Thursday, December 30, 2010

44th Thankful Thursday: New Beginnings

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin

New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Friday, December 24, 2010

43rd Thankful Thursday: O Holy Night!

"O Holy Night" is my favorite Christmas song.  My body tingles with thrills whenever the song reaches "Fall on your knees".  I am grateful for a loving and perfect Eldest Brother, who came to earth and lived in mortality.  He lived, suffered, died, and lives again for me.   He did and does so in order that I can become cleansed and whole through Him, become as He is, and live with Him and my family for eternity.  In the holy and sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  

This week:  What is your favorite Christmas or other holiday song?  

I've posted a video of Josh Grobin singing "O Holy Night".  I'd love it if you posted a link to your favorite song too.  :)  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

42nd Thankful Thursday: Family

I love my family.  I'm done with Finals and am sitting in my living room.  Dad is laying on the couch, littlest Sis is doing homework, and Mom is helping Sis.  Molly our puppy is curled up by the Christmas tree.

I love their hugs.  I love their smiles.  Their laughter. Their encouragement.  Dad's help unloading my car.  Middle Sis showing me the gorgeous decked-out Christmas tree.  Littlest Sis's Christmas band concert.  Mom's love.

Home is wonderful.

This week:  Why do you love your family?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

41st Thankful Thursday: Lights in the dark

The Sunday before Thanksgiving I hung a strand of Christmas lights in my apartment's main room.  The purple, pink, yellow, blue and green lights cast cheery glows on the walls and ceiling.  I love turning off the room's lights and basking in their sweet glistening.

I am thankful for the lights in my life that I can be thankful for in times of dreariness.

Some such "Christmas lights" from this week:

--happening upon the delightful flavor combination of fig newtons and gorgonzola cheese (a type of blue cheese)--think a Pixar Ratatouille moment of savoring--if only my ears could be so expressive... or maybe it's a good thing they aren't...  :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

40th Thankful Thursday: Can ye tell [our blessings]? Love from others

Today has been an emotionally bipolar day.  I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who allows His children to feel His great love through others.  Tonight I attended a Christmas Fireside, and one of my most dear teachers spoke on our Savior's birth, the nativity, and His love for you and me.

Afterwards I went to speak with her.  Our embrace was tender.  Have you ever had a moment when your heart swells so it almost bursts, and you feel so much love and yet are unable to voice what you are feeling?  I am so grateful for those moments.

Monday I was blessed with another tender mercy and outpouring of love.  I received a letter from my dear brother (who is still in Montreal serving a mission), containing four photo-postcards (photos he had taken and made into postcards) with 100 of his "Thankfuls" and another 20 from his companion, Elder J.  I laughed and wept as I read them, and am grateful for the love I felt for him, and the opportunity to feel close to him when he is 2,200 miles away.

Their thankfuls bring our total to 880!!!  Isn't that wonderful!?  Instead of typing the lists, I've taken photos of the photo-postcards, and hope you are able to read them below.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

39th Thankful Thursday: Ask and ye shall receive :)

~760 Thankfuls were posted in response to last week's blog.  WOW!  I am grateful for those who shared their thoughts.  I feel like each post gave me a glimpse into another heart and enriched my life.

Thank you!

THIS WEEK:  Ask someone what they are grateful for.  

I have followed this week's prompt with a list.  It has the contributor of each list of Thankfuls as well as at least one of their Thankfuls.  I picked which Thankfuls were posted, and hope you delight in the following too.  :)


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

38th Thankful Thursday: 1,000 "Thankfuls" for Thanksgiving! :D

I'm thankful for: my family, cornbread, Jesus Christ, our dog Molly, rain, snow, mountains, bees, honey, clouds, sunsets, chickadees, pictures of hedgehogs that my sister shows me, the color purple, my computer, my kitchen, my pillow, my blankie (I can't believe I typed that in public), and India.

That took less than three minutes.  

THIS WEEK:  Post 20 "somethings" you are thankful for.  Let's get 1,000 Thankfuls by Thanksgiving!  

--Please post your thankfuls in groups of 20.  That will make it easy to count to 1,000.  We just need 49 comments on this post.  
--This is informal--it's okay if your thankfuls duplicate those of another person.  
--I plan to post each day for the next week.  You are more than welcome to post multiple times too.  :)

Your participation is eagerly anticipated and much appreciated!!!  :D

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Really corny, wheat and honey cornbread--what a mouthful! ;P

Just in time for Thanksgiving...IT'S FINALLY HERE!!!  duh duh-duh duh:  my favorite cornbread recipe!  :D  If you are looking for KFC-like cornbread, check out this recipe (I suggest halving the sugar).  If you are Southern and swear cornbread is not sweet, consider this.  If you'd like a cornbread so good your grandpa eats half the pan for breakfast, keep reading.  ;)

Moist, nearly cake-like, wheat & honey-sweetened goodness, packed with sweet corn kernels.  I like it just how it is without adding extra butter or honey.  I hope you enjoy it too.  :)  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

37th Thankful Thursday: Veterans Day 2010

Today I am grateful for the men and women who have served their country and their people, in combat or not, in chaos or peace, in the armed services, as a police officer, as a firefighter...  (If I left out your particular call of duty, please add it in the comments)

All three of my grandpas served in the armed forces (Navy, Marines, and Army), a cousin served in the Coast Guard, a distant cousin's husband serves as a Ranger, and numerous great-uncles and other relatives have served as well.

