. Actually, I had 27 years with the Air Force. After I retired, I came here and tried to be a housewife, but problems at home took me back to Cheyenne last summer, where I ended up getting a job 3 days after returning. I worked at Dillard's department store, selling kids' clothing. I can't say it was a very fulfilling job, nor can I say that Dillard's is a very good employer. They treat their employees like they are throw-aways. I hope I never work in a place like that again. Say what you want about the US government, but I've never had such a good employer. It's probably safe to say that I never will, either.

Anyway, I'm working part time now, and feeling like I am not carrying my full share of the load. I know if I went to work all day, Celeste would be locked in her room for a big part of the day. That wouldn't be fair to her. And I have those days, even working just part time, that I can hardly drag myself into work. In spite of that, I've been thinking about updating my resume and taking it to a couple of other places to see what I come up with. Pacific University is just a couple of blocks from where we live and Universidad Peruana is also really close, half a block away. Both have English programs, and I'm hoping that they would be interested in a native speaker from the US. And then I'd see where my hours at the military institute would fall in my day.

Rani commented that teaching is a labor of love, hate, etc...yes, it is. I don't think my students know how much I want them to excel. I do. I really want them to be the best and to walk out of my classes speaking with confidence and having a good grasp of the language. Sometimes they do just that. But other times, I know they just barely passed the class and if faced with an English speaker somewhere in their lives, they'll fall back to that "no hablo inglès" and never speak another word of English. And I'm fairly demanding of them in my class. I insist that they participate. I insist that they speak, if only in class. I expect and push them to ask questions and take the risk of making mistakes. This is how we learn. And I'm sure that they hate me for it sometimes.

I know I said I had no plans to get involved in another yarn project, but Celeste apparently needs pajamas. It's damp and chilly here in Lima, and she shivers every night. So, I guess I'll either be donating a t-shirt to her or getting on the ball and making her a sweater to sleep in. I've already donated 3 pairs of jeans for her bed, so I guess I shouldn't mind lending her a shirt to sleep in.

Speaking of the cold, they say that this winter is colder than it has been before. People are saying that wow, it's only June and we're already freezing. What's going to happen in August? Snow? Wouldn't THAT be a sight.

Jun 19, 2007

Celeste and School = bilingual?

Celeste and I went out walking for the first time in two days. I just haven't been myself for a little while, and she's lost one her big top teeth sometime this week and isn't really interested in eating today. She's been throwing up in the morning for the last couple of days, but then ate about half of her food this morning before we went outside. She's in a long, gangly stage and looks and acts like a teenager (God help me). She has this attitude that says, "I'll do what I want, WHEN I want", and tries to ignore me, mostly.

But the girl needs a new bed. She had adopted a wash tub that she loves, but she's getting to be too big for it now, and needs something else. I think we'll go looking for a regular dog bed when I get paid next week.

This month has been kind of trying at school, so far. I have some very intelligent students, but a few of them are having trouble grasping the material. I have had this image in my mind of me trying to shoe-horn the information into their brains. One of them doesn't really care until it's time to take a test. Then she panics. One of them is an older military man, who is taking the course because he has to in order to be promoted. He was in one of my other classes and failed. So I have him again this time, and hopefully we will be able to get him through this class. They've reached a plateau that they can't go past until they apply themselves a little more. I think they all breezed through intermediate English because they weren't required to speak much, or they were allowed to do a lot of their participating in Spanish.

Now that they are in advanced English, the concepts are the same, but they have a lot more vocabulary to learn, they have to listen to lectures and take notes, and they have to be able to write a short composition based on those notes. Not to mention participate in English while in class. What a surprise. I require them to produce their thought in class orally. They have fallen into a habit of writing something down before they say it, but now that they are in advanced English, there is no reason why they shouldn't be producing thoughts and phrases without writing them down first. It's very hard to carry on a conversation with someone who wants to write their answers first and then tell you what they wrote, or repeat your question back to you thinking that will satisfy you.

I think that by the time they are in advanced English, students should be able to speak with some degree of confidence, and that is only gained by practicing. There are some who do, but there are those who depend on their writing skills to get them through the course without uttering more than a couple of words in English. I think those may be the ones that just want the paper certificate that says they completed the course. I am of the firm belief that those who participate and contribute in class do better than those who don't, because they are practicing what they learn. Next week we have finals. We'll see if I'm right this time.

Celeste is bilingual. She doesn't pronounce her words well, but she does understand "Do you want a cookie?" in both English and Spanish.

