Sarah's Journey Draws to a Close

Sarah's visit to Chennai, India is finally over.  She sent me an email this morning that she is on her way to the airport for the long flight home.

Obviously, I can only report things I've gleaned from our computer interaction during the last 3 weeks.  The sights, smells, sounds, feelings, experiences--All were hers and hers alone.  What we can get is really dependent solely on her pictures and her literary skills.  From just those two things her experience has been nothing short of amazing to her.  The opportunity to fly halfway around the world and immerse yourself into a culture so different is truly an unforgettable experience.  I'm both jealous and glad for her.  (If you haven't already, click the link to her India blog over on the right of this screen and read her entries.)

She got to experience firsthand how different our world here in the U.S. is when compared to an overpopulated country with poverty running rampant.  I don't think she will ever forget what she has seen and learned in her three week, eye-opening journey.

No she didn't see the Taj Mahal, or the Ganges River, or the Himalayas.  No, she didn't see a snake charmer either (at least she didn't mention seeing one).

She did see a lot though.  She saw movies, heard music, visited a wedding, had henna art drawn on her hands, wore traditional clothing, haggled with shopkeepers, and many, many other things.

She saw how proud and eager people are to learn.  Kids that came from families that were dirt poor, fed on meager portions of food that were barely life-sustaining, were still bright-eyed, attentive, and hungry to learn everything that was taught in the schools.

I think she experienced one thing she never would have ever expected:  She found herself embarrassed to be who we are in the U.S.--To have so much when so many there had so little.  I think she felt more than once the sting of our wasteful society after seeing how that country scrapes by on so little.

She experienced over and over the staring eyes of everyone everywhere they went.  Maybe because of their skin and hair coloring, maybe because of their manner of dress, maybe because of their nice cameras, or maybe the way they were transported around in a nice van/bus.  Maybe it was all of those things.  From the locals' perspective they might have been royalty.  That probably would explain why they had to fend off autographs on so many occasions.

The foods they ate had to have been quite the sensory experience.  For reasons of health, they (for the most part) opted out of meat, dairy, and raw vegetables. Even excluding those categories they had some amazing treats for their taste buds.  From what I have gathered, they are all eager to get home to being able to eat what they want again without fear of gastric distress.  Their efforts did pay off though--None of them experienced anything out of the ordinary from eating.  I know Sarah is hungry for a plain old Papa Murphy's take 'n' bake cheese pizza.

It's going to be a long, somber flight home for the girls.  Probably lots of crying and swirling thoughts of their whirlwind adventure.  Lots of story-telling and remembering.

I know their lives are all richer for it.

Recapping the Year of 2010

It's a new year!  A lot has happened in the past year, and fortunately I have my blog to refer to as a sort of timeline and journal of all that has transpired.

This was our first full year together as a married couple.  We still have times when we get on each others nerves of course, but then who doesn't?  I have never been a very good communicator, but fortunately Suzie is.  She totally gets on my nerves (in a good way) because she is so good at forcing me to talk about stuff I'd rather not (or don't know how to) face.  In the end, the uncomfortable situation is past and we're stronger for it.  Previously I found walking away from a hassle was my preferred method of addressing any uncomfortable situation.  Thanks, Suz.  Keep after me.

There have been a lot of changes to our neighborhood in the last year.  The DeBelling family moved here from Utah, Kevin and Shirley moved into the same duplex the DeBellings inhabit, Rachyl and Tony are living in their own house that they bought, Denny and Heather have a home to themselves and has been completely remodeled.  Joe started kindergarten this year, and none of the kids are in diapers any longer!

The Harley has been all but mothballed.  Have I lost interest?  No, not really... It's more of a case of my current interest having shifted to photography.  It's just a passing thing.  It seems that whenever we had any spare time to do anything we wanted to do this year we always jumped in the car and went on a picture-taking junket.

Speaking of photography, that has been our "big thing" this year.  April Fool's Day marked the beginning of my 365 Photo Project.  Since that day I have not once failed take a picture each day.  There have been times when I had to wait until the next day to actually post the picture I took for whatever reason, and there have been times I posted pure crap, but I haven't yet neglected to fulfill the daily challenge of finding something to take a picture of.  As of today I'm on Day 283.  I think both of us feel the same way about our 365 projects at this point:  When they're over we'll both miss the challenge of pulling a rabbit out of our photography hat, but yet we'll probably both like not having the daily requirement we have to meet.  With a little more time between our picture taking we'll be more apt to make it a fun experience.  I dunno.  I wouldn't be surprised if I don't start some other kind of picture blog to take its place.  Time will tell.  Speaking of other blogs, I started another photo blog this last year called Leftovers.  I have put some interesting things in there since it started.  It was my place to drop more "artsy-fartsy" pictures when I played with them.

My health has been okay this year with the exception of my right ankle.  My life-long flat feet have finally risen their ugly heads and started causing me problems.  Now I have orthotics in my shoes to help hold my feet correctly and they have helped a lot.  There is always an ongoing fight to keep my oral health in check.  I've always had bad teeth and always will, but at least I have a new dentist and I feel it's a good one.  I'm very glad to get out of the "acme school of quack dentistry" that I was in for so long.

This year I had Sushi for the first time, completely changed the look of my blog (created a new one actually), went inside a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall, bought a canoe, and went to Kauai for the first time in my life. We've taken small trips all over Washington, and in the last year I've probably seen more of the state than I have in my whole life.  The Okanogan country area, the North Cascades Highway Loop, Ocean Shores, the small towns of Roslyn and Ronald, and countless other wandering moments.  I was surprised to find that I had blogged poems 11 times during this last year!

My son Mark made it up here this year and we were able to get together for a short visit.  Even though our time together was only a handful of hours, it was made into a memorable event by the fact that I secretly brought my mom with me.  They had never met previous to that, and it was a huge deal for her!

My dad is not doing so well.  He's in good spirits, but he has no energy and no breathing power.  I think he has smoked for something like 50 years or more--I'm not sure.  The slightest little thing winds him and starts him wheezing.  Now he was just diagnosed with prostate cancer.  It seems they caught it early.  Nobody is very worried about it--at least outwardly.  My family has always been kind of a "keep to yourself" bunch, so in reality it may be worrying the hell out of them.  My mom insists all is well.  I ain't quite buying it.  He's not exactly a big, healthy man to begin with.

This as been a Facebook year.  I can't believe how much that online site has tied people together.  It has found "lost" people and united them, and in a lot of ways has brought people together that don't see each other much.

This is an exciting start to a new year as far as travel goes.  Sarah is in India as we speak, and loving every moment of it.  We are all set up for a whirlwind 4-day vacation to Iceland this March and we're definitely looking forward to that.

Who knows what else the coming year may bring?

Gotta Love Technology!

So I was thinking (that's where Sue usually jumps in and says "uh oh") about something yesterday evening.  It occurred to me how much technology has changed.  Maybe it's also partly, "Damn, I must be old, 'cause things didn't work that well back in my day."

See, I was talking with Sarah last night on my computer.  We were literally talking (via mics and speakers of course) as well as keyboard chatting.  That in itself is nothing amazing at all.  However, when you consider the fact that Sarah is currently half way around the world in Chennai, India, that throws a whole different sort of slant on things.

We had Skype running at first.  She saw me online and "called" me.  I get an instant pop-up that says I have an incoming call.

Again, not amazing.

We had sound going both ways, and video going as well.  At one point her video crapped out (nothing wrong with the connection but her new video camera was acting up).  Still, there was no connection problem.  For whatever reason, we found ourselves in Gmail and chatted in Gmail chat--again with no problems.  Oh I remember--we were trying to see if her video would work any different in Gmail than Skype (which it didn't).

That's when it occurred to me:  There was NO time lag of any kind.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  She might as well have been sitting here right next to me in Sue's chair!  When she talked I could see her, and her speech was perfectly in sync the whole time.  It was clear with excellent tone and volume too.  We also had the text messages flying.  Now that is technology!  It's not what we're using or how we're using it, but the fact that it works so well.

There have been many times in my past when I have called people on the telephone over great distances.  When I was in the Air Force I called from all over the place.  Sometimes the lag was so bad we literally had to agree to say "over" or "go" or whatever so the other person knew it was their turn to talk.  If you both talked at the same time it would cancel each other out and you would end up with skips and blanks.  Sue and I both talked about it last night, and she agreed: She has suffered the same connection problems as I have in the past.  It was just the way things were if you wanted to converse over long distances.  It wasn't really all that long ago either.

It just goes to show you how much technology has progressed.  Everything now just works.  It's cool!