Saturday, August 30, 2008

at least i'm not dead, part 2

when i was at the grocery store today i ran into this somali guy who is a big player in the refugee community. he, himself, is not a refugee but he helps them out a whole lot and i know him fairly well.

so he says to me, "i heard about your car."

"yea," i say, and proceed to tell him about it.

"well you know she did the same thing to my car right," he says.


"oh, they didn't tell you?"

what's even more funny about that is that the driver used this somali guy as leverage on me, saying " he takes me on the road." so i was feeling all bad. like, "oh, well if he takes her on the road and she's not had an accident, maybe i'm just overreacting."

turns out i wasn't.

**as an aside: for those who don't read comments, you might have missed the good news that we didn't have to pay for any repairs to our car. we took it into our trusty mechanic, they looked it over and said that other than needing a little body work on the front bumper (which we're skipping), everything was fine. then, because we had just been in last week for other repairs, they didn't even charge us to look at it. plus they bent some of the bumper back for us and cut out the pieces that were rubbing up on the tire. man, they're great! if you need a mechanic, andrew's auto on harden. it's where it's at!

we took the plunge

we bought cell phones today. we went with these guys, which i think will work out good for us. and they're about to be taken over by these guys, who seem to have really good reviews.

if you already know our home number, that one will now serve as my cell phone number (or at least it will in about a week once the switchover is complete). we're trying to see if baldman's old cell number can be switched to his new cell phone, but we're not sure if that'll happen or not. we'll be sending emails out pretty soon but if you want the numbers, just let us know.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


just like fuzzy, i need a little pick-me-up tonight.

at least i'm not dead

on and off for the past few months i have been teaching another one of the somali women to drive. i taught one of the ladies a year or so ago and it went relatively well--she now has her license and a car and she's a very competent driver. the one i'm teaching now, however, isn't that good. after she drove (poorly) several times in the cemetery, she made it very clear to me that the other person who was helping her drive was taking her on the road, so i needed to do that too. so we did that a few times. after driving a few times (and ramping a few curbs) we were definitely seeing improvement. but because i was still feeling like i was taking my life in my hands every time i went out with her behind the wheel, i started resorting to every excuse under the sun why i couldn't drive with her anymore. "oh no, there's too much traffic on the roads tonight." "oh sorry, our car needs some repairs." (that one was true) "oh, i am taking the kids to the library and then i have to run home." i had several successful and reckless-african-driving-car-shock-free weeks by using this method. but my friend was getting restless. so finally last week i said, next week, i promise we'll drive.

and promises are one of those things i'm a stickler for. if there is any way on God's green earth that i can keep a promise, i will. so, needless to say as this week went by i was dreading and double dreading thursday, when i would have to venture in the car with my friend.

as i was leaving work tonight i was explaining my predicament to a coworker and i ended the conversation (laughing) as i approached my car saying, if i don't show up for work tomorrow it's because i died in a car accident.

so i go to the somalis. and for a minute i think i can avoid taking her driving. they have company and the kids have a lot of homework they need help with. so i'm quick to be all "oh! i'll help you. take out your books." but as the hour rolls along, my driving friend starts asking, "when are we going to drive? when are we going to drive?" so i give in.

i make it clear that i'd rather just take her to a parking lot where she can practice the fundamentals but i give in (with moderate pressure) to allow her to drive to the parking lot because it's just around the corner. wouldn't you know, as we are pulling out of their apartment complex she freaks out, gets mixed up between brake and gas and drives our car into a ditch. yea, actually, that's slightly inaccurate. she was hitting the gas so hard we actually ramped the ditch and ended up straddling it.

the good news is that it coulda been a whole hella lot worse. we could've actually landed in the ditch and then perhaps flipped the car or totaled it or gotten seriously hurt. despite the fact that i had a back seat full of kids, and that they are notorious for slipping their seat belts off when they think i'm not looking, everyone had a belt on and no one was hurt. i also got to witness the kindness of strangers in an area of town which is notorious for gang violence and petty theft.

the good new also is that i won't have make up any excuses not to drive with her anymore.

Monday, August 25, 2008

blog changes

for those who actually go to this website and don't just get it fed to you in some way, you may have noticed i tried to make a few moderate changes to the template. if anyone can tell me how the heck to center the picture at the top of the page, i sure would appreciate it.

garden goodness

i took these pictures a few months ago but never got around to posting them.

watermelon and barlotti beans

barlotti beans

this was a not-so-quite ripe watermelon (we've got another one coming that i'm hoping will be more fit to eat) and a hand full of barlotti beans. i was pretty disappointed in the barlottis. i watered them like the dickens but we got less than an 1/8th of a cup of harvest. i'll try them again next year and will start out earlier, but i'm not so sure they're made to grown in our hot, dry climate.

cucumbers cucumbers cucumbers

for the past several weeks we have been getting many, many cucumbers like these.


we're up to our eyeballs in cucumbers! (but i ain't really complaining because they're delicious!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

gardening class

while i'm waiting for our borrowed weed eater to charge up, i thought i'd post about my gardening class.

the county recreation commission was offering a free gardening workshop yesterday morning which i'd been looking forward to for a while. i originally thought it would be about veggie gardening, but about a day or 2 before the class it occurred to me that it was probably about landscaping, which it was. the biggest disappointment of the class was that it was held inside. and it was a beautiful day outside! but they held us captive inside a cinder block room and showed us power point pictures of outside. but it wasn't too bad. i did learn a little bit and mostly confirmed a few things i'd had hunches about.

but the best part was that i won the door prize*, a purple butterfly bush! i rarely win anything!

*ok, in all honesty they had 4 door prizes and there were only about 10 people there so my odds were good. but i got the door prize that i wanted! woohoo!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


enjoying dinner

this past thursday night was slow food columbia's first big event, a fund raiser to send 2 local farmers to terra madre, an international food conference hosted by slow food international. you may remember me mentioning the fund raiser event previously.

thursday night was a huge success. tickets sold out really quickly and everyone who attended (or at least who i talked to) seemed really happy with the night.

baldman and i were fortunate to have shared a table with the guests of honor. plus, we sat with some local big-wigs. so that was fun.

dinner started out with a really fantastic west african peanut soup with cilantro, followed by mixed salad greens with toasted pumpkin seeds donated by rosewood market. the entree was locally raised grass-fed lamb donated by five leaves farm, accompanied by anson mills's carolina gold rice and sea island peas. of course, we didn't partake in the lamb, but the fabulous terra staff made us a special veggie plate (even though we tried to insist that they don't). all the food was fantastic, as expected, and we were fortunate to have reached our goal in fund raising. so a success all around!

i have a few pictures that i took posted on flickr, but i didn't take many shots because there were a lot of other folks taking pictures too. i'll add them up there when/if they're posted online.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

yin and yang

we averted 2 near misses in the past 3 days and miraculously fixed 2 plumbing problems in under $15. how amazing is that!? of course, that was balanced out by the fact that the brakes on our car crapped out yesterday so we had to shell out several hundreds of dollars today to get that fix. sigh.

Monday, August 18, 2008

resemblences from youth

is it weird that

reminds me of

uncle ricki?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

love it!

i came home to find this surprise in my inbox last night. baldman loves fraggle rock. (hence, our 2 cats are named doozer and mokey.)

thanks noah!

baldmand in fraggle rock

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

project runway season 5

i found this website where i can download season 5 of project runway to watch on my computer! this comes in handy since we don't get bravo (or any other channels for that matter). so far i've watched the first 2 episodes. i think i'm going to like this season. but i'm already tired of suede speaking in the third person. that's getting old really quickly.

make it work, designers!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

electric mayhem

this morning baldman and i woke up sorta early-ish to go to the nickelodeon for their first event in their family film series. for a dollar a piece we got to watch the muppet movie! man, it was good to see that movie again. i hadn't watched it since i was a really little kid. and it was even more fun to load up into a small theater with a bunch of kids to watch the movie. really, their laughter and comments throughout the movie made it even more fun. man, jim henson. genious.

following the movie, we had a really nice lunch with some friends in our backyard and we all rode bikes around our street. the weather was just beautiful today!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

darkness to light

i don't often talk about work but here's a bit.

i spent the day in chucktown today at a training. i am now an official facilitator of the stewards of children child sexual abuse prevention program put out by from darkness to light. i'm super excited about it because i think they have some great materials, the program has shown really favorable results, and, of course, it's a good cause. did you know that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18? yea, that's right.

so let's do something about this. if you or anyone you know works with children, if you have children, if in any way you have any relation to children (hey, that means you) contract with me to do a training, or look here to see if there are facilitators in your area.

Monday, August 04, 2008

global food aid

there's been a lot of talk in the media about a global food crisis. and certainly finances in the united states are not doing so well for many of us as well. so maybe we can see how things can be a whole lot worse in other countries where their economy and food supply is not as stable as ours.

when baldman and i visited tanzania 2 years ago (wow! has it been 2 years already!), we spent a few days in tanzania's capital, dodoma. we were generously housed by a friend of a friend. dickson chilongani was then a dean of a theological college on the outskirts of dodoma and his and his family's generosity to us at the time was so amazing.

even then we saw the devastating effects that no rain and a tentative economy could have on people. while we were in tanzania we saw acres and acres of dry and dead maze, and we heard on the news constant reports of dead cattle due to lack of food. dixon shared stories with us of having to raise money to buy food to send home with some of the college students during breaks and holidays. otherwise, he told us, most students would never come back after break.

we have kept sporadically in touch with dickson over the past 2 years. he has since been given a promotion within the anglican church of tanzania and we have heard a few stories about the great work that he is doing in the area. in any event, times have gotten really tough all over tanzania (as in all of africa and other developing nations), and with his new job, dickson has a larger scope of reference than he once had as dean at one college.

baldman and i were moved by the enclosed email and thought that maybe some of our readers might be in a position to help, either through prayers or monetary donations. if anyone is interested in helping financially, feel free to either contact dickson directly at chilonganid(at)hotmail(dot)com about the best way to get him the money, or leave me a comment here and we can coordinate our efforts into one check.

here's the email from dickson.....

Greetings from Bristol

Can you pray with me?

Recently I was transferred from being College Principal to Vicar General. I don’t like the title, but the position itself means ‘Bishop’s Assistant’, NOT ‘Assistant Bishop’. The job is mainly pastoral meaning being in charge of all pastors in the Diocese. In the Diocese of Central Tanganyika, a Vicar is in charge of up to 6 small Churches; an Area Dean oversees about 5 parishes; an Area Coordinator is in charge of up to 50 parishes, and the Vicar General i.e. me, I oversee 200 parishes.

The bishop has told all pastors in the Diocese that all parish, marriage and pastoral issues must come to me, and only if necessary I can forward some of them to him. The outcome of this delegation has been very wearing on my side. In fact, I now compare myself to Moses in Exodus who sat down all day every day solving problems. I am trying to find a way out from this problem.

But the one thing that strikes me, and which pushes me to write this e-mail to you as a friend is that our clergy really seem to live in a totally different planet. They have great commitment to the Lord, and they do wonders in their ministry. But they face difficult issues, the main two and indeed the most serious ones being food shortage and fees for their children especially from secondary school level upwards. I am trying to write to friends of mine to see whether we can support some of these children towards their fees because they are the future of the African Church as well as of our nation.

But I am writing to you as a friend to invite you to PRAY with me with regard to the FOOD CRISIS. Last year I raised 1000 (one thousand) pounds with which we supplied most clergy with sunflower seeds enough for one acre. Sunflower is the most recommended crop in Dodoma area because it tolerates drought and it would provide enough cash for clergy to pay fees for their children and purchase food. But the rainfall for the season that has just ended was not good enough so it failed to grow properly in many areas alongside other food crops like maize.

I am aware that as soon as I return to Dodoma next month, my office will be flooded with clergy with requests for support towards food and I have nothing in my pocket. I have picked 50 pastors from the most severely affected areas and with big families. I am just wondering whether you would kindly join me to first of all pray for them, and if possible raise a small amount of funds to support these families. Four (4) bags of maize 15 (fifteen) pounds each should be enough to sustain a family to the next harvest season, i.e. in May next year. The total cost would therefore be as follows:

50 families x 4 bags of maize each = 200 bags
200 bags x 15 pounds sterling each = 3,000 pounds
Transport approximately 3 three pounds per bag x 200 - 600 pounds

Total 3,600 pounds sterling

Please pray with me, and kindly pass on this information to your friend or your Church. I am glad that we are ONE in Christ, which means we can pray for each other and support one another.

With prayers,

Rev. Dr Dickson Daud Chilongani

Saturday, August 02, 2008

we got silly

from the reunion last weekend...


when we first moved into this house, one of the things that really bothered baldman was the fact that the word "beer" was written in the cement at the entrance to our driveway. but it's just been one of those things that you don't feel like doing anything about and you get used to.

today, for the first time after living in this house for 9 months, i pulled into the driveway and noticed that that there was something written on the side of our mailbox with those sticky, gold-type letters. so i got out of the car to investigate.

"beers," it said.

i showed baldman and he said, well, if that was the name of the people who lived here before us, i don't feel so mad about beer being written in the cement.