Jun 18, 2007


Oh, this weekend was hard. I've had kind of a tough week anyway, but on Sunday, I couldn't get through to my dad to tell him Happy Father's Day, and then when I did, he was out. Then I started to leave him a Happy Father's Day message on theh phone, but ended up almost bawling anyway, so I just stopped. I tried again this morning, but he wasn't home. Okay, though. Life goes on. Things happen. I'm a big girl and I can deal with things like this.

Omar had a quiet Father's Day. We went to eat at a really nice place, and then to see Shrek III at the movies, where we both promptly fell asleep. Hmmm. Maybe the Pirates of the Caribbean would have been a better choice. Maybe we shouldn't have eaten so much! Maybe we should have gone to bed earlier the night before! There's a thought. Double hmmm.

I'm kind of stalled on knitting and crochet projects. I haven't gotten inspried by looking at the yarn nor by looking at the books. I might just take a little break from knitting and see what comes of it. The poncho needs to be worn. The sweater needs to be finished. Maggie's hats need to be completed. So maybe I won't take a complete break, but just not try to start any new and interesting things for the time being.

Jun 16, 2007

Adios Ms. Violet.

I have finished my gray poncho. I love it! It's not heavy enough to be an outside garment in winter, but it's good for inside the house, and ooooooo, it's pretty. I beaded the lower edge and the neckline with glass e-beads of various colors, and added a longish fringe to it. Ooo la la! I love it! I have a pair of pretty black corduroy pants and a nice blue/multi-colored top to wear with it...WHERE I will wear it, I don't know. But I'm still really pleased with it! I'll post pictures when the sun comes out, I hope later today.

Today I need to go talk to the vet about Celeste. It's getting close to time to get her spayed, and we need to pre-arrange that...Omar struggled with that...he adores Celeste and thought he wanted her to have puppies (I SCREAMED at that!), but more little Celestes running around the apartment would be more than either of us could possibly keep up with. All that sled dog energy bouncing off the walls and pooping was just too big of a thought for me. So, the decision was made the other night and now it's up to me to implement it.

Celeste has been searching the apartment for Ms. Violet all week. Ms. V took her leave on Sunday night, when the smell of her make me gag. We had been finding little bits of V. stuffing throughout the house, all smelling distinctly of something really NASTY. Ms. Violet herself was in a bad way. Stuffing, squeaker, and most of her fuzz gone, she was little more than a well-loved rag and smelling stronger than a freshly mashed head of garlic. I gagged along until I found her tucked underneath the desk, and put her into the trash. Celeste followed the scent and took her out again, ripping out the remainder of stuffing left in one leg. I didn't realize that V. had been resurrected, until that familiar stench found it's way into my nose once again. There she was, under the desk once more, as fragrant as ever and a little more ragged than before. This time I left her in place until the trash was ready to be taken out for the night. Celeste never knew.

We bid Ms. Violet Fuzbutt a fond farewell. She was a faithful, although often too fragrant, friend to Celeste. May she rest in peace. (Cut to the street, where a bottle recycler is digging through the trash...pulling out an odorous Ms V. and gagging) For now we will have to be satisfied with rawhide chewtoys. Not so nice to sleep with, but at least they don't stay around long enough to get a really good stink going on.

Jun 11, 2007

knit one, rip out two...

I'm sitting here looking at my half-done sweater back. I love the colors. I love the tighter stitches this time. It won't drape as beautifully, but it will be warm and it will fit. I think I should be saying a mantra as I'm making the stitches, but nothing comes to me. Everyone says that knitting is a meditation. For me, it's excitement. I'm always excited to see how things turn out. I'm excited for this sweater, too, because I don't have many warm sweaters to wear this winter. I've made two, so far...one tan one that is too small and a green one that is nice to wear as a top with jeans or a skirt. I love it, but I can only wear it so many times in a row before it starts to smell like I live in it. The tan one is scheduled to be ripped out and re-done. All this knitting and ripping...I learn from it, and I enjoy experimenting with different techniques, but I want them all to turn out great, so I don't have to ractice wththe ripping out, too. I've got THAT technique perfected.

I'm saving some pretty brown yarn to make a long skirt for myself. I'm studying various skirt patterns to decide which, exactly, would be the best one for me. I hope to be able to skip the ripping out portion of the skirt experience. It's at this point that I miss my knitting machine the most. I've thought of ordering one from Bond America, but the thought of what the shipping costs might be makes me put that off. I haven't even checked to see what it would cost. I'm scared to look. I almost bought a spinning wheel with my tax money, but the shipping would cost more than the wheel is worth. Maybe I'll just have a look, anyway. Nothing like window shopping, heh? If nothing else, I might be able to bring mine back with me in November.

Monday musings

I jumped out of the stereotype that I created and bought a couple of pairs of corduroy pants over the weekend. I am also on the way to finished my gray poncho! I think I'll put a row of beads on the lower edge and also on the neckline, then finish it with fringe. This weekend was so dreary and dark that we didn't go out of the house much. It has been cold, drizzly, and windy since Friday. We were planning to go to the movies to catch the third of the Pirates of the Caribbean, but we were both too cold and tired to go. We made supper at home (Omar cooked and it was great), did laundry (that was my fun for the afternoon), and played with Celeste, who pushed too far and peed on the living room floor. She got spanked, then pouted for the rest of the evening. This morning, she's still pouting and acting like she's done something bad.

I have figured out that Celeste takes advantage of Omar when he's home. Normally, she's got ME to deal with during the day, and I watch her all the time. I know her little bag of tricks, and she knows that. When Omar's home, my attention is usually diverted to Omar, not Celeste. His attention is on the TV, on what he's doing, on everything EXCEPT on Celeste, unless she pees on the floor. Aha. It's usually when Omar's home that Celeste decides she's going to try to destroy something, too.

I've begun taking the vitamins. I feel MUCH better, after just two days of them. I wonder if this is the placebo effect. It's still gray outside, I'm still here with my scarf wrapped around my neck and a sweater on in the house. I'm still dreading my bath, even though the water is heating on the stove as we speak. I've finished the laundry, so I can use the laundry tub as a make-shift bathtub, although it's tiny, and skip the shower. What I wouldn't give for an electric blanket right now. Or even a heating pad. It's too bad that they haven't decided there's a need for them here. But I'm not as bummed out now as I have been. I think I'll continue with the vitamins and see how I feel later in the week.

And yeay! Today I get to wear a pair of pants to work! Woohoo! I won't be so cold and I can wear some regular shoes for a change. I wonder what they will think at the institute. I hope they don't think I'm trying to turn myself into a Peruvian, just because I'm wearing pants.

This week, we HAVE to get another blanket for the bed. It's too cold with only one blanket over the sheets. We have Thursday evening free. I hope we can go to the market and pick up another blanket. It's either that, or I'll have to get busy crocheting and make a double afghan to put on the bed. I think a blanket would be warmer and quicker to get. So here I am, saying we need a second blanket and look what's going on in the mountains of Peru:

There's a big concern about the people who live in the highlands this winter. Usually, the livestock is a big indicator of whether there will people dying up there. When the llamas and alpacas can't take the cold and die of exposure, it isn't long before the people follow. They have made no shelter for their animals, and the people have no means of heating their homes, both of which seem ridiculous to me, when they live and HAVE LIVED in that climate for centuries. They have a means of fuel - alpaca and llama poop - but they haven't thought of building fireplaces or chimneys in their homes to be able to take advantage of the potential heat source. Poop burns long and hot, and would provide heat a good portion of the night, if they would use it - they could have built fireplaces in the houses over the summer, using the traditional adobe method, and then they would have heat for the winter. I wonder why they don't do that. In Lima, they are asking for people to donate clothing, coats, blankets, but why not ask them to help with the construction of fireplaces or fire pits in the houses or wood-burning stoves so they could take advantage of the animal waste as fuel? The news interview over the weekend showed that they have plenty of blankets - sometimes SIX blankets piled on the beds, but it isn't enough. They need a HEAT SOURCE to keep the people from freezing to death in their beds. They said last winter was bad, and it's already even colder this winter. I think if my kids were in danger of freezing to death in bed, I'd at least get the dog to sleep on the bed with them.

Okay, the water's hot - I hear the tea kettle whistling!

Jun 9, 2007

gray Saturday

I just sent Omar back to work with a request for vitamins. I think that the dreary gray days are beginning to pile up on me a little bit. I'm the proverbial chicken...up at the crack of dawn and to bed at sundown. The problem is that there is no real sunup, just less darkness and a whole LOT of gray. And then dark, but not REALLY dark, because the street lights are VERY bright. So I never get the idea of actually having much of a day or night. This chicken is confused and a little bit deprived of sleep.

I just started a poncho for myself in gray alpaca blend yarn. I know they are not that popular in the US anymore, but they are a wardrobe staple here, as much as a sweater or a shawl is. They aren't really fashion statements, but just another layer of warmth for people, mostly women and children. Mine will be longer than the average poncho, so I can cover my arms. I don't have a lot of long sleeved tops, so I have motivation for making it longer. I also have a sweater in the works, that I am making from Lion Brand Homespun yarn. I had already made it, but it turned out too big and just kept GROWING because I had knitted it in a garter stitch on size 10 1/2 needles...the sleeves had turned into gorilla length appendages and I couldn't keep it close around my neck to stay warm. So I ripped it out and am starting over. I love the colors. The last one I did in this colorway and style turned out beautifully, but I sold it at the Windsor craft show last year.

I've also begun a third hat for Maggie. It's also being done in her beautiful wool with the fair isle designs done in white alpaca blend yarn. I've just begun all of these pieces, and there's no sunshine anyway, so I'm putting off taking pictures until there's more to see and until the sun comees out a little bit more.

So far, the day has been uneventful. Celeste and I went to the ATM for money today. Another artisan fair is opening up in the big lot a few blocks down the street. We might walk down there this afternoon to see what's happening. Last time, I bought a pair of mittens and socks to match. I might splurge and get a knitted poncho for myself, if I can find the colors that I like.

I wear skirts to work. I have four long skirts that I love, and that I wear to work. I only wear skirts to work because I have no nice pants to wear, and jeans are not allowed. One of my co-workers asked me if it is that way with all American women who work - that they only wear skirts and look very formal. When I explained that I have only jeans at home and it's skirts or nothing to wear to work, I think I ruptured part of her stereotype of US women. The other part of her idea about American women is that we don't cook or that maybe we know how to open a can of something to throw in a pot. Since we don't know how to cook, we just run to the nearest McDonald's for every meal. And everyone in the US must be fat, because we never walk, only drive, whenever we leave the house. I think it's kind of odd that when they see one person doing something, or dressing a certain way, or eating something, they don't question it - they just assume that EVERYONE does the same thing. I wear skirts to work, so naturally, ALL women in the US only wear skirts to work. Of course.

I think I'll go put on my skirt and go have a Big Mac now. Oh, wait, I can't. I left my car in Cheyenne. I guess I'll just sit here and starve, since I'm from the US and never learned to walk.

Jun 6, 2007

Celeste's new jewelry

Celeste has been playing with wearing a choke chain these last few days. She seems to like wearing a shiny, jingly necklace, even if it is a little too big for her (a true girly girl). We've been walking around the living room with it, learning the implications of wearing the shiny necklace, but going out on the bike path with her harness. But today, we took our first walk with the chain on. She did great, and with a completely different attitude. What prompted this move to the choker is Celeste's urge to pull. And pull she does. Of course she does - she was bred to pull. She's meant to be a sled dog. But I'm no sled. When we go out on the bike path, we don't fool around. We get out there and move. We go fast, even when walking. But no matter how long or fast we go, Celeste has a need to pull me along and I don't like it. I have the feeling that when she's an adult, she'll be dragging me all over the place and jerking me off my feet, if I don't do something about it now.

Wearing her chain, Celeste does not pull. Yeay! She wants too, I can feel her lean into the chain, but I can also feel her back off when I give it a small jerk with my fingers. I don't think we're ready to move into obedience training yet, but if we're going to exercise, it has to be pleasant for both of us.

Coming back from the bike path, we got a police escort. The canine unit was crossing the street at the same time we were, and they stopped to check out Celeste. Their were 4 policemen and two German Shepherd dogs, all very nice, very well-mannered. They invited us to go watch them work at the canine unit's training park, which is just across the street from us. One of them asked if Celeste was a Siberian mix. I think she is all Siberian, but I can't be sure. She's a street baby, probably the product of an indiscriminant backyard breeder, but she sure looks Siberian to me. I guess we'll see how she turns out in the months to come. Adult Siberian females should grow to between 20 and 22 inches at the shoulder. Celeste is 17 inches at four and a half months. I wonder if she'll make it to 20 inches. I wonder if she'll get that fabulous coat that I see one other Siberians. It's winter here, and she's shedding. Maybe when this baby hair is gone, the adult coat will come in gloriously.

