under African skies

August 30, 2010

I have gotten off to some sort of start so far in this Zambian venture: “some sort” being the operative phrase, since I’m not quite sure what to read into my landing . . .
As I stepped off the airplane, almost all the way through with the journey [one final leg to come to arrive at the boarding school itself], I started to walk along to jetway from the plane to the airport, gearing up for the adventure of customs. Knowing that it generally works best to follow the crowd in this sort of setting, I dutifully walked in step with the travelers I saw ahead of me. But as I entered the covered walkway, a guard called out, ”Excuse me, Madam . . .” For whatever reason, I assumed him to be calling to me, so turned towards him. “Are you a VIP?” he continued. “ Um, no,” I gulped. He then gestured to the other walkway and I quickly stammered, “Oh–normal people go that way?” as I hastily made my way to the proper walkway. And then I realized what I had said and had to [quietly] laugh at myself for my choice of words. Yes, here I am, ready for this adventure, trying very hard to be as “normal” as possible . . . and apparently I have no aura that will cause me to be mistaken for a VIP ☺
This photo is a shot from the air, as we circled around before the final landing. I was struck by the nature of the light and the clouds. And though I’m not sure if African Skies are really any different from any other, I for one am kind of fond of them.

Please, don’t hoot!

August 28, 2010

The things I forget to miss . . . like sign wording.  Or had forgotten, at least, until passing this one today.  I’m still in transit, but at least on the continent of my intended destination.  Tomorrow, on to Zambia.  And in the meantime, I’m not hooting :-)

more on that . . .

August 26, 2010

I seem to have made a promise of a story or two; and as I should be packing at the moment, it seems to be a rather perfect occasion to tell one of those stories.  So, about that kitchen dance . . .

Soon after beginning my role as nanny for said one-year-old, I learned that he was an eater of the more “discriminating” variety.  In my own family, we tend to produce more hearty eaters, so this is somewhat new territory for me, so far as creative meal preparation goes.  What I am beginning to realize about my own “mothering” skills is that when I realize I am lacking in either knowledge or ability, I have a tendency to try to make up for this lack with creativity.

So, that said as a preface, I will now risk utter self-embarrassment:

For lunch the other day, I had prepared one of our new standards—a dish that had proved successful with him and that, rushing to appease a hungry youngster on a behind-schedule day, I had resorted to as what I assumed would be a winner [more on the recipe specifics forthcoming].  A mere 2 bites later however, he began to wave his hands in front of his face and speak the gibberish that I knew meant he had decided to make a show of it.  I was not to be so easily thrown off.

Knowing better than to just stand in front of him and try to force the bite, I instead turned away with a semblance of carefree self-focus.  This move was, in itself, a bit of a risk, as he tends to require complete attention on him . . .  men!

Then I began to dance.  And to sing, spontaneously inventing lyrics and choreography to the most-riveting “Banana Dance.”  I will forego further details on this particular subject but, as some of you know, I am pretty good at making a fool of myself when it comes to performance and entertainment.

After a bit of this escapade, I glanced back at him and saw a wide-eyed look that seemed to say, “What in the world is happening in my kitchen?!?”  This was precisely the look I was waiting for; I sidled back over to him, spoon still poised in the air, and deftly slid it into his gaping mouth.  Sure enough, he was too mesmerized to protest, and he proceeded to finish off that dish with, if not gastronomical gusto, at least a dazed acquiescence J

on feeding, & dancing

August 25, 2010

If I can snag a few moments of quiet, possibly during a nap time, I will elaborate further on this shot.

I will share, perhaps, a story of distracting a finicky eater with the “Banana Dance,” until he is so mesmerized by the odd occurrence in the kitchen that he begins to eat again, dazed but at least consuming. Or perhaps a story of culinary adventures with the perfect combination and consistency of mashed [and peeled] hot dogs, potatoes, and cheese.  Or of sneaking a peek at a baby monitor that reveals a supposed-to-be-napping little one who is, instead, having a full private dance party for himself in his crib . . .

But for now, I post this photo, with the simple explanation that I got to feed cornbread to a goat last night.  Wandering a bit after a dinner out, we thought we were going to the hillside to just observe the grass-eating creatures.  But when we walked up, a chatty woman asked if we would like to feed them.  I eagerly nodded and, soon, was enjoying the gratifying noshings of this cute young gal.  And I couldn’t help but muse on how much easier it was to feed this youngster than to feed the little one I am normally feeding these days :-)

passiflora incarnata

August 23, 2010

Along the lines of things carried home in a baby stroller, here’s a glimpse of today’s find.  Thanks to some research time spent, preparing for a commissioned project, I knew exactly what this intricate plant was when I spied it . . . and I was happy to relieve the vine of a few of its wild blooms :-)

carted items

August 20, 2010

This may be old news to some of you but I, for one, have just been discovering the multi-purpose portability nature of a baby stroller.  While out on our walks we have taken to returning to various items, generally of the produce variety.  I took the opportunity to teach the art of okra-picking yesterday . . . never mind the fact that I was just learning that art myself!

But today we happened upon a new “item”: a cute little box turtle that was making its way across the road.  My initial thought in picking it up was just to guide it back to the other side.  But then, having a little one with me, I handed it to him to see what he thought.  Not surprisingly, he was quite intrigued with the little object in hand–and he didn’t even have to ask: I let him bring it home with us :-)

I had intended to photograph the two playmates but then, somehow, our little friend found his way out of the little cart on the bottom of the stroller and, probably for the best, escaped to his freedom.  So, in lieu of the turtle, yesterday’s okra will have to do for photographic purposes . . .

in flightier news

August 17, 2010

Considering the weighty nature of my last post, it did seem rather fitting to share this snippet from today . . . being of a significantly more light-hearted sort.  The evening included a visit from an old friend.  And as we enjoyed a pre-dinner wade in the creek, she pointed out a handsome butterfly flitting from one watery bloom to the next.  So later, as we hammered out specifics for her wedding plans, I also took a moment to ask her if the photo was better cropped or in larger version: she voted for the cropped one, so here it is :-)

your father’s daughter

August 16, 2010

We lunched.  We walked.  We talked.  Words of truth–of love–were spoken.  And the dam within me burst.  Though I had not known before that this great longing was there, I still tried to give words to my blubbering mess of a self.  The best I could manage went something like this:

Much of my 30 years has been spent assuming I was supposed to keep trying to fit into a sort of mold that expectation seemed to demand.  But I just don’t belong in that box.  So when she spoke these powerful words, they cut to the deepest core of my being.  And I wept as I just sat still with that longing to know that I belong somehow, somewhere . . . just as I am.

“You are exactly what your father raised you to be–he would be proud.”

Those were the words that were spoken.

Thanks be to God for the sweet voices He so kindly places in each of our lives, in the form of loving friends and family.

puppy love

August 14, 2010

I’m quickly learning how creative the “adventure” portion of the brain can become when involved in the not-easy task of entertaining an active 1-year-old one full day after the next . . .

Along those lines, today’s adventures included a re-visit to the next-door neighbor’s newly acquired puppies.  She was actually on the phone with me one evening last week when she announced the fact that she suddenly had 2 puppies following her home as she walked.  Being a significantly soft-hearted sort, the puppies stayed.

So I have been trying to get my young charge to get past his initial fear of dogs [as you may recall from my post last week].  Sure enough, as I suspected, today he had decided they weren’t so scary after all . . . truce :-)

A visit to a neighbor’s garden this afternoon left me with a bounty of produce that I know I will enjoy [okra, cucumbers, & tomatoes] .  .  . plus a few that I haven’t yet worked up the courage for :-)