Monday, September 29, 2008

So so sad!

Remember this cute thing?
Last week she started showing the first symptoms of distemper and five/six days later she died. It was a very sad thing to watch her deteriorate so quickly. I was sad but how was I going to explain this to the kids - again? (This is the third dog we have had that has died in a year - bad doggy karma I know. The first was another very sick little street pup and the second was our beloved, but very old, family dog.)

We knew a street dog is always a crapshoot (pardon mon francais) but this dear little pup was just doing so well before she got sick. The vet said no rebound puppies for us - we need to wait at least a week. I'm not sure I'm up for it as much as I love having a dog. We'll see.

This morning I went for a morning walk and was looking at all the street dogs ... everywhere ... and well, was just sad!

C'est tout. A happier post tomorrow. Promise.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Quirks. I've been tagged by Eudaie-Mamia with the wonderful question: Name five quirks about yourself. Only five? I'll try to narrow it down.

Before I do that may I waste your time for a minute to talk about other people's quirks? Smile. I was single longer than your average bear and thus had the opportunity to have a lot of housemates. Twenty five to be exact. I know this because one time I sat down and figured it out. Half of these people I consider life friends - the other half I'm not likely to see again, ever. (Not for any particularly horrible reasons.) People's quirks used to crack me up. I have no idea what they thought about mine. But let me just list a few - I'll change the names to protect the innocent.

1) Amy was a teacher and kept a dessicated human arm from the civil war era in a box for educational purposes. Ewwwwwwww. She also had a box of rotten teeth from Guatemala. That might go beyond "quirk".
2) Betsy liked light. Lots of it. She removed lampshades and installed fluorescent lights in her room. (And she reads this blog. You know I love you friend!)
3) Cathy absolutely could not start her day without the fresh pop of an ice cold Diet Coke in the early mornings. I considered it my alarm clock.
4) More people than I could name had very particular ways in which they wanted the dishwasher loaded/unloaded. So I guess this isn't so quirky.
5) Food quirks. Well I had one housemate who always ordered Chinese from the place next door, ate a quarter of it but wouldn't touch leftovers EVER. So the rest of us had Chinese all the time.

Ok ... so now my own quirks?

1. I have an aversion to wet plastic items. Not a PHOBIA, just an aversion. I'm talking mostly about kitchen items: tupperware, sippy cups etc. They are the last things I take out of the dish washer. Children with their Tsunami of wet plastic items has forced me to just deal with it. But I still don't like it.

2. This is not a present quirk but a past quirk. I did not, and I mean did not, eat vegetables until I was an adult. And I didn't get scurvy or rickets like Mom said I would! I do eat them now. Really. And two of my kids are the same way. Drives me nuts. Payback.

3. My husband says its a quirk to leave just a bite of food on my plate. I don't really think so. No, I have no idea why.

4. And yes the TP roll goes OVER. Of course.

5. Well alright - there is the ear thing. I have really clean ears because I clean them with a Q-tip every time after I shower. Doctors have actually noticed how clean my ears are:). Actually I don't care that they are clean - it is the water thing again. I really don't like my ear insides to feel wet.

6. OK. Let's stay on the water theme. I always wipe down the counter around the sink before and after I use it. This may have started when I was pregnant. It was a bummer for that big belly to go over the counter when you washed your hands and have it be wet!!!

Dang. I feel so exposed(grin). Time to pass on the love. Jen at - you're it!

PS I can't insert a link to save my life. I just don't get it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Bead Market

I had a rare window of time sans kiddos and I have been wanting to go to the bead market solo forever - so I went!

The market consists of about twenty or so very small stalls selling every imaginable length and color of bead. It is centuries old and the proprietors are predominantly Muslim - unusual in this Hindu country. It is covered in some places, exposed in others, very narrow and crowded.

You can buy beads ready made of course but I was on a particular mission. I wanted to get small necklaces made for the girls' birthday party "favors". The beads are tied in six string groupings and I thought that was a good width for little girls. The process is that you buy your beads (negotiate, negotiate, negotiate) and then bring them to one of the carpeted areas where bead craftsmen sit and do their magic. It was so much fun to watch! There were a half dozen men of various ages all industriously spinning golden thread around the ends of the beads to create a loop and ball clasp. Many were measuring precisely the midpoint for women who wanted gold mangal sutras or other special ornaments hung on their beads ("pote").

