Friday, March 11, 2016

Odds and Ends (03/01/16)

Winter is leaving! Today’s high is 40ยบ F! However, the month of March will still be a cold one for us. Next week it is supposed to snow and the high stays in the teens and low twenties, but the silver lining remains that the yolk of winter is lifting.

It has been a long winter. I am ready for the warmth and not wearing jackets. My enthusiasm for warm weather has led me to shedding layers a little early, so I’m still getting cold. I find myself thinking of what the Birmingham temperature must be, but avoid looking so as not to be depressed. The month of March is usually when Alabama has its pollen rich spring. In a few short weeks after some heavy rains, everything is in bloom, everything is alive. It is one of my four favorite seasons in the south.

Sally and I recently moved on to our 5th water boiler (electric kettle). We have been at site for 6 ½ months. This one was not directly my fault, nor did it go off in a fiery kitchen conflagration like its predecessor. It just stopped working. I think that the cheaper brands we buy are not designed to last a long time, but we can’t really afford an expensive UB water boiler. Luckily, one of my English teachers had an old boiler sitting on her balcony that she wasn’t using and gave it to us. It doesn’t quite bring the water to a boil, but it works for heating water up quickly for baths or cooking. It also looks durable, so I am optimistic.

Mongolia does dog culling every winter. While Sally and I have not witnessed this at site, our site mate Kyra did. She was walking one morning through the ger district and was asked if a dog was hers. She said it wasn’t and walked away. When she was about 15 feet away, the man pulled out a pistol and shot the dog. Naturally, he blotched the job, and the animal ran away screaming in pain. I don’t need to explain the first side to this story. You are all feeling it, but let me tell you the Mongolian side.

Every year there are literally hundreds if not thousands of stray prolific dogs in every Aimag center in Mongolia. The only vets that neuter dogs are in UB. Dogs do not have a natural fear of humans like wolves or coyotes. When the coldest days of winter strike, the dogs are freezing and very hungry. I believe that this tradition of dog culling is a direct result of attacks on humans, most likely children.
While I am sure we are both good for Vitamin D, Sally and I are whiter than we have been in perhaps 10 years. We’ve both lost what little tan we had from the summer. 

Work is slow for both of us. It is hard to find people that are willing to volunteer time to help us create sustainable projects. However, I have recently started working with a population of children with special needs. My hope is to improve their life in some way by providing was to manage their disabilities easier.

One day in the sunny warm month of October, I saw a woman in a wheel chair with a toddler on her lap trying desperately to roll over the hard dirt road. I was walking to work and had the usual inner debate on whether to help or not. Deciding that it had been a long time since my last daily “good turn,” I walked up and pantomimed pushing her chair. She seemed gracious enough, so I pushed her a quarter of a mile to the front door of the hospital and left her. Being new to town at that time, I was conscientious of all the stares, and had the usual awkward feeling that accompanies doing something helpful and not being sure if it was needed.  It wasn’t until I was almost to school that I realized to my horror, that I had not asked her where she was going! I had made the terrible assumption that someone in a wheel chair must be going to the hospital and was so caught up in my inner awkwardness that I failed to ask. She finds herself being pushed kindly by a large foreigner. Of course, whether from fear or surprise, she would sit quietly and not speak up! For your reading pleasure, this remains one of my most embarrassing blunders in Mongolia. Perhaps, she was going to the hospital. We, certainly, will never know.


P.S. If you are interested in reading Kyra’s Blog. Here is the link.

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