Friday, September 30, 2022

Oh my goodness…I own a dog!

 I did wonder what I was thinking…buying a dog, living for a dog, loving a dog.

Annie and her friend, Moose

When my husband passed away in December of 2021, I said (in front of my grandchildren, children and perfect strangers) I am going to get a dog. It was one of those moments in grief when a person is trying to figure out how they are going to spend the rest of their life alone…alone.

I own a home in Oregon, a small house in a retirement community near my family AND I own a four bedroom house on a golf course in Tucson. AZ. When my husband was alive, we spent a lot of time restoring houses in Arizona. It was our hobby. But as my husbands health deteriorated, the responsibility became more and more mine. He did the work I made decision and suggestions.

Our plan had been to just keep on going until we couldn’t.

This is where the dog comes into the picture. See, I still love hard work and creating a beautiful world around me. I have been in love with interior design all of my life. And making my world beautiful without a living breathing creature nearby just did not seem right for me…not another human but just a creature to love and care for.

Still in spite of all those realities, I had second thoughts about my plan as soon as the words came out of my mouth! But my grandchildren and children and friends loved the idea…they were totally onboard. They offered to help care for this other being. They picked out dogs and cats and names and when and where. They had so much advice and thoughts on the fact…a lot of advice. A lot of advice.

As for me I was still sorting out my life. Tons of things went to Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity. I don’t know if all widows do this but I was simply making room for my world. A king sized bed was traded for a queen. Furniture was rearranged. Our iwatches were traded for given new homes and  new phones were given away and so it went. 

I think it was the end of July that Amelia, aged 15, started an internet search for a small, non-shedding sweet puppy. I had decided on a cat but she and her older cousins assumed control, called, made the arrangements and I made a down payment on a tiny dog. And Annie was mine! It was the nudge that I needed.

Annie at the beach! (I’m the short one in the
hat. My grandson Sam too!

When I brought her home, she was less than 1 lb. and 8 weeks old. She was afraid but it turns out she was also very brave. She sleeps with me at night. She has peed and pooped in every room in the house. She can run fast and her favorite pass time is chewing. 

Almost two month have passed. We have learned about each other. She is almost house broken…well she can get pretty excited when company come so there is that. But she walks on a leash, sleeps in my lap but also sleeps in her crate, on my bed and in the dog training enclosure. I can leave her alone in her crate for hours and she will hold it until I come back. I can carry her in my purse or in a pouch that I carry. She is very durable it turns out.

In a word…perfect, she is absolutely perfect! She is just what I needed. My husband would have loved her and since he was Dr. Doolittle, she would have loved him. I like to believe that. 

We are happy.

How about you…what are you doing to make your life better?

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Thursday, July 28, 2022

No One Honked Their Horn!

My granddaughter is learning to drive! She had signs all over her car, STUDENT DRIVER  they say and her mother sits in the front seat monitoring her every move....so far. I did hear that her dad took her out the other day so that is different. We will see.

I have been relearning to drive. I do not have any signs on my car...where do you buy those "Old Woman at the Wheel" signs? Sigh!

Now I have a new goal for a successful day. When I told my granddaughter that I measured a successful day by how many people honked at me when I drove, she said that was because I didn't have any signs on my car. No honks was considered a huge success. No one honked at her.

Let me explain. My husband had done most of the driving forever. He hated it when I drove and in his last days of life, he let me know it. He didn't like that I was not coasting up to the stop sign or red light, etc. I had to drive so he had to get over it.

Now here is the deal, not driving leads to gawking and dreaming and surfing the net. When I stopped riding and had to drive, I realized the when you drive, you need to pay attention ALL OF THE TIME! It was hard. 

I am getting better.

The measure of a successful day is not huge for me. My life is now about making myself happy...well there are other things but in the end, in my spare time, I just make myself happy.

What is your measure of a successful day?

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Monday, July 25, 2022

The Back Corner for Poetry Monday

In the end the burial plot was not

what she had expected.

