Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

Apr 24, 2017

Summertime, and the livin' is easy...

That's right April through June is Summer in South Asia! There are actually 5 seasons on the Indian Subcontinent: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer and the Monsoon. What is called Spring and Summer here is really alternating bouts of pre-monsoon heat and pre-monsoon rains until the Monsoon starts in late June or early July. It took me like 2 years to figure that out. Above you see our kitties relaxing on the patio table during a bout of pre-monsoon heat last week. It was gleefully DRY after 3 weeks of continuous thunderstorms.

Caterpillars cavorting in the winter vegetables are a sure sign that Summer is here. This was the last of the Kashmiri haak or collards. The entire winter garden is now on the compost heap now. Corn, chilis okra, and tomatoes are the only veg I'm growing this Summer. Corn and okra will survive the Monsoon, the chilis and tomatoes will probably turn to mush about mid August.

The neighbors had a Buddhist house blessing for the new year. They do this every year and it is quite intensive. The lamas bless each room and area of the house. In the above photo they are on the roof finishing the blessing. Each room is purified and blessed with chanting, drums, horns, and incense. Lamas go door to door at the beginning of year signing up patrons for house blessings. They usually have a plastic laminated list of fees, photos, and copious documents verifying their authority from a tulku. The ceremony started at sunrise and continued 'til sunset. They used rose scented incense, I would have preferred nag champa but whatev's.

Our local vacant lot was host to some sort of district wide volleyball tournament. This went on for about a week and required micromanaging by no less than four men with LOUD bullhorns. No women's teams played. What's up with that?

The cha-cha convention started up at the local secondary school bus stop again. Some of the old uncles observed the volleyball tournament and some chose to watch the new momo stand being built behind the bus stop. The cha-chas will not take their coats and scarves off until it is at least 32C/90F. The topis (traditional pastel colored ikat Nepali caps) never come off out of doors.

Love was definitely in the air as this reptilian Romeo wooed a lady lizard on the garden wall. Romeo didn't seem to be having much luck as his potential paramour fell off the wall trying to evade his advances. True romance, eh? HIM the Baacha Khan (our tomcat) caught the unfortunate damsel when she fell.

I immediately rescued Ms Lizard from HIM the Baacha Khan. I am holding her by the tail because she will bite. It can be quite a nasty bite too. One of the neighbor kids developed a golf ball sized abscess full of vicious anaerobes after being bitten by one of these things. They are about a foot long with that whip-like tail. The orangey-red coloring on her head is brightest during mating season. The males sport a similar coloring, are slightly larger, and have a spiny lion-like ruff on their necks. These things are like mini Monitor lizards. Ms Lizard was safely released in the corn field. HIM the Baacha Khan was miffed.

Here's the neighborhood police kiosk with our local boys in blue. Nepal will be having it's first nationwide elections in 20 years next month. There are all sorts of rallies, speeches, and marches going on around town in preparation for the election. Everybody I've talked to seems really excited about implementing the new constitution of this fledgling democracy. Unfortunately some Madhesi groups along the southern border of Nepal are already refusing to participate and making threats. For this reason security is on high alert! Well, at least they're awake. (That isn't always the case.)

In other news, Kashmir is on the boil again. The photo you see above is a young Kashmiri man tied to the front of a military jeep by the Indian army as a "human shield" against protesters throwing stones. It is from a video that was allegedly taken on April 9th, the same day as an election for a Srinagar parliament seat. The vehicle the Kashmiri is tied to supposedly contains poll officials who faced a mob of angry stone-throwers. The army states the man was a protestor, the young man says he was simply returning home after voting. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, the Indian government's chief legal advisor stated:

"The recent report about a stone pelter tied to an Army vehicle, it helped contain stone pelters and saved the poll officials. Why so much noise? Everyday people are dying. It's a surcharged atmosphere. The Army is dealing with terrorists not with protestors, so they will have to be dealt with...everyone should look at the Army with pride, they are doing a great job."

