WPC: Warning Sea Urchins!


They do look dangerous, although I’ve never seen a warning sign on any beach. But if you don’t pay attention, this happens:


The brittle spines do not come out easily. Expect to hobble around for a week until they work themselves out of your flesh! Of course there is always this revenge:

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge:  https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/danger/


WPC: Muse (and the language of Signs)


This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge, Muse, didn’t really resonate with me at first. Perhaps it just the “pack out state of mind” I was in?  Then I remembered how signs are such inspirations for my posts, that I have a section on this blog devoted to them.  That qualifies as a muse, right?

Located on a busy, noisy intersection with trucks that constantly block it, capturing this one was a challenge….  (the irony isn’t lost on me) …and you don’t need to speak Nepali to understand its meaning.  Whenever I had the camera in the car, I would take another stab. Twenty attempts later, I succeeded.  The motivation to capture it was all about collecting great signs in a photo– I had already cover noised pollution on the blog — so I appreciate the opportunity to use it here in quite a different way.

Here is a motley collection of signs I collected that missed their moment or mark, or covered issues already discussed, but I think deserve attention anyway:


Oh God, Please Stop the Earthquake


Its meant to convey “unique”. Why did this not quite work?


Not really a sign…but curious about the artists message!


The other KFC!

Daily Prompt: Upturned Noses!

sipping teaToday’s Prompt: Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?

I like a cup of excellent coffee or quality tea, but it is absolutely wasted on me unless it is served correctly.  And by “cup”, I actually mean “mug”. But not just any mug.  None of the giant, chunky, statement mugs for me, with slogans like “The World’s Greatest Mom”.  I have to drink it from a narrow, thin-lipped, bone china mug.  Preferably one with a lid.  The pattern is irrelevant (although I do like colourful modern designs)… it is the design of the mug that is paramount:  A thin lip delivers the coffee to your mouth gracefully.  It seems to accentuate the flavour.  There’s no clumsy clunk of heavy, cheap, earthernware on your teeth.

Fine bone china is so elegant.  You can sip and relish the drink. But….it has to be a mug.  Bone china cups are for old ladies in tea parlours and the wide surface area of the cup cools the drink way too quickly.  The pokey little cup handles almost force you to raise your little finger as counterbalance.  No thank you. It has to be a friendly mug.  Who’s making me a cup of tea?!


Sounds Right: Griniazee


Daily Prompt: This is clearly subjective, but some words really sound like the thing they describe (personal favorites: puffin; bulbous; fidgeting). Do you have an example of such a word (or, alternatively, of a word that sounds like the exact opposite of what it refers to)? What do you think creates this effect?

Griniazee (γκρινιάζei) Greek word meaning to moan, complain, gripe, whine

In the supermarket, little Dimitri wants to buy something his mom won’t give him. He has a melt down right there and then.  He’s frustrated mom makes an angled chopping motion with her hand, and steps back looking at him incredulously.  She stamps her foot back, and yells, “Mi Grinaizee, Dimitri!” (Don’t whine, Dimitri).

“Den Grinaizo!” (I’m not whining…), he complains back, sounding more whiny then ever.

How can a word which starts with “grin” sound so whiny? Yet it does. At least to me.  I think its the way its delivered with a long frustrated “yaaa zeee”.  So moany!

The Smell of Home

spetses harbour

Daily Prompt: From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?

Tomorrow I board a plane for a much anticipated break to our Greek home.   I know our life there so well.  There are so many memories. I can imagine myself sitting on the wall with my legs dangling down to the street, looking out to sea.  I can hear Greek voices and the occasional putting of a boat engine.  I can hear the straining of motorcycle as struggles up the hill to the street below. It all seems a million miles away from Kathmandu, away from the incessant honking and the frustrating chaos of it all.   It’s so hard to imagine such a radically different place from the one that consumes me now. Like traveling from a cold, harsh climate to the summer sun, its a leap of faith to know that it really is there waiting for us.

Somewhere among all the memories is the island smell, but I can’t place it exactly.  Its a heady mixture of mountain herbs, jasmine blossom,  pine trees, Greek cooking sifting over the wall from the neighbor’s kitchen, and island mystery ingredients.  I can’t place it,  but I know the smell.   Its the smell of home.

