Feb 29, 2008
When I arrived, Ms. Caldaz called me into her office and told me to sit. She had that tired look on her face that people get when they have to do something they really don't want to do or when they are unhappy abut a situation, but resigned to it. A couple of things ran through my mind just then. "Called in on my day off...am I getting fired? Or maybe she's going to give me another course." She was on the phone, so I sat there, sweating about it a little. You know, it's not that I desperately need the money (luckily) - I only have been earning an average of $300 per month there (just about poverty level for the Lima area, actually). But I always try to do my best at whatever I do, and to be fired for doing my best would be a huge blow to me.
Rosa Caldaz got off the phone, looked me in the eye, and told me that she wanted me to teach a survival course to not one, but two classes of sailors who were attending the Peruvian Army's School of War. In English. WHAT?!?! She'd been ordered to have the course ready to teach by Monday at 3pm. Another WHAT?!?! She told me that I was the logical choice, having been an employee of the US Air Force for so long (27 years). Yeah, like I learned CPR, general first aid, how to load a cargo plane and ambulance with stretchers of injured people, and how to use a compass. And I've packed my fair share of first aid kits. So I've got basically not much. Okay - I'll do it. I can teach it. (Heh, right.) I can at least talk about it.
Actually, it's not that these men are likely to go to war against anyone. Peru's military hasn't much of a war capability and their national defense is so antiquated that they wouldn't do much against an invading enemy. They're more like a civil defense organization that helps during natural disasters and augments the police when there is civil unrest. But they do have a UN mission, and do regularly go in small groups to the Congo, Haiti, Sudan, and various other hot spots across the globe as peacekeepers, equipped by other countries. And it seems that English is now the global language among the militaries of the world. Nearly all of the Peruvian soldiers that have gone anywhere end up working under the command of European or Canadian officers, and they have to speak English in order to function. So, hmmm. This is where I come in. I didn't know it, but for the last few months, I've been preparing these guys for their deployments. Last month, the soldiers told me what they were doing. This month, the directoress told me what I've been doing and what I will be doing. Last month it was Army guys. This month, I'll have 2 classes of sailors.
Survival training! What? In a month? I think I'm supposed to teach them how to ask and give directions, teach them to talk about survival issues, and give them the basic language tools to be able to help themselves and someone else, if necessary. I think I need more than a month. This month's course is going to be an intensive one, I guess. I hope they plan on participating. God knows I can talk for hours, but I need to know that they can talk too, when necessary.
Feb 28, 2008
Hope you will all read to the end. Jay Leno puts it into perspective and makes us think about the pathetic negativity. That's right, Jay Leno!!
Jay Leno wrote this; it's the Jay Leno we don't often see....
"The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true, given the source, right?
The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed, and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the President. In essence, 2/3's of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change.
So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, ''What are we so unhappy about?''
Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter?
Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job?
Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time, and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?
Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state?
Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?
I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough.
Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and
Provide services to help all, and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.
Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings.
Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes , an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss.
This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.
How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world?
Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.
Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. , yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have , and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.
I know, I know. What about the President who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The President who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same President who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The President that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks?
The Commander-In Chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me? Did you hear how bad the President is on the news or talk show? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn't take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad?
Think about it...are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is it because the "Media" told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind every day.
Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go.
They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an ''other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable'' discharge after a few days in the brig.
So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want, but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds, it leads; and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells , and when criticized, try to defend their actions by "justifying" them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book about "how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way"...Insane!
Stop buying the negativism you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.
We are among the most blessed people on Earth, and should thank God several times a day, or at least be thankful and appreciative.
"With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, "Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"
Feb 26, 2008
I'll be done with the second sock this week. How soon can I start on the March socks?
Feb 23, 2008
It's not, though, a movie for kids. As I said, throats graphically cut and blood sprayed in all directions, even by special effects...these might cause some nightmares...think "Edward Scissorhands" with an attitude. In fact, those of us who have seen "Edward Scissorhands" will recognise the hair right away.
