Crafty as a Serpent

A knit blog with recipes and theological musings interspersed.

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Location: Portland, Maine, United States

Abby d'Ambruoso is a Lutheran pastor and interfaith chaplain, currently serving in a variety of ministries in Portland, Maine.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reflections on El Salvador

Last week at this time, I was hauling water by hand from a deep well. It was extremely hot and humid, but we were all working very hard on building two houses for two brothers.

In El Salvador, I found much evidence of the “Americanization” of the culture. The local currency is now American dollars. I never did see the colón, which used to be El Salvador’s money. The changeover from colones to dollars has meant inflation of prices, and this has hurt the poorest people the most.

All over the place, we saw huge houses in gated communities which were sometimes located just next to utter poverty. Many families lack clean water, bathrooms, access to adequate medical care, or education.

In light of this, the work of Habitat was inspiring. They are working, family by family, house by house, to build a more stable community. The families invest in their houses with sweat equity and a modest monthly “mortgage payment”. But for some families, even the small mortgage payment is too much.

One person who is helping with that is a priest that I met in San José Villanueva, the town where we were working. Padre Mario has been in San José for 11 years now. When he first got there, he gathered the people for Mass. He asked for readers, but everyone looked at their shoes. After that he told his bishop that opening a school would be evangelism so that people could read the Word. Since that time, he has opened 3 schools which now serve a total of 1500 students. The community sustains the school as parents work to improve the school on weekends. In addition to his work with the school, Padre Mario is also helping families from his parish build houses through Habitat. He has helped various people by paying for half of their mortgage so that they have a chance to live in a house.

Another place where I witnessed work for the kingdom of God was the Hospital de la Divina Providencia. It is the only hospice center in all of Central America, so it serves the people of Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panamá, and El Salvador. The Carmelite nuns who run the hospice operate on a very small budget and do not charge the patients because they are already so poor from medical bills. The work there is amazing, and I hope to be able to return to help.

Right next door to the hospice is the church where Monsignor Oscar Romero was assassinated in 1980. He was in the middle of the Eucharist when a sharpshooter sent by the death squads opened fire, killing him immediately. Romero is considered a 20th century martyr, and his life and death continue to inspire the Church around the world.

I continue to be amazed by the gifts that this journey gave to me: the friendships with the Salvadoran people, the witness to the Christian faith that refreshed my belief in what the Church can do when united, the beauty of the sharing of cultures, and the humbling nature of the work that I did at the building site. I give thanks for all of those blessings and the countless others that I have not named.

Que Dios les bendiga, (God bless you all)


Cabin Cove Socks are finally done!

On Tuesday, I packed my knitting bag in haste for the Barnes and Noble Knit Night group. Since I didn't have my yarn yet to finish my shawl, I threw in a pair of socks that I have been meaning to fix and finish but have neglected.

I packed them thinking- if I throw those in, I'll have to work on them. And so I did. I finished reknitting both toes and grafting them today. I have a new pair of socks: the lovely Cashmere-Silk socks in the Shell pattern from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. I am quite pleased with them.

Now I am anxiously awaiting the post to see if my yarn comes in today. I'd like to finish that shawl and block it soon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Loopy Yarns saves the day!

So remember that alpaca fingering weight I got in Chicago back in April? I had thought I would knit it up into luxurious socks. I even started on them and got as far as the heel on the Zokni pattern. It was pretty, but I couldn't motivate myself to knit on them. So I frogged the sock and started my first shawl at the end of May. It's the Kiri shawl from All Tangled Up, and I love it. I knit on it at a retreat. I knit on it at home. I knit on it in the plane to and from El Salvador and at the Habitat work site. People were fascinated by the lace, and I had a pretty good time knitting.

Well, now I'm home, and I'm also on the homestretch of the shawl. I'm in the middle of the edging. And I just ran out of yarn. So I called Loopy Yarns in Chicago on the off-off-chance that they might still have some of my yarn. Lo and behold, a miracle! They are sending me a ball of my yarn- same dyelot and everything. I can't even believe it.

Now, to decide what to do with the leftover yarn. Maybe baby booties for my soon-to-be-arriving nephew?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Receta para pollo con chocolate

Receta de la madre de Claudia, la coordinadora del afiliado de Habitat en El Salvador

Pollo con chocolate
Toma un pollo, bien limpiado. Pongálo en una olla con un poquito de agua. En una licuadora, ponga una cebollita, como 10 tomates, un chile verde, dos dientes de ajo, y un poquito de sal o consomé. Molé la mezcla bien. Echa la mezcla encima del pollo y mezcla con el pollo. Entonces, enciende el gas y cocina todo por aproximadamente 15 minutos. Entonces echa la media de una tablilla de chocolate (el tipo con canela) encima del pollo hasta que el chocolate está bien fundida. Entonces echa unas migas de pan encima. Ya está!

Friday, June 15, 2007

El Salvador

Dear Friends and Family,

As many of you know, I am going to El Salvador with Habitat for Humanity tomorrow. I will be in San Vicente, El Salvador, just east of San Salvador, until next Saturday. Here's a link to Habitat El Salvador:

I am going with a team of 18 people from Toledo. We will spend the week building three houses. I will be in a team of 6 women. We're pretty excited to build a house together.
I will be serving the team as the translator (let's hope my Spanish and my energy is up to the task of translating for that big of a group!).

I ask that you please pray for my team and for me as we work with our Salvadoran brothers and sisters. I also ask your prayers that we will all remain healthy.


(I'm bringing my Kiri Shawl that I've been working on. It's beautiful- and I hope to finish it this week. I'm also bringing dishcloth yarn to make presents there.)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

It's been too hot to knit

The past few weeks the weather has kept me from knitting in earnest. I finished off my Dulaan items and sent them to Flagstaff, Arizona. I ended up with 3 adult hats, 1 child's hat, and 1 pair of child's socks.

As if the universe knew I was done with my commitment to charity knitting, my colleague Wendy invited me to take part in the knitting of rainbow scarves which will be used at the churchwide assembly in August in Chicago. In a vile twist of fate, the organizers of this project chose nasty acrylic for the scarves. I hate acrylic, but I'm knitting away for the cause, because I believe in it. I'm nearly done with one scarf. I'm using a k2tog, yo pattern which is going diagonally. It's nice and airy, so hopefully no one will smother while wearing a scarf of mine. It is Chicago in August, though, so there is cause to wonder.

I also knit a few rows on the big afghan. I'm midway through ball 9. Only 3 and 1/2 balls to go.

The past couple days we've had storm after storm, and the temp has finally dropped to 65 today. We'll be having soup and I'll be knitting tonight. Woohoo!

In non-knitting news, Will and I have acquired a housemate. Kim is doing CPE here in Toledo, and she and her dog Sophie were seeking a place to stay.

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