Mar 30, 2008

It's yarn now

Yep, I just finished plying the strands that I was spinning yesterday. It's yarn now!

Only about 70 yards of it so far, but lots more to spin and it's already in the works.

Redundant again, but you know I love looking at my own work! And I have no other photos to post, not even a new one of Celeste, so I put up all three that I took this afternoon. In the previous photos, you can even read a few lines from "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan", if you get tired of looking at the yarn.

Mar 29, 2008


This morning, as I was sitting in bed talking to Celeste, we heard a roar, sort of like a train coming at us. A few seconds late, the train was upon us and the building began to shake. It didn't shake hard, really, but it lasted probably 15 seconds. Fifteen seconds seems like a really looong time, when you're waiting to see if it's going to stop or get worse.

Celeste looked at me with worried eyes and crawled up into the bed. I did nothing, except listen to things rattle.

The thing about it is that I knew it was coming. I learned last year, when the dogs all bark at once, when Celeste barks in the house for no obvious reason, there will be an earthquake in a few days. Two or three days ago, at 4 am, all the dogs in the neighborhood began to bark, including Ms. Blue Eyes. So I was waiting. And it happened. Actually there was a tremor at 2 am, that I slept through apparently. And then the one at 8 am.

This earthquake epicenter was about 45 kilometers southwest of Callao, out in the Pacific Ocean, 5.3 on the Richter scale. Callao is about an hour from where I live. I heard on the news that a couple of houses in Callao had fallen, but it's very hard for me to know if they were in liveable condition or if they were on the verge of collapse anyway.

A quick visit to the artisan market

Mom, can we go to the artisan market?

It's a nice day and everyone is out walking on the bike path. Let's go see what's happening.

What's that interesting smell?

Look! It's the Mini Mundo! Mini Mundo is the children's park that's just a hop and a skip from our apartment building. We've never visited it, but it looks like fun. Unfortunately, pets aren't invited.
Here we are, at an entrance into the artisan market! Can we go inside? Can we? Huh, huh? Can we?

I bought a couple of very nice cotton sweaters from this lady. I'm not sure if she does the knitting or if someone else does, but I love them. Very cool, easy to wash, and they don't retain odors. Nice to have, in a climate lke this.

Bag world, I think.

This is my favorite ceramics and pottery stall. The lady to the right gives good discounts to returning customers.

Okay, mom, I'm tired. And this curb is getting kind of hard to sit on. Can we go now?

Escape From the City

Part 4

Just because Trujillo is a smaller city does not mean that it's any different than Lima in the way people drive. In fact, they drive worse. I didn't know it was possible, but it's true. Maybe because there are fewer cars on the street, drivers feel they can take more risks and nothing will happen. I don't know. What I do know is that there is that prevailing attitude of "You've got brakes - use them," meaning that anyone can pull out in front of anyone else at any given time and all will be well. Maybe.

As we drove into Trujillo's downtown area, taxi drivers were passing us with abandon and just a waggle of a finger to let us know that they were going to cut in front of us. If it hadn't been such a relief to had arrived, we would have been cranky. And the atmosphere was almost festive as we made our way to the Pablo Casales Institute of Superior Technology. This is where we stayed. Actually, it is an enormous house with a laboratory downstairs and classrooms upstairs. In all, it is a huge 5-story building. The founder of this institute is Juan Carlos Cansino. O is one of the co-founders. We stayed on the residential floor where Juan and his family live. Celeste had the run of the rest of the place, since classes were not in session till the following week.

The resident dog there at the Institute is Bingo. Bingo is a little white rag mop of a dog, but there is no doubt that he owns the place. He stands guard at the front door during the day and patrols the hallways at night. The rooftop is his watch tower and also serves as the night time potty (this being a concept that Celeste never embraced.) It should be dog heaven. At first, Celeste thought it was, until Bingo wouldn't let her near the door the residence and made it quite clear that he was in no mood for foolishness. Wah! Foolishness is what Celeste is all about!