Daily Prompt: Worst Case Scenario



I’m ready for work but my driver hasn’t shown because some big wig minister is driving through town and the police have blocked some of the roads. This has made him late, and now its going to slow down our drive to work too, making me even later.  We sit in traffic behind buses belching black smoke, and arrogant motorcycles honk their horns and menacingly weave around us, pushing to the front of the jam.  An almost useless traffic cop does a half-hearted job of controlling the traffic (there are no traffic lights) and finally its our turn to move.  Except we can’t go anywhere until over 100 motorcycles (blocking both lanes now)  unjam themselves from the chaos at the front of the line.  It takes way too long and we almost don’t make it through.  But we move forward on his last wave and turn on to the dust and bumps of what should be the main road.  It is still unpaved.   For the last three months we’ve been tripping on the dug up road, and last night it rained and the street is a sea of mud and puddles.  The street-widening project now just feels like street obliteration.  There’s nowhere for pedestrians to walk or drivers to drive.  It just straight mess.

As we pull up,  I’m realize that I’m wearing the wrong shoes.  Yes, I know heels are a bad idea, but flats look awful with this outfit, and I didn’t stop to think about the consequences of the rain.  Jumping over massive holes where the curb should be, I skid on muddy gravel and twist my ankle, getting mud on my clothes and shoes. I arrive to work late and muddy.  It is only 8.30am and I’m already pissed off.  I’m also cold because, in my mad late frenzy,  I forgot my jacket.  No-one’s turned the heating on properly.  A cup of coffee would warm and cheer me up, but the cappuccino machine is not working and they are only serving that Nescafe crap…..

First world problems, are trivial inconveniences that the developed world bemoans, but developing countries only wish they could have the luxury of experiencing.   They’ve been the butt of many jokes recently, as complainers are ridiculed for an over-inflated sense of entitlement and blatant ignorance of the plight of others.  Yet, its an easy mindset to fall into, especially living in the developing world when, on some days,  my worst case scenarios are fueled by my first world expectations for how things should be, not how they are.

First world problems in a third world country truly takes the message to a new level.   The mental challenges of handling frustrating experiences here means walking a line between trying to remember (at least most of the time) how privileged my life is compared to so many, and yet reserving the right to complain (at least a little) for the sake of my own sanity.  Plus not complaining sometimes just feels like acquiescence to something that is just plain wrong.    And hats off to those that do more than complain, who generate higher expectations and elicit positive contributions from others, so that  — little by little –  Kathmandu becomes a healthier, cleaner place to  live.  For their sakes, I’ll try and keep my first world problems down to a minimum.

This blog post is a participant in the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Worst Case Scenario

Daily Prompt: A Leap of Faith


Daily Prompt: What giant step did you take where you hoped your leg wouldn’t break? Was it worth it, were you successful in walking on the moon, or did your leg break?

When my husband was offered a job in the Foreign Service, everything happened so quickly that I had barely time to think about the size of the leap we were taking.  In a few short months he went from “conditional offer” to an actual placement, and I had a further span of about twelve weeks to sell the house, pack everything, move our son out of school, close down my business and figure out what I needed to know once we arrived at the other end….which was the Philippines by the way…and may have been the moon for all I knew about it.   The days were filled from 6am to 11pm with multiple check lists, developing problems, twists and turns.. feeding the cat and making dinner.  In the middle of it all, my son broke his elbow, and I sat until evening in the hospital’s recovery room,taking calls from our realtor, my husband in Washington and the health insurance people, until I fell asleep in my coat and boots, waiting for the doctor to release him.  Sometimes I felt excited, curious or anxious about our new future, but mostly I just lived in the moments created by our big exit plan and trying to make it all work in time.

Somehow it all came together.  Our house sold…despite having the worst possible buyers.  Our stuff got packed out…despite a massive Nor’Easter.  And, that night I walked out of our NJ home for the last time.  We arrived in DC just our few suitcases despite Amtrak’s enormous power failure, where we sat stranded for most of the night on the track somewhere outside of Baltimore.   And somehow we made it out to The Philippines, where we made it our life for two and half years.

Now we live  in Nepal on our second assignment,  having repeated the madness of exit and entry all over again, and we are now working at making another alien new world feel normal.  There are days when I wonder if its worth it, when friends and family feel far away and I can’t stand the dust, dirt and noise of Kathmandu for a minute longer.  But most of the time I’m profoundly grateful for the amazing opportunities that this crazy life brings and keeping my blog has become a way to focus on the spectacular opportunities of our life here.  It would be faithless not to.