This young guy fascinated me. He didn't sit with the older men but very close by on a straw mat which made me wonder if he was some sort of apprentice. He was lightning fast with a ready smile. He kept running to different stalls grabbing the next group of beads for his next project. (I took a ton of shots of him - maybe just because he was cute and reminded me of Aladdin. Naaaaah.) I wondered if he would do this for the next sixty years like some of the men on the carpet. I think I also was amused that he had a traditional kameez over jeans and sandals.

This man was shaving the strings for the beads to go on. Many of the men used their toes to anchor their work.

Here is my project - "before".
And here is Rumpelstiltskin.

And the finished products! I was completely pleased - and because I know inquiring minds want to know - they cost about a dollar each. I have no idea how these people make enough eat and sleep indoors.

Wow. I'll raid these on the next visit.

Monday, September 22, 2008

You know you're not in Kansas anymore when...

This weekend there were demonstrations, road closures and store closures at various parts of the city. The reason? Funding was cut for ritual animal sacrifices. Not enough Bucks for the Goats (or rupees as it were). Oh would PETA have a field day with this.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Look, I'm all dressed up!

Wonder Shannon at Eight Crazy Designs made this new header for me and I am pretty darn excited. She was exceedingly patient with me as I wondered how to execute what was vaguely in my head. I knew I wanted a particular font and thought it might look good over a picture of a traditional Nepali textile pattern. I couldn't find one to save my life so I finally just sent over a few of my pictures to her. She found the map background and voila - here we are! The blue and red are the colors found on the Nepali flag.

The pictures left to right respectively are:
1) Man in front of a door a the Pathan Durbar Square - an old palace square.
2) The Himalayas - taken from a Mt. Everest flight.
3) Bags of dye seen in the markets.
4) "Fewa Tal" - or Lake Fewa in Pokhara.

That was fun. Now my hoodlums beckon so my "screen time" is over.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Drivin' in the Hood

I drove today. I have been driving since I was 16 and I am now cough cough so this shouldn't be a big deal. But driving in KTM is whole different er ... experience.

We have a driver which I know would be ridiculous at home (unless you are Donald Trump) but here, with three kids, it really is a matter of safety as well as being practical (can't park, few street signs, outrageous traffic and no "rules of the road"). He needed the day off to attend to a family matter so I was on my own. We normally drive on Saturdays but then traffic is a fraction of what it is the rest of the week. So I was going to brave it on a weekday because the idea of staying in the house or taking one of the insane taxi drivers (I mean really, even I probably drive better than the taxi drivers) was just not an appealing option. Swift had a little playgroup to go to and we were just gonna do it!

Except for the matter of a very important life strapped into the car seat behind me, shhhh - it was really fun! (Oh I doooo need to get a life, don't I?) You dodge and weave on both sides of the road! Motorcycles pass you on both the right and left! Look - a cow, a street dog, a goat, a monkey! J-walking? What is that? It is just so hairy that you have to laugh. It's the Indy 500 - but slow - with animals. If my girls were in the car I really could not have done it because it did require some concentration and they are clueless and would want Mommy to respond to their every whim not knowing that their lives as well as others on the road actually depend on their ability to be quiet. Swift liked it. "Go Mommy!" We drive on the left side of the road and the car is manual so I have to shift with my left hand. You know, just to spice things up a bit. Oh, and have I mentioned that I think there are only two stoplights in the ENTIRE city? I kid you not. And motorcycles frequently hold families of five. It is also an unspoken rule that you lay on the horn at least every five seconds. No matter what.

Ahhh and then there are the Tuk Tuks. The three wheeled auto rickshaws whose drivers clearly don't have to have actually driven anything before in order to become a Tuk Tuk driver. Speaking of rickshaws. The bicycle rickshaw drivers are some of the best drivers in the city. And the only people you ever see in them are overweight tourists filming the chaos and smiling away. Or coughing away as the case may be. Don't they know it is a human being pulling them? It is kind of embarrassing but I'm sure I'd do the same if I were just visiting. But since you know now ... if you come to KTM, don't ride the rickshaws. There is one more vehicle you will find on the road: tractors. These go veeeerrry slowly and are basically a motor in front that spews who knows what with a seat behind it and a flat bed behind the seat. Nothing is ... encased. Chugga chugga chugga.

