Posts by: Heather

India Independence Day

India Independence Day

We celebrated Independence Day (August 15th) with the kids, and learned a few things about India from all their presentations, skits, and posters. Like: • That funny 3-headed lion creature that we find on some of our rupee coins is the national emblem. It is actually four lions standing back to back - symbolizing power, courage, pride, and confidence. The base they are standing on has an elephant, a horse, a bull, and another lion. • The national flower is the lotus - exemplifying the fountainhead of life and creative inspiration. • The national fruit is the mango, and there are over 100 varieties in…

Because of Puking

Hanging out in the room. We brought some momos from the kitchen. They are yummy. Too yummy. When you're two and you eat too many... and you're laying down on the bench at the table... and someone is making you laugh too much... Well, our dinner plans for tonight have changed. Good night, Grandma!
Puppies Gone Wrong

Puppies Gone Wrong

Even little furball puppies can be naughty when they get big enough to do some damage with those sharp little gotta-chew-on-everything teeth. Kai found that out one day when he was waaaaay across the playing field with no one close by to pull the little rascals off fast enough. But he was pretty proud of how many bandaids he got to sport on his arms afterwards. :)

Raindrops

Happy the showers that fall on so fair a wilderness,–scarce a single drop can fail to find a beautiful spot,–on the tops of the peaks, on the shining glacier pavements, on the great smooth domes, on forests and gardens and brushy moraines, plashing, glinting, pattering, laving. Some go to the high snowy fountains to swell their well-saved stores; some into the lakes, washing the mountain windows, patting their smooth glassy levels, making dimples and bubbles and spray; some into the waterfalls and cascades, as if eager to join in their dance and song and beat their foam yet finer; good luck and good work for the happy mountain raindrops, each one of them a high waterfall in itself, descending from the cliffs and hollows of the clouds to the cliffs and hollows of the rocks, out of the sky-thunder into the thunder of the falling rivers. Some, falling on meadows and bogs, creep silently out of sight to the grass roots, hiding softly as in a nest, slipping, oozing hither, thither, seeking and finding their appointed work. Some, descending through the spires of the woods, sift spray through the shining needles, whispering peace and good cheer to each one of them. Some drops with happy aim glint on the sides of crystals, –quartz, hornblende, garnet, zircon, tourmaline, feldspar,–patter on grains of gold and heavy way-worn nuggets; some, with blunt plap-plap and low bass drumming, fall on the broad leaves of veratrum, saxifrage, cypripedium. Some happy drops fall straight into the cups of flowers, kissing the lips of lilies. How far they have to go, how many cups to fill, great and small, cells too small to be seen, cups holding half a drop as well as lake basins between the hills, each replenished with equal care, every drop in all the blessed throng a silvery newborn star with lake and river, garden and grove, valley and mountain, all that the landscape holds reflected in its crystal depths, God’s messenger, angel of love sent on its way with majesty and pomp and display of power that make man’s greatest shows ridiculous.

Now the storm is over, the sky is clear, the last rolling thunder-wave is spent on the peaks, and where are the raindrops now–what has become of all the shining throng? In winged vapor rising some are already hastening back to the sky, some have gone into the plants, creeping through invisible doors into the round rooms of cells, some are locked in crystals of ice, some in rock crystals, some in porous moraines to keep their small springs flowing, some have gone journeying on in the rivers to join the larger raindrop of the ocean. From form to form, beauty to beauty, ever changing, never resting, all are speeding on with love’s enthusiasm, singing with the stars the eternal song of creation.

–John Muir, My First Summer In the Sierra

It’s Monsooning!

It’s Monsooning!

Monsoon is upon us. We do have some nice days, and the sun definitely shows up nice and intense occasionally -- but then the clouds roll in and it opens up. It will rain all day and even all night some days, and sometimes really hard. We learn to take advantage quick when the conditions are right for drying a little laundry. ;) But otherwise, it's not too bad. It's not too cold right now, and we don't have to worry about landslides on the roads, since we're not going anywhere. Love it, that rain. Here are some drippy plant…

Om Tar’e Tu Tar’e Monpa Dance

This is one of my favorites. :) It's a traditional Monpa dance called [something like] Om Tar'e Tu Tar'e, and performed by the students of classes 8 and 9 at Jhamtse Gatsal Children's Community. Side note: Monpa is not a written language, so the spelling of this dance is the Tibetan dance teacher's and Spence's combined best guess at a phonetic spelling.

Lekshey Norchung Tibetan Dance

We wanted to share some of the beautiful traditional dances that the kids do for special occasions. With so little bandwidth available for uploading stuff though, we've knocked the quality of these down quite small to save space..... :( And actually, that is going to be the case with any videos going forward while we are here. We promise to go back and replace them with their higher-quality versions as soon as we are back to somewhere with better internet, though. Enjoy. This is a Tibetan dance called Lekshey Norchung, and this is the kids of classes 7, 8 and…
Cinnamon Favorites!

Cinnamon Favorites!

This must be a family recipe, because I don't know anyone else who eats Cinnamon Favorites. But they are very similar to Snickerdoodles, so that's probably why. :) Thanks for sending, Mom! INGREDIENTS: Cookie Dough: ½ cup of butter 1 cup of sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon of vanilla 1¼ cups of sifted white flour 1 teaspoon of baking powder ¼ teaspoon of salt Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture: 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon 1 Tablespoon of sugar DIRECTIONS: Mix the butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. (We didn't have vanilla - oh well!) Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt, And then…
Cookie Bakers

Cookie Bakers

I would definitely say I have a sweet-tooth. Especially for baked goods. Especially if there is cinnamon involved. So of course I said yes at the chance to share some baking fun with some of the kids recently. Most of the older students were busy with dance practice one afternoon, so my team consisted of four middle-sized girls who were quite happy to have something else to help with: Sonam Lhamu, Shanti Tamang, Mani Wangmu, and Tsering Chodron. (Read their play-by-play of it all over on the Gatsal blog, ya?) After some false starts, and a couple hours of letting…
A Haircut For Kai

A Haircut For Kai

If Spence thought he needed to worry about his hair gettin' awkward, it was nothing compared to Kai. Kai was starting to get mullet-head for real. The kids have had haircuts twice since we've been here, (a barber comes from Lumla and whips through everyone in a day....phew) but whenever I try to talk Kai into taking a turn on the chair, I get a big 'heck no way' in 2-year-old speak. I don't try too hard, though, because I figure he'd be too wiggly for those speedy scissors anyway. Anyway, it was time.  We borrowed some clippers. Kai was…

Playing With Puppies #1

Got some quick videos of the boy and his puppy pals. Mostly boring if you're not one of the grandmas. Zzzzzz. :) In this one they are wrestling and bouncing up the steps. After the mama dog moved them out of the woodpile, she brought them by the guesthouse and apparently told them to stay with us. (Despite Kai, we really probably had one of the safest and calmest spots on campus...) They slept in a pile of 5 on a blanket under a table outside our room for awhile, and they were fun.
Krazy Growing Kale

Krazy Growing Kale

The Jhamtse Gatsal Ama las (the four Housemothers, tasked with taking care of groups of 20+ children each, and many other keep-the-community-running kind of stuff) are garden miracle workers! They are all young and still learning, but they work hard, aren't afraid to try stuff, and boy are their thumbs green! While my little garden has been struggling along, theirs has been bursting with healthy, organic produce. I brought a bag full of my leftover seeds, and a few new ones I picked up before we came, and they were quite happy to use them all. There were many seeds & veggies…
Small Pup

Small Pup

Boys and puppies just go together. It was probably inevitable with me around, but this boy sure does love critters. :) And there's nothing better than waggily little furballs that will follow you around and let you pick them up and share your snacks with you. (Yeah, we miss you, Baxter!)
Stuff-Making Skills

Stuff-Making Skills

I got to bust out some old Redcliff rope-making skills the other day. We were killing time, waiting for some new visitors to arrive and be greeted. So I was keeping my hands busy by making cordage out of long blades of grass. It wasn't too long before I was surrounded by eager learners, jumping right in with their own attempts. One of the boys showed me how they make rope in his village, using bamboo fiber, and twisting three strands instead of two. I bet that stuff is strong. Next I want to try making hemp cordage. Plenty of…
Interview on LDS Earth Stewardship

Interview on LDS Earth Stewardship

I’m slow to share, but a friend of ours over at LDS Earth Stewardship did a little write-up about us and our current adventure. The LDSES website and blog is pretty cool too, and I’m feeling inspired by all the others that have been interviewed as part of their ‘Stewardship in Action’ series…. go check it out!

Cool Bugs by Kai 3

Cool Bugs by Kai 3

Kai says he is sorry for slacking on his buggy updates. He promises to keep 'em coming better. We aren't running out of new crawly discoveries around here, so this is an extra big selection of our little (and not so little) friends. Enjoy!

