Shoot me now…

There are bits of good news. Like we are in Gettysburg and I finally got a hotel room with a king size bed. I have been trying to get Alan to realize the possibilities. He is there comfortingly snoring away BUT I also have incredible amounts of space over here. My insomnia plagued self can toss and turn at will, assuming any position I like without worrying that I will ruin his sleep as well as my own.
More good news..I have enough yarn and needles to start any hat I want on the drive home. So what is the bad news, you ask? Well, we left the house and drove on deeply slush covered roads, then behind snow plows for half an hour just to leave Ottawa. I had been proud of the speed and efficiency with which we had dispatched breakfast and packing. We crossed the border and the guard said ‘be careful, it is really bad near Watertown’. Uh,oh we had thought it was bad already, but he was right. This was the road condition for at least half an hour. We were basically following the emergency flashers of the car in front, but you can see the ruts which indicate the lanes on the highway.
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We almost turned around but there was no place to do that. We came out the other side and there was an accident scene with at least six cars in the ditch. It looked like they had followed each other’s flashers right off the road. I guess there were no ruts at that time.
ANYWAY, here is the bad news..I have to show up at a sewing class tomorrow and admit that although I have plenty of wool and knitting needles, but my efficient packing did not run as far as my sewing machine and notions, which are still set up waiting for me in my dining room. The truly sad part is that I have taken lots of classes with this group of people and possibly none of them will be surprised.

Cracker Barrel here we come

crackerbarrelRoad trip!
We are heading to Gettysburg, Pa tomorrow so I can take a course on making civil war era stockings and slippers. I figure if they work, my black socks for work problems will fade to a distant memory. As it is we own countless black socks, most of which are fatally flawed in some way or another… too short, too tight in the calf, too big in the foot…
It was ok when Heather was here and needed black socks for her work without any other criteria but black. But alas, she has emptied the nest and become a clothing minimalist. She has decided she will wear nothing but grey t-shirts and black pants for the next year. She bought 7 identical t-shirts and 3 pairs of pants. Cuts down on decision making in the mornings, she says. Just grab the next clean one off the pile. It is apparently a thing these days amongst those in the know. And having the beauty of youth makes it matter not what you wear anyway.
I usually go to Gettysburg for sewing classes or Harrisburg for a civil war conference at least once a year. It is a tradition to visit Cracker Barrel restaurants for pretty much every meal on the way down and back. We don’t have them in Canada, and you gotta love that comfort food.

Now I know we’re not in India anymore Todo

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I have been home since Christmas day. Now, ten days later, almost everyone except me went to work or school yesterday. I have actually only left the house once since I got back. Twice actually. The first was to visit the real version of Maitland. There were only 7 of us there because most had not yet returned from the subcontinent. We almost all even had real beds. The second was to shovel the driveway because Alan went to Toronto to visit his sister and the snowplow had installed a huge 2 foot pile of icy snow at the end of our driveway. Wait, did I mention the snow/freezing rain storm?…well we had one. Quel mistake! I managed to twist my back and now I have sciatica, but don’t worry, it’s only a flesh wound.
I have been playing the part of a hermit since we got home for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that my intestines only decided to leave India two days ago–could be worse, it has taken up to a month on previous visits. The second is that I have just not readjusted my internal clock. As a matter of fact, I am not sure I even have one anymore. ANYWAY, it is 2 in the morning and I am up and sitting in the dark. I snapped a view from my chair of the ice on the branches of our maple tree (Canadian, eh?) lit by the streetlamp across the street.
Home again, home again, lickety split.

Maitland..east

We have a large family…so does my brother in law, Suja. My family is large and close. I have six sisters and one brother and we get together A LOT. I think the fact that on the Bhutan trip, the five of us represented the families of five of the sisters says something about the extended family. Suja’s family come from a very long line of Hindu priests from the temple city of Bhubaneswar, India.

My mum lives in Maitland, Ontario with my sister Nicky, her husband Suja and their two boys. At one time, Alan and I lived with her, from when I was first pregnant with Jacob up until his second birthday. Maitland is like two solitudes. There is most of the time when a small group lives together and things tick along. Then there are the weekends and holidays when the small family is invaded by the extended family and all of a sudden, there are upwards of 30 people in the four bedroom house, eating three large meals a day and sleeping wherever they can. There are stashes of blankets, pillows and foam mattresses in several places throughout the house. The living room often has 10+ people sleeping on couches and the floor. There are belongings and devices strewn all about. Conversations, cooking and games of chance and skill are everywhere. To me it is normal but I suppose it is not for the feint of heart.

Suja’s family lives constantly in the second solitude. They have several families living together under the same roof and the household is always busy. There is always something going on and the kitchen is rarely empty between dawn and dusk. Even though they have so many people there, they were generous enough to give over one of the bedrooms to us on our return to India from Bhutan.

Muni is Suja’s niece. She is a few days older than my daughter, Heather. When we took our kids travelling 8 years ago, Muni and her brother, Shokti joined us on a minibus trip to the Taj Mahal and environs.

India..round two

For anyone who knows me, you know that my husband Alan is a rampant cyclist. He even got me to do a bike trip in India a long time ago now. Watching the Indian roads now, it is a wonder we survived with our North American traffic viewpoints. I spent three days on car trips this week and watching the organic way that traffic moves is endlessly fascinating. Pat was constantly filming videos out the front window and I did several myself. What I find is you can film for a long boring time, but the second you turn the video off, something head shaking happens. It is almost impossible to get a true sense in a short video clip.
Like at home, there are often lanes painted on the road. Unlike home, these lanes are merely guidelines. Two lanes become three or more as traffic flows. It is totally not uncommon to see a new lane spring up coming in the opposite direction on a one way street..how else would you get back? Go around? Are you kidding me?
If a driver needs to cross four lanes of traffic, he (because they are mostly he’s) just does it. Often a slow process as the traffic flows around. Uturn? Go for it. Others will avoid you if they can. Three point uturn? No problem. Just ignore all those angry horns. And speaking of horns..use it constantly. Every time you are passing someone, you toot your horn to let them know. If they don’t move over, hit it harder. If traffic is stopped ahead of you, lean on the horn as you approach the jam, they should magically part for you, right?
I tried to get a sense of the way bicycles and hand carts are used in India. The short answer is that they are used to haul everything and anything over the short haul.

Tigers nest bail

…sorry I ‘went dark’ in India for a while, as they say in spy flics..I am in Heathrow, the first wifi I have seen in almost a week. I can’t get the pics off the phone or the post edited on the iPad without..(first world problem as Pat is fond of saying)

Did I mention we stayed in an old palace for our last 3 nights in Bhutan? It was lovely but the wifi sucked and the service was below the level of the other two hotels. We would have been thrilled if we went there first, but how quickly we can become jaded.


It had a beautiful temple upstairs and it was one of the only ones you can photograph. We saw these super fancy offering cakes in a lot of temples. I was psyched I could get a picture. There was also some lovely furniture in the room outside the temple.

The last day in Bhutan was spent climbing to the Tigers Nest temple (for the others) and halfway up (for me). Even that was challenging and I was actually most worried about my knees on the descent. I could probably have got up there, given much more time than the others, but maybe not happily down. I give you the views from the bottom and my stopping point..the cafeteria. I met a father and son who were on a birding tour so I got to use my Binos and their guide was happy to identify anything I saw. I only got a pic of a butterfly.

Gotta catch my last flight of 10 this trip. Will post India, round two when I get home…Merry Christmas