That about sums up the situation in Kashmir. Both mobile internet and fixed line broadband connectivity have been suspended in Kashmir but authorities refused to confirm the block on record. Am I afraid for my Kashmiri family? Yes.

I love this baby's expression. Baby is like "Yikes!" or "WTH!?! Seems a truly fitting meme for the 21st century. Mom is carrying her baby and hair clip with a shawl tied around her shoulders in typical Nepali fashion while shopping.

Lastly, here's the grand and glorious Mt Machapuchare aglow in the Sunday sunset. The sky was absolutely black and it poured and thunderboomered all day and then !!POOF!! at 5pm sharp the clouds parted. Out peeped the gorgeous Annapurna mountain range for a spectacular grand finale. I took this photo from the northeastern corner of our backyard. You can see our scraggly banana patch in the lower left. Mt Machapuchare is also nicknamed the "Matterhorn of Nepal" based on this view. The mountain's name means fishtail. (Macha means fish and puchare means tail or butt if you were wondering.) As you go around the peak you can see the double summit at the top which does indeed resemble a forked fish's tail. It stands at 6,993 m (22,943 ft) and is about 25 km/16 miles north of our house. The mountain is revered by the local population as sacred to the god Shiva, and hence is off limits to climbing.

So, that's all that's going on around here this Summer, what's going on 'round your neck of the woods?

Are the fish jumpin' and the cotton high?

Is your mama rich and your daddy good lookin'?

Oh hush little baby, don't you cry,

Bibi ;)

Apr 3, 2017

Well, it just goes to show you, it's always something - if it ain't one thing, it's another.

 "I know what you're talkin' about, because, I, Roseanne Roseannadanna, once had the same thing happen to me."
You said it Roseanne Roseannadanna!  Whether there's a toenail in your hamburger, toilet paper clinging to your shoe, a little sweat ball hanging on the end of your nose, no electricity, no internet service, or your computer is displaying the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. It's always something. (For those of you unfamiliar with Ms Roseannadanna, she was a rather tactless character played by comedienne Gilda Radner from 1977 to 1980 on an American television show called Saturday Night Live.)

We've been having a lot of weather like this for the past week and a half. It was actually this dark at 3 in the afternoon! It started out a steamy 30C/87F but now we're down to 16C/61F. These pre-monsoon squalls are called Kalbalshakhi or mango showers. Sometimes they are derechos or straight-line wind storms associated with a land-based, fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms. This was definitely a derecho with a fast succession of severe thunderstorms, capricious gale force winds, torrential rains, and walnut-sized hail. This weather pattern is caused when the broiling heat of the Indian plains rises to meet the cold air of the Himalayas. That's a lot of wild weather for this California girl. Anywho, usually during thunderstorms I unplug the computer. The storms were nonstop this week so I went ahead and left the computer on. BOOM! Lightning struck. Everything went dark for 30 minutes. Even the invertor that supplies us with backup electricity was out. When I started the computer up again I got this:

Yup, the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. Now the pic above is the PC BSOD, I have an iMac so all I got was a blue screen and an unresponsive cursor. It wasn't even restartable either Drat. The iMac had to be hauled away to the Apple hospital in Kathmandu. This was not the first time something like this had happened. About 2 years ago the same thing happened and my hard drive was destroyed. It took a month to get that hard drive replaced.

So, off went the iMac via courier to Kathmandu. Hopefully. These Himalayan storms can quickly turn to flash floods as you see in the above photo. What was a tiny trickle of a creek a few hours ago might become a raging river in minutes out here. I actually called the Apple repair shop to make sure my iMac got there safe and dry.

I tried blogging on my smartphone. Forget it. Too hard. I played with the photo apps instead. "Bibi Goes Warhol" is what I've titled the above masterpiece.