Hmm have I missed any of the nuances of my driving experience today? Nope.

If only there were drive thru MoMo shops - now there's an idea.

Ahh. Girls and Friendship

Sigh. Kit came home yesterday sad about something that happened at school. It seems a little girl in her class wanted her to say who her "best friend" and who her "worst friend" in the class was. Now Kit is the type of little girl who meets a friend on the playground and has a new "best friend". She isn't a perfect angel but she is a friendly one. Kit said she didn't know what to say so she told said little girl that indeed she was her "best friend" and basically picked at random another little girl to be her "worst friend". You know what happened next. The little girl promptly went to the second girl to tell her that Kit said she was her "worst friend".

Oh my. This crud starts way too young. So we had a little chat about gossip and friendships and how we treat people. It makes me sad that she has to encounter all this and that she likely made the second little girl feel badly. But we all make mistakes and have to learn from them. She already tried to make amends with the second little girl before she even came home which is good.

When I was in that evil place they call Jr. High I had a devastating "friend" situation. (Didn't everyone? Shouldn't kids just be locked up for two years and let out when it is over? Juuuuust kidding.) But it turned out to be very formative. It made me evaluate the bases of friendship at a young enough age to do something about it. Not that my judgement has been perfect since but I hope that on my end I have been a good friend. I am a complete friend Pig! I love, love my dear friends. I have a POSSE from high school that I know is very unusual. Every year this same group of girlfriends (12-16 of us or so!) have a girls weekend. We go way back (some even to those evil Jr. High days), all pretense is parked at the door and we laugh(and eat)all weekend. My cup is always full after these weekends. We truly rejoice in each others' successes and have the ministry of "presence" in each others' pain. When we lived in Europe I made the trip home for these weekends but now we are just too far away. (I also didn't have three children then!)

My adult made friends are equally as fantabulous! I am ridiculously lucky and blessed! And I want this for my kids.

So may my dear daughter grow and learn from these not so fun times and come out on the other side to be a good friend and enjoy the friendship of others.

Two of my favorite books on the topic:

The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis and Friendship as Sacrament by Carmen Caltagrione.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My baby girl is five!

It is Lindsay's birthday and I can't believe that somehow I have created a tradition where my kids get not one, not two but THREE birthday cakes?! There are the cupcakes for school, the family cake and then the birthday party cake. Are we the only family that has fallen into the 3X sugar and lard trap? Even I, the Birthday Piglet Extraordinaire, think it is a bit excessive. But I'm not gonna be the Birthday Scrooge so three cakes it will be.

Our Lindsay is a delightful handful! She is exuberant, but shy.
She loves to dress up ...

... and to swing.

And we have one big thing in common - we love this man a lot!

Happy Birthday my Sweet Girl!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


After Khaki died last spring we promised the kids we would get a new puppy when we returned to Kathmandu from our summer trip to the States. Here is our latest addition.

Kathmandu is affectionately called Dogmandu. Street dogs are simply EVERYWHERE. Khaki had been a street dog from Nairobi and grew up to be our "international dog of mystery and intrigue" so we really didn't seriously consider not getting another street dog. There's nothing like "pickin' garbage" to fill out a pedigree. There is a rescue center here that goes out every morning rounding up street dogs and gets them spayed/neutered/dewormed etc. and then puts them back out on the street. (Theory being that at least "fixing" them will lower the population somewhat.) This is much more humane than the technique tried a few years back where they just scattered poisoned meat all over the city and then collected the dead dogs. Grrrrr.

Now could we really let them put this adorable pup back out on the cruel doggy streets? Nope. Welcome to the family Shanti! (Kit wants to call her Ella - I said it could be her middle name - bad Mommy)

I gave the camera to Kit. This may be the first picture I've been in for two years! (Except the ONE that is on this blog - even then I set it up and handed the camera to a friend.)

