Troweling around

As an archaeologist, I own a trowel. They begin as mortar trowels, but we sharpen them to cut through dirt. Ergo, you need a holster. The ones you can buy are bulky and have a small amount of weight to them. I wanted something different. Enter Boy and his leather. I used a white pencil to trace around the trowel blade, some leather scissors to chop it up, a leather needle and sinew to sew along the sides, and a leather tong to make sure the holster stayed put once in my pack.

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I am pleased with the results! I just got my pack last week and am currently in the field (for a total of eight plus if you can believe it!). So far, things seem to be working ok and I needn’t be concerned of my trowel damaging any other goods or the pack itself. Bravo me! Time will tell if the continued use will wear out the sinew. Fingers crossed!

backpacking Peru 2015

Hola!

So, my world-touring brother lost his gear and “hired” me as a courier to bring him replacements. He didn’t have the decency to lose his stuff somewhere I hadn’t been to before, but that was quite alright because I loved Peru the first time and I was quite excited to go back! I have over 2,000 photos between the three of us (me, bro, and my Peruvian “big sister”, Daniella) so these are just a snapshot. I mean, really, just go there. Photos cannot do the vistas, the markets, the driving, the food, nor the people justice.

The plan: backpack from Lima to Iquitos in 20 days.

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We stayed in a penthouse apartment with Daniella’s family in Lima until he was able to get his passport reissued. We road crowded buses, walked for miles, and ate my favorite Peruvian thing: chicken! Daniella’s family is beautiful (and her mother would love that I said that;) We were so well taken care of that it was sad to leave our host family and their puppies (Pucca, Jazz, and Soprano).

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Daniella’s mom, Ivogen, took us all to see Pachacamac – a site I saw back in 2007 but a lot of work has been done since so it was neat seeing the changes. Afterward, her sister Julissa’s family invited us to make pizza and hang out downstairs. I was relieved they all spoke English at least a bit – even little 3 year old Mika could count to seven! My brother was in charge of getting a group family photo, but I suppose we were always having too good of a time to think to stop for a formal pose.

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Ivogen also took us to the restaurant on the pier – a site my friends and I could only dream of eight years ago. It did not dissapoint!

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We took an overnight bus to Trujillo, and had second floor, front row seats for a perfect (if cold) journey. Bro set us up with an archaeological tour to Chan Chan. Go there. Then we had a short stop in Huanchaco, which is famous for its reed boats.

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Our tour guide suggested we see the Temple of the Moon, which he likes more than Chan Chan. Say what?! So, the following day we went there, and I see why! Though, I think I will forever hold in my heart a special place for Chan Chan.

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We took another overnight bus to Chachapoyas, and along the way we were stuck an additional 6 hours because the rains had caused a mudslide on our highway.

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From there, we went to Kuelap, a site that is not well-popularized yet but I imagine that is going to change rapidly, since the internet compares it to (and claims to supersede) Machu Picchu. Go there. We had another fantastic tour guide (who impressed us all by speaking Spanish, English, French, and even a tiny amount of German!).

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I got altitude sickness from the ups and downs of mountain roads, and was leery of getting into an eight-hour van ride without a bathroom the next morning, but I made it to Tarapoto without issue, thank the heavens! We did our laundry there, and I really enjoyed being in a city of just motorcycles (and not the loud obnoxious kind). I wouldn’t see roads filled with cars again until my return to Lima.

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We vanned again to Yurimaguas, and I was not excited to be in the front middle seat without a seatbelt on (literally) dangerous mountain roads facing washouts and landslides, but hey, I survived. We looked forward to taking showers before getting on the boat for the next few days on our journey to Iquitos, but that didn’t happen. The hostel was a little sketchy for us all, I think. Bro would say it was magical.

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Then we got on the boat; Bruno, she is called. We waited hours for people to load her with product, and then we found out that there was more to come, so we could not leave until tomorrow. So our two night boat stay turned into three nights (and almost four actually but they worked super duper hard to get her loaded), but without cost to us so no worries. We stopped at a couple villages to get more (or drop off) products and people (sometimes canoes would just meet up in the middle of the river!).  And look, I brought a little crafty item with me! The boat was very peaceful actually. The Amazon is everything they say it is. Go there. It is currently under flood, and a lot of villages are affected. We were worried Iquitos had been hard hit, too.

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We finally made it to Iquitos, which is flooded in areas, though it wasn’t a problem for us tourists. But, we were not on schedule after all the hold-ups from the passport to the travel delays. I was to have several days there so I could do a jungle tour (two nights deep in the Amazon), but when all was said and done, I had only two full days to do anything. So, we went to Monkey Island! Now, I would say that was magical. It was flooded, too, so we had to take a canoe tour rather than walk around a bit. On my last day, we went to the Belen markets where there really was just everything imaginable, like in many of the markets we visited (and some exotic things that could not be named nor categorized as to what they even were).

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The trip was great, and I hope bro realizes why I might be secretly wishing he loses his stuff again…

And, I just have to share this photo with you – Daniella went to school for fashion design and knows a thing or two about clothing and sewing and – just would you look at this?! She hand embroidered it to the back of a jean jacket. It is amazing!

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I owe a post about a bag I made for this trip. I really am very proud of how it turned out – it might be the first thing that I’ve ever gone around telling people “Look – I made this!”.

I will write a much more detailed account of this trip over at my anthropology site, so if you are interested, head over there sometime soon!

potted flowers

I attended a short class on how to make a potted arrangement at a local garden center last night. It was a neat event – my sister-in-laws and mother-in-law went and they all have much more plant experience than I do (I’ve lived here for almost six years and all I have to show for it via plants is some trimmed crab apples along the driveway and one recently added tree runt I got for free which may or may not be a magnolia). Snacks and drinks were served and it was a really causal event. We were given a budget (allotted from the class fee) and then allowed to walk around the nursery picking and choosing literally anything we wanted, following the motto:

Thriller, Filler, and Spiller!

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My thriller (the tall central one) is Pesto Perpetuo Basil, which smells delightful. My big fillers are: Black Pearl Ornamental Pepper and Dalina Midi Samos Dahlia. My small fillers are: four Bada Boom White Begonias and two yellow-somethings that one of my sister-in-laws had left over. My spillers (the ones drooping over the edge) are: Black Cherry Supertunia (which also works a bit as a filler) and Goldilocks Creeping Jenny.

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As my first arrangement ever, I was pleased everyone commented so nicely on it!

I also did not use all my budget, so I was able to bring home this little guy, a Silver Grey succulent.

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I lent my camera to my brother, so I am working with just my phone here on an overcast day, but, as you can also see from the first photo, my house is red! I will be posting about that as soon as we get some sunny weather so my photos look halfway to decent.

I also have some fun photos to share from my second Peru trip, so check back for that!

Peru, again!

Just a quick note that I will be joining my brother in Peru for 20 days. I leave on Thursday. I am both excited and apprehensive of what he has in store for me.

See, some of his gear is lost and it is quicker to fly me in with replacements than going through customs (yeah, you read that right: free trip! Though, under awful circumstances, I admit. And I do feel some guilt being so happy about it…).

I’ll fly to Lima and stay a few days as we await his reissued passport (it was lost also). Then, we head northeast to Iquitos, an Amazon city only accessible by boat or plane. And I’ll fly home.

Cool, right?

goodbye ugly house

If you’ve been following for a while, you know we have done some updating in the interior of our house (paint, light fixtures, laundry room makeover, entire kitchen renovation, etc.).

Well, it is finally time to get the trashy-looking outside bright and happy. We qualified for a rehabilitation loan through the county, which has made this all possible. In total, it includes: new AC unit, new water heater, new furnace, new exterior door and storm door, 5 new windows, some electrical updates for code, and new siding. The county budgets for average quality products (such as vinyl siding), and Boy and I chipped in our own savings for higher quality items (such as LP Smart Siding) and a few extras (like storm doors all around, soffit and facia, light fixtures, etc.).

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The process has been ridiculous – we began our application last April, yet only this week did some of the necessary items get delivered, because they were only ordered about a month ago (why?!). And one of the orders was wrong anyway. And there has been a lot of miscommunication throughout the whole ordeal, even though we have been very clear about what we wanted (which was spoken verbally, in written contract, and through text messages). It doesn’t make any sense, and the county is a little perturbed that it was not finished within the 90 day period last year, but it certainly is not our problem!

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The exterior transformation began last week (in the cold and snow, yes, which has its own annoyance because our heater bill this month will be outrageous but hey, at least I’m not the one out there in the cold, right?). When it is complete, I shall certainly post about it, but for now, you must look upon the ugly that the house currently is/was. I was worried that moving from vertical siding to horizontal siding would exacerbate the length of the house (it has additions that make it quite long!) but it actually seems to trick the eye into thinking the house is somehow less long. I greatly approve.

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The budget did not include the garage, so for a time, I have to deal with that prison-grey eyesore still (which will get a new door and pergola someday), and we need to change out some more windows eventually. But, I have landscaping plans galore that I hope to begin this year. I’ve been waiting to address anything outside until the house was cute and proper. Now is the time! :D

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Ahh, man, do I miss those sunny dappled days of summer!!!