Friday, July 31, 2015

a ten year love affair

She is delightfully chaotic; a beautiful mess. Loving her is a splendid adventure. - Steve Maraboli

facebook's (weird but admittedly sometimes nice) "timeline flashback" function (or whatever it's called) keeps reminding me that this time ten years ago, i was in india for the first time. what a long, wild, romantic, sometimes heartbreaking ride it has been with this mysterious, beautiful first love of mine.

Soulmates aren’t the ones who make you happiest, no. They’re instead the ones who make you feel the most. Burning edges and scars and stars. Old pains and pangs, captivation and beauty. Strain and shadows and worry and yearning. Sweetness and madness and dreamlike surrender. They hurl you into the abyss. They taste like hope. - Victoria Erickson
ten years ago and every day since, india showed me that in whatever capacity, i know that i both want and need to spend my life working on behalf of others. india taught me to love selflessly, to find beauty even in the most despairing of places, and to value relationships over most anything else. india introduced me to real, sacrificial hospitality, the importance of letting go of one's plans and holding on tight for a wild ride. 

i have an affinity for jalebis, momos, garam chai and chili peppers, and would prefer to buy my food from a dhaba or a walla on a train platform than a fancy, sit-down restaurant. last week, i definitely tried to put a rupee into my building's washing machine. i regularly listen to the bollywood channel on youtube and own more hindi movies than english language ones. i once spent several months learning to decipher devanagari and can, with much pride, still read bus signs. a photograph or familiar smell can still immediately transport me to the bustling streets of hyderabad, bangalore or bombay. i dream of criss-crossing the subcontinent by train or rickshaw. home is here in denver, but also in a tiny seaside village of andhra pradesh, at the one address i have memorized in all of the country, and on the shores of the ganga in the garhwal mountains. ringing bells, honking horns, the smell of diesel or incense or bodies conjures up mental images of india before anywhere else in the world. i occasionally drive like a maniac, inspired by rickshaw wallas or two-wheeler drivers who find the sidewalk an acceptable traffic lane (i've never driven on the sidewalk. i did once park my car with a tire on it, though, and have definitely cheered people in traffic jams who were following too closely to an emergency vehicle.)
after my first introduction to india, i worried that this summer love would flicker and die out, and that the stories of all i heard would die with it. i desperately longed to go back, to dive headfirst into the chaos and find a place in it. i cooked indian food, watched bollywood movies, painted my hands with henna- anything i could do to feel closer than half a world away. my love for india is now much more familiar, and i know just as it has endured the past ten years, it will endure the next ten, and the ten after that. i know that though things and people and circumstances change, stepping off an airplane in any of india's cities, being hit with a wave of humidity scented with jasmine, brylcreem, nag champa and more than a billion humans will feel simultaneously wildly adventurous and also comfortingly familiar. india, i love you.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

travel: charleston, SC

this past week, hubs and i spent a few days just south of myrtle beach on pawley's island, SC. we laid on the beach, played friscup and cornhole, met our new nephew and spent time with our other nephew and niece, sat on the porch, ate good food, drank quite a bit of wine and enjoyed the company of his large family. 

we decided one of our beach days to drive the hour and a half south and visit charleston, because several of us had never been, or had been quite a few years ago. i, for one, was hankering to see some old oaks covered in spanish moss and charleston did not disappoint! j's brother andrew went to school in SC and was a wonderful tour guide for the day.
i'm not sure why, but this bridge is listed the number one best thing to see while in charleston on tripadvisor. tripadvisor, i love you but we need to talk about how quaint and beautiful is charleston, and about how taking a walk through the city is more interesting by far than driving over a bridge.
our charleston walking tour commenced with a little bit of family history, or the grave of charles cotesworth pinckney. we also drove by the andrew pinckney inn (driven in a car by an actual andrew pinckney!) and posed for a cheesy photo on pinckney street.
we then walked down to the battery (which i still think is a terribly unflattering name for what is usually a lovely stretch of earth), stood in precisely the spot geoguessr once placed me to snap a photo, and then walked on toward the childhood home of j's paternal grandmother.
this lovely old home above is where j's grandmother, her parents and siblings grew up during the great depression. the home was recently for sale, and the owner was moving out the day we walked by. he graciously let us come inside and show ourselves around the place, fulfilling the wish i'd had to see inside one of these beauties as we walked through the city. this house has a very visible history, one evident in the various additions, subtractions and reconfigurations made in the large space over the years: closets, bathrooms and updates, while the kitchen remains tiny and largely unremarkable (later in conversation we determined this was most likely due to the fact that the owners of this home would  have had help and likely would not have done much of their own cooking.)
charleston is a lovely, quaint little place reminiscent a bit of southern france, or even colonial mexico. between the cobblestone streets, brightly colored buildings, gardens in every yard, palmetto palms, oaks and yes, spanish moss, charleston's charms definitely won my affections.

i'd be remiss not to mention at least a word about the tragic, racially motivated shooting at the church in charleston last week, but this post is clearly not about that. i'll leave it to those far more eloquent (and widely read). we did see a few police cars blocking off traffic, but apart from that, you'd have no idea that such a horrific event had occurred just days before. 

i spent some time thinking about the shooting, confederate flags, the city market pictured above that in a previous life was an old slave market, and the gullah people that andrew so patiently gave me an overview of as we drove along the sweetgrass highway. i don't have any well organized thoughts, or real words at all to say about any of this, other than that i don't think the collective amnesia we have in the north related to slavery is helping matters much, either.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

rocky mountain national park!

we visited two national parks in one week!

in over five years of living in CO, hubs had never been to rocky mountain national park. i wasn't much better, given i had only been briefly once during elk and aspen season a few years ago. inspired by a photograph on the national geographic instagram feed, we decided this past weekend was high time to make a proper visit. 

we made the drive up to estes park a little late in the day, ate lunch at the car and headed towards nymph, emerald and dream lakes- along with a load of other park visitors. it was a beautiful, totally accessible little hike only cut a tiny bit short by thunder echoing across the mountain peaks and a slight threat of rain. 

my only complaint? as the apparent rookie who figured the snow had long melted, it was a bit muddy + snow packed to make the hike in chaco sandals. sneaky little high peaks! also, the entry to the park was a little steep ($20 per car), even if the entry ticket is good for 7 days. but i really can't complain too much- it was gorgeous!
hubs makes friends with a chipmunk who has no sense of personal space. he tried to get into backpacks and ate out of peoples' hands- funny, maybe, but also an indication of how many people must hike up this way!
RMNP, we'll be back. probably. and the next time, we'll think about doing a little backcountry hiking to avoid the crowds. 

colorado national monument!

to celebrate hubs's completion of classes- forever!- we headed out with some of his grad school friends to the colorado national monument for a weekend. we had initially thought to drive out to moab, but settled on the monument because it's closer, is also ridiculously beautiful and despite heavy winds, we rather enjoyed our last trip there several years ago.

we left town thursday early afternoon, drove the trusty subaru up and over the rockies- alpine (still snowy in some places!), rock canyon, badland- and settled in for a long weekend in colorado's canyon country. 
we thought we'd be rained on all day saturday, but we got lucky- and only got dumped on during a hike on friday during which we all discovered our raincoats were far less waterproof than we thought.
hubs making friends with the littles. (the littlest little hugged the scorpion display at the visitor's center which, though it did not make me like scorpions any more or want to see one in person, did make me smile.)
requisite tent shot, which i'd send to golite but they went out of business (!?!!??) the weather was grey and cloudy for much of the weekend and it drizzled here and there, but given the alternatives (torrential downpours or sunshine and +100 degrees), it was actually rather perfect.
downpours in rock canyons can be a little scary. it's amazing how quickly the trails filled up, and rivets turned to waterfalls along the rock faces.
thanks, grand junction, for a lovely weekend!

quilt: sari scrap herringbone

naming things i make? usually the hardest part of making them.

inspired as always by ashley over at film in the fridge, i saw her minimalist herringbone quilt and knew i wanted to make one. i've had it bookmarked on my pinterest page for a few months, waiting on the right combination of fabrics + time.

a few weeks ago, a friend who teaches yoga commented on a photo of a quilt of mine on instagram, and as i've been on a 5 year mission to thank her in little ways for all she has taught me, it seemed like a good fit- a classic design with a little funk by way of color combination and fabric.

i initially planned to make this minimalist a la ashley's, but had decided prior to starting that this would be a true scrap quilt, and i'd only use sari scraps from other quilts i've made. i quickly ran out of white, but improvised with large bands of other colors. 

i also discovered a method of sewing string blocks (or rows) where you sew your fabrics directly to the batting, which makes them much more stable and, consequently, helps me not hate the process. when recycled, sari fabrics are very light, airy and incredibly hard to sew with. (sometimes even new, stiffly starched saris can be tough to work with for the same reason.) 

i finished this little guy this morning, about ten minutes before i had to head out the door to yoga, and parted quickly with it (i knew if i held onto it too long i'd never give it up!)
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