Monday, December 2, 2013

Coming to America

We are leaving for America on Thursday!  I am expending all brain power trying to finish a grad school final that’s due on Sunday by this Wednesday, so this blog may be a little erratic.  In fact, let’s just go with a week of randomness. 

  • First, some serious randomness.  My shelter is at a crossroads.  Currently, the shelter’s goal is to demonstrate that education brings hope and opportunity.  If the boys study hard during primary school, the shelter will pay to send them to secondary or high school.   A recent idea is to limit the current standard education practices at the shelter in favor of more vocational training. Their reasoning is that a disproportionate percentage of shelter donations are used to send boys to secondary schools, with inconsistent results.  The shelter does not have the donations to send the boys to college, and thus the boys graduate high school without a discernible skill or a chance to earn a college degree.  Their options are limited, and they often settle for flower farm jobs that may not require secondary school at all.  Instead, the shelter could switch to inexpensive vocational training, such as carpentry or bead work, taught at the shelter following primary school.  The boys would leave the shelter with a specific career.  However, this proposal would certainly demotivate the boys to succeed in primary schools.  Why work hard and take school seriously if there is no opportunity to advance past eighth grade?  Of course, the problem is money.  Unless the boys are individually sponsored, they cannot attend college, and the reason for sending them to secondary school is to prepare them for college.  I think the focus should remain on emphasizing education, but I also can’t pay to send the boys to college.  What do you think?
  • The owner of our house fired our gardener because he was stealing.  He asked me if I could look after the lawn and garden for a little while until he found a new gardener.  Hmmmmm…questionable decision.  In the span of three weeks, I managed to kill all of our tomatoes.  I would just touch them and they would recoil, shrivel up and die.  It reminded me of the witch’s feet recoiling and shriveling under Dorothy’s house near the beginning of the Wizard of Oz.  But, my kale look fabulous.   
  • There are also no lawn mowers in Kenya, so everyone uses machetes to cut the grass.  YES.  I went and bought my first machete and tore into the grass.  It reminded of the time we let Eric read his interactive Maisy book with flaps all by himself.  Complete destruction.  Maisy was supposed to brush her teeth, but Eric tore her arm off instead. 

I haven’t seen a giraffe in about a week!  Ridiculous.  How about some unique animal stories instead.

  • Here is my bedtime routine.   Brush my teeth, floss, wash my face, flex in the mirror, take out my contacts, and trap the enormous spider lurking in one of the bathroom corners.  I seriously trap and release an enormous spider in the bathroom almost every night (we leave the bathroom window open during the day).  Two days ago, Camille and I saw this huge odd looking spider that appeared to be covered in fuzz.  Weird.  I grabbed my Tupperware trapper to trap it, but when I touched the spider, hundreds of mini baby spiders jumped from her back and raced throughout the bathroom.  Let’s just say that was the end to Camille’s contributions.  I think she is still running and screaming down the road.  I was able to trap and save about 30 of the spiders, including Mom, but I think the rest are currently crawling up my leg.  
  • We found a tiny abandoned kitten covered in lice in the garden at the shelter.  She immediately relaxed on my lap and fell asleep, especially after I took her away from the four gigantic dogs.  So small and cute. 

We also have chicks

  • We also have dung beetles!  These guys are amazing!  They roll these enormous balls of dung over such long distances.  I watched this one roll this dung ball up a hill, but then roll right back down with it.  How frustrating.  

Five material things I’m looking forward to in the U.S.:  (to my OWS students, don’t use the word “things!”)

  1.  Dryers.  You know when you take your extra small t-shirt out of the dryer, and it clings to you, making your muscles look really big?  You just don’t get that drying clothes on a line. 
  2. Erasers.  Eric ate all of the erasers off of my mechanic pencils.  Yes, all of these are first world problems.
  3.  A barber.  I was warned that unless I wanted a buzz or braids, I should wait to get my hair cut. 
  4. New music.  Our car has no radio and no auxiliary, but it does have a CD and a mini-disk player.  I didn’t know what a mini-disk player was either, but Camille said they were popular for about five minutes in the late 90’s.  We bought seven CD’s from Kenyans on the street, and one of them works in our player.  Unfortunately, the sound quality is poor, and I think the name of each song is “Nails on blackboard along with banging pots.”   I found one CD that works in my bag, which is a scratched copy of MGMT.  Unfortunately, only the first four songs are listenable.  I’ve been “fated to pretend” for a while. 
  5. The Celtics!  Parents, prepare yourselves to watch some terrible NBA games.  I’m sure Aaron will be there as well…. I also just found a cracker in the couch.  Should I eat it, should I not eat it....   

Eric still likes spaghetti
Five material Kenyan things I will miss:

  1. My machete 
  2. My new pet baby spiders
  3. Passion fruit 
  4. The gorgeous weather, views, backgrounds, animals, mountains, volcanoes, lakes… 
  5. The nighttime sounds.  The birds, insects, hippos, and other animals make consistent, lovely, soothing sounds all night.  I’m serious!  I should record them and sell soothing nighttime CD’s and mini-discs back in the U.S.

What's that?  You like my hair?
Yeah, it's pretty rocking.
I may make a few sporadic posts during the holidays, but my blog will go on sabbatical until we return in January.  Thank you for reading, and I really appreciate everyone’s comments and support!  I’ll see some of you very soon.  (I ate the cracker).


  1. Of course you ate the cracker. Was it even a question? Fun fact: The Milwaukee Buck are currently 3-13, and two of their wins have come against the Celtics. It's not as bad as it seems though. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the number of times you don't shout, "Jordan Crawford, Why did you just do that?" Seriously. I'm only at about four or five a game now.

    1. The cracker was actually pretty good.

      Jordan Crawford is definitely my kinds of player, although I've strangely never formed a Marcus Banks like crush on him. There is still time.

  2. Dear Dan, please check yourself for any kind of bugs before you get on the plane. It would not please your mother to have to disinfect Kenyan insects from her house. Other than that (!!), looking forward to your arrival! Safe travels.........
    Love, MOM (You know I love you, bugs and all)

    1. Mom, Eric is very excited to jump up and down on your coffee tables. The Destructor is coming...

      See you soon!

  3. what a great blog entry!!! Your random thoughts are very thought provoking--they tell the tale of the enormous difference between the places, but they also show us that people everywhere desire the same rights and all of us hope for a better life.
    I am so looking forward to seeing you--I will be at Logan and we will have a "Love Actually" moment. I love you guys--DAD

  4. Awww... I love the pictures of Eric! He is just getting more adorable every day :) Back here at OWS, my classmates saw a teeny tiny spider in Ms. Long's nook and ran away shouting for help...And we try not to use "things" "stuff" and "so, um, yeah" in our papers and speeches! We also refrain from using "tired" or "bored" in our check-ins. Also, fun fact, when there is a zombie apocalypse (yes, WHEN), my weapon of choice would be a machete! Please take pictures of your beautiful kale if you can! Your students miss you!

    ~Rachel Lau

    1. Rachel, what a great post! I'm glad you are staying away from "things" and that you are never "tired" in the morning :). Hmmm...I also thought about bringing you back machete as souvenir and to protect against zombies, but I'm not sure your parents would be thrilled with that. I promise a picture of our kale, and I miss everyone at OWS!

  5. A small update on top of Rachel's "teeny tiny spider" - Ms. Long's room was flooded with water (and ice), ceiling collapsed with dripping water, carpet soaked (all the way down to Mrs. Von Noman's room, the MPR, Mr. Olson and Mr. Michael's rooms) and school was closed on Monday (12/9). There was no water (both for drinking and sewage) in Robinson Hall on the days after until Thursday (12/12) at 2pm, and the middle school kids had their classes in the Science lab, tech room, Ms. Scott's room, Ms. Russell's rooms and any room that was available at different times (Mr. Bergman did a great job in making the classes went smoothly!) ... What happened? The pipes in Ms. Long's room (and Mr. Olson's) were frozen and broken over the weekend (we had low 20s freezing temperature for over 2 weeks). The rooms cannot be used until after winter break as they need to suck all the water out and replace the dry walls (carpets are fine). On the good side - everyone was safe! And, OWS was on Kiro 7 (we are famous!). Your students do miss you, Dan!
    How come I don't see honey mustard potato chips on your material things list?
    Have a great time with your family! Happy holidays! -- Vivian
    PS. Eric is absolutely ADORABLE! Those hair! That smile! Ahhhhhhh~~~~~~~~

    1. Oh my gosh!! I'm glad everyone was safe, and what crisis! Thanks for letting me know, and that really stinks for the school.

      Our local supermarket in Massachusetts didn't have those honey mustard chips! I tried not to let it ruin our stay, but it was hard ;). I hope you had a great holiday with your family, Vivian! Thank you for posts, and we wish we could see you sooner. I look forward to hearing from you once again!