Friday, January 25, 2008

A belated Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things I can see from where I'm sitting

There are pictures that go along with this, but I got halfway through and my finger slipped. Huh. Stay tuned. I'll upload when I can get to a fast internet place.

1. My 2008 Yosemite Park calendar, for January, a view from Horse Ridge- snow covered pine trees in the foreground, a lake and distant mountains covered with white. I do like the snow but since I've lived here in Asia, I haven't had a chance to play in it. I used to enjoy going to Yosemite National Park on the weekends during the winter and go cross country skiing

2. My small shrine with a marble image of Quan Am, the Vietnamese name for the Boddhisattva of compassion, sitting on a blooming lotus flower. I bought this image, along with the marble incense burner next to her (a frog on top of a stylized lilly pad), the last time I was in Hanoi. Every day, before going to work, I meditate on compassion, dedicating my energy to the people I work with, and those we try to help.

3. On the wall, a cross bow and quiver of arrows. The owner of the house had pointed them on when I arrived, telling me how the ethnic minority people hunt for small animals in the forest. While I don't like the idea of weapons, they are beautifully crafted, so I've left them hanging.

4. A handwoven piece of cloth, which the Dept of Health gave me for Lao New Year. It's made of cotton and woven on a backstrap loom, with small beads of shells woven into the pattern.

5. A lot of books. I'm enjoy reading and I brought a lot of books with me when I set up this house in southern Laos. There are a lot of other things I do, though, such as work in the evenings and weekends and go to ceremonies and weddings.

6. Phou Ta-Khae, the mountain that fills the window at the back of my house.

7. The tops of the heads of people riding their motorcycles on the other side of the fence.

8. The trees in my yard. My landlord takes great pride in the garden. The area around my house is green and restful.

9. The basket containing chia ana-mai, clean paper, which is what people use on the tables instead of paper napkins. This bamboo basket is made with the cover on the bottom, so when you're hands are greasy with grilled chicken or tacky because of sticy rice, you can rest the heel of your hand on the basket and pull the paper up with one hand. In the developed world, we call this kind of tissue, "toilet paper." When I returned to the US in 1990, I brought back several paper holders and used TP instead of napkings in my house - some of my American friends got grossed out. I still wonder why - it is clean paper!

10. Basket holding my pens. I bought this basket at a stall in Bachieng District. The basketry in southern Laos is so incredible - people can do amazing things with bamboo or rattan which grows abundantly in the forest.

11. My cell phone - the simpliest type. Which right now, shows no signal. That's common here - on Saturdays, there's no electricity water for most of the day when they work on the electrical grid. While it can be inconvenient, especially if I sleep in, I also think it's all right - it reminds us that we didn't use to have all these conveniences. When I lived in a northern province, we only had electricity for four hours/ night and we had to carry our water into the office from the well because there was no municipal water system.

12. The walls of my house, which are made of woven bamboo.

13. My laptop! It goes everywhere with me!

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