About Me

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We are Familia FIG. We are a bi- lingual, blended family. Belalu was diagnosed at 9 months with hypochondroplasia.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Secret Agent Sheep

It's time I finally gave my secret pal some props. She sent me this really cool package right before I left MN in December, inlcuding this "mystery ball:"
The idea was to unwind it to find what was within. She also sent me a pattern for felted bowls for which I could use the yarn. It was such a fun idea! I waited until I had the needles necessary until I unwound the ball and here are some of the goodies that were hidden within:
There are various Christmas-themed items, as you can see, and there was also the cutest stuffed cow that is now gracing our dashboard. I'll have to show a picture of all the great stitch markers she's given me, too. They are currently in use on a surprise project.

And here is the work-in-progress with this gorgeous Noro yarn: I'm hoping to finish it tomorrow. Isn't it soooo pretty?She also gave me the latest issue of Vogue Knitting and some beautiful sari yarn. I will post those pics another day.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Jane Eyre

Masterpiece Theater is currently doing a two-part series of Jane Eyre. This is one of my favorite books, and I had actually toyed with the idea of reading it for the 100th time just over winter break, but resisted and kept to my studies instead. Now I get the pleasure of watching the story in an excellent televised rendering of the book. The fact that this is the most de-lish version of Mr. Rochester ever portrayed (thank you Mr. Toby Stephens) is merely a bonus, I swear ;)

There is an interesting article on the life of Victorian governesses on the PBS website, too, if you're interested in learning more about women's options during that time period. A governess was often poorly paid and expected to provide for her own laundry, travel, medical care, appropriate dress, and retirement. "Despite the negatives, there were more applicants than there were positions because the only alternatives were marriage, domestic service, prostitution or the poor-house." She was expected to be an equal to her employers "in birth, manners, and education, but not worldly wealth." Her ambiguous position in a household often meant that she was alone most of the time she was not working, as she didn't fit in with her masters above her nor the servants below her.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Manly Knitting

Not this past November, but the previous one, I decided to make my dad golf club covers for his birthday. However, the pattern I used, from Hollywood Knits, come out nothing like the picture promised. After a web search didn't pull up anything better, I decided I would make my own, at this point, for Father's Day. I got the shape down in time, but had hoped to embroider the numbers on them. Unfortunately, I had never embroidered anything in my life. With the wedding and being in Spain all summer, I had hoped that I could get the embroidery done by his next birthday this past November. While I didn't meet that goal either, I finally finished them over winter break. Only a year over my original intention. That's a long time for three little golf club covers. (It's not a trick of the camera, they are each a different size to accommodate the various club sizes).
I used navy acrylic wool with green alpaca silk for the numbers. Pattern is my own invention.

Over winter break, he also asked if I could knit him and his friend some fingerless gloves for when they go fly fishing. I found the Cigar pattern in the Knitty.com archive. They knit up quickly, and by the time I had returned from Spain, I had all four almost done.
I used Patton's 100% worsted-weight wool in olive green, a good manly, outdoorsy color. I knit the medium size with size 6 needles (one higher than the pattern called for) since that's what I had, and increased in the fingers to make them a size large. I also saved the two full fingers to finish when I got back so I could do them made-to-measure. Results: they fit like a glove :)
Gloves with fly.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Granada, Spain

I am staying with a friend here in Granada who has the most gorgeous apartment with one of the best views in the world. I can confidently say that because walking out onto her balcony, you are looking up at the Alhambra. Granada was the last Moorish stronghold in Spain (after having been in the country since 711), and the Christians kicked them out of the peninsula, along with the entire Jewish population that did not convert to Christianity, in 1492. The Alhambra and its gardens, the Generalife, compose the fortress/palace of Granada. The exterior of the building belies the ornate decoration within, causing Washington Irving (I believe- and I probably paraphrase) to pronounce: "If you die not having seen Granada, you have not lived."
This is the view from my friend's apartment, looking both left and right. There is a narrow, one-way street that leads up the hill to the Alhambra, following the River Darro. To the left is a convent where cloistered nuns sell sweets through a revolving door so you never see them, and to the right are more apartments and a couple of former 16th century palaces turned into hotels. My pictures do not do the view justice.