The first night, Celeste disregarded the idea of going to the rooftop to the potty and instead chose to unload at the foot of the stairs in front of Juan's office. She was shown the error of her ways and banned to the rooftop for an afternoon. After several hours of singing Siberian Husky songs, she was allowed to come down and burst into the residence at the first opportunity. She leapt on the unsuspecting children, expecting to be played with but instead was hauled out the door to spent her time (apparently) climbing 5 flights of stairs over and over. Bingo watched calmly from his spot at the front door.

On the second day, Celeste endeared herself to the children of the house and in doing so, was allowed to come into the house all through the day, but not at night when she seemed to roam through all the classrooms, check the trash cans in every room, potty in a different place every time nature called, and climb the stairs. They enjoyed her and even the maid found time to play and slip Celeste a few crumbs left over from a meal. Ahhh...Celeste Heaven...

Life in Celeste Heaven soon turned to Celeste Hell as her body protested the constant pacing and climbing stairs and being dragged into bedrooms and throughout the house, with children hanging from her neck and tail, hanging across her back, fingers in her ears, in her mouth, and up her nose, patting her head just a little too hard, and dressing her in their own clothing. She tried to escape her tormentors by sliding into our bedroom, but was always discovered, just as she made herself comfortable on the floor. By the end of the second day, young Celeste was walking like an eighty-year-old, body aching and mentally stressed out.

By the third day, she did not stop to check the food bowls; she did not pause at the counter to see what might have been left after lunch; she did not take a turn under the dining room table to check out the crumbs left. To do so would have meant spending the afternoon wrestling and being ridden, lain upon, pulled around by the collar and all those other things that children love to do with dogs. Kids. Not exactly how Celeste had imagined them.

On that third day, Celeste had taken to creeping quietly to our bedroom and hiding under the bed.

Mar 28, 2008

What I did last night...

As promised, my late-night handspinning from last night.

This is wool from Maggie's Farm. I'm in love with the colors and spinning it is so much fun!

Yes, I know...redundant, but I love looking at my own handy work. And the colors. And the spindle, not falling on the floor, not rolling under the couch, not losing the last 3 feet of work.

Ahhh...what a lovely pair - spindle and wool. Made to go together! Do you like the look of this wool? Guess what! You can find it here! Did you know that you can share in the benefits of raising sheep and lambs, even if you live in a tiny flat in a high rise building like I do? Maggie has this year's lambs to sponsor. You can take part in the life of a lamb by sponsoring it with $99 a year. That's just a drop in the bucket compared to what it takes to raise a lamb to maturity and keep it healthy. Not only do you contribute to the upkeep of the lamb with your sponsorship fee, but you are also entitled to a yearly fleece, photos of your lamb, monthly updates, and naming priveledges! Go see about it!

Mar 27, 2008

More Late-night Handspinning

Handspun green wool. One skein plyed with opalescent monofilament, one skein 2-ply wool. About 100 yards each. Handspun by me on the drop spindles. This is my first spinning project of any amount for a couple of years, as you can tell. A little messy looking, but knittable.

I am currently spinning wool from Maggie's Farm, gorgeous stuff, but when I took the pictures, they turned out way too dark. I'll take them again in the morning and show you what I'm doing.

What's in the spinning queue? Behold:

"Dragonfly" handspinning batts from Enchanted Knoll Farm. Beautiful! 4 oz.

"Lovers In A Rose Garden" handspinning batts, from The Knotty Sheep. Romney/Montdale/Suffolk cross with handpainted tussah silk, fushcia pink Peace fleece wool, and mint sparkle angelina. Yummy!

"Wood Elves" and "Johnny Jump-ups" hand-dyed silk rovings from Enchanted Knoll Farms, four 1 oz braids.

And the bike path in front of my block, approaching the "Mini Mundo" children's park on the left. Take the next right and you'll be standing in front of my apartment building, which is the tall building on the far right of the photo. Please come and visit! We'll take the bike path to the artisan market at the opposite end of the block. Photos of that tomorrow, too. I promise.

Mar 26, 2008

Escape From the City

Passing through the small towns eventually gave way to passing through larger cities and as we neared Trujillo, we lost site of the coast. We moved into irrigated farmland and cleaner air, although it was kind of hot. The air conditioner was such a blessing, but we discovered that it was not properly vented and the condensation wasn't going anywhere except on the floor of the front passenger side. Hmmm. The air conditioning got turned off for a while, in hopes that some of the water would evaporate.

Celeste continued to snooze in the back seat and we enjoyed the green of the farms. Most of these farms are cooperatives - the neighbors all work their lands, but share equipment. Usually there are only one or two tractors in the coop and everyone must wait his turn to use them. Donkeys and horses are still extensively used to work the land and lots of hand labor goes into harvest. It was time for the onions to be harvested and we saw dozens of semis loaded with bags of of them overturned on the Pan American highway and another whose strapping had come loose and flung bagged onions across the highway. Several people were on the road, clearing it of spilled onions. More field labor on the farms that we passed, digging and bagging onions by hand. I don't envy them the work. I know that field work is back-breaking work.

Moving out of the farms, we headed into the port city of Chimbote, one of the major fishing cities in Peru and also a producer of steel. Most people that I know don't stop in Chimbote for anything except to refuel the car, if necessary. It is one of two most violent cities in Peru. Callao (also a port city, located inside Lima) is the other. I'm not sure why they are so violent. Some people say that the poverty is the cause, that the employers don't pay a living wage. That may be part it. The part that gets me the most is the smell of the place. Hanging over the city like an ugly cloud is the stench of rotting fish. It's terrible. We rolled up the windows and hoped that Celeste had a case of the gas to blot out the reek of dead fish.

On the north side of Chimbote, we returned to the desert. There was not much in the way of traffic there, and not much of anything, except patches of irrigated farms, all cooperatives. They had signs at the front with a gate across the road, saying who owned the land, and then living tree fences of some kind of thorn-producing bush. Thorns that were about 4 inches in length. I imagine they were planted there to deter thieves. An interesting side note is that semi tractor-trailers tie similar thorny branches on the back of their trailers to keep thieves from climbing onto the tractor trailer and stealing whatever the trucker is hauling. Those thorns are wicked-looking.

So, north of Chimbote is Trujillo, about 2 hours to the north. We arrived in Trujillo about 3:30 that afternoon and felt a distinct small-townishness. Trujillo has about 100,000 people in it - a fraction of the 10 million that live in Lima. Trujillo in known as the city of the Eternal Spring. It is always pleasantly warm with coolish nights. The buildings are painted in pastel colors throughout the city, but especially noticeable around the city center - the Plaza de Armas.

photo by Christina Fish. I, of course, did not think to take any photos as usual.

Mar 25, 2008

Escape from the City

Part 2

As the traffic thinned out, I felt increasingly relaxed about drifting off periodically, Celeste snored obliviously on her towel, and O drove on like a determined Liman taxi driver. The wind blew, but now had turned hot, so O put up the windows and started the air conditioner. Ahhhhh...bliss. About 10 am, we blew into a little town to eat breakfast.

Celeste woke up, hopped out, and we took a short turn down the block to do her "business". She dutifully stepped off the sidewalk when nature called, and watched people as they passed. She always looks pleased with herself when she remembers to be courteous and handles her "business" off the sidewalk. She doesn't seem to notice that I'm with her, plastic bag and scooper at the ready. When she encounters a pile left in the middle of the walk by some other less cultured perrito, Celeste leaps to the side to avoid stepping in the nasty mess, a look of distain on her face. I know she learned that behavior from me. I'm hoping that with time, she'll begin to carry her own plastic bag and scooper.

We turned back up the block to return to O and find a restaurant. We stepped inside a little mom and pop place and Celeste took her favored spot by the wall, under the table. O ordered fried fish, I got chicken soup. Celeste got dog food and a fish tail and bit of chicken skin for dessert with a stale hard roll for a good chaw while we finished our meal.

After we ate, we climbed back into the car. Celeste looked at the front seat, but thought better of it and went to her towel. I fell back into the car and began sawing logs. I know this because I woke myself up two or three times with my own snoring. O roared up the street into the heart of the little town, and must have had several sudden stops and starts, because the next time I looked back at Celeste, she was still asleep, but off the seat and on the floor, towel draped over her back.

I woke up in time to see the sand dunes and the Pacific coastline close to the highway. The next time I woke up, I saw nothing but sand. Peruvian music was blaring on the radio and I fell asleep again. Gads, I was wiped out. We stopped at 7 toll booths on the way to Trujillo. SEVEN! The worst thing about it was that the highway, although it was going to be beautiful, hadn't been worked on for months and we were paying to travel through tiny, traffic-clogged villages. Charming at first, interesting later, tedious and irritating at the last.

Mar 24, 2008

Escape From the City - a story in several parts

Part I

Wednesday evening, O came home from work to announce that we needed to get out of town for the upcoming long weekend. He had arranged everything and we'd leave at 6 am Thursday morning. I was less than enthusiastic about the thought of driving 8 hours to Trujillo in the car, no matter how big it was, with Celeste. I've been down for about 3 months with some kind of crud, exhausted most days, and sick of coughing up snot and yuck. I just needed to sleep, and was counting on having the long weekend to do just that.

I whined, I cried, I wheedled, coughed and snorted. No, I couldn't go. How could I go, I felt so terrible. But it all fell on deaf ears. It had not occurred to me that a good part of my problem was the crap that was being constantly expelled from the hundreds of cars that pass through our neighborhood every day. It had occurred to O, however. We were off to warmer (if you can imagine that) climes, far from the maddening crowds and smoke-belching motors of Lima.

So we packed up Celeste and her leash, a backpack of clean clothes for O and I, and fell into the car. I fell into the car. Celeste leaped into the car, clambered into my lap, tried to jump into the driver's seat, twisted and turned, kicked and snorted, and generally wrestled around until I pretended I was Mike Tyson and bit her ear. She screamed, O looked shocked, I got mad, and Celeste was banned to the back seat. No window, no treats, no lap to lay her head in when she was tired, no little games to play when she was bored. She retaliated by trying to shove herself underneath the front seat from the rear, getting stuck, screaming for help, and refusing to cooperate when help was rendered. I left her there for the moment, reached into my backpack, and pulled out the only towel we'd thought to bring. I spread it across the backseat, grabbed Celeste by the tail, and hauled her out from under the front seat. Then, taking her by the hide and the throat, I wadded her up and slung her onto the towel, tweaked her nose and commanded her to STAY. She did. Celeste looked from me to O, and finding no sympathy anywhere, apparently decided it was better to pass the time on the towel. I had toyed with the idea of opening the door and shoving her out on the Pan American highway, but the moment had passed and we were on our way. The joys of dog ownership.

By this time, we had been on the road for about an hour and reached the outskirts of Lima. Celeste had fallen blissfully asleep on the towel and O was deftly dodging potholes and other escaping motorists, oblivious pedestrians in the street, and dogs in search of garbage for breakfast. The outer edges of Lima are not well maintained. I coughed and gagged and drifted in and out of various states of consciousness, unable to stay completely awake. Even the usual dangers of taxis, cars without head or tail lights, people crossing the highway without looking, or the tour buses that threatened to move over on top of us couldn't keep me awake. I slept at various times, dreaming of a comfortable towel to curl up on instead of being strapped in by a merciless seat belt. By 9 am, I took my first breath of uncontaminated air and woke up, partially refreshed. We'd broken free of the confines of Lima and crossed into the desert.

Mar 18, 2008

A new knitting book

I received a new book in the mail the other day. It's called "Domiknitrix", by Jennifer Stafford. It has a black vinyl cover. Cool.

At first I thought it had to do with punk and goth knitting. But then I found out that it's really about getting a good handle on my knitting, no matter what my style of dressing is. Whew! That's a relief! And then I cracked open the book and techniques with step-by-step instructions and pictures or every step. That's good. And not let the yarn dominate me, not let the stitches dominate me, not let the whole thing overwhelm me. Okay. I don't usually have that problem, but sometimes I do.

And then I saw the projects. Interesting. Different. Goth-looking, some good for Halloween, some good for every day. Each with a box that says what knitting technique will be learned while making the pattern. That's good for me. With a change of color and motif, I could use these. So, all in all, not a bad book so far. I haven't sat down with it seriously yet, but I think it will prove to have been a good purchase.

Mar 17, 2008


I have a confession to make:

Sometimes, I am sick of listening to Spanish. It is truly a beautiful language. I have enjoyed studying it and will continue to study and practice, but I have my days when it just makes me brain-tired to listen to it. During these times I have to turn on the television and hunt for CSI or some other program on cable that they don't have dubbed in Spanish. It doesn't happen to me every day, but it's happening today and I just can't bring myself to go to the market to paw through the morning crowd for vegetables. I need to go to the supermarket instead. I need to go to Papa John's Pizza and blow 40 soles on a real pizza. I just need a regular dose of US to get me through the rest of the month. Luckily for me, I can get my regular doses of US without going too far from home. Papa John's just opened up about 5 blocks from our apartment building. I love that the banner inside the pizza place is all in English and that the names of the pizzas are in English, like "The Works". The supermarket has Mott's applesauce and Philadelphia cream cheese and Red Bull. Sometimes I search for things that have the original packaging that gives the ingredients in English and says that it was made in Chicago, Illinois.

Somedays I can't listen to music. I enjoy Peruvian music and it's beautiful, but I can only stand it in small doses, just as I can only stand rap, rock, country-western, jazz, and classical music in small doses. Before this week, I had never thought I could overdose and get sick on music, but it's happened. I think it's happened because when they play their typical Peruvian music, they play it at about 100 decibels and they play the same music over and over and over. Yesterday I was waiting in the car for O, listening to the radio and surfing the channels. I came across a channel that was playing the sound track from "Porgy and Bess", with no commercial interruptions. What a relief it was to listen to something easy and relaxing! O came back and switched the channel to something that would keep him energetic while driving. Okay. He wouldn't have switched channels if I had asked him not to. But now I know where the easy listening channel is and I'll use it at home.

I have days when I don't want to leave the apartment. It's my safe escape from the rest of the world. During those days, I completely resent it when someone comes to the door, calls on the phone, or when I have to go to work. Work draws me out of that mood, luckily. Living here with so much humanity around us is hard for me. We live in a nice neighborhood. It's clean, beautiful, lots to do, with friendly people and a regular security patrol. But sometimes listening to the neighbors play their music over and over, hearing their parties go till all hours of the night, the constant tooting of horns and squealing of brakes on the street sometimes gets to me.

One last thing that gets to me sometimes are the voices they use to dub over the voices from other languages and put them in Spanish. My niece told me that it seemed like every movie dubbed into Spanish sounded the same. That's because they are almost always the same people who are doing the voice-overs. But what really is my problem is that the women almost always use overly exaggerated voices, often falsetto voices and overly dramatic laughter. Gag me. It's especially bad if I've seen the movie before or if I'm familiar with the sound of the actor's voice. Imagine Angelina Jolie or Kathleen Turner with a high, screeching voice and a falsetto laugh. It's just wrong. Lara Croft wouldn't have been a successful tomb raider if she had sounded like a hysterical primadonna.

Mar 12, 2008

Another meme

I’ve been tagged by Greenfingers! Here are the rules:

Rules are:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here goes.

1. I usually eat fresh salads, vegetables, and a protein when I have a meal, but when I feel bummed out, I make mashed potatoes with a lot of butter on them.

2. When I was little, I climbed a cherry tree in our backyard and got stuck. I bawled and screamed for help, and when my mom finally came, it was with a camera to take my picture, stuck up there in the tree. Only after I quit bawling and smiled for the camera did she help me out of the tree.

3. I love the smell of a dog. There's something very comforting to me about their body odor.

4. I like animal noses. There's nothing sweeter smelling than a horse's nose, nothing softer than a goat's nose, and nothing cuter than a dog's nose. I have a thing for animal noses, but not people's noses.

5. I get lost almost every day. Lima is so big that I lose my bearings when I go off the beaten track, which is almost always.

6. I'm attracted by shiny and colorful objects. My next of kin could be a magpie. I love costume jewelry because it's all glitter and color.

7. I'm a rock hound. i love to know what they are and how they are formed. When I was little I used to gather little stones and break them in half between two larger stones, until I smashed a couple of fingers doing that. Now I go for the polished ones and whenever I go walkng on a country road, I fill my pockets with pretty stones that get my attention.

Now for my seven victims:

1. WoolyWorks

2. Pondside

3. Wild Tomato

4. The Goddess in the Groove

5. Rani Knits

6. DJ Kirby

7. Toady

Ahhh..nothing like sharing the love....

Mar 11, 2008

Just comments

I just feel chatty today. I've been down with the flu or some kind of crud for about a week. Still going to work, but mostly just working and sleeping, when I wasn't coughing a lung up...eeeewwww.

But I'm on the mend now, and talkative as ever. My sailors are doing okay; there are two groups. The first group speaks very little English. They are to go to Hawaii at the end of May to participate in some kind of exercise. They are using the cds that I bought for O in the class. These cds give the instructions in Spanish and words to learn in English. They seem to understand what's going on, but when I ask in English, there are two that just smile and nod their heads. I know they don't get it. They can repeat things, which is good, but they can't make phrases on their own yet. For now, they're just learning vocabulary and individual phrases.

The second group are deploying to various countries with the UN, so they are taking things a little more seriously. They had to take an English exam in order to get into the class, and we are not only building vocabulary, but working on grammar. Still, most of them haven't studied English, but picked up what they know from watching television and movies. They are lots of fun. They can make sentences and jokes on their own and are working on writing daily reports to improve their grammar. Their speaking skills vary, but they can all make themselves understood in one way or another. Sometimes they need more body language and hand gestures to get their meaning across, but hey - whatever works!

On the Sunday, we went to a soccer match. I didn't get much out of it, but in between the coughing fits, I saw some of the game. What I really saw was the crowd and the police. I had no idea that soccer fans were so volatile. Fights broke out in the stands and the police formed lines in the stands to separate the opposing groups. When we left the stadium, mounted police and police on motorcycles escorted the people out of the area and down the street. Once we were walking and saw the mounted police take off ahead of us. We couldn't see or hear anything going on, but suddenly the whole crowd turned on its heels and ran straight at us. O and I ducked between cars to keep from being run over. We never did figure out what was happening, but at least we survived getting out of the parking lot and down the block. I wondered why I saw people leaving before the match ended. Now I know.

Celeste and I went to the park this morning, but there were no dogs to play with. Everyone was at work or in school, so we made a couple of laps around the park and headed back home. Actually, it's too hot to do much else. Celeste came back and crashed on the floor. I'm off again in a moment to the market to pick up some dog food and something for lunch. What sounds good to you for lunch?

Mar 10, 2008

in the mail

Today I got an extra special surprise from Maggie.

A whole big box full of beautiful spinning batts! Gorgeous colors and the fleece is so soft.

O laughed when he saw it, saying that I need to stop ooohing and aaahing and get spinning if I wanted to get it all spun by year's end.

He's probably right, but I need some ooo - aaah time first, and then I'll spin.

I've got my mornings free this month, so I'll have more time to spend knitting and spinning and playing with Celeste. Last month and the first of this month was hard on her, because both of us were working early mornings, when she normally has time with smeone to go walking and running. We're back to normal now and starting tomorrow, I'll only be working afternoons and evenings, so Ms. Blue Eyes will have her "me time" as well.

And here is O, computer geek, pharmacist, and the nicest and most patient and honest guy I know, except for my own father.

Mar 1, 2008

book worm

How well can you spell? Try BookWorm! It's addicting!

late night handspinning

Uuuufff...someone must have a birthday tonight. There's loud music coming from next door. It's nice music, but LOUD. So, while I've been enjoying this LOUD music, here's what I've been doing:

It's a sample of silk roving that I received in the mail from Farm Witch. I've not spun anything for a while, but finally, the bug bit me again. And I've never spun silk before. I like it! I plan to ply this bit of silk with an opalescent monofilament for prettiness and to add some strength to those thinner spots in my spinning. And then what will I do with it? I don't know...maybe make a sock toe or two from it.

How do you like my ceviche pan? Hehehehehe...makes a nice background.

The neighbors are now singing with the really loud music. Celeste is having better luck at sleeping than I am.

Stop that snoring, Celeste!