The only thing I didn't like about the movie was the ending. Mr. T is killed by a kid. Throat cut with his own razor, and simply bleeds to death with his dead wife (whom he's just discovered that he's killed) in his lap. I suppose that's life, though, and death. Most of us don't go out with a bang. We just go. No happy ending for this killer, no matter how he amazed us with his singing voice. In spite of that, I want the dvd when it comes out.
A pattern is really more for inspiration and guidance than for following to the letter, in my own mind.
I think I will make the first one as the pattern is written, just to understand how things are supposed to go, and then I'll make a cape of this kind of thing. I saw a great one this afternoon in a movie. It was a filet crochet cape, just a rectangle of filet and a draw string to gather it around the shoulders. Mine will have flowers like this shawl has.
Following the announcement of Gallo's impending "domestic arrangement", I took Celeste to the park to run off some of the stresses and frustrations that a sled dog can feel while living in a small flat with no yard. While we were there, we met another husky dog, who was about 5 years old. He was gorgeous, with a full coat of black hair, but absolutely no inclination to play. The woman who was with him said that he was 5 years old and now doesn't ever play. He goes many places with her, but is quite stoic and calm in all things. I hope the day never comes that Celeste doesn't want to play at least a little bit.
Then we met the most wonderful Irish Setter gal, who played and ran the legs right off Celeste. Celeste normally is the dominant one in play, boxing with her front legs and doing a lot of chest-butting, but this setter was the dominant one last weekend. She played with Celeste till Ms. Blue Eyes was bushed, then pushed her to run and did her own bit of boxing. Celeste didn't know what to think! Who on earth was this skinny shot of red? Why didn't she ever wear down? Luckily, a chunky pit bull boy on a leash came by and Celeste ran for cover when the setter turned her attention to him. We took our leave and dragged ourselves home to sprawl on the floor of the apartment.
Then on Sunday, we went to the beach! La Tiza is a beautiful private beach, with a restaurant and pool up the hill, in case the water of the sea is too cold or too dirty or whatever. Celeste visited the ocean for the first time. But, oooo, that sneaky ocean water! While she was chasing a retreating wave, another bigger one came rolling in. Celeste disappeared momentarily, then leapt into O's arms for protection...just as another big wave arrived. They BOTH disappeared again.
The afternoon was spent walking on the sand, chasing bug and sticks, tormenting other visitors, but never NEVER going near the water again. In spite of staying out of the water, Celeste developed an ear infection after her beach weekend and is at the vet's office as I am writing this.
And we passed a milestone...Celeste rode all the way to the beach and back, in the car, without puking a drop! Her hair is nearly all shed out, too, leaving her with a silky soft silver and black summer coat. She's gorgeous and nicely-behaved and, finally, a pleasure to ride with in the car. Celeste is growing up. She's not the crabby and demanding little princess that she had planned to be. She's learned to heel while on the leash, sit when we come to a stop, leave people alone unless invited to leap in their arms, and she's learned that home is the best place for any little girl to be.
The bad news is that we did all this without thinking of taking the camera.
Feb 14, 2008
Well, the inevitable has happened...Last month we had Celeste spayed and this month her one and only true love, Galo the beagle, is being forced into an arranged marriage. Galo - noble, chunky, stalwort fellow that he is - is taking it all in stride with the stoicism of the older (three years old) man. Celeste is crying and moaning in her sleep. She found out about the situation while we were on the bike path...Galo was escorting the maid on the bike path this evening when we met him. The maid delivered the shocking news and, shortly afterward, Celeste retired to her crate crying softly into her water dish. Poor thing. So young to have her heart broken. Who knew, with all the free dog love on the streets of Lima, that there would be an arranged marriage on the not-so-distant horizon?
Poor Celeste. Will she recover? Will she find a new love or continue to worship Galo from a short distance (the other side of the bike path)? The rottweiler this afternoon was SOOO aggressive, so angry...why are all the good ones already taken?