We went shopping downtown and saw a $100USD frozen turkey from Utah. That's a 12lb/5.4kg bird which works out to a little over $8 a pound. How it got from Utah to Nepal just boggles my mind.

Here's a photo of the snapdragons along the driveway BEFORE the storms blew them to bits. They were absolutely stunning at almost a meter tall. That was actually the second set of blooms after I rigorously deadheaded their initial spires. Now they are in shreds from the high winds and hail. Those magenta petunias are goners too, all the petunias are khattam as they say here in Nepal. Wah.

As I sit here on Sunday evening typing this post the next storm in the derecho is beginning to hit with walnut-sized hail again. Above is a weather map of the heatwave in India that has been fueling this storm system since early March. For Americans 40C is 104F and 44C is 111F, it is HOT. if the Accuweather extended forecast for our area is to be believed we are going to be hit with temps in the 90F's/32C's by next Sunday. Mercy.

Yesterday morning my iMac came home from the hospital all fine and dandy. Apparently it suffered a trivial bit of amnesia from the ECT induced by the lightning. A rep from the internet service came by and rebooted my WiFi 'device.' We've had electricity for 8 hours straight. YIPPEE! I'm ready to start blogging again. Sheesh, it's been like 2 weeks since I've put up a recipe. Come hell or high water I'm getting a recipe up this week! Oh wait, we've already had high water and a hellish heatwave is on it's way. Anywho, whether it's banning muslin, endangered feces, presidential erections, conserving natural racehorses, or making Puerto Rico a steak, as Ms Emily Litella would say, "Never mind."
I miss Gilda Radner. 
Which of her characters was your favorite?
Any wacky weather out your way?

Mar 27, 2017

Bibi's Budget Beauty Booty!

Today Bibi turns beauty blogger to show off her recent budget finds! 
How exciting is that, eh? I have to admit to being a bit of a beauty snob for most of my life. Yep, just about every other weekend you'd be likely to find Bibi perusing the fragrance and beauty selection at Nordstrom or Sephora back in the US of A. But there's no place for beauty snobbery in Nepal. Department store and boutique brands are not available here. So what's a beauty addict like Bibi to do? Well about six months ago I spotted a new little store in our shopping district carrying these unfamiliar inexpensive cosmetic brands:

A brief foray on the internet informed me that Catrice and Essence were popular and affordable German brands with some excellent products! 
Both companies are owned by Cosnova and all their products are cruelty-free. Both brands have been available in 55 countries for over 12 years. Catrice has aligned itself with the fashion industry sponsoring and doing makeup for runway shows at Berlin's fashion week. Catrice's colors and products skew more classic but with innovative formulas. Think of Essence as the younger, trendier, little sister to Catrice. Essence's website looks like it's designed to appeal to 7 year olds but it's products certainly aren't kid stuff. Both companies are said to have inexpensive cosmetics that rival pricey prestige brands in performance. Yippeee! So I purchased  the Catrice Blush Artist Shading palette in Corall I Need, Catrice Nude Illusion Transparent Matt powder, Essence Pure Nude Highlighter in Be My Highlight, and a Rimmel lipliner I'd read about online to check'em out!

First up, here's Catrice's Blush Artist Shading palette in O20 Corall I Need. 
As you can see it comes with three shades that don't look very coral to me. Has the definition of coral changed in the fashion world recently? Is coral no longer pinkish orange? It's in your standard clear plastic cheapie drugstore case we've all seen a jillion times.

