Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Well, most everybody knows that already, but few could tell from looking at my poor neglected blog. The good news (well, I like to think of it that way) is that I took about two thousand photos while in India and Nepal and so I have plenty of things to post soon. Very soon. Um, I just have to go shovel the blasted driveway again. :)
I leave you with a few pictures from a very marvellous and thought-provoking trip, and wish you a very Happy Solstice!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The last week before I leave on a trip I go into list-making mode with a fury.
On my List of Things to Do Before We Go there is a eclectic bunch of tasks ranging from the fairly significant (confirm flights and make copy of passport pages/visas) to the fairly trifling ( take back library books and paint toe-nails pink).
That last item is actually something I don't want to forget--here in Canada it is no longer sandal-wearing weather, but I've been following the weather forecasts for India and Nepal and this morning it was 34 degrees Celsius in Delhi.
Also I need to: clean out the fridge, bring in all the clay pots in from the garden, do a huge laundry, pack my bag (this may be the lightest pack so far!), confirm with various wonderful friends who are dropping us off and picking us up at the ferry next Tuesday, find something to read on the airplane, make a rupee to dollars conversion table, make something to bring to Sherry's potluck party, and er, you know, breathe deeply.
There's other stuff on the list, but you get the picture.
This last week before we leave finds me poring over traveller reviews of the hotels we have booked ---anything with the words "miserable hovel" or "cockroaches" needs to be reconsidered!
Also, I find myself desperately trying to avoid the stomach flu that is circulating at work while at the same time shopping for immodium tablets for the inevitable upset that people who pick India as a holiday destination will most likely encounter.
I've been reading, reading, reading about the places I'm going to be: Jaipur, Agra, Varanasi, Lumbini, Pokhara, Kathmandu......
I'm spending a week in the Kathmandu Valley! And last night Jeff's mom came over with a little gift---money ear-marked for a small chartered plane flight over Mount Everest. Between that, and my own mom's gift of money for two theatre nights in London on the way back home I can't help but feel that presents don't get much cooler. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
As well, Ritika, my friend in the village of Aru Bari outside of Kathmandu is sending little excited emails to me. I've never met her, but I'm really glad I am.
I'm getting those little travel butterflies.
List of Wondrous things I Want to Do
See the giant fruit bats that hang out in trees in Kathmandu---bonus points if I can see them flying out of those trees at just the right time at dusk.
Breathe in some Himalayan air.
Meet a sadhu, an Indian holy man.
Eat three things I've never tried: momos (Tibetan-style dumplings) for sure, but I'm game for anything that is not viscera of some sort.
Ride down the Ganges River at dawn (or dusk) in the ancient city of Varanasi--this is a city so old that it was a contemporary of Thebes, considered the oldest continually inhabited city in the world even.
Visit a cremation ghat (from a respectful distance). I am so interested in funerals, and India is one of the few countries where death is not always hidden behind closed doors.
See rhinos safely from an elephant's back in the forests of Chitwan.
Go to an Indian theatre and watch one of those so-dreadful-I-like-em Bollywood films.
Write in my journal every day. Could I not do this?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I'm starting to make a mental list of things I want to do, am really going to do.... We've already signed up for an elephant-back safari in this national park (it's the best way to get close to rhinos around that neck of the woods) so why not take the whole elephant thing one step further?
Number One on the List of Things to Do: I'm going to take a bath with an elephant in Chitwan Park, Nepal. Apparently I'm going to get very wet. Have a look at these people doing just that. I'm going to be just like that girl who had a bit of trouble figuring out just exactly how she was going to climb up on its back, I'm betting. :)
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Today it was gorgeous and sunny and as I walked around the playground at work an enormous dragonfly with luminous blue eyes landed on my hip.
I called the children to come over and have a look at it, and quite a little crowd of three year olds toddled over to peer at the large insect on me.
The dragonfly stayed put for quite a while, and two of my co-workers drifted over too. I cupped my hands gently under the dragonfly and lifted it up so the children could see better.
The dragonfly seemed quite at ease while I touched it gently and showed it to all the big and little people gathered around and only flew away when I lifted my hand up into the air above my head.
"That was magic!" said one little girl. "You are magic with bugs!"
Yes, agreed my co-workers, bugs seem to really like me. This sort of thing is not an isolated incident.
"She's the Bug Whisperer!" said Terri.
I kind of like that thought actually.
My co-worker told me of a story she'd heard about a man who one day had a butterfly land on his clothing while he was at work. The butterfly stayed with him all day, and then stayed on him as he travelled home. It was still with him the next day, and, much bemused, he placed the insect carefully in his garden.
It stayed for quite a while among his flowers, lighting on his clothing every day before fluttering away again.
At last, on the very last day he saw the butterfly, it sat on its shoulder for a while before flying up and up and up until he couldn't see it any more.
While it may or may not be a true tale, there is something deeply appealing in it to me.
Sixteen years ago... Jeff and I were still shaking the blasted flower petals out of our formal clothes---it's amazing how the pretty little confetti can fall right down one's wedding dress into the most confounded places.
Sixteen years ago.... we were sharing our first meal together as married couple---ravenously wolfing down sandwiches made by the B.C. Ferry Corporation because we were so busy running around smiling till our smile muscles were sore and posing for pictures at the wedding that we barely got to taste the wedding cake before zooming off to catch the boat.
Sixteen years ago...we were flying off to Disneyland on our honeymoon to ride on the teacups and visit Tomorrow Land and stay in a hotel themed like a castle with a stream running through the lobby.
It's gone by rather fast, and it's been rather fun. Happy Anniversary to us! :)
Sunday, September 07, 2008
What?! Spider Girl went on a shopping binge?!
Yes, armloads (two) of stuff came home with me in a unprecedented, out-of-character consumer frenzy. It was hours of trooping from shop to shop with my friend Sherry, and the shopping beast was temporarily unleashed within me yesterday afternoon...
The good news is, of course, that the stores were all second-hand ones and no credit ratings/bank accounts were drained in the process.
Do NOT, do NOT buy clothes at retail prices.It is INSANE how much they are charging for things when you can get the same thing in brand-new condition for three bucks.
It's amazing, actually, how much a girl can wring out of a twenty-dollar bill: two pairs of shoes, five tops, a very pretty skirt, two sparkly dressup purses for my preschool kids, two bags of building blocks (also for the kids), and this amazing bright and beautiful-ugly prism bead curtain which I am planning on taking apart so I can hang strings of it in a window at the preschool to catch the light.
And the good thing is that when I buy stuff for the preschool I can pay myself back from the recycled-bottle fund that I take care of. Excellent use of a frighteningly huge amount of empty juice boxes in my garage.
So, all told, I didn't spend a whole lot of cash....but I was reminded of why I stay well away from thrift stores and garage sales usually. Note to self: I BUY stuff. Good gravy.
It was a very fun day though,and I managed to catch up on things with an old friend. Also, we had dinner at the Gatehouse in Cumberland: their wild mushroom salad is divine!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Also, they are really short.
A gruesome mouthful of teeth. Sinister eyebrows. Might be Mr. Potato Head's unbalanced cousin.
Menacing claws. Dilated pupils. Bizarre appendages. Artist claims it is a portrait of sibling.
Anybody care to analyze these works further?
And what do you think? Do I have the seeds of an art show here?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
1)The tickets are paid for, the visa applications filled out--we are flying to New Delhi on November 5th for a month in India and Nepal! I'll be travelling again soon!
2)The roofers have arrived and a new roof is going on the house. No more buckets catching the deluge underneath the living room window every time it rains!
3) This time tomorrow I'll be at the spa having a hot-stone massage. A little birthday present to myself.
4) I saw four moons of Jupiter through Kim's telescope the other night. And the bright geography on the face of the full moon. What a gorgeous summer night!
5) My friend Tai is visiting this weekend!
6) I am halfway through writing a short story and so far I'm happy with it. It's a writing game that three friends of mine and I sometimes play.Actually, part of the reason I'm happy maybe is just that we decided to give the writing game another try!The rules this time are I somehow have to use the words shame, well, wine, escape, amplitude and slumgullion.
7) After three months of gardening in someone else's yard instead of my own, I'm finally getting some time in my own. The extra money for the gardening job is nice, but
8) I decluttered the Linen Clost of Doom the other day. My house is about fifty bazillion old sheets and towels lighter.
9) Terri brought me back earrings from Murano for my birthday. The sweetie!
10) I'm happy that I'm off to my birthday dinner at Toscano's! :)
Sunday, July 27, 2008
The key to deciphering this famous stone was that its text was the same passage written out three times in different languages. And once you know how to read the classical Greek and the Demotic Egyptian bits, understanding the once-indecipherable hieroglphics come easy. If, you know, you're a scholar of ancient languages and you are good at sticking with this sort of thing.
Me, I've spent the past weekend trying to decipher my own kind of Rosetta Stone. The computer software version of Italian Levels I and II.
I'd heard it was a very good program to learn languages because it follows a sort of immersion process, the same way a child would learn a language. It doesn't translate the vocabulary for you, it doesn't provide a list of grammar rules to follow, it just assumes you are reasonably attentive and can figure out what's going on in the little pictures.
It's FANTASTIC! It's addictive in that 'I'm-playing -a-video-game-and-must reach-the-next-level' sort of way. I wish, I wish, I wish I'd had this before travelling to Italy.
So, anyway, a few of my friends and I were recently talking about goal-setting, and what really happens if you are serious about doing something. But what goal to set? That is the question. Because these things take time and energy.
But here's a worthwhile goal: learn a second language. Maybe Italian because it's a beautiful language. Maybe French, because after all I'm supposed to know it already....I'm tired of being one of those Canadians who took French in school but is too embarrassed to speak the few phrases she knows when faced with an actual French-speaking person. (My poor French friend Edith did her best but I distinctly remember freezing up when introduced to her mom who only spoke French.
Yes, I can forsee acquiring the French version of the Rosetta Stone sometime soon....
And best of all, I recently read an article that has really encouraged me to try harder: it explained that it's a myth that adults are not able to learn a second language as well a child can. It's a rather discouraging belief for grown-ups who feel like trying after all.
Children do pick up new words and language quickly of course, but adults have the advantages of learning context and grasping grammar faster. The barrier to adults learning languages is mainly the embarrassment of making mistakes, not an innate inability past a certain age.
It's a relief, right? As long as I don't mind talking funny, I can do this thing. In theory.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
This morning, after Tai once again showed off her mysterious powers at finding a parking spot in the hideously crowded downtown core, we retraced some of the steps on the ghost-tour. We revisited the yucky haunted alleyway, purposefully walked along a street where a ghost has supposedly shoved a few people into the path of traffic (yep, we laugh in the face of danger, uh huh), didn't get shoved...
Saturday, June 14, 2008
A chance conversation with a waterscape designer led to an invitation to a Pond Building Party this weekend. That's the kind of party where instead of BYOB the invitation says: Bring Your Own Shovel .
Strangely enough, this kind of party seemed like just the way to spend my Saturday. I've been trying to make connections with other gardeners and horticulturalists of various types. I have an inkling if I ever decide to make a career change, this is the field I'd like to be in.
Doesn't hurt to network, right?...Well, unless you hurt yourself networking by carrying large rocks to build a pond. Nah.....I'm stronger than I look. :)
In the beginning.....There was only lawn.And then there was digging. A whole lotta digging. It was like that show Two Feet Under . Or something. Of course, with fifteen people digging, the work seems a lot less arduous than you might think.
Also, our spirits were kept buoyed by good coffee and treats from Tim Horton's.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Ah, yes, there was an incident involving that atomic blast and a flying household appliance. Ouch, That's gotta hurt.
But Indy and those around him (at least the ones we're cheering for) end up a little dusty and dishevelled, but otherwise apparently feeling fine. What I want to know is...will they be stiff and sore the following day?
Cuz if they aren't going to feel a little uncomfortable the next day, I feel like a major wuss.
Some guy barrelled into the back of my car yesterday with a sudden crunching noise that, let's say, didn't make me enjoy the beginning of my day more. My poor, dented bumper. My poor, discombobulated morning.
Anyway, I was going to rant here a little about how the guy reeked of marijuana, and phoned me up later that day to beg me not to report the accident to ICBC (um, too late there, my new not-paying-attention-in-traffic friend...) and that he'd give me a thousand dollars in cash if I wouldn't. Hmmm...well at least he's not trying to say it wasn't his fault....
But, anyhoo, today I'm feeling unpleasantly stiff along the tops of my shoulders. I'm rather annoyed by this, and I'm hoping it goes away before I have to whinge to a doctor about it.
Hey, I just know Indiana Jones (or any of his side-kicks) would be able to brush off a mere fender-bender without a second thought. I bet his hat wouldn't even fall off.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Happy. Very happy.
Tired. Very tired.
One hundred and seventy five people in my garden today...
The cherry trees were in bloom. The birdhouse Blackcrag gave me is being loved by the birds.