I guess she was not sweet

and kind.

The shot gun she protected 

her child and land with

stood in the corner of the kitchen

ready.

Grandpa had been taken

to a safer place they said

so when she died

the place she was to be buried

had already been taken.

You will find her in the back

corner.

I think she was happier

there anyway.


True story. 


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When My Spirits Soar...Books

These are the days when so many things pull at me, I cannot think of what to do next. It is inconvenient when all the tires on my Mini Cooper need replacing and there is washing to be done. But then you all know what I am talking about...SUMMER!

Books call me before anything. I have read few notable books this summer and 2 have come from my library box that sits in front of my house. It appears that my neighbors have very good taste in books. ☺ Because I love a good mystery as much as anybody I was delighted when a Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache novel, A Trick of Light, appeared one day. If you are a fan of Louise Penny and you have not read this, do. If you aren't, just give her a try...you will not be disappointed.

Then, much to my delight,  The News of the World appeared right in the front row of my library box. I had heard so much about the movie starring Tom Hanks on HBO Max. When the movie came out, I am sure that sales for the book soared. (It is 39% off on Amazon right now...FYI) A reviewer said that the Captain Kidd character should sit along side Captain Call from Lonesome Dove. It is not only a beautiful little book even in paper back, the author, Paulette Jiles, has captured an era in the late 1800 when the Kiowa were being driven from their land and the Civil War and all the change that implied left Texas a place that was lawless and dangerous. 

I read the reviews on Amazon and many did not like the format...no quotation marks etc. I was reminded of the stream of consciousness format used in The Shipping News by Annie Proloux. If you are not willing to learn from those books or bend your mind a little, stick to some simpler book.

I think I have already told you about The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. A friend lent this to me when I was in Arizona. I did not give it back but purchased her a copy instead. I have since lent it to my family and bought a copy for a friend here in Oregon. It is a delightful book and perfect for late evening reading or even the beach. Because it was about a lady that loved books and traveled to America to connect with another lover of books, I could not resist being taken away.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a sweet, smart, and uplifting story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.

So there you have it. I am thinking of my flower garden and family gathering and winery visits but those are for another day.

What have you been reading? 

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Saturday, July 23, 2022

How Important Are You?

"Do you see Color?"  

Carol Cassara asked that question on a blog post the other day. She had heard an interview on tv where the person being interviewed was asked about bias and bigotry and the person replied that they did not see color! Is that a good thing or a bad thing. Or did I simply misunderstand.

Carol pointed out the ignoring another person's color denied that person of their identity all together. After all we are a part of many generations of humans that led to who they are. But her thinking was that when a person says that it is not what they mean. Those that disagree with the statement have taken it literally. We might do the same if we didn't think about what the deeper meaning was. Here is what she wrote:

"So let’s break it down. Yes, yes, fools like me do want to rush in where angels fear to tread. Kids, we MUST discuss these hard topics or we are doomed to be stuck in this hell called our society forever.

So it’s impossible not to see color. Color of hair, color of eyes, color of clothing and YES, color of SKIN. Racial identity. We ALL see color. But here’s what I think people NOT of color mean when they say “I don’t see color."

They mean that they do not attach negative and stereotypical traits to a particular race.

I liked her words...a lot. Thank you Carole for bringing meaning to a phrase that is being misread over and over. Unfortunately, as I travel the world as well as my own country, I see evidence that many leaders do see "color". I give you that wall between Mexico and the USA that I live close to in the winter. 

Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

I might take that a bit further. It is a razors edge we walk on when it come to color, age, sexual orientation or even linage. It all depends on what your base reaction is. I have traveled a lot and I know that color permeates every culture. The Chinese look down on the Mongolians. The Indian's base their opinion of another on the color of their skin and is a result of centuries of the caste system. The Middle East is all about religion and so it goes. In the United States all you have to be is different. Each finds someone to hate or denigrate. Maybe that is true everywhere on this planet.