Above are swatches of the three shades contained in Catrice's Blush Artist Shading palette in O20 Corall I Need taken in natural mid morning light. On the right is a muted deep cool pink flecked with fine gold sparkles, the center shade is a warm matte muted coral(?), and to the right is a highlighter shade that's a very shimmery rose gold. All three powders were reasonably pigmented, remarkably finely milled, and easy to blend. Thankfully none of the shades had chunky visible glitter. I've had quite a lot of fun mixing the shades for various effects. The fine shimmer and textures of the blushes remind me of the highly rated Nars blushes. Mixing the rose gold highlighter with the center matte coral resulted in a shimmery peachy pink shade quite comparable to the cult favorite Nars Orgasm blush. They all kicked up a bit of powder in the pan but I didn't experience any fallout or shimmer anyplace on my face once applied. All three shades applied sheerly but were buildable to greater intensity. I did not experience any chalkiness, streaking, or patchiness upon application of any of the shades. Unfortunately all three shades did accentuate my skin's texture a bit. All three shades wore for a good 6 hours before starting to fade. I paid about $7USD for this palette which contains 10g of product. This palette is also available in 010 Bronze Eclat (warm bronze and rose gold shades) and 030 Rock'N'Rose (looked like 2 coral pinks with a lilac pink highlighter).

Next up we have Catrice's Nude Illusion Transparent Matt powder. 
I've been looking for a transparent powder to set my foundation with and minimize skin texture so I thought I'd try this cheapie. It promises a a soft-focus effect with a velvety, matt finish that is universally suitable for every skin type and tone. And it does all that! I did find it to be a tad drying though. I'll probably be using this powder mostly during the hot and humid Monsoon months. For all you selfie-prone beauties - this stuff does not flashback nor look whitish on camera! (See my liberally daubed nose in the photo below for proof positive.) I do prefer a pressed powder over a loose powder though. Loose powders somehow manage to eventually spread everywhere and are not travel-friendly. I saw that Essence had a couple of pressed translucent powders in compacts so perhaps I'll try them. Does everything I want a setting powder to do for $6USD. Made in Italy.

This Essence Pure Nude Highlighter in the shade Be My Highlight was truly the budget beauty gem! 
This baked powder highlighter is so luxuriously finely milled, subtly luminous, and easy to blend it rivals my Cle de Peau Luminizer in Golden Apricot that cost $55USD! This stuff is absolutely  amazing and I've already purchased 2 more for backups!

Here's a swatch of Essence Pure Nude Highlighter in the shade Be My Highlight on my freckly arm. Yes, I know it barely shows up in the photo. But the finish is a true glow with imperceptibly fine particles of shimmery mica. The product kicks up a bit of dust in the compact but looks silky smooth when applied. The shade is a warm golden apricot that works perfectly for my fair skin tone. It yields a non-glittery subtle metallic sheen but amazingly does not emphasize my pores or my skin’s natural texture. (Some of these highlighters can be garish and make you look lit up like a disco ball. Some make even barely noticeable pores appear cavernous.) A few minutes after application it seems to meld with my skin resulting in an even smoother finish. I use a very light dusting of this product as a setting powder and bronzer. It works fabulously giving me a natural 'lit from within' glow for 8 hours without drying my skin nor looking ridiculously 'robot face' shiny. Impressive! At only $5USD for 7g it is truly a steal and is part of Essence's permanent collection. Essence has a selection of eyeshadows in this Pure Nude collection I'm going to have to check out too. Made in Poland.
Last but not least is the Exaggerate lip liner in East End Snob from good ol' British Rimmel. 
I'd always heard Rimmel had great products for the price but had never tried them. I was looking for a lip liner that was less drying than my super long-lasting luxury brand lip liners that parch my lips. Over and over Rimmel's Exaggerate lip liners kept showing up on the beauty blogs I perused as being the least drying yet long wearing that beat the spendy brands in performance. Is an East End snob a sort of high class yob?

