Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Odds and Ends

I finished a novel last night - Time and Again by Jack Finney. The copyright shows 1970 and the story line involves time travel to the 1880s; the protagonist is in New York City. It was a fun book that I got at my book club Christmas party last year. I was thinking about the differences between 1970 and 1880 and that got me going - thinking about the differences between 1970 and now. It was all kind of mind boggling considering the World Trade Center hadn't been built yet, among other things ... and then I heard a horse clop, clop, clop down the street and I thought about my own time travel...

Next morning I went out to play with my new camera and found this gigantic cactus - perfect for trying out various settings:

We went to Chapilca the other day to try to find homespun yarn (to no avail, alas!). It is a very dry place, except for where the river runs through it. The church is quaint and they've found an excellent use for old tires - a playground outside of the church:
I always love the use of English names for things; so many signs seem totally random:
(doesn't look big time to me!)

And this little shop in Vicuna - named Canabis with pirated Disney princesses painted on the side of the building:
Chile is one of the worst countries on the planet when it comes to pirated stuff - they flagrantly ignore most intellectual property laws.

And a few family shots for posterity ...

The In-laws:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Sky

Girl-child and I went to the Mamalluca Observatory the other night - It was a lot of fun.

Because of the almost continuous clear sky here in the Elqui Valley there are a number of observatories, but this is the only one where tourists can sky-gaze. We heard a lot of mind-bending numbers in the talk which we would never be able to remember, but we also got to see Venus, nebulae, clusters and lots of other starry stuff. They also have a meteorite that was found in the Atacama desert and a book of Copernicus´letters:
This maybe gives you an idea of what the sky is like:
It´s a pity we can´t take pictures of the night sky because it is really quite spectacular.

We did spot a cloud yesterday:

And sometimes there is mist in the mountains in the morning:

But mostly it´s very sunny...

Land of Plenty

Friday, December 26, 2008

Progress and New Stuff

Surprise of the century - new camera for Christmas. I was wondering why P got me such a girly, frosty pink polish for my toes, and on Christmas it became obvious, he was getting a polish to match the new camera:
Also, progress has been made on the socks, with the second one started. Boy-child's glittens are under way too, but being that they're black, I will refrain from taking pictures until they're done.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Village

I received an e-mail recently telling me that Peralillo does not have a Wikipedia entry which I took, perhaps mistakenly, to be a suggestion that I could make an entry. Frankly, I don't think there's enough material for an article in Wikipedia. So here's an introduction to our humble village...

This is the entry to our property:
And this is Main Street or, for those of you studying Spanish, Calle Principal:Of course, there is a church with a bell-tower:
And lovely windows with wrought iron and lace:

There's always a neighbor who doesn't keep up their property:

We have a fire hydrant:

And a stop sign:
The nicest building in town is the new school, which says something for the direction the country is taking:
And that, my friends, is pretty much the entire village. When I speak of going into town, I'm referring to Vicuña. Today we're going to the biggest city in the region, La Serena.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Flowers

I rather like flowers. My mother grew up in Bloomington when it was mostly farmland, and they had greenhouses on Nicollet Avenue. You'd think I'd be good at growing things, but I'm not. Fortunately everything grows here and I'm not in charge:

Christmas Spirit

Frankly, I'm surprised I only scored 85%, but then I never have put lights up outside.

Your Christmas Sprit Level: 85%

Your Christmas spirit is almost as big as Christmas itself. Christmas is definitely your thing.
You celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm. You love every minute of the holidays.

Your Christmas spirit is inspiring to everyone who runs into you during the holidays.

You make everyone's day just a little bit brighter. And that's what the holidays are all about!

Thanks, Kat, for another silly quiz.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Far-Flung Corner of a Far-Flung Country

Points for Kat for recognizing the jacaranda tree out the bedroom window - VERY impressive!

This is basically what the Elqui Valley looks like - very green floor with lots of grapes and other fruits under cultivation. The "hills" as they call them here (being from Minnesota I call them mountains) are very arid; many of them are dotted with cacti:
(thanks, P, for the photo)

Boy-child likes to climb the chirimoya trees - he gets a kick out of being in the country:
Girl-child likes to pretend she's a Hollywood star when poolside:
Needless to say, the pace here is rather slow compared with the U.S. I don't have as much to tell you as you'd probably like to hear. We did go into town today to purchase locally made ice cream, avocados and watermelon. We also ordered empanadas for Christmas which I will try to remember to photograph and post.

I finished the sock I cast on at MSP airport - done in four days! That'll probably never happen again. The first of Boy-child's glittens has been cast on and I may have found a place to purchase local yarn. (When I asked about local stuff, a woman from southern Chile said it was wool from sheep - like that was a bad thing! I told her sheeps' wool would be just fine.)

We ate roast kid for supper (sorry Linda - another baby eaten) which was a first for me. It's a very traditional meal in this part of the country as goats are able to survive on those arid hillsides.

It's pretty much impossible for me to feel Christmas-y in summertime, but Girl-child did put up my in-laws' artificial tree along with a few decorations. We're playing Christmas music and the cookies I brought are very popular. But summertime just isn't Christmastime - makes it all sort of surreal.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


NOW I'm on vacation! This is what I woke up to this morning:

To give you an idea of the length of the trip, this is how far I got on the sock that I cast on in MSP airport when we left Friday morning: The colors are way off, but that doesn't really matter for my purposes today - I want to impress on everybody that I've done the leg, the heel and I'm halfway down the foot of the first sock. A pair usually takes me 4-6 weeks to make.

It was a long trip.

For reasons I will not go into here, we took a bus from Santiago to Vicuña which is about 7-8 hours. Now, the bus was actually a lot more comfortable than the plane. The bathrooms on the plane are nicer though. I guess you can't have everything. At any rate, we got here pretty late Saturday. At some point I looked at my ankles and was quite alarmed by their deformed appearance. I am happy to say that now they're almost back to normal .... have to keep in mind on the way back that little ankle excersises are very important...

And for those of you who were weirded out by the first world appearance of everything here, I just want you to know we've stayed traditional with the toaster: And, as Girl-child pointed out this morning, here the eggs come with feathers:

Off to the pool again - gotta get those ankles back!

P.S. Broadband here is not too wide, so if anyone sees important news on the MN Senate seat, please e-mail me.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Hard to believe we made it out the door this morning considering this is where we were last night:

But make it we did. I was a little bent out of shape over a few things (cabbie who didn't help load luggage, very unhelpful ticket agent) but once we got past security at MSP I was skipping and smiling...now we're in Dallas, I'm past the cuff on a new sock (pictures later) and I'm still smiling...

And just a note regarding the Gates Foundation, libraries and grants ... Chile was the recipient of a grant some years ago to get their libraries hooked up to the Internet ... As kmkat mentioned in earlier comments, you can complain about Microsoft, but not about the Gates Foundation...

And thanks to the kat for this too - and currently showing on CNN in the DFW airport, Franken is now ahead in the Senate race....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Good News

The good news just keeps rolling in ... the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has just announced it is launching a "pilot broadband initiative" to help public libraries improve Internet service in a number of states.

Read about it here.

Connected Nation and the American Library Association are the beneficiaries of $6.9 million in grants.

Will Christmas Come Early This Year?

Holy smokes! Coleman is down to a five (5) vote lead in the Senate race ... PLUS:

In a ruling crucial to the disputed U.S. Senate election, the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected an attempt by incumbent Norm Coleman to block the state Canvassing Board from counting improperly rejected absentee ballots.

If I remember correctly, the state canvassing board was going to try to have this done by tomorrow ... I wonder if that's going to happen?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Human Mirror

Thanks to Girl-child for the fantastic find!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Things just seem to get stranger and stranger some days.

It was raining today when I got up. I hate it when it rains in the winter.

This morning when I went out to the airport post office there were about three fire trucks, two ambulances and I'm not sure how many cops on Ford Parkway. They had closed the street. This was very odd.

As I was approaching the post office at MSP airport I noticed that the old NWA headquarters building - a building I used to work in - was no longer there. It was very disorienting.

My children and I went out to visit Milton for lunch; Milton is my father's friend who took me under his wing when I was a teenager. My kids think he's a real kick. I can see that he's slowed down a lot. It's too bad they never saw him in his prime.

Milton is getting physically old. My mother has Alzheimer's. It's disconcerting, seeing these people get old. My father never grew old; he was 44 when he died.

I went to the grocery store later in the afternoon and noticed that the car wash at the filling station on Ford Parkway is charred around the edges. I guess that's what was going on this morning. Kind of a scary thought when you consider all the gasoline that could have been involved.

My mother's Christmas cards are almost done. I'm not sending out cards this year. Maybe I'll send something out in January.

The copy of Rape of Europa that we got at Half Price the other night was damaged, so I took it back today. I hope they get another copy some time. If you ever get a chance to see the movie or read the book it's a very interesting part of WWII history.

I found a bag today and bought it on a whim. The style is Mary Poppins but the fabric is modern. Boy-child thinks it's ugly. I'll have to get another opinion.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Travel Personality

Before leaving on my trip, I thought I would consult The Experts to find out what my travel personality is:

Your Travel Personality Is: The Adventurer

For you, travel is how you learn about the world. And you like to learn the stuff that's not in guidebooks.

You truly have wanderlust. When you're not traveling, you're dreaming about where you'll go next.

And your travels are truly legendary - they leave you with stories you'll be telling for the rest of your life!


Now I know that I was going to give up politics once the election was over but seriously folks, what was Blago thinking? I wish someone could prove that it's something in the water in Chicago, but it seems the guy is just another corrupt politician - and a moron too.

And it looks like the UAW is going to take down the auto industry the way the unions have taken down other industries in this country (no more textile industry in the U.S., for example, that's why all the yarn is imported). Pity is, they're going to take a lot of other people with them; it's definately going to get worse before it gets better.

The glittens turned out pretty well - except that my fingers are a bit longer than Girl-child's. I got some Malabrigo to make a pair for Boy-child so maybe I can fine-tune the "pattern" a little bit.

We were out last night for dinner since Girl-child was in the 'hood ... pity they don't get along at all:
After The Grill we went to Half Price Books where we picked up Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the first season of Murder She Wrote, Kate and Leopold and Rape of Europa.

It was a good night.