Friday, July 25, 2008

New Family Heirloom - I hope

So, I finally bought a carpet last weekend. While we were here last winter, Masha and I (more me than her) were eyeing this one carpet, but I never pulled the trigger. Ever since then, we've had a deal that I could buy another carpet of my choosing. I've been looking, but hadn't found anything I really, really liked until this past weekend. Hope you like it honey.
So, here it is ... drumroll, please...

TA DA!!!! It's 2x3 meters, silk and I love it. The design is a copy from a northern Afghan neighbor. So, while not a traditional Afghan design, I bought here. That's close enough for me. Thoughts? We can put it in front of the yarn wall my wife wants me to build her for her expanding collection.

Now, these next two designs are ones that I love, but right now they are out of our price range. They are both cashmere and demonstrate the four seasons. They tend be larger (these are 2.5x3.5 to 3x4 meters) and more difficult to find. But I showed the pictures to a local rug seller up here and he is going to go and see what the cost would be on the local market (rather than down in Kabul or at the embassy - hello, inflated prices and captive audience). Look honey, they have animals on them, so you have to say yes. :)

Paryan (northern district of Panjshir) Trip

So, I went on a trip up to the northern part of the province earlier and took some scenic pictures. This part of the country is so beautiful, with everyone harvesting, replanting, and making flour out of wheat. Reminds me a lot of Nebraska in some ways and of those pictures in the history books of farming 100 years ago (although there are no tractors in Panjshir; everything is done by hand as it has been done for 500 years).

A field of wheat harvested and waiting to be threshed

Another field, but that area is all the land that that farmer probably has to feed an estimated family of 7.

Don't know why I took this one, but it gives you a glimpse into the life and beauty of Afghanistan. Notice all of the terracing in the background to squeeze out a bit of farmland at 8000 feet. FYI, the gravel road the men are walking on was built specifically for the school (school is literally at the end of the road, which we extended).

We delivered a bunch of school books and toys to a new clinic we were building. This boy couldn't have been more than 8 or 9 and the bag was as tall as he was.

Here is the same boy. Yes, he is Afghan. There are several different races and mixes here. You end up seeing people that look very Mongol, Chinese, Iranian, Turkish, Russia, European, etc. Afghanistan has been walked over and invaded a lot in the last couple thousand years (Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan made it here). So, you have a lot of mixing and people with different features.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More yarn

If Jeremy doesn't post again soon, this may turn into a yarn blog. I apologize in advance, but I really don't have much else to talk about.

Here's the Wollmeise that came in the mail today:

That's two skeins of Brombeere (blackberry) and one skein of Rittersporn (larkspur). The Brombeere photographs pretty true to life, but the color of the Rittersporn in the photo doesn't come close. It's a deep sapphire blue with hints of purple. And now I need to stop ordering sock yarn.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My first shipment of Wollmeise!

My Red Hot Chili Wollmeise arrived today.

It came in this cute little package:

With a little extra skein just for fun ...

And the main event ...

The color really does glow. I am a believer!

More Magical Unicorn Yarn

I was bad today ...

Really bad ...

The top one is Brombeere (blackberry) - I got two of these - and the bottom one is Rittersporn (larkspur).

I have blogged before about the phenomenon that is Wollmeise. My first order is waiting at the post office for me to pick it up tomorrow, and yet, I could not resist ordering more when I happened upon another shop update today. This is sock yarn - and I'm not even a sock knitter! I will probably use it to make baby clothes at some point (no, I'm not pregnant), or maybe a shawl or two. The colors are just so beautiful.

In sadder news, my left wrist has been killing me the last couple of days. I'm terrified of carpal tunnel ... it means no knitting! So I will have to take a couple of days off from working on Jeremy's sweater. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself ...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

More Aryu Village Pictures

Greg (waving) from USDA and the rest of the team head up to Aryu, still ignorant of the long trip ahead. We were told it would be a one-hour hike, but it was actually three and a half hours each way!

These sheep have the right idea. Wish I could have just camped out. 100 degrees and I had three liters of water by the time we reached the village (6.5 miles and 1000 foot elevation gain - all in the last mile of course). Thank goodness for CamelBaks.

Picture of part of the village (900 families live in the area, but this picture is only of the area where the new school is being built) which stretches up and to the left for a good couple of kilometers. No road. Only the single track trail that we hiked up to get to it and needless to say, no electricity, indoor plumbing, television or telephones. But they were amazingly hospitable and made us feel welcome.

One of the village leaders and his horse.

Cute little girls were so bashful, they almost didn't come up to collect their backpack and pens from us. For background, we have a number of backpacks with pens, paper and such that we give out sometimes when we go out. We brought about 400 backpacks with us, because the PRT is funding a new school here (currently classes for 300 students are held in tents, but only for a couple of months as winter sets in early at 8000 feet).

Some Pictures from Trip to Aryu Village

Cute baby huh? She is a Kuchi, a nomadic tribe in Afghanistan that comes up in the early summer to northern Panjshir for the grazing lands and will return to the south of Afghanistan for the winter. They wear extremely colorful clothing and you won't see the conservative covering up that you normally see for the resident Panjshiri (although you still can't talk directly to the Kuchi women if you are male).

Notice the house on the lower left to give you an idea of scale. This is up toward the northern half of Panjshir. The valley starts to narrow and farm land begins to disappear.

On a 13-mile round-trip school visit up a mountain, my donkey let me know you who was driving the bus. Apparently, he wasn't quite ready to go. I had to walk the rest of the way.

A meeting at the mountain village that my donkey was supposed to take me to. The village leader (fourth from left) welcomed us into his house's sitting/visitors room. We ate lunch and had chai on carpets. Beautiful spread for such a remote village. Wonder if Masha will let us have a little sitting room for guests where we just lay out a bunch of cushions and carpets. Just need the hookah and we are all set.

At the same meeting in the mountain, one of our local guards (his trusty AK-47 behind him) and I have a laugh.

What could it be????

We were off on a trip up north and we saw this column of dust rising from the mountain across from us

Was it a landslide...

Naw, it couldn't be....

Yep, It was. A farmer herding his sheep down the steepest mountain slope I've seen.

Clearly, Afghans are in much better shape than Americans if they can push the animals up that mountain in the morning and bring them down again at night. Every day!

More knitting

Another gift for expecting friends:


A scarf for J (which I can show here because he saw me knit the first half), modeled by me:


And my first 2008 project for me: fingerless mitts, knit almost entirely on my flights to and from Chicago. I wore them in my freezing cold office today, and they helped keep my hands warm. Also very fun to knit - anyone want a pair?


Monday, July 7, 2008

Rohit's Wedding

Rohit and Lucy got married this weekend in Chicago. It was a laid-back and fun wedding weekend, and also a great reunion of high school buddies. Saturday morning before the wedding, the bride and groom treated their guests to a cruise of Lake Michigan. The Jefferson alums were happy to be reunited:

Complete with silly faces ...

Then I tried to be a wedding photographer. As you can see, I continue to suck:

And there was singing, of course.

And more high-school posing:

And decorating with the centerpiece gems.

My enjoyment of the event was definitely tempered somewhat by the fact that I could not dance with my own husband (I did think that my own wedding would have the happy consequence of my never having to attend another wedding alone ..), but, all in all, it was a very satisfying weekend. Congratulations, guys!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Doing Laundry

Here's an example of when modern conveniences don't pay off. We broke the dryers, so now all the laundry drying is done outdoors. But given the 0% humidity, clothes actually dry faster than in a dryer. Now, I don't have the color coordination down like Armenians (where clothes are hung up to resemble the rainbow), but I'll learn. Any tips from my PCV friends?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ocean City

This weekend, I went to Ocean City with Carina, her son Alex, and her cousin Meline.

We ate some crab ...

... checked out the boardwalk ...

... and caught an awesome summer storm.