I am glad that I had Celeste with me, and also glad that the police were closeby today. We had stopped at a busy intersection, waiting to go across to the bank, and I looked down to check Celeste. ALL of her hair was standing on end from nose to tail and she was staring past me. On the other side of me was a HUGE SCARY man; what was so scary about him was his facial expression. His eyes were bugging out of his head and his mouth was open, as if he were about to scream. As I looked at him, Celeste stood there, frozen, and then two policemen stepped up to talk to him. We took our cue and crossed the street. When we were safely across, I looked back and both police and the man were gone. I'm not sure what was going on with the strange man, but judging from Celeste's reaction to him, it was best that we left the area.

Jun 5, 2007

yes I have a frickin attitude.

Just minutes before I went to work today, Celeste decided that she needed to give me a little send-off. So she squatted in front of me and peed on the living room floor, while looking me in the eye. Just little puddle, just enough puddle to let me know she thought she could. Watching me watching her must have been like watching the alien claw and chew its way out of the astronaut's chest in "Alien", because both Omar and Celeste were running and screaming before I made a move. I should have expected it, because I stepped in a puddle of cold something just outside my bedroom door, just 15 minutes earlier. (Oh jeez, there's that Omar again, peeing on the floor - it couldn't have been Celeste.) Who ARE those people who say that punishing a dog for peeing in the house, after the fact, is useless? That a dog can't connect the puddle of her own urine on the floor with the reason for the spanking? Wanna know what happens if Celeste doesn't get spanked for peeing on the floor, after the fact? She thinks she is free to pee on your shoes and smile at you while she does it. Although she ran for her room, screaming like she was being disemboweled with a dull knife, it didn't save her. She was quickly re-acquainted with her personal puddle on the floor, nose first, then spanked and sent directly to her room with a boot to the butt, to stay there until I came home from class. Yes, I know that puppies make mistakes, but this mistake was just a little too deliberate to let it slide. Good thing Omar had already put a padlock on the drawer of dull disemboweling knives.

I have two classes to teach this month. One is a daily class, starting at 4:15 pm and running to 5:45. The other one is a Monday-Wednesday-Friday class that starts at 7:30 pm and runs till 10:15. My daily class is a mix of teenagers and adults. The other class is mostly military, older people.

I thought I would enjoy the teenagers more, because they always have a fresh attitude and active minds, and usually it's easier to get them talking. But my daily class has a couple of girls that have trouble doing their homework - not because they don't have time and not because they don't understand the material, but because they "just don't DO homework". Such a shame. Such a shame that I put them on the spot today by going over the homework and asking them to read some exercises with the rest of the class and give me their answers. I hope they were uncomfortable enough that tonight they will do their homework and be able to participate in the class with the rest of us. It's one thing to not understand and need to ask for additional help or clarification. It's completely another to be utterly too far above the lowly task of homework and have the nerve to tell the teacher that you're just too good to be bothered with it.

So now I have an attitude that I have to work on before I can go to class tomorrow with a positive outlook. I'm afraid my girls are about to find out that I can cop an attitude with the best of them. Ha. I already have. My attitude sucks right now, thank you very much.

I was outside for a couple of hours today, and the exhaust from the cars was so thick that when I came home from work, I could smell it in my hair. As I'm sitting here typing, I rubbed my neck and the street dirt mixed with sun block ROLLED OFF ME in little black balls. And my face. UUUggghhh. That hasn't happened to me since I slathered on the SPF 45 and went out and chased cows all afternoon.

My Daily Tarot Reading
June 5, 2007

Love: The Hanged Man

Touchstone: The Star

Career: The Moon

Inside, you’re not feeling at your most joyful today (no kidding). However, your friends, relatives, children and partner are there to support and guide you. Can’t you feel the love shining all around you, dear Kathleen? (oh, yeah, and I feel that cold puddle of dog pee I just stepped in, too) Open your eyes and appreciate the unconditional kindness of your nearest and dearest. No, you’re not alone, and there’s no doubt that you’ll find that loving feeling once more! If your job is related to creativity, the arts, beauty or decoration, you'll discover you have some amazing talents today. The celestial alliance between the Moon and the Star is awakening an extraordinary esthetic sensitivity within you (my alien is exploding from my chest as we speak). Your inspiration is propelling you into unexplored areas of the imagination, which is giving that touch of genius in your work today. Some may even be tempted to call you Picasso! (Picasso had a bad attitude, too, at times.)

projects and photos

I have finished the second hat for Maggie. Unfortunately, the lighting in my apartment is so bad right now that things look yellow. The light bulbs are yellow light. You may have noticed that I have removed the hat and the green pullover from the "on the needles" list, and they are finished. So here is a photo of the hat. I like this one better than the first one; I knew it would go this way...as I do a pattern, I get more confident and more adventurous and enjoy it more. What do you think of this second hat? The third one is in the planning stage, and I hope to start it shortly, once I get it in my mind about the fair isle pattern.