A Wyoming neighbor served in the Battle of the Bulge and was left for dead.  He still has shards of metal in his back from the bomb that blew up by him.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

36th Thankful Thursday: List of 50 Loves


I had no idea what could be special enough to celebrate this occasion with you. My inspired sister suggested I write a list of 50 things I love. Wow. She is awesome. So, dear reader, here is

Ivy's First List of 50 Loves:

Unpaid Endorsement: Chef's Catalog

I want to tell you about a company I stumbled on. Chefs Catalog started in 1979, and sells all kinds of cookware from top brands at good prices. I had been looking for a specific blender, and decided to buy it from them.

I couldn't be more pleased. They made sure my blender was delivered on time, even though I had requested a shorter delivery period. My blender arrived safely and securely packaged. The blender works beautifully. :)

You can check them out here.

Happy cooking! :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

35th Thankful Thursday: Indebted servants

My interpersonal communications class learned when we are in relationships where we either over-benefit or under-benefit much more than the other person, we often feel uncomfortable and want the relationship to change.
Later that day, I was reading my Book of Mormon. A new facet of one of my favorite passages of scripture was illuminated in light of what I’d learned in class.
In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin knows he is about to die. He gathers his people and speaks to them for the last time. He confers the kingdom to his son, Mosiah, and teaches the people about their relationships to each other and God.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Green chili under 10 minutes

My grandma makes a soup we call "green chili". It tastes so good after working for hours in chilly Wyoming. It has stewed tomatoes, pork, cans of canned chiles, kidney, black and refried beans, and (probably) tabasco sauce.

This is my version of green chili when I need to have dinner on the table in less than 10 minutes. When served with grain, the meal provides all amino acids needed for complete protein. I eat this with toasted tortilla (warmed in an ungreased fry pan, both sides) or cornbread.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

34th Thankful Thursday: Teachers

I am tickled pink to introduce you to my dear friend, Mary LeBlanc. Regal, warm, genius, Christian disciple and Dumbledore-esque are some words that come to mind (or were spontaneously typed) when I think of Mary. :) She has composed a delightful series of vignettes of her choice teachers and learning experiences. I am thankful for what Mary has taught me, and for this opportunity to share this remarkable Renaissance lady with you. --Ivy
Please share your questions, comments and own choice memories in the comments section below.

When Ivy first suggested that I consider writing a “guest column” for her Thankful Thursday posts, I had no idea what I might write about. There was so much to choose from, so many people, places and happenings for which I am thankful, and without which my life would have been altogether different. Where to begin? But eventually one idea floated to the top, namely the group of people whom I recall with gratitude primarily, though not exclusively, for the assorted things they taught me. And, in some cases, are still teaching me. Let me reminisce a bit.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

33rd Thankful Thursday: Jesus Christ and yoke partners

I understand you may or may not include Jesus Christ in your life. That's your choice, and I respect that. I hope I've written this post in a way you feel comfortable participating.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Matthew 11: 28-30. Jesus pleads with us:

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

32nd Thankful Thursday: Favorite Quotes II

This past weekend I joined millions of other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in watching eight hours of talks given by our top church leaders, a semi-annual event called General Conference.

If you are interested in reading, viewing, or listening to the talks, they will soon be posted here.

Here are three quotes that touched me in particular (and short enough I could write them down):

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." --President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, quoting Leonardo da Vinci

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

31st Thankful Thursday: Written records

I know I'm posting this on Wednesday. If I don't post this now, I wouldn't be able to post until tomorrow night. I thought you would rather sooner than later. ;)

Yesterday I was having a bit of a tough spot mentally and emotionally. I realized my self-esteem had been dropping the past two weeks. Causes included being away from home, school stress, and recognizing I had started to manifest pride. The last reason was bitter.

I felt prompted to read my journal. I read entries from my time in India. I felt grateful for the experiences I had had, motivated to get my current duties done, and inspired that, "Yes, I really can do hard things." And maybe most importantly, I was reminded of what truly matters most, and that "I can change. I can become better."

I believe in me. I believe in you, too. :)

This week: What written records are you grateful for? Have you had a particular experience you would like to share?

PS If you made that tomato peanut soup I posted last week, how did you like it? :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

30th Thankful Thursday: Comfort food

As soon as you thoughtfully consider this week's prompt, please read the recipe I posted just prior this post. You may swoon after tasting it, so please have an ice pack handy in case you hit your head. Seriously. ;)

"Comfort food."

