Monday, August 22, 2016

Finished Object?

 I just finished seaming the sleeves on this shrug, and it is clearly too small for me. I bought 3 balls of the yarn, following directions on the ball band (label), but ran out long before I finished the second sleeve. So I ripped it out and started over again, making the sleeves shorter. I had just enough to finish, but nothing left for the collar/trim. I think it looks ok, but it does feel tight. I had looked online for more of the same yarn but it's discontinued (I bought it maybe even before Valerie was born...)

Anyway, I think this one is going into the giveaway pile... know anyone with short arms??

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Good reads

There were some fantastic blog posts coming across my feed this past week:

Leanna writes about overcoming socially uncomfortable situations as a foreigner and newcomer to the rural community she now lives in; Lindsey writes about wrestling with differences in social norms and body shaming; Anna writes about climate change and the hospitality of farmers in the Colombian mountains.

I feel surrounded by fantastically thoughtful women writing!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Work/Life (updated with photo!)

This is a busy month for us. So instead of 2-3 posts a week I'm aiming for 2-3 posts this month...!

We just wrapped up a week-long learning tour and symposium with three visiting professors. The great thing about these events for me is I learn so much - taking them around places means I see things that I don't see every day, talk to people I don't interact with nearly enough, and hear things that add to my accumulating knowledge. I was humbled realizing how little I know even after four years here.

Our learning tour group visiting a school - photo credit Elaine Barge

For example, yesterday I walked with one international visitor all along the Septima, or 7th St. Since it was a holiday it was all closed to traffic (although even on normal days portions of it are strictly pedestrian). We found the flea market, which I had never been to before, even though I'd wanted to... in daily life I just don't make space for that kind of thing. Buskers, vendors, lots of people on bicycles - it was a fun day.

Doodle, for when I can't knit during meetings
Tomorrow we begin receiving our one-year volunteers from around the world. Due to an unusual confluence of events, this year we are expecting seven, from six different countries. Visas have been an usually major headache which makes me nervous about our own visa renewals next month (but that's another story). So we are gearing up for their in-country orientation, and resolving a thousand little details around their housing, language study, and so forth.

One thing that I have learned in these nearly-four years here is to trust my intuition. I don't always know why I feel a particular prompt, but I've found that listening to that still, small inner voice is so important. When I don't, I always regret it.

Friday, August 05, 2016


At our team retreat last month, we spent some time talking about self-care. It was interesting to me to think about how individualized our thinking about this is; it is my responsibility to know what I need and to talk steps to get those needs met. Which is fine, I'm not saying it isn't my responsibility. But it's also interesting to ask the question, what if we thought about self-care more collectively, more communally? To circle around the most vulnerable or the injured, to ask how are we doing and not just how am I doing?

But I've also been asking myself this question: what would be different in my life if I actually believed that it's okay for me to feel good, to be happy, to enjoy life? That I'm allowed to enjoy good things without feeling guilty or like I'm stealing from the cosmic company? And I realized that one of the corollaries of that belief would be taking better care of myself: sleep, exercise, eating well, hobbies.

I've been enjoying these Dreamscope photo filters so, so much. I also decided to take half-days once a week, Wednesdays (my supervisor has been urging me to do this for a long time). So far, it's been great.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Aunt

I have been completely at a loss for words ~ my mother's oldest sister passed away on Tuesday (the 2 previous posts were written earlier and scheduled to go up automatically). So I am stealing my sister's words because they are so close to what I was thinking these days: 
Of all my aunts, she reminded me the most of mom, in looks and in her voice.  I always thought they talked alike, and her voice was always so warm and comforting to me as a child, like a second mom.  She was warm and nurturing and kind and generous and loving.  I always loved staying at her house and spending time with my cousins.  She and Tio Jerry had such a loving family.  I will always look up to both of them as role models of parents and people in general.  

My aunt gave herself to service for others; she had so much energy and dynamism. But what I kept thinking about these days was her voice. I can still hear it in my mind and in my heart. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Oh, Right, That.

So in the annals of significant family moments, one of our guinea pigs died. We had two: Leona (because Gabe wanted to name her Lion, but I feminized the name in Spanish since she was female) and Brown and White, a.k.a Blanquita.

The night we got back from home leave, Leona breathed her last. We found her lifeless in the morning and I quickly bundled her into a plastic bag and out with the morning garbage collection.

The kids asked a lot of questions but weren't too upset - I don't think they were very attached to her (I know I wasn't) - we never held them much, because I don't like when they mess outside of their cage.

But Blanquita has seemed very quiet and sad, so we have been holding her a LOT, and feeding her her favorite snack - pieces of sweet red pepper. It's nice cuddling a warm little furry creature in the morning and the evening.

We haven't decided whether or not to get another guinea pig to keep her company. I read that guinea pigs live to be about 5 years old. I don't know how old Leona was when we bought her but she was full-grown. She was on the obese side so I suspect some heart trouble. But we weren't around so I don't know if she had any signs of illness while we were gone. Blanquita was not full grown when we got her, two years ago, so she could live another 3 - and we'll only be in the country for one more. I don't know what we'll do with her then, probably give her away preferably to someone who lives in a rural area. But I'm hesitant to add another new pet to the mix considering that we'll have to part with it in 12 short months.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

another milestone!

Gabe lost his first tooth! It was loose for about a whole month before it finally fell out; the new tooth was already growing in behind it - my sister called it a "shark tooth"! 

He was very excited to leave it under the pillow of the Tooth Fairy or el Ratón Pérez (either one will do!)

One funny thing that happened, early during our home leave we were at a hardware store and he was wiggling it absent-mindedly. The woman at the cash register asked him if it was his first loose tooth, and when he said yes, she told us that when she had her first loose tooth her dad tied a string to the tooth, and the other end of the string to an arrow... and she shot it out of her own mouth herself, with her bow and arrow!

It's just so Rockingham County, it made me day. We actually tried it, too! We used Gabe's toy bow and arrow though and it didn't actually work - the string just slid off the tooth both times we tried. But it was fun to, um, give it a shot!