And some more photos of the main character in my life right now. Looking at these calm little faces inthe pictures, I could never guess that she is a perfect little HELLION. She looks so sweet and serene. I tried to adjust the lighting effects to make things more clear without a flash, and I avoided the red eye, but got dark pictures. Then I played with the photo editor and tried to lighten it up, but it turned out washed out looking. Pooh. There are some others here that I used a flash with, and get a red eye, but the over all photo is better. You can see how black she is becoming, where she used to only be gray.

Jun 3, 2007

another quiz

You scored as Horse, You are the Horse. You are powerful and fast. You value your freedom and like to keep yourself busy whenever possible.





























Which animal totem best suits you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Okay, so I'm a horse. I always knew that. What I didn't know is that I'm also 58% bull, dog, dragon, deer, and ram. Don't forget 92% salmon and 75% s-s-s-snake. So under the surface of the horse, I can bellow like a bull, I have dog breath so bad that it will scorch your eyebrows off, I have horns (you knew it all along, didn't you?) - all the better to knock you off your feet - and then I can run like the wind to get out of there before you recover from my latest visit at tea. What a visual! So don't let the fish tail slap me on the door while I'm on my way out.

Hmm...that s-s-s-sounded familiar, but didn't quite come out the way I thought it would.

Jun 2, 2007

blisters and butterscotch pudding

Yesterday afternoon, I went to a baby shower. It was a little different than any other baby shower I'd been to. It started out as the regular group of women that I have found myself a part of - all officers' wives, all a little older, all fancy dressers. We are apparently a group of good-deed-doers. I can bring to mind very few of their names, although they have been inviting me to their functions for about a year now. They are very nice, but I have never really been part of any group before, and it taxes me a bit to sit through some of these functions when I know I have almost nothing in common with anyone them. Usually I claim fatigue when I go, so they don't feel badly about not having anything to say to me, and I don't feel badly then when I sit and listen in on one conversation or another.

One thing I have learned with this group is that I will never have to worry about over doing or over dressing. Most are pretty casual, luckily for me, but there are some GAUDY gals here. Big bangly jewelry; big red lipsticked mouths; glittered blouses; stiletto-heeled patent leather black knee boots; long, dark red painted finger nails. I wore my just-finished olive green granny square sweater and jeans, and shiny new black scuff shoes that ended up giving me blisters by the end of the night. Keep in mind that I was the bride who was out-dressed by nearly all the female guests at my wedding in Trujillo. It wasn't really MY day - it was a night for everyone else to dress to the teeth and get drunk. How depressing. (That's another story, though.)

Anyway, the highlight of the evening for me was the buffet. All you can eat snacks and goodies - not really a meal, just PILES and PILES of finger foods. I found something there that I had been wanting to try. It was a dessert called "Suspiro Limeño" - or "Liman Sigh". A sigh. Aaahhh. Think of a sigh. A ssiiggghhhh. A breath of air escaping. I imagined that it would be a light and airy dessert, something like flavored meringue. AAhh. I imagined a delicate flavor, fruity, lightly spiced, perhaps a hint of fresh, clean lime flavor. *sigh* You know, lime - limeño, lime - limòn...Lima limòn...

Gotta look out for those preconceived notions.

When I saw the dish labeled "Suspiro Limeño", I asked, "Are you sure this is Suspiro Limeño?" I was assured it was the authentic dish. Hmmm. Okay, well, I'll give it a try. It certainly didn't LOOK light and airy. It truly didn't LOOK delicately flavored or lightly spiced. To be honest, it looked like my mom's butterscotch pudding with heavy whipped cream folded in. And that's exactly what it tasted like, too, without even a HINT of lime. It wasn't bad. In fact it was good. I just thought it was ironic that I had to travel all the way to Lima and wait for a baby shower before I got to have butterscotch pudding again. I guess in Lima, they do *HEAVY SIGHS*.

I found delicately flavored watermelon later. It wasn't very ripe, so the flavor was just barely there. I never did find light and airy. *HEAVY SIGH*