Showing posts with label monsoon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label monsoon. Show all posts

Oct 2, 2017

Isn't it Romantic?

Yes indeed, it's a brand new trashcan! The Sheikh (my husband) saw this in our local upscale departmental store and bought it immediately. Woo hoo! I think we're the only ones in our district with a rolling rubbish receptacle like this. There it sits proudly at the end of the driveway by the front gate ready to go. Ain't it grand? It was the only one in entire the store too. Nothing says love like a modern, sanitary, durable, stylish, and easily transportable waste bin!

If you're wondering why all the excitement about a rubbish bin it's because this is how we used to deal with trash. We'd hang our bags full of a day's trash up on the back fence with the mops and such. (Bin liners are not widely available for purchase in Nepal so we make due with used shopping bags.) This kept dogs, rodents, monkeys, yetis, or whatever from getting into the trash until the rubbish collectors came. Unfortunately the rubbish collectors only come to pick up garbage maybe every two weeks at no set time or day. Because we have three cats we generate at least one bag of litter a day. That means there might be like 14-15 bags of stinky, vermin attracting trash hanging on the back fence before the next rubbish pick-up. Then when the rubbish collectors came honking down our street my maid and I would have to grab like 6-7 bags of trash each and run to the front gate carrying the smelly mess. Now we can store the full bags in the bin and just roll it out the gate to meet the garbage truck! Yippee!

It's been hot as Hell here this September. Like between 90F/32C to 100F/38C daily. Fall has definitely not fallen and the Monsoon rains are lingering longer too. I've taken advantage of this decidedly Indian summer (pun intended) to dry some mint. Above you see our garden table covered with mint sprigs. I pick the mint early in the morning and give it a bit of a light rinse before allowing them to dry and wilt a bit for a day in the sunlight. I then place the wilted sprigs on aluminum cookie sheets and allow them to dry for about a week on top of the fridge. There's one of the cookie sheets on the chair in the bottom right corner. Our gardener Khashi is waving to the camera in the upper right corner. Yes, Khashi is wearing an insulated vest as he trims our tiny patch of lawn with a hand shears even though it's 90F/32C.

I shot this photo of a little egret (Egretta garzetta) with the zoom on my Samsung Galaxy phone. I'm amazed at what great quality pics this phone takes. This egret is one of a pair that regularly nests in the sacred fig at the hospital across the street from us. It looks like this photo is taken in some lush and tropical riparian zone doesn't it?

Well, it's actually the vacant lot next to our property. This is taken with the 10x zoom. See the tiny white speck of a bird in the water near the center of the photo? That's the same bird at the same distance as the other photo! This vacant lot/unofficial garbage dump becomes a festering swamp during the Monsoon. The frogs and bugs sing raucously and gloriously around it all night long. It's so filthy the water buffaloes won't even go in it. I'm sure there's all sorts of nasties breeding in there from leptospirosis to typhoid. Blech.

And the tomatoes finally came to an end. This is the typically spindly and diseased mess that you end up with at the end of the season no matter what variety you plant here. That's an old mop handle, a split of bamboo, and some kite string that was a jugaadi (make-do) trellis when the tomatoes were full of fruit. Scale was the predominate pest this year. Our gardener Khashi says scale was a big problem all over Nepal this year. He also says he'd never seen scale in Nepal before 2 years ago.

Rainy weather makes for strange bedfellows. This is how Ms Dawg mostly spends her days during the Monsoon. On the front patio bench. As you can see our Ms Dawg is a gal who really knows where her towel is. Granny Chinger (our grand feline matriarch) is the kitty trespassing on Ms Dawg's bench. 

When Ms Dawg's away the kitties will play! Here the kitties have completely taken over Ms Dawg's bench. 

The kitties make themselves quite at home on Ms Dawg's bench when she's away. As you can see they've spread themselves out strategically in order to occupy the entire bench. Ms Dawg looks on in great disgust but does not bother the kitties when they usurp her bed.

This week was Dashain or Vijaya Dashami here in Nepal. It is the longest, most popular, and most auspicious Hindu festival in Nepal. if you'd like to learn more about Dashain in Nepal I did a post on it here. The air has been rife with the scents of fabulous feasts being cooked and the fragrance of incense for poojas. Above is a photo I took of a pooja being performed at the base of the sacred fig tree at the hospital in back of us. Dashain is sort of a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one. It's become a big shopping event like holidays in western countries too. All the stores in town are bringing in extra merchandise, having big discount sales, and special offers for the big holiday. We got a free pressure cooker with the purchase of a kilo of butter! 

Since it's been so blasted hot we decided to take a drive up into the mountains. Above is the view of our valley from the tiny village of Sarankot. Cloudy, lush, and green is what late Summer and early Fall looks like in South Asia. In my native California everything is dry, brown, dusty, dead, or burnt this time of year. It was considerably cooler at this elevation even requiring a jacket as the sun set. 

In fact, it's so much cooler up in the mountains the winter vegetables were coming in! That is asparagus you see in the above photo. Asparagus in late September? You can grow just about anything in Nepal because of all the different microclimates at all the different altitudes here. There was also bok choy, spinach, daikon radish, kohlrabi, turnips, and cauliflower. The Sheikh bought 3 kgs of turnips and 6 heads of cauliflower. I don't think there's another ethnic group on the planet that gets as excited about turnips as Kashmiris. Guess we'll be eating rajma gogji (Kashmiri style beans and turnips) and curried cauliflower all next week.

And here's Jigme and his twin sisters playing on a derelict cart of some sort in the vacant lot/dump/swamp. Jigme must be the youngest Nirvana fan ever. Every time I see him he's wearing yet another Nirvana t-shirt. He's quite the little badass with his gang signs and surly air.

Sigh. Of all the American holidays I miss Halloween the most. My friend in California sent me an email of her thrift store finds. This one deserved a cackle. I do not miss all the hype and frenzy of working in or going anywhere near retail establishments in the US during the Holiday season. 

Granny Chinger and her striped daughter Tikka look about like how I feel in this photo. The maid has gone to Kathmandu for the week to celebrate the holiday with her family. That means in addition to cooking meals and doing the laundry I get to do the maid's chores like mopping and washing dishes  too. It's so blasted hot that after lunch is served I just want to go siesta in the air conditioned bedroom till dark. Oh well, the maid will be back tomorrow and hopefully things will cool down soon. It's October already!

Has Fall started on your corner of the world?
Are you looking forward to the holiday season?

Bah humbug,

Jul 31, 2017

Monsoon Mayhem: Murder, Matrimony, Rubbish, & Makeup

Yes indeed, the Monsoon has begun in all it's miserable muggy buggy glory! Above you see an example of the ongoing carnage in my garden. I was deadheading the Mexican sunflowers when that pale green spider leapt up and savaged that poor little European honeybee. Flies of some sort soon joined in the gruesome feast. The dismemberment and digestion of that poor murdered honeybee went on for a few hours. I grabbed my phone and snapped this photo as I'd never seen a honeybee attacked like this. What's even more amazing: I can hold a tiny, moderately priced piece of technology in my hand and snap a photo with such incredible detail with minimal photography skills. Then I can miraculously pop it on the internet for all the world to see in minutes! What wondrous times we live in, eh?

That very night a violent squall blustered down from the Annapurnas and completely flattened my humongous hedge of Mexican sunflowers. The storm only lasted about an hour but it knocked down two of the neighbors' banana trees too. The Mexican sunflowers had grown to an incredible seven feet in height. Above you see all that is left of the Mexican sunflowers. After tossing them on the compost heap I gathered some seed heads to dry and a few last cut flowers for a farewell bouquet. Those big aluminum American cookie sheets work well for drying herbs and seeds and such. I shall have Mexican sunflowers now in perpetuity.

@$^&@!!! snails have been ravaging the tomato crop!!! At least finish eating the tomato rather than just eating a hole through you rude !@#$%^&!! snails.

