Dec 28, 2008

Parties R (not) Us

Well, Christmas came and went in the blink of an eye. You know, we don't really celebrate here like I know how to celebrate Christmas. We have a tiny little tree, that's about a foot and a half tall, that I put on the coffee table. And the wreath on the inside of the door. And aside from that, nothing much else happens in this apartment. We have a little breakfast of panatone and tea or cocoa and then we spend the day preparing for the really big day, the 26th, which is O's birthday.

Last year, O's birthday party was my first try at a party in our home. It was also my last try. I hated it. People came with piles of uninvited guests (oh, my wife's whole family is in town so I brought them along, you don't mind, do you?), strangers took the opportunity to crash the party, nearly all of them got roaring drunk and broke everything they touched, and well...the bathroom ended up smelling like the very worst pig pen you've ever had the misfortune of passing by. And when the food ran out, they took over the kitchen and rifled through the cupboards to eat whatever wasn't made of glass or plastic...cardboard appeared to be fine, though. They all sang and drank and played the music as loud as possible until about 6 am, when they finally puked on the floor and the sofa and shuffled out the door. Those who had passed out finally came to and crawled away. I guess I can understand that people want to relax after a long work week, but cripes, they're like a bunch of 40-year-old teenagers who never got over being fascinated with the idea of getting wasted.

I view it as a basic lack of respect for the home owner and themselves. I have learned my lesson and made it clear that we aren't doing that anymore. This is my home, not a place that's available to for anyone to tear up nor is it a flop house for the seriously stupified. When people drop to talk to O, I offer the obligatory cookies and tea or soda, but what they really want is an afternoon of beer after beer after beer, so the visit is never a long one.

Anyway, this year, we decided to celebrate his birthday at the Chinese restaurant down the street. We got a couple of big long tables and enough Chinese food for 25 people and four 2-liter bottles of wine to split between us all and that was it. If they wanted to get drunk (and of course they did), the guests had to buy their own alcohol. But there was no sofa to fall on, no control over the music, and if someone broke the dishes, they had to pay for them. So the party went very smoothly. We had no stress over anything getting trashed and the whole event started at 2 pm, ended at 10:30 pm, and we went home to a quiet apartment and played with Celeste.

I'm sure it wasn't the biggest splash for the guests - they only got a good meal and a glass or two of wine with dinner, all the 7-Up they could drink, and music to dance to, but not loud enough to blow the eardrums out - since it ended so early by Peruvian party standards (someone asked if this was how birthday parties are in the US), but I consider it a major success for me. The two of us had a great time and still were able to enjoy the next day.

Dec 24, 2008

Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everybody! I wish I could have a white Christmas, but it's not to be this year. I have high hopes or next year. Or at least a white 4th of July. Anyway, what would Christmas be without a little song and Christmas cheer from Santa and the reindeer? I grin every time I watch this:

Have a great Christmas, however you choose to spend it, and here's my very best wishes to you for a wonderful New Year!

Love to all of you from Kathleen, O, and Celeste

Dec 21, 2008

An Update

I'm still spinning the teal Romney laceweight. I'm halfway through the 14 little batts, and have over 400 yards of yarn! I had no idea I would get that much! I've spun around 3 1/4 ounces so far. If I can stay consistent, I should end up with just about 800 yards of the yarn. That's plenty for a scarf!
And, we're halfway through finals for this cycle. I've got two more classes worth of written exams to finish grading tonight, and tomorrow the students do their autonomous learning projects and then Tuesday we have oral evaluations. My work is mostly done, and now it's the students' turn to show off what they've learned.

Starting December 24th, I've got 12 whole days off! I plan to do a major amount of spinning and knitting during that time, and some spring cleaning around the apartment. Our Siberian blizzard has nearly come to a close and it's time to clear out the last of the fuzz from the corners and behind the fridge.

I've decided to join a spin-a-long for the winter solstice, which apparently, I think. I have picked out a nice set of batts to spin up while I'm off work and of course, I'll finish the teal romney. Then I'll drift back to the fiber that Maggie sent me and spin on that for a while, too. I have almost an entire drop spindle of DK singles spun and need another spindle-full to ply it with. And a lot more to spin on still! With that, I still plan to knit a stole, but I'm still taking my time looking for just the right pattern for this special yarn.