The shade East End Snob is said to be a great dupe for Charlotte Tilbury's famed Lip Cheat pencil in Pillowtalk. The color is a muted mauve pink that is quite neutral and would suit a variety of skin tones. It is a twist-up pencil that works like a mini lipstick bullet. The texture is a bit waxy when applied but does not sit in your lip lines. It is neither moisturizing nor drying to the lips. If your lips are chapped, peeling, or otherwise misbehaving this pencil will not do them any favors. It has enough color on it's own so that it could be as a matte lipstick or a liner. It does leave a bit of a stain on the lips after it evenly fades after 4 hours which I like. It is not as long-lasting nor as brown in tint Charlotte Tilbury's Lip Cheat pencil in Pillowtalk. I like Rimmel's East End Snob liner better than Pillowtalk because it is pinker in hue. It's the perfect shade of 'your lips but better' pink for my coloring. Best of all it was only $5USD compared to the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat pencils that are $22USD!

Here's Bibi's FOTD featuring the above mentioned products. 
Please pardon my miserably bloodshot and swollen eyes as agricultural burn season is in full swing here. I'm wearing It Cosmetic's BB cream in the shade Fair because it has 50spf (you NEED 50spf daily living at 4,000ft in elevation) and It Cosmetic's Bye Bye Under Eye Anti-Aging concealer in Light. The blush palette was a really fun way to try out new shades of blush. I used a light hand applying the deep pink to my cheeks. I'm one of those weirdoes that uses blush for eyeshadow so I used the coral pink in the palette on the crease of my lids. I did a bit of strobing on my brow bones and upper cheek bone with the rose gold shimmery highlight from the blush palette too. My shiny schnozz is matt and soft focused thanks to the Catrice transparent powder. I used the Rimmel liner as a lippy and topped it with a clear balm for a bit of definition and color. Due to poor air quality this was NOT a mascara day so I did a simple smudgy smoky eye with my long time Holy Grail Elizabeth Arden eye pencil in Gunmetal. I then set my makeup with light overall C3 dusting of the brilliant Essence Pure Nude highlighter in Be My Highlight for that sublime glow. TA-DAAAA! Oh my eyes look horrid and sinuses are aflame. Blargh.

I am so jazzed to try Catrice and Essence's Spring and Summer 2017 collections! 
If you live in the US you can find some of the Catrice and Essence line at Ulta, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Target. I have heard from my Irish girlfriend that they have both brands in Penney's in the ROI. Ms Vix say Essence is available in at Wilko's and Asda in the UK. Catrice and Essence are available throughout the Middle East and the rest of Europe too. Rimmel is available all over the US and of course the UK. The Sheikh (my husband) is rolling his eyes and asking if we should request wholesale pricing. Sounds great to me!

What are your fave drugstore makeup lines?
Any Holy Grail status budget beauty products you recommend?

Mar 20, 2017

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail....

"Rage" - Banksy
Nor nationwide strikes, nor intermittent internet service lapses, and nor electricity outages shall stay Bibi from blogging! Well, maybe power outages and no internet connection might but I'm still trying! At least once a week anyway. Yup, we had a huge storm the week of March 5th, then a nationwide strike for two days, and then two days of Holi holidays. The storm brought high winds, heavy rains, lightning, and a cold snap which left over a meter of snow at higher elevations. All that wild weather caused power outages for three days. Then our internet tower went kaput so no internet connection for over a week. No one could go up and fix the tower due to the nationwide strike or banda being enforced by one of the myriad political parties here in Nepal. Of course the strike was called off for the Holi holiday which lasted another two days. Even now we're having intermittent power shortages and gaps in the internet connection so bear with me! 

Curious as to what a nationwide strike is like here in Nepal? Well, a strike is called a banda and they occur quite frequently. Culturally, a banda is the preferred form of protest by Nepal's myriad political parties. A banda can be determinate, indeterminate, partial, regional, or all sorts of things. Usually all shops are closed, schools are shut, and vehicle traffic is prohibited. The banda is enforced by whichever political party declared it. Those who defy the strike are threatened with arson, vandalism (usually smashed windows or windshields), or other harm. Goons are sent door-to-door to threaten shops to close so that the banda can be declared both successful and peaceful. Party enforcers roam the streets with clubs or lathis looking for any motorcyclists or vehicles that dare not to conform to the strikes. Everyone keeps updated on the banda by watching local television stations or checking the banda page on Facebook.

