Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey Day in the 'Du (or Happy Birthgiving to Me!)

Yesterday just cracked me up. I love Thanksgiving. The ultimate in egalitarian holidays. Thanksgiving in expat communities is actually really fun because the normal "we are all in this together" feeling is just heightened. And being that it is usually only Americans in attendance, there is no cultural translation needed. We get to rest.

We usually host but this year we couldn't get our act together to invite people over early enough so we were guests instead. We went over to friends/colleagues down the street and gathered with our motley crew of fifteen or so. Everyone brought their Thanksgiving favorites.

You can't buy mini marshmallows in KTM but they do sell some nasty multicolored version. And yams here are white fleshed. (I did have an American friend who admitted to using food coloring one year just for nostalgia's sake - grin.) So you know that famous dish on many American Thanksgiving tables - the Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow topping? We had it alright. Turkey? Fear not - we all order outrageously expensive frozen imported turkeys. Worth every penny. Cranberry Sauce? Well, you can't buy it locally but I had some whole cranberries in the freezer from last year (when I unknowingly ordered $70 worth - don't ask) and someone had the canned jellied variety (sorry to devotees but .... yucko). Hmm, let's see all the other usual suspects were on the table - green beans, mashed spuds, etc. etc. Dessert (my favorite food group) - Apple Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie - yada yada yada.

The guests? The head chef was a visiting friend of the host's who is a professional chef on tugboats in Alaska. How do people know these jobs exist? Before that she was a personal chef on private yachts in the Caribbean. All I can say is some folks get the gigs! Two women arrived mid meal from the airport (also friends of the hosts). They had just flown in from Bhutan where they were attending a conference on Gross National Happiness (ahem). The rest of us were just the usual collection of USG and Aid/Development workers. The whole scene just made me smile.

Oh ... and I turned 29 again. It was a great day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Post Stuff Buffs?

There has to be a term for what we are. There are "empty nesters" after all.

Our quick trip back to the States, though for the saddest of reasons, was one of the smoother trips we've had. Want to know why? Less baby paraphernalia. This was the first trip without a stroller or car seat in seven years. It was positively liberating. Then upon our return the little guy decided he'd had enough of the crib. After crawling out of it four times last night we knew the moment had come. The crib was dismantled today and a little toddler bed was set up. My sweet boy is in slumberland in his new bed tonight! He has a pillow and proper covers. Amazing.

Now there is one more hurdle to overcome to truly get to that state of bliss/stage of life that I haven't termed yet. Potty training. But it is out there - I can see it. While home I went to Chez Tarjay and bought the Superman unders in preparation.

So what do you call it when your baby is growing up and there isn't another one behind him? (For the record - our family is full - if I were ten years younger .... maybe. But I'm not - so we aren't. I'm OK with that. Hoping for lots of grandchildren ... no time soon however). An "empty trunker" because the trunk of your car is no longer filled with "objets de bebe"? Some sort of Dr. Seussian term? An acronym (POCWNLRS - Parents of Children Who No Longer Require Stuff)?

I don't know, but I'll take suggestions.

Happy to be home ... Namaste.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Go love on those you love ...

Our family received the sad news of the death of a loved one today. He was the father of four and our hearts break for everyone. I won't be posting for a little while. We are trying to find flights home and these are the times when being so far away makes you feel so helpless.

We aren't promised tomorrow - so cherish those you love today.

Grace and Peace ... Laurel

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mustang Pony Trek - Part 3

From Kagbeni to Muktinath ...

In the immortal words of Meg Ryan in ... what's that movie? " (inhale) Beautiful". There is no fall color in Kathmandu so we were particularly appreciating the changing leaves.

These solor cookers were everywhere. It will boil water in 30 minutes.

Another pathetic attempt at a family picture. Someone help these people!

Lindsay feeding her pony.

I could (and will!) do a whole post on intellectual theft/copyright infringment. Mostly it's just funny. Yakburger anyone? Yakmilk slurpee?

Basically this says "Don't litter" in much more flowery language.
Part 4 to come ...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Expat Election Day

About a month ago, we voted by absentee ballot. But election day is election day so here we are.

While you voted, we slept. We woke up, turned on CNN ... no real news yet, the polls were still closing.

Later in the morning I took Baboo over to "Phora Durbar" (the American Club) where an election event for all Americans was being held. It was not the usual cast of characters which made it interesting. People ate breakfast, watched the returns (Swift played on the playground creating little donkeys and elephants in the sandbox. Kidding.) and chit chatted. Mixed in with the regulars, there were a lot of tourists - young and old- whom, for whatever reason are in KTM during this election and hopefully got a little dose of home during this important day.

The crowd cheered and clapped and cried. I teared up too. Living out of my country, however interesting, makes me appreciate home all the more. In spite of our many shortcomings, the US is still the land of idealism and opportunity. Both are in short supply here.

So indeed President-Elect Obama, God Bless America!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mustang Pony Trek - Part 2

Day 1: Jomsom to Kagbeni. None of these daily rides were very long but we stopped fairly often for breaks. Swift regaled me with his favorite tunage and demanded the all request and dedication hour as well. "Mommy sing lollipop song! Again!" Lindsay was on a mission to perfect her squatty potty technique (oops, oversharing.)

I couldn't really do any shooting while riding but tried to at breaks and when we reached our destination each day. My pictures just don't do justice.

Kagbeni is a primarily Tibetan community. A "road" was built to connect it to another village just last year. LAST.YEAR. I'm not kidding. Within the village there are no roads, just pathways for humans and livestock. Tourism is the only game in town. If there are no tourists the foot rots or is fed to the animals. The guest house we stayed at, though basic, was comfortable and the proprietors were incredibly warm and friendly. There was a 350 year old temple room in the middle of this guest house. Amazing.

Prayer Wheels

Prayer flags - a little worse for wear.

Hmm. Fancy.

Girl on a roof top across from our guest house.

Well ... once again I'll have to do this in parts. Bandwith in Nepal. Nonexistent.
Namaste ...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mustang Pony Trek - Part 1

We just returned from an amazing family trip to Lower Mustang. I only hope the girls will remember this well as it truly was a once in a lifetime experience.

We left Kathmandu and took the half hour flight to Pokhara, spent the night, and then got on this little plane. (Mom - aren't you glad I didn't tell you about this before we left?)

And then we landed on a little airstrip at this very little airport. It was just a tad unnerving.

We awaited our noble steeds. They were duly named Brown Beauty (because we are so original), Burpy (he had flatulence issues providing preschool humor for days and days) and Marguerite (because my two year old could only come up with names of his cousins when asked what he wanted to name his pony).

And this was the vista before us for our day's travel.

Just a teaser ....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Is it just me?

I think I am having browser issues but everytime I open up the blog different amounts of text or pictures are dropped. If I click on the actual post I can see the whole thing. Usually. Sometimes I can't read all the comment section. This doesn't happen when I read other people's blogs!

So I am appealing to anyone out there who opens this up to read it ... can you see a whole post or are things disappearing?

Yarghhh. Computers. Love 'em. Hate 'em.

UPDATE: I think I solved the issue. Explorer 8 Beta. I deleted it and ... voila ... blog returned. I know everyone will just sleep better tonight.