July 11, 2010

Summer is officially here

Well, the skies where lit up last night with the largest fireworks display I've seen here in Ulaanbaatar. And I'm guessing it was because its Naadam - think 4th of July mixed with the Olympics. Every summer, in every city or village, several days of Naadam will be held - three sports: wrestling, archery and horse racing. The rain has kept temperatures pretty cool and will keep the dust to a minimum. Good luck to all the participants this year.

Well, besides that, I officially on vacation or should I say, no classes. So I will be spending a lot time catching up on my various projects, trying to get ahead of September. But I decided instead of boring you with that, I'd tell you what a few of my friends are doing:

First, my good friend Brandon Wilson has written his fourth book, about walking across the Alps called "Over the Top & Back Again". The others are "Yak Butter Blues", "Dead Men Don't Leave Tips" and "Along the Templar Trail". He's sending me a review copy of this new book so I guess it should be on the shelves soon at a bookstore near you. Here's part of my review (after getting a digital copy of the book):
"Over the Top & Back Again: Adventures X the Alps" is a very good read - a light-hearted and humorous account of Brandon hiking across the Alps along the Via Alpina with his wife Cheryl. As a fellow adventurer, I definitely see he humor in his story. It shows that despite the trials and tribulations of 'foot' travel, Brandon is a man in his element - totally accepting what those elements throw at him. The author's writing has continued to improve since his first book, Yak Butter Blues, to now put him in the ranks of other top travel writers. But don't take my word for it, Brandon won the 2009 Best Travel Book (Gold) in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition sponsored by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation.
I'll let you know when to expect it on the shelves in a bookshop near you. Or you can keep up with Brandon at his website: Pilgrim's Tales Publishing

A book that has already reached the shelves is "Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life" by Karen Maezen Miller. I met Karen years ago when she was in Kansas City to give a dharma talk after her first book "Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood". That day I felt a little self conscious because I was the last person in a line of all women buying Momma Zen. But when I reached the author, she immediately put me at ease. Here's what I wrote about her first book:
Well, I'm not a mom, and I'm not even a parent, but I still thought Momma Zen was a wonderful book because its lessons are universal. Everything Karen writes, from a short blog passage to another book, is a beautiful mixture of timeless advice or observation blended in with humility or laughter. Maybe that's why I see it as universal, because it connects so easily with anyone anytime anywhere. Every page makes you nod your head and crack a smile. Why wouldn't you buy this book.
She is a wonderful person who I've been fortunate to have kept in touch with ever since then. You can keep up with her on her blog: Karen Maezen Miller

And another wonderful surprise this week was connecting with a very good friend I hadn't talked to in years, Dee Williams. Dee has been thrust into the spot light in recent years because of the 'tiny' house she lives in,  She's been in Time Magazine, Seattle Times and Yes! Magazine, on Weekend America (NPR), NBC Nightly News, and Good Morning America.  Not only is she living the 'less is more' dream but she's working very hard to help others do the same thing.

Besides working for the State of Washington, she has several other businesses (or should I say vocations): Boxcar Woodcraft and Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD), "a tiny house construction company based in Portland Oregon, dedicated to creating small, eco-friendly dwellings that fit everyone's needs."

I have to say, I have such wonderful friends. Even though I'm far from home, I am the luckiest guy because the internet allows me to keep up with friends like Brandon, Karen and Dee.