07 March 2012

SO. so. Here another slew of entries after quite the hiatus. Now it is Tibetan New Year and we (dearest didi: ms. cedar brant.. and myself) have been on a work retreat at a lovely nunnery backed into one of the forested foothills of the Kathmandu Valley.
For one week it was this: Isan - Painting, Cedar - Writing, Both Sisters: Drinking gallons of Milk Tea. Two days ago we climbed the mountain (Shivapuri) behind the nunnery hoping to do a bit of Himal gazing, the clouds had already hunkered in on the horizon so we settled for getting pushed around by the wind on a gigantic mountain-gazing boulder and watching the foothills fade, row by row into the night. Shivapuri has a long tradition of Hindu yogis living and meditating in the forest, and near the top of Shivapuri lives one such Baba. While we had a plan to hike down to the nunnery in the dark if need be, in the last light of day we came upon the little hermitage with all its prayer flags, a golden lion mouth over the spring, a fire going in the open kitchen and a few friendly Austrian faces peering out from beside the Indian Baba, and we said, lets stay! So we squatted beside the firewood with Baba cooking us rice and curry beside his Shiva trident casting long trident-shaped shadows, and upon closer inspection decided the Austrians (very tall and pale with long shiny black hair and even shinier pointed lil’whites) were in fact vampires, so there we stayed, two mountain-hungry Brant sisters, three Vampires from Vienna, and the sparkly old Sadhu eating rice and drinking the fire smoke into the night. We then curled to sleep in our dark bare concrete room in the temple, which smelled of years of puja offerings (less romantic smell than it sounds, actually we had a conversation about it)

Isan “ ick. what is that smell?

Cedar “ yeah, it does smell a little bad in here, it’s just that stinky Nepal smell”

Isan “ Really? I didn't realize there was a specific stinky Nepal smell?”

Cedar “ Yeah, its this smell I have smelled a lot here, what is it?.... its like stinky puja stuff, that’s it! its built up old puja smell!”

Isan “ oh yeah, yeah, that’s it.”

And so we drifted off in an olfactory cloud of a million lit butter lamps, sour ghee, holy water and milk, heaps of burned juniper, incense, decomposing marigolds and fruits into a remarkably deep and lovely sleep

We woke before light to climb up the white stone steps in the hush and orange sky of dawn, past orchids and golden tendrils of moss, and caught the first pink in the mountains as they slowly emerged like whales form the murky deep, from the night, from the smoke of a million fires warming water in the valleys for tea. We sat in the wind, with mountains like a great rumpled cloth in the morning – a rag used to polish some great crystal orb of stars.

We descended to find the baba in his hermitage in the woods boiling us tea, when asking him about the cow, he snorts and paws the air imitating a tiger with his orange long johns, white beard, and star-like eyes. The vampires had taken sick in the night and so we hoofed it away from them, sleeping pale-ey in the sun, away from the hermitage cow with a bucket on its head, away from the baba over his smokey Shiva fire and down into the large trees where monkeys rustled around in the leaves, and the leaves shown silver, and the trail led down to the Gompa, to the city, to that great blinding warp of golden unknown that strings out, the paint, the gold lining of words mapping mapping mapping our way through this world of living.


  1. hello beautiful isan!
    thanks for sharing a bit more of that magical life you are living across the oceans and continents from here, montana.
    love you

    1. you are so cool! And I love the blue jewel painting under "about me"!