Jan 31, 2009

The week in review

This week has been busy! Final exams are over for the cycle and we get a couple of days' break until the next cycle begins on Tuesday. At the end of every cycle, there is a "Teacher Development" meeting, where the ICPNA bosses give us a heads up about any changes that they are making, and we get to attend seminars given by some of the best English language teachers and education professionals from around the world. This month, the seminar was given by Dr. Nezhat Olia. The topic was "Learning, Retention, and Forgetting." After hearing about Pavlov's Dog for decades, I finally found out what the dog did. The reason for these seminars and training sessions is that ICPNA does not require teachers to have a teaching degree or a degree in English, because universities in Peru often do not have very qualified professors of English, nor are their English programs very good. (Many operate on the theory that one does not have to speak the language or have a high level of fluency in order to teach the language. Just play the tape, point to the pictures, and copy from the book onto the board - no speaking involved.) So we have a need for continuing education. ICPNA has very high standards for their teachers. We are evaluated every month, have monthly trainings during the cycle, and have projects that we are required to produce in order to develop our teaching skills and enhance the English program at the institute. It's a lot of work but completely worth it.

I've also been spinning my little fingers right off, and finally finished the teal lace weight. I also picked up the red wool that Wild Tomato sent me last year. I'd spun about 1/3 of it, then got distracted and went in another direction. So I'm back to spinning it, and am now about half finished with it. In a few more days, I'll have it done (I hope!) and will have transformed it into yarn for a beret, fingerless gloves, or pair of socks. And, I started spinning another batt of bamboo, merino wool, and a TON of sparkly stuff. I'm very curious about bamboo and have started two spinning projects with fibers including bamboo. Bamboo has the feel of silk, but for me, it slips so much faster than silk. It's interesting and I can't wait to finish spinning it so I can make something of it.

And I think I have created two monsters: both O and Celeste. Apparently both have picked up habits from me and expanded on them somewhat. Today, when I came home from work, I discovered two knitting books in the laundry basket. O had been looking at them through the afternoon. How strange! He's never shown the least bit of interest in crafts, nor has he ever picked up a book about anything that doesn't involve pharmaceuticals (he's a pharmacist) and here I find evidence of hidden curiosity...hidden in the laundry. I'm so amazed. I wonder if it will continue.

And Celeste...she's learned to bring her leash when she wants to go out. But it's expanded now to more than letting us know when it's potty time. Now, she brings the leash when she just wants to get out of the house for no reason other than to play or see what's happening out there. When I arrive home from work, she brings her leash to me, even though she's already gone out with O just a few minutes before. It's kind of like she's saying, "Welcome home! Let's go out for a walk so you can relax and unwind. Now just tell me all about your day..." Talk about learning her lessons well! No only does she bring her leash when it's time to go out, but she brings her toys and puts them in my lap when she wants to play. I wonder if she can be taught to knit...

Jan 26, 2009

What She Said...

I have recently been reading a lot of blogs about the political situation in our country (the US!), and I seem to be at a loss for words about how I feel. I KNOW how I feel, but the Simple Witch says it so much better than I ever could.

Jan 25, 2009

El Museo del Real Felipe

Today we went to the city of Callao (pronounced Ky-yow': Ky, with the y pronounced like "sky") and visited the museum belonging to the Peruvian Army. It's actually a now defunct fort made of stone and mortar, built by the Viceroy José Antonio Manso de Velasco of Spain and name after King Phillip V of Spain. The construction began in 1747 and the whole thing took 27 years to complete. The architect was French. The fort is done in the shape of a pentagon with an exterior perimeter of 1580 meters with walls 2 1/2 meters thick (about 6 feet thick). It is complete with an exterior moat and drawbridges at the entrance and at each structure of importance. It's like something right out of the medieval times

Inside the walls of this fort are various towers and structures, also made of stone and mortar - the Queen's Bastion (a tower with a prison inside), the King's Tower complete with cannons on all sides, the Governor's House (I can't imagine living in this enormous dark place), and various buildings that housed troops and weapons of all manor.

(heading inside the Governor's house)

The Towers are just as I imagined the tower that Rapunzel was imprisoned in - filled with dark spiraling stairways, steep and treacherous to pass through, twisting and turning hallways lit with the occasional (now electric) torch, and dimly lit cells where prisoners were kept. They were only given bread and water twice a week, so I doubt that they had an over-crowding problem. There were no chains on the walls, so I guess the torture chamber must have been in the dungeon, if there is one.

(entrance to the Queen's Bastion)

(a view of the Queen's Bastion)

(this is a view of the King's Tower. You can see the little drawbridge at the very narrow principal entrance.)

The whole tour took about 2 hours and was well worth it, I thought. You can see more pictures, as well as these that I posted here, at this link and more photos here. I hope you enjoyed the little tour!

Jan 21, 2009

The Crochet Mojo is Back!

Whew! The Sambuca Jacket is done, except for weaving the ends in and sewing on a button. Today isn't that hot, probably only in the 80's, and I got my crochet mojo back. The sweater is in the wash now, soaking and then to be blocked and left to dry. Too hot to wear these days, but in a couple of months, it'll be perfect with my purple skirt and a light blouse.

I love this pattern. I think I need to spin enough yarn to make it in "Bundaflicka Tweed. The blue would be great! It's quick knit, but spinning enough yarn for it will take me a couple of months, I think. So, right after the teal laceweight if finished, I'll get started on the blue. I only have 4 more batts of the teal to go...laceweight is a killer to spin for me. I just don't have enough time in the day to get it all done at once. I love doing it, though!

Jan 19, 2009

A Walk Down the Block

I just came back from having lunch. Lunch here is always late, just like everything else is. Late is a way of life here in Peru and I had a meeting at work, so lunch was at 3 pm. I left work and went down the block to a new place (for me, anyway) called Pikalo. Nice inside, but hotter inside than outside. I ordered a cheese burger and an Inka cola. I ended up with a piece of hamburger meat and edam cheese on a bed of really good fries, and two salads. TWO salads? Yup. I looked for the hamburger bun, but there wasn't any. I waited for a bit, just in case they had forgotten to put the bun on the plate - gave them time to bring it, but I guess that's the was Pikalo burgers are served...bunless and with 2 salads. Didn't Hardees have this idea a few years ago? Low carb lunch, I guess, except for the mountain of potatoes underneath the meat.

On my way back to work, I took my time. Walking on the sidewalk in downtown Lima is always so interesting. There are always people who work in the stores out on the walk, hawking their wares like carnival criers. And there are the vendadores amulantes: vendors that have no fixed facility. They usually sell food, candies, and pencils, shine shoes, or sell things like watches and orange juice from a push cart that they take home every night.

Now that it's summertime, there are ice cream sellers all over the place. They have a bicycle that is set up with a big cooler on the front and they sell Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches out of them. Remember the musical truck that they sold ice cream from at home in the states? Here, Donofrio (a subsidiary of Nestle) gives it's ice cream sellers a squawker that sounds like a goose with a plugged nose...for me, anyway. It must be like sweet music to the ears of the children, though, because when the ice cream man peddles his bike up the sidewalk and squawks on his...umm...squawker, the kids turn out in dozens to get a Popsicle. Today, there were three yellow Donofrio squawkers on the corner, competing against 4 red Lamorghini ice cream sellers. They don't get squawkers. All they can do is tap a coin against their cooler lid.

Which brings me to another type of cold goody they are now selling on the street - marcianos. Marcianos are long plastic tubes filled with fruit smoothy and frozen. These are always homemade, and sold from a cooler that they strap around their shoulders. They have no squawker, either, so they yell, "MARCIANOS!" and beat a coin on the top of their cooler lids. There are dozens of these vendors walking up and down the sidewalks.

It's not recommended to buy homemade foods from street vendors. That's a wonderful way to get a gut bug, so I generally pass them up. So many vendors are clustered around the block where I work, not only because of the huge amount of students that we have, but also because Abancay Avenue is a major stop for the city buses that bring people to the central market. So, combine all those vendors screaming, squawking, hawking, and beating coins on their cooler tops with the tooting of bus and taxi horns and the constant buzzing of conversation of people passing by, and you've got a cacophony of noise...

...just another day in downtown Lima...

SOS - Send snow...

It's like 95 degrees here and humid. Wah. It's so hot I don't even have the energy to whine satisfactorily. Celeste has melted into a little hairy puddle on the floor. She solidifies after 9 pm and bounces back to life. The only one who has energy is O, and he doesn't have that much to spare. And me? I'm just thankful that we have an air-conditioned teacher's lounge at work. We suffocate in the classrooms, then crawl back to to teacher's lounge to recover for 10 minutes before heading back to the next classroom oven.

Please send snow.

Jan 18, 2009

Twilight? Get the Leash!

Well, the Terrible Twosome seem to have recovered from their binge night in the fridge. Both are back on their regular feed and no unscheduled trips to the potty or dangerous explosions happening at unexpected times. So, hopefully that won't happen again for a long time. The kitchen is mostly restocked after being ravaged, but I'm still out of most of my dry goods. We don't keep ready-made foods in the house, other than bread and crackers, but the need to cook didn't seem to slow things down at all in this instance. I may need to re-think what foods I'm keeping. I need anti-binge foods for both man and beast, heh.

While O was feeling crappy, I went to the movies by myself. There wasn't much to see, so I watched "CrespĂșsculo", or "Twilight". The name is in Spanish, but the movie is in English with Spanish subtitles. I've never heard of it, but the advertisement said that it was based on the book that has captured millions of readers. The movie was pretty good, but I didn't think it was adult movie fare. It was an interesting story, well done if you like vampires (and high school stories), but definitely a young adult or older teen flick. I'm not sure why they called it "Twilight", because these vampires came out in the daytime. I may have to get a cd of it to watch again. Sometimes I miss the most obvious things in movies. Last time I reviewed a movie on my blog, I was chastised, so today I'm not a movie critic. No spoiler here. So go see it. I wouldn't take my little kids to it, though.

Celeste has learned to bring her leash to us whenever she wants to go outside. What a good girl! No more silently staring at us with desperate eyes for her! She grabs her leash from the coffee table and drags it to wherever we are. If we are busy or distracted, she sings a little to us to get our attention. With the leash there, of course we go immediately to the bike path or park - no waiting. A relief for her and a relief for us, too.

Jan 16, 2009

Fresh disasters

I came home from work for lunch about an hour ago. I was just going to take Celeste out for a walk, then quickly go pay the house payment and then get some lunch. But when I opened the door - oh. Wow. From the smell of things, Celeste was having a bad day. Her crate was a mess and she was looking sad. I went into the bedroom to change my clothes and prepare to clean up the mess and found O on the bed, holding his stomach, feeling rotten, too.

It seems that both of them went on an eating binge last night, from stress, from boredom, from high spirits - who knows why - but together they indiscriminately ate their ways through the refrigerator and the kitchen cupboards until they couldn't find anything else. I found tuna fish cans, cracker wrappers, apple cores, lime rinds, carrot tops, bread crumbs, potato peelings, a wrapper from a package of spagetti, an empty package of mushroom gravy, and the empty wrapper from an entire 2-pound panetone in the trash and on the floor. O with a touchy gall bladder and Celeste with a stomach so sensitive that an extra piece of toast will give her the runs. Hmm. What a feast they apparently had.

I looked at my apartment as I came back from the bank, and I guess I need to spend a little time cleaning. The smell of disaster is lingering...

Jan 15, 2009


We're having a heat wave....a tropical heat wave....

Before the heat descended upon us, I got about 90% of the sambuca jacket done. Then all my crochet mojo left me and I put it aside. Today I pulled it out of it's bag and took a couple of photos, still unfinished, but should be finished shortly.

I also did a little spinning, taking a break from teal laceweight. This is "Berry Harvest". It's merino with a little sparkle in it. There was only 4 ounces of it and I got about 380 yards of sock yarn out of it. Not too bad, and I can supplement it with some brown if I need to.

Jan 3, 2009

Smokin' Sambuca

Whoa! The Sambuca Jacket is moving along MUCH faster than I imagined it would! The prototype looks...well, eh...I knew that making a jacket with worsted weight yarn instead of the DK yarn that was called for would result in a bigger size, but I didn't allow THAT little detail to deter me for a second. I'm finished with the body of the sweater and am moving right along on the first sleeve. Even though the sweater will turn out to be bigger, it'll still be a wearable piece for me. I have planned to make "the good sweater" of some very nice alpaca yarn that my sister sent with me last year.

Of course, I have made a couple of little changes to the basic pattern...couldn't resist...I made it longer than the original is (mine is hip-length), and I left the lower edge wavy rather than straighten it out. And I have added a buttonhole rather than send away for a sweater clasp.

Gosh, I just had no idea this project would move as it has been going! Yeay for crochet! This afternoon I'll edit this to add pictures (after I get camera batteries.)

Jan 1, 2009

Set in motion

I have started a crocheted jacket called "Sambuca Jacket", pattern by Doris Chan. I have her book, Amazing Crocheted Lace, and it's in this book. This one will be the practice project to make sure I know what I'm doing, then I'll choose another yarn to make the "good" project from. The photo shown is not mine...mine is only partially done. I still have most of the body and the sleeves to do. But it's a top-down pattern, so I can try it on as I go. I hope there's not a lot of ripping out to be done.

And I've finally spun just over 600 yards of the teal romney, and am ready to cast on for my lace stole. After searching through the patterns, I have finally settled on SeaScape, the designer's photo is pictured below:

I plan to add crystal seed beads to it and am marking the chart to be sure I know what I'm doing. And, arrgh! I re-read the pattern as I was placing bead markers and, apparently, I need about 100 yards more of the laceweight, so I'll be continuing to spin while I'm still off work this week. Not quite as ready as I thought I was.

I wonder if this is a good way to start the new year...loading myself up with projects. At least I'll be busy!