Okay, what images just popped into your head? Mashed potatoes & peas with gravy, grilled cheese sandwiches, baked beans, and tomatoes with mozzarella, basil & balsamic vinegar came to mind for me.

These foods remind me of dinners around an old tan wooden table with my family, of being a kid at Sizzler and baffling my parents by ordering a sandwich, of our garden harvest, and just feeling warmfuzzies from the goodness of sweet beans. :) :) :)

THIS WEEK: What comfort foods make you feel like you're wrapped in your favorite comforter, take you back to favorite memories, or just bring a smile of delight to your face? Bonus points for sharing "why". :)

Soul-warming & Spicy African Tomato Peanut Soup

Never in my life have I wanted to share a recipe as badly as this one. Good grief. This soup is GOOD. Common ingredients, rich, and filling. The flavor will blow you away.

I made minor changes to this recipe posted by Gourmet on Gourmet's recipe uses a few more canned ingredients that might make it easier for you to make this.

I enjoyed the texture and am glad I didn't puree it. If you do puree it, you may not want to let it boil down so much, or it may become too thick.

If you want to serve this with grains, I recommend crackers or flatbread instead of bread.

The peanut butter demands to be paired with a glass of cold, whole, milk. Please don't disappoint the peanut butter.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

29th Thankful Thursday: Basic Amenities

Toilet paper is awesome. It is convenient, useful, enables cleanliness, and makes for a more pleasant experience in the bathroom.

For the past three days I have used Kleenex. This afternoon, I finally took time to stop by Smiths and replenish my TP stock.

Thank you, O blessed person who invented toilet paper.

THIS WEEK: What basic amenity are you grateful for?

PS Do you have any suggestions for future Thankful Thursday posts? Pretty please?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

28th Thankful Thursday: Like Cups of Hot Cocoa, Thousands of Miles Away

I just finished sipping a steaming cup of hot cocoa. It was warmed my body after a chilly 20 minute walk through the rain (under my umbrella).

Yesterday I had an even better cup of cocoa. I had emailed my India teammates asking for photos, and two replied the same day. Both with wonderful pictures.

Ki. sent hot cocoa flowing through my bones with what she wrote:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

27th Thankful Thursday: When Things Work Out

I feel relieved. So relieved. I just met with the director of the Honors Program at my school, and she said to go ahead with what I had planned for my Honors Thesis project. I was nervous to meet with her, and told her so when she asked how I was doing.

Her approval means I get to compile what I did in India, add to it, and produce a resource that CARPED can use to facilitate the installation of their demonstration homestead, as well as being useful for future HELP International volunteers. I am grateful.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

26th Thankful Thursday: Delighting in summer bounty

I am sitting at my computer a little bit distractedly, because half of an Ambrosia melon is staring at me. It has a huge scoop of vanilla bean ice cream in it, taunting me, because they know I can't eat them while I type. sigh

I love this time of year. After a summer of staring at little tiny fruits and veggies, willing them to grow, I am finally sinking my teeth into succulent peaches and tomatoes, squirting some juice here and there, and rejoicing in our family garden. I am picking Asian eggplant as fast as they can grow. I'm tasting Armenian cucumbers (which are technically melons) for the first time, and love them.

Tomatoes. I love tomatoes. Blue cheese and tomatoes, basil and tomatoes, basil and mozzerella and balsamic vinegar and sea salt and a bit of olive oil and tomatoes...

I am grateful for the garden, and the glorious delights that are springing out of it. :)

This week: What are you delighting in right now?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

25th Thankful Thursday: This past week's favorite moment

I am sitting at my grandma's dining table in Wyoming. It is covered with a light blue tablecloth with a John Deere tractor pattern. I like looking at it. :)

After a month of cutting, baling, and stacking hay, Hay Season is almost done. Rainclouds aren't as terrifying now that everything has been baled. I love looking out to the vast fields, which look perfectly mowed. My sisters are out on the four-wheeler making sure the small square bales are properly turned to be picked up by the hauler.

This week's favorite moment: sitting on the porch swing with Dad, watching the spectacular sunset and clouds, listening to the sandhill cranes call, smelling the rain-kissed air, and feeling the gentle cool breeze.

How marvelous it is that a necessity such as oxygen can smell so heavenly.

THIS WEEK: What is your favorite moment from the past week?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

24th Thankful Thursday: Loving younger people (even if they are as tall or taller....)

My next youngest sister is having her Golden Birthday this Sunday. Here are some revised snippets from a prior Thankful Thursday post, with some additional warm fuzzies. :)

My next youngest sister has taken the Sun hostage in her laugh and cheery disposition. She recently completed the same 90 Day Mind and Body Transformation my Mom did, and my sister can't keep herself from radiating joy. She is confident, does hard things, is full of enthusiasm, and is so buff her hugs nearly squeeze the life out of me. ;) Her smile lights up the world.

THIS WEEK: Who is a younger person you are particularly grateful for? Why?

