Monday, March 15, 2010


More about housesitting, coming home to goats on the front lawn, and an eagle-sized hyacinth macaw deciding we're friends. For now, some states from Africa Expat Wives Club:

"Comparing Development:

Wealth - Average income per person. Kenya: $355, UK $24,323

Food - Daily calorie supply as a % of needs (this one really got me!).
Kenya 89%, UK 130%.
(I know that these facts are pretty obvious if you think about it but put like this it's still shocking.)

Education - % of children attending secondary school. Kenya 20%, UK 83%.

Health - Number of people per doctor. Kenya 10,130, UK, 300.

TVs - Number of sets per 1,000. Kenya 26, UK 521.

Cars - Number of cars per 1,000 people. Kenya 15, UK 476."

It made me very sad. I know these numbers would look even worse if you compare Kenya and the US. I mean, look at number of people per doctor in Kenya - 10,130!!

It made me think about Haiti too. I wonder how Haiti measures up against Kenya. I think it might be much worse. This is why I get made when I'm 'trollin' facebook and see "f*ck Haiti, we should be helping people in the US' We should, but seriously? The disparities must be overwhelming between the poor in the US and even the middle-class in places like Haiti and Kenya.

I remember showing my parents a picture of Salaash's house in Kiserian. He lived in a corrugated tin shack that had multiple rooms AND a floor and furniture....a couch and an armchair in the "living room" with pictures of Jomo Kenyatta on the wall. He had built a kitchen off the house, and his shamba was well-planted, teeming with produce. His milk cow was fat and healthy, and his yard was full of chickens and a dog about to have puppies. He even had a wild bird feeding station that his wife kept stocked with seeds and fruit. He was "well-off," all things considered, and lived much more comfortably than many around him, yet my parents were horrified by the living conditions - the house itself and lack of running water and electricity. When I told him that he was well-off, they asked me what the "poor people" lived made me sad.

It made me sad when I showed Salaash a picture of my snow-covered house and he gasped at the sight of a lamp shining through the window. "Ah-lee-zohn," he said, "you have electricity inside your house?!"

Disparity indeed. Sigh.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Here's Part I of the goat saga. More later, with pics, after I take my own bird to the vet :(

Saturday morning I awoke to more face licks from Lulu and 7AM ugh. I woke up that early for three reasons 1. I had to clean this place 2. my FP friend Bev was coming by to pick up some food for the RI shelter (the pallet I had to drag across the driveway, which weighed a mere 170 pounds) and 3. I was going to The Collection (squeeee) in Natick with my mother and sister in search of a mother of the bride dress and assumed we'd have to leave earlyish.

I got my chores mostly done, including a FULL clean of the conure room, decent clean in the amazon room, swept out the cockatiel aviary, cleaned up after the massive macaws, Burt and Jubjub, emptied the kitty litter (ewwww), fed the cats and dog, and fed the goats. I met Bev and the spazzy little dog she's watching, and then decided to do a final sweep. At 9:15 my sister texted saying that she and my mom were leaving at 9:30. Crap! I begged for 15 extra minutes, dropped everything and hit the shower, and somehow managed to look decent enough to go out to The Collection, hoping my mom would find a dress and I'd find the sparkle navy Louboutins my cheap ass has been secretly craving as wedding shoes in place of the 24.99 Nine West's I bought last fall.

Well I didn't find the sparkle Louboutins (ok just cause they were last season doesn't mean they need to disappear, right?) and my mom didn't find a dress. As the highbrow saleswoman in Neiman Marcus told us "Oh, you are too early to be buying for a fall wedding. The designers won't release their fall line until July." Whoops, sorry for being fashion homicides, lady. We did get stuff at Sephora (thank you Nars, for releasing the foundation color "Siberia" to match my pale-like-a-vampire-but-not-sparkly skin and sometimes frigid disposition), I scored sparkly ridiculous nail polish at Trade Secret as well as "Meet Me at the Star Ferry" from OPI's Hong Kong collection, a sweet bday card for a friend AND fun tupperware stuff at The Container Store (nerdy I know) topped off with a burger from the Met Bar and BEN AND JERRY'S. My day was complete.

I came home and gave the goats some carrots and actually played outside with Lulu (!) for a bit. We ran back and forth through the yard, and it was great fun and exercise. I settled down to scrapbooking, and after a couple of hours, I heard the amazons doing their alert call. It's a screaming, eardrum-splitting call that they repeat over and over and over again. Sometimes they do this for no reason, they often do this at dawn and dusk - maybe a nighttime/sunrise call in the wild?, and sometimes they do it because something is legit out of whack. I decided to check up on things since the calling was persistent and loud. I ran into the amazon room and didn't see anything out of line (ie one of the macaws hadn't escaped), so I thought it was just their nighttime ritual. Until I saw a flash of white outside the mud room window...whose dog was that?



It was Miss Penny...

"SH*T" I yelled.

I pulled on my knee high boots (so essential here) and whipped open the door to find not only Penny but also Copper. How the heck did they escape? I kicked myself for being a moron. I must've left the gate open after giving them carrots. Eff. I ran back inside to grab a bag of carrots, pretty sure bribery was my only option. Penny seemed to love running up and down the stairs, and Copper just stood at the foot, watching the whole circus. I thought I remembered that you could sometimes lead goats if you grabbed one of their horns. I tried with Penny, because she's smaller. Well she did not like this one bit and proceeded to run in a circle, burning my hand skin with her horn. Damn! I decided that I'd just walk to the pen and see if they'd have the sense to follow me.

Well goats are a lot smarter than people think. Copper saw me walking towards her house with a half dozen carrots and BOLTED across the yard (it is a big yard, btw) followed by Penny, out of sheer curiosity. You can imagine my surprise when I got to the gate to see it closed. Wait. So they didn't walk out of the pen. Hmm. I opened the door, hoping they'd run right in. They simply watched me from the front of the pen. When I started breaking up carrots and putting them in their food bowl, Penny ran up to the side of the pen and put her front hooves on the fence, trying to climb over. She realized she couldn't do this, so she ran around to the gate and strolled right in, followed by copper. Oh relief! I shut the gate behind them, lured them into their house, and closed them in for the night.

I figured I'd better test the fence for weaknesses in an attempt to find out how they escaped; if I could find the spot, I could rig up a temporary hold that would keep them in until the homeowners came back. Nothing. There were places where the fence was flexible, and there were small gaps between fence and ground, but no way could two stocky goats get through. Then I turned and realized the problem. The goats' manure mound was about chest high. I could see their cloven hoof-marks in the mound of crap and hay. Penny had used the fence as leverage and the mound as a landing zone, making her leap over the fence child's (goat's) play. The good news? I had identified the problem, so when I go back to work on Monday, I won't come home to find two goats gallivanting in the back yard. The bad news? I had to reduce the height of the mound via pitchfork. UGH.

I wish someone had been there to take a picture of me: me, the girl who says one of the best weekends of her life was spent helping birth baby lambs and planting a food bank garden at a Heifer Project farm, me, the woman who tells her fiance that when they win millions in the lottery or earn it through his first bestseller they'll be moving to Western Mass to start a charitable organic farm - there I was, in wedge heeled Sperry Topsider boots (they are fantastic in the city and in the rain, and were great at the house when I only had to walk to the goat pen and back), Ann Taylor sparkle/beaded t-shirt and cardigan, f*cking pitchforking manure! OMG! All I could think was "I'm so happy I didn't do my nails last night" and "I am a rockstar with the manual labor" and "Ohmygod this goat manure is going to make me faint"
and then
"Wow. I am sooooo blogging about this one."

My self-reward is a "My Life As Liz Marathon" and homemade biscuits with not so homemade soup. It is day two, my friends. Nine days to go, this adventure has barely begun. I am kind of scared of what might be lying in wait!

Friday, March 05, 2010


For the next ten days or so, I'm holding down the fort a few towns over, in a house that contains about 25 birds (most small), 2 cats, 2 goats, and a very grumpy dog. I've been here nearly a full 24 hours and its been entertaining to say the least.

When I arrived last night, Lulu, a little black, low-to the ground black mutt thing, was PISSED. At first I (stupidly) thought she was happy to see me as she flung her small, compact body to the front door and proceeded to bark as loudly as possible through the mail slot. "Hi Lulu!" I said as brightly as possible, knowing that she could be "weird," grumpy and/or shy. Wow. I was barked and growled at consistently, and when I finally backed off, Lulu hid in the bathroom for over an hour. Damn. It was so tiