Jhamtse Gatsal

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!

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…
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…

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 GatsalĀ Ama lasĀ (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…

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…
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:
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…
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…
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…
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…
Mmm Quinoa

Mmm Quinoa

I have been helping with an Experiential Education project here at Gatsal, experimenting with growing Quinoa (a nutritious grain). Quinoa originates in the Andes mountains of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, a region possibly similar to the Himalayan mountains. Our friend Amma -- here teaching science from Jamaica -- is in charge, and I do what I can to help her and help teach the Class 8 & 9 kids who are working on the project. We've been doing lots of research, writing, and hands-on time in the garden, which is definitely the fun part. You can read more about the…

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?
Community Construction

Community Construction

We had the chance to help the community "pour" concrete. It took most of the day with about 50 people involved. In preparation the whole week before, the community masons had engineered an amazing network of concrete forms that would become a new porch roof for the school's new Admin Building. The whole thing consisted of 3-5 inch in diameter logs holding up the forms (made of planks), wood beams, sand, and a plastic membrane. The forms where then filled with an intricate lattice of metal rebar tightly tied together to create the skeleton. By my estimation it took 120…
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.
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!!

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!
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).