Archive | November, 2010

Button Buck

28 Nov

On the way home from church, just a few hundred yards from our house were a state trooper, a tow truck, a fancy car with a smashed grill, and a deer thrashing in the ditch. Isabelle was upset about the deer so I told her I would check to make sure but was certain the trooper would put it down.

A few hundred yards further up the road we had noticed hunters putting on a drive through fallow fields of golden rod.  I am sure they unknowingly pushed the button buck out–it was over a rise and far enough away they never saw the accident.

I called Jay and changed clothes.  By the time I went to see if someone would give us permission to take the deer  everyone had left, except the deer.

So I dragged it (the trooper had shot it) across to our side of the road and into the field halfway home, gutted it, and the kids helped drag it the rest of the way. It went on one of Isaac’s doe tags.  Hanging in the barn now over at Mom M’s.

US Financial Problems Explained

17 Nov

A visit with Children off the streets of UB

16 Nov

A group of college students from MIU every other Saturday visit a holding center for children picked up on Ulaanbaatar streets.  The facility is run by the Metropolitan police and funded by World Vision.  It is clean and neat.  The children are not.

Theoretically the children are between the ages of 7-13.  But the 25-30 children I saw were as young as 5 and as old as 15 by my reckoning.  The police and WV staff look for the parents and return the children to them.  Many parents are drunks and send the children back out onto the streets.  So there is a revolving door kind of coming and going happening.  If the parents are not found within a set time period, the child is sent to another facility, a longer term one which is more like prison in all ways.  It is difficult to establish any relationships with the children because they are only there for a few weeks.

Some of the children were developmentally delayed (FAS?) or damaged–some with scars, or tattoos, nails through ears.  The older boys were surrepticiously passing cigarettes and playing cards. There was a lot of bravado toughness.  They have to be petty thieves to survive on the street.  The older and stronger lorded it over the younger: pinching, hitting, taking, making them submit–even in our presence.  All of them had been given prior to our coming bags with candy, apples, soda.  It is a Buddhist custom after a funeral, a belief that making children happy, or giving joy to them, helps the deceased.

The college students performed a song in English with hand gestures in which the children delighted.  Many of the boys wanted to wrestle Joshua.  Some of the older children had, and wished for, the opportunity for a bit of English language study with the college kids. Many of the kids joined hands with us just to whirl around in a circle, like dancing without music.  They all wanted attention of some sort: a smile, a hug, to be spoken with, looked in the eyes.

I took photos which many of the children delighted in since they could see themselves right away.  One boy wanted  to take a photo himself with the camera and when I refused he himself refused to be photographed. There were several young girls, one who had a treated dog bite on her leg.  One boy, who looked like a young Christopher Walken, seemed mild and sweet in the midst of the posturing.  He had tears in his eyes when we left, and hugged one of the young men as if his heart would break.

One young imp had problems with his eyes or vision and seemed to be not so smart.  But how much of that was an act? He was a sly thing.  He saw we also had brought snacks –which were not utilized since they had plenty–and kept trying to access them.  When thwarted, he lashed out with kicks and hits.  At the end, one young woman said to him, “let’s go!”.  He joined hand with her and had a tantrum, then a sort of fit,  when he was not allowed to come with us.  Many of the kids understood more than a little English.  Which makes me wonder if English-speaking tourists are a source of food during the  warm parts of the year.  The children also knew about praying and said ‘code words’ to indicate they understood how the game was played in some circles: “hallelujah!”, “amen”, “praise the Lord!”, with their sideways smiles,  knowing looks, and hands held together in ‘prayer’.

A good short film about where Mongolian street children live in the winter.

Visits to a ger and a shower house

14 Nov

The morning I took photos of Kirsty and the milk lady she did not have change for Kirsty’s money so we went with her to her ger down the street.  She invited us in.  The large hashaa contained 4 gers and one smallish brick building.  The gers were widely spaced with grass (long, brown, dead) growing between.  A small wooden entryway, then a lower entry into the ger.

Round, hot, subdued light.  A man smoking, a small boy –head shaved but for a small braid low in back–, an older woman, a middle-aged woman, and our lady who is in her 20’s and wears a wedding ring.  The boy, we think, is hers.  The man, her husband.

The floor had blue and white patterned linoleum–the same pretty design as Hannah and Ganbaat have–and one large rug in front of a large bed.  The bed was on the far wall directly opposite the entry.  Just beyond the bed going clockwise, a stand with a TV, an open space, a small freezer, a white clean kitchen dresser with narrow counter on which is an orange thermos of weak slightly salty tea which we are served in bowls.  The doorway, another piece of furniture, a printed with green-blue graphic zipped shut closet (?), some clothes hanging, the rug-covered settee where we are invited to sit, a dark wood china cabinet with radio/cassette/CD player on top, and you are back to the bed.

Large gold and red rugs on the walls.  A small stove (like Hannah’s) in the middle.  A small skylight that gave a good amount of light–a surprising amount.

Red, blue, yellow painted poles, and milky orange-red staves holding up the roof. A small low square stool holding a box of 5-6 inch round cooky-ish items in front of our settee.

Colorful and delightful visit.  Kirsty thinks we were invited because she told the milk lady I am her mother’s friend visiting from America.


Kirsty and I went twice to a shower house.  1500T for an hour of hot water cascading down.  What luxury here. The hot water, that is, not the room in which one showers.  I felt a large round something on my shoulder that I pulled off; the water washed it quickly away but not before  it hit home that it was a tick.  Obviously hitchhiked from home.  Yana!  Washed socks and undies as well as hair and me.  It is so arid –20% humidity according to a little device Dan has–that the clothes hung out on the balcony were dry within less than a day.

Not enough to worry about?

14 Nov

Cell phone users: take note of this New York Times article citing a book which covers research into cell phone radiation and possible ties to increased cancer rates.

An increase in brain cancer in the 20-29 age group.

“Henry Lai, a research professor in the bioengineering department at the University of Washington, began laboratory radiation studies in 1980 and found that rats exposed to radiofrequency radiation had damaged brain DNA. He maintains a database that holds 400 scientific papers on possible biological effects of radiation from wireless communication. He found that 28 percent of studies with cellphone industry funding showed some sort of effect, while 67 percent of studies without such funding did so. “That’s not trivial,” he said.”


Water, dogs, pelts

12 Nov

Getting water with Joel and John.  They go more than a half mile at least once a week with a 60 L container on the water cart to get drinking water.  We went over rocky, icy dirt roads and alleys.  Shanty town. Ger district.  1L/10 tugriks.

They go several times each week to get cooking/wash water.  70+L/time.  Though today we got twice that amount.  Some for Hannah and her family.

A nice Mongolian man helped Joel and me as we struggled with the cart up hill by helping us push.  The cart had a flat tire.  The wash water water house is only a couple hundred yards away from the home.  The boys wished to hurry so we could play Settlers of Catan.

Joel went quickly to get dog meat.  2kg/500T for one days’ food.  Dogs not usually fed water.  There are dogs everywhere in the ger districts and the streets leading into them.  Puppies also.  Live and dead.  Hooda and Rosie came with the house and like other dogs in other hashaas are kept to keep strangers out.  Especially drunks.  Alcoholism is rampant here.  One main reason of insomnia are the constant barking of dogs.

I shall mention here my embarrassing lack of skill sexing dogs.  Kiny brought home a small puppy on my say that it was male.  It was female.  It seems I have never been around female dogs and they are built somewhat differently than large domestic mammals with which I am more familiar.  Yana!

About fur:  Lloyd and Kiny took me to a very large covered and open air zakh or market, the Naran Tuul zakh. Entrance fee: 50T. What a wonderful place!  A lady was selling square foot pieces of what looked to me like white lamb or kid pelts.  She told Lloyd it was lamb.  There was a wolf pelt hanging up, and a kind of deer–an antelope of some sort.  Fox pelts.  She opened a box and showed us mink and larger sheep pelts. Lloyd was trying to tell her I hunted and trapped.  Then she pulled out a yellow bag, opened it and removed a white pelt spotted with black.  It was a wild cat of some sort.  She turned it around and showed me the whiskers. Told Lloyd a price.  Yes, I understood.  Then it hit me.  It was an immature snow leopard pelt.  Yana!   (Which is an all purpose word of exclamation without any wicked or rude connotations.)

First few days

11 Nov

Seeing Kiny and Hannah each morning brings tears.

Overcast.  The weather this morning said “the sky will fall today”.  It began a light misty snowfall.

Kiny took me on the trolley downtown.  There are about 1300 tugriks/dollar. The trolley costs 200T per ride and buses are 300T.  A large man got on and sat down in front of us.  He cast nasty looks and said something in a vaguely threatening tone towards us as we spoke.  We finally stopped speaking English and just sat.  There are Mongolian Nationalists who do not like people from other countries to be here.  He eventually changed the objects of his ire to a group of loud, silly schoolgirls at the back of the trolley.

She took me to Mary and Martha to look at the crafts they have there.  Eventually I returned and bought folded paper gers made by prisoners, a calendar of Mongolian landscape photos, felt slippers made by a woman’s cooperative, a purse made with a piece of Khazakh embroidery and some silver earrings each with a deel (say ‘dell’) button on the end and the wire twisted into a typical Mongolian diamond pattern.  We went into several touristy souvenir places and cashmere shops.   Cashmere yarn and raw fiber was not to be seen, only finished high priced goods.

We went to the post office, right across the street from Sukhbaatar Square.  I bought quite a few postcards.  350T each.

5 L milk bought this morning, 7 L two days prior.  900 tugriks/liter.    The cow milk is strained and boiled before use.

Am having Kirsty’s marvelous bread — crusty long loaves with the jam made with something like wild huckleberries. And Roma and milk.  Kirsty makes and bakes most of the bread for two households, does dirty baby diapers and clothes for Peter, runs errands to buy food and pharmaceuticals, bakes special things (3 pineapple upside down cakes for a birthday and Peter’s 1 month coming out of quarantine celebration), and does school.  Oh, and made a 4’x4′ quilt top which is being prepared to be quilted and bound.  By hand.

Had homemade salt pickles last night with Edam-style cheese and bread.  And Roma and milk.

To church at Mongolian Int’l University 3PM with Joshua and Daniel: Korean-run service.  Loud contemporary music.  Several songs BG uses. Sermon on anger–I kept nodding off.  I had to stand up front with about 7 others to be introduced.  The the whole congregation got up and processed by, shaking the hand of each of us.  They sang a ‘blessing song’ to us.  Offerings brought up individually and put in a box in front.  Full meal–raw vegetables, sandwiches, juices offered afterward.  But I was full–rice with chicken and veg topping for lunch.

Visited Hannah and stayed too late.  I waiting for Ganbaat, he waiting (I think) for me to leave and fixing the fence hole made by the neighbors in the hashaa next door.  The hashaa is the enclosure one puts around the land one claims.  Land is up for grabs.  The hashaa formalizes your ownership.  So ger districts have kept expanding.  There are houses as far as one can see to the hill tops in three directions.  The river and low land bounds the fourth.

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