Monday, September 19, 2011

The Library is Finished!

Yes, it is actually the year 2068 in Nepal. The official calendar of Nepal is the Vikram Samvat. It is 56.7 years ahead of the Gregorian Calendar.

Thank you again for all of your help. This project was made possible by the many donations from family, friends, blog friends and customers. The community is grateful to everyone who made contributions and regrets that the artist could not put all of their names on the sign.

Please also note that Room to Read will be sending a package of as many as 250 books and the Joy Foundation has offered to contribute books through other sources. And, I was able to send an additional $250 for books and science equipment.

The community plans to hire a librarian and after the books have arrived and the librarian is ready they will have an opening ceremony. I really wish I could go, but I don't think there is enough spare cash for that right now.

Thanks again everyone!

The community is actively looking for English speakers that might want to spend time (even a few weeks or months) in the village teaching. If you know of anyone who is interested in this type of adventure, contact me, Jennifer Gerard at It is not a paid position.

I just heard that there was an earthquake in northern India that affected Sikkim and Nepal. Nepal is in no way prepared for a serious earthquake. Most of the homes would just rattle apart. So far they have reported 50 dead but there are many remote villages that can not be reached because of landslides. An early estimate is that 100,000 homes have been damaged. These pictures of the library must have been sent to me just hours before the earthquake. I'll let you know if I hear from anyone about the impact on the village where the library is.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Marble Machine, my 911 account for my boys

Our neighbor, Sara, called and said, "Turn on the TV! Something just happened in New York." When I turned it on the first plane had already crashed. Watching, I was in a kind of horrified stupor trying to sort out what had just happened. I kept thinking about the tourists that must have been in the building because I can remember riding the elevator up near the top of one of the towers to see the view with my family when I was a kid.

Wayne, my husband, came into the room and Josh, my son, was there. The news reporters were talking rapidly. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the second plane hit! It was absolutely unreal. Josh said, "Wow!" not understanding what he had seen because he was only 3. Later he asked his dad if anyone might have been hurt in the plane. Wayne answered vaguely, "That was possible."

For most of my lifetime we in the USA had lived in a time of peace so, I was having trouble interpreting what was happening. Clearly we were under attack, but by whom? Why? The attack was not in the middle of a war or a conflict or even a remarkable spat. It was more like a sucker punch out of nowhere.

Wayne and I were about to whisk Josh out the door to take him to daycare. So, we jumped in the car. When we arrived, no one at the daycare had heard the news yet. I didn't want to voice out loud the horrible thing that had just happened. I just said, "You need to turn on the news, right now."

Wayne and I hurried home again to watch more news. The Pentagon had been hit while we were out. That brought the tragedy very close to our home because we lived within the beltway. We didn't know until later, but some of the kids at our local school lost a parent that day. Then flight 93 went down in PA. Then the towers actually collapsed! I really hadn't expect them to fall. I don't think that many people expected that. All that day I was kind of numbly glued to the TV. After picking Josh up from daycare at lunch time, I dutifully cared for him, distracting him with toys then returned to the TV for more news.

That night was eerily quiet. We stayed home and no one on our street went anywhere. The only sound we heard was a regular circling of military Jets around the perimeter of the capitol because all of the other flights in the country had been cancelled. Everyone was afraid because we didn't know much about who attacked us or if they had plans for more attacks. Each time the jets passed over head, I felt a little bit of comfort.

The next day, I was still in shock and constantly watching for every bit of news. Most of America was watching, but there was this terrible feeling of uselessness. Most people couldn't really help, although we all wanted to do something. A lot of people prayed and lit candles.

By evening, I was beginning to realize that my obsession with the news was becoming unhealthy for me and for Josh. I wasn't playing with him anymore. I turned off the TV and started to create something. I had wood and glue and bells. Over the next couple of days the creation took form and Wayne helped me. Two tall towers of wood connected by ramps emerged. The 'escape' ramps carried marbles to the bells that tolled for those who had passed. An American flag was at the top and a cup was at the bottom to catch the fallen. And there were three churning 'wheels of life' spinning in primary colors as each marble passed through. The ramps were made so that the marbles would precariously make a drop from one ramp to the next. Sometimes they wouldn't make it and they would fall off the end of the ramp and crash on the floor.

When it was finished Josh often played with that marble machine and so did his brother, Sean, a few years later, but until now I never told them why I made it. It was my memorial.

I wish that I could give my boys that time before we talked about terrorists every day. It is sad for me to know that they cannot remember a time when our country was at peace.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

-John Donne

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Postcard to Mom and Dad 1992

Photo taken by self timer in Kathmandu, Nepal
the first visit 1992

Do you recognize your daughter? It's November 16th, in Bangkok. Cheryl's out roaming the street trying to find some way to surprise me for my 28th birthday. I'll be calling you tonight, but thought you'd appreciate the photo. Don't worry, the clothes are merely an expression of my dramatic self not a new religious persona. Did I tell you we flew into Nepal, flying straight past Everest and had a magnificent view. We hiked in the Himilayas for 6 days sometimes 8 to 10 hours a day, 20 lbs on our backs. We're in Thailand now and are skipping India in favor of the Philippines (less hassles). I've written to Chito and will call Jerry B., my doctor friend from Japan, so that we should have guides for the tail end of our trip. Bangkok is hot and humid and as polluted as ever but we will be heading for the least rainy beaches as soon as possible. Thinking about starting an import business but will wait to see how practical it is. (Mail sent via post-restante.) I'll be home soon.

Just found this post card and thought I would share.