PS When was the last time you told that particular someone you loved them? I hope you take time to do it again today...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

23rd Thankful Thursday: Precious, silly, moments :)

Today I drove to my university's hometown so I could find housing for this next year (mission accomplished!). I asked my youngest sister if she wanted to go with me, and I'm so glad she did.

We ate lunch at the Indian restaurant I've wanted to go to for two years, Indian Oven. The food was great, I ate using my right hand only, and I was able to savor a mango lassi without fearing contaminated water. ;)

We celebrated my apartment with ice cream at a favorite local joint, The Bluebird. Raspberry and vanilla ice cream soda... delightful...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

India: 22nd Thankful Thursday: Saving Strangers (and Family)

Hmm. That may not be the best title because it could imply that you or I are saving others. This week, "Saving Strangers and Family" refers to others coming to our rescue.

Last Thursday morning, MST, I left India to come home. 77 hours later, I pulled in the SLC airport, after being bumped off two flights in Delhi, being rerouted through London, and staying overnight in Chicago. It was a long journey.

But, I learned just as much, if not more, about myself during those days than I did during six weeks in India. I am grateful. I am also grateful for the people I met during those hours who buoyed me up and helped me get through it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

India: 21st Thankful Thursday: Lessons Learned

Today I leave India to go back home! The past six weeks have been crazy and wonderful, but I'm so grateful and happy that I can leave here on a high/good note.

Some things I'm grateful to have learned:

--I can do hard things.
--I can disassemble my western constructs and try to see the way the gears in the people's heads here work.
--My body is an amazing feat of creation. It mostly adjusted to the heat and humidity, to the point where I think I'll be more uncomfortable in my home's climate.
--It is possible to chew and swallow raw garlic, more particularly seven cloves right after each other. It is also possible that an Indian garlic clove that is a third the size of an American garlic clove can be three times as potent as the latter.
--I can be flexible and adjust plans as needed.
--I can laugh at myself. More particularly because of myself.
--I can live and work with people I've never met before in a foreign environment.
--I can return anger with objectivity. Thank goodness I learned this from Dad before I came here.
--I don't panic easily. Even when a mouse is sniffing my backpack. Even when I open my suitcase and see a mouse bury further down in it. Even when I later open the suitcase outside and tentatively dump everything out expecting to find a dead mouse (I never did find it. Just a bunch of mouse feces.)
--People can choose to be happy wherever they are, in whatever circumstances they are in.
--Beauty can be found anywhere.
--I may not be the one to see the results of what I've done here. But I'm grateful Subhash has said my work has made a difference. I'm grateful to know I've helped lay the groundwork for what he is going to continue building.

THIS WEEK: What lessons have you learned from a particular experience you have had?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

India: 20th Thankful Thursday: Technology and Teammates

We've had on-and-off internet connection the past few days. I didn't bring my computer. I am glad I didn't bring my computer because I've gotten a lot of personal contemplation time. But I've also learned that I need to seize opportunities when people aren't using their computers and ask to use them.

That makes posting here consistently nearly impossible.

I'm grateful for computers because I can communicate so much. I'm grateful for the internet for the same reason. I'm grateful for teammates who allow me to use their stuff.

THIS WEEK: Name a technology you're grateful for, and people who enable you to use them.

India:An Indian Evangelical prayer meeting and Salar Jung Museum Trip 2

My Grandma and Grandpa left on Monday to enter the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC). They will be serving in Germany. My Monday morning I was able to call and talk to them for 15 minutes. It meant so much. They will be gone for 18 months, and I might leave on my mission before they get back. I’m praying for one of my flights to be delayed on my way home so we can cross paths in the Dallas airport. I want to hug them very, very much.
Update 12/9/10: Not only did my flight get delayed, it took 77 hours to get home when originally it was supposed to be 24ish hours.  One of the lessons I learned from that incredibly valuable experience: do not ever pray for flight delays.  

I went to an HIV/AIDs clinic with some teammates. The clinic was started by Dr. S some seven years ago in his home. When they were having 700 people a month go through their living room, he relocated the clinic to an apartment. When they outgrew that, they expanded to the second half of the complex. He is one of the most gentle, caring people I’ve ever met. After a tour, he invited us to their staff prayer meeting, “only 10 to 15 minutes long.”

India: Homesickness, the zoo, and a "Talk, --Not"

The following was written July 11, edited on July 14th.

The past week has been particularly difficult. I think the pollution, noise, and lowish team moral are taking their toll. It is getting harder to truly smile, it's tougher to positively visualize, and I'm thinking more and more about home. I told Mom I keep telling myself I'm going to go camping with my family in woods by a stream, and we can give each other shoulder rubs and head massages.

Mom gave me another positive affirmation to repeat to myself: I can do anything for 10 more days.

And even though I'll be happy to get home, I'm feeling panicky about what I still want to do. I feel like time is slipping through my fingers so fast I'm scrambling to hold onto handfuls. It was a hard realization at church today that it would probably be the last time I would see most of those people.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

India: Pancakes, a strike, paddies and a garden

Monday evening I was put in charge of making pancakes for dinner. If you have never had cinnamon banana pancakes, treat yourself to one, two, or maybe even three. You can use whatever pancake mix you have handy, but add cinnamon (I add so much the batter looks brown, but that's with a "less potent" preground type), and chopped banana (the more the better). They taste so good, and the banana almost melts.

I took my pancake and drizzled it with honey, smeared on some peanut butter, grabbed a chilled Choco Danone milk from the fridge (tastes like liquid chocolate pudding), sat a chair by our back door, and ate while listening to monsoon rain and thunder, feeling whifts of wet hit my feet. I sat still long enough I was able to feel the breezes glide over my arms and face.

Treat yourself to a moment like that. I hope you receive a rainstorm soon. I'll send positive energy your way. :)

India: 19th Thankful Thursday: Dad's driving skills

Today I almost died. Imagine being in an huge bus, pelting down (paved) roads, with the driver gunning the engine to pass every slow[er] poke in his way. At one point, he was trying to pass some rickshaw truck with another truck coming our way, and somehow our bus made it between the two.

My dad is the best driver I've ever ridden with. He gets to places quickly and deliberately. No zooming in and out. He looks ahead and plans ahead. He's aware of other drivers and often anticipates what they do. I'm grateful. I feel safe when he drives.

THIS WEEK: Name a skill someone else possesses that blesses your life.

PS My mom is a good driver too. :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

India: Trains, a wedding, cattle truck, and deviled eggs

Good grief. It's been forever since I last posted. I started writing this post a few days ago. I've been able to take some video with N.'s nifty gadget, and hope she will help me download them on here soon.

Last Friday I got up at 6:15 am, and by 9 am, was riding a train to a village two and a half hours away. It could not have been a more pleasant day to travel. We had cloud cover, the humidity was relatively low, and the air was cool. The train was an experience. I'm pretty sure the brown stuff on the floor next to my left foot should have been in a toilet. Five beggars came: a woman held out a blind man's hand for him, a young girl came down the main aisle doing flips (she got the most money), an old woman whose right foot had a lump the size of a baseball on it, and a man who dragged himself, sitting upright, across the floor. The best part was sitting across from a young muslim man. He was excited to communicate with us, and did so through hand gestures and writing because he was deaf and couldn't speak well. His family was opposite us across the aisle, and his young sister was particularly excited to read our names after we'd written them down.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

India: 15th-18th Thankful Thursdays: Mothers, sisters, blessings and smiles

On Thursday June 11, my sister took care of Thankful Thursday for me by posting the following on Facebook:

15th Thankful Thursday: Today is my mom's birthday. What are 5 things you love about your mom?

[Why we love our mom]
1. She gives great advice
2. She gives great hugs :)
3. She is supportive
4. She is strong--spirit, mind, and body.
5. She's a great cook!

India: Monsoons, affection, and hole-in-the-wall food stops

As I type this, monsoon rains are pounding the cement and earth. I love them. They bring all the gucky pollution out of the air into the streets so now the air smells fresh and clean. (The silty brown rivers of garbage flowing down the streets are gross, but the clean air is worth it. The streets normally clear up fairly quickly once the rains stop). The pounding rain is a familiar setting where I can imagine I'm on the front porch with Dad and Mom watching the lightning. Middle Sister is there too because she loves thunder and lightning. Youngest Sister comes back and forth in and out of the house. And Molly is curled up on the sidewalk, waiting with us.

I can finally pronounce Hyderabad like the locals. It is High-dra-bad (like "bad boy").

Hyderabad is not a tourist city. I have not seen many other "White People" (and when we do, we stare like the Indians because it is so rare). Other than paying the "White Man's Price" for everything, I don't feel targeted. In Italy I was nearly always worried that someone was going to slit my backpack or pickpocket me, but I feel safe here. I believe the Indian people have a neighborly view, and that contributes in large part to pickpocketing not being an issue. We'll see if this theory holds true when we visit touristy spots of Northern India (Ma. is planning a six day trip for us--I'm rooting for the Taj Mahal).  

I had to adjust to being surrounded by men. In public, there has to be around an 80:20 ratio of men to women. It is still odd to be at a traffic stop in a rickshaw, and have almost all men with the occasional couple or woman surrounding us.

Monday, June 28, 2010

India: Cake, boulders, a Fort, and tenderness

Several Skype conversations ago with my family, my mom said I hadn’t posted anything really negative on my blog, and asked if I had been sick at all.

Well, two evenings before, two teammates organized a Cake Party. We sat around two plates with nine samples of cake from our local bakery, and a block of butterscotch ice cream (a flavor Indian people LOVE—it is everywhere). We sampled using tiny plastic spoons, sitting on the floor in the A/C room. The ice cream was fantastic.

The next morning, I started the day off with nausea. I drank a TON of water, and the day after, started my first Real Diarrhea (It's over, finally. Liquid Pepto Bismol is one of my best friends). I’ve written off frosting.

So, yeah. Add stepping on two cockroaches, murdering a mouse with rat poison, being grabbed by beggars, and my experiences haven’t all been mangoes and honey.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

India: Milestones, ambulances, and strolling through Monda Market

(Actually typed on Tuesday June 22, 2010)

Today marks a special day in Ivy's Adventures in India. Today, Ivy arranged for a rickshaw ride without any of the Totally Experienced Teammembers. Yes, indeed. Coming back from a productive research hour at an internet cafe, Ka. and I had to find our own way home. I 1) led the way across a usually very busy street that, miraculously, didn't seem nearly as scary as usual 2) hailed an auto rickshaw driver and said "No" when he wanted 40 rupees 3) asked a second auto driver if he would take 30 rupees instead of 40 to take us to "West Marredpally" and 4) was able to direct the driver to the right street when he took a route I'm less accustomed to. It was so satisfying.

I also finalized the dates when I want to have certain tasks done for my projects. That felt good. I feel like I will be able to finish what I need to in the five weeks I have left here. I feel more confident.

I went with K. to Charminar so that we could buy fabric. The store we entered was at least four stories tall. Fabrics of all colors and textures. I'm amazed how all the tailors here use pedal-powered sewing machines. it is incredible to watch them, and how fast they sew. I wish I could bring one home for my sister.

On the way there, I gained a new appreciation for how respectful and responsive American drivers are of ambulances. The roads here are chaotic, with all drivers jostling for the most forward position. An ambulance, which was not much larger than one and a half rickshaws, had its siren wailing but the others drivers didn't make a path for it. Most seemed to completely ignore it. Our rickshaw would have gone faster than the ambulance if our driver hadn't hung back, even trying to keep a few people from getting in the way of the ambulance. In the ambulance was the parents and grandmother of a young man laying on his back with an oxygen mask. He was breathing heavily. The faces of the family were tight and the father was agitated. We traveled with the ambulance for about four saddening minutes. I hope the man makes it.

India: Tiny chess sets, a surprise phone call, and a social whoopsie

Let me introduce you to my HELP teammates. My county director, K., is a highly capable lady who will be marrying an American diplomat in September. T. and his wife M. are the young married couple who are in charge of keeping us single scallywags in check. That leaves five other young ladies not including myself: Ki., Ma., C., G., and Ka. If any young men are reading this, you should go on humanitarian trips abroad. Or maybe it's a good thing you didn't, because HELP has a "no dating" policy. (This rule is so handy. One of the young men here told Ki. he wanted to marry her and she had a good way to end it right then and there).

Last Friday, the ladies went on a weekend trip to Chennai. It was fun to hang out with T. and M. On Saturday we were able to spend two hours at the Salarjung Museum I've wanted to see so badly. It houses the 40,000+ object collection of Salarjung III, prime minister of Hyderabad between 1899 and 1949. Out of the 35 rooms, we dashed through 17. I very much want to go back and see the rest. Some of my favorites: two tiny chess sets with pieces less than 1 cm tall and 2 mm wide; a sandlewood carving of two Hindu gods on a swing. The flute one was playing was thinner than a toothpick and slender, and the toenails were tiny. The tree canopy was multi-layered.; 3 inch diameter ivory balls that had been carved so that there were more than three balls inside each other; a modern painting of a calf nursing. The cow's face was frontal, and her eyes big and wide like a Jersey cow. The calf was tinted blue and you could almost see it's tail wagging. (Dad, I couldn't tell if it was a bull or heifer). :P

Unpaid Endorsement: Rawlin Chiropractic

This has been edited since the original posting.

Dr. Rawlin is a chiropractor unlike any other I’ve had. Here is the basis of his work:

Muscles shut themselves down when they are injured or overloaded. The work that they were in charge of is then transferred to other muscles. Those other muscles become overloaded, and a chain reaction of muscle “shut downs“ occurs.

Dr. Rawlin finds the muscles that have shut down, and restarts them.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

India: Project updates and random camels, and ramblings that turned out way longer than I anticipated

Before coming here, I think I thought I would be living and working in the slums of Hyderabad.

Not so at all--we live in a nice yellow apartment in a residential area not far from a guy who sells mangoes, three internet cafes, small grocery stores, and other businesses. There are 1 1/2 inch cockroaches in the kitchen, but I've never seen live ones while I'm out and about. Two of the rooms in the apartment have air conditioning, and the room I sleep in has a large ceiling fan and a swamp cooler.

I'd say we're fairly spoiled.

T. explained why we're not working in slums. Legally none of them are supposed to exist, even though the government facilitated their creation. Because none of the people in the slums own anything, land or material, and because they could get rooted out like cockroaches by the police at any time, they are unwilling to invest in any renovation, and we're not supposed to be there.

Monday, June 14, 2010

India: Mangoes and Hearing Problems

I've eaten mangoes. Real mangoes. Juicy ripe and yellow skinned mangoes. Pure heaven on earth. :) It is the end of mango season, and I want to eat two every day while they're still here. Not sure what that'll do to the digestive tract...better Google it. ;)
I didn't know cities could be so dirty. It is filthy here. The roads are chaotic, but the drivers must be the best on earth in terms of having 360 degree vision and lightning reflexes. . It's like Mario Kart on Steroids, and drivers, no matter the appearance, are actually NOT trying to kill each other.

I'm grateful when the city goes quiet after 10 pm. Wonderful to have a break from honking and noise.

Friday, June 11, 2010

India: Transfers and First Day

Thus begins the India Saga of Ivy. :)

Hello, friends and family. I made it. :) Thursday at 8 am my Visa arrived in the mail, 30 minutes later my dad drove me to the airport. It was odd being by myself. This is the first extended adventure of my life where I am unaccompanied by anyone from my family.

Imagine my gratitude when two familiar persons saw me, smiled and waved. It was a blessing to find out that two neighbors were going on the exact same flight as me, and least for the first leg of our respective trips. It was comforting.

Another blessing was that our flight was delayed for about two hours. This allowed me to write and mail a lengthy letter to my brother. I hadn't been able to write him well for about three weeks.

A few other blessings: I made each of my flights. I had connections in Chicago, Paris and Abu Dhabi before arriving in Hyderabad at 3:30 am. I was able to sleep for about five hours on the flight to Paris, and about another three hours between the other flights. On the trip to Paris, I was offered an aisle seat by a couple from Colorado so that they could sit to each other. I happily obliged. :)

A plug for Etihad airlines: the trip to Abu Dhabi was immaculate, and the food impressive. If ever given the chance, have the Arabic spiced chicken in yogurt sauce for dinner. I think Etihad finds the most polished and stern and well-spoken flight attendants possible. Between them, the flight attendants on the leg to Abu Dhabi spoke about 12 languages, Romanian and Slavic among them. This is when I wish I had kept up with my French. (Random phrases and surprisingly accurate sentences popped into my head while I was in the Paris airport).

I used my first squatter toilet in Abu Dhabi. I laughed. I bet my dad is laughing as he reads this.

In the Hyderabad customs line I met one of my new teammates, C., for the first time. Glad we could go through together. She arrived at the same time we did coming from Mumbai. I forgot to define "we": G. is a fellow teammate that traveled from SLC to Hyderabad on all the same flights I had, though our seats were never next to each other.

G. and I each lost our checked bags somewhere along the line. I'm grateful I listened to Dad and packed all the non-essential items into it. /I'm also glad to have bought toothpaste this morning. I didn't know brushing one's teeth could be so enjoyable. :) It took two hours for us to finish filling out paper work for our lost bags, and it was about 6 am when we were able to go to our new apartment. I was so grateful our country leaders picked us up. We could have ridden the bus, but by the time we finished I was drained.

I really like our apartment. It has an iron gate in the front, the building looks like the outside is plaster and it is painted a cheery yellow. There are four bedrooms, three restrooms (with porcelain toilets!) and a small kitchen. One room has air conditioning, so i've been told the team has "sleep overs" every night to share the luxury. We all have our personal space in whatever bedroom we're in, but we all put our sleeping mats in the AC room at night.

We had a meeting with CARPED, an organization led by a man who reminds me of me. I finally understand what people have been trying to tell me, to "focus". He has TONS of ideas of areas he wants to expand in, including setting up beehives for 770 women and setting up a community science center which includes a demonstration square foot garden. I decided not to help with beekeeping, and to encourage him to find a local beekeeper to help him. I can't fathom setting up a bee program in five weeks when I know so little, when it is very much a long-term project.

This is long enough. I'll post another update soon. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

14th Thankful Thursday: Critters

There are bees in my beehives again!!! :) :) :)

I became a beekeeper last year (my requested birthday present: two hives + bees+ equipment). Though I wish I could say I was a professional and innately talented, I ended up killing both hives by the end of last winter... *cough*

But now the hives are populated again. Queen Beea II and Queen Betsy II seem to be doing just fine. :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

13th Thankful Thursday: Memorial Day 2010

Dear Reader,

Monday is Memorial Day, a United States federal holiday to honor those men and women who have died while in the military service.

I know people go to cemeteries to remember and honor those who died in combat. Remembering is good. I believe those experiences help make us more grateful for what blessings we have.

Please consider this: what if we also thank those who have served and are still living?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

12th Thankful Thursday: Springtime 2010

I went down to the Farm today and checked on the plants we stuck in the ground last Saturday. Most of the tomatoes and nearly all of the melons are still alive. I'm grateful for this because I didn't give them much time to harden off (get used to being outside before planting).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

11th Thankful Thursday: Love Languages

My mother just finished a "90 day mind and body transformation," in which she took classes that helped her learn how to take care of her body and how to be her very best self.

I love hearing what she learned. One of the most life changing lessons she has shared was about five different "love languages" that people speak.