"Swift. Shanti is going to get Bunny."

"Really Swift. She is going to chew up Bunny and then YOU are going to be sad, sad, sad."

Too late.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bhat Bhateini Woes

Ay yai yai. You go away for two months and not only can you no longer seem to be able to SPELL (I keep backing up to retype things) but the grocery store has been completely reorganized. Bhat Bhateini is the Departmental store (why the "al" is on the end of the word is a mystery to me - but there it is.)that is one of the few "under one roof" type of grocery stores. The upper floors carry other things but the ground floor is reserved for food. I've been a pretty regular customer these past two years. The proprietor was riding a bicycle a few years back and has been a phenomenal business success here. But that isn't what this post is about.

Let me tell you how this went today. I was on a grocery mission! I had my list! Well I got my little cart (I love how they call them "buggies" in the South - but I digress) and started off. Whoaaaaah. I am completely disoriented. Nothing is where it used to be. Where do I go without getting lost? I carry on. I zig zag through the store. Shampoo and Conditioner are on different aisles. OK. Things you might use to bake are on end caps ... several of them ... not necessarily on adjacent aisles. Again, OK. And let's talk about those aisles. Shouldn't they be parallel? Sigh. It is about that time I notice I have one of those grocery carts that doesn't steer straight - particularly when they start getting loaded up. I smile that this is a global phenomenon not peculiar to the US. Everyone has had one of those annoying carts. Again - I carry on. The shelves are being stocked not leaving much room in the aisles. And several of the aisles have columns right in the middle you can't steer around. I'm starting to think this is pretty darn funny. My Cart With A Mind Of Its Own just steers straight into some stacked pile of something and sends it crashing.

You get the idea. Oh - and I only forgot one item!


Friday, September 5, 2008

Conversation with Heidi ... and anyone else who wants to join in.

Heidi at Mt Hope Chronicles ( - one of my favorite blogs)asked:

::Name one place you would like to see before you die.
Lindisfarne or Iona - the Celtic monastic communities.

::Is there a foreign language you wish you knew or would like to learn?
Well, I've "studied" a fair number of languages given both school and the countries we have lived in but to be honest, I still dream of speaking truly fluent French. No other language is as beautiful to listen to.

::What social issue concerns you the most? What is your favorite soapbox?
Here in Nepal it is trafficked women and children. It will make you mad and break your heart to hear the stories of exploitation and abuse.

My favorite soapbox might be about toxic management. I hate, hate, hate to hear about people's job experiences being negative because of a bully boss. I've had one and lived it and no longer have any patience for it. I've also had some wonderful supervisors for balance!

::What do you think your mom would say was the biggest challenge you presented her with?
Wow, Mom, what would you say? Being stubborn? Being a terrible eater? Just being different from her?

How would you answer these questions? Post it on your blog and link back here or just comment!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Teej - Girls Night Out

It is that time of year again already. The women of Kathmandu took to the streets yesterday in their best (usually) red saris and jewelery to celebrate Teej. During Teej women fast and pray to Shiva for prosperity and long life for their husbands. Single gals pray for their Prince Charming as well. It was a hot day and most women held umbrellas over their heads for shade. The lines at the most important Shiva temple were thousands deep - women waiting to go do their puja (worship) before moving on to dance and sing with friends. It is a total spectacle. The Color!

These are "pote" - the long beaded necklaces worn by married women.

This man was swimming against the Red Tide. I loved how typical this scene was to me of a major thoroughfare in Kathmandu with billboards in the background etc.

Nice jewelery! This piece as well as the Mangal Sutra are both worn by married women. Not fair that the single women have to be unadorned but that is the way it is.

Aren't the saris gorgeous?

The men were the street hawkers that day selling balloons, fruit, fabric and anything else they thought all these ladies might buy.

This is me just dressing the part. (Don't I wish - I was in classic frumpy mommy attire - it was really pathetic actually. I just have to get my mojo back. Another topic, another time.)

Mahendi painting - similar to henna.

Just a little embarrassed to be having her picture taken.

Oh. my. goodness. She is just amazing.

Jingle jangle, buy a bangle?

Oh this gal on the right is so tired. And hot. And hungry.

Happy Teej folks.