thinking of home

March 14, 2013

 

 

There is a sweetness in the air as the warmth begins to arrive and the possibility of spring brings everyone out of there houses and into the streets. I love the sound of kids in the evening playing outside and the slow amble of a grandmother holding the arm of her grandchild as they walk.  We all emerge like a swarm of bees on a summer day looking for nectar and I am happily caught up in the buzz.

I am leaving in less than two weeks so there is an unquenchable excitement about coming home, and at the same time a great feeling of gratitude and longing for all I have learned, and a fullness to each day that comes with the realization I am leaving so soon.  I have been learning some of the finer details of preparing food and drinks, making felt bags that we have been talking about doing for some time, and will be travelling to lake Issyk Kul over Narooz (March 21st) for 5 days in the mountains in a village of 150 families where Farzana’s father told me today that as part of the celebration we will eat a whole horse!

One of the things that keeps me shaking my head in amazement is realizing that this is just the beginning of a long relationship with this land and these people.  I will be helping Farzana and her sister with some translating at an exhibition this summer in Dallas, and then we are going to road trip home together to MN!  So for those in the area keep your eyes and ears open for a party/sale I will be hosting with them sometime in the beginning of July.

As far as my work goes, the biggest change will be that I am going to begin working with silk.

Up to now I haven’t been interested, but after almost three months of being around silk and wool I am excited about the possibilities.  I have seen some beautiful examples of silk and wool vests, blankets, and of course many scarves.  There is a satisfaction that comes from rolling something that is 100% wool that doesn’t come with silk and wool- and for that wool will always be my first love- but now I have a whole new set of skills to begin working with.  And at this point, after working for someone else for three months, living by another families patterns and habits, in a place where I am constantly limited by where I can go and what I can do I feel like a bow that’s been drawn and waiting to be released . . .

 

Here is one picture to enjoy that has nothing to do with spring! My camera battery called it quits and I forgot my charger, so I haven’t been able to take pictures recently.  This is from a day of sledding in the mountains about a 30 minute drive outside of Bishkek.

sledding in the Kyrgyz Ala-Too

sledding in the Kyrgyz Ala-Too

 

 

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my neighborhood

February 19, 2013

 

When I’m not at the workshop, and I’m not tucked into the apartment, I’ve taken to walking.

When I first arrived Farzana and family didn’t really want me going out on my own- I had to take a deep breath and realize that I was now in her care and understandably she felt responsible for my safety in this new country- but the thought of being stuck inside all winter in the company of TV’s and computer screens started to make me feel very claustrophobic!

As it turns out, of all the Central Asian countries, Kyrgyzstan (especially here in the North) is known as being very friendly to foreigners.

And I’ve found everybody just minds their own business- no ones says hi to each other as they walk by, and I just look away like everybody else and act like I have something important to do.  Even the dogs, which there are many roaming the streets (and I was more worried about them than the people)  tend to mind their own business. I actually feel quite lucky, of all the places to live in Bishkek, Tunguch district is on the edge of town, close to the mountains, and there is one road I like to walk in the mornings that heads south out of Tunguch and I have found it’s a nice place to catch my breath, listen to wind and the birds and slow down enough to give some thanks for this place and this experience.

walking south towards the Kyrgyz Ala-Too

walking south towards the Kyrgyz Ala-Too

 

taking a break with the cows

taking a break with the cows

 

looking north towards Tunguch

looking north towards Tunguch

 

pretty in pink

pretty in pink

 

walking around Tunguch

walking around Tunguch

 

more Tunguch

more Tunguch

 

and more Tunguch

and more Tunguch

As I mentioned in a previous blog this is a Soviet era apartment block, which I mistakenly said had 20 or so apartment buildings-  it’s more like 75!   One of the things I have come to love is the random use of paint on apartment buildings all over town.  Greens and teals and pinks and turquoise covering the walls and windows and doors of these very blocky and what would otherwise be unfriendly looking buildings.

 

Next with the felt-making is learning to cut, and possibly draw, ornaments. (Their name for the traditional designs they use on the scarves and rugs.)  I thankfully graduated out of making pre-felt (it was good learning, but boy was it tedious at times!) and am now confident I can make pre-felt to be proud of (which has opened up a whole new world of design and possibility for me.) Farzana also makes incredible pictures, some dresses and coats, vests and bags and time will tell whether or not we dive into any of those together.  I am so overwhelmed with the generosity of her teaching and am grateful for whatever she feels up for showing me in this last month.

Oh, and don’t believe the pictures with snow in them- I took those a few weeks ago and since then it has been quite warm at times and all the snow has melted.  I figured for sure the mountains of Central Asia would be colder and snowier than Duluth- but I was wrong!

And the other exciting piece of news- I’m discovering I can now read Cyrillic, mostly. There are still a few small mysteries, and just because I can sound out the word doesn’t mean I know what in the heck I’m saying- but I will never forget when I first bought my Kyrgyz/English dictionary in anticipation of hosting Farzana and Daniko in New Mexico during a workshop they were teaching, and I opened the book to look up a few words of greeting, only to find I couldn’t read a thing!  It’s nice to remember that all these small, daily efforts really do accumulate into new found possibilities and skills.

 

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Rugs!

February 5, 2013

I think I have fallen in love- I learned a new method for making ala-kiiz. It’s somewhere in between a Shyrdak and a traditional pressed felt rug (like the kind I have been making at home) and they are absolutely gorgeous. Much of the time Farzana and her sisters are making scarves, which are basically […]

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The Workshop

January 10, 2013

Farzana works most days in the workshop, and when I’m not running around town all day trying to get registered with the local police or get a visa to Kazakhstan, I work with her.For the most part felt-making has been a self-taught experience for me and it is such a joy being in the company […]

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sushi, horse meat, and vodka . . .

January 7, 2013

I promise at some point I will tell more stories about my felting adventures, but for the moment everything is so new and exciting I can’t help but tell stories about it all.  Tonight I went out to dinner with Farzana and some good friends of hers, and I’m guessing I will never see a […]

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Salam from Kyrgyzstan!

January 5, 2013

I am finally out from under a cold I’ve had since I arrived, and am feeling very welcomed by Farzana and her family.  Five of her six sisters are visiting for the New Year, her brother and parents live next door and the flat is full of kids and laughter and food and the sound […]

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