Week in the Life :: Moving

I'm here in Bangkok, very much alive and well, though with some snuffly coughing kids. But we are eating a lot of fruit and gathering things we need. Tonight we get on the train to head to Chiang Mai, in the North.

Before this blog turns to all things Thailand, I wanted to finish off my "Week in the Life" project with some photos over the last few days in India. Finishing up, tying up loose ends, and giving a little ceremony to our departure.

This is where Jaya lives, with her sister and brother-in-law and two nephews. They live in the tiniest house where they caretake for a giant coconut grove, in sight of the sea.

Jaya's sister keeps a beautiful garden. The borders are all done with dried cow dung, which seems to hold up much better than my bricks. I'm just a little enamored with cow dung and the way Indian people use it to make floors and seal walls. It's so... what's the word I'm looking for? Resourceful.

For our last devotion circle we took some time to talk about what the season and past seasons have meant to us. We built a rangoli together during worship, and talked about our move to Thailand, and how we will still be connected though we are in different places.


I bought a mango tree and we planted it together in the garden.


And Miriam gave us a mango, to symbolize the same dream being planted in another location.

It was a beautiful devotion circle, with prayer and honor and thankfulness to God.

In the next few days we: Saw a snake in the garden. Turned out to be a harmless keelback.

Packed for the movers, who took everything out of the boxes we had packed them in and repacked. This picture is very telling. We mostly own books. And instruments. Not much else.

While the movers were there, Johanna and Miriam very kindly took the kids to the beach for a swim and some lunch. I love this. The back steps full of people sitting and talking.

These guys were so efficient. It was shocking.

Right after the movers were done, we took a trip to visit the house of Jaya's fiance. I don't think he's really her fiance yet, because they haven't had the betrothal, but he will be.

He lives a little ways out into the jungle. Jaya is rather horrified by how far out it is.

I'm smiling like that because I'm so hopped up on all the sugar they gave us. Ice cream and soda and biscuits. Oh my.

What else? We had a big garden day. Miriam went a little crazy getting all the grass trimmed so it can grow in green again, and she needed a rest. So she lay back and talked to her mother on the phone.

That yellow is what happens to this kind of grass when it grows long. We let it grow too long. We learned our lesson.

And then there was a farewell. A bit frantic, a bit too much at the end. It seems to happen no matter how prepared I try to be. But we made it into the taxi with a few tears and we said to our little village, "See you in January."

Day in the Life :: Day Six

Day Six was a Thursday. It started like every day does for me. With this:

I looked out the kitchen door and saw the moon in the dawn sky.

I worked for a while on the front porch with a laptop and my coffee, and eventually Kid A came out to join me.

There was some fingerpaint action.

And later in the day, Miriam (the mysterious "M") came to try to learn some of the songs Chinua usually sings.

Jaya shelled peas for lunch.

And I made hummus for the fake birthday party. YaYa ALWAYS has her birthday here, but this year we're leaving before her birthday comes, so we decided to have a little gathering in her honor.

Someday I have to share my no measure, easy peasy, perfect hummus method with you.

I also made fruit salad.

And it was time! In a measure of sanity protection, I bought a cake rather than baking one. It was a very very hot day in the middle of packing time. No time to be dragging out the tin box to set on top of the stove.

I'm kind of in love with super fresh snacks for birthdays, with rich cake afterwards.

Then we played games. This one is called "Don't let grandmother catch you sneaking up on her," or probably it's not called that, but that's the general idea.

I like how I say "we" played games, when really I was manning the camera. And letting all the others get sweaty running around.


YaYa got a few little, thoughtful presents.

And then we spend time drawing and painting together, and somehow I missed getting photos of that, because I was busy sketching what turned out to be a terrible picture of YaYa, because she kept moving. The drawing together part was her idea. She's kind of a darling.

Week in the Life :: Day Five

Day Five was Wednesday. Wednesday is my day for guiding meditation, and I don't think I've missed a day. I'm working on some writings on meditation in the Christian tradition, which I hope to put out in the not too distant future, to explain more of what we do. There are many different types of meditation that we focus on here, including imagination meditation (often based on events in the life of Jesus), contemplation of nature, movement meditation, art meditation, and repetition of a prayer or scripture. On this day I chose a simple scripture meditation from Psalm 40.

This is our talking stick. We've taken the idea of the talking stick from Rainbow Gatherings, who used the way of indigenous tribes, especially in the Northwest region of North America. A talking stick is used at a talking circle. The circle respects the person with the stick, and only that person may speak. We've used it to reach decisions or hear everyone's point of view, but the main way we use it is in the third part of meditation, when we have a talking circle to hear everyone's experience and thoughts in the meditation. It's a sort of continuation of meditation, hearing from each other.

I was surprised to see that I took so few photos on Wednesday, though perhaps it isn't all that surprising. During the rest of the day, I did a lot of sorting.

And cleaning and bagging toys.

And math manipulatives. I have to say that this is the easiest time that I've ever had, doing a big move. That is not to say that it is not throwing me for a loop, emotionally, or that I handle transition and big change any better, but I have been very careful about not letting clutter build up. It's showing now, in the moment that I need to move everything. 

And somehow, the last photo I took was of lunch. Meditation, sorting toys, food. It's enough, I guess, to show a little of Wednesday. (That's dal, aloo matar (potatoes and peas) and rice and chapati. Yum.)

Week in the Life :: Day Four

Day Four was Tuesday.

Breakfast. My very favorite: fruit and yogurt. I make the yogurt every other day.

Coffee and cream, of course. We get this great coffee from Karnataka, the next state.

A little morning reading.

Jaya was making dried prawns for lunch, so she had to prepare them by peeling off the hard outer shell. It was stinky!


Leafy dressed as Po from Kung Fu Panda.

In the kitchen.

Jaya in the kitchen.

YaYa decided to make a necklace for Tina.

I think one of the underappreciated cuisines of the world is South Indian food. I LOVE it. They cook with coconut perfectly, with a lot of sour tastes involved and bitter greens. This was a beautiful lunch.

Chinua went to lay down a mandolin track at a sound guy's house, and on the way, he was accosted by more holi celebrators.

They really got him good.

YaYa found an old hat of mine and we put it on her.

And I went shopping for bedsheets. They were on my list of things to buy before we leave India.

This young girl travels with her family and helps them with their business. It's a shady area in the child labor issue, I feel. They are from Gujarat and can make a better life by traveling to where tourists are and selling textiles, but because they are transient, she doesn't go to school. She does understand business and multiple languages, so you can argue that she's learning. Her job is not hard. But it's confusing for me. Is it right or wrong? Or something else?

Later, we took Tina to the banyan tree. Our last trip out there this year. On the way, Tina and Solo and I were also accosted by cheering, singing Holi celebrators. We became very pink. And orange. And green.

I climbed the tree and then I remembered that I am scared of heights. I knew there was a reason I had never climbed it before. I sat up there for a long, long time, waiting for my stomach to stop roaming around my body so I could climb down.

And the last photo for Day Four. An Indian shop at night. A simple shot, but it's something that's very, very familiar.

Week in the Life :: Day Three

Day Three was Monday.

Some things I didn't take photos of:

:: Chinua playing music.

:: Lots and lots of sorting and packing.

:: Lots of cleaning.

:: Breakfast. I keep forgetting to take photos of breakfast.

:: Lunch. Ditto.

I did take some photos of:

A portrait.

Working on light sabers.

A visit to the tailor. I've been holding onto a bunch of fabric and I realized that I really need to bring it in now, before I go! My little dream is to get a machine and start doing this myself. But for now, here I am, getting measured for a jacket.

This is a new tailor. If I was the type to cross my fingers, they would be crossed. He always seems to wear jeans and a sweater, no matter how hot it is, and he is always sweating. A rather odd guy. But he seems confident.


After the tailor, Tina and I drove to the ATM to get some money for her, but the ATM had no money, and there's only one in the village. The fact that there's one in the village is AMAZING, but it doesn't always have money. So we decided to try the sugarcane juice across the road.

Why have I not done this before? I think they have always seemed scary to me. I had this idea in my mind that sugarcane juice was a cup of liquid sugar or something. And they are dirty sometimes. And they use local water for the ice. But it was really good. Really, really good. It tastes sweet and lemony, and like grass at the end.

That's me with some strange guy. He was asking for a photo over and over, he wanted one of his hand on the tree, but I think he might have been drinking something stronger than cane juice.

In India, everything is about sound. Sounds are so important. The sellers who walk the neighborhoods make their voices into this interesting nasal sound so that people going about their business can distinguish them from all the other sounds. And there are bells on the wheel of the sugarcane mashers, so you can hear them. I suppose over years, you hear the sound of those clanking bells and your mouth starts watering. It's like the Pied Piper of Juice, you hear the bells and you have to follow them.

At home there were yo yo tricks.

And Chinua showed the kids the places they've been in the U.S.

There was more lightsaber painting.

Leafy, make a tough face.

He tries.

And there was chopping. I made Thai green curry with tofu for dinner.

It doesn't look very green, but it was. The eggplant was melt in your mouth.