Storyteller Kai

I'm loving getting to witness Kai's mastering of the English language. He amazes me with some of the thoughts he puts together sometimes, or words he comes up with (or remembers). And he's quite the little talker. He likes to tell stories. I haven't been too successful at capturing some of his best stuff...but here is some small chatter from Kai.
Gatsal Clay Oven Build

Gatsal Clay Oven Build

One of my many to-do lists (extra crazy now that I can manage them with an app on my iPod!) is titled Learn & Do, and one of the items on it is to build a clay oven. Recently Jhamtse Gatsal had a rad volunteer here, who knows a bit about natural building, and who jumped right in to build a sweet clay oven for the Community. And I totally missed that boat. It was a busy month for my projects, and I didn't help out with the oven-building nearly as much as I could've/should've/wanted to. Oh well, I guess…
Happy Birthday, Dalai Lama

Happy Birthday, Dalai Lama

Our Community usually finds any excuse to celebrate with dancing and music and good food. In fact, we were here another year [oops, sorry, the link will work when I get all the old content back up] for a rockin' big party in his honor. This year, though, it was decided to spend the day doing meditations and generally having a more calm and spiritual celebration of His Holiness' 78th birthday. Here is a nice picture of Kai being really good and quiet during the prayer sessions. ;) One of the upper class Gatsal students did a nice write-up on…
Garden Update: Peas!

Garden Update: Peas!

Well, one garden is carrying on around here. At least one part of it: we've been picking and eating fresh peas, and they are gooooood. (We do get to eat lots of veggies at meals -- the amalas are good at growing stuff, and the kitchen staff works wonders with it.... but it is pretty rare to get to eat veggies that aren't cooked.) So we be lovin' these fresh little pods of green goodness balls. The rest of my garden= different story. I really should have known better about my spot and what I planted there, but I also…
June Crazies

June Crazies

Well that wasn't very nice of us, to leave our blog hanging, with the last post being about trouble afoot. Don't worry, worriers, we just weren't posting because we got wrapped up in being busy and trying to get projects done. :) But, now that something official has been posted on the Jhamtse Gatsal blog about the crazy month of June, I can tell you a bit more if I want to. ... And I probably do, but I haven't really figured out what yet, and it's time to stop putting off updating our blog. So, for now, here is…
Time and Truth

Time and Truth

The Community is dealing with some tough stuff right now. I'm not at liberty to write about it (plus I'm still trying to understand and sort out my own thoughts -- time and truth will definitely give everyone some perspective on this). So, for now, instead, a few quotes that have been on my mind:

March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path.

– Khalil Gibran

The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.

– Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He’s sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped.

– Charles Stanley

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.

– Thomas Paine
This Is How We…

This Is How We…

Make do with no mirror when we need to see our hair after a bath. (An iPod camera works just great, thankyouverymuch.)

Rainy Day Stairs

It's a quiet rainy day. We're headed in for a bath and a nap after some good puddle & sand pile playin'. Squish. Squish. Squish. (Spence built this shortcut path and steps from our little guesthouse up to the main part of campus on a day when the power was down so he couldn't work on his computer. He's so cool.) P.s. As with any of our pics, if you're having trouble because of the ridiculously big size, just grab the corner of your browser and make it narrower and things will resize so you can view them smaller.
H Work

H Work

Every now and then I get to get off the computer to get some work done. Wahoo! (Okay it started with a pencil and paper...ended up mostly back on the computer.) I'm working on an infographic for the fundraising campaign we're helping with. Here's a skip-through of my process: • Pencil drawing. • Inked it. Tool of choice is a fine point Sharpie. (Beware: the toddler's tool of choice is the Sharpie too...attention diverted to colored pencils.) • Erased the pencil. • Scanned. (The school has a scanner, otherwise I'd just grab a pic with my iPod camera.) • Crisped…
This Is How We…

This Is How We…

Make gravel. Of course. (One of many things you never think about the fact that it can be done by hand when you have the time and people to do it.) This particular pile will be used in the cement that will form the decorative window facades on the new building that everyone is helping with. But around here you also see many, many women employed by the road companies to sit on the side of the road crushing rocks for road-building, one at a time. They stick cut tree branches sticking straight down into ground to provide umbrella-like shelter…

To be kind is probably one of the greatest qualities one can have. Be kind.

