Saturday, March 29, 2014

Maybe I Shouldn't Have Said That

Do you remember yesterday when said, " I didn't get sick in Peru".

Do you remember those words? I remember those words very well. I wrote them. I hit the "post" button. I went to do my grocery shopping and getting ready for our weekend house guests......

And by 2p I could no longer claim that I hadn't gotten sick. You know that point in time in the sickness curve, right at the beginning, when you think something just isn't right. You can't put your finger on the issue but you know there is something a bit "off", a bit out of kilter, you don't feel quite yourself.

Yeah, that feeling. There is a bit of rumbly in my tumbly and not in a good, Winnie the Pooh sort of way.

I take my temperature, 99.8F. Well that is just a bit elevated but not too bad. I continue to work through my list. The next time I take my temperature it is 100.3F. That isn't the right direction for it to go but I will just keep going. A bit after that I took my temperature again and it was up to 101.1F. Well that is disturbingly disappointing.

And then Mt. Vepoovius erupted. Oh delightful. Thank goodness I buy toilet paper in bulk.


Obviously I called Cousin Jon and suggested that it might not be a good time for he and the family to arrive for a visit. If it were me, and I was starting out on my Spring Break vacation, I might not be too happy to arrive at my first stop and find the hostess/cook locked in the bathroom having some quiet, or more likely not so quiet, time to herself. Call me picky or something. They will come for a visit in the summer when the plague has moved on from Chez Knit AND we don't have the possiblity of 4-7 inches of snow over the next 24 hours.

Double joy.

And by this morning....HHBL was infected as well.

Triple joy.

So take my advice. When you come back from a trip to a foreign country and nothing major has gone wrong and you have had a great time and arrived back in one piece along with all your luggage PLUS lovely baby alpaca yarn, don't glory in the fact that you didn't get sick.

The vacation sickness gods don't like that.

Friday, March 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes (Vol 252) The I’m Back From Traveling Edition


I’m BACK! The rejoicing may begin.

You did miss me right?



I haven’t been gone long enough for you to forget your Quick Takes orders. When you are done soaking up the blather you need to click on the picture above to be whisked, at the speed of drivers in Lima ignoring the rules of the road, over to Conversion Diary to see what has been going on.

Blather that can withstand even the Peruvian Pepper of Death.

Folks it is SO good to take a small break from blogging.

OK so I did blog, twice, while I was in Peru. I still say that I took a break from blogging because I didn’t have to blog if I didn’t want to.

FINE! So I don’t have to blog at home either, if I don’t want to. Stop being so picky. I am back now, my blog batteries all charged up and ready to go. You should see the list of things I want to talk about. A bunch of them might be Peru travel related.

Yes Bonny, I am going to tell you about Grocery Shopping, Peruvian Style. With pictures and everything. We won’t even talk about the looks I got as I was wandering around the grocery store with my iPhone up and snapping away.

But I am refreshed and ready and raring to go so you have been warned. There are words and pictures on the way!

I did not get sick while in Lima.

Those are the eight words I like to say the most once I get back to Chez Knit after the every other year trip.

I. Did. Not. Get. Sick. In. Lima.

That means that the tap water didn’t try to kill me. And the salads that I ate didn’t try to murder me. And the fish that I ate all agreed with me. And the fruit that I ingested was all happy happy joy joy.

Believe me when I tell you this… is a good thing when I do not get sick while in Lima. That has not always been the case my friends.

Lima 2006 was a VERY BAD YEAR. Who knew that I could both throw up AND have diarrhea all at the same time. For 36 hours straight. Before finally acquiescing to Alberto’s plea to get me something from the pharmacy. I resisted Alberto’s entreaties so long because I feared Peruvian medications that, you know, were Peruvian. And what they turned out to be was Cipro, which I might have figured out earlier if I hadn’t been, you know, scaring the downstairs neighbors with the force of my bodily emissions.

Thank goodness this time was fine.

Sorry for the talk of bodily emissions. I just couldn’t stop myself….now or then.

There were also no travel disasters. These are six words that also make me very happy.

Nothing like this for instance.

All our flights left on time. All our flights arrived on time. All our luggage arrived when it was supposed to. Our driver, Jose, was there to pick us up as he always is. The worst thing that happened was that yesterday morning, sitting in the Houston airport waiting for our connection, I spilled 1/3 of my precious cup of coffee down my front.

That was pretty much a disaster because it was coffee, which should NEVER be wasted, especially since I had just come off of an overnight flight where despite my best efforts AND flying business class (more on that next week) I did not manage to get any great sleep. And now I would smell like coffee for many more hours and be slightly damp around the edges. Well, more than slightly damp because I didn’t just dribble that coffee, I did a Niagara Falls deluge down my front. And jeans are one of those pesky fabrics that take FOREVER to dry. No matter how many paper towels you use in the airport bathroom trying to mop up you are still going to be slightly damp. Thank goodness I had remembered to pack an extra shirt in my carry on. Otherwise I would have had to wear the coffee stained shirt. And it would have reminded me of the time that HHBL and I had to check into the Ritz Carleton Naples hotel, on a Saturday night, with everyone else wandering around the hotel lobby in suits and ties and fancy dresses, and we had just spent the day at Disney World which meant that we had shorts and tee shirts on, and I had managed to spill half of a chocolate ice cream cone down my entire front.

All I could hear in my head at that moment was the Sesame Street song, ‘One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong.”

No travel disasters is a very good thing.

Another set of words that I really like when I arrive home from vacation.

I did not gain a single pound.

Yes, I actually did get on the scale last night.

And yes, I ate quite a bit on vacation. I ate a bakery’s worth of bread every morning. But I also walked 2+ miles most days.

So it seems to have all come out even.

I took WAY more iPhone photos that photos with Big Bertha. That is not because I have any less love for her. It is just that lugging her around is both a pain and in some instances a bit of a security risk. My FiL, Alberto, really don’t like it when I have her prominently displayed around my neck as we are wandering the Surquillo Market (more on that in the grocery shopping post to come). It is just easier to whip out the iPhone and take a picture.

That must be why Dropbox just spent an hour downloading all the photos from iPhone to computer.

I had to actually make my own breakfast this morning. There was no Ruperto.

It was a rude awakening.

Ruperto the Awesome is my in-laws houseman/dog walker/driver/man of all possibilities. He works steadily in the background of the day making sure that things run smoothly, that laundry is done, that dishes are washed, that Carinio the Boston Terrier has her daily play date with her boyfriend, Baxter, that none of us is killed by Lima traffic and that breakfast is ready and waiting.

This morning there was no cut up fruit for me. There was no coffee already made and waiting. There was no perfectly toasted Pan Integral waiting to be slathered with butter and orange marmalade.

This is the one thing I do not like about coming home.

I had to make my own oatmeal.

Here are a few Instagram pictures from the past week.
2014-03-18 13.16.59-22014-03-19 11.16.26-22014-03-19 13.00.07-22014-03-20 13.30.442014-03-20 15.40.00-22014-03-22 08.25.532014-03-23 06.58.072014-03-23 20.41.092014-03-24 07.17.012014-03-24 07.22.492014-03-25 12.18.292014-03-25 13.00.552014-03-26 08.23.412014-03-26 09.00.142014-03-26 13.07.472014-03-26 13.18.192014-03-26 18.13.452014-03-27 13.03.07-2

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Housewares Purchases, Peruvian Style

One of the things that I love about traveling is to observe how the everyday workings of my own country are translated in another culture. Certain things are the same or very similar. A bottle of water is no problem although they will ask you if you want it with or without gas. Such decisions. But some things don't "translate" as well as others.

Take buying a toaster oven for example. And I pick that particular item because that is one of the things that we did this morning....besides perhaps buying some super soft lucious baby alpaca yarn.

But I digress.

If I want to buy a toaster oven to replace the toaster oven that I do not currently own, I would go to Walmart or Best Buy or Target. I would grab a cart and wander over to the appropriate department, peruse the different varieties of toaster oven, make my decision, grab the appropriate box, put it in my cart and get in line to pay. Easy breezy toaster peesy.

Not so in Peru.

First we had to get in the car and have Ruperto the Awesome (Houseman, cook, cleaner, chauffer) drive us over to the Electronics/Household Items/Clocks/Everything that you might need store. Just the thought of having to maneuver in Miraflores traffic makes me want to change my undies about ten times, and I am not even driving. Remember, rules of the road are optional in Peru. If there is a space and you think you can do it....MELD IN! Stop at a stop sign? Don't be ridiculous!

