Gallery Posts

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…
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…
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…
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!)
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!
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…
River Play Day

River Play Day

From the community where we are staying we can see rivers in the deep canyons below. One of the rivers originates in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh and the other originates in the high Himalayas of Tibet. From our guest house we can see the confluence of these two rivers, where they become a single river, just before it flows into Bhutan. We took a trip down to the river that is on the border of Bhutan. It was a two hour ride down in a jeep stuffed with the three of us plus a bunch of staff and volunteers from the…
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…
Cool Bugs By Kai 2

Cool Bugs By Kai 2

A new handful of crawly friends. And we're just getting into the warm weather, so there's more to come... Enjoy!
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…
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…
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…
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!!
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.
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. ;)
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. :)
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…
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…