Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

Outside From Dawn Til Dusk

That's how my life is this time of year.  Which is why I haven't hardly blogged at all this month (or much in May either).  I love the longer days of sunlight, but they definitely prohibit me from blogging or reading or much of anything that is normally done inside a house and for leisure.

Truthfully, the housework doesn't much get done either.  Last summer DD2 told me I needed to hire a housekeeper in the summer because I have too much outdoor work to do to be able to keep up with the indoor chores too.  Looking around, she's right.  If the floor gets swept once a week, that's good enough (well, DH doesn't think so, but I don't see him getting out the broom either).  Laundry gets washed regularly, and dried on the line, but it doesn't often make it back into dresser drawers or in closets before getting worn again.  Mail is piling up on the counters rather than being sorted on a daily basis.  Let's not talk about the dishes that need hand washing (those items that either don't fit or I don't allow in the dishwasher because I don't want the dishwasher to shorten their lifespan); who wants to wash dishes at ten p.m. when finally coming in the house after working in the garden until dark.

So, don't come in my house in the summer.  Let's just sit and visit outside instead, where there is a nice breeze.  Speaking of which, since we don't have air conditioning in our house, a lot of cooking and eating is done outside (in the breeze) also.  I try not to use the oven much, switching over to the grill for our preferred method of cooking meat.  Plates, forks, and all other dinner time needs are brought down to the patio.  I keep napkins in a small basket on the dining room counter, and it's real handy to pop the salt and pepper shakers into the basket, along with whatever silverware is needed for the night's meal, and carry it all out to the table on our patio (located under the deck, where it's always cool and shady).  Plus, the basket helps keep the napkins from blowing away in the (often strong) breeze!

Or, we could sit on the front porch while we chit chat.  I recently purchased a small metal table and a Boston fern to put on the porch with my two old wooden chairs acquired from Goodwill ages ago.  It's really amazing how that little table and bushy plant create a cozy seating area.

But really, chances of finding me sitting down at all are slim.  It's more realistic to say "here, you sit on the rock wall and talk while I pull weeds in the garden".   That's where most of my day is spent this time of year.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Updates From Peru

This week is the fourth since DD2 arrived in Peru for her Study Abroad program.  Thanks to modern technology that cuts costs, I have been able to 'talk' with her via messaging several times a week for free.  Sure beats paying for international phone calls!

Having her in Peru has been a learning experience for me as well as for her.  She gets all the fun (and headaches) of dealing with a foreign culture, and I get to learn through the photos she sends and the little descriptive comments.  We've talked a lot about food, because I know she was really looking forward to tasting Peruvian cuisine.  She also hoped to be able to help with some of the food prep so that she might learn to make some of the dishes herself.  It doesn't sound like she's had much chance to be hands-on with the food other than by eating it.  But she does have a list of recipes she wants to bring home so she can at least attempt them here.

fresh vegetables galore

The pictures she sends me of the food make me wish that I could eat them!  Lots of fresh vegetables, which is something that I am starving for this time of year in Michigan.  Yes, 'fresh' veggies are available at the grocery store here, but they are not the same taste, texture, or quality as the same veggies picked ripe and in season from Michigan gardens and fields.  For instance, I haven't eaten a 'real' (ie not bought at the store) tomato in about eight months. Just about every meal she has had in Peru, no matter what time of the day, has included fresh tomato!  Many also feature peppers, most of which are varieties unavailable here (because they are native Peruvian kinds), all of which she says are 'tasty without being too hot'. Her favorites so far are aji amarillo and aji de gallina. We've discussed trying to get a hold of some seeds and seeing if they might grow here with help (season extenders such as row covers or cold frames). This had led to a little bit of research on what is and isn't allowed through customs as far as biological matter (such as plants and seeds) is concerned.  Also some looking through the online catalog of Seed Savers Exchange to see if I might simply be able to order seeds for her choice varieties through them.  Apparently there is a very refreshing drink made with purple (dried) corn that she wants me to grow the corn for.

In addition to tomatoes and peppers, she reports that potatoes are plentiful also.  Which makes sense, being as potatoes as we Americans know them, originated in Peru in the Andes Mountains.  They are one of the most important crops in Peru.

potatoes with pan fried (aji amarillo seasoned) chicken

While in Peru, she is taking two classes at the local college.  Most of the other students in her program are taking three, but she had all ready completed the level of language course that they are studying, so she just has two classes.  Both of which deal with history and culture and include a lot of excursions.  So far she has been to a remote village in the Andes, an archaeological site also in the Andes, a school/center for young girls who are at risk of being drafted into the drug and prostitution industries, and to the desert.

in the Andes

a glacial lake


oasis in Huacachina

She says that the excursions have been interesting, but that daily life has been the most educational. Learning her way around a major city, in a foreign country, in a different culture, has been full of stumbling blocks, but has also given her a huge sense of self and empowerment.  Traffic rules are different and looking both ways before crossing the street does not guarantee your safety.  Now she is sure to look all four ways, several times, before stepping into the street!

DD2 said she also learned, one day while ordering lunch at a street food vendor where the orders are taken not by number but by your name, that apparently her first name is hard to pronounce for most Peruvians.  She said it took about five minutes of hearing this progressively louder and more insistent voice calling out a strange word for her to realize that the word was, apparently, her name!  

In just a few more weeks, she will be back home in Michigan.  Time is going quickly, and in our most recent conversation, she said that she is not at all ready to leave Peru.  Of course, the excursion to Machu Picchu is yet to come; next week, I think.  Who would want to spend six weeks in Peru and come home without seeing that?