Then Ruperto has to park the car in a spot in the parking garage, and do a masterful job at it. We are stopped. We are out. We are in the store. That isn't any more different than usual.

The first thing that we see is toaster ovens!

My there are A LOT of different kinds of toaster ovens. All shapes and sizes. And that is where things change. There are no carts to wander around the store with. And even if there was a cart for me to reassuringly hide behind....there are no boxes filled with household goods to buy. Oh there are electronics and household goods on display, all with pricetags and specifications. But it is only the "floor models" that you are looking at. To actually purchase something is a multiple stage process. So, MiL and I stand and talk and think and open toaster oven doors and think about the bread that is going to be toasted. And she makes her decision.

Step one is done.

Step two is.....

Watch the nun checking out the coffee at the free coffee bar. She had two cups and seemed to be enjoying herself to no end.

Step three.....

Go over to the actual counter and tell the clerk that you want to purchase a toaster oven. He runs over to look at the toaster oven to make sure that it is clear which one that you want, there are so many. Everything is entered into the computer, including, for some reason that I do not understand, your Peruvian ID number, a receipt is handed to you and you move off to step four.

Step Four.....

You stop at the next little kiosk and actually pay for the item that you have picked out but not yet actually requested. Hand over the plastic, no problems, no worries, no installment plan. Your first receipt is now stapled to the duplicate second receipt and stamped with RED ink which somehow must make it official and you are on to step five.

Step Five.......

You hand your first receipt, which is stapled to the second receipt, to the man behind the counter. He looks everything over carefully, he stamps both copies of receipt number 2 with BLACK ink this time which must mean it is yours until death, he goes into the Sanctum Sanctorum of electronics and household items, carrying one copy of the second receipt with him.........

And finally he comes back with your toaster oven box all contained in a large shopping bag, ready for you to take it home and make something delicious. He would have taken the bag all the way out to the car if we had needed him to.

I am SO thinking that the five step process to purchase a toaster oven would not go over all that well at Best Buy.

But I might be picky.

We had to buy some of this to get over the experience.......




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Always Pack Your LBD

That would be "Little Black Dress" for those who don't know.

Yes, I know that I said I wasn't going to be here for two weeks or so. I was taking a short blog break to recharge my batteries. I didn't know if I was going to have internet access to even blog if I wanted to. But I do have internet access and I have a story to tell you. And a reminder.

If you are traveling, always remember to put into your suitcase some form of Little Black Dress. You never know if you might need it.

We arrived at this place on Tuesday. It was dark when we got here but I knew this would be waiting for me on Wednesday morning. We were greeted by dogs and in-laws and hugs and the prospect of warmth and pretty much endless sunshine, which are things that have been sorely lacking in our lives the past few months....the sunshine and warmth, not the dogs and in-laws. And as we were getting settled and petting animals and giving a huge sigh of relief that the travel had been uneventful my MiL said, "Well, tomorrow night we have been invited to Gay and John's home for cocktails, a guitar concert and a light supper. I know it is your birthday tomorrow and we don't have to go but it might be fun. Just let me know what you want to do and I will tell her in the morning."

Now, I try not to be stupid whenever possible. Sometimes it just cannot be helped, hence my constant battle with paying repair men to fix things that I could have done myself. But in this instance, I was not going to be an idiot. Because when my MiL refers to Gay and John's home she means the residence of the Australian Ambassador to Peru.

Yes, you read me correctly.

The Australian Ambassador to Peru.

Let me think about this for a moment. Think, think, think, think. I have the chance to go to the Australian Ambassador's residence to listen to classical guitar music and eat food and possibly drink good wine. I may be an idiot but I am not THAT much of an idiot. Thank goodness I packed a black dress and ballet flats.

This may be one of the more surreal experiences of my rather odd life. We arrive and I try to slide gracefully out of the car. Thank goodness the street is dark and no one, other than the security guards with the REALLY BIG GUNS could see my skirt hike up to Alaska. The door to the residence opens as if by magic and we are greeted and motioned up the expansive marble staircase. I felt kind of like Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady....only without the fancy dress.

So far so good. I don't even know who is going to be here. I am not sure that I should even be here.

And then here comes this lovely man with gray hair and a bright smile and an Australian accent and he wants to shake my hand and give me a kiss on the cheek. Oh the cheek kissing that goes on in Peru! My cheek has been kissed by the Australian Ambassador.

Perhaps I will just not wash my face tomorrow to preserve it for a bit.

Mr. John Woods is a very interesting man. Kind, generous, easy to talk to. He was severly wounded on the day of the assasination of Anwar Sadat, having been sitting right behind Mr. Sadat when he was killed by his own army officers. I tried not to stare.

His wife, Gay? The phrase that can best describe her would be, "A Force of Nature". So incredibly nice to little old out of place me.

Glass of wine? Absolutely! I need something to keep in my hand so that I look like I belong, not thinking that I hadn't had anything to eat since lunch and lunch had been a LONG time gone.

Appetizers? Yes, I think I had better have a couple of those so that I don't start babbling. I always think that I am uproariously humorous when I have had a glass of wine and no food........No need for me to be TOO unroariously humorous with the Australian diplomats and the man who was the architect of this magnificent house and the Australian ballet dancer and the other people who I don't know what they do but it must be something WAY more important than me and my little photography business.

And before you ask....

No, I did not bring Big Bertha with me. Even I know that it might not be too cool to whip out my big camera and start taking photos of all the cool stuff.

But oh I wanted to. Photo ops EVERYWHERE. I took exactly one picture with my iPhone, you can see it below.

Finished that glass of wine with unexpected haste, just about the time that we were asked to progress into the "living room" (the living room of the Australian Ambassador!!) to listen to the guitarist. I think I can still walk a straight line although I am feeling very mellow. Thank goodness I picked an uncomfortable strait backed chair to sit in. Those couches looked WAY too comfortable. BIG glass of excellent red wine+warm room+comfy couch would spell disaster. Disaster especially in light of the fact that not 1 minute after I settled my ample, black clad bahookie into the chair I was presented with yet another LARGE glass of red wine.

OOOOOOOOO, I think I will. So what if I have had appetizers totalling only about 100 calories in the last 7 hours. I am sitting down aren't I? It's all good.

And then Scott Borg started to play.

Glorious. Simply glorious. The man made that guitar do things that I didn't know a guitar could do. I could have listened all evening long instead of just for one hour. And I was especially mellow because as I sat there, taking in that glorious music.....I consumed that second glass of wine....all the way to the last dregs. Whoo boy. Listen, sip, listen, sip. Cross my legs and kick my father in law in the shins. Sorry Alberto! Try not to look around at the other people. Listen, sip, listen, sip. All gone.

When the concert was done and I arose and very carefully set my very empty wine glass down on a highly polished wooden surface, I was still walking and talking in a coherent fashion thank the good Lord. And there was FOOD!

Have I ever told you about my excessive fondness for little appetiziery things that you can pick up and mound on your plate and tell yourself that you really aren't eating all THAT much because, you know, they are so little. Yeah, I had a plate full of those things.....twice. Bite sized morsels of awesome goodiness. Little empanadas, little bruschettas, little Chinese steamed dumplings swimming in their own dipping sauce, little toast rounds with tiny slivers of Brie cheese topped with a tiny raspberry.....sushi! Hey don't mind me! I am just going to stand here and stuff all of this in my face. Talk amongst yourselves and ignore me!

And then I found the Brie cheese and the tiny squares of perfectly done toast....

Oh my stars and garters and all the saints in heaven! For some, cookies are they drug of culinary choice. For others it might be potato chips. Perhaps it is donuts. For me? Brie cheese. I don't think about the calories. I don't think about the fat. I just grab that knife and hack away. All that oozy, yummy goodness.

For some reason I am suddenly hungry.

Somehow I missed the desserts which I am sort of sad about. But by the end of the evening I somehow had a THIRD glass of wine in my hand....a glass of wine that was ONLY for show. A woman needs to know her limitations, especially when she is talking to the Australian Ambassador or the guy from Brazil who lives in Miami and does something business wise. I had to be able to walk back down that frightfully long marble staircase without falling and killing myself.

And finally it was time to say goodbye. Lots more hugs and cheek kissing, even from people that I hadn't had a moment of conversation with....that would be the architect and his companion. I really did want to talk to him but hadn't had the chance. But I still got a big cheek kiss and hug. Well!

And as we prepared to leave here came HHBL with his hands full of little dessert nuggets....that he gave to Ruperto, our driver. Sniff. No postras! No chocolates!


Can I just say,despite somehow missing all the little dessert things, that was just one fabulous evening!

Dang I am glad that I packed that LBD.


Friday, March 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes (Vol 251)


In the wise words of Calvin, “The days just fly by”. You know what is your weekly assignment. When you are finished here, soaking up the sunshine of my blather, you need to click on the picture above to be whisked, at the speed of my ever increasing Spring fever, over to Conversion Diary.

Warning: Ingestion of blather may cause strange symptoms.

I may have suffered a beer brewing failure. Today would be 21 days since brewing and the IPA isn’t right, at all. It is still cloudy. There are still yeast colonies floating on the top. Really, it looks like it has just stopped fermentation at some point. And the flavor isn’t what it should be. I have been doing some reading, trying to find an answer. I am going to leave it for a bit longer and then I may just chock it up as a failure and start again.

I will not give up!

But I do want to know what happened so that I can endeavor to not repeat the same mistake.

Jon and Arin, any thoughts on this?

It would be nice to think, after our little winter blast on Wednesday, that we have seen the last of Winter…..

But I know better.

Here in the Frozen Northeast Ohio we have seen some of our biggest snowfalls in the months of March and April. If I were a betting woman I would think that some where along the line we will have one more big blast.

That is a bet that I would like to lose thankyouverymuch.

You will be glad to know that I have finally written our holiday letter. And I might actually send out the Christmas cards that have been sitting on my desk for……three months.

I am going to be honest here. I just didn’t have the heart to send them out at Christmas. I just didn’t have it in me to write the usual jolly letter full of news. Christmas this year was subdued for obvious reasons and so I just didn’t have it in me.

But it is now written. Really it had to be written at some time because there are plenty of people who do not know that we have moved and the post office isn’t going to forward any mail to use after a certain time so I guess I had better get them sent out.

For Anonymous, who last week asked about when I was going to express my thoughts on Harry Potter. I did just that about a year ago. Here is the link

I Am A Follower of Christ and Yes I Read Harry Potter

I hope that helps. I am still working on my study of what Lent is and what it means for me. That will take longer, much longer perhaps, but I will keep everyone posted. I don’t want to just rely on internet sources so I think I am going to be reading some actual books about it as well.

Remember earlier in the week when I was playing with my gonzo macro and I mentioned that I wanted to find a stink bug and freeze him so that I could take a picture of him?

Yeah, he is currently in a small container at the back of my freezer. I took, perhaps, a bit too much pleasure in putting him in his icy tomb.

Picture will be coming soon I am sure. I can tell that all of you will be waiting with absolutely baited breath to see a close up picture of my nemesis.

The only good Stink Bug is a frozen solid dead one.

I am going to be taking a Spring Blogging Break for about the next two weeks. I need to recharge my blog batteries a bit as can be seen by my sincere and utter lack of blogging for the last few months. I am surprised that there are even any people who show up here.

It isn’t that I have lost my love for this little blog, far from it actually. It is just that my heart has been sad for the last few months since the death of my dad and I just need to recharge a bit and think about how and what I want to accomplish with this little piece of internet real estate that I inhabit. I am not going away so don’t panic.

Not that I think you WOULD panic, all three of you who read on a regular basis.

And has become my Friday ritual, because I am such a lazy bum. Here are some of my insanely boring Instagram pictures from the past week. Try not to fall asleep.

2014-03-07 09.36.182014-03-07 11.57.13-22014-03-08 08.29.292014-03-08 12.40.36-22014-03-08 13.56.56-22014-03-08 16.26.002014-03-09 07.45.122014-03-09 14.45.52-22014-03-10 11.01.45-22014-03-10 15.37.23-22014-03-10 16.34.062014-03-11 08.03.12-22014-03-11 15.35.15-22014-03-12 08.56.33-22014-03-12 09.32.12-22014-03-12 15.25.502014-03-13 18.21.04

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mother Nature, You Are A Dead Woman

Currently, this is the temperature here at Chez Knit. There are windows open and the house smells like Spring. The birdies are cheeping and there is not a breath of wind.

The calm before the storm.

And this is what is supposed to happen tomorrow....

6-10 inches of snow PLUS a glaze of ice. How lovely (said with HEAVY sarcasm)

If Mother Nature was standing in front of my right now I would be beating her senseless with my nice, pointy knitting needles. I am so sick of cold and snow.

ALPHA! Did you just say snow? I love snow! I love to eat snow. Tomorrow will be a good day I am sure.