Nov 30, 2009

A rose is a rose...

I put on my favorite perfume today, before I went to work - Anais Anais. It smells of roses, but not like my grandmother's rose scent. This is a decidedly different rose. All the same, after riding through the city and exiting the bus between others, I arrived at work smelling like what I was - an exhausted rose. Make that vehicle exhaust. My Anais Anais is still with me, but so is a little exhaust. Hmm. It's almost impossible to escape the exhaust and exhaustion in this city. One seems to go hand in hand with the other.

I've been spinning, also. I've finished 4 ounces of Gypsy (superwash merino/sari silk/sparkles) and it's looking pretty good! I have about 400 yards of fingering weight, and still have another 4 ounces to go. It's moving pretty fast, and I should be finished plying the last of the latest spindle-full tomorrow. I managed to spill a glug of Coke on one spindle, so the soaking will be a welcome part of the processing and finishing. Sheesh! How clutzy can I be???

(Note to self: Coke is off-limits while using the computer AND while spindling.)

Celeste has sensed a change in attitude towards her since she's almost finished shedding her winter duds. She's now clean and pretty, and was actually invited to take a nap on the bed with O this weekend. It helped her little prima donna attitude bounce back, and when she had to vacate the bed so I could lie down, she made a face at me and retired to her own plushy-but-hairy bed.

I spent Thanksgiving in a funk for a couple of reasons. One - I had to work. Two - nobody celebrates Thankgiving here, so that was kind of bumsville for me. Three - Christmas will most likely be the same for me. Christmas here is so commercial it's ridiculous. You thought it was bad in the US, didn't you? Well, multiply that by 5 and add all your friends and relatives, godchildren, neighbors, and every Tom, Dick, & Harry who gets on the bus begging, and you've got the makings of a depressing holiday. And there's not even the remotest chance of a white Christmas here. Hmmmm....

On Friday, I got on the bus, and a young man followed me on. He gave us God's blessings, and began to talk about how he had just 5 hours earlier been released from prison. In order to prevent him from returning to his criminal ways, everyone on the bus was to pay him for his performance...and he took out a long handled tablespoon, which he pushed up his nose. I guess that trick is too common here in Lima, because he left the bus without much more than 50 centimos. He laid a curse on us all before he left. Luckily we all know Moises, from the previous post, who can break the curse and we'll all come out smelling like roses...exhausted roses, but roses all the same.

Nov 22, 2009

..and as if that weren't enough...

Folowing up on my last post about curanderos, there's this.

According to the article, there are 3 types of curanderos. Reading the definitions, it would appear that most of the people practicing around where I live are of the second type, those who are taught their skill, e.i. "These usually read coca leaves, and perform other rituals such as “pasar cuy” and “pasar huevo,” where the guinea pig, or egg, is gently rubbed over the person’s body in order to remove negative energy. The guinea pig is then killed, or the egg cracked open, to see what illness the person was suffering from. There are many of these all over Peru, and while some practice their trade well, others don’t."

I went back to Moisés, who's business card appears in the first photo of my last post. He claims to practice black magic, so I asked him what exactly that meant. He let me know that, for a modest fee, he will cast a spell on someone for the client. The spell usually involves causing some kind of illness to the target. This spell is performed there in his booth at the feria, then a "spirit helper", one of his messengers, delivers the notice of the spell casting to both the client and the target. Depending upon the strength of the beliefs of the target and the client, one will feel satisfied that vengence has been dealt, and the other may fall into the sick bed until payment has been made to another curandero to undo the spell and stop the illness.

This kind of thing seems to go against the stuff I've heard in talking to the witches in the US, but I don't know anyone who actually practices black magic, except now for Moisés.

And then there's this, which almost put me off eating at Doña Maria's Anticucharía a few blocks away. Hmm...not my idea of the best type of seasoning.

It seems like a lot of people in Lima believe in brujería, or there wouldn't be a curandero on every street corner. But belief in black magic and voodoo is strongest in the provinces of the north and the jungle. O told me that his mother is big believer in voodoo and the black arts, and she is scared to death of it. When she was younger, she heard through the grapevine that her cousin, who was called a witch by people in her neighborhood, had put a spell on her. O's mother was sick with headaches, vomiting, and general anxiety and weakness for weeks, until her husband finally called another witch doctor to break the spell by rubbing her forehead with a black guinea pig, then killing it and burning the entrails. Within a few hours she had completely recovered. Another Hmmmm...

What do YOU think?

Nov 19, 2009

Curandero...healer or quack?

(click to enlarge)
Several years ago, I got into Lynn V. Andrews's books (the Medicine Woman series.) I still enjoy them, but the author claims that all these stories are true. Maybe they are, amazing as they seem, but as I've been traveling around Latin America lately, I've come across some of the kinds of people she mentions in her books. Not all of them seem to be as genuine as she claims.

"Curandero" is one of the terms she uses often in her stories. In Spanish, the definition of curandero" is healer or quack. Quack is further clarified with the phrase false doctor. And you know what? There are many curanderos and curanderas who practice their trade right around where I live. In the downtown area, curanderos are a dime a dozen. They advertise a number of practices that make me go HMMMMM... For example:

(Click to enlarge)
"Read your luck with coca leaves, playing cards, plumb bob (I think this must be like a pendulum), candle, and magnet...cure fear, diagnosis of illnesses with black guinea pig, and cure unknown diseases. All is not lost. Find the solution to your problems right here."
You can see some of the things that are used if you enlarge the photo.

(click to biggify)
Here's another shot of a curandera's booth. She wouldn't let me photograph her, but the booth itself was fine. La Señora Agusta cures fear with an egg, detects disease with a guinea pig, cleans away the bad vibes, and makes payment to the Sacred earth on your behalf for success in work, health, money, and love. And she has lots of goodies for sale there in her booth for do-it-yourselfers.

Nov 16, 2009

Talk to the Hand, Baby

Celeste did a very doggish thing yesterday. O took her to the park to run, and she ran right into some really disgusting, stinky, scummy stuff that just thrilled the living daylights out of her. So she did what every self-respecting dog would do.

She rolled in it, from head to tail. I believe it is called "sidewalk paté" Today, she doesn't understand why she can't just up to kiss me, why she doesn't get invited to play, why she isn't welcomed onto my lap. Whenever she comes near, she gets the "talk to the hand, baby" gesture. How well she knows it. About every time she shed her coat, she gets to "talk to the hand."

Please, Celeste, don't come close. Especially not under the desk while I'm using the computer. The aroma of your perfume is overpowering and makes me gag. Especially not near the bed, where I might accidentally roll over and my nose might find the spot you rubbed on. Especially NOT IN MY CAR SEAT, so I don't have to wear your dog cologne to work.

Celeste, sweet Celeste, I promise that before I get my shower, you'll get yours. In the meantime...Talk to the hand, baby.

Nov 15, 2009

Rambling on Sunday Afternoon

Holy cow! It's been a while since I posted...I didn't realize so much time had passed. I've been spinning on 8 ounces of Farm Witch's beautiful fiber, Gypsy - a gorgeous plum, turquoise, gold, and blue combination, with sparkles and sari silk strands carded in. I've got almost 4 ounces spun now, with half of that plied and skeined. Where are the pictures you ask? Pictures are not taken because O has the camera stashed in his backpack somewhere. It makes me go GRRRrrr when I can't grab the camera and snap some photos of my work, but these days, it's because he's snapping photos of HIS work. Fair is fair, I suppose, so I can't get too growly about it.

I've been reading a little bit about this phenomenon called NaNoWriMo, or some such thing...National Novel Writing Month? It's everywhere! Are that many people really trying their hand at writing a novel? Holy crap! Where do they find their inspiration? One such writer is Michelle, over at The Spiral Path. Phenomenal! Check out her blog! Writing so many words every day would become a serious CHORE for me, unless I was incredibly inspired. I congratulate each one of the writers, because even though the month is only half over, most of them are still writing! I would have thrown my pen down a week ago, I'm afraid. My inspiration comes in spurts - and very SPARCE spurts at that. Go novel writers! I hope you get published!

Nov 3, 2009

An Offering to the House Goddess

Celeste was feeling kind of bad while I was on vacation. She got a boo-boo from playing with some street dogs. The vet said there was fungus amung us (heh, couldn't resist...) so he gave her a funky new 'do and a paint job.

but now she's all better, and her 'do isn't as funky-looking as before.

The dark spot next to her ear is all that's left of her owie.

To make sure that she doesn't get another boo-boo in the future,

Celeste makes regular offerings of her very own dog food to the house goddess. Or maybe these are bread crumbs left on the path to the kitchen, so nobody gets lost on the way to the fridge.

Nov 1, 2009

The plan is coming together...slowly.

A week's gone by and I still have this head cold. It's in it's final phase, but what a pain in the rear - ...err... - head it's been. Classes have started once again and I have 6 full days of classes, from the very beginning in Basic 1 to Intermediate 3. Almost all of my students this time seem to be good ones. There are a few that will make me tired, but most of them seem to be enthusiastic and ready to participate and learn. At least for now.

I've been spinning, yes, and finally finished the Ginger & Plum fiber, plus two skeinlettes of complimenting orange yarn and purple yarn. Just enough of each to do toes and heels in socks, or a border of mostly solid color. So, I'm happy with that. I also started another set of batts in Enchanted Knoll Farm's "Gypsy". This yarn will be more along the worsted weight (I hope), but I have no real project in mind for it right now. I thought I did when I started spinning, but I've already got one spindle filled and all my great ideas have evaporated. Now, I guess I'll just see what it wants to become.

The most exciting news for me is that we've got a buyer for the apartment next spring. He's already made his offer, and we've accepted it. He'll give us our asking price and make a substantial down payment, then take over the remaining payments. He'll take possession of the apartment in May next year, so that will give me time to send things home to the farm, and repaint, and replace things as needed. Yeay! Maybe by that time, I'll have all of Celeste's fuzz trapped and under control. But, anyway, things do seem to be going according to plan.

O is off to see about a scholarship for a post grad program at the University of Northern Colorado - possibly. You never really know about things down here in Peru. They seem to go great guns, and then somebody stops for a beer, and things go off track for a few...well, ummm...months. We'll see how it all goes. Here's O (the tallest tree in this little orchard) and his compañeros, having left the track already, chowing down. Beer to come.