Tag Archives: flowers

Write/Blog what you know – or not……….

There is a ton of fabulous writing and blogging advice out there. One of the most familiar refrains is “write what you know”. I call BS on that  one. If you write fiction, you kinda sorta gotta write what you don’t know or it’s not really fiction. Hmmmm, right?

Another blogging mantra is “write what other people want to read”. That one frustrates the hell out of me. How are we supposed to know that, right?

The proverbial answer is to look at your stats and see what draws people to your blog. Then give them more of whatever that is.

Yikes. My most popular post ever is this one. It got nearly one thousand hits in one day. The key word that people used to find it was “writing”. Which would all be awesome if this post was anything more than an announcement of a writing contest being hosted somewhere else by someone else. Alas.

The post that consistently gets the most traffic on my blog is this one. It gets hundreds of hits every week and it is well over 3 years old.

Go ahead.

Ask me if it’s about writing….

Or the tremendous individual growth I experienced while living in India…..

Or about parenting….

Or anything else that I really care about….

Or even a tiny little book review…..

Ahem. The answer to any of those would not be yes.

It is simply a post of pictures of flowers I took while traveling throughout India. Most of the plants weren’t even really unique to India.

But.

This blog isn’t about flowers

or gardening

or writing contests

hosted by someone else.

And, you really don’t want my gardening advice. I pinky swear it!

In fact, this is what my very own plant looks like right now. 😎

There are delish but there are lots of brown spots. So I am really, really sorry if you came here for gardening advice.

But if you came here for pictures of flowers, I have been taking some pictures recently. I hope you will enjoy these.

So those are some of the flowers that I have seen along the way. I hope you enjoyed them! 😉

Flowers, flowers everywhere…….

I am not sure why, but I have been so amazed at the bright, colorful, beautiful flowers in India.  Here are some that my friends and I saw on our recent trip…

It happens…………..

Yesterday was a very fun day – I hosted a luncheon and invited the people I just don’t get to see enough of over for lunch. I really miss having friends over and it was a nice trip down normal lane – well at least it was supposed to be.

I dumbed it way down and used my grandmother’s very best china Walmart plastic plates. Even the flowers were in exquisite crystal vases plastic cups. We had good old fashioned tacos and seven-layer dip and cornbread and all sorts of toppings. My poor cook was beside himself that we weren’t going to have any Indian food, so he threw in some delicious Indian appetizers. Apparently he has been holding out on me – I had no idea that breaded and fried broccoli was Indian food or in his repertoire. Yummy. Especially when dipped in Hidden Valley Ranch dressing – yep, I brought that from home. Along with the taco seasoning mix and the pecans for pecan pie.

Most expats have a running joke/understanding that nothing is simple here and sometimes (often) it is harder to accomplish things here than it is back home. Some of that might be a little bit of the “grass is greener” (or right now, the snow is whiter) but some of it is simply r.e.a.l.i.t.y. And the hardest part is that you just cannot anticipate where the stumbling blocks are going to be.

Bring on the luncheon. Most things went so smoothly that I should have known there would have been other problems. First of all, the people who work for me were fantastic. They worked their arses right off. Several people asked me who my caterer was – that was a huge compliment to them. Yeah for them and me! The second thing was the flowers. The flower walla opens early – I did not anticipate that and it was a welcome treat. Normally businesses do not open here until around 11am and with everyone coming at 12:30ish, I was worried we’d be cutting that close. Plus the flowers were so inexpensive, extremely fragrant, and absolutely fabulous. Bonus. Bonus.

But then, as I was riding home from school, our driver informed me that we were out of water. Completely out. Yes, that presents an interesting wrinkle when you have 25 people coming over for lunch and lots of wine. He had several theories as to what might have happened. Either there was a leak. Or our cook doesn’t like the guard and was setting him up for being fired because it was odd that of all the days this could happen yesterday would be the day. Or our guard didn’t like our cook and the reverse was happening.  Or the guard just forgot to fill the tank and it was simply an accident. I personally think Mr. Hatfield saw the tables being delivered, realized we were having a party which probably meant more noise, and so he snuck over the fence and turned the spicket on and drained the tank dry overnight. Or. Or. Or. There are more conspiracy theories about this than there are about the shooting of JFK.

Just a side note. Every night at 5pm and every morning at 5am the guard must turn on the water to fill the tank. We have a pretty large tank so for it to completely empty means that it was not filled several times. Or that there is a very big leak. Neither is a great scenario when you are hosting a lunch.

At any rate, my husband’s office was on it. A water tank was ordered to come at 11am.

I also rented tables and chairs so that everyone would have a place to sit down. That all went super smoothly this time too. Which was great because it did not go so smoothly this time. They delivered the tables the night before and came back to set them up at 10am. Smooth. Smooth. The tables were even level – not a given. The tables don’t look so great when they deliver them, but they do clean up nice.

However, there were clouds looming in the sky. Dark, heavy clouds.

One thing I have noticed here is that a lot of events are planned for outside and there is never any mention of a rain date. (In the U.S., there is almost always a rain date for an outside event.) But in India, unless it is monsoon season, it n.e.v.e.r. rains here. Unless I am hosting a party outside. 😉 Then rain it must.

As the guests start to arrive the clouds get darker. And then it starts to rain – sprinkle really – so we quickly move two tables inside and three tables under the carport.

And you guessed it, the water tanker had not arrived.

So, I have too much water outside where I very much did not want it and not any water inside where I very much do want it.

I had to announce to the guests that there was no water inside and that they could use the bathroom but please just throw the toilet paper in the trash can. And the toilets don’t work the same here as in the U.S.  My toilets back home can still function without running water – you just replace the water in the tank on the back and wallah. Here – not so much. I thought I was going to go all Tim the Toolman Taylor on everyone and show them just how this was not going to be a problem. Ha. I put water in the tank and it immediately drained out. Hmpf. But by the way, there were plenty of hand wipes for hand washing. Thank God Martha Stewart was not invited. Or Katie Couric. They would have been very unimpressed.

The water tanker it seemed was stuck in traffic. Now this is exactly what makes living here hard. There were about 4 different versions of why the water tanker was late. One – it was stuck in traffic. Two – it was actually not stuck in traffic but was not allowed to enter the neighborhood between 11am and 2pm. Three – no one actually remembered to order it so they made up the traffic story to cover up their mistake. Four – the driver was abducted by aliens. So when you don’t really know why something is not happening, it is very difficult to fix it. Short of renting a space ship to Mars, we just had to deal with the reality of no water. And my guests were so gracious – they just rolled with it and filled their glasses a little less full.

The sun ended up making a star studded appearance and we were able to actually eat outside. That was fantastic!

I was not able to get the mister in the picture to sign a waiver so plese do not use his picture. 😎 Yes he is a funny guy.

All in all it was a fantastic day. The food was yummy, the flowers were beautiful, and the company was divine. And the water tanker came just as everyone was leaving. Perfecto!

17 years and counting (aka – the war of the roses)………..

This weekend, number one hubby and I “celebrated” our 17th wedding anniversary. Blink. When did that happen? Not really sure – but it’s been a good ride. I still like him a lot and he continues to put up with me. And ever since I started blogging he has officially recognized that I can be funny. We really make each other laugh and smile. We probably have at least another 17 years in us.

This is the song that makes me think of him – it’s I don’t want to miss a thing – by Aerosmith.

I say “celebrated” because number one hubby went to work, Bear had a track meet, we hosted two visiting athletes from Katmandu, Flower and Angel went with me to a craft fair – it was a little “un”anniversary like.

And if you know me at all, you’ll understand that I am not exactly all over hiring a babysitter in a foreign country to watch my kids so that hubby and I can pay way too much for a dinner out. Yeah, Laxmi made butter chicken for us and I am good with that.

There isn’t really much that either of us wanted, so gift giving pretty much went to the back burner, too. I am also good with that. I know the men are rolling their eyes here – but really – I don’t like gifts just for the sake of gifts. Hubby is generous anytime I want something – I don’t have to wait for anniversaries and birthdays. See how that works? It’s better that way.

Number One Hubby loves fresh flowers and he is especially fond of lillies. I did not want our day to go unnoticed so I got him these. They are from the flower stand in our neighborhood and they are really beautiful.

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And so began the parade of flowers and gifts. The war of the roses.

Number One Hubby’s office sent this cake. It came one day early, so I had to promise that we would cut it at midnight. We cut it and I am sure it was midnight (somewhere). It was delish.

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Then came this elephant pot from Number One Hubby’s assistant. It is tres cool. Number One Hubby had actually been looking at these – we love it! (Before you fall out of your chair, remember that the swastika here is an auspicious symbol – it has nothing to do with all that Nazi hate baloney. It is a lovely symbol here and it is often drawn out in fresh flowers. So, just to be clear, we are not joining the Third Reich – we are just being wished much love and happiness.)

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Then came these from our driver….

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and these from Ravi – the rock star who cleans our house….

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And then these from the travel group that coordinates number one hubby’s travel…..

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Deepak sent these……….

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Number One Hubby’s admin staff sent these – yep, we ran out of vases, glasses, and anything that could hold liquids, so these are in the blender.

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But before all of these arrived, hubby decided to surprise me. He ordered 17 vases and 17 dozen roses. Yep, you read that right. 17 of each. While, I was dropping off our visiting athletes and Bear for warmups at the track meet, Number One Hubby, the real Flower, and Angel worked their little florist fingers to the bone. They arranged 17 dozen roses all throughout the house.

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Some of the vases are lined with rice paper that creates this very artsy mosaic look. Hubby says the paper will eventually dissolve – but until then – fabulouso!

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These are just closeups of some of the other flowers – but I thought they were fun. So, you get to see them too.

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And yes, you are absolutely right, I am very lucky!

Everywhere you look, there is a story…………….

In the U.S. things are cleaner and more organized and, in many ways, less interesting. One thing I will say about India is that it is NEVER, EVER boring. India is rich with history and stories. These pictures were taken in Lodhi Gardens in Delhi. Right there among the jogging paths and homeless dogs and gorgeous flowers are these historic buildings.

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Sometimes things in India are a tad more complicated than they need be – this sign basically says – don’t mess with the monument.

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And you can clearly see why India does not want its monuments messed with. They are stunning.

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Now you know what this tomb is.

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This seems to be part of a very cool fort – complete with towers and nooks and crannies.

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Puja my ride………..

Yesterday,  I went to Number One Hubby’s office to attend the Puja for our new car. Getting a new car in India calls for a ceremony. Sign me up. Bless my little car. Puja my ride.

First of all I would like to point out that Number One Hubby picked out a brown car. That makes me smile. There aren’t many brown cars here – it will be easy to find and, fyi, brown is my favorite color. And it is a lovely milky chocolate shade of brown.

It is a delicate matter – the picking of the right date for a Puja – birthdates and anniversary dates might be considered – and the night before was an eclipse – that is a big Puja no – no. So we did it yesterday. In the morning. In the light of day. I do not know all of the particulars about how a date and time are chosen. But people who know were consulted. There are reasons why this time and date were chosen and I am certainly not tempting fate.

You might wonder if this is really a big deal. It is. It really is. About 25 people from my husband’s office came to watch it.

We pulled up and saw our car draped with flowers. The flowers on the hood formed a swastika – which sounds awful – but not in India. It is the equivalent of the Christian cross and is meant to ward off evil spirits. To keep us safe in our journeys and to bring us prosperous travels. They call it an auspicious symbol – that is a good thing.

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A priest (Pujari) gave blessings in Hindi and chants in Sanskrit. He sprinkled the car with a flower that he had dipped in water.

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Then he drew a swastika on the hood of the car and another on the steering wheel. He burned incense.

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The priest marked our foreheads with red dye – a mark known as a tilaka. Then placed rice over it.

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A lei of flowers was draped around Number One Hubby’s neck.

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Red yarn was wrapped around our wrists.

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The red dye and the yarn were supposed to contain saffron. It is hoped that it will be absorbed into our brain and our bodies.

We will leave both the dye and the yarn in place until they come off on their own.

Number One Hubby then broke a coconut and sprinkled the milk on the car. This was pretty funny actually. Even the priest laughed – funny is universal. Number One Hubby was supposed to hold on to the coconut and break it open on the ground. Then, while still holding the pieces, sprinkle the juice on the car. If you have ever seen my Hubby attack a pinata, you know what happened next. He slammed that coconut on the ground so hard it shattered. Bring on the chuckles. No harm, no foul though – he just picked up the pieces and sprinkled away.

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Then we were given two lemons each – to place under each tire of the car. Number One Hubby and I got in the car and drove over the lemons. Squish. Squirt.

Finally we gave an offering to the priest. The envelope was also decorated with a swastika.

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Everyone who attended the Puja was so happy for us. It felt similar to a baptism. Congratulations and well wishes were showered up us.  We were even given a gift. A statue of Ganesha to place on the dashboard. He will protect us during any new adventure.

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Attending this puja was a lot like going to a High Catholic Mass given in Latin when you were raised Southern Baptist. Sure, you can follow along and hopefully not look like a complete idiot. But you will watch the people beside you so you know just what to do.

Here are a couple tidbits that I learned. When participating in Hindu ceremonies, you always accept things with both hands. BUT, you receive it first in your right hand and then place your left hand under your right. Note to self – right first, left under right. Got it. We also took off our shoes for the parts of the ceremony that we participated in. Second note to self – keep pedicure up-to-date.

As with any good ceremony, there were a couple of (very) funny things that happened. The priest’s cell phone went off during the ceremony. That was hysterical – at first I thought it was mine – I was mortified – but it wasn’t – it was the priest’s. Seriously, that’s funny – a ceremony steeped in old traditions and rich with rituals was interrupted by modern technology. Don’t ask me why he did not put it on vibrate – I did not ask. But I do wish I knew if he answered in Sanskrit.

The other thing was that we left the ceremony with much congratulations and many well wishes. We pulled out of the parking lot and drove – I dunno – maybe 500 feet – and we got sideswiped. Yes we did. And no, I wasn’t the one driving. It was a very small fender bender. No one was hurt. The other driver did not even stop. Maybe he was late for his puja.