"Torching" is a common enforcement tactic utilized by political parties in Nepal too. Vehicles, shops, or police officers defying the strike are set afire by tossing a bottle of flammable liquid and a lit match upon them. The above photo is of one of three trucks that were torched by cadres of the United Democratic Madhesi Front for defying a banda in September 2015. When asked why the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) resorts to torching the official spokesperson of the party exclaimed-

"The media never gives attention to us when we carry out peaceful protests. We held a motorcycle rally in Kathmandu yesterday, the media did not cover it. But when our cadre torched a taxi today morning, it was reported by every single media outlet."
-Santosh Budha, spokesperson for CPN (M)

Why this sort of strike enforcement isn't called terrorism is beyond me. If any Muslim or Islamist group did this it would be broadcast worldwide as acts of terror.

After two days of the entire country coming to a complete standstill only a tiny column was written about it on the second page of the national newspaper. Two days of empty roads, closed shops, shut schools, and reports of vehicles being torched and properties vandalized condensed into 3 brief paragraphs. That's how habituated and normalized strikes are here in Nepal. Can you imagine if this happened in a Western country? 

What triggered this banda? There was an altercation over the building of a culvert in the remote western border district of Kanchanpur on March 9th. The Nepalese side was building the culvert in an area that is claimed by the Indian side. About a dozen Nepali citizens and two Nepali police personnel were fired upon by officers of the Indian border security forces (Seema Sashastra Bal or SSB). Three shooting victims succumbed immediately to their injuries and two died later in hospital. Just how many bullets were fired in total and exactly by whom still seems to be a bit of a mystery. After reports of SSB firing on March 9th the Embassy of India refuted the claims, saying “there was no incident of firing by SSB in Kanchanpur.” A day later, the Nepali goverment delivered a diplomatic note to India condemning the killings, demanding investigation, and urging the Indian side to refrain from “such inimical activities." New Delhi replied stating the SSB had started an enquiry on the matter and sought reports to facilitate the process. This usually means we'll never truly know what actually happened. 

Prince Harry gets Holi-ed at the local airport, March, 2016
And then came Holi! The problem with a banda is that after a few days the law of diminishing returns takes precedence. Frustration, necessity, and boredom build to a point where it begins to overcome the fear factor and people start venturing out regardless of threats. Or a popular festival occurs. Nepalis aren't about to miss a festival! Especially one as fun as the Hindu festival of Holi. Whether demands have been met or not the banda organizers usually end up finding some creatively face-saving way to call the banda off. And so it was! The free-for-all festival of Spring then commenced with revelers being smeared and drenched with water and many-colored powders. In the above photo you can see Prince Harry getting politely Holi-ed at our local airport on his visit to Nepal last year.

Our Ms Dawg unwisely ventured from the compound gates on Holi morning. Yes, dogs get Holi-ed too! Foreigners and animals are not spared the festivities. A few years back I was smeared with some red powder on Holi that triggered an allergic reaction on my skin that lasted a month. That's why I don't go out on Holi anymore. And so after the dismal silence of the banda the air was filled with loud music, boisterous squeals, and the happy cheers of the Holi-gans. At any rate, Bibi's internet connection wasn't going to be fixed anytime soon. 

Spring weather in the Himalayas is certainly capricious. That storm last week brought a cold snap as well as copious precipitation. Gone was our balmy, tropical weather and in blew grumpy gray skies and icy blasts from the mountains. Elevations above 3,000m/9,000ft got over a meter of snow. Tourists and middle class Nepalis had fun riding buses up to play in the newly fallen snow. All the wind, snow, lightning, and rain knocked out our electricity, internet, and satellite television signals for three days.

At least my garden fared well over our recent debacles. Fortunately we haven't had the hailstorms that usually shred my flowers. Above is a double petunia. Rather than the typical trumpet shape of regular petunias it is a pom pom of frills and flounces. At first glance it looks almost like a wadded up and soiled facial tissue to me. The flowers are a bit prone to rot as water tends to puddle in it's many crevices. It also reminds me of those spectacular parrot tulips with their fimbriated petals and ombre coloring. Not sure if I'd plant it again though. I'll bring you up to date on the other flowers in all their Spring glory in my next Life & Love post.

That's all the news that's fit to spit around here. So far. 
I better not speak too soon, eh?
I've heard y'all have had some wild weather in the US and Europe too?
I'm still having internet issues over here so my posts might be sporadic until we get these tech problems figured out. 

Feb 22, 2017

Come, Gentle Spring! Ethereal Mildness! Come.

Yes, indeed Spring has sprung in in our little Himalayan valley. 
We had our 2 nights of light frost in January and then BOOM! It's been 75F/24C everyday since. Here's some pics of ethereal mildness for those of you suffering wintry doldrums in colder climes.

Wook at the witty bitty babies! Awwww! Flown freshly in from Singapore these youngsters are for sale at our local feed and seed shop. No fancy breeds here just whatever mixed lot Singapore sends in the box. In eight months you can have a chicken dinner or an omelet!

These old-fashioned petunias were the first to start blooming in my garden. I bought these as seedlings at our local nursery. The expensive seeds I planted last September rotted in the prolonged Monsoon rains. I'm not sure what color you'd call this nor what variety they are. Most of the flower seeds I see for sale here in Nepal are from China or Thailand and not very good quality.

Spikes of snapdragons in shades of sulfur yellow, snowy white, and hot pink are blooming along the driveway. Snapdragons have always been a favorite flower of mine. The Nepalis say they look like tigers not dragons. In India I've heard them called snake flowers and dog flowers too.

These are a dwarf variety of snapdragon. If you prefer your snapdragons in the form of an eight inch high indeterminate bush rather than elegant spires here it is! In the early 90's in western countries a trend for miniature flowering annuals began. I suppose it was part of the downsizing trend after the mega-sized 80's? Personally I don't think the dwarfed bush varieties show off the snaps well.  But if you do decide to plant these dwarfs be assured you'll have them forever as they freely reseed. Rigorously deadhead these dwarf snaps and they'll keep re-blooming for about 3 months too.

As the weather warms tropical nasties like this leech abound also. Be sure to check your shoes for these freeloaders after gardening. If walking through a forested area these things will also drop from trees on you too. Don't let this leech's miniscule size fool you. This one inch leech can stretch to about 3 inches long and about the girth of your thumb when sated. Luckily it doesn't hurt when these bloodsuckers attach. It is gross though.

These are a famed local variety of beans from our region called Simi. They are a winter crop in our region's temperate valleys and a summer crop in higher altitude areas.

When fresh like this Simi beans cook tender in minutes. The green pods are eaten in a stir-fry dish too. When dried they turn a lightly freckled rose color and require presoaking and about 20 minutes of pressure cooking to achieve tenderness. They taste a lot like pinto beans when cooked and are a favorite local protein staple. 

Just to show you what the different seasons are like the above photo is our road during Monsoon in August and the photo below was taken yesterday (late February). As you can see in the above photo the Monsoon season is lush, green, and muddy. Really, really muddy. Have a look at the blue roof in the upper center of the Monsoon photo and compare it with the dusty Winter version below.

Yep, it's dusty, dry, and parched here in the Winter. That fine silty dust covers just about everything on the Subcontinent from the Himalayas to the Indian ocean. Greenery for animal fodder gets scarce this time of year too. There is snow up in the mountains though that will be melting soon. Hail and thunderstorms will start in March and continue through April possibly destroying the garden. 

I heard it's flooding and the snowpack is 175% in my native California, wowee! Californians better start building an ark.
How's it going in your neck of the woods?