I have always believed that humans disparage others because it makes themselves feel more important. Back when I was a child we often said the our poor uneducated white people hated the blacks because it make them feel bigger and, well, less poor and uneducated. Does that make sense?

I took a trip to India in May of this year where I got a glimpse of what the English rule in that country did to that culture. Inside The Imperial New Dehli where my daughter-in-law and granddaughters stayed spent one night, we saw a world where no sign of the language of India appeared. Even thought pictures lined the walls were lithographs of India's history created back in the sands of time, the language under each was English. It seemed like a time warp of sorts. The hotel was built in early 1930 and opened in 1936. The Indian people won their independence in 1947. The architecture speaks to the era. 

But according to this piece of history of the hotel, the governing body and those with influence in India found a place here. It served as a meeting place for the Indo-British governing bodies in spite of it's "Britishness". I find that very interesting. 

"The Imperial was placed on the second most important social boulevard of the nation, the prestigious Queensway, now called Janpath, the first being the grand and ceremonious Kingsway, now known as Rajpath. From the time it opened its doors in the 1930s, when India was beginning to write the last chapters of its saga on independence, there was little space in New Delhi for an Indo-British rubbing of shoulders. The Imperial provided such a space. Pandit Nehru, Mahatama Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten met at The Imperial under congenial conditions to discuss the partition of India and creation of Pakistan. The Nehru family had a permanent suite here."

Doorman

My suite.

Grounds of the Imperial

The Spice Road Restaurant

Before dinner drinks with Daughter-in-law Amanda

The British control of this country is history but how it left the country with an image of it's people was less than kind. I suppose even today there are those that look down on the Indian culture. I recall when a girl from my hometown married a gentleman from India 40 years ago, my mother commented that he just look black to her.  

As for the Indian people they also had the caste system leaving every level of society feeling better about themselves because they had someone to look down on...that was and is important. My son's maid did not clean the toilets until caught refusing to do that ugly "unclean" job. It is and was part of what a lower caste did.

When we traveled in China my son lived in Pu Dong just east of Shanghai. The development where his school was locate was built at the end of a dirt road that traveled through a Mongolian settlement. The people lived (and maybe worked) in the neighborhood. The school for the children was segregated from the local school district serving the Chinese people. It was not good! I might mention here that no "foreigner" could attend a Chinese public school. Inner Mongolia is part of China so there is that. But in my world it was not an unfamiliar.

But do we not acknowledge that these people are from a different culture and actually do look different than we do? I don't think so. We simply need to learn more and maybe even rub shoulders with them so we can understand and even maybe make a part of their culture our own. I am as guilty as anyone of carrying bigotry from a childhood where people struggled and it was important to, well, feel important.

So, how important do you need to feel? I stopped and thought about that today and I think we all should do that?

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Thursday, July 21, 2022

What Did You Promise Yourself this Morning?


My Flowers this Morning

Do you promised yourself that there will be a time to write? After the floor is clean and the dishes are washed and the bed made and you have gone for a walk? Do you promise yourself?

It is finding the part of my thoughts that I want to share...honestly people the list of done things in a day are not...inspiring or interesting. What I had for supper, how my driving was today (no horns honking or even how many hours sleep I had last night.) What is a girl to do?

On Women of Midlife I read several blog posts that interested me...how to buy a cocktail dress after the age of fifty. It was interesting but the cost of those dresses made me gasp. I dress in an inexpensive slip dress from Target with a simple top I purchased many years ago. I think I look good but who knows. (Women of Midlife is a private group on Facebook....want to join other women over 50? Let me know)

Dianne Tolly wrote about her now grown son's childhood temper tantrums. Now I can relate to that one. Raising children stories are funny after the child is 50+...not so much at the time but later, well,  her story was very funny!

I don't remember what the third one was and that is not what we are going for at all.

But that trail of blogs led me to Elephant's Child blog. Her photos are beautiful. I have been reading the Elephant's Child blog since I began writing many years ago. Taken from Rudyard Kipling's book of the same name the the web address is names "my just so story". I like that a lot. Some of us have been at this for a very long time. 

What did you think about writing this morning? I need some inspiration and I promise I will not steal your idea. (Yes I do look on Pinterest so there is that.)

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I promised some time writing this morning. In fact I even copied a prompt yesterday so that I might have a place to begin. When I woke this morning I looked at the list:
  • earthy
  • sonorous
  • corn
  • paste
  • twig
  • Madeira
Nothing clicked with me at all. Maybe you can use it. Sigh. The post you see is what I came up with.




Monday, July 18, 2022

Life in Real Time…are you playing with a new app?


I now have a new iPad…it seems my digital life has taken a hit because of things that are beyond my control. Since last….well since me husband passed away in December 2021, I have been trying out a new life. Like most things in life, this stage is not easy either. 

First, you need to realize that half my brain is gone because my husband and I were married for 61 years. We finished each other’s sentences, interrupted stories with editing and footnotes. What I didn’t know he did and visa versa. 

Honestly, the biggest question in my mind is now how is…long will it take to recover…or will I ever. "

Back at the ranch, I am just going on without feeling-simply numb. That being said, please know that I am happy. The face you see is not put on for outward appearances. The smile is real and my interest in you is genuine…my family can find my attitude a bit annoying. It has not been easy for them. They loved their father as much as I did. We just cope differently.

Learning new things keeps me mentally healthy I think so I am very interested in what other people read or what they are doing that is new online.  

I have a couple of new apps I have been learning and using. Notability is a note taking app that holds so much promise…I get a little frustrated but for me that is a good thing. Stubbornness kicks in right away,

Notability Icon
I have also restarted with Duolingo. I play with this language tutorial app and now have a joint account with my family. They are sharing with me and I am grateful for that. I am a sucker for computer apps. You can now practice 30+ different languages, I practice Spanish. It really is fun.

Those are things that fill my day…well, in addition to my English flower garden, cooking, reading, the daily upkeep and design of my home, friends and family. And my iPad or computer.

Life is good. 

Please take note that life does go on. It stops for no man or woman. I only allow a little time for being down hearted.

I am fishing for new stuff. What new apps are you using in real time? 

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Bonus Recipe:

Onion Dip

1//4-1/2 small onion finely chopped in food processor

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup cottage cheese

1 flavor packet from Top Ramen noodle, any flavor

Small amount fresh lemon. (Taste it and add more if necessary)

Blend in blender until smooth. 


 












Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Perfect is not perfect! The Taj Mahal, Agra India

Post from New Delhi:

I can honestly say that this country amazes at every turn. It is not just one thing. The Taj Mahal is beyond amazing but so is the greenery, the filth and garbage, the apparel, traffic and the beauty. It seems that moderation has no part of the conversation here in India. Even the weather and pollution will bring the weak to their knees. 

I will have been here four weeks this weekend. I have stayed in Mahal 1 here at the AES school most of the time. The temperature today is 104 and air quality lingers around 332. Not a fit day for man or beast we would say in the USA. Yet life goes on a normal. 

When we visited Agra last weekend, the temp was 108 and the humidity was 100 percent. A monsoon rain hit hard and sent the population scurrying to keep water out of their businesses. My earlobes were dripping sweat. 

The Grand Hotel, one of the best
 in India. Located in Dehli. I 
spent 1 night.





Reflecting pond lead the path to the
Taj Mahal and Mosque
 
Sunrise at the Taj Mahal, a minaret. 

The monkeys dive and swim in a pool in
 the Taj plaza.

But when I commented to the guide that I would never complain about the heat again, he was surprised...are you hot mum? he asked. 

Yes I was.

Agra Fort

We climbed stairs at the Agra Fort that afternoon and at sunrise the next day we visited the Taj Mahal. The humidity was thick and the flies clung to every part of our bodies. It was one of those many moments I have


wondered what I am doing and yet it was exhilarating and joyous. It is hard to explain. Every nerve ending was alive and so was I...that is wonderful. The day would not have been the same if it had been cool and the skies had been clear of pollution. Perfect is not perfect!

Traffic jam on a Sunday afternoon in Agra. 
Tuk Tuk full of women. 

The traffic jam on the evening before was simply traffic going in two different directions meeting and halted totally. I cannot explain how that happened but well...it is India. The Taj Mahal was breath taking as you can imagine but so were the monkeys swimming in one of the pools...really they were swimming, diving and enjoying the day. They came from everywhere in large numbers. Guards banged garbage can lids to keep them at bay.

The Indian apparel is so beautiful...not a costume but daily wear. Even though the heat is oppressive, women dress in slacks under the long dresses. I shopped at a place called Fab India, the local favorite I am told but groceries are purchased by the cook or ordered online. Restaurants serve good food and service is great.

Still, I discovered early that I needed to be careful what I ate. Delhi belly is not a myth. 

Camp across the street from AES. This is upper level
living for those that are very poor. These people sort the
garbage from the school so that everything is recycled.

In many parts of the city homeless people line the streets and garbage or piles of garbage are everywhere. Here in the American Embassy School compound people from across street in the slum/camp sort garbage into piles. Where it all goes I have no idea.

Surprisingly, it all seems to work. The wealthy live behind walls in apartments or homes. Shops and restaurants are hidden in the midst of it all.We visited a small boutique located among a row of homes called Wandering Silk. A restaurant that we visited was behind the wall around a corner hidden from view. It helps if you know what you are doing. Alleys are small and walking is necessary. The driver finds his way around it all. He magically appears when we emerge again. It seems as though the only way to see New Delhi would be with a tour or guide. Life here is not for the faint hearted.

I have said after we visited Tangiers on a tour in 2001, "You can't scare me...I have been to Morocco." Since then I have travels around the world here and there. I am never afraid...amazement follows me everywhere. People are generous and kind, con artist, thieves, grumpy but above all just human. I like that.

So it goes. I will fly out on Friday morning at around 2:00 am. This is one adventure I will never forget.

Where have you been?

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

On Being a Tourist Successfully: New Delhi, India

India: Life on the street.

 I am not sure that I qualify as a tourist here but I am learning a lot about how this country works for local expats. 

My life of travel has included Spain, Thailand, UAE, Mexico, Germany, China and even a short period of time in The Philippines (spelled with 1 L and 2 Ps.) Sigh.

I have been privy to the expat's life in China, the UAE and now India. The interior of their houses always reflect where they call "home". What I have always missed with the inside of the citizens of that country. Even here in India the homes of those that clean and garden and walk the dog are not open to me. What would that look like? I don't know.

But here we are able to walk out at night to local restaurants and bistros. It is fun to sit about with locals and see them in their world, to hear them talk and laugh together. The waiters speak just enough english to keep us both happy.

There are a few things I always do when I visit a foreign country that may surprise you. 

Sapa, Viet Nam: She is the queen or the
indigo fabric market...
a Su Mae I think.

Sapa Viet Nam
  • I try to find a place to get a hair cut. I have done this is Spain, China and now in India. The life inside a woman's world always are a little unique in every place. I found Spain to be more my world than any of the others. In China and here in India men cut and styled my hair. In Spain women gathered together for other women. In Munich hair dressers worked in store front salons and become a bit of performance art. Each different.
    India: My granddaughter's haircut.
  • I have had my nails painted on the beach. That was such a lot of fun.
  • If at all possible I visit a local food market or grocery store. No matter where I am I find food I have never seen before. In the UAE we bought eggs that needed to be scrubbed before being cracked. In Thailand I bought a lunch box. In Viet Nam I bought an individual sized coffee pot where coffee was brewed with water and Eagle brand milk. In Spain I bought a quart of olive oil in a beautiful container. They also had cherimoyas, a fruit native to Peru. 
  • The local outdoor market is filled with great finds. They have a Friday street market near the embassy that I would love to visit but time will not permit it. In Spain I bought peppercorns that spoiled me for any I have had since. In Sapa, Viet Nam the local market sold live chickens, tribal hats and of course hand dyed indigo fabric. (Sapa is located north of Hanoi and required an overnight train and a long van ride. It is very near the Chinese border and local tribes sell in the market.)
  • Walking if the best way to arrive anywhere. If you do not just wander around you will miss a lot. 

Toledo, Spain: train station
waiting to return to Madrid

  • Local public transportation can be wonderful. In Bangkok, Thailand the Sky Train will take you almost anywhere. They also has those water taxi's that travel up and down the river. In Spain, Euro Rail will take you from Madrid to Malaga at the speed of light (it seems). Light rail travels up and down the Costa del Sol from community to community. In Shanghai, my husband I used the subway to go from Pu Dong to down town Shanghai. Taxis were available. In Mexico, we used resort transportation, rented a car and were told that we could stand at the side of the road and hail down a bus. You have to put on your big girl pants and just do it!
    Playa Del Carmen, Mexico: Odami Tribal embroidery
  • Do a little research and find out what each country is bragging about in the way of handicrafts or goods. I bought a beautiful Odami table cloth in Playa Del Carmen near Cancun. My husband loved masks and bought several. In China we visited antique markets. Here in New Delhi, small malls are everywhere and they are wonderful. I visit Fab India very soon after we arrived. It is a short TukTuk ride from the American Embassy School where I am staying.
  • Take a cooking class if at all possible. My daughter-in-law and I did that when we were staying on Koh Samui in Thailand.
  • Eat as much local food as you can and absolutely do NOT be an ugly American demanding burgers and fries. It is unbecoming and narrow minded. (My own personal opinion.)
  • I suggest drinking bottled water and cooked vegetables whenever possible. Getting sick is not a good thing.
  • Put your passport in the safe unless you are traveling out and are staying in a different hotel. The passport may be needed. Check on that information. But...do not carry it around willy nilly especially in Europe. The gypsies can outwit anyone. 

  • India: picture from the back of a TukTuk taxi.

  • I always take a lot of pictures and do not regret that. Today I revisit my vacations at my leisure. Todays phones make it so easy. Here in India I have taken so many pictures from a traveling taxi to TukTuk. In many cases, it is the only way to do things.
New Dehli, India:
A sacred cow

Here in New Dehli the monkeys and even an occasional cow are a very common sight. Homeless camps are everywhere that there is space. It appears that they have an economy all their very own. Vendors are everywhere. The proliferation of camps is very visible. An occasional child will knock on the car window begging and know all the flip-off signs if you do not donate. They do not go away. 

The way of life is established is a constant and I suppose that each person is trying to improve their life day by day. How long has it been like this? Maybe forever. 

I have tried to connect the Guatami Tripathy but it seems it will not work. That would have been fun. 

Our driver, Maxwell, is wonderful and treasured by my husband's family. He ranks very high in their daily life. He will drive us to Agra so we can visit the Taj Mahal. 

My granddaughter's graduation is Saturday. She will travel home with me next week. She is enjoying the time with her family and friends. She and her friends will part and possibly never connect again. Who knows.

Till next time...

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Shaped Like a Bowling Ball






My daughter has a cat...not just the ordinary cat but then I am quite sure none of them are. He decided to come and live with her when my grandchildren were still children. The oldest is 27 years old now and was less than ten when the cat arrived. He lived in the front yard laying in wait for the garage door to open where food for other animals was available. After all, a cat needs to eat!

But his need for food did not include being owned by anyone so he was very illusive. We all chased him...at night Teghan the dog and two grandchildren. During the day...I was chosen. I was the Nanny of sorts and the need for order did not include a stray cat in the front yard. It was a very long time before anyone was able to catch him.

So off to the animal shelter he went. My daughter was chosen to take him to the "animal shelter/gas chamber". My daughter did not know that place was like that. She was sure the cat would get to go live on the farm and have a barn all to himself. She arrived only to be told that they would gas him because he was "feral". Back home he came.

His ear was clipped branding him as a "bad cat", he lost his manhood and lived in the cat cage until they were sure he was not going away. I had to remind them that the cat was impossible to get rid of so there was no worries on that front.

They named him Vincent Van Gogh the Cat...Vinnie for short. 


Over the years Vinnie lost half of his tail in an unrecorded incident, has on several occasions decided to live under the house and has eaten 1 whole ton of cat food. His life for several years has revolved around the garage where his food dish is always full.  He is so big now that when he squeezes under the house, he cannot get out. That maneuver requires a big human with long arms.

He is shaped like a bowling ball and, if he turns over on his back, he is like a turtle and can not put himself right side up. When he runs, I am reminded of a waddling seal.

When my daughter and her husband leave town I get to visit Vinnie twice a day. His disdainful attitude makes me wonder just why I am walking to his house but I guess I need the exercise so it is okay. Occasionally, he is is delighted to see me and will snuggle on the couch with me. Others he does not even lift his head.

I do love this old soul. He is, like every other cat, one of a kind. 

How's your cat today?

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

It's India...what can I say?

Cattle in the street...sacred animals
in Indian culture.
 
Of all the places on the face of our earth I think that India has been talked about more than any other. So what can I say that you have not already heard? Let me think about that.

I have been here at the American Embassy School in New Delhi for about 10 days now. We eat, we sleep we walk across the street to the American Embassy for lunch or dinner. I am with my son and his family so I get to spend time with them. It is very normal in so many ways. Yet not at all!

Dinner at a restaurant courtyard
 under the Banyan Tree!

First of all you need to understand that the American Embassy is part of the Embassy Enclave for nations around the world. It sounds very exotic and yet it is located next to a famous slum or camp where people live a life that I cannot imagine. (I have included a link to a tour for the slum. The pictures from inside are wonderful.) Water comes in by trucks and there is little electricity or even sewage disposal. It all seems more than impossible. Yet as I sit writing I look across the street and life goes on quietly. Children play. A man has set up a barber shop that is constantly busy and a garbage truck comes occasionally.

Water bottles waiting for the water truck. 

Sunday morning finds women dressed in beautiful scarves waiting for someone to gather them up for a day somewhere else. People mill around and stop to talk. The village is surviving as it probably always has. The site of the slum is owned by a foreign country that talks of building an embassy someday but until then generations are born and live their entire life inside its walls.

Tuk Tuk driver
Proof of the Tuk Tuk ride.

Here in Mahal 1 across the street life is very different. A fence separates it from the real world. That fence is topped with barbed wire (because of monkeys?) and guards check everyone that goes out or comes in. I find that in my mind the line between those two worlds is blurred...until I approach the gate and come under scrutiny. So close yet so far. I have to remind myself that I am a tourist and that at home we have a system not unlike India's.

Home interior.

Here in the house I am never alone. A cat named BOO and two dogs keep me company. Two teens come and go. The oldest will graduate next week (hence my visit). A cook comes some mornings. A cleaner comes all week days. Gardeners clip and others clean the gates so they shine. A man comes to walk the dog and a man comes to water the plants inside as well. Every surface is dusted and scrubbed with infinite care. 

I am told these people are very proud of their jobs and they have jobs that are coveted by others. The idea that a job is so precious reminds me of the privilege we in the United States are blessed with. 

Yes, we have gone out to eat and shop a bit. My son and his wife walk or run to parks and restaurants when the weather permits. Their children are busy with their school life. The whole family is thriving I think.

See, in this place, life is complicated so for me without my husband I do not feel free to wander about as I would do with him. I do feel safe but it is very hot night and day so there is that. But, having said that, I want you to know that I get so much pleasure out of each day un-pressured and relaxed. Watching the world go by is not such a bad thing! I will go back to Oregon on June 1.

Where are you today?

b+ 

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