Jul 31, 2007

Holiday weekend

This has been a long weekend for us. The 28th was Peru's Independence Day, and we had Friday through Monday off from work. We slept late, played with the dog, went to see "Transformers" at the movies, and had lunch with friends. There was time to catch a cold and get over it, and watch a lot of television, run around town, go to a dance, and watch the Independence Day parade. All in all it was a great holiday.

Yesterday, we went to lunch with Flover and Rosita and their kids. We went to a cevicheria in Rimac that is located on the top floor of an apartment building. We climbed three flight of narrow stairs, following the arrows on the walls and the music that we heard. It was called, La Olla Arequipeña, or The Arequipan Cookpot. I had ocopa (sliced boiled potatoes smothered in a creamy sauce)and O. had a shrimp ceviche and a baked pepper stuffed with meat and cheese. Flover and Rosa had cabrito (goat) with potatoes and rice, duck with rice, beans, and potatoes, and so did their kids. Two guys sang and played the guitar and the cajòn through the whole meal. It was fun. We drank chicha de jora, which is a drink that is made from sweet corn, and smells like silage. It's sweet and non-alcoholic, and when my mom tasted it, she liked it, but said it reminded her of the old farmers that used to hide their corn squeezin's out in the barn...and THAT was alcoholic.

I finished a sleeve on the Spring Colors sweater and started the other. I also finished both sleeves of the garnet sweater and got started on one of the front pieces. And I'm browsing patterns to get inspiration for my next project. I've got some pretty hand-dyed alpaca yarn that I got for Christmas, that has been sitting on the shelf, and I think it's time I decided what I'm going to make with it. I think that will be included in my next project. I'm thinking about a beaded capelet or a sweater with a knit bodice and crocheted sleeves and trim. Maybe with beads, too.

Classes start on Friday. I already know that I am assigned a conversational course. What else I may get, I don't know. I guess that's part of the fun - the mystery and suspense of waiting. Kind of like opening a Christmas gift. We never know until the class is ready to start just what we will get. For me, it's a strange way to do business, but it all depends upon how many students sign up for each class.

Jul 29, 2007

Miss Roxanna Rose

Roxy is a lovely little thing! She's Ellie's lttle sister, is just seven months old and such a darling girl. Her fleece is very fine and the most beautiful medium rose gray. We just sheared her and were surprised by the color consistency we saw.

So far, Roxy's conformation is very straight and correct and her proportions and head style are true to type. Her posture and presence mimic her father's proud carriage.

Jul 27, 2007

Ginger Beer

I've been wanting to try this for a little while. I've tasted the bottled ginger beer from the liquor store, but I didn`t like it. This may be better; at least I'll be able to change the recipe to suit me. I lack the cardomom pods, but it says they're optional anyway:

Ginger Beer

4-6 servings

Juice from 4 limes
2 3-inch pieces of ginger, coarsely grated
1/2 cup sugar
4 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods (optional)
1 cup orange juice

1. In a large saucepan, combine the limes, ginger, sugar, cloves, cardamom, and orange juice with 4 cups of water ingredients and bring to a boil.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Transfer to the refrigerator and let sit for at least 2 hours. Strain and chill thoroughly before serving.

Jul 26, 2007


Rani asked about what to do with a multitude of garlic. So, I have put together a few ideas, being a garlic fan and loving to cook and experiment.

Almost every day, I use garlic when preparing a meal. I put about 25 peeled cloves in a blender with a bit of water and whiz it until it's smooth, then I scrape it out and put it in a glass container to use when I cook. That much usually lasts me about a week.

I also like to make stir-fry through the week, so I make pickled garlic. I peel a pile of garlic cloves, and put them in clean glass pint or half-pint jars. Then I add one teaspoon of pickling spices (you can buy this in the grocery store in the spice section. Just look for the bottle labeled "pickling spices") and bay leaf to each jar. Mix water and vinegar (make it half and half) and add sugar to taste. Bring that liquid to a boil, and pour it over the garlic in the jars, up to the shoulder of the jars. Be sure that the liquid covers the garlic cloves. Cap the jars tightly and either process them in a hot water bath or put them in the fridge, if you haven't made too many jars full. Let them sit for about 6 weeks to allow the flavors to develop. If processed in a hot water bath, they will keep for a couple of years. The pickled garlic adds a wonderful flavor to stir-fry and the vinegar is great for salad dressing.

Another way to use garlic is to roast it. Preheat your oven to 250 deg F. Cut about 1/4 inch off the top of a whole head of garlic and discard. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over the garlic and wrap it in foil. Roast it until soft, about 40 to 50 minutes. Roasted garlic will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Use it warm by squeezing the cloves out on bread or in soups.

I'll think of some more ways to use garlic, but I like the pickled idea the best. No spoilage, no loss of your purchase and you can make it last for years!

a little entertainment for the morning

Ha...not knitting, but it was entertaining for me this morning. Check out this little racoon (he has a mask like Celeste) doing what he does best:

Jul 25, 2007

Here's Ellie!

Ellie is a beautiful two year old alpaca at the farm. She's a lovely and feminine female out of our rose gray female, Elegant Rose, and our black herdsire, Abba's Black Knight. She has a very pretty head and good sound, compact conformation, just as we would expect out of Black Knight. Her color is somewhat patchy, with a large black spot on one leg and several along her top line, but her fleece is soft and has good character in lock structure and crimp style.

a meme

"1. Do you have a tattoo? a tiny little ladybug on one ankle

2. How old are you ? 49

3. Are you single or taken? Taken...absolutely and completely.

4. Eat with your hands or utensils? Both

5. Do you dream at night? Yes, almost always.

6. Ever seen an eclipse of the sun/moon? Yes! Both!

7. Sugar or honey? Sugar when I'm down, honey when I'm happy.

8. Do You Hate someone? No. Hate takes my time and energy from me involuntarily, and I don't give anyone that much control over me.

9. Whats your philosophy on life and death? They are the transitional points of the soul...each is both.

10. If you could do anything with me, and have no one know, what would it be? I'd take you to all my favorite places, share all my favorite food and drink, share with you all my passions and inspirations, fly with you through the night sky, and drop you gently into your bed before the alarm clock went off in the morning.

11. Do you trust the police? I've never had a bad experience with the police, but I've not had that much experience with them at all. So I guess I trust the police as much as I would trust any other human.

12. Do you like Country music? Yes - Aaron Tippin, Brooks and Dunn, Randy Travis, Merle Haggard when he was younger.

13. If you could change anything about yourself what would it be? Not following my own intuition. I rarely ever take my own advice.

14. Would you cheat? No. I never have and I never will.

15. What do you wear to sleep? in summer, nothing. in winter, a tee shirt and soft pants.

16. Would you hide evidence for me if I asked you to? No. I can't do that. Please don't ask me to.

17. If I only had one day to live, what would we do together? Anything you wanted to do.

18. Which do you prefer bra or no bra? Bra.

19. Do you snore in your sleep? Apparently, although I don't notice it myself unless I'm very sick. I think I must sleep through it.

20. What's your favorite color? Deep and passionate purple. Bright scarlet. Emerald green. Dark blue. Brilliant gold. I can't just choose one.

21. If you could bring back anyone that has passed, who would it be? I think those who passed on have gone for a reason. They gave what they were meant to give and then passed the reins to us. We have to take what we learned from them and make our own lives."

Jul 23, 2007

Dinner last night

My O. thought that I had slaved over a hot stove, cooking a rich, meaty tomato sauce and meat and cheese sandwich. Actually, it was fried eggplant and cheese sandwichs, with homemade meatless tomato sauce, and took about 15 minutes to make. The eggplant doesn't have a meat texture, I didn't think, but the red wine and soy sauce kind of gives the sauce a meaty flavor:

4 fresh buns of your favorite bread

1 medium eggplant, sliced and fried
2 slices of your favorite cheese per sandwich

The sauce:
3 ripe tomatoes, minced
4 dashes soy sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic, mashed and minced
1/2 cup medium hot red chile paste (or mild, if you aren't into hot stuff)
oregano (I use a lot of it)

Put all the sauce ingredients into a skillet and cook until thick.

Assemble your sandwiches, alternating slices of cheese and eggplant, and spoon the sauce in there between the layers somewhere. Put a little extra sauce on the side, if you like it, and use more bread to absorb the sauce after the sandwich is gone.

Makes 4 thick, juicy, and messy sandwiches.

YouTube into the Marinera

This YouTube has several styles of the Marinera. Click on MENU and the various selections will come up. Enjoy them!

Jul 22, 2007

Birthday dancing and a rooster gone bad

Last night we went to a birthday get together for O's aunt in La Molina. It was at Carmen's house, and all the neighbors came and brought pot luck. We arrived later in the evening, but everyone else had been there since 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Birthdays are a huge thing in Peru. They usually begin with friends and relatives arriving and spending time chatting, maybe have a cocktail while talking, then they eat. Dinner is almost always a three course meal, with wine. Following the meal, they put on the music and everyone sings and dances away the rest of the evening, till midnight, when the cake is brought out and "Happy Birthday" is sung to the lucky birthday person. More singing and dancing follows, till the guests are exhausted and the food and drink are gone.

Last night, we danced to typical Peruvian music from the highlands, the coast, and the jungle. The first time I saw the regional dances, I thought they were some kind of fertility dance, and I guess they were at the time that they were created. There is a lot of African influence in the dances from the jungle, from the highlands, the Quechua influence is strong. On the coast, from Trujillo, comes the Marinera. The music is a little intense and overbearing, but the Marinera is a dance that is basically an illustration of traditional and conservative courtship. It's the "handkerchief" dance. Both partners wave their hankies in the air throughout the dance, the woman usually wearing long, full skirts with petticoats, her hair is always up swept, her blouse is lacy, she is absolutely elegant, and she dances barefoot. The man wears a Spanish style suit sometimes a large brimmed hat taking the place of the hanky. Fancy footwork is the key to this dance, the male partner pursues the woman and she flees, to turn coquettishly and twirls her hanky at him in a come hither fashion, then runs across the room with her full skirts billowing in the breeze. It's a beautiful dance, artistic and elegant in execution. If you ever come to Peru, try to see the regional dances. They say a lot about the culture of Peru.

