Thursday, January 18, 2018

19 on the 19th

Dear Golden Girl,
Do you remember that time we flew to a lush island with cool,  pentagonal rocks stacked like Ritz crackers along the sea?

Do you recall having your mind blown at the creative genius of our God?
Do you remember finding a legitimate way in to this natural wonder without paying a single Euro?

And then getting a parking ticket at a castle attraction and having to fork over MUCH more?
Remember  eeking down the narrow roads in our little red rental, brushing English ivy with the rear-view mirrors?
Can you still taste fish and chips and lobster bisque?
And our first ever Guinness?

Can you picture your favorite spot in all of Ireland?  

These (and so many more) are the memories chasing around in my head today.
Because it was a magical time. 
And because today you're in another exotic land--one with elephants and temples and pad thai.
And because you're celebrating with a different kind of family this year.
May your day be permeated with the gold dust of new memories.

So you can look back someday and smile.








Sunday, January 7, 2018

My Tree is Still Up

Gasp!
In my defense, today is the Russian Orthodox Christmas.  And there are a lot of Russians in Kyrgyzstan.  Not in Jalalabad, but still.

CDI has taken a two-week holiday, and so the rhythms around here have been slower and more relaxed.  We've watched DVD's 'til midnight and have slept 'til eight.  Or nine, depending on which generation we claim as our own.  We've snuggled under blankets and drunk gallons of hot chocolate.

We've attended big bashes and hosted some too.


 We've been silly

 and serious,
  and sweet.

 But mostly silly.


  We've received the best gifts
and been sobered by how quickly our stories can change.

We saw life on this earth end suddenly for a sweet friend on Christmas Day.
And we somberly embraced a new reality for her young son.

We've missed our girls in other countries while being really thankful for apps that allow us to talk with them anytime.

We've finished projects and novels and games.
And we've started new ones.

Today, the rhythms are peaceful around here.  The next-door-neighbor killed a goat and a sheep, and at least some of us are expected to show up and eat.  The boys are running at a stadium with friends.  Calla and I packed away some decorations.  But my tree is still up.

I like it.







Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Standing Tradition

Living away from a Christmas-celebrating culture has forced us to abandon some traditions, but it also has led us to new, super-cool ones.  Christmas Eve baking with our Italian friend is one.  Last year we made lasagna and wine cookies.  

This year, mia amica choose to help us create risotto and tiramisu.  
Seriously.

We cranked the Italian Christmas music and commenced.

In Italy, they buy ladyfinger cookies in a package.  No such thing in J'bad, and so Calla whipped up some fluffy batter and squeezed delicacies from a zip-lock bag. 


Then the donkey song came on and nobody could resist dancing.

 If you want to boogie down during your Christmas prep, here it is:  "Dominick the Donkey."
 It's a little obnoxious, but your littles will love you.
 Then it was back to business assembling the tiramisu.
You may notice I didn't bother to fix up like my Italian friend.
You don't need make-up on to dip ladyfingers in coffee.
Annnnd we had a tiny Christmas miracle:  we found mascarpone in Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan.
 A necessity for both dishes.
Tomorrow we feast.  Somewhere between thirty and a thousand guests are coming over.  I've heard that risotto stretches.
We tasted enough sweetness today to make us crazy-thankful for our yearly tradition.
And the food we snitched was yummy too.

Christmas kisses to you all.

Wendy










Monday, December 18, 2017

One for the Record Books

"This is the first time something like this has happened in our school.  Now it's part of our school history." --Educational superintendent in the village of Barpe--
This artist organized the historic event.  She's been training teachers in art education, and she's been teaching students in three different schools in Barpe.  Last Sunday, they all got together for an exhibition in the chilly hallway of one of the schools.
Set-up took a couple days.  Curt came through with the display boards.  He's kind of a genius.  
Sonja was basically Calla's right-hand gal all day.
The crowd slowly gathered.
 A ribbon kept the spectators at bay.
  Along with the feminist brigade.  Or female brigade.  Are those different?
 I had a job.
 The sole judge.  Because we had prizes.  Palettes with watercolor, brushes, paint and paper.

 My friend Allie teaches at this school.  We are the puffy coat trio.  It's a thing here.
It's called winter.
 Anyway, after the pictures were hung and judged, the superintendent made a speech and Calla and Sonja announced the winners.  But every exhibitor received a sugar cookie.  With leftover birthday sprinkles.


Then they cut the ribbon, and I thought I was at a rock concert.
Happily, no one got trampled.

 I nabbed a couple winners for a photograph.
I wonder if they realize they're history makers.



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