Apr 29, 2008

My contribution for the day

A very nice slide show with nice music can be seen here.

Apr 28, 2008

death of a sock

Well, it was inevitable...I ripped out the Thunderstorm sock and started over. I didn't like the looks of it in the first place...but I never should have let it grow to the proportion that it did before I decided to rip.

Oh, the pain...

And then I started over. So far, I have only a dozen rows of blue ribbing done, this time in 1 X 1 rib. I plan on a plain garter stitch leg this time, to better see the colorway and not confuse myself. I have seen many handknit socks in gorgeous multi-colored yarn with lacy patterns, and they look great - but they're made by someone else - but I think I'll wait for a solid colored yarn to do a pattern stitch.

And the next time I don't like the way a sock is going, I'll lower the hatchet MUCH sooner. No point in getting halfway through turning the heel before I kill a project I just can't stand the looks of.

Apr 26, 2008

My Class

Monday is the last class of the month, and then we have a week's time to recuperate. I have been thinking about my students in my 6:30 Survival English class.

Just as the class has evolved, so have the students. Having had 2 months to observe them, I find myself amazed by their personalities and humor. Five students have emerged from the group as motivated, outgoing, determined, and hilarious. All are officers in the Peruvian military. All have endeared themselves to me. I only have one more month with them before I send them off to parts unknown to serve with the United Nations.

Renzo, also known as The Commander, is the only one in the clas that has the distinction of being a Marine...similar to the Special Forces. He is very tall (about 6'3" and way too big for the desks in the classroom), with a deep voice. He tries hard to maintain a stern face and a serious attitude, but just cannot. Underneath the seriousness is a total joker. Renzo is my best student. He reads well and speaks well, but with a thick, thick accent that frustrates him.

Marcos came to the class not speaking more English than "my name is Marcos." He is in the class because it's free and he was offered the opportunity to attend. He is not going to deploy anywhere. Marcos is one of my two most motivated students. He has been studying his 6-year-old daughter's first grade English reader and attends class each day without fail. Marcos now speaks quite well and can have a conversation will difficulty, but only because his vocabulary is smaller than mine.

Mauricio, aka The Doctor, is a frightfully intelligent nerd. One of those people whose mind goes too fast for his mouth, his speaks in a nasal voice and constantly says "uh, uh" while his mouth catches up to his thoughts. His vocabulary is much more expansive than most of the other students', but he is a disaster when speaking. In spite of that, he absolutely LOVES to talk and once he starts, it's almost impossible to shut him up. The Doctor is an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

Eduardo is a helicopter pilot who also spoke almost no English when he started with us last month. He speaks well now, but with an accent so think you can almost cut it with a knife and cannot talk without a smile and the use of his hands. When he is answering questions in class, his looks like he is ready to take off from his seat with arms flapping like a bird.

Magaly is a quiet but determined woman, destined for the Congo. She speaks with a elegantly latin accent, but very clearly and carefully. She is the only one who is able to maintain her composure in class, but laughs out loud during our 15 minute break.

If you were to look in the clasroom at any given time, you would be able to observe Renzo hunched serously at a desk much to small for him, with his knees practically around his ears; Marcos, bent intently over his lesson, wrists braced on the sides of his head with his hands moving above the head like a horse's ears that swivel back and forth with understanding or confusion; The Doctor spouting off nasally, um um um...; Eduardo speaking through a smile, with emphasis on words in odd places in a sentence ("Every DAY she would WALK inTO the officcccce, with A big SMILE on her FACE.") and flapping like an albatross at his desk; Magaly sitting primly, secretly grinning like a hyena behind her hands, pronouncing each word carefully.

I'm glad I have one more month with them.

Celeste - at one year, 3 months

She really is a beauty now, both physically and as a trusted member of the family.

Don't you eyeball me, girl.

So proud, so beautiful...thus opens yet another year of furmiliation potential!

of clunky toes and thunderstorms

Here is a shot of the square toes on my April socks. Yuck. I think part of it may be due to knitting the double strand too tightly and maybe the Kitchener stitch was too tight, too. Hmm.

And here are a couple of shots of the thunderstorm socks, as far as I was when I took the picture. I've just changed back to the blue yarn and begun the heel flap. I'm kind of excited about these socks. If they turn out well, I might do another pair. I certainly have enough yarn for it.

Apr 24, 2008

The socks and a little bread

The finished pair of socks...and yes, another shot, just because I love looking at my handiwork.

Here's a second sock in the almost finished stage. Toes just to finish up. I've actually finished this pair, and have to take a good photo for the "Year In Socks" blog. The only thing about these is that the toes turned out a little square and clunky-looking. My last pair had clunky toes, too. How can I fix that? What's the secret to non-clunky toes?

And lunch yesterday was a thick slice of fried eggplant with marinated onions and mild chilies in salt and lime juice on bread. Not as tasty as a piece of meat or chicken, but still good.

Every morning, we have fresh bread delivered to our apartment. It arrives at 6 am sharp, and it's tied to the handle on the front door of each apartment that orders it. We love it. So do the pigeons, who arrive at 6:05 am. This is the neighbor's bread. Every morning, the pigeons share their bread.

