Saturday, January 30, 2010

Knitters Without Borders--Chile on pause

So, Seth has a 1st cousin once removed who is in his mid-twenties and who is married to a Haitian woman who was there visiting her family, who lives pretty much on the epicenter of the earthquake, when the Earthquake happened. After a few nail-biting days where he managed to get into Haiti via the Dom. Rep. and through some pretty twisty routes /sketchy means, he managed to find his wife and 5 month old baby and his in-laws who were all miraculously still alive. Of course, many friends and relatives did not survive this horrible event, but we are thankful that the people with whom we are most directly connected survived at least. Although some of them chose to move to some property in the country where they are trying to grow organic coffee, some decided to stay in town among the wreckage to salvage what they can of their former lives.

It certainly changes the face of a disaster to know someone who was directly involved. Why we as a species spend so much time and energy fighting with each other when we can't even deal with what nature throws at us, I will never understand.

Even if you aren't a knitter, you might enjoy clicking on that icon to the right over there and reading about one of the greatest-knit-bloggers-of-our-time's efforts to raise money for Doctor's Without Borders. If you are a knitter and somehow haven't heard of it, here you go. Of course everyone is encouraged to donate to Doctor's Without Borders. They were already in Haiti when the Earthquake hit, so I figure they're a good choice for donations because they already had relationships with the Haitians and supply networks, which, although severely compromised, are probably easier to rebuild than to build. I have always appreciated the bravery and religious/political neutrality of this organization when it comes to providing relief services all over the world.

fleece and love, LauraRose

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Summer in Winter

Seth and I just got back from 3 weeks in the southern hemisphere, in Chile. Although I knew intellectually before I went that it would be summer there, and managed to pack some sandals, I still took my long johns along! It turns out that Solstice in December means SUMMER Solstice with the really long days and nice weather and all. It really does. Wow. Now, I realize that many of you contend with real winter unlike those of us spoiled enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, but soggy, foggy, cloudy, soggy, foggy, cloudy, rainy weather is still not SUMMER. It was pretty darned cool to experience it for really truly.

I can't fit all 535 photos that I took on here, so I'll try to pare it down a bit! I may only be able to do a section of the trip at a time, or you will be completely overwhelmed. I can go onandonandonandonandon about it.

We stayed with a wonderful couple, Kate and John, who we know through Seth's dad Charles because they are scientists.

They are much more than just brilliant developmental scientists however. They are also incredibly fun, funny, generous, thoughtful, active and creative people with an excellent aesthetic sense (art pieces shown individually were created by Kate) whom I feel privileged to consider true friends now after spending so much time with them (it was that or arch enemies after that much time I guess).

They live in Valparaíso, a crazy steep, crazy colorful and generally a bit rough and tumble port city. It's Chile's largest port and was extremely important for trade ships in Pre-Panama Canal Days. It has astoundingly beautiful old homes, though many are in fairly poor condition.

Kate and John restored a 1910 (?) house which was built largely of Douglas Fir (they call it Pino Oregón there) which came down in empty ships from the Pacific Northwest as ballast!

You think it's hard to restore a house here, try doing anything quality construction wise in Chile.

To top it all off, Kate and John decided to put in this big solar heated water/ thermal mass system so they could have some heat stored up for winter (which theoretically does happen there also--similar weather to San Francisco). Kate learned how to do it and taught the maestros (carpenters). A woman in a plumbing store is pretty darned radical there. A woman teaching the maestros what to do is unheard of.

Chile, meet Kate.

Valparaíso would have gotten pretty short shrift from us if Kate and John hadn't been there to give us pointers and the calm oasis of their gorgeous home. "Valp'o has it charms, though they are rather hidden at times," as John put it. The view over the bay was certainly charming. you could watch the container ships being un/loaded from Kate and John's cupola room.

They have a dry dock ship that sinks down 12 meters for the ships needing fixing to float in or out. The ascensores (inclines) reminded me of Pittsburgh, but there are 15 instead of two or three. They are all about 100-120 years old, and several don't function anymore, but the ones that do are SO much fun.
You really need them too, because walking up the steep hills over and over just ain't gonna happen.

I could go onandonandonandonandon, and we have barely gotten started. If you want to see a few more photos, click on the flickr link to the right under "links I like."

Chao for now.