On the upside, there are still all those women wearing interesting perfumes and carrying grocery bags full of intriguing goodies, all to be sniffed furtively as they pass on the sidewalk!
Feb 12, 2008
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.
1. Okay...the nearest book - The Shell Seekers, By Rosamunde Pilcher.
2. Open the book to page 123 - yup.
3. Find the fifth sentence: "I've been dreading telling you."
4. Post the next three sentences: "Just shocked. So sudden." Her hand went out to grope for a chair, found one.
5. Tag five people.
I'm going to cheat here, and say that if you've come here and read this, you've been tagged. Find that nearest book and post away!
Feb 11, 2008
I just got a "MWAH" award from Inthemud! I'm tickled pink about it! Now I have some people here that deserve a big fat "MWAH" from me:
The Wild Tomato
Whenever I get on the computer, I go straight to these blogs. I can't wait to see what they've posted!
Feb 10, 2008
More smiles please!
Feb 8, 2008
The alarm goes off at 5:15 This morning, and 15 minutes later, the Celeste alarm goes off. I'm warm and comfy in bed, but the dog needs to go out. We live just off a very busy four-lane throughfare, so Celeste (ignorant of wild Peruvian traffic) cannot go outside off the leash. And she needs to blow off some of that steam and stink that she accumulated during the night, so out we go to the bike path. If we get out there before 6:30, traffic will be minimal and we won't have to dodge cars to cross the street. Fifteen minutes later, she's done her business and we've both run a block or two. Back to the apartment building and upstairs to the second floor. She goes into her crate to eat her breakfast and I'm in the shower.
After a shower, I put on the tea kettle and make a quick breakfast. O snoozes obliviously until the tea kettle whistles and he smells something cooking. I have a mug of tea and get my clothes pressed for work. I throw them on, pull my hair into a pony tail, gather up my book bag and head out the door by 7 am. O continues eating. Ciao, baby. See you this afternoon.
On the street, I cross the 4-laner and catch a "combi". That's what they call mini-vans that have been outfitted with 4 rows of bench seats set so close that your knees are around your ears. It's 15 cents to go from Pachecutec to Cuba Ave. Sometimes so many people are crowded into the combi that some can't sit down and the cobrador (who take your money, yells out the window where the combi route goes, and opens and closes the door) can't close the door and uses his own body in place of the door to keep passengers from falling out while the van is moving. And traffic here in Lima is so crazy. Salaverry is a 4-lane highway, but between taxies, busses, combis, and passenger cars, it is often 6 or 7 lanes at any given time. Horns constantly blow, turn signals are a waste on most cars, because the people don't use them. Usually someone waggles a finger out a window and that's good enough. Traffic lights are only respected if there's a policeman at the corner. Sometimes it's better just to keep my eyes on the floor, especially when drivers perform that incredibly common Latin American feat of making a left-hand turn from the far right lane in front of cars that are continuing straight ahead. I have a near stroke every time I witness it, especially if I'm in the vehicle that's doing the illegal turn.
The bus rockets the length of Salaverry Avenue to Cuba and I climb out on the corner to walk the rest of the way to the institute where I teach. I arrive at the main entrance of CIVIME (Centro de Idiomas de la Virgen de las Mercedes) at 7:15 and get up to my classroom. Class starts at 7:30. This month, I'm teaching the final cycle in the 30-month series of a North American English course in the mornings. CIVIME is almost half a city block of Buildings that began as two-story buildings in a square with a patio in the center of the square. After 30 years, they have added 2 more stories onto buildings that should have been renovated several years ago. Luckily, there have been no catastrophic disasters to test the integrity of the buildings. I'm hoping we don't put a foot through the dry-rotted spots in the floors of the second story of Building D while I'm working here. My students arrive and we get started.