I was talking with some friends at the institute yesterday. We were discussing our pets. They know about Celeste and Sunny, and were telling me about their pets. One lady had a Neapolitan Mastiff, and talked about how gentle he was, but how effective he was as a watch dog. One look at that face is enough to make anyone think twice before entering the house. The other lady told me about the pet she had as a child. Her first pet was a rabbit, who lived with the family for 7 years. She said the rabbit behaved more like a cat than a rabbit. The second pet her family had was a rooster. He came with a group of 5 hens, but the hens beat him up and traumatized him to the point that he turned away from them and focused all his romantic efforts on shoes. He outlived the hens, but eventually the passivity of the shoes and the trauma inflicted on him by the hens drove him mad, and he ended up involuntarily contributing to the stew pot after attacking several of the family members as they entered the yard. A sad end, but he gave his all to the welfare of the family.

Jul 21, 2007

Power Element

Your Power Element is Wood

Your power colors: green and brown

Your energy: generative

Your season: spring

Like a tree, you are always growing and changing.
And while your life is dynamic, you are firmly grounded.
You have high morals and great confidence in yourself and others.
You have a wide set of interests, and you make for intersting company.

circular shrug/sweater revisited

A question was asked about what a circular sweater was. So I've put up an example of one. The one on the left is a version of the one that inspired me, but mine is crocheted in a single color and has kind of a lacy effect. I am still debating about the fringe. The last one that I made had no fringe, but it seemed to be a popular piece. I guess I'll just wait and see what develops with this one.

These are from Vogue Knitting. I love the magazine, although sometimes their patterns are over my head.

A Walk in the Park

This morning, Celeste and I went to play in a park that is a few blocks from our apartment building. There were no other dogs there, and only a few joggers here and there. Celeste loved it! I let her off her leash to stretch her legs a bit and she really burned rubber. Dancing and leaping to her heart's content, she finally worked the kinks out of her legs and just settled down and ran. She made big circles around me, returning when I called her, then out again to make a few more cirles. On the way home there is another, smaller park, El Parque del Bombero (Fireman's Park) where we played a little more time. This park has a beautiful flower garden and a monument dedicated to firemen. Happily, Celeste showed no interest in racing through the flowers, but when she made the leap from turf to pavement (at full speed), she lost traction and slid across the sidewalk on her back. Hah, no matter, she was up and racing again, no worse for the wear.

Just a few minutes from home, we stopped at a stand on the street, where they sell emolliente. Emolliente is a very popular drink here in Lima. It is the liquid strained from boiled flax seed, mixed with oatstraw infusion. Optional additions to emolliente are lime juice, and infusions of alfalfa and mint. It's primary medicinal use is to soothe the stomach and to aid the gall bladder function. Very warming on a chilly, damp day in Lima.

Jul 20, 2007

circular sweater

My circular sweater was 30 inches in diameter when I noticed how absolutely pathetic my 10th row was in comparison to the rest of the piece. With regrets, I ripped the whole thing out, back to the 10th row. It was all so nice, except for that one row. I have a huge pile of medium fawn alpaca blend yarn resting on the bed now and a very small, but much better looking, circular piece of crochet work there next to the yarn pile.

In a couple of days, it will return to its former 30 inches in diameter glory, provided I don't mess up another row.

Jul 19, 2007

Little punk dog in a crowd

Lima is almost always a bustling place - during the day, people are going about their business; off to work, to play, to school, to go shopping, and the streets are quite crowded. In the evening, it's a bustling place, too. Every one's running home from work, picking up the kids from school, leaving work and going to class, out to eat, to the store after work, maybe to visit someone after work, or on to an evening job. The streets are always filled with cars, the sidewalks are always crowded and, in places it is elbow to elbow, and the steady stream of humanity literally carries one along with it.

Today, Celeste and I went to the post office on Petit Thouars Street. It's a bit of a walk, and the sidewalks were filled with people hustling along to wherever they were going. Celeste is such a punk; she is dazzled by all the feet and legs passing her and coming towards her; skirts swishing past; handbags, grocery bags, briefcases passing her at eye level. Celeste is unable to resist a bag as it passes. She has to try to get a sniff of whatever might be inside it...could be a sandwich? Hems on long skirts are also interesting. She tries to catch a bit of one between her teeth, just (I think) to see what it's made of. Poncho fringe is an attraction for her, too. What could it be? Why is it always floating just out of reach? Hmmmm...maybe with just a little jump up, she could catch hold of it...

But with so many people coming from behind, crossing in front of her, heading straight for her, and dogs and children and cars and their exhaust, body odors, and - whoops, the smell of perfume, who was that?! a food stand - YUM! hey, who just had gas? who peed on that tree?...a punky little dog's head gets to whirling around to take in everything...she was over whelmed and had to take a time out on the street corner.

Punk dog. Punk. I remember that word from my childhood. That was my mother's word for "kids" sometimes. We were all punks at one time or another, and not the pink mohawk, ripped jeans kind of punk. We were just punks. Sometimes punkins if we had an owie, but mostly just punks.

Mid term exams; a long weekend approaches

Tuesday and Wednesday were the days that we administered mid-term exams at the Center of Languages. I am happy to report that nearly all of my students passed their mid-terms with flying colors. Yeay! I thought I had one failure, but I miscounted his score, and everyone passed!

I teach two English classes this month - one is a daily class and the other is only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It always surprises me that my Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes have better scores on the average than the daily classes do. To be sure, there were students in my daily class that earned outstanding scores, but in the 3 times a week class, I cover a lot more material per day. I thought that it would be more difficult for those students to keep up and do well on the exams. But I'm very glad that they are doing well.

I'm so pleased with all of them! Things like this make me glad I'm teaching. I got evaluated today, and I have no idea how the report will turn out. The students knew and were very helpful and did their best to participate, but the young men went a little overboard, and began to mock those who made mistakes. I had a word with them and they stopped, and then the evaluator asked me to have them visit the academic director after class. I wasn't allowed to stay in the room, so I have no idea how that went. I want students to enjoy the class and I think they actually do learn more when they enjoy it, but not at someone else's expense.

Classes will end this month on the 26th. The 27th through the 30th are holidays for Peru's Independence celebration. Then we'll start up again in the first few days of August. Wow, August. I can't believe how quickly the year is passing!

We haven't decided what we are going to do on the long weekend coming up. Hopefully we will get out of town and into the mountains. The last time we went out of town, we went to Canta, and it rained most of the afternoon. It was a beautiful place, though!

Jul 18, 2007


Meet Sunny. He is a 5 year old basset hound, living at the farm with my sister and her girls. Sunny wanted to come with me to Peru, but weather prohibited his travel. He took care of my daughter and her household for a while, but has taken on even greater responsibilities at the farm now, helping with the goats, alpacas and helping to home school the little girls.

There is no other dog as special as Sunny is. Sunny is the product of a puppy mill, relinquished to the animal shelter at less than one month of age, with conformational flaws all over his body: a 90-degree knot in his tail, oddly shaped ribs, and one deformed front leg. As Sunny grew up, the vet kept a close eye on him. As he watched the deformity of Sunny's front leg continue, he told me that I could opt for a surgery to straighten the leg, and it involved cutting out the deformed portion of bone and replacing it with something else. Very painful, very expensive, and no guarantee that it would be successful, and frankly, the vet did not recommend that. However, what he did recommend was that I keep Sunny's weight controlled and keep him active, maintain a healthy diet for him, let him enjoy his life and enjoy him as he was. I decided that the vet knew best and my entire family and people at my workplace have enjoyed Sunny. He is a sweet, honest, and innocent little soul.

Rosy the rat terrier relinquished her position on the farm's board of directors, and Sunny has stepped into her place as assistant to the supervisor. I hope he enjoys the farm and I know that they all continue to delight in him. He has danced and sang his way through his life and into our hearts. I hope he continues to do so for years and years to come.

Blog re-opened

I've taken some time to think about things, and have decided that I will not allow myself to be pushed around by someone who wants to dictate what I can post on this blog. I've received enough support from people who read here to let me know that I fine just the way I am. I've also decided that this person is going to do what she is going to do, regardless of how I react. I will not waste anymore of my time being intimidated by her.

So. I've said my piece. My blog is open to be read, or not. Ultimately, I write this blog for myself anyway.

Today's lunch

For lunch today, I made a thick soup and had it with the usual fresh French bread. My soup consisted of:

2 cups of cooked yellow beans
a cup of cubed carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped green beans
three Roma tomatoes chopped finely
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup of that really good red wine
one clove of garlic, crushed and minced
two pinches of oregano
a pinch of rosemary
1/4 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste.

I enjoyed it very much...but I enjoy almost all my own cooking :o)

Jul 16, 2007


Aha. Uh huh. This is where I'm at:

You signed up on July 9, 2007
You are #15217 on the list.
9166 people are ahead of you in line.
2389 people are behind you in line.
33% of the list has been invited so far

No rush...Maybe by the time my name comes up, the site will be all finished and I can just browse through it as I please. They are still workng on the names from May, so maybe in September...

I've been hearing so much about the patterns and stuff, but it really is the early bird that catches the worm, so I'll just practice my patience.

Magical Imagination

I remember when there was a big toot (and there probably still is) about how dangerous the Harry Potter stories were to children, that stories about magic were harmful and would take them away from God. I think those people might have forgotten the magic of their own childhood imagination that saw them through in their younger years. Magic wands and flying brooms are the stuff of wonderful imagination, movies are the stuff of someone's imagination, unless they have been taken from a real-life situation. The thing is to teach our children that all they see on the television is not real, and to be able to discern what is appropriate and what is not appropriate behavior.

I remember tying on a bath towel, with which I could fly; my "oxy-gum", that I got from the cartoon "Marine Boy", and could breathe underwater (we had no place to swim, at the time, heh), the Chinese Elm tree beside the house was where invisible imps lived. All of these imaginary things served to keep me entertained and playing happily for hours through the summer days of my childhood. And nothing was better than a kaleidoscope on dreary days.

Today, I have a kaleidoscope in my dresser drawer. I look at it regularly for fun and inspiration when I'm trying to come up with a new and unique knitting pattern. The colors and patterns that I see in the end of the tube are always amazing and beautiful. I watch Celeste dance on the bike path with fallen leaves that are caught up in the wind and I am inspired and uplifted. I join her and she is delighted as we dance together amid the swirling leaves and the breeze.

Projects and a little movie magic

I've re-started my circular sweater/shrug. I'm crocheting it medium fawn alpaca blend yarn. I figure I've been procrastinating long enough. It's time to get moving on building my stock of hand knits to take to the craft shows this fall. So far, the poor little thing is only about 10 inches in diameter, but it'll grow quickly!

Celeste has been dancing through the house lately, and down the bike path, being a good girl most of the time. She is such a happy girl, joyful at seeing the world and happy every morning. She is a lot like my Sunny, who is now on the farm with my sister and her girls. He's very happy there, having the run of the place; lots of space to run and play, lots of trees to take a siesta under, lots of places to explore, and lots of comings and goings of people. Sunny is a naturally happy boy, and that is what makes him such an attractive dog. People are drawn to look Celeste, too, but I think it's more because of her strikingly blue eyes. She's happy, but her cup of happiness runs over when she meets someone and she tries too hard to jump all over them. She doesn't understand how big she is getting to be and she doesn't understand why they only want to look at her and not be completely LOVED by her.

Last night, Omar and I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Before the movie, we ate out at a polleria, and shared a quarter of a chicken, french fries, a salad, and a piece of cake...and the tail end of the Americas Cup soccer tournament. Brazil won - poor Argentina lost the cup, as they did the last time it was played, but still, what an accomplishment to be in the final game of the tournament!

The movie had everything! Funny, suspenseful, active, and full of the usual Hogwarts magic. We both enjoyed it. I guess I wasn't ready to see cute little Harry so grown up at first, but hey, kids grow. Still, by the time it was over, the age of the characters seemed completely appropriate for the movie content. Wouldn't we all like to have a magic wand and a flying broomstick sometimes? :o) There were times when I couldn't have felt more tense - I think I tend to immerse myself in the story a bit when I go to the movies, heh - but there were times when I was completely enchanted. One character that I hadn't seen before was Luna. She was wonderful - so innocent and so wise. Nothing malevolent about her and able to handle things with patience and sweetness that never left her. What a wonderful evening we had!

Jul 15, 2007

dancing dog!

It's obvious that I'm on an amazing animals track today:


dancing horse

I've been looking for this for a little while. I saw it once, then lost it. I love the motion of the mare. She's dancing! Dressage is beautiful!

so many patterns to choose from.

Every time I look at free patterns, I feel like a kid in a candy store...so many pretty ones, and what to choose, what to choose...?

I like the simplicity of this sweater. I think I might add this to my list of planned projects. The colors are really what caught my eye. I like the variety of colors that is used, and I like the slouchy look of it.

And then there's this.

But socks! I need to get started on a pair of socks! Socks are my next challenge. I see so many sock knit alongs, socket pal swaps, and of course the Hogwarts sock swap...I'd like to participate, but I think I need to get a handle on those dpns first.

And there's my circular project that I started last night. I've been working on it for only a couple of hours and I've ripped it out twice already. I hope the yarn holds up!

A Parting of Ways

I normally try to keep the content of my blog light, but I feel the need to post something that has been bothering me for a little while.

Yesterday, the decision was made to part ways with someone that had been in my life for a few years. Our conversations had broken down to the point where there was non-communication and this had been happening for about a month. But it is over, at least for me, and it is a relief. Sadly, it is quite a relief, but now with the decision made, things will be better. Things just didn't work out very well with us. That's life, and life does go on, so I think I'll go on, too.

Jul 14, 2007


Tonight I made an impromptu dinner, kind of on the fly. I sliced an eggplant and fried the slices in olive oil. While the slices were draining, I cooked a quick tomato sauce using a finely chopped tomato, minced green olives, a clove of garlic, half teaspoon of salt, a dash of cumin, and 1/4 cup of really good dry red wine. I stirred that and cooked it until it was well incorporated and thick, and then tossed in a couple of pinches of oregano. I turned off the fire and let it rest a moment while I sliced a local cheese and arranged the slices into a stack, alternating slices of eggplant with slices of cheese. Then I covered the stacks with the tomato sauce. We ate it with fresh crusty bread and a small glass of the same good red wine that I made the sauce with.

Simple, tasty, filling, and fast. YUM!

An English chuckle

British humor always seems a little tongue in cheek to me. :o) I'm glad that the new James Bond has a sense of humor about himself.

A glowing day :o)

Yesterday was great! I had a good class - my students all seemed to be right on with the grammar lesson we were working on. I was asked to substitute for another teacher; I also got an inquiry from a different institute, asking if I would bring my resume by, AND an inquiry about additional students to teach outside of this institute. Interesting possibilities! It was raining and chilly all day, but with new prospects popping up, I'm feeling pretty happy. :o)

I also finished the rose colored shrug...I decided on a crocheted edging and antique silver-colored bottons, and that turned out very nicely. I think the whole effect is pretty! I plan to wear it with my navy blue skirt that has white and rose-colored flowers printed on it. Finally, a nice, warm sweater to wear with that skirt! I love it, but have very little that goes with it. Maybe I can work up something else for it, too. So, I plan to start on a circular crocheted garment next. I made one last year in a star pattern, and it sold at the Windsor craft show right away! So, off I go, to think and dream about my next project.

To top it all off, I got a birthday card in the mail from a lady from an artistic group that I belong to. That really made my day! So what might have been just another day turned out to have a beautiful glow to it!

P.S. - the only down side to the day was that my camera batteries conked out again, and I can't find the other set. I'll have to search or go to pick up another set of batteries.

Jul 11, 2007

Dusty Rose Shrug

I have almost finished the pieces of the shrug, with just the top of the second sleeve to finish. Then I'll sew it together and do the finishing. I've been debating on pockets, I still haven't decided whether I'll add them or not. If I do, they may be patchwork piece of stash yarns...we'll see. Here's a photo of the front pieces, taken last night, just at dusk, so yeah, it's a little bit dark. When I finish the whole piece, I'll put up another photo.

And here's my design consultant on her break...

...exhausted from supervisory duties, she took a well deserved snooze.

Jul 8, 2007

Celeste's walk in the park

Today while we were out walking, Celeste met, close up, an adult male Siberian Husky out with his owner. He was big and stout, robust and authoritative. Celeste thought she wanted to fight and started to assert herself, hair standing on end and growling, trotting stiffly toward him, but the male wasn't having any of that. She tried to rush him, but he stood his ground and gave her a chest-butt that knocked her off her feet. That scared her bad enough that she peed her little pants in the process and crept away down the sidewalk. The male wasn't offended; I think he was amused by the idea that a 5-month-old pup who's just loosing her milk teeth would think she could take on an older dog that was twice her size.

Later, in the park, we met a couple of ladies with their dogs. They invited Celeste to play, so in spite of worrying about personalities and age differences, we let her run with the other dogs. Celeste loved it, although she was continually falling over her own feet and landing on her nose. She ran with the others across a shallow channel cut for irrigation, and fell in it head first. She is such a puppy, still. Her long, gangly legs and uncoordinated play make her seem younger than she is. The dogs played hard, running and jumping for about a half hour, then Celeste came back to us, completely whupped. She's still snoozing here at my feet, as I write this.

Celeste is in love with green grass. The grass in the park is overgrown and damp, irrigated weekly by channels cut into the turf, then filled in later, after the irrigation is finished for the week. Trees are scattered across the park and a few larger than life metal sculptures loom up unexpectedly among the trees. In contrast, the grass that grows close to our apartment building is kept cut and manicured by whomever owns the street-side plot, and she loves to walk through it. Short and springy as a plush carpet, she bounces across it, leaping and flipping, almost giggling at the tickle of it under her feet. As we walk on the bike path, she frequently takes little detours onto the grass and races back and forth, mouth open, a big grin spread spread across her face. Then she bounces back onto the bike path, and hops backwards in front of me, while I walk forward. She turns her body in in spirals, and leaps, laughing, back onto the grass.

Simple pleasures are the best.

Crate training

A word about crate training. As Rani mentioned the other day, "a crated dog is a happy dog", and I think it's true. Ideally, a dog would have its people with it at all times, and ideally, there would be no cause for people to have friends who are allergic to dogs or have small children to be knocked down or simply be overcome by the enthusiasm if a young dog. Ideally, none of us would have jobs or outside obligations and, ideally, dogs wouldn't chew shoes or electrical cords or put things in their mouths that could hurt them. But that isn't reality. Should those of us who have jobs or friends or children not be allowed to have a pet if we can't spend 100% of our time devoted to the dog? We love our dogs as much as the person who has no obligations other that the dog. So, the best alternative is to train the dog to adapt to how life is, and a crate is a great help for that.

Thanks to the ASPCA

A king has his castle, a child yearns for his own room, an infant is placed in a crib or playpen for safekeeping. Don't our young canine friends deserve the very same consideration for their well-being when we are gone?

Crate Expectations
Training crates for dogs are too often deemed cruel. In fact, they are both training and safety devices and as such can benefit dog and owner alike. Crating on a humane schedule teaches puppies bladder and bowel control and limits a teething demon to his own property. A dog crated in a car has a better chance of surviving an auto accident and little chance of causing one.

You will also find the welcome mat out at more inns and motels if you promise to crate the dog whenever you leave the room. Besides, the dog will feel more comfortable when left alone if he is in his own "room."

Dog crates come in all sizes, many colors, and different styles. The most common are molded-plastic airline shipping crates and the open-wire types that usually come with a metal tray on the bottom. For owners who plan to do a lot of air travel with their dogs or for those whose dogs prefer dark, cozy places, the molded-plastic variety is best. Wire crates are preferred in most other instances.

The size of the crate is based on the size of your dog. There should be enough room for him to stand up, turn around in a small circle, and lie down comfortably. The crate serves as a place where the dog can rest and chew on safe, appropriate toys. It is not an exercise pen.

If you plan to use the crate as a housebreaking aid, size is of paramount importance. If there is room for Rex to soil and then lie high and dry away from the mess, the crate cannot serve its purpose. Those buying crates for puppies should keep the adult dog's size in mind; but until the pup grows up, excess room should be cordoned off in some manner. Masonite, Plexiglas, or even old wire refrigerator shelves can serve as barriers.

Dog-Den Afternoons
How long can a dog be crated in one session? The rule of thumb for crating is no longer than one hour per each month of age, up to nine to ten hours maximum (the average work day). Each session should be preceded and succeeded by an hour of aerobic exercise. If this is too long for your dog, hire a dog walker to exercise him midday.

Before you can leave your dog for the long stretch, make sure you have accustomed him to the crate. A dog who panics when left alone in a crate could do damage to the crate and, more seriously, to himself. And never, never crate your dog while he is wearing any sort of correction collar—it could easily get caught on something in the crate and choke the animal.

The Pup Runneth Over
Young puppies need lots of human stimulus and feedback, so avoid relying too heavily on the crate in the early months. Most puppies three and a half to four months old can be crated overnight for about six hours, even though they probably cannot yet display that kind of bladder control during the daytime. Younger dogs approximately 18 months of age, for dogs that are heavy chewers or are otherwise destructive. This is a time of behavioral inconsistency and learning through trial and error. Proceed slowly when it's time to wean your dog off the crate; leave him alone for just a few hours at a time. And think twice before leaving a curious adolescent at liberty in your house. Your dog may behave perfectly for a few weeks and then one day you might come home to find the place in a shambles.

A crate can provide peace of mind for both you and your dog. Think of it as a leash with walls. After all, both pieces of equipment serve to protect your dog from his own base instincts and errors in judgment. By crating your dog during the workday, you ensure him a royal welcome on your arrival home.

By Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT
Companion Animal Programs Advisor
ASPCA National Shelter Outreach

Jul 7, 2007

a glass of wine, a bag of chips...

(this is our apartment building)

Well, the crate has been tested. We had some people over last evening, and unfortunately, Celeste went over the top in her behavior and had to go to bed at her regular bedtime and not stay up to harass the guests. She did have a temper tantrum, but decided not to take that opportunity to have a poop tantrum. I think she does understand that it's good not to do something nasty in her own nest. Aside from a bit of noise, she did very well, and went to sleep without much ado.

Last night went very well, after we got over the Celeste tantrum. Two other couples came over and we listened to music and talked. Just something very simple and relaxed with friends. We shared a bottle of wine and a bag of chips among the 6 of us, and basically had a very pleasant evening. I like evenings like that. I have never really had people over to my house very often and am a little uncomfortable with the usual big dinner and tons of people in other people's homes. I don't think I will ever want to put on a fancy dinner for a crowd, and luckily, our apartment is too small to accommodate such a thing. I haven't had the experience of having people over for a meal or an elaborate get-together since I was a kid in my parents' house, when the neighbors would drop in for dinner and stay to talk over coffee. Needless to say, I'm not the greatest hostess.

Urgh, the shrug has to be ripped out again. The back and one front side were knitted all in one day, and apparently, knitted much tighter than the second front. The second front is coming along well, and is in accordance with the swatch that I knitted, so I'm continuing with that, but everything I previously knitted has to come out and be re-done. Still, I think it will be worth the effort. It's beautiful yarn and the pattern is one that I like very much, so I'll just keep working with it till I get it right.

Jul 6, 2007

The crate and the shrug

Celeste's crate arrived last night. We had to put it together, but it's spacious and strong, and we can be sure that she's secure and safe while we're out of the apartment. My laundry room is back to being a laundry room again, and I'm going to spend the weekend cleaning it up. I can't say that Celeste is particularly happy about spending time in her crate for now, but I'm relieved. She immediately understood that it was her bed and not to be soiled, although I did put newspapers down, just in case she had an accident last night. The crate is large enough that she can stretch out in it if she wants, she can stand up and turn around, but it isn't so big that she can jump around or get rowdy in it. She'll be spending this weekend getting used to it, and having a few hours a day in it. The real test will be on Monday, when we both will be gone from about 3:30 till 10:30 pm. That's a long time for a young dog to be alone, but we do have to make a living. I believe she'll do fine, but when she gets irritated, she usually throws a poop tantrum. She seems to know that if she throws that kind of a fit, she's stuck with it close up, until I get home. I kind of expected one of those tantrums last night, when we moved her out of her laundry basket and into the crate. But it didn't happen. I'm glad!

I have finished the back and the right front side of the shrug that I'm doing in dusty rose colored yarn. As usual, I deviated from the pattern somewhat and am making it a little bit longer than the original one is. Pictures tomorrow, when I have the second front side finished, hopefully without ripping it out more than the one time I have already. I'm considering a crocheted edging, but haven't quite decided yet. I think I'll need to do some experimenting before I know for sure.

Jul 5, 2007

fighting dogs

As Celeste and I have explored Jesus Maria and Lince, we often come across other dogs in the street. For the most part they seem to be well-mannered guys, mostly curious and friendly, but sometimes have staked out a street corner for themselves and feel a little defensive about another dog crossing the street at "their" intersection. It hasn't become a problem so far, but we are always wary.

Lately, we have met a couple of pit bull boys that are used to fight. Today, around the vet's office, one dog wandered in to check on things, and he was badly scarred on the hindquarters and ears. A local woman told me that he had been used for fighting, but was now mostly retired. I found it interesting that he was allowed to roam the streets on his own, and showed no aggression toward other dogs. We recently met another pit bull that had his ears clipped very VERY short and was quite scarred around the face and neck. He is still currently being used for fighting. This guy is a reserved, but well-mannered dog, and in no way behaves as I expected a fighting dog to behave. No aggression, no inclination to fight, just very pleasant to everyone.

I think it's a shame that these dogs are being used to maim or kill other dogs. They are such sweet-natured fellows; without the clipped ears and scars, one would never imagine that they fight for a living. Dog fighting is illegal here in Peru, as it is in almost every other country, but those who have fighting dogs parade them around like trophies.

Jul 4, 2007

Soccer anyone?

Classes started yesterday at the institute. I got one class yesterday, and hopefully, I'll pick up another class today. There are still some Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes, and Monday-Wednesday-Saturday classes to open up, so I hope to get one of those. My class yesterday was fairly small, but apparently all the afternoon classes were small, since Peru was playing yesterday in the Americas Cup, and many of the students opted to watch that over coming to class. Hmmm. My classes are fairly demanding, so I hope the students that stayed out are up to catching up to where they need to be.

Soccer is the national pass time and favorite addiction in Peru, it seems. Every kid learns to play soccer early in life. Soccer is played on the field, on the school playground, and in the street. Peruvian soccer fans are like the Denver Bronco before the days of John Elway...always faithful and enthusiastic, even though their team hasn't won a major tournament in over 20 years. The fans are passionate about the game, opting to cancel important appointments, miss days of work and, yes, skip classes to watch a game on television. Right now, the Americas Cup is in progress. It includes teams from the countries of South America, Mexico, and the United States. I think the US was eliminated, losing to Argentina and I believe they also lost to Paraguay, although I didn't see that last game. Last night's game was Peru against Bolivia, and it turned out to be a draw, in spite of 4 additional minutes being added to the game. It was exciting enough to delay the assignment of instructors to the last round of classes till the game had finished.

On the knitting front, I'm still plugging away on the Spring Colors sweater. It's slowly, slowly becoming a sweater. I love the way the colors fade into each other, and this time, knitted on smaller needles, the stitches are tighter and everything will be warmer, and not having arms that mysteriously morph into something resembling tentacles, heh. I'm looking forward to getting it finished and being able to wear it! Those beautiful blue buttons are calling me...! I've finished Maggie's third chullo and am hunting for a small box to ship it in. I've started another sweater in a kind of dusty rose color, I think it will be beautiful! And it goes with a skirt that I have, if I should manage to get it finished before summer rolls around again. And, I promised a photo of the gray beaded poncho, but I ended up giving it as a birthday gift and forgot about taking the photo first. I guess I need to make another poncho, maybe this time to keep for myself.

Jul 2, 2007

Sweaters, hats, and beads :o)

I walked down to Arequipa Avenue yesterday afternoon. There is a little shopping area there, with a grocery store, a movie theater, and a few restaurants. There's not really that much, not like a mall, but it's cute and the McDonald's is there. I treated myself to a Big Mac and walked around a bit, looking around and thinking. Omar and I went there to see the Fantastic Four on Thursday. I can't remember if it was the English or the Spanish version...and that strikes me as odd. I love going to movies, but usually, when the movie is in Spanish, I spend most of the time just trying to figure out what they are saying, and don't get to enjoy it that much. This time, I got to enjoy the movie. So that's something that makes me go hmmm.

The artisan fair closed up yesterday and I only went the one time. I'm pretty proud of myself for resisting! Here's a photo of one of the sweaters I got when I went:

Although the hood is a tiny little useless thing, and only there for the sake of the current style, I really like the pattern work, and it's alpaca, so it will be a warm one, I hope. So I'm good for sweaters for the moment. Here's another shot of the pattern work. I wish I was that good with intarsia and fair isle patterns. I have brought back stuff like this in the past, but oddly, what sells the very best is our own handknits. Most of these are handmade, but apparently too closely resemble machine-knit pieces for the taste of most folks. I imagine that most of them are looking for a one of a kind piece, or something that is very different-looking, which is where my work falls and that happy thought is comforting to me. Almost all of my knitted and crocheted items are unique pieces. I have only a few things that I do over and over, and even those change as my techniques change and improve. I know that things go in cycles, though, and that things could change. I have some very nicely made Peruvian knits tucked away for just that kind of situation.

On another knitting note, I have almost finished Maggie's 3rd chullo, and it's very different than the other two. I hope she likes it. I only have half an ear flap left to finish, then weave in the ends, and put tassels on. I'll do that this evening. Here's a quick shot of it, in it's unfinished state. It's longer than the others - long enough to put your lunch in on a cold day - and based on a pattern she suggested to me earlier.

I've also started a set of fingerless gloves for myself. It's chilly in the classrooms, but writing with gloves on is difficult and clumsy, so I decided that fingerless gloves are the way to go. I have one finished and the other one partially done. I'm getting better with the DPNs, so my next project will hopefully be socks! Anyway, these fingerless things are probably due to be ripped out and redone - they are turning out a little too big, and I want to bead them on the edges. Good practice, though, and I hope to be able to use them before winter's end.

Jul 1, 2007

The Bike Path

This is Celeste's playground. The Bike Path. Two "mini-lanes" running along the median between the two lanes of Salaverry Avenue. Every day we go walking, running and playing on this path. although we walk the path daily, we see different things almost daily. From the city workers who keep it swept and tidy, peddlers who push their cart through town, selling their various wares, and students who walk to school, to lovers kissing on the benches, business people walking home from work, and friends out for a stroll in the evening. The area that we live in is predominantly an education district. There are several universities on Salaverry Avenue and San Felipe, both of which pass through our neighborhood. Celeste loves The Bike Path. Hopefully she will learn to run alongside a bicycle and really be able to stretch her legs. For now, she has to be content with trotting along with me, but as she gets better at behaving on the leash, I think going with the bike will be a possibility, and a good alternative for me. She's not wearing me out yet, but I know she will be as she gets bigger.