26 November 2008

Ripples after nearly 30 years

It's a privilege to see the results of something you started nearly 30 years ago. A couple of months ago my mom and I visited our old church in Japan--the one my parents started back in 1981. Two people in particular stood out in terms of being an encouragement to my mom for the work she and my dad did all those years ago.

Ryo had just become a Christian 3 weeks before we met him.

"I'm so excited to meet the person who started this church. This place means so much to me."

And then there was Keiko-san.

She remembered a powerful image of my Dad on his knees, thinking he was alone, praying for Japan and weeping. It brought tears to her eyes several years after the fact.

I say these things to be an encouragement that the things we do MATTER, even if some of them take years to come about!

05 November 2008

Emotional Election

Well, even if for a moment, something about BOTH candidates brought tears to my eyes.

OBAMA -- seeing all the black people for whom this is a HUGE step, considering the racial problems we've had for the past 200 years or so, slowly getting better but sometimes too slowly... I acknowledge that this is big. I didn't expect to get so teary-eyed over it, but when it was right there, happnening, I did feel this victory on behalf of all of my black (and other non-white) countrymen.

McCAIN -- hearing his gracious speech, remembering his heroism and how much he loves this country, knowing that was his last chance to win the White House... once again, I got tears in my eyes and felt thankful to him.

On a less sappy note, I've enjoyed playing with this interactive map, looking at the numbers...

I pray for our new president and our nation!

30 October 2008

Two Men and a Truck

Saw one of these today, and I just had to say something...

In this era of sometimes over-feminism, it's refreshing to see evidence that some people still recognize that men and women are different!

Of course we have equal value; I don't doubt that God created both and both are "very good."

It's just that, I do think sometimes women don't just want to be equal to men, they want to be seen as men.

Well, when faced with a big move, would you hire "Two WOMEN and a truck?" Or maybe I should say "Two Womyn."

My thought is that, while the men would actually MOVE the furniture into the truck, the women might be handy for handling all the little details--cleaning your refrigerator until it shines like new, for example.

It is generally provable that men are physically stronger than women. And, possibly that women are emotionally stronger.

Each gender has many good qualities that are unique to that sex, and I for one appreciate them all.

If I ever hired someone to clean my house, it would probably be a woman. But for heavy lifting and loading of my furniture, I'm calling Two Men and a Truck!

BONUS: Not only are they strong; they care!

27 October 2008

Coolest Niece Ever

She's a typical 4-year old girl--loves to dress up like a princess and has a pink and purple room with a flowery bedspread. But, look underneath the covers and you'll find Star Wars Sheets!

Her Daddy, my brother, is a huge fan, but promises he didn't put her up to it. "She loves it!" He says. She's gonna be Princess Leia for Halloween.

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23 September 2008

21 September 2008

Japan Visit!

Here's the album of my Japan visit over the first full week of September.

05 September 2008

Sasuga Japan

"Sasuga" is a Japanese word that's hard to translate--means something like "Wow," or "they've really measured up to our expectations" or "Good job" or "quintessentially..." something like that.

Several things have made me exclaim thus during my time here:

--Fancy toilet seats*, even in public restrooms
--Little sheets of plastic at the bottom of a bowl of store-bought salad so you can slide it onto a serving dish without turning it upside-down
--Conveyor-belt sushi eatery, complete with a "magic wand" that automatically counts all the plates and calculates your bill
--The 100-yen store (it's like the "everything's a dollar" store but the quality is MUCH better)
--Japanese ofuro (style of bath)
--Getting a hot, wet towel at every restaurant to refresh before the meal
--All of our favorite foods and snacks being as delicious as ever
--Trains and buses, including change machines on the bus so you can have exact fare

*If you've never seen/used one, you're missing out. You can play pleasant music or the sound of running water, have a warm seat, multiple types of "wash," and even a dryer for your behind... see photos at Wikipedia's Toilets in Japan, and there's lots to read there if you're curious.

03 September 2008

I feel like Sidney Bristow

...with SIX different currencies in my CURRENT wallet!

Clockwise from top left: US Dollars, Japanese Yen, Qatari Riyals, Euros, British Pounds (OK, so it's only 2 cents, but it counts!), and Thai Baht.

14 August 2008


I though I had one more trip on the horizon -- a sort of internship in Media -- but not anymore. After 2 1/2 years of calling Chiang Mai "home," I'm headed back to my birthplace of Cincinnati, USA.

It's very strange, because I like and want to live overseas, and think I may again in the future. But for now, I'm quite excited to go back to my roots.

Several single friends who share my kind of lifestyle have also recently been given opportunities put down a few roots and connect with family. I think it's good.

I recently read a book about being older and single*, and how this makes "community" harder for us in some ways... so many options of where to live, what job to go for, the WORLD is available to us! And yet, that causes our friends (and us) to come and go like the wind, and "Saturday nights continue to roll around with daunting frequency." If we don't really plan ahead, and work hard to develop new local friendships, we can often end up spending a quiet evening alone, when we would prefer to be making a meaningful human connection.

One of this writer's friends says it's like "attempting to slake one’s relational thirst by sipping from a thousand little waxy Dixie cups. You don’t die of dehydration, but in your core, you increasingly long for a few deep wells."

I could relate to that. I've been quite thirsty for some time. I'm excited to be returning to the deep, familiar well that is my flesh and blood.

*Revelations of a Single Woman by Connally Gilliam

07 August 2008

Munich and Surrounds

My flight out of Germany was from Munich. As I had an afternoon flight, Rahel encouraged me to travel just beyond the city where I could catch a glimpse of the mountains. So I went to Starnberger See, or Starnberg Lake.

Interesting Lawn Ornament

I rushed back to the airport (more than 1 hour trip) only to find out that my flight was delayed 4 hours! So I decided to scope out the city of Munich. There happened to be a festival going on:

Traditional Ladies

Random Operatic Singer Lady


The Rathaus (Town Hall) at Marianplatz in Munich


2008.07 Nürnberg

05 August 2008


The famous statue (not me, the "peeing boy!")

Actual BELGIAN Waffles

Neat building with a wild sky

Did you know smurfs were from Belgium? They're called "Schtroumpfs" and are 50 years old this year.

This is the Atomium, from the 1958 World's Fair. People can zipline from the top!

04 August 2008

Great Insight

A few weeks ago some of us were joking around, pretend-arguing. One guy boasted, "I reject your reality and substitute it with my own!"

I thought that pretty much explains every kind of conflict between people that there ever was.

03 August 2008


The Globe Theater

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a pub dating from the 1600s that welcomed such guests as Voltaire and Charles Dickens... I had a lunch of Fish, Chips, and mashed peas here.

The Tube

Millenium Bridge

St. Paul's Cathedral

01 August 2008

Oxford and surrounds, UK

This is Christ Church College of Oxford University, parts of which were used in the filming of Harry Potter.

Christy and I share a Steak and Ale Pie at the Eagle and Child Pub, where C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others used to meet.

In the Cotswolds.

Blenheim Palace.

26 July 2008

Funny English Menu Items in Nepal

OK, it`s been 4 months since I was in Nepal... but my computer is broken so I can`t yet upload any cool photos from Europe... stay tuned for those!

Meanwhile, whet your appetites on these delicious-sounding dishes I discovered while trekking in the himalayas!


and, DISERDS included the following:

CRAPS (crepes)

Bon appetit!

27 June 2008

My school - 2 weeks left

This is a bit delayed, but here is a photo of my group!

Oliver- Jake-Felipe (students), Paul-Kari-Jason (staff), Christy (student) and me!

And, to give you a little teaser, here are two photos I took during our "short film" teaching when we were learning about framing our photos. My work will eventually be posted on a Flash website I designed this week.

1. We had to find numbers of things 1-10 and take photographs...This is "4 of something."

2. Then, we had to look for letters of the alphabet... this was a wall light fixture:

05 June 2008

I went to Brighton

If any of you saw the BBC "Pride and Prejudice," you know how Lydia Bennet pined, "I want to go to Brighton!" Well, I did too, until a couple of weeks ago!

Hmmm... Native American performers?

09 May 2008

Holmsted Manor, England

Here's where I'm staying these 3 months!
The house:

The grounds:

The fields we walk through wearing "wellies" (rubber boots):

Climbing near Chiang Mai

15 April 2008

Mayor of Chiang Mai

I got to hear the mayor address a group of foreigners last week.
It's neat that she's a woman, and young, in an Asian country! She spoke English well, was very personable and likeable. I briefly met her afterwards, and my two friends even got invited to dinner with her!

14 April 2008

Mini-video of my trek

Don't laugh, it's my first video ever!
I think you'll enjoy it, though.

09 April 2008

06 April 2008

04 April 2008

The Trek

First, a map of the area we trekked... I believe it's about 95 kilometers (59 miles).


Lodging on the way Up: DARK GREEN UNDERLINE
Lodging on the way Down: ORANGE UNDERLINE

More Kathmandu

There are these yummy sweets made from milk, I don't know what they're called in Nepali, but Lisa tells me they're called "barfi" in India. Such a funny name! Well, it doesn't do what it sounds like it does. Anyway, Lisa was telling me about it, we spotted this shop, and the nice boy practiced his English with us and explained all about how it is made! He even agreed to a photo:

A little glimpse of the traffic in Thamel, the backpacker area of Kathmandu where we stayed. I love it, they honk their horns all the time, but my favorite are the rickshaw "horns". Sometimes it's a dish detergent bottle with a sqeaker attached; other times they just sort of whistle in a warbly sort of melody... I kept trying to imitate it and cracking up.

Some uniformed students in the old city of Bhaktapur:

And the kids are always cute:

31 March 2008


I got all choked up at the first view of the Himalayas from the airplane. Of course the photos I tried to take could not capture it.

The Kathmandu airport is red brick, it kind of reminded me of my high school. My friend Lisa was already there waiting, I was so thankful! She's been many times, but I was a bit hesitant. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but I came to really like this place and the people.

The Nepali people seemed to remember us even if we only saw one another one or two times. The guy making T-shirts just outside our guest house started saying "Namaste, didi!" or, Hello, older sister!

Here are some photos from Kathmandu.

26 March 2008

My Trek in Numbers

Number of days trekking14
Total distance trekked95km/59mi (?)
Lowest elevation in the mountains2652m/8700ft
Highest elevation I slept at4750m/15,584ft
Highest elevation I climbed to5357m/17,575ft
Herds of yaks or yak-cows we passed on the trailabout 40
Cups of hot drinks imbibedat least 70
Number of showers taken0
Number of times I washed my hair1
Number of They Might Be Giants Songs we sang12
Coldest temperature I noted in my bedroom in a lodge29F/-2C
Moments of beauty and wondercountless

11 March 2008

NO? no, YES!

Nepalis do this cute little head bobble when they are saying "yes." Think of asking someone if you can do something, they don't really want you to, but can't really say no, so they sort of do this "yeah, whatever, not really" kind of head jiggle thing. It's kind of like that.

I'm glad Lisa told me what it meant. Even after she told me, I forgot. I asked the guy at our guest house, "We'd like to pay for our stay tonight. Can we pay now?" He bobbled his head, and I was like, "No? OK, maybe later..." and Lisa had to remind me, "That means YES!" Right. OK. Here you go. Whew!

10 March 2008

A little creepy but turned out fine

Lisa and I were looking for a particular trekking agency here in Kathmandu. We were in the general area. A guy at a pizza shop said, "Sorry I don't know...Oh, yes, I know. Over there."

[side note: The people here are so nice.]

So we went that way. One lane had lots of trekking agency signs, but not the one we were looking for. We headed down the lane in faith, and kept asking people every few steps. They kept pointing us back to this suspicious building at the end of that alley.

Some guy in military clothes (not unusual, lots of soldiers around) finally pointed us through an unmarked door, and once inside, another directed us up the stairs. We came up to a room with 4 guys at computers who kind of looked at us blankly, and cautiously ventured, "Helllloooo... is this Green Lotus Trekking?"

I felt like Eunice on What's Up, Doc, when she was directed to 459 Dorilla street and asked, "This isn't the... Larrabee... Those are Howard's Rocks! What on earth are you doing with Howard's rocks? Errhhhuahhh..."

Thankfully, THIS was legit, they had just moved and not gotten proper signage. The guy was very nice, helpful, and nothing scary at all happened.

Pretty funny experience, anyway!

08 March 2008

It's my Birthday!

Guess what I did for my birthday?

Last night I had Japanese hot pot (shabu shabu) with 7 friends at a fun place along the river in Chiang Mai.

Then, early this morning I flew to Kathmandu, Nepal, and saw my first glimpse of the majestic Himalayas (from the airplane). It really is surreal.

Overall, the experience has been pretty overwhelming...

--red brick airport (looks kind of like my high school!)
--people inviting us to check out their trekking company
--lots of brilliant colors (saris for sale, people wearing)
--I'm amazed that I'm here. I find myself feeling pretty introverted and uncertain.
--cute kids saying 'hello'
--Pretty rough, old, even "falling-apart" looking buildings.
--dirt roads
--lots of honking horns
--a pretty basic room in a guest house

I'll learn more in the next days.

Lisa has spent a lot of time here, so she's a big help. We'll probably hang around town for a couple of days and then hopefully head out on a trek! Don't know exactly how to get photos from my camera onto my blog at an internet cafe... If so I'll post, if not, after I get back!

04 March 2008


Seems like things are pretty easy-going here in Thailand.

Last month I paid my electric bill a little late. I normally pay at the 7/11, but after the due date you have to go to the City Electricity Office. I was prepared for a long wait, but it took about 5 mintues (once I figured out where to go--10 minutes of looking and asking). No problem.

THIS month was a different story. The bill was sitting on our table one day, I thought a housemate would pay it. Three days later it was still there, so I put it in my wallet for when I'd pass a 7/11. I was busy with a training seminar all week and so when I finally got to the 7/11 on Friday we saw that it was past due, and it was too late to go to the City Office.

Monday when I came home from my Thai lesson, the electricity was out. I did not get the correlation between that and my unpaid bill, because the last time it was NO PROBLEM, right??

Well, there were millions of people at the Electricity Office that day so I skipped it. Still no electricity... which for me means no water except for in the kitchen. Why, you ask? Our water gets pumped upstairs by an electric pump. Broken Pump? no water. Electricity out? no water.

That night as I got ready for bed by candlelight and washed up out of a bucket, it hit me! "Is it because I haven't paid my BILL?? Surely not, this is THAILAND, where people get away with tons of illegal things all the time" (i.e. not wearing motorcycle helmets).

Well, sure 'nuff. Tuesday, went to the Electric Office first thing. 104 people were ahead of me in line, but it went fast... waited maybe 20 minutes. I asked him, "Is my electricity out because I haven't paid?" "That's right" "It will come back after I pay?" [Nod.]

That was roughly 9:30am. Finally, after showering at my gym for the last two days (kitchen has water but it's only COLD), around 7:30pm my electricity was back!

I'm guessing there's some new policy about late payments, and they're really cracking down. There is a one-week period in which you can pay the bill. After that, apparently, OFF GO THE LIGHTS.

That will certainly motivate locals (and foreigners!) to pay the bill on time.

11 February 2008


Just had to get that out.

Some of you know how difficult it is for me to buy pants ("trousers" for REAL English speakers). They're never long enough, even the "talls."

Well, last fall I bought FIVE PAIRS at one store, an outlet store at that (not expensive!). The nicest, dressy pair (which are the hardest to find!) were a tad short but had a huge hem, so I decided to let it out. Almost did it myself, but thought, "Hey, I know this amazing tailor, why don't I just have her do it."

So, yeah, it only cost about $1.25. And, she SHORTENED them, rather than LENGTHENING them. Cut off the excess.

Yeah, it made me cry.

Then I pulled myself together, decided to use this pair as a pattern, and will eventually buy some material and have her make me some that really fit.


07 February 2008

Happy New Year -- #2 of 3 in Thailand

Year of the Rat.
See this cute display at the mall:

The THIRD New Year for Thailand is Buddhist New Year, April 13-15. The party never ends!