Tuesday, April 26, 2011


First two images via Conifer, third via LoGE

Monday, April 25, 2011


I've been throwing cream into everything lately -- tomato cream sauce, garlic cream sauce, cheddar bechamel sauce, etc. Overkill. This tofu recipe, on talented Jeana's new blog project, was just what I needed to break the pattern last night. And let me tell you, it was delicious and so simple! The tofu was crunchy outside and soft inside, just perfect. A do-over, certainly.

the way it is

My collegue took this picture during one of our legal aid clinic field visits in Phnom Penh, on a sweltering April day. To me, this picture says it all -- the realities of life for many of these communities, the man of the household away from the home for work (probably working as a motorbike driver, a laborer, etc.), the woman tending the house, watching the children. And that boy, with his look of surprise, a plastic spoon in hand, ready to dig in, is pretty great.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

My Easter memories, as far back as I can dig into my childhood at least, have always involved bright splashes of color -- coloring Easter eggs with my sisters, hunting for them in garden, baskets full of confections, cakes, and pastel dresses. This year, in Cambodia, the holiday almost passed without notice. I know at home, in Los Angeles, my family is gathering around for dinner, amid bouts of argument and laughter.

This picture of French macaroons reminds of this holiday. It also reminds me of visits to Pix Patisserie, in Southeast Portland, Oregon, where I noshed on colorful macaroons, which I often washed down with one of their tasty beers.

Cold(er) Weather Wear

via Totokaelo

It's funny. In the States, I keep reading and hearing about warming weather and wear, but I remain fixated on the idea of necessary layers, pants, sweaters, and scarves -- the total effect of which is a kind of grown-up polish that has eluded me for the past 11 months. This would be perfect for me right now. Those nude/blush shoes are great.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Three weeks ago, an orange tabby adopted us. She wandered into our yard one bright morning, menacing me by jumping in front of my feet as I walked and sitting under the tires of Ethan's bicycle, preventing him from leaving. After a few mornings like this, Clarisse and I could not stop ourselves, and we fed her. She appeared to grow a little plumper by the day, until about a week ago when we, sitting in our kitchen, discussed Vivian -- named after the hooker in Pretty Woman--and agreed that she looked very plump recently -- pregnant-plump, in fact.

This afternoon, we heard small kitten cries coming from the narrow, dark space that runs the side of our house. Three kittens -- a black one, a tabby, and a calico!! I am so excited, though worried because that narrow space captures quite a bit of rain. And the rain has arrived early. We've moved the food closer to Vivian, and we are watching.

[About the picture: Marnie, Dom's wife, exchanges pictures of kittens with me now and then, funny pictures, United Bamboo calendar pictures, and this one.]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More on Sapa

Sapa's green hills and cold mornings offered me the short respite I craved from my chaotic schedule, one that appears to keep growing with tasks and responsibilities I did not expect when I signed my contract: Establish a community-based legal clinic? Sure. Manage law students and international lawyer volunteers? Sure. Lead a research team and publish? Sure.

I'm certainly not complaining about these opportunities -- they are more than I could have asked for when the idea of moving to Cambodia to pursue international human rights lawyering entered my head -- but it's amusing how this project keeps mushrooming into more and more. Most days, I am frankly too busy tending to daily tasks to appreciate the work that lands on my desk. But somedays, someone like Anna, the Russian lawyer volunteering with our organization, stops me after I've been for rambling five minutes about a meeting or the findings of a field visit and blurts out, "That is amazing!" And then I stop for a minute, mull over her words, and remember that it is. It really is.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

365 days, week #15.

Not very good at capturing my week. Very few pictures.

1. Sapa, Vietnam. North of Hanoi, accessible via an overnight train to Lao Cai, a town near the Chinese border, and then a winding bus ride up, up, up the hills. Misty mornings, green rice terraces, and colder climates.

2. My daily drink: Sapa tea, a mix of ginger, cinnamon, and honey.

Milk Jam

Upon my return to Phnom Penh, Clarisse, my French-American flatmate, and I did a grocery run at the shiny, new, expat-priced Bayon Market. We picked our way through the aisles, picking up too many things, including a huge block of cheese (industrial size, the likes of which you would find at grocery warehouses in the United States, key ingredient for my cauliflower gratin) and another industrial block of dark chocolate. More importantly, she introduced me to Bonne Maman's confiture de lait ("milk jam"), and it's sooo wrong to feed myself this in the morning that it's right. It rivals those Dutch sprinkle-on-bread treats that have enamoured (and eluded) me for too long.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Last week threw me for a loop, and I'm starting to recover, after a haircut, massage and two days of doing absolutely nothing, except narrowly avoiding pickpocketing (a story for later).

This week is Khmer New Year, and most Khmer take the week off and travel to see family. I will be working from home for a few days, and by "home," I mean some place in Vietnam where I can plug into an internet connection for a few hours. Because I don't yet know, with certainty, where I want to go and, more importantly, if I will have time to go there.

What I do know is that I want to work my way north, probably to Hoi An, probably to Hanoi, and ideally to Sapa, though Sapa is unlikely. I also know that I prefer overland journeys, so it will be slow travel and lots of time staring out windows of trains and buses -- unless, of course, I run out of time, in which case I'll hop back on a plane to Phnom Penh.

I have Zadie Smith's White Teeth packed and a list of beauty products I want to track down.

I will write from the road.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The buzz.

Anaise is open, and it is chock full of beautiful things, like these A Detacher sandals.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Parisian Chic

No. 6

All I can do tonight is stare -- at images from La Garconne's No. 6 inventory, which appears to house more dresses and blouses than I remembered. The past two days have been rough 10- to 11-hour, non-stop working days in the April heat. I am exhausted, and I need to look at beautiful things.

At one point this afternoon, I sat, cramped in a small dark shack, assisting an elderly woman in writing a legal complaint. Her husband, feeble, pock-marked, barely clothed and invariably silent, sat in the middle of the dark wooden floor on an ikat-patterned straw mat, staring out through the barred windows at the road outside. As I joined him in staring outside that window, I was brought back to my Portland, Oregon private-practice office, bright, spacious and clean, with light streaming in (when there was light in the Portland sky) -- quite a contrast from today's images.

And more strange is the realization that I have somehow had to initiate and lead a team in initiating this community-based legal clinic, in this community where most people cannot write let alone be expected to draft written, cohesive arguments, evidenced by technical data to which they would not normally have access; where most people are afraid to complain in light of numerous stories of coercion and intimidation by authorities; and where I am convinced the existing grievance mechanisms are broken, if not wholly disconnected from the consitutents for which they were created.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

365 days, week #13.

1. It's hot and humid in Phnom Penh. Khmer New Year, marked by a week of holiday, is just around the corner. I am looking forward to leaving the city for a few days, hopefully to cooler climates.

2. While grocery shopping at Natural Garden on Friday afternoon, I placed my basket, full of red bell peppers and radishes, on the floor, and this little guy jumped out, from under the fruit stalls, towards my basket.

3. We entertained at our home on Friday evening, a mix of friends from Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, France, Kenya, etc. We even found a grill!! My contribution: I tossed cherry tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and onion in white balsamic vinegar and olive oil, placed them on skewers and sprinkled pepper and sea salt on them. Simple.

What I didn't capture: the crazy week of meetings and trainings, and more talk about the Asian Development Bank Railway Project. There was also a Khmer wedding. And Rachel. Too much. I am exhausted.

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