But uuuufff...while teaching this month, I got hit in the head with a cold bug, and I'm in the midst of a head cold and a headache. It's a little hard to get in the mood for Christmas right now. I'm having a bit of a time dealing with working in the inner city, too. It's a good thing I'll have time away from there starting next week. I did put my wreath on the door, but on the inside, because things have a habit of walking away around here. I don't want my wreath to sprout legs and run off.

It might seem like I'm a little bit down, but really, I ask you:
Who could be down with a face like this looking up at you?

Dec 19, 2008

There 8 Things Meme

I thought this was a good one, so I'm doing it:

My 8 favorite foods:
1. Chocolate
2. Grapefruit
3. Mangoes
4. Hot chili soup
5. Cinnamon rolls
6. Sharp cheddar cheese
7. Gourmet veggie pizza with creamy garlic sauce
8. Salads

8 Things I Did Today:
1. Checked email and new blog posts
2. Went to work
3. Taught English to my morning Basic 12 class
4. Took Celeste out for her 6 am walk and potty break
5. Took Celeste out for her 30 minutes of running, walking, playing at midday
6. Went back to teach my afternoon classes
7. Spun on the teal laceweight
8. Came home from work at 11 pm and crashed.

8 Favorite Stores:
1. Wal-Mart (I wish this was in Peru)
2. Christopher & Banks (this one, too!)
3. Metro Supermarket
6. Ripley's Department Store
7. Saga Falabella (department store)
8. Ewe Count (my LYS in Cheyenne)

8 Favorite Restaurants:
1. Papa John's Pizza 3 blocks from my apartment and the menu is in English
2. The Texas Roadhouse, Cheyenne, WY
3. San Dong Chinese Restaurant, Cheyenne, WY
4. Sanford's Grub and Pub, Cheyenne, Wy
5. El Rinconcito FerraƱafano, Lima - Peru
6. Puro Tumbes, Lima - Peru
7. Olive Garden
8. The Armadillo (LaSalle, Colorado)

8 Things I Look Forward To:
1. Sundays
2. Spinning on my current project
3. Knitting a sweater with my own handspun
4. Having lunch with a friend
5. Craft shows in Colorado with my sister
6. Laughing with my sister
7. Having a good long walk with Celeste
8. A cold glass of water after a long hot day

8 Things I Like To Do With Family:
1. Worship
2. Play board games
3. Camping
4. Music (play, sing, listen)
5. Go to the beach
6. Play in the snow
7. Sit quietly and read
8. Walks and bike rides

8 Things on My Wish List:
1. A visa for O so we can go home
2. Two fiber animals
3. Time to knit more
4. Time for riding, spinning and reading
5. A place to get out of town and breathe
6. Another dog like Sunny
7. A good job in the US
8. A feeling of belonging

Dec 14, 2008

A snow fix in high summer

We have no snow here. It's summertime, and it seems so strange to have Christmas in 80 degree weather. So here's my little snow fix for December:

I found this on Youtube, and the title is "Bailey, The Unknown Reindeer." I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Whoever is Bailey's owner, I thank you for sharing your dog and your snow with us!

First snow of the summer and other nonsense

Yup, it's summertime here in the southern hemisphere. Finally. Celeste is in the final throws of divesting herself of her winter coat, and so we're also in the final weeks (yes, I said weeks) of the semi-annual Siberian blizzard. We have Celeste fuzz everywhere, in spite of vacuuming and sweeping up daily and daily brushing with a shedding brush. It's tapering off now, the fuzzy undercoat is off her neck, shoulders, and back, but we still have a good portion of dog-butt fuzz to endure. The brush doesn't do much for the guard hair coat, which is STILL coming off, so I simply pull it out by the handfull when we go for our walks. Her new lighter summertime jacket is slick, clean and soft - just right for a blue-eyed girl in summer. Not a floral print dress, but just as pretty.

