Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pig in a Tree

When I was a child (and well into adulthood), my father would always hang a cute little piglet ornament on our Christmas tree. I think it was from his childhood, or maybe a silly gift from my grandmother at some point. This year it did not make it to the tree, even though there was a lot of begging for it. 

Pigs in a wood.
Later, in graduate school in Boulder, CO, one of my brothers and I found a big bin of similarly sized pigs in the toy store on the Pearl Street Mall. We bought a whole bunch and then "pig-bombed" the next Christmas tree, to the delight of my father and ourselves. (No one but my dad was allowed to decorate the tree. To this day I have not decorated a Christmas tree). 

Truffle hunting.

Helping St. Nicholas
The truffle hunt continues...
After knitting all the acorns for Thanksgiving, I realized that it wasn't just a squirrel that would enjoy eating acorns. Where does jamon iberico de bellota come from, after all? 

 And I knew just the recipient who would enjoy a knit pig for his Christmas tree...

I used this pattern to knit three pigs. The first one was an immediate part of our family, complete with find the pig contests, and stress when it was not immediately locate-able... It is currently our road trip mascot in our car.

The second one did get sent off to my brother with a load of acorns for his tree. I hope his wife is not too tired of pigs. The rehearsal dinner of 2009 kind of stocked the place up with the critters!

The third pig got unleashed on my mother-in-law on Christmas night, because she was also immediately smitten with the little guy. However, for fun, we hid it (in a pretty obvious place) and are just waiting for some squeals of discovery... I wonder how long it will take... Tick-tock... It's been 4 days already...

ETA: My mother-in-law found the pig in her purse on January 30th in the early afternoon! We were ready to stage an intervention before long!

Monday, December 15, 2014


I needed a little project to distract myself with. An intense bout of tendinitis left me without the pleasure of playing the viola, knitting, or doing any sort of heavy gardening this Fall. Small decorative items seem to keep with the theme of this past knitting year, so acorns for the Thanksgiving celebration it was. Short bursts of knitting to get me back in shape, or at least not re-injure the healing.
I started with some fresh-cut bare branches in a copper vase.
Scatter the remaining acorns around the bottom.
In the end I felt like the little tree was a bit bare, so I hung them all up.
Just like eating potato chips, you need to keep eating another.
 I kept needing to make another until there were nine. fill all those bare branches...
Fallen harvest.
After Thanksgiving I added some Christmas cheer to the tableau.
I never did blog about the korknisse, the yellow one of which is hanging near the front.
And last year's Yarn Forest gets set up in different configurations every few days.
And who eats all those acorns? Squirrel, of course!
But someone else was a lot less distracted by a squirrel than me, looking away from that fine jump.
A closer look? Whoa!!! (Can you see him above too? Squirrel must not be dinner.)
I watched this amazing animal for about an hour yesterday.

Bird watching! Besides the three cardinals in the photo, there were a dozen juncos,
a few blue jays, and a few female cardinals as well. 
My friend finally flew away when some visitors in a car pulled up and were parking.
What a hoot!

For some fun squirrel videos click here and here! (Warning: cartoons!)

Linking up with Ginny today!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Two Minute Mommy Spa

For some reason I got obsessed knitting cotton washcloths last summer. Mostly I used a bee stitch pattern, but I tried a few dragonflies as well. 

 As the number of washcloths grew, I started to wonder what to do with my growing collection.

It was about then that one of my local friends expecting her first baby invited me to her baby shower. So I made up this cute basket and included some hand crafted soap, just for her.

 I included silly directions:
...but forgot to write them down so I could remember to share them. In short, this gift was "just for mom," but I predicted that she would soon be using the washcloths and soap to cleanse her new son as well. You can already tell she will be that extra-devoted mother!

Joining with Ginny's yarn along today, but sadly no book to share!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hair Harvest

I finally got around to cutting my hair at the end of August and was surprised to find another foot-length ready to be donated. So much for being retired!
The title of this post is inspired by a former student's family I reconnected with this Fall. When I taught middle school, I donated hair every two years and challenged all the students to do something similar as a volunteer project. It turns out one student took my example to heart and has donated her thick red hair on a similar two-year cycle. In her family circle they call it the "Hair Harvest!" I love it! My hair is already growing like crazy again in anticipation of the next big chop!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Peru 5: Final Thoughts

Going through my pictures again, I felt like taking one last abbreviated trip before I stop blogging about Peru and move on to the many other posts that are on the back burner. 
The Wilcahuain Ruin near Huaraz is a burial site. There are two sites a short distance apart.
There are many small alcoves inside to facilitate meditation and a place to leave offerings. 

One of the pottery artifacts in the small museum at the ruins.

Agriculture on a hillside. I love the patchwork feel of the fields.

Lupine grows wild and is also cultivated in Peru. The cultivated seeds are about the size of Lima beans and are toxic! So after the harvest, the beans are boiled all day long, then put into a burlap sack and placed in the river for two weeks. The river water washes the toxins away. Afterwards, a traditional salad is made with the beans.

Temple ruins at Chavin. This complex was inhabited by elite priests who practiced their spiritual crafts. Chavin is thought to be the "mother culture" of Peru, and pre-dates the Inca by quite a few centuries.

Typical stone masonry of the period and culture.

One of the most interesting things about this site are these acoustic canals. The people who designed the site moved the nearby river so it would flow underground canals. The holes in the ground amplify the rushing sound, which in turn enhanced the spiritual component of the rituals.

No ritual is complete without a mind-altering drink. The priests imbibed in some sort of concoction made with this cactus that was growing on the premises.

On the solstice, the priests would drink the cactus beverage, meditate in complete darkness, and at sunrise approach this carved stone stele which the light would only hit and light up on that one morning. Even without a drink, meditation, or the auditory enhancements provided by acoustic canals, I felt a magnetic force pulling me in toward this carving. There are things on this planet that defy logic, and I felt that here.

Carvings of different important totems. I believe this is supposed to represent a jaguar, which corresponds to an important constellation and the altar in front of the temple.

I wish I had more pictures of the market and all the ladies in their traditional dress. They don't like their picture taken and I was the only non-Native person present, so I just snuck a few pictures in the animal section. Those guinea pigs are ready "for the restaurant" and housed in a mesh bag. 

Galcier-fed lake surrounded by arboreo del papel, or paper tree.

Our pack animals coming up a mountain trail.

Re-adjusting the packs on the animals before going downhill again.

We found these butterflies half frozen on a very cold morning. They still moved a little and were just waiting for the sun to come up so they could fly again.

During this trip we had to hike over nine passes.  The next few pictures commemorate some these passes.


15,600 feet - the highest I have stood on this Earth thus far.

At 14,500 feet, it is always surprising to find fossils!

One of the unique traits of this trip was experiencing the immense empty valleys. Well, almost empty. Farmers leave their animals here in the dry season and their poop is all over the place.

Another magnificent valley.

When you think Peru, you often think Inca, and terraces. The Inca were not as active in this mid- to northern part of Peru, and thus these terraces were the only we got to see. They were not impressive, but nonetheless interesting to see them carved into a hillside.

Coming up to the Santa Cruz mountains. 

The Santa Cruz chain of mountains were the ones I found most beautiful.  The 45 minutes we spent resting with this viewpoint was one of my favorite memories of the trip.

As mentioned before, there were lots of animals that we encountered.  This cow followed us for about a mile.

There was a canal system that brought some of the lake water down to the villages. 

The quinoa harvest!

Saying good-bye to our donkeys at the end of the trek.

Peruvian National Flower: Cantuta
Adios Peru! I miss it and think about it daily. I can't wait for the next trip. So much for one just one "trip of a life-time!" I'm starting a new savings plan...