Class includes (usually) some vocabulary practice, a little grammar, several writing exercises, and some repetitious pronunciations. In order to be sure that the students understand everything that I'm presenting, I ask them to produce verbal examples of the grammar points, use the vocabulary, and use everything in conversation. I also include additional material that I bring from home, because this course is from the US military, and tends to get a little boring, if you're not into military life. Omar the puppet has yet to make his appearance in my daily classes, but we often produce short texts and narrations about him. Improvisation is included at the end of the class - almost anything to keep their interest and keep them talking - and then class ends at 9. I'm out of there a few moments later and downstairs to check on any news from management and say hi to my friends.
One of my friends is Pedrito, an English instructor and native of Peru, who tells anyone who will listen that he is a "near-native speaker." Although he's never been outside of Peru, he often starts a conversation with, "When I was in London," or "When I was in Manhattan..." Pedrito is a little bit effeminate and usually makes his entrance into a room with books under one arm and the other arm raised at the elbow with the limp wrist effect, kind of like a chicken with one weak wing. Or a butterfly flying along weakly with one tattered wing.
As I leave CIVIME, I usually grab a breakfast sandwich in the little cafeteria, then head out the door to catch another bus home. By the time I arrive home at 9:30, O has already gone to work and Celeste is asking to go out again. I change my clothes, grab Celeste, and we're out to the bike path again to do her business. Then to the open market to pay a couple of bills, get some vegetables, maybe a couple of pieces of chicken and a chewbone for Celeste. We're home by 10:30 and put away the few groceries I've bought. I toss a load of laundry into the washer and set it to work. Celeste's hair is everywhere in the apartment this time of year, so that has to be swept up, then she goes into her crate while I mop and the floor dries. While the floor dries, I knit on a sock and get the heel turned...YEAY! Then Celeste comes back out, I get the dishes done, and clean the rest of the apartment. We go back outside to play for awhile, then in to make lunch at noon.
Today lunch was a sandwich of herbed bread with fried eggplant, cheese, and tomato sauce; a salad of lettuce, tomato, and cubes of fresh cheese; and a small bottle of imported German beer. After lunch, I prepare my lesson plan for the aftenoon class, which is the same course as the morning class, and then at 2pm, Celeste and I go outside once more. At 2:30, I have to get ready for class again, so I change into my long skirt and a blouse again, look like a teacher again, and gather up my stuff. This evening I also have a conversation class at 6, so I take some extra material with me.
At 3:15, O comes home and I'm just about on my way out the door. I usually take a combi to Cuba Ave. once more, but today, O offers to drive me to work. I arrive 10 minutes early, get 10 copies of materials for the conversation class and get a bottle of water at the cafeteria. On my way to my classroom, out the corner of my eye, I see a little butterfly with a tattered wing fluttering along behind me. It's Pedrito. He tells me that he's planning to attend my conversation class at 6 pm. "When I was in Manhattan..." He smiles a big wide smile and bats his eyes at me. Okay. Flutter along boy, flutter along.
Pedrito is one of the funniest people I have ever met. Funny in more than just "haha" funny. He talks continuously, often not making any sense at all, but feeling that he's getting his fair share of attention from whomever happens to be in the room. While he's talking he waves a hand limply and smiles broadly, batting his eyes, then sashays from the room making a dramatic exit. I can't tell if what I suspect is true, because he has asked several of the female teachers who work there to marry him. But I suspect...I suspect...he's just a little more than a feminine man. One never knows, though.
The other men who teach there laugh at/with Pedrito good-naturedly. They like him, mostly, and don't want to hurt his feelings, so they never allude to his femininity, but tease him when he starts talking about the last time he was in Manhattan. The joke is that "hato" is slang for home, so when he says "Manhattan", they say, "Mi hato" (my home) over and over. If you say it fast enough it could sound something like "Manhattan". "Oh, really, Pedrito? Mi hato? The last time you were in mi hato?"