The premise: everyone has a primary way in which they express their love. And for whatever reason, people tend to marry someone who speaks a love language different from their own. The languages are:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

10th Thankful Thursday: Thank-you Cards

Something unprecedented happened yesterday. An event so rare in today's society, I almost thought I was living in a black and white film.

I received two thank-you cards, found in my mailbox.

One of them was sent by a pair of junior high boys.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

9th Thankful Thursday: Small and Simple

I'm grateful for my fingers. All ten of them. One of them has a boo-boo, and has left only nine available fingers for some activities. What a difference it made! I'm glad I've only had to temporarily "lose" the activity of one digit instead of losing a whole appendage to realize this.

I'm also grateful I'll have all ten available to type the last big paper of the year. :)

This week: What seemingly small and simple thing are you grateful for today?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

8th Thankful Thursday: Family

We've been blessed with gorgeous weather the past two days. Low gray clouds, wind, and some of my favorite smells. If someone could replicate the honeyed freshness of rain, including a whiff of damp barn smell (dewy, clean barns smell sweet, not foul) that reminds me of home, and make it just as penetrating as the real deal... I'd be their first customer.

It took me a while to identify the barn smell. When I did, I got a bit homesick...

I miss my family. Here are a few reasons why I love them and are thankful for them:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

7th Thankful Thursday: Inspirational Quotes

Quotes can be powerfully personal. Sometimes a quote is more meaningful at one particular point in time than at others. But I think most people have some favorites that inspire them to be and do better.

Here are several I've come across recently:

"My dear sisters, do not pray for tasks equal to your abilities, but pray for abilities equal to your tasks. Then the performance of your tasks will be no miracle, but you will be the miracle."
--President Thomas S. Monson, current President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Thursday, April 8, 2010

6th Thankful Thursday: Occurrences of a Wonderful Nature

Different names include: stoke of luck, coincidences, tender mercies, blessings, miracles... I think it depends on the beneficiary's beliefs and perceived magnitude of the occurrence.

I have three to name today:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

5th Thankful Thursday--Visionaries

In one of my classes yesterday, the student leading discussion asked the question, "Is it worth working towards sustainability when, hundreds of years from now, people might not care?"

I had one of those lightning strikes of personal application. Every year, my grandpa spends hundreds of dollars buying trees to reforest parts of the family cattle ranch. He is planting for me, his great-grandkids, his great-great-grandkids... most of whom he won't know during this lifetime.

He does this even though he distresses that no one will care after he is gone.

I am so grateful he does it anyway. Because if everything does work out, the ranch will be even more beautiful than it is today. All because of him and what he is trying so hard to do.

This week: In your life, who is a visionary you are grateful for? Why?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

4th Thankful Thursday: Remembering the Small and Simple

Too often we overlook the small and simple things that bring us joy or relief. Today, we're going to give a few of them the acknowledgment they deserve. :)

The task: Name three things you are thankful for that would fit in a square inch.

Honeybees, tomato seeds (well, all my favorite garden seeds are smaller than one inch), and the erasers on my pencils.

What are you thankful for? :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3rd Thankful Thursday: 1st Express Gratitude

Hopefully, at some point in your life, you have been the recipient of a thank you card. Chances are you haven't thrown it away like your grocery receipts, but have kept it in a place where you can read it often. Why? Because reading sincere thank you notes is like drinking hot chocolate on a bitterly cold day, warming you to your core. I'm thankful thank you notes don't require refills. ;)
This week's challenge: write a sincere thank you note, card or letter, and mail it to the recipient. No electronic messages or Post-it notes allowed. We want to touch someone and let them know they are appreciated.
Best wishes!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2nd Thankful Thursday--5 Reasons

5 Reasons I'm Grateful for Snow:
1) provides us water to get through the coming year
2) keeps the orchard cold enough so that the trees don't flower too soon
3) it is absolutely gorgeous
4) snow forts in which to play Star Wars
5) snow flakes + tongue = giggles :)

Now it's your turn! What are five reasons you are grateful for something?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

FIRST EVER Thankful Thursday Weekly Challenge :)

Paperclips, handwritten letters, puppy-dogs with great big brown eyes and soft fuzzy fur and brown eyes who love you unconditionally, the fact that "tests have an end", clean bed sheets, sincere complements, a warm coat, warm gloves, snow in the mountains, and post-it notes.

There. Ten things I'm thankful for, most of which are taken for granted. (Well, except for the pooch. She gets lots of love.)

THE CHALLENGE: What are you thankful for? Go ahead and write your big things, or take a moment to think about the less obvious.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Simple Pleasures of Snow... :)

Did you know snowflakes are musical? It's true! I just returned home after a dance held at the LDS Institute building. Large, white, wet flakes of snow have been falling quite quickly. I turned off my car and sat back to enjoy the snow. After a bit, I realized I could hear the snow as well as see it, and as I listened more intently, I heard a sound quite like I'd heard on California beaches this past summer.