Due to over seven hundred years of coexistence, much of it peaceful, between Moors, Jews, and Christians, Granada displays a unique synthesis of cultures. Tea houses abound, while churches that were built on top of mosques and temples still retain architectural elements of their former selves. The new mixes with the old, the east with the west, and everything is blended into a distinctly Spanish atmosphere.

I will leave Granada tomorrow morning to head back to Madrid. The students are in class today, their "Spanish families" having picked them up yesterday. My work here is done, and it's time to head back to Maine and then Minnesota. I leave you today with one of my favorite quotes from history. King Boabdil had lost the battle with the Christians and was being driven out of Granada and Spain. As he turns to look back at the gorgeous city his people has lost and will never see again, a tear rolls down his cheek. His mother, in scorn, tells him: "Do not cry like a woman for what you could not defend as a man."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

More Vigo

Here I am in my birthday coat from Juan and my "EuroFab" haircut :) Behind me is a view of the outskirts of Vigo, and next to me is a Horreo. They are very typical of the Galician countryside and traditionally their purpose was to hold grain and foodstuffs. The stilts kept them off the ground so rodents couldn´t get to the contents inside.This is some sort of temple (to the gods of argiculture maybe?)or a bird feeder- i forget :) A little later, a cat found its way underneath to get out of the drizzle.
We celebrated New Years Eve at Juan's brother-in-law's mother's house (whew!) in a section of Vigo known as Cabral. It is typical in Spain, especially on the coast, to have seafood for New Years, so I was in heaven. In Spain, there are twelve bell tolls a few seconds apart, one for each month of the year, and you have to eat a grape for each toll. Keep in mind that seedless grapes are not common here, as they do not like genetically modified food, so you have to pop 12 pretty good sized uvas, as they are called, seeds and all, into your mouth in about a minute. I failed to do so, so my luck might be in danger this year, but I'll take my chances with bad luck over choaking to death before the year even starts. First New Year's as a married couple.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Vigo, Spain

In Vigo, celebrating the holidays mostly means entertaining the kids: three boys between the ages of 3 and 7. LOTS of energy and noise for a girl who is used to nights quietly knitting with her dog curled up in her lap :) So, on our night to babysit, I entertained them the way I knew best: making cookies!

First, we had a ceremony where they each received an apron and the title of "pequeño cocinero" (little chef).
Then, it was time to make the dough.
Once the cookies had baked, it was time for the most fun: decorating them!
They were like little works of art.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Last week I had a layover in Amsterdam, with the whole day to explore the city. It is very easy to visit downtown if you have a few hours, as the train from the airport to the central station is only 15 minutes long, leaving every ten minutes or so. They have a tourist office right in the airport and also right outside the central station once you are downtown, so you can pick up a map and find out where you want to go. As I´d already been to the main museums last time I was there, I just went to the train station, bought my return ticket from the automatic machines, hopped on the train and found myself downtown less than half an hour later.
It was still early, about 9 o´clock, so the streets were deserted and none of the stores were open yet. I wandered around a bit, looking for a picturesque location to get a coffee and breakfast and somehow managed to stumble right into the red light district. Most of the neighborhood characters were still asleep from a late night, though, so trying to look as best as I could as if I knew where I was going, I got myself back to the main streets and finally to a place where a girl could get a coffee and croissant and watch the foot traffic outside. On a quest for a caffine pick-me-up, you have to be careful in Amsterdam as "Coffeeshop" has an entirely different conotation than it does in the States. I don´t know, maybe they do sell coffee there, too, but being alone and already woozy from the jet lag and lack of sleep, I didn´t really want to find out.
It was kind of hazardous walking around the city, as you have the cars in the road, the trams on their rails, also on the roads, the bikes in their lane, and then more cars on the sidewalks. No kidding. It was a miracle I didn´t get run over by something. Maybe Amsterdam is not the best city to visit when you are disoriented from travel and lack of sleep. :)
It was chilly all day- just above freezing, so after wandering around for a while, I went to the historic museum to learn more about the city. I always try to visit a museum about the city I´m visiting, as you can learn about its evolution and history, and they are usually fun- with diaramas of building layouts and examples of clothing and food throughout history. After that, I was pretty well beat, so I headed back to the airport.