It took my mother-in-law almost 5 years to speak to me. For a while, she simply refrained from acknowledging that I existed, then later she would nod to me on occasion. Once, when we invited O's parents to travel with us to Cusco (I paid all the expenses), she told someone that I was a "friend" that was traveling along with them. I have never been invited to her home, and have never been acknowledged as part of anything...

...until last weekend, when O picked me up from work and she was in the back seat of our car with two other of O's friends. What a surprise! As I opened my mouth to say hello to her, she suddenly grabbed me and hugged me and fairly screamed, "Hola mi hijita!" (hello my little daughter!). I was so caught off guard that I couldn't reply for a few seconds. That was the last thing she said to me for the rest of the day, and I have the feeling that it was more for the benefit of O and his friends than anything else.

O's father is here in Lima. He is an elderly man that is reaping the results of his misspent youth. He's a 75-year-old diabetic. Many Peruvians have diabetes. I think they have a genetic tendency for it, but I also think that diet and lifestyle figure prominently, too. The diet here consists of very few veggies, fish, meat, rice and rice and rice, with bread and pasta and sodas and prodigious amounts of beer and other alcoholic beverages. A meal isn't a meal around here with out rice, even if potatoes and pasta are served. And there is always beer. I have been told by several that real communication cannot occur with out drinking beer, because then the people are relaxed and they can speak without holding back. So, at every meeting, every working lunch, every family get-together, every child's birthday party, first communion, or walk in the park, there is beer. And when the beer flows, it doesn't stop until sometime the next morning. With a diet like that, it's not hard to see how one could become a diabetic. Or an alcoholic. Which is what O's father is: a diabetic alcoholic that goes out of control from time to time when the alcohol cravings become too strong or when he simply gets bored.

I have a lot more to say about this, having lived with an alcoholic before, but it's more rant than anything else, so I'll stop talking about it while I am still off the soapbox.

I'm still spinning the teal laceweight...and probably will be for a few weeks more. Only 7 more little batts to go! I'm averaging about 100 yards of two ply every week, so I should be ready to knit the shawl in another 3 or 4 weeks. There IS light at the end of the tunnel! I'm getting my beads sorted in anticipation!

Dec 6, 2008

Good Reads

In the last two weeks, I've been reading on the bus, to and from work. Last week, I read "Deception Point", by Dan Brown. Excellent read. I loved it. I'm a Dan Brown fan. I've read three of his books: The daVinci Code, Angels and Demons, and now, Deception Point. Gosh, I hope he comes out with a new one soon that's just as good.

This week, I read Anita Diamant's "The Red Tent". I remember when it first in 1997, and there was a huge hubbub about it. I steered away from it because of all the fuss that was made. Now I've finally read it, and in a way, I'm sorry that I didn't read it sooner. In another way, I'm glad I waited. I'm in a better way to appreciate it than I would have been in 1997. My life was way different then than it is now.

Over the past several months, I've considered donating some books to the library at the institute where I work. I have limited space in my little apartment, and I have read nearly all of the books that I brought from home or bought from (there are about 60 of them now). I'm just about ready for some new books to read and really need the space, so some of the books really should go and I'm sure that the library would be happy to take them...

...but my books are like close friends of mine. Even though I may not read them for another few years, I love them. They comfort me. They speak to me. They take me places when I need to escape from the everyday crap that life in the concrete jungle presents. So I haven't been able to bring myself to donate any of them to the library yet.

Dec 5, 2008

A few pics

Well, I've had a long, dry, uninspired spell. Actually, I'm still spinning on the teal Romney fiber, and am working on the 3rd 100 yard skein of lace weight. I like it, and it's not boring, but it's taking a loooong time, especially since I'm working 6 days a week and some odd hours.

It's coming up on Christmas, and I have some traditional Peruvian Christmas ornaments and a little nativity scene. Last year, I showed you my nativity scene, so this year, I'll show you my little New Year's house:

I'm not totally up on the significance of the house and all it's details, but it seems to be a very popular thing for Christmas.

I also have my Madonna and Child, in a traditional ceramic form:

Again, I'm not up on the significance of the form (maybe the Black Madonna?), but I liked her, so I brought her home.

Coming this weekend - more Romney spinning, hopefully some photos from the local artisan market, and some finished projects.