Dec 30, 2007

Dec 28, 2007

purple moebius scarf

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

It took a little doing to get comfortable...

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

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

been tagged...

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

Dear me at 13,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, for the unlucky 5 who are now tagged:

1. Green Fingers

2. Rani Knits

3. La Gringa

4. Maggie's Farm

5. The Wild Tomato

Dec 27, 2007

Back to life, mostly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The living room and Celeste, post-birthday party:

Dec 20, 2007

Got the bug

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

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

Dec 18, 2007

Looks can be deceiving

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

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

Dec 15, 2007

Saturday stuff

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

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

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

Dec 14, 2007

Great Gray Owls

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

Dec 12, 2007

The day in photos

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

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

This carpet is MINE!

Avocado tree #1.

Avocado tree #2.

The mad face (and this carpet is MINE):

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

Beautiful purple!

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

Dec 11, 2007

The washer...err...

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

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

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

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

Dec 10, 2007

¿Que Frio?

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

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

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

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

Dec 9, 2007

Thank heaven for small favors

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 4, 2007

The Daily Grind

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

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

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

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

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

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