I'm a little more stingy. To keep our bread for ourselves, this is what I've begun to use. I thought it was a brilliant idea. I've outsmarted the pigeons for the moment. Not pretty, but it works. The pigeons think I'm terribly inconsiderate.

Apr 23, 2008

At last! A Finished Object!

I finished a pair of dark blue alpaca boot socks a couple of days ago. I really did take photos, but O took the camera to work with him to take pictures for "Pharmacist's Day" at the hospital. So, I'll have to wait until the camera comes back home to post them. I think Celeste and I need our own camera.

I have also cast on for another pair of socks, done in alpaca, in the "Thunderstorm" colorway that my niece, Bethy, made last fall. I plan on doing the ribbing at the top, the toes, and the heels in the same dark blue that I made the last pair from. I think it will be a good combination. Lemme see if I can find a photo of "Thunderstorm" somewhere on my computer...I think I took a picture in December of the yarn haul I brought from Woolyworks...


"Thunderstorm" is the skein in the middle of the photo, with shades of blue, pink, purple...very pretty in the skein and in the swatch that I knitted up, it looks pretty interesting. I think it will be good with the dark blue.

Apr 18, 2008

Monkey business

I've been searching for a diversion. This is as good as I've found tonight.

Apr 17, 2008

Out of the Past...

Did you know that O was once a parachutist? Yes! Once - just long enough to meet the training requirements, jump from the plane, and land in a chicken coup (more on that later).

Our hero! But no, the bandages on his fingers are not a result of his crash landing into the hen house. It was a training accident, in which he caught his fingers in the hook that automatically pulls the rip cord as you jump from the plane. Owie.

Apr 15, 2008

Meet Sombra

This is Sombra, my adopted lamb. Her name means "Shadow" in Spanish. She's a high-percentage Blue-faced Leicester lamb, born in December. I adopted her from Maggie's Farm. I'm thrilled with her and am looking forward to watching her grow up! There's no other way I could enjoy a lamb of my own, living here in a high rise apartment building, even if I am only on the 2nd floor. This is the next best thing!

With my adoption, I get:

1. A framed picture of my lamb.

2. A brief bio of my lamb including parents, any remarkable circumstances of his/her birth, breed history and characteristics. I chose a name for my lamb, and a tag with that name will be attached to her ear.

3. Monthly reports on my lamb's growth, activities, diet, vaccinations, worming, or anything Maggie thinks I will find interesting.

4. When it's time to shear my lamb I will receive the raw fleece. She will put coats on all the adoptees to protect it and keep out any vegetable matter (hay, burrs, etc.) If, for some reason, my lamb's fleece is not up to processing standards I will receive a similar fleece. A fever may cause a weak spot, or "break," in the fleece...but I will be informed if my lamb is ill and we can anticipate any problems with the wool.

5. An invite to a "Meet Your Lamb" picnic on Maggie's farm, in beautiful Brookfield, Central New York.

I also plan on adopting a mohair goat from Woolyworks later in a month or two. I have to save up a little first. Check them out! They also have alpacas for adoption , and oooo, they're gorgeous! Saving up for that one too!

Food Poisoning

On Sunday, O and I went to eat lunch at the officer's club at the end of the block, El Circulo Militar. We had a small ceviche that we shared and later in the evening, I had a bowl of won ton soup.

Yesterday, in the afternoon, it hit me: that dreaded roiling and cramping of the stomach, multiple trips to the bathroom, waves of nausea which were luckily pretty mild, headache and body aches. Quickly to the pharmacy to get a couple of ciprofloxicin tablets. If I hadn't taken the cipro tablets, I think it would have been much worse, but still, I couldn't finish teaching my second Survival class and had to go find a substitute. When I went to tell the evening director that I needed to go home, I must have looked absolutely green, because he leapt into action and found me a taxi home. They also called O, and he met me at the door of the apartment building.

We didn't go to the hospital because I had already begun the treatment they recommend, so it was just a matter of going to bed and waiting it all out. O dosed me again with cipro and gatorade sometime during the night and again this morning. I'm happy to say that I'm back on my feet again and, although kind of washed out and tired, I'm functioning again and have a bit of energy. Whew! Glad that's over!

The thing about living here is that food poisoning is not that uncommon. I've never gotten sick from eating at home. I take a lot of care to be sure that our food is clean and wash everything well with a clorox solution, especially fruits and vegetables that we eat right from the fridge: apples, cucumbers, tomatoes. And usually food from the Circulo is safe. But I guess once in a while, someone skips a step (like washing hands) and something ugly can creep into the food.

I'll be eating at home for a while, till I get past the memory of last night.

Apr 14, 2008

What Celeste did over the weekend...

Well, she started out with her eyes open, working hard at the computer, but...

the bed beckoned...MY bed...grrrr...

What a busy weekend! I get tired just thinking about it!

Apr 11, 2008


Well, is it a gray morning, or what!? I'm feeling a little like Celeste looks here...not quite moving around yet...we need tea! STRONG tea! Wait a minute...am I wrong, or is that her "don't point that soul-stealing silver box at me" look?

I've been spinning up "Lovers In A Rose Garden", that Kary sent me. It's turning into a beautiful mint green strand with bright pink slubs and a bit of sparkle. I really like it and am hoping that it will spin up into enough to make the project I have in mind.

Sheeesh...what blurry photos I took this morning! Can you tell that the tea hasn't kicked in yet?

I've also been playing with the idea of plying some of it with a strand of white alpaca. This alpaca comes from WoolyWorks and is the softest stuff I've spun in a very long time. I thought, though, in order to stretch the green and to create a little bit of contrasting yarn, that the tweedy look of the alpaca and the "Lovers" might go well together. I haven't reached the point where I can ply them yet, but have twisted a little of each together just to get an idea how the two might look together.

What do you think? The trouble is that I haven't got much of the alpaca left, so would probably only get a small amount of tweedy yarn from it - maybe enough to make a nice trim...Hmmm. Maybe I should just save the white for another project? At the moment, I'm not sure how much yarn the "Lovers in a Rose Garden" with make, plied with itself.

Apr 10, 2008

Escape from the City

Part 5

While Celeste was dealing with the kids, I slept a lot. During the first couple of days, I heard the screams and squeals of the kids, the cries of "Celeste! Where are you?", a quick clattering of dog toenails on tile floors, and the subsequent whuffling and scrunching sounds under the bed as Celeste hid herself deeper in the darkness below.

On the third day, I arose like a flame from the bed, refreshed and decidedly without cough, snort, or snot. Thank heaven. I was ready to go play in Trujillo. After a leisurely breakfast, O and I put Celeste out of the main part of the house and up on the rooftop, to escape the kids and enjoy the view. We had to drrraaag her from her hideaway under the bed. Then we left the house and went out to visit O's old college friends and have lunch. Celeste serenaded us from the rooftop in typical Siberian siren style - throaty yodeling with a few wolfish high notes.

In Peru, "visiting friends" usually means having drinks, mostly beer. This is a little hard for me, because I only drink beer on occasion and I have to be in the mood for it. This day, I wan't in the mood for it, so we brought bottles of water. The people that we visited were gracious about it...some are offended if guests don't drink with them, but I chalk this up to insecurities about themselves ("Oh, we're not good enough to drink with?", etc) so I usually just continue with water.

These friends, however, were just fine. Along with my water and the offered beer, we had a snack of canchitas (fried corn kernels), and shredded yellow chilies and onions mixed with salt and lime juice on the side. The idea is to take a mouthful of corn and a teaspoon full of the onion/chili/lime/salt mixture together. It's a great remedy for plugged noses - spicy, but not enough to really torch the mouth and cause discomfort. And quick to make. Shredded hot peppers and shredded onions marinated in lime juice and salt are typical and almost overly common flavors here in Peru. Hot peppers in various forms and lime slices are included on the side of almost every dish.

After we spent a few hours with them, we started back to the house. I say "started" because we got another invitation to visit from someone else on the way. So on to another house for water and beer. But this house was filled with people rapidly becoming drunk, so we didn't stay long. For me, the only people who enjoy being with drunks are other drunks. Happily, O understood that even though some of them were his friends, I was uncomfortable around so many who were unsteady on their feet. We left and headed to a restaurant for lunch.

Lunch was the absolute best ceviche I've had in a very long time. It was a mixture of sea foods, ranging from regular sea bass to tiny squid and scallops. Spicy and marinated in strong lime and salt, it was wonderful. Garnished with a couple of slices of sweet potato, corn, shredded onions, and sea vegetable of some sort. We had a lemonade to drink and they restaurant played typical Peruvian music, but not too loudly. It was great!

Apr 9, 2008

The Cat in the Hat...?

Check out Wild Tomato's International Cat Hat Fest! Most recently we are visiting France, with Greaseball as our tour guide and hat model. Le'mieux, baby. Pass me a glass of dry red wine and a mouse crouton. Oooo la la!

Apr 2, 2008

On an afternoon out walking...

...I took a few pictures...

A flowering tree in the park.

Another pretty doorway. I'm not sure why I like the doorways so much here. Maybe just because they're different.

Tile picture outside a doorway.

The Embassy of Poland.

More of the neighborhood

I have just a small flat. This is such a grand building...I'm not sure what it is, but it's just 2 blocks away from where I live.

Soome people are lucky enough to have a little yard. This flower is in a front yard not far from where I live. I'd love to have a little plot of front yard to grow flowers in.

Here we are in the park where Celeste plays. The trees are flowering now, and this is a tree flower of some sort.

Isn't this a beautiful place? The front door looks so welcoming and summery.

Apr 1, 2008

just tree stumps...?

Lately I have been finding these around my neighborhood:

I'll be interested to see the owl when it's finished. Right now it looks like it's a work in progress.

Sometimes I see them with garlands of flowers and rosaries draped on them, other times I see them with flowers, offerings of wine or Inca Cola, and chocolate. However they are meant, I think they are a great alternative to graffiti, although we have our fair share of that, too.