i guess it's been a weird week. i should expect that around this time.
this past week marked 2 years since losing my dad.

i've said so much about that loss in the past. yet it feels like there's still so much feeling there, but not much to say. not anything new anyways, or anything that would make things better.

i saw the movie inception this week though. good movie. deals with dreams and reality.

and i know its kind of unrelated, but somehow it made me think of all this. all the pain in life.

the thing that gives me comfort isn't necessarily that there is a reason for the pain. not that it makes you stronger or anything like that.

somehow the thought that comforts me is that it doesn't really matter. because this life is like a dream in the scheme of eternity, and when we awake the pain we felt then seems to fade. like a shadow.

it's like the writing we had inscribed on my dad's gravestone...it's from cs lewis' story 'the last battle'... when upon facing death the characters say 'the dream has ended, and this is the morning.'

shomik and i were able to take our vacation last year as a tag along on one of his extended business trips. so that was the plan this year. he had been scheduled to go on a longer work trip to a pretty cool place, and so we were hoping to get a per diem and make a mini holiday out of it again this summer. basically for free.

but alas... vacation plans in the hands of corporations can get very messed up.
and at the very last minute usually too.

so our summer plans were suddenly busted, but we really still felt the need to get away for a couple of days...and on a very very tight budget...to us that meant only one thing...

now camping is one of our favorite things..though it's usually reserved for fall or spring around here.
if you live in texas...you know that camping out in july is pretty much a death wish. it's crazy hot.

so we did a little research and found a forest service park just about 4 hours away in the ouachita mountains...because it should be less hot in the mountains, right?

thankfully our hunch was correct...or else this could have been a very bad idea!
we drove up into a VERY secluded mountain campground (we were the only campers there!)...
and the temperature dropped a good 25 degrees!

now this was pretty rugged.
no running water...no showers.
so not for the faint hearted. you kind of have to embrace the dirt.
but there were cozy shelters, an amazing spring fed swimming hole, and views that can't be beat...
we felt like adam and eve!
and all that for $8!

so here are a few pics of our wonderful weekend.

seriously. cute cabins.

we decided to be innovative and sleep in our hammocks since hard floors aren't fun. pretty comfy actually...and it felt very avatar.

good morning. yes, i have mole eyes without makeup.
but hey, there's no make up allowed in camping people!

ok, so i hope you like water falls...because you're about to see a lot of them.

oh, and if you're going to enjoy this post you should also like mountains, and things that are pretty.

i warned you!

out of our kids (aka. dogs), it's safe to say that numa hates camping...but mowgli enjoys it....
and bindi LOVES it! i think half the fun of camping is watching her go crazy...

 i don't think any of the dogs enjoyed the sudden downpour though...

but anyways, as you can see it was a pretty great camping experience.
though probably the highlight of the trip was on the morning we were leaving...
and a visitor came through our camp site.

i have to admit...seeing this guy walk out of the woods scared the crap out of me.
i have only ever seen a bear in the zoo!

i think it took me about 30 seconds to fully process what it was. black bears have sort of a funny walk because their back legs are longer than their front legs. kind of like us...
so i'm embarrassed to confess that for a split second until it got closer, i thought i might be seeing a sasquatch!

fortunately...for the sake of our sometimes stupid dogs...i was the first one to see our friend.
shomik didn't understand why i was yell/whispering at him to put the dogs in the car!

the pictures would have been better if i hadn't been shaking.
silly i know...but it was thrilling too!

this guy looked to be only about 100 pounds...so clearly still just a juvenile.
but hey, i still don't want to take my chances with teenage bear claws.

thankfully he just seemed to check us out while we checked him out, and then he strolled on down to the river while the dogs barked frantically in the car! haha.

once we all came out of that experience unscathed, we pretty much thought it was the coolest thing ever!
bears. beets. battlestar galactica.....well, at least bears.

so that was our last minute camping get away and our close encounter with the claws of death! i guess we wouldn't have found this place if our other plans had worked out.
we may just keep the name of our private little haven secret....what a find it was!

well, ok, if you really want to know then just ask...we'll tell you.
i guess we can share. :)

so shomik grew up in what may arguably be the biggest city in the world. his family lives on the 6th floor of a high rise apartment building.

on the other hand, i grew up a small town girl...where my family lived in the country out on a dirt road!

now we live together in a large city. large by US standards anyhow. small by indian standards.

for me it seems pretty lively...there's always something you can find to do, and everything you need is close by. but for someone who grew up in a city with 20+ million, it might feel a little slow. because in the US, and especially in texas, we like things spread out, so there might be less people per square mile in a big texas city than there are in the countryside of india!

but fortunately we've found a place that seems to suit both of us. it's like a little piece of country in the city.

there's a forested park in our neighborhood with a creek that runs through it. it makes me totally forget that i'm anywhere near the city. the longer shomik's been in texas, i think the more he appreciates the more laid back environment of it all too.

so we feel lucky to have found a place that's kind of the best of both worlds. where we can be near everything we need, and also feel like we're far away from it all sometimes!

here's a little video if shomik playing swimming fetch with bindi in our neighborhood...
it's one of their favorite things to do around here!

so we knew today would end up with just one person in our household happy.
shomik was rooting for spain...and i was rooting for the netherlands.

shomik and i have a lot of international friends...and we love it that way.
needless to say, the soccer world cup...although not a big deal in most of the USA...was definitely a big deal in our house. and though neither of us are huge sports fans normally...we both love watching these games.

so today for the final match between spain and the netherlands, we had some of our friends over to watch, and to eat lots of yummy food. we had a world cup-world potluck.

i think we counted food from like 8 different countries...and believe me, we stuffed ourselves!

hamideh was one of my few allies with the dutch!

it was a long and tough match...

while the players were busy beating each other up and not scoring, we had a birthday party...

...and tried to stay awake....until the first and last score was made in the final minutes of overtime!

but in the end, it was spain that emerged victorious.
so shomik and bindi were happy.

ok, well at least shomik was happy...not so sure about bindi here...maybe she was siding with me!

sorry orange team! so sad.
ok, well maybe not that sad. i was only rooting for netherlands cuz the other teams i wanted got out already. so...i was really only sad for the fun of the world cup to be over.
but who really can be sad after having such awesome food with great friends!

see you in four years! brazil 2014!

so...i thought i'd try to surprise my husband by mowing the lawn this morning.
it's safe to say that it's a house chore that neither of us love to do...especially in july. this time of year you pretty much have to get at it early morning to endure the heat.

anyways, while i was mowing...surprise! i found a baby bunny in our side yard!

(not actual bunny...i found this one on the internet...but it looked exactly like this!)

it was so cute...i kind of wanted to keep it in our backyard as a pet.
but then it bounced away, and i figured it would be better off with it's rabbit family anyhow.

i'm just a sucker baby mammals.

the more i thought about it though, the more i liked the idea of sweet little bunnies bouncing around our backyard...
so i later googled 'rabbits in the yard'...just for future reference.

surprisingly, all the sites that came up were about killing the pesky rabbits that get in your yard!
ok, that's soooo not what i was looking for. who could hurt that fuzzy baby?
me and shomik are such softies.

anyways...so much for the bunny...and so much for mowing. the mower konked out on me half way and i had to leave the lawn with a mowhawk.

oh well...it's the thought that counts, right?

how far will you go to be green?

of course we like to be environmentally friendly when we can around here. we recycle, and we try to save energy and repurpose stuff.

i would like to say that we do this just to help the earth, but the reality is that we do it to help our own budget as well. let's face it...being ecofriendly is usually budget friendly.

one thing i find interesting in america though...at least in the south, is that sometimes christian culture can be very opposed to the whole idea of being environmentally friendly. which i find down right bizarre really. whether or not global warming is true, shouldn't we always do our best to take care of the earth that God has given us? it just seems like we should be more of a driving force behind this movement and give balance to it rather than opposing it. anyways...there's my soap box!

of course shomik and i could always do more. i've dabbled in the idea of composting, but i just haven't quite gotten myself there yet! it sounds all good and nice until i think of everything rotting in my yard.
but i do hope to make some kind of rain barrel at some point...

it seems in some areas though that ecofriendly has turned really commercial and trendy in the US. like i see no reason to throw perfectly working items into a landfill so that you can buy more ecofriendly ones...that kind of defeats the purpose.

anyways, all this to say that americans can have some double standards in this area. myself included.

when i think about india in this sense, it's very different!

i think india would probably be one of the most environmently friendly places in the world...if people didn't throw trash wherever they liked...and if there weren't so stinkin' many of them...people i mean.

because seriously, when we're in india, i am hard pressed to find any kind of disposable paper or napkin....and trust me...i've looked.

it's just how people live.

napkins are like the kryptonite to my ecofriendly efforts. i need like 12 for any meal, and that's when i'm eating with silverware...which is not the indian tradition. in india you eat with your hand. (or in my case...still with both hands!)

                                                    (note...all this food wasn't for me!)

so i think toilet paper goes unsaid. i know. it's a horrible demise for a tree, but i just can't help it. i need it. the splashing water bit just doesn't cut it for me.

but in most indian households you won't find any of these things. napkins, tp, kleenex...i had a cold in india one time, and that was an interesting situation. i didn't realize that people still used handkerchiefs.
there's no waste of things like hot water or gasoline either...you heat the water for your shower right before you need it, and people take public transport, or else pile as many as will fit into one vehicle.

                                                        (riding the train in mumbai)

somehow i find myself able to do these things in india when i need to...but get me back in the US, and i definitely need my tp...and i may take the train or bus occasionally, but it's rare.

i don't really know what the point of this particular blog is...right or wrong, i guess just to point out the fact that there are a lot of discrepancies between myself and my ideals...and these are things that it sometimes takes another culture to fully bring out.

i've always been jealous of people who have a green thumb.

i love nature and greenery...there's something almost therapeutic and spiritual about gardening to me...maybe because it's the original job that God gave us...
though sadly, i'm usually better at killing plants than keeping them alive.

we will have lived in our house for a year this month. it really feels like our place now that we've been making memories here and making it our own.

one place we're still putting a lot of work into though is the yard. our yards were pretty much a blank canvas to start with when we moved in. this is the backyard from before...

since then we've been really trying to make it into a garden oasis we can enjoy. we still have a way to go, but  this is what things are looking like now...

we built the mini pond last summer. we were kind of insane...out digging a hole in 100 degree weather...but we found this cheap pond kit on clearance, and we had a vision in our head! haha. we found all the rocks buried in our front yard, and we hauled them to the back one by one. it was an interesting and bonding experience..but we were both pretty happy with it in the end.
nothing is quite as relaxing as water...

like much else around our place, it seems that our wildlife is inspired by india. like our little lotus plant here. we have goldfish in the pond as well, but they're kind of shy.

the cannas, the hibiscus, the lotus...all these plants make me think back to our honeymoon in south india where we had the chance to visit this amazing flower field. i guess that's why i'm drawn to those sorts of plants more. plus those have been fortunate enough to survive my gardening!

oh, and we did plant a couple trees in the fall as well! i just love trees. they're still pretty small, but it will be fun to watch them grow over time. our little peach tree looks like she'll make fruit for us already this year!

and you can't forget our little bird neighbors! from birds to toads and lizards, the pond and plants have been bringing more friends to our yard. i haven't been able to get a good picture yet, but we have a family of birds living in our little red house that we brought from germany last year.

...and our swing from india must be one of my favorite things! it was interesting bringing this back in my suitcase though. haha.

so there it is. we still have a way to go, but i think part of the fun of a garden is time. it really makes you appreciate seasons and the growth...

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