– Grandma
My Little Garden

My Little Garden

I love a little garden. I claimed a little corner of dirt below the guesthouse for my attempts at growing a few edibles this year. The boys helped me get it ready (they like to dig in the dirt too). I planted some of the seeds I brought -- a few kinds of tomatoes, peas, cukes (mostly things we can enjoy without our own kitchen for cooking) cilantro, cantaloupe -- and then gave the rest of the big bag to the Ama las (house mothers). They were stoked to get some new things to try. They are gardening extraordinaires! I…
Ode to Orange Berries

Ode to Orange Berries

We eat lots of veggies, Cooked lovingly (and long): Squish. So when we snack on fresh sweet fruit, It makes us sing a song. Orange berries, oh! For morning walks we go. You tempt our eyes with every step, Your Monpa name is Mrep. Ambling bright and early, We brought a bowl this time: Squash. Shades, hat, monkey on back Sampling is no crime. Orange berries, oh! We pick you high and low. One for the bowl, one for me, How many can we see? The bushes aren't so joyful. They're full of angry prickles: Ouch. My sweatered arm, it…
Tawang Monastery Up Close

Tawang Monastery Up Close

I wanted to do a separate gallery post of some of the pictures I took on our fieldtrip. I warned you -- I like looking at the designs and textures of things, so these are mostly close ups and detail shots of the wall murals and other decoration at the monastery. Some beautifulness, no?
Just Finished Reading…

Just Finished Reading…

The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography by Tetsu Saiwai Complete with the expected visual sound effects, this graphic-novel-esque story about the Dalai Lama's childhood and life was quick to read and really cool! Kai even liked reading parts of it with me. Did you know that his full name (given to him when he was 5 years old and officially acknowledged as the spiritual leader of Tibet) is Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso? It means "Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom." He's had quite a life, and the story of the…
Class Fieldtrip

Class Fieldtrip

We tagged along with the Class 5 and 6 fieldtrip to Tawang a couple weekends ago. (A couple of the kids talked about it here, on the JG blog.) Besides everyone getting brain damage and puking all over the place from riding in the closed-in back of a fumey truck for 2 hours each way (except me & Kai -- we claimed 1/2 a seat in the cab)...it was a lovely trip, and fun to go somewhere with the kids. We visited the old Tawang monastery, Urgelling Gonpa -- the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama, and Manjushree -- a…

Kabloooie!

I'm pretty sure when we look back, the year of being two will be all about rock-throwing. Boy loves rocks. It's hereditary. (And yep, those are his babies he's packin')
Jaybird

Jaybird

We love a good rainstorm. It makes big puddles. Which you have to play in. And then you lose your clothes. And even when your lips turn purple, you ARE NOT HAPPY that your mama says you have to stop throwing rocks because it's time for a nap.

The whole wilderness seems to be alive and familiar, full of humanity. The very stones seem talkative, sympathetic, brotherly. No wonder when we consider that we all have the same Father and Mother.

– John Muir
Food Finders

Food Finders

If I ever have to survive in the wild Himalayan foothills, I want to bring one of these kids with me. They're tough and they know stuff. Even at their young age, they are equipped with all kinds of practical knowledge that is lost from the same generation of kids in my own country. Going on walks with them is hilarious. Kind of like walking with a pack of foraging goats. Even just along the road they are constantly darting into the bushes and brush, bursting out seconds later with various edibles: mrep (berries) and chomcha (plant with a sour…
Water Is Life
Khartheng

Khartheng

All that construction work last weekend earned everyone a day off, so another volunteer, Adam, organized a handful of us to hike down the nearby village of Khartheng for a visit. The trail we took to get there went pretty much straight down the mountainside from the ridge Jhamtse Gatsal is on. But it got us there in a quick 30 minutes! Khartheng seems like a bigger village to me, full of traditional stone houses, with alleys winding between them, and surrounded by fields of crops. It was fun to be with the kids, who enjoyed pointing things out and…

Wisdom by Kai

(going out, 5:30am)

I tell you I want my hat!
It’s chilly cold.
Chili is spicy…don’t eat.
Don’t eat sand. Blech!

Motorcycle

This is how he learned Sangpo's name. 'Cuz "Sangpo has a motorcycle!" I also now occasionally get "Mom, can I have a motorcycle?" :) Of course, Kai. Give it a decade or so, though. Ok?

Mother Nature is too often spoken of as in reality no mother at all. Yet how wisely, sternly, tenderly she loves and looks after her children in all sorts of weather and wildernesses.

– John Muir
This is How We…

This is How We…

Take a bath! Okay, kidding, only Kai is this lucky..... there are no giant buckets for the rest of us. ;) There's an audio clip if you really want to listen in on Kai pouring, splashing, jumping, chattering... but don't spend 20+ minutes doing only that. Press play while you get something else done, and think of it like one of those meditational ocean-sounds-in-the-background CDs. Lol.
Tibetan Prayers

Tibetan Prayers

Here's some beautiful audio of the kids chanting in a recent prayer session. Head over to the Gatsal News Blog if you want to read more about it.
For Post!

For Post!

Just wanted to share the Best Birthday Bus ever! Kai is being silly because we are taking pictures for you, Post. :) He loves his Syncro. It's even been driven through a mud puddle. Oops! MamaJ, your talents inspire us. LOVE & THANKS!!!
Happy Birthday Hike

Happy Birthday Hike

2 years old! What a better way to spend part of the day, than an exploratory hike into the jungle? We found lots of trees with character, mushrooms, moss, bugs, and hiked home with a couple of chattery Monpa ladies from a nearby village. Happy Birthday Kai!!

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

– Mary Oliver
Our Giant Friend, Tara

Our Giant Friend, Tara

She's still a work in progress, but impressive nonetheless. My how she's changed since she was just some rebar legs in 2009. We like to go visit and explore....and climb around, of course.
Love Note

Love Note

To=Kai. From Tenzin Lhadron (B) I Love You! To Dear Lovely Kai You is so Handsome and Lovely. With lots of Love hugs and kisses for you. I Love You
Cool Bugs By Kai: a Fuzzy Moth

Cool Bugs By Kai: a Fuzzy Moth

Brace yourselves. We find so many sweet (crazy, huge, different) bugs that are worth sharing, that you'll be seeing lots of them on here. Here's one: a fuzzy head moth. So cool that Kai had to run inside and find my sunglasses to look at it. ;)

Entourage

Kai with a gaggle of girls. All the attention is overwhelming sometimes, but today he's eating it up. (And look how well trained he is to stop and pose when the camera comes out! Lol.)
Snow Lions and Smooches

Snow Lions and Smooches

A special day with traditional dance performances here at JG. Kai LOVED the snow lion dance. He was quite disappointed to be whisked into the prayer hall, only to find kids coming out of the furry costumes. But he came back with a lipstick-smooched face, courtesy of one of the other dancers, so it couldn't have been all bad. :)

Making Friends

Just some low-key playing with rocks and a new friend. I think little Tharpa is 8+ months older than Kai. Holy smokes we have a giant!
Good Old Tawang

Good Old Tawang

We needed to take care of some business in Tawang -- the business being registering ourselves with the local head of police, who apparently needed to know things like: what kind of car do you own? (um, a bicycle?) And what is your house made of? And what is the nearest landmark to it? And what region do you live in? (I think we told him our timezone for that one, haha.) Tawang is the big-ish town that is about 2 hours away --  so we also did some errands and poking about and visited the Tawang Monastery while we…
The Solemn Rights of All Living Beings
Made It!

Made It!

And the World's Best Momos were waiting. Ah, Heaven. By the way, you can also follow us while we are here at Jhamtse Gatsal, on the Gatsal News Blog: www.jhamtse.net/blog You'll get a more general idea of what's going on around us at the community (cuz we all know that this blog is going to turn into the Kai Show, lol).
Beautiful Bomdila

Beautiful Bomdila

Ah, crisp, Spring, mountain air! Okay, I idealize... it is gettin' cold up here! Good thing we packed plenty of warm things...in our checked bags....which are now [still] in Delhi! Got an update from the airline. "Big oops, delivered to the wrong address," (and hours before we skipped town on the train) "but, oh, since they're out of our hands now -- though not to you --  your file is closed, and we won't be trying to get them to you." Sheesh! Did I mention it's cold here? In fact, there is a high mountain pass between here and Jhamtse…
Save Trees to Save Mountains
Snoozin’ on the Job

Snoozin’ on the Job

Kai's like an old pro at these many-hour stretches on an airplane. After 2+ days of flying and airports, you still wouldn't guess that it was his first time. What a trooper! Our journey was pleasant enough... so Virgin Atlantic decided to throw a little twist in the story and lose ALL our luggage. Oops. And, oops, we forgot to take any more pictures until we were halfway into the Himalayas! Let's give you a rare telling about that handful of days instead. :) We arrived in Delhi early enough on Monday to waste a couple more hours at the…
Ready to Roll

Ready to Roll

Here we go again! Welcome to our new blog. We'll get all the old content back on here, and fill in the gaps....eventually. For now, we will start with our latest adventuring: beginning in February 2013, and for the next year(ish), the 3 of us are living and volunteering and having fun at Jhamtse Gatsal Children's Community, in the Himalayan foothills of eastern India. Enjoy!

Live in the sunshine. Swim the sea. Drink the wild air.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson