The edge of the desert, Jodhpur

The last few days in India have been full of forts, smog free and dry as I am now at the edge of the desert.  Colors in the marketplace have changed as have the traditional dress of the people.  Turban styles are also different and yesterday I had a demo on how they are wrapped.  Nine meters of cloth goes into one turban!

As I contemplate my departure this morning, I have been thinking about how one creates change in the world. How does one voice raise above the others or even get the others to sing with it?  Maybe another option is to join others and raise the level by one.  The world is changing dramatically in available water, weather and burgeoning population demands.  How will we manage?  What is in store?  I see the rubble of the past centuries around me and think of those that walked before us their shadows falling on the streets now in the forms of crumbling buildings and faded palaces, unknown to any but their own families.  I return to the States with a firmer commitment to reduce my consumption of many things including food and water, become more mindful of burning fuel and determined to work to make a difference in the world.


Just off the street in Jodhpur a man provides water to passersby


From the Fort in Jodhpur looking out over the city towards the fortification wall and then out into the desert beyond. 


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Jojawar, farm to table at Kesar Bagh

It can only be in a place like India where a seller of a fresh masala on the train would have a beautiful custom silk shirt!  The train ride was one of the outings offered by the Kesar Bagh lodge in Jojawar and what fun!  At the top of the ride the train stops for monkeys that wait patiently for people to toss out bananas and other yummy treats.  I am told that if the train is late, the monkeys leave and don’t come back to greet the riders.  They must have access to a giant solar timepiece.

The Jojawar community is agriculturally based and the family of Kesar Bagh are very involved with creating environmentally sustainable lodging, farm to table dining, assistance through business support of the tribal communities that surround them and generally being proactive about being supportive members of their community.  The beauty and peacefulness of the lodge is a huge relief from the noise, pollution and hustle bustle of the big cities, though the drive to get there is pretty harrowing!  Nothing like a great adventure that involves random cows on the road, trucks that have broken down and just parked in the middle of the road, occasional goats, huge potholes and a patchwork of asphalt that make driving into a game of avoiding getting a flat tire or hitting something.  Welcome to India!



Fresh masala vendor putting money into his pocket on the train.

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On to Jaipur and Jojawar

The journey from Varanasi to Jaipur was interrupted by a late connection in Delhi so it was a scramble getting from the international terminal to the domestic terminal and then on to Jaipur but due to lots of late flights I made it and helped a fellow traveler in the process so all was good.


We went by camel cart, hahahah!  Not really!

Once in Jaipur we went from palace to palace and then to a small occupation by a tribal family near the Amber Fort.  The valley was beautiful and there was a small shrine on top of low hill we hiked up to and visited with the priest.  He was pretty busy doing laundry and putting out items for Shiva so we didn’t stay long. But you can drop him a line on Facebook.

Seeing such opulence was a jarring contrast to the poverty we saw in Bhopal and elsewhere in India.  The lavish details in the palaces was jarring when you looked just outside the gates at the common people.  Little care was taken, for the most part, of the general population during the millennia with the exception of a few forward thinkers who realized that keeping the average family happy would aid in stabilizing the governing.  Sadly, that kind of thinking has been rare here or elsewhere in the world.



Cow shed of a tribesmen near the Amber Fort.

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After a bumpy start on my own in Agra,

 namely heavy fog obliterating my view of the Taj, I made it back to Delhi and on to Varanasi.


The Taj Mahal 

This is one of the rivers, the most venerated, that ones ashes can be put into.  I would not suggest being cremated here though, it is a bit primitive.  There are many funny things like the water buffalo who are driven to the river but not allowed into it (not sure why except they would probably swim to the other side and run away) but they hang out all day with the laundry people and bathers who come to cleanse their souls in the river.  Other things that go into the river and the bodies that are not burned of children under three, pregnant mother and those with leperosy.  They are tied with stones and the bodies are transported to the middle of the river where they are put in by the family.  Fortunately there are fish to do the clean up.  The sewage from the city also flows into the river, don’t know how much cleaning up they do beforehand, and all kinds of trash as well as manure from the cows that hasn’t been made into fuel patties.  Soooo, not the kind of place you might want to be taking a dip and a drink!


Boys playing near the Ganges in Varanasi with laundry drying on the ghats in the background.  

The city is known for making brocaded silk and silk/pashmina wool scarves and wraps.  They are really quite beautiful.  There is an evening celebration of putting the river to sleep that is quite the performance! The deeply religious people of Varanasi honor all of their gods in beautiful ways at nearly every hour of the day.
Tomorrow I am off to Jaipur, where many textiles are made and many of the buildings are of pink stone so it is often called the “pink city”.  It is amazing how many people are in these cities!  I don’t think I have been in one that was less than 4 Million people yet.  The trash and stench from the habit of peeing in corners everywhere is frequently overwhelming.  A bit of peppermint under the nose works wonderfully well so I dab it on before I go out.
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Bhopal, City of Lakes


Mariah Master helped in the garden one morning when the gardeners were chopping down a tree that was being replaced with an Ayurvedic one.

We are here at the Sambhvna Trust Clinic in Bhopal, India.  I am not staying in the dorms, the students that I am working with are staying and working at the clinic for about 10 days.

The clinic was created in the late ’90’s after there were many raids and shut downs of other medical practices that the founder, Satinath Sarangi, was involved in helping the victims of the Union Carbide chemical spill (and gas cloud).  Though the disaster occurred over thirty years ago, there is still little accountability for the event on the part of anyone involved and the reparations made were paltry.  The plant hasn’t even been cleaned up from all of the toxic pesticides that were left behind!  Today I saw kids playing cricket next to the water that drains off the accident site and is toxic as all get out!  There were animals grazing there and everyone still drinks the water even though it leads to horrible birth defects and health problems!  Of course, the location is next to a slum so clean up is not exactly high on the governments list of priorities. So now that Union Carbide is part of Dow and looks like it will be swallowed up by an even bigger fish, Dupont, the cover up of the lack of responsibility continues and people just keep getting sicker.  It is increasingly important to make sure that there are contingency plans, corporate and state responsibility and active involvement for these kinds of disasters, BP oil spill and the current SoCalGas methane leak.  The saying around here is “No more Bhopal’s” and it looks like we are not very adept at living up to that directive.  We have to ask ourselves, at what point are corporate profits more important than the lives of citizens?  Why is it okay to not accept culpability?  How do we help make the world “user friendly” again?


Natalie Frisbee and Mallory O’Connell working in the library with data from the clinic.  They are cataloguing and creating a database for easier assessment of the information.



Megan Bunn and Natalie Griswold working in the manufacturing area to help bottle one of the herbal formulas the Clinic grows, processes and uses on a daily basis. The third worker (on the left) is one of the Clinic staff members.




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First corners of Dehli


Need some ironing done? 

As I took my first walk in Dehli, it was by chance I came across this man ironing his client’s clothing, on the street, in front of his car.  It is probably a much cooler option considering the size of the iron, and from the looks of it, he had a lot of work to finish.


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Delicious feast for the eyes, autumn colors in New England abound!

Down the road and around the corner is a field with stands of maple, oak, birch and many other trees that are found in the New England corridor. If anyone let me just stand in the field for a month I think I would have found a small piece of heaven on earth! The colors are among my favorites to wear, the soft light of the rising or setting sun gives them an illumination that shimmers of pure gold, ahhh such bliss.

Maine Colors Rte 37 16x12

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Fall colors are beginning to arrive in New England.

The gorgeous mix of red , yellow and orange are beginning to show in the forests of Maine. In Colorado we don’t have the intense reds like they do here. I especially like the intensely rich tones of burgundy that become so dramatic in the autumn display in the Northeast.


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Once again from the top…of Mauna Kea that is…

From the French Canadian Hawaiian observatory my husband and I were treated to reuniting with family (one of whom is a physicist for the observatory) having dinner at very high altitude (+13,000 feet) and getting a special tour of the facility. I have never seen so many stars or been so close to the Milky Way! We searched for Antares, shared stories about Cassiopeia and her chair, got immersed in the sizes of the mirrors used to look into the cosmos and were hugely impressed with the coolness (figuratively and physically) of the whole enterprise! It was really fun to take this classic shot of the volcano reflected in the clouds from the middle deck of the observatory.

sunset, volcanoes, shadows

Looking over the craters as Mauna Kea casts a shadow on the clouds at sunset from the French Canadian Hawaiian Observatory

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The Road from Waipio Overlook

Is a steep one! I didn’t remember what steep was like until climbing back up the road out of the valley. I wondered who would win the argument for sorest, my quads or hamstrings which brought me back to hiking the Via Ferrata and the climb first thing each day from the cozy Refugio up to the Ferrata, ugh, such a tough way to start each day! Once there, it was so beautiful that the slog became a dim recollection as I hoped this hill would soon be as well.
Today I left water and lunch in the car, what a bad move. At least there is a breeze to keep me a but cooler and lunch will taste so good when I finally get there! Only a few more curves to go…


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