At 4:15, my afternoon class is in session and only one student shows up on time. Later, one more arrives, then another, and another. That's the thing about Peru - everyone arrives fashionably late. It's irritating to me, but I'm getting used to it some. The class today is pretty small, but they all participate and we have fun. We joke about the rat that ran out of the cafeteria yesterday. Everyone screamed and three maintenance men chased the rat around the compound with brooms, like something out of the Keystone Kops. The screams turned into laughter and everyone came away thinking it was some practical joke for Carnival. I have one woman in class that failed last month with a different instructor. I know she's in my class this month because I have very few students that fail and she's hoping that maybe I'll do something different and Rosario will pass with flying colors. I think I've just been very lucky so far. I've had really good students in the year I've been teaching here.
My 4:15 class flies by and we're finished at 5:45. My conversation class starts at 6 pm, so I go to the next classroom to get set up. Last Saturday, I only had 2 people come, so I'm kind of apprehensive about the way the class will go. Pedrito flutters in at 6 and then out again when more people begin to trickle in, until I've got a room stuffed full of students and we're dragging desks in from other rooms. We begin with a handout about manners, which seemed like a relatively boring topic, but turned into a huge discussion about what Peru does, culturally, that is a turn-off to the rest of the world, like the lack of punctuality across the board, spitting on the sidewalk, peeing in public (in the park, on the street, on the sidewalk, etc) which is a very common practice among Peruvian men, shoving one's way through a crowded city bus to get out the door before the bus pulls away from the bus stop, and throwing trash and garbage in the streets and sidewalks.
With each topic brought up, students were asked how they would handle it if they were confronted with a situation. They all had their strong opinions. Then each one had to put themselves in the shoes of the person who was dropping trash on the street, peeing on the sidewalk, or habitually showing up late to work. So interesting to see the way they understood why things are the way they are, and so interesting to see that they want to change things, but are hobbled by their cultural and familial inhibitions. This class also flew by and officially ended at 7:30, but many students stayed a bit longer to chew on the ends of their discussions. One student stayed to tell me how scared he was to mispronounce his words and talked nearly 30 minutes. Two more asked for a technical manual to be translated, but I had to refer them to another instructor who actually does translations. Then I caught a bus from Cuba Ave down to Salaverry, and from there, I took a combi home to Pachecutec. Whew! Home by 8:30!
It really is funny that we seem to plan our days around the dog. And I'm sure she plans her day around what she wants us to do, heh. She is involved with every activity, from making breakfast to creating a lesson plan. Right there, supervising everything from the floor, sometimes planting a paw on my foot or laying her chin on the coffee table. The only thing she can't do is help with the sweeping and mopping, and that irritates her. Oh, and she's not allowed to be left free and unsupervised in the house while we're at work, but I think she's used to it by now. But, Celeste was yelling to be let out of her crate when I walked in the door. I changed my clothes again and we went out to the bike path again, on the grass...Celeste is one of those Peruvians that pees in public. We ran and played a little while, then came inside to check e-mail and WHAT? Write about a day in my life? So here I am, writing. O has come home from work at 9:30 pm, and gone straight to bed. Celeste has gone out once more and is now in bed. I need to finish here and go to bed. Tomorrow morning comes early and I'll have be working till 10:15 pm tomorrow night...
Good Lord, this seems long.
Feb 4, 2008
I hope it doesn't seem like I'm wimping out here. I went shopping for red sock yarn and found some bright and beautiful red, but after several tries and dropping stithes and all but throwing the lot out the window, I opted for the training sock. I'll still do them in a nice pinky red worsted weight yarn and with bigger needles, and maybe someone can wear them for Valentines Day (maybe Celeste!), but maybe they'll be completed and won't end up thrown across the room. I have about 3/4" in ribbing done and am hoping for the sock addiction to set in...
Feb 3, 2008
But thanks to Rani for inviting me to join the sock blog, and also for giving me a You Make My Day award! I'm so glad I can make someone's day!
Feb 1, 2008
When I was a kid, I loved Beatrix Potter stories. That animals had stories to tell was not a foreign idea to me; after all, our farm animals had been talking to me all my life! So, look at this! This is a shot from Woolyworks on the family farm: