Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oh Baby Baby, It's A Wild World

It's Saturday night. The weekend is only half over. So far this weekend has seen a pied crow with an apparently broken wing, the return (yet again) of Squirtle the Bell's Hingeback Tortoise, several lizards, a white tree frog with orange feet, two millipedes, a brownish tree frog with red feet, assorted bugs, a blue headed agama, and last but not least, the African pygmy hedgehog currently eating a cricket in my kitchen. Thankfully there have been no spiders or snakes, yet.

I am not sure why my kids spend so much time watching Animal Planet or NatGeo Wild. They are far more entertaining, and often more terrifying than anything I've yet seen on either channel. Currently the boys are watching Austin Stevens chase hyenas around Africa. I have no idea why, and it seems like a spectacularly bad idea to me, but the boys seem to be into it.

Colin wants to have an animal TV show when he an adult. Considering what my daily life looks like I am betting he could just make that happen. He has a plan. He will go to the Coast Guard academy getting his degree in biological-environmental sciences. This part of the plan may or may not be heavily influenced by Dad. Then after he serves his time as an officer he will return to college to get his masters in herpetology, then he figures he should be ready for his own television show.

Update on assorted animals: The pied crow did not have a broken wing. We think possibly one of the guards had thrown a rock at him, and he was stunned, but not really hurt. Dave was able to walk right up to the bird and pick him up. We took him to the wildlife center but when David opened the basket it simply flew away. David was pretty surprised. Most of the lizards, both frogs, and the millipedes were released unharmed. A couple of lizards did become snake food because snakes need to eat too. The hedgehog will be released before bedtime even if I have to do it myself. Squirtle has yet again taken up residence in the large konde, oh yay. Sarcasm intended. I am sure that tomorrow will bring more animals. At least my life is rarely boring.

I spoke too soon. While I was editing pictures for this post the cry went up "SNAKE!!" and now all the boys, including David, are outside with the guard looking for a snake, in the garden, in the dark, in Malawi. This seems like an even worse idea than chasing hyenas around Africa but there you have it, a future Animal Planet star in the making. I really hope they DON'T find it. Nope, my life is rarely boring.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving (Otherwise known as the obligatory "I am thankful for" post)

I wasn't feeling particularly thankful for much when I woke up this morning. In fact I was feeling down right grumpy. As I sat and drank my coffee I mulled over all the reasons I wasn't feeling quite in the mood for Thanksgiving.
  1. We have had no hot water since I returned from my trip to Kenya last week. The last hot shower I had was in Nairobi. On Friday. Five days of taking "camp baths" isn't making me too cheery. I probably don't smell great either. Deodorant and perfume only go so far. Late today the water heater was pronounced "fixed" (again) but I will believe it when I step into a piping hot shower (hopefully) later tonight.
  2. We don't have a turkey for Thanksgiving tomorrow. This is my first ever Thanksgiving without turkey. What is Thanksgiving without Turkey? They don't call it Turkey Day for nothing. But even I draw then line at $70+ for a turkey. For that price I want lobster with champagne and I don't want to cook it. Or do dishes either. We are having chicken instead. Chicken Day. Doesn't quite have the proper ring does it?
  3. My kids have school all week, including tomorrow. School on Thanksgiving. That's just wrong. They will be playing hooky. Sorry school, they are skipping you tomorrow.
  4. I am missing my family. Thanksgiving is the day we always get together as an extended family. Uncles and Aunts and Cousins. Fried turkey and baked turkey and spiral sliced ham. Dressing and giblet gravy. Side dishes and desserts by the dozen. Chaos and noise and laughter and long games of washers. All of it is only an ocean away.
  5. And my biggest reason I wasn't feeling it this morning is this is our first Thanksgiving without Dakota. It has been almost a year since he left home for bootcamp, but I still miss him everyday. Tomorrow perhaps most of all. It feels as if there is a hole in our family.
I was prepared to put on a happy face for the kids. I want them to only have good memories about the holidays and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday so I want it to be special to them too. I drew up the menu, and set to work doing the prep work. When you can't go buy chicken stock in a box or refrigerated pie dough cooking a proper Thanksgiving dinner can a take bit longer than it might otherwise. Also we are having guests tomorrow and I hate to be in the kitchen when there are guests in the house. I would be rather sit and visit. So today I did as much of the prep work as possible and while I worked I put on the radio station from back home and sang along to one country song after another.

Then something strange happened I began to realize how much I have to be thankful for. So here is the obligatory Thanksgiving Day "I am thankful for" list that bloggers all over America, or where ever Americans have landed worldwide, are busy publishing on blogs, FB, twitter, or whatever their social media of choice may be.
  1. First I am thankful for my Mom. Mom taught me to cook and to garden. Thank you Mom, because of you we will have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Tonight my kids ate their very first artichokes which we grew from seed in our very own garden. Even better two out of three kids liked them. Dave did too, I think.
  2. I am thankful for the internet without which we would be in big trouble because all my cookbooks disappeared 3 international moves back. (Please God let them be in storage, Amen.) Thanks to the internet I can find recipes for virtually anything, except gratineed potato gnocchi in sage cream and that's not on the menu for Thanksgiving anyway.
  3. I am doubly thankful for the internet as it lets me make great friends all one the world. I mentioned earlier that I was in Kenya last week. Well I was there for a very bloggy meet up with Naoma and Alexandra. I can't even tell you how thankful I am to have such wonderful women welcome me into their homes. What an amazing gift.
  4. I am thankful for my husband. I love him more than words can express. When I called him at 2, after he spent his entire lunch hour picking up "a few things" I still needed for tomorrow, to tell him I forgot to put sugar on the list and he would have to go back to the store on the way home he didn't even bat an eye. He just said "OK no problem." He not only brought home sugar he also brought Pringles. Salt and vinegar Pringles, just for me. Now that's love.
  5. I am thankful for my kids. They are loud. They are noisy. They fight all the blessed time. They usually stink. But they are mine and love them.
  6. I am thankful for friend near and far. You enrich my life in more ways than I count.
  7. I am thankful for my husband's iPad and specifically a little app called Tunein. With that app I can stream radio stations from around the world, but especially my favorite country music station from home which for some reason will not stream on my computer. That taste of home made me feel so much better today, although it did leave me with the lingering feeling I should call Dave to warn him of a pile up in 410 so he wouldn't get caught in traffic.
  8. I am thankful for laughter. Just a little while ago the boys came through the kitchen and complained about my choice of music. Why didn't I listen to something more interesting, something better, something not so old. They left with their various music players blaring The Beatles All You Need Is Love, The Beach Boys California Girls, and Glee's version of Raise Your Glass. Snort! Giggle Giggle.
Happy Thanksgiving, Where ever you are!

Wordless Wednesday - Kitengela Glass

Monday, November 21, 2011

Good Friends Who Make you Laugh Are The Best!

One of my best friends anywhere, on any continent, is Monica over at A Day in the Life. We were friends long before either of us had ever heard of a blog, never mind began authoring our respective blogs. We were pregnant together (there's a bonding experience for you) and raised our babies together before Dave and I decided to up and move our family all over the world. Our two boys are still best friends and spend every second together when we are home. Last summer I overheard the two boys plotting for Colin to live with them, or for M. to come live with us for high school. Maybe Monica and I can just send the two of them off to boarding school together.

One of the reasons I adore Monica is she gets my quirks, and has a few of her own. One of my quirks is the fear that someday something will creep up the drain pipe, into the toilet bowl, and bite me on the butt while I am happily doing my business. I know it seems irrational, but everyone has heard the urban legend of finding a snake in the toilet and I'm not convinced it's just a legend. In fact I cannot go to the toilet in the middle of the night without turning on the light and checking the bowl before I sit down. A habit that drives poor husband nuts since it is now combined with the fear that a black mamba is lurking just waiting to kill me. Hey! I live in Malawi, it's not that far fetched. Anyway I have to turn on the lights before I can set foot in the bathroom, which means that every time I go to the bathroom at 2 in the morning he gets a woken up by a blast of light as I scan the room for a wet mamba slithering out of the toilet bowl. It's good thing he loves me!

As it turns out Monica has the same quirk. The toilet thing, not the mamba, so far as I know she doesn't have major snake issues. Who knew toilets were so scary? If you want a good laugh go read her newest post "Why is there a machete in the crapper?" I laughed harder than I have in ages. Another thing I adore about Monica is she is one funny chick who can almost always make me laugh. No, I am not going to spill the beans, you will have to go read the post if you want the answer to her question. I am, however, going to add to her toilet issues just a bit.

Today I was cleaning the toilets and after I finished brushing out the bowl I flushed the toilet. Seems pretty standard, right? Clean, scrub, flush. Except this time when I flushed something long and black started coming out of one of the little holes at the top of the bowl, you know the little holes where the clean water comes from? Yes, I know that those holes are too flipping small for a mamba to come slithering out of, but when I saw something moving I screamed down the house. Dave and just arrived home from work and came running. This would have been a great except he took one look and started laughing. It wasn't a mamba. It wasn't even a snake. It was a worm. A worm. In my toilet. It came out of the clean water holes. In my toilet. I may never go to the bathroom again.

Even better I am going to have to apologize to the kids. They know darn well I am scared of something crawling up and biting me on the bum. I have found several worms in toilets over the past few months. I blamed the kids. It seemed reasonable, after all they are the ones who carry horrible spiders around the house, and leave little plastic bugs and rats in dark corners to scare me. The last time I found a worm one I told all three boys that if I found another one they were all grounded for week. They all swore up and down it wasn't them. SIGH! I hate when I have to apologize for accusing them of doing something they didn't do.

In a bizarre twist Karey, a good friend of both Monica and I, recently found a squirrel in her toilet. A squirrel. In her toilet. I am laughing just typing that. Squirrels are funnier than snakes and worms. I really hope she jumps on Monica's band wagon and blogs it. Please Karey??

Oh and one more thing. As I read this post out loud to Dave before I hit publish he informed me that it was two worms, not just one. Two worms in my toilet. Count me doubly horrified!