While I was hanging clothes to dry on the roof one morning a russet-hued cloud of these dragonflies arose from the vacant lot/swamp next door. All whirring and clickety-clacking and coppery glinting in the sun. These dragonflies are a bit smaller than the ones we had in California. California dragonflies come in all sorts of wild colors like metallic peacock blues, gossamer greens, and iridescent purples. The dragonflies here in Nepal are all that reddish brown. The dragonfly in the photo above alit on the clothesline and began chattering at me. Upon closer inspection his wings were a bit cattywompus and floppy. You can see his top wing still had a bend in the tip. As he sunned himself the wings unfurled and straightened out. I'm guessing there was a mass hatching and that whirring noise was a lot of newly hatched damp and wrinkly dragonfly wings.

Who's this coming down our street? He sure looks happy (NOT). This young man is part of our fairly new household waste collection system. In Nepal residents must haul their trash to a waste collection vehicle which makes frequent stops around each neighborhood. You don't put your bin to the curb on a designated day of the week as one does in western countries. The waste collectors indicate their presence by honking a loud horn. The man in the above photo is walking before the trash collection vehicle (the green truck) honking a large and loud horn that goes WANK-AAH WANK-AAH WANK-AAH!!! It sounds like a rodeo clown horn to me.

The sound of that horn is Bibi's cue to drop everything, grab the full garbage bags hanging on the back fence, and run like heck to the front gate. Of course the kitties have to check out what all the excitement is about. Ms Dawg is poised for action too- she's sleeping under the chinaberry tree across the street out of frame though. There isn't any schedule, rhyme, nor reason as to when the garbage collectors show up. Last month they came two consecutive Tuesday afternoons then they didn't show up at all for three weeks.

And then sometimes they don't even stop! Looks like Bibi's going to have to drop the camera and run to toss her bags to the guy in the back. Wheee!!! A few years ago we were just left to fend for ourselves as far as waste disposal went. What didn't get sold to the kabadiwalla, composted, or burned was buried or nocturnally tossed into the vacant lot.

Mission accomplished! So there's the waste collection vehicle lumbering on down the road after I've thrown my rubbish bags up to the guy at the back of the truck. I guess they aren't working for tips. Every time there's a different crew. The time before this the entire crew was a bit drunk. When I handed the bags up to the guy at the back of the truck he grabbed my arm and started to pull me into the truck! Thankfully Ms Dawg loudly, viciously, and vehemently intervened and I escaped unscathed. Which may be the reason the waste collection vehicle isn't even slowing down by our house. 

A Monsoon wedding on our street! Here's the groom's party returning after fetching his beautiful bride to be. They're a jiggy lot aren't they? They may be few in number but they're certainly festive! I've noticed that most of the marriages in agrarian families take place during the Monsoon. City folks seem get married in Winter.

This lady wins Bibi's award for best outfit of the decade. Shout out to Ms Wintour, Mr Lagerfeld, Mr Jacob, Mr Ford, Ms Versace, & the gang! This is true GLAMOUR. This is how it's done. Timeless, elegant, classic style that works no matter what the trends. This is how pink should be worn. This works for the red carpet as well as an outdoor summer wedding. Suitable for any size, skin tone, or figure. From the pale gold choli (blouse) to the zari stitching on the border of the sari this is bomb, hundo p, slayin' and then some. Nepal might be beyond the arse end of nowhere but fashion never passed us by! All that and she's got a matching quilted clutch and bangles. Probably a matching beaded dupatta/scarf and bejeweled lamé  jootisslippers too. Dang. I need that outfit! 


And here's the lucky couple! I don't know. I kind of feel sorry for the bride. But I love this photo because if you look closely the bride's eyes are glowing. I'm not sure if she's terrified, angry, demon possessed, or if the sequins on her veil are just reflecting oddly. Maybe all three? Anywho, the groom looks thrilled and so does the boy on his left. 

Last month was my birthday and the Sheikh surprised me with some makeup! The Sheikh gifted me an entire selection of products from GOSH Cosmetics of Denmark. I'd never heard of the brand but apparently it's a new line carried by my favorite little makeup store in our little town. Gosh is priced on the high end of drugstore cosmetics so I was curious to test these products out. By the sleek and chic looks of the packaging and product they're trying to compete with trendy brands like MAC and Urban Decay.

Above you see the Smokey Nudes 002 palette which consists of 5 matte and 5 pearl shades. The palette is rather luxuriously packaged in a very sturdy black vinyl laminated cardboard case with a very secure magnetic closure, a mirror, and a typically useless brush. It's definitely meant to be a dupe of the iconic Urban Decay Naked palettes with it's rectangular pans and gradient layout. There weren't very many positive reviews for Gosh eyeshadows online. The palette is made in PRC. As with most eyeshadows from PRC the shadows very pigmented but unfortunately so dry and hard in the pan you can barely load your brush with it. Seriously, some of these are like pans of watercolor paints. When you eventually scrape up enough eyeshadow it applies well and is blendable. Overall you've got your basic tans, taupes, and browns of varying intensities you'd see in any nude palette. Not much really screams "smokey" in this palette to me. The darkest shade you see on the far left of the palette is a charcoal gray not a deep, intense black. I'm of the opinion that any palette that dares to call itself smokey must have a deep, intense black!!! The pearl shades are so faint they may as well be satins. To really be 'on trend' those pearl/shimmer/satin accent shades should have been bold metallics or brilliant jewel tones. Other that it's been a fun palette to play with. I've never owned one of these huge palettes with multiple shades that have become so popular. I've had quads, trios, and duos of various brands though. I don't think I'd choose a 10 pan palette with this much brown in it. Most of the looks you get with just these shades are too similar. But the Sheikh (or the lady at the makeup store) and bought this too:

Gosh's To Party in London was the other palette the Sheikh bought for me. Housed in a sturdy and chic heavy black plastic case this palette of 9 metallic shadows is made in Italy. These shadows have the opposite problem as the ones in the Smokey Nudes palette- they are so ridiculously buttery and soft you'll gouge a huge hole in them if you use a brush! So I just pat these on with my finger gently and then blend them out on the lid with a brush. The metallic effect is a fine shimmer not glitter and can easily be built up in intensity to an almost foiled effect. To get these shadows to really pop it's best to layer them over a matte dark gray or black. It just so happens the 'on trend' look this Fall is the "metallic smokey eye"! So Bibi is all set to be hip and happenin' as far as eye makeup goes between these two palettes! My only complaint with these metallic shadows is that they fade to a light wash of color after about four to five hours. This is a common problem with metallic eyeshadows even in high end brands though. Gravity takes it's toll on the the heavy bits of mica that give the metallic effect and they fall off. There are special primers to deal with this type of fallout. Overall I've had fun playing with this palette too. It took me about two weeks to realize there were three colorways going in this palette. At first I just though it was just an accent palette of glamour shades for party looks. But if you look at the rows going left to right you'll see there's a theme to each one. The top row in neutral toned with pink shimmer in a champagne, rusty brown, and chocolate brown. The middle row is warm toned with gold shimmer in a pale gold, saffron orange, and a sienna brown. The bottom row is cool toned with a lilac shimmer running through a pale silver, lavender, and anthracite gray. All rows have a highlight, midtone, and deep shade for at least 3 very different complete looks! 

So here's a FOTD by GOSH I did on my birthday. Yes, Bibi reverts to a 5 year old when she gets new makeup and has to try out everything immediately. I'm also wearing GOSH Foundation Plus Cover + Conceal in shade 002and GOSH lipliner pencil in the shade Dusty Rose. The foundation/concealer and lipliner pencil are actually really good quality. Both applied easily, wore comfortably, and lasted a good 6-7 hours. My nose looks a bit chalky because I set it with an Essence transparent fixing powder that apparently is not photo-friendly. I really wouldn't recommend the eyeshadows as I think you can get much better quality for less money from other drugstore brands like Wet-N-Wild or Coastal Scents. Eyeshadows seem to be a difficult thing for drugstore level products to get right. Another thing about those two GOSH palettes- I can not find a listing or review online for them anywhere! There is another Smokey Nude palette by GOSH I found online that has plums, purples, and an inky navy blue shade but not the same as mine.  I could not find the To Party in London metallic palette listed anywhere. No reviews, no eBay listings, no mention on the GOSH website- NADA. The little makeup store where the Sheikh bought these gets big boxes of all sorts of odds and ends from European cosmetic companies. Testers, limited editions from years ago, things that are not 'first quality,' and just stuff that did not sell. I wonder if these were just products that were never released or discontinued before launching due to quality issues or what? My Swedish girlfriend says she thinks these were a 'gift with purchase' last Fall. Anywho, no point reviewing products that no one can buy anywhere, eh?

That's all the excitement around here. It's been drizzling here for 3 days straight. Great weather if you're a frog! 
How's your Summer going?

Calmly Currying on,

Aug 26, 2016

Yellow Bird, Up High in Banana Tree

Yellow bird, you sit all alone like me
You can fly away, in the sky away
You're more lucky than me!

Two of these beautiful yellow birds sang gloriously for about twenty minutes outside my kitchen window the other day. The photo really doesn't do their brilliantly saturated yellow plumage justice. This is a male Indian golden oriole (Oriolus kundoo). That snazzy winged eyeliner differentiates them from other Eurasian orioles. They're usually a rather secretive bird preferring to live near the edge of forested areas and come to Nepal to breed. How any creature can be secretive with eye scorching yellow coloring like that I do not know. The males are quite territorial and these two were evidently contesting each other in song. We used to see much more of these forest birds years ago before our rural neighborhood started becoming gentrified.

And here's the aforementioned banana tree. Bananas love this Monsoon heat and humidity. Bananas are the messiest plant ever. They sustain a universe of bugs as well as continuously dropping and dripping all sorts of leaves, sap, and whatnot everywhere. Definitely a low maintenance but way way wayyyy back of the garden sort of plant. 

Speaking of messes and gentrification, I am no longer allowed to feed livestock on the road nor in front of our house. We now have a home owner's association on our street. A nasty neighbor lady complained about me feeding the animals on the street to the association. So now I have to walk about a half mile to the farmhouse pictured above to donate our leftover rice to the water buffalo that lives there. As you can see this gentrification nonsense has walled in this once rural farmhouse too. That's a typical Nepali rice straw haystack on the right and the buffalo's shack on the left.

Here's Ms Buffalo inside her tiny pen behind the gate. She's looking sleek, sassy, and happy to see Bibi bringing her some treats. I wonder how long before they ban Ms Buffalo from the neighborhood? I haven't seen my old friend Blackie in months, I hope he went up to higher ground for the Monsoon and is eating well. I'm not liking all this gentrification hooey either Ms Buffalo! I wish our homeowner's association would do something useful like fill the bathtub sized holes in our road or arrange garbage pick up for the neighborhood.

On a more pleasant note this gorgeous sizzling hot pink double hibiscus started blooming on the side of the driveway. I think this must be the Carmen Miranda of flowers with all those fantastic fuchsia frills. It was just a stub of a bare stick about six months ago and then BAM! (You know Bibi had to stick at least one flower in this post.)

The heliconia is doing it's thing on the side of the driveway too. Heliconia or lobster claw plant is in the bird of paradise family. It puts out six foot high cane like stems then puts out amazing two foot long blooms like this for a month or two. You have to cut them back and split up their rhizomes every year or they become a rangy raggedy mess.

Ms Dawg and I have figured out this system to beat the Monsoon heat. I run the air conditioning in the front bedroom then strategically place the floor fan in the hallway so it blasts the cool air out the front door. Ms Dawg then positions herself thusly to enjoy the refreshing breeze. (Please pardon the ripped screen door - that's part of having pets.)

Wish I was a yellow bird, 
I'd fly away with you
But I am not a yellow bird,
So here I sit, nothing else to do.....

Jun 24, 2016

Singin' In The Rain!


Downpours Daily!
I'm singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again

The neighborhood vacant lot is now a buffalo wallow, mosquito & frog fest.
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love

Look out there bathing beauty that might be a gator or a shark on your left1
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I've a smile on my face

The kitties are happy and keeping dry on Ms Dawg's towel.
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin',
Singin' in the rain

Last but not least a ginormous rainbow!

Yes, the Monsoon has begun!!!!

And Mr Shah Rukh Khan (India's biggest movie star) personally wishes you a blessed Ramadan from his family to yours. (Ok, so I stole this off a Western Union ad.)

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