Saturday, August 29, 2009


“How do I go to the bathroom when it won’t stop raining?

Hello faithful readers! I apologize for the lack of ridiculously long and intriguing posts to test your love and your patience. But you need not wait any longer. I have a decent playlist going on my computer (Elvis Costello, Arcade Fire, The Ramones, The Young Dubliners, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Pogues, Pearl Jam, Rufus Wainwright, The Bodeans, Flogging Molly…), my feet up on the obligatory Mongolian little plastic stools, and my laundry drying optimistically outside my ger in the sun. They are hoping to dry fully before it rains again and I am humoring them.
Question: How can I feed myself when I barely know how to cook in the states and I don’t have an oven nor ingredients I am familiar with, nor lean pockets?
Arvaikheer is a swell little Mongolian town. It lacks neither on sky nor on indistinguishable little delguurs (shops) every 20 meters or so. I have found both yarn and vegetable crackers so I want for very little. (lie, lie, lies! I will spare you the extensive list of trivialities that I want, for things that can actually be sent please see the list to the left.) There is one ATM in town in the building with the 24-hour delguur. There is a couple internet cafés, neither or which is as nice as the one in Zuunmod that we go to use during training, but c’est la vie poo poo. (Hi mom!) There are some places to shower, which I have yet to use as I brought a solar shower. (Thanks Aunt Kate!) My hashaa (yard) is a 15 minute walk from most things and a 20 minute to my school. So far, I really enjoy the stroll. I can put on my ipod on shuffle and collect my thoughts. I love hearing a song and remembering where I got it, tons from my mom, Aunt Kate, my dad, and Uncle Dave, a few from Aunt Sue, Kat, Joe & Brie’s daddy, and some from my young adulthood. Almost every song makes me smile and new contributions are always welcome.
Question: Is it better to have flies everyone or be very very cold?
Ask again in a couple months when I have experienced both.
I mentioned my hashaa earlier and feel it deserves more of a description. Mongolians, if not in an apartment, often live in a hashaa, which is surrounded by a tall fence of wood or metal sheets. Inside a hashaa you will find a house and/or a ger, an outhouse, and varies other requirements. Mine has a brick house, a wooden structure (dwelling? shed?), 3 gers (the grandma’s, mine, and one made of metal which I have never seen before and have no idea what it is used for), an outhouse, a shed, a woodpile and various pieces of metal. Almost every hashaa comes with a hashaa dog, and mine is no different. His name is Aslan which means lion which is really interesting if you are a CS Lewis fan. He seems uninterested in biting me which is great and actually seems to like me, but I don’t throw rocks at him so there you go. I am hopefully going to get a cat in the next few days from my counterparts sister. Mongolians tend to name their dogs Aslan or Nahoi, which means dog. I was discussing what I was going to name my cat with my counterpart (Tungaa) and she suggested Moor (which means cat) or Aslan. She said it would be ok even though the dog’s name is Aslan. I think I am actually going to go with Tomc which sounds like the name of the fawn in Narnia and means potato in Mongolian. This may have been the funniest thing my counterpart has ever heard.
Question: How bad is it that I love in a felt tent with a wood burning
stove in the middle and my smoke alarm won’t work?
School start Monday morning. I am apparently giving a speech in Mongolian to all the staff and students. I anticipate it being a very short speech. I hope it is sunny for at least an hour or two tomorrow so I can let the water in my solar shower heat up so my shower won’t be miserable. I am supposed to dress up for Monday and I suppose a shower wouldn’t hurt.
Question: Are cucumber and mayonnaise sandwiches a balanced meal?
I have almost watched the entirety of the West Wing…again. I am almost done with my second book since arriving in Arvikheer. I have watched 4 movies. Listened to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire AudioBook. I should find more to do, like maybe learn to cook. I have been basically surviving on cold spaghetti sause type stuff and the afore mentioned vegetable crackers. I really need to get some material to help me learn to play the guitar I randomly bought.
Fact: Mongolian milk hot with Russian chocolate powder makes me sleepy.


Deirdre said...

Well. Aren't you just full of questions?
I have no answers. In fact, really there are no answers. Answers are actually more questions. Answers are not real. Anyone who thinks they have the answers just have not asked the correct questions.
Your playlist sounds dandy. And I am pleased to hear that your clothes are optimistic.
You will find a way to feed yourself. Or you will be very very thin. And grumpy.
There are somethings on the way. Hang on Sloopy and make some soup on the wood stove. Get whatever veggies you can and maybe some beans. Put the vegetables in a pot with water or if you can find some broth or something, use that. Root vegetables work the best. And cabbage. Then just let it sit on your fire while you are gone. If the fire goes out, come home at lunch and stir the soup and put another log on the fire. Then put some salt in it and eat it with vegetable crackers. You can put spaghetti sauce in soup. Then you can eat it every day until you would rather starve than eat it again. Then make some more. You could pretend it is the end of times and you are the vanguard of civilization. You are chosen to figure out how to survive post-apocalypse and teach the rest of us. You have to do it for the rest of us. Kay? Lean pockets are overrated. I tried one once. I would rather have soup not bombs.
You should not tell lies to your mother.
I think cold is preferable to flies, and there are few diseases that survive the cold, but flies vomit on their food before they eat it. Everywhere a fly lands is fly vomit. I say, put one your smart wool and snuggle up.
I dig that you said you love in a felt tent instead of LIVE in a felt tent. See? That's funny.
Cucumbers and bread is not a bad meal. Not great, but would be worse. If the bread is good, that would be better.
Do you want my netflix thing so you can watch instant movies while you drink instant coffee? How does that work? 'Cause baby, it's yours.

Off to make soup not bombs.

love, ma

Deirdre said...

Oh. I forgot to tell you to soak the beans. Soak the beans overnight.
That is all. love, ma

Gabb said...

I am now on a mission to find non-perishable foods that you can stir fry on your stove...also a bootle of olive oil that is plastic, not glass. I'll send recipies with the package.
It does not appear as though facebook liked your photos. It claims no new albums or pictures. I'll try to imagine what they look like instead.
I can't believe I forgot to ask about the cat futurely known as Potato! You got a guitar? Cool, maybe Aaron has some material for that.
I agree with wool > vomit. I hope that your ger at least has good ventillation if your smoke alarm doesn't work. Maybe Potato will be your new alarm.
I think you're pretty, even if you put off showering :) Stay strong and good luck on your speech!

Camber Carpenter said...

Yeah, I thought those were questions posed by your public. Questions really are answers, sometimes, especially on Jeopardy!

By the way, that exclamation point is in the title of the show, not my own addition to indicate excitement about the gameshow. Although I do enjoy it. And my Dad looks a bit like Alex Trebek with a beard.

I don't know about your mom's plan to leave the fire going inside your felt tent while you go away...I'm no fireologist, but something terrible might happen, like all the flies fly into it and die. Then where would you get all the fly vomit you need to put on your food before you eat it? Bet you never thought of that one, eh? That's what I'm here for.
Got your back, Babe. (well, you actually just remind me thereof)

Deirdre said...

Guess what!
The police shot a LION out of a tree in Ally Jean Wells' back yard. Where is the tough club when you need them?

love, ma

Manny said...

i think u are so brave! u are my HERO! good music choices! lol miss u and wish u much luck!

Manny said...

o yeah i forgot to mention. i go to HIGH SCHOOL tomorrow!! holy shit. i wish u could be here to guide me. i miss u!

kate said...

How very cool to talk with you across the world. Aside from the noise, it felt like I was talking with you in SoDak! Great immediacy. I'm curious when my package will arrive. I dated the letter, so you could see what day I sent it. Funny, that Casey sent one too about the same time. You will be inundated! I'm behind, on my house projects, but somehow I don't feel like I care too much. Seems unimportant in the magnitude of all that has happened this week. I know you would have liked to have been at the service, but like your mom said, you were there at a very important time, and brought joy to the household. You are a strong and bright presence! Much love,

Manny said...

dear cakey this is claire and today was the first day of school. it felt like the day went by so fast. i miss u lots. u r my big hero and i love u and how is it going there in your little hut house. and how is your little kitty doing and how is the food there. is it good or bad or not healthy or all of the above? i really really miss u!

Manny said...

I started HS today. It wasnt as bad of course, but i got like 0 sleep last night. Don't really know why. I miss u and wish that you were here!