Sunday, August 16, 2009

Love Letter to my Peeps

Dear Peeps,

I love you.  All of you.  More than you can possibly imagine.

You showed up at my parents' house tonight in droves, bearing food, gifts, children and babies.  Some of  you drove miles and miles to see us, and some of you even made time in your vacation schedules to come over.  You powered through busy days and dragged tired kiddos along just to see us one more time before we leave Madison.  You sat with me and listened to my stories and when I asked you, you knew I really did want to hear about your year and told me.  You were kind to my ancient dog, patient with my wild children and made friends with each other.  You made some damn fine food, damn fine.  You said goodbye and then were still here half and hour later -- I love that.  There were those of you here from nearly every chapter of my life and I loved that you all came out to see us.

I have been in Madison a week and literally every time I leave the house I run into at least one of you.  Two of you played some excellent music last night and Chris and I felt lucky to be able to see you do your thing.  These reunions are such gifts.  

4 of you were here on vacation when we first arrived and your presence did wonders for helping my kids jump right back into life state-side.  Its been too long and I'm so glad we could reconnect and kindle the kids' friendships.

You peeps who are further away, just the knowledge that we'll be seeing you so soon is a  joy.  I read your FB posts and emails and even just look at your pictures and these days there's this little thrill - I'm going to see her soon!  He'll be at my house in no time!  I loved hearing from you all while we were in India but its even better now that we're home, knowing we'll be seeing each other in mere days or weeks, instead of many long months.  

I feel overwhelmed and humbled by the rich universe of friends and family in which I move.  You all are wonderful and bring me such happiness.  You have been so missed and are so very appreciated.  The love and hugs we soaked up tonight will last us well into Virginia, and I hope you'll keep us in your hearts as we embark on this newest adventure.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Back Safe Home Again!

I think we've been on US soil just about 24 hours now, and let me tell you, it feels WONDERFUL!  

Meema and Grandpy, Tio, neighbors, normal driving, clean streets, FANTASTIC food, safe water...  the list of things we're seeing and enjoying goes on and on.  Everyone seems pretty well rested by now and thankfully, we all seem to be over that last nasty round of Indian stomach bugs.  The last leg of the journey was extra exciting thanks to busted windshield wipers and a big ol' midwestern thunderstorm (now there's another thing I really missed), but thanks to Super-Grampy at the wheel, we made it in one piece.  Pictures to come...

We're slowly by little going to be calling and seeing lots of you Madison people, but don't feel like you need to wait to hear from us to get in touch - call the homestead or even stop by if you're around.  

The big potluck is this Sunday 4-8 and we're looking forward to seeing lots and lots of folks.  (Get in touch if you need directions)  And between now and then we're chomping at the bit to see visiting cousins, wallow in wonderfulness at the farm and even see a friend's band play on Saturday night.  (Alchemy Cafe, this Saturday, 8pm, if you're interested...)

That Dorothy girls sure had it right - "There's no place like home..."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Goodbye, India...

The SLNC (Santa? Like, No. Claus) goodie bag is packed. The cab is downstairs. The last of the rupees are being spent (Yes, I'd like a year's worth of paan. To go.) Three and a half hours till take-off (G-d willing), less than 24 hours to Chicago. I think we all have one last gasp of Indological Illness, which is making it happier to leave. If there's (free) internet at the airport, I'll do an acknowledgments post. Don't look for any shoutouts, Indian immigrations and customs troublemakers, unless we have a hassle-free exit. Watch this be the one time they ask me for an income tax clearance certificate, since I don't have one.

In a final development, at McDonald's tonight, Ben said 'I'm ok with spicy stuff.'

Gratuitous India Picture:

---no more rickshaws for a while...

and with that, the SLNChampionistita sends to 'finish packing' (here I think she's using the imperative.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The counter is wrong

I make it less than 72 hours. See yall soon. Anybody know good kidfriendly restaurants in the approximate vicinity of Connaught Place?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tidewater 4-10-0-9

Name that tune for a SLNC prize. We're under 100 hours til home. In Leh. Each kid sick and leaking from a different end--since G-d loves us, our hotel is owned by an MD. Offered མངས་ཇ་ at Likir this morning, which means tea for all, and got matching dragons and yaks in thanks. Less tearful than usual saying goodbye, except when the discipline-master put khataks on Ben. We handed out rs100 notes to the assembled pious.
I have no good recent significant photos (though Caitlin did get the Maitreya Buddha at night, thanks to somebody resetting the ISO to 1600, and to Noe for lending a tripod) but here's something or other...let's see what I can dredge up.
There you go, me and some of the local oldsters, including the President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sole Member of what Geshe-la calls the One Eyed Circumambulating Grandma Society.

See yall sooner and sooner...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Less than a week now...

I hardly know what to think - we'll be back in the US in less than a week from this exact moment. Maybe if I was looking at the world through a green plastic ring...  

I have to admit, I am going to miss this place like crazy.  I think it has something to do with the 48 little dudes who live downstairs, especially now that they all seem to be literally falling apart in front of my eyes.

We took 3 into Leh today to have various infected body parts looked at.  And my daily anti-fungal attacks have expanded to include wound care of all sorts.  (You would not believe how many of them look like they've been boxing.)  I did a vision test before we left this morning (he can see just fine, thanks) and had my diagnosis of pterygium  confirmed by a pediatrician before lunch today.  Maybe I have a future in medicine?  Midwifery, yea, but also...?  As much as I wish I didn't have to be the medical care provider for the kids, I really love the challenge of trying to figure out what's wrong and what to do about it, and then the satisfaction of seeing them get better.  

Anyhow, Caitlin and I are in Leh for 24 hours, shopping like maniacs, stocking up on goodies for all our loyal Nag Champions out there.  And stocking up on some last minute supplies for a delegation of Germans who will be at Likir in the coming days to inaugurate the new hot water heater they donated.

Which reminds me, we have officially become the US branch of (now international!) charity, Friends of Likir.  The organization coordinates donations to the monastery school for all sorts of projects.  Currently they are working raising funds to put in a new kitchen and dining hall.  As it is now the boys cook in a small room with a dirt floor and no running water or even counters or cupboards, and they eat on the floor in the same hall where they study, chant and debate.  Chris and I would like to institute regular visits from a pediatrician as well as some "seminars" on basic hygiene.  And a fund to pay for medications seems like a high priority too.  There is a website in the works  - watch this space. And since this is a very new development Friends of Likir is nowhere close to having 501-3C status, but that's a project we'll tackle later this fall.  However, if anyone is feeling especially moved to contribute toward the health and well-being of some of my favorite little boys on the planet, give us a holler and we'll help you get the money where it can do some good.

In the mean time, I'll leave you with some pictures of the little monks, lest you think all is woe and misery at the monastery...  
(Above is drawing time, not drawing CLASS, as everyone likes to call it.  The kids' days are really packed and structured so I make it a point to just put out the art supplies and let them do their thing.  Its been wonderful to see them go from all tracing the same pictures from the same books to now really getting creative and branching out into weird wild creations involving hole punchers and glitter tape and animal stencils.  I really hope the teachers will continue drawing time after we leave...)