Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Noise


It's a noisy neighborhood. The chief contributor to the racket is the cobblestone street at the bottom of the hill. It is a thoroughfare to the back side of town and there is a dark, narrow tunnel just beyond our building. Therefore, one should drive as fast as possible on the approach.

Buses and trucks are loud enough on their own, but many also have shrill brakes and grinding gears as bonus sounds. Other vehicles come equipped with active horns, sirens and/or stereos. Parked cars have burglar alarms. Burglars don't seem necessary for activation. A breath of wind will do. Vendors outfit their rigs with bells, whistles or the simple technology of the shouting man. Listen for the water truck. There goes the gas guy. Do you need some bread? I just heard the pan man.

When we have the windows open, we can hear the children playing and the birds singing. With the windows closed, we can still hear the rooster and the burro in the morning and the bells from the church a few blocks away. We haven't figured out why the church might ring the bells 27 times at 0642 but it might be something as simple as "We will start Mass without you. Put on your shoes and get down here." And we always hear the barking dogs, day and night, night and day.

A good snowfall always muffles the normal noises of a town. We can't expect any snow, though, and I guess that is one reason why we are here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hats for Boys and Girls






The blue boys hats were knit without a pattern.
The lace caps are a variation of Lacecap from knitty.com.

Monday, November 28, 2005

La Escuela

Instituto AngloAmericano

It was never Ray's idea to go to school in Mexico. It is like piano lessons. Your parents decide it is good for you and you are stuck with it.

Everybody seems to know that learning a language is much easier when you are young. Yet language instruction in Juneau begins in middle school. Here was a chance to get a head start.

Ray sailed off to preschool and also to kindergarten without a backward glance. But a new country, a new school and a new language all at one time was a different experience all together. He had tears in his eyes every morning for six weeks. He didn't want to go to school. He was used to helping other children in class and he didn't like that he needed help.

Two and a half months later, he is well adjusted. He has learned quite a bit of Spanish and does his volumes of homework with little assistance. His handwriting has improved quite a bit because if Ms. Luz doesn't think schoolwork is neat enough, she erases it. He has science and computer and yoga classes to supplement the basics. He wears a uniform.

The school is bilingual. Ray's morning lessons are taught in Spanish and his afternoon classes are taught in English. There are 21 children in his class and he is the only gringo. It is not the biggest or most expensive bilingual private school in town but it has proved to be an excellent school. And "honor roll" Ray has proven himself an excellent student.

Ms. Luz



Ms. Aggie

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thank you, Kim


The blog wanted to look better and the blogger needed some help. A single call was made and help arrived quickly. Thank you very much to Kim for the prompt and accurate advice.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Twin Boys

If you were having twin boys, you would want their clothes to be machine washable, wouldn't you? I thought so...

I made these two sweaters at the same time, in solidarity with the parents who will have to do everything at the same time. Yep, it is twice as much work.

Yarns: Sirdar Snuggly Chatterbox DK
Sirdar Denim Tweed DK
Needles: US 6

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Conversations with Ray


"Dad, what would you say if I said I wanted to live in Mexico
again next year?"
"Why do you want to?"
"I like the chocolate eggs."
"Do you want to go to school here next year?"
"Oh, no, I just like the chocolate eggs."

"Mom, do you know what my favorite part of living here is?"

"That you get to wear shorts?"

"No, I like that I have a TV in my room."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Smells


Scents hang in the warm, heavy air. There are flowers everywhere for sniffing and there are fragrances of food and cooking at all hours. The taco stands, the tortilliarias, the place that bakes bread - all send out lovely aromas. The sheets and towels smell good after hanging all day on the clothesline on the roof. The sidewalks smell clean, repositories for the bleachy water used for mopping.

The dogs of Puerto Vallarta must have happy noses. And if dogs also like the smell of sewer, garbage and diesel exhaust, then this is dog heaven.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Lace Sweater




For the knitters:

Yarn: Cotton Fleece from Brown Sheep
Needles: US 5
Pattern: from Berroco Pattern Library
Temporary Buttons: Mexican centavos


I started size 2 but then realized it was designed to be 29", too big for most two year olds, I thought. I had to resize the pattern, which wasn't difficult. I wouldn't have had enough yarn for the larger sweater

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Disneyland


After shopping at Costco and Home Depot, we had no excuse. With an eight year old and a six year old, we had to go to Disneyland. It was for the children.

Ray managed to ride in the front seat in the front car on every ride. We didn't figure out how the FastPass system worked until late in the day so we spent most of the day in line. Ray never seemed to mind. But truly, it was worth it. Ray was thrilled. "That was the best ever!" he said.

There were technical problems on Space Mountain and our ride was halted just before the end. We waited in silence, then in the dark. The room lights came on and we saw the maze of roller coaster tracks and stairs. The people I live with who like to know how things work were delighted. After a few minutes, Disneyland staff gave our car a push and we went back to the beginning for another ride. It was a small bonus after waiting in line for an hour. And we had a very happy child.

Blog Break

We went to Los Angeles for five days. Our tourist visas in Mexico were only good for six months so it made sense to leave the country, so we could reenter and restart the timer. We had some free tickets that had to be used before expiring. Bud needed a computer with an English operating system. Lauren and Craig live there. We missed Luna. Off to California we went.

Lauren works in San Pedro at the Marine Mammal Care Center. Her patients are generally elephant seals, sea lions and harbor seals. Sick or injured, they are gathered from nearby beaches or buoys and brought in for days or weeks of veterinary care. The list of diagnoses this week included parasites, gun shot wounds, prolapsed uterus and liver abscess. Sometimes the answer is found on necropsy but many animals recover and are released as soon as possible. Discharge criteria can be as simple as eating a few dead fish.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Lace Scarf

Using up yarn was the motivation for this project. It will have to go north to Alaska. There is no need for a scarf at this latitude and we hear it is snowing in Juneau.



Friday, November 04, 2005

EspaƱol




Oh, I am so ordinary. Always, always, I have wanted to speak Spanish and here I am in Mexico and it appears that I have already given up the study of the language. Just like everybody else.

I started out strong. Dave and I each had classes 5 days a week for 2 hours a day. We spent $1000 and learned a lot. I studied every day. I recognize the preterite now and the imperfect but it is quite a struggle to find the right word when I need it. And, truthfully, I rarely need my Spanish. When I speak Spanish, I am usually answered in English. This is a tourist town and most of the people I interact with speak English with a fluency I will never achieve.

Our daily life is principally with each other and with Ray and Dave's parents. We never speak Spanish because communication is enough of a challenge in English.

I know how bad my accent is and how fractured my ideas are expressed. I realize that this is not the time or the place for true immersion, though it is as close as I ever have been.

I have been reading a lot of W. Somerset Maugham. He is the perfect writer for living in a place with geckos on the walls and this warm, wet weather. A quote from the master...

"We are like people living in a country whose language they know so little that,
with all manner of beautiful and profound things to say, they are condemned to
the banalities of the conversation manual. Their brain is seething with
ideas, and they can only tell you that the umbrella of the gardener's aunt is in
the house."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dia de los Muertos

Here are some pictures from the "Day of the Dead", a Mexican holiday honoring ancestors.




Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tank Top for Ana Claudia


Ana Claudia is a classmate of Ray's. We have
become friends with her parents, Joaquin and Ana Claudia.
This is supposed to be a Christmas present
but once it is finished, I want to give it away.
I can wait.