Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Month: October 2013

Climbing for the Prize – the View and a Mote con Huesillo

We live fairly near Cerro San Cristobal, a small mountain/large hill that's a noted landmark with a towering statue of the Virgin Mary on top. She's the tallest thing around, minus the nearby cell towers. The Cerro is a verdant wonder in this dry city. It is watered (and therefore green), landscaped, and sports Japanese gardens, a zoo, a chapel, some restaurants, and a huge swimming pool. The Cerro is so big that each venue feels fairly tucked away and secluded from everything else.

On weekends, the winding roads going up the Cerro are busy, busy with pedestrians, runners, and cyclists. It's the closest experience to being in the woods for miles around, so it's a very popular place. Sudoku and I have taken to riding up the Cerro once a week or so. From our apartment, it's two hours round-trip for us pokey-paced girls. (But we are getting faster!)

On our first climb up the Cerro, we got to the top, looked around, spotted our apartment and some other familiar locations, caught our breath, and then enjoyed the exhilarating ride down. Zip!

The second time, we were with a local friend. When we got to the top, we followed the crowd through a little passage underneath the funicular (incline railway) which opened onto a large patio. Scores of runners and bikers were hanging out, enjoying the view, sipping mote con huesillo. Since it was my birthday week, we treated ourselves to this unique, sweet Chilean beverage. And when I say sweet, I mean really sweet.

We had seen lots of people drinking/eating mote con huesillo (especially around the Dieciochera holiday), and it really didn't look appetizing at me. The drink is typically served in a plastic cups with plastic spoons, is the color of beer, has barley in the bottom of the cup, and large wrinkly dried fruit floating in the juice. I don't know...maybe it's the plastic spoons sticking out, maybe it's the way you have to eat/drink it (more on that in a minute), but it just didn't appeal to me.

BUT it's a very Chilean drink, and we had just biked up a Chilean hill, were looking out over the largest Chilean city, surrounded by Chileans enjoying one of their signature Chilean drinks... It was time to try this thing. So we did. The liquid is syrupy sweet. My first thought was, "They opened a can of peaches and drained the syrup into my cup." But then it started to grow on me. The drink was very cold, the mote (barley) was soft, and the huesillos (dried peaches) were so yummy, sweet, and soft! Did I mention it was sweet?

So, here's the gist of how it's made. Dried peaches are soaked over night, then cooked in the soaking water with chancaca, which is a raw, unrefined sugar with a high molasses content. The peaches and juice are then completely chilled. To serve, a couple of spoonfulls of cooked barley are put in the bottom of the cup, followed by 2-3 dried peaches (including the pits), followed by the juice. The drink is sipped and eaten with a spoon. As Gaby, my Chilean friend says, you have to forget about being proper or elegant. You scoop out a big peach, balance it on your spoon, take a bite out of it, and then lower the remainder back into your cup while you chew on what's in your mouth. When in Rome...

The drink was super yummy. But about 30-40 minutes later, after arriving back home, I felt just a bit dizzy and had a sugar-high headache for a couple of hours... It's that sweet.

Birthday Blues, Stomach Bugs and Lost Teeth

"Birthday week" is how we refer to the week when the boys have their birthdays. This year Carman turned sixteen and Doodle turned nine.

On Tuesday Marathon took them to Cajon del Maipo, and the next day he and Carman had a stomach bug:( The rest of us felt fine... till Saturday. On Saturday Marathon and Carman had fairly normal appetites but Milkmaid didn't feel like eating lunch. She was in bed the rest of the day.

A few hours later Carman and Rosebud felt bad as well. So this left the birthday boy and I. Also, like I mentioned before, Marathon had already gotten it earlier in the week and he was feeling fine. The three of us ate dinner, and then we sung happy birthday to Doodle. About 5 bites into his large brownie, Doodle said that he didn't feel well, and you can probably guess how that ended. Of course, I got the bug too, a few hours later. Continue reading

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a free online education program. They cover almost everything. Biology, physics, chemistry, history, economics, and math of all types, from one-digit addition to calculus.

I have been a member for over two years. Doodle has not even been a member for a year, but he is making amazing progress. He has won more awards than me and has almost as many points.

Khan Academy has courses on Canvas, a programming language designed for moving graphics. There are hundreds of amazing video games that have been created by students. It is the go-to place for computer games. The really cool part is that you can edit the code yourself, to customize the game to your preferences! Doodle is creating his own Canvas programs.

For homeschoolers, this is an great option because of its vast coverage and all the ways they make it interesting-- Doodle does this on his free time. He is very motivated about it; trying to get this award, or trying to master that skill, or trying to finish his canvas game.

There are some downsides.... they recently redid their site and started everybody's math status over again, and it didn't work out well. They had me take a test to see what level I was at, so that I wouldn't have to re-master simple arithmetic and things like that, but after the test they considered me not proficient in 2-digit addition! I am at a much higher academic level than Doodle is, but thus far according to them I have mastered 65 skills, and Doodle has mastered 165.

Also, Khan academy is like most non one-on-one education situations in the aspect that you're not forced to actually understand how it works, just how to get the answer right.

Here is a link to the site.

My Illustrator Map

I recently finished a map-making course in Adobe Illustrator, and Made this map of Santiago.

The black roads are freeways, the green ones are streets with at least six lanes.

The Santiago Metro

Santiago has a great subway system. Very clean, modern, safe. It's better than New York's subway.

It costs around a dollar to get on unless you were just on a bus, in which case it's around 10 cents.

When it's really busy, they have green trains and red ones. Some stations are green, others red. Trains only stop at stations with their color. Stations that are heavily used or where lines cross are both colors. When it's busy, the air in the train gets hot and stuffy, and when you get off, you breathe in the cool, smoggy air with great enjoyment.

I was on a train once where you could not get away with touching less than 8 people. Talk about personal space going to absolute zero. This creates problems when your stop comes along and there are 6 feet of people that are almost incapable of moving in between you and the doors. Trying to grab a handle or something as the train accelerates when it is this full is pointless... everybody is packed in so tight that you can't move in the first place.

When It's not busy, or when you are getting on at one of the terminal stations, you may have a chance of getting a seat. This is a rare privilege.

The lines are mixes of underground, elevated, and ground-level tracks. Visible metro parts are apparently considered an eyesore, because you don't see any of that on the nicer side of town.

Here is a map of the 5 current functional lines. 2 more lines are under construction.

This is the uniquely styled bus terminal cover at the "Del Sol" station.

This is a typical elevated station.

This is the inside of an underground station.

This is the interior of an elevated station.

Fiestas Patrias – The petting zoo

The first place we went when the Dieciochera opened was the petting zoo area. There were horses, cows, goats, ducks, a peacock, pigs, bunnies and turkeys. Most of the animals were not pet-able because of the fences. The goats had an extra tall fence, and were not pet-able. Well, a worker did carry around a little goat kid, and then we got to pet him. So cute with those floppy ears!

Rosebud loved the little pigs! I don't think she had ever seen any before 🙂

My parents said this calf looked almost exactly like the calf we had on our farm, and that the cow was a Milking Shorthorn just like our cow was. I don't remember the cow or calf we had on the farm because we moved when I had just turned three, so it was very cool to see what our cows looked like.

Of course, my parents had to get their picture taken with them:)

Then we went over to pet the horse. We were standing there petting the horse and taking pictures of it, when a man came up and asked if Doodle and Rosebud wanted to have a ride! Doodle was really excited, because he had never ridden a horse before. The man pulled a chamanto over his head and plopped a Chilean hat over his eyes. All set!

Rosebud wasn't so sure, because the horse looked big and kind of scary! Plus, she was wearing a skirt and her ballet flats. But after Doodle went, she decided to try it too - in the same traditional get-up.

She did great and was glad she had tried it 🙂

We took pictures of the rabbits and peacock, but we lost the pictures because one of our cameras was stolen out of one of the outside pockets of a backpack (it was visible). It was a good lesson for us, because we had kind of let our guard down because we haven't had anything stolen from us here. We got lucky because the person who stole it took our ten year old camera, and not the new one. Whew.

Worst Translation Ever

We've seen some pretty bad translations of Spanish into English on Chilean web sites, pamphlets, manuals, etc. This one is the worst we have ever seen.

We recently burned out one of our bathroom fans, and I went to a hardware store and bought a new one. On the manual, there was the usual long list of ridiculous safety precautions, with a list in English. Here is an exact copy of one of the safety recommendations:

"The appliance can not be used by children, the deformed man, the disease patient the people who is short of experience and culture or the sense organ or the spirit alone"

Amazingly there are no misspellings. But trying to bring it across in professional manner? Um....

----Okay folks! We have the great advantage of being able to get advice DIRECTLY FROM THE MANUFACTURER! Amazing! They graciously went to the length of having it printed in English just for the occasional Gringo who would buy their fan! So, let's see what we can take away from this invaluable information.

It looks like Doodle, Rosebud, Sudoku and I can't turn the fan on, because obviously everyone under 18 is a "child" too. So, only Milkmaid and Marathon can turn the fan on and off. Marathon is clearly the "deformed man" they are talking about, because one of his legs is 1/32" longer than the other one. So this leaves Milkmaid as the only one who can turn the fan on and off. People who is short of experience and culture can't use it either. Obviously we are short of that, but we're never going to admit it. The sense organ isn't allowed to use it, but I'm not even sure what that is. I don't think that there are any spirits capable of flipping a switch just by themselves, so I think that was unnecessary to mention.----

Usually you can at least get the gist of what they are saying, but this is way off the chart.

Here is a picture to prove it. You can see other mistakes too.

Monster Toilet Clog part 3

Continued from "Monster toilet clog part 2"

How did we clear it? Using the noodle, an air mattress pump tube, water, and some lungs. We needed a stool to stand on also.

(I drew this in Adobe Illustrator)

Little Things not Covered by Normal Posts

About 6 months ago we acquired another bike, an old Bianchi flat bar road bike. It cost us $100 (in the U.S. would be about 50), and it is the bike of choice over the horrible Lahsen mountain bikes, one of which is simply used for spare parts. The spare parts came in handy today for replacing the rear brake cable on the Bianchi. We have ridden a total distance of at least 500 miles on the Bianchi since we got it, so it has paid off.

As I write, Marathon and Doodle are at a park (it just opened up after cleanup from the "Dieciochera") near our condominium, to see if Doodle can ride our full-size Lahsen mountain bike. He just turned 9, and I 16.

We have a fully carpeted apartment and use a "carpetsweeper" to clean it every other day. The amount of junk it picks up in amazing. It has a tendency for the wheels to come off, and when it gets full, debris and hair will fall back onto the carpet. It's as good as a vacuum for everything except for the cracks -- on our carpet, that is. It isn't thick. Supposedly it was "cleaned" right before we moved in, but it still had stains and such.

Doodle and I are practicing the recorder, and we like to pick a song, learn it, and then make it a two-part harmony, even if it wasn't written to be played like that. He can't play well by ear, but picks it up quickly from sheet music. I can reproduce most songs on the first try after I learn it by ear, but I can't read sheet music.

Doodle and Cordi are big into the "Magic Tree House" book series, reading it whenever they get the chance. They read on the Kindle by the way. Yes, the Kindle has been great. It holds more books than you will ever need to put on it, has a very long-lasting battery, and with the vast selection of free Kindle books at Amazon, for $70 it's a bargain. We almost got a second one.

I love Google Maps. The amount of work that Google put into the street view is phenomenal. If you want to get to know a part of the world without any expense but time and electricity, street view is it, hands down. The amount of knowledge they have amassed is amazing, too. If I want to know which bus stop to get off at, I use Google Maps. If I want to know exactly how the border runs between Recoleta and Providencia, I use Google Maps. Google Maps is so great.... let's finish with some screen caps from street view around Santiago.

La Dehesa-- The richest part of town.

La Pintana-- The poorest part of town

La Vega-- The massive market for super-cheap trinkets and (mostly) food.

Typically the outskirts of Santiago look like this: Tightly packed subdivision meets middle of nowhere.

Camino a Farellones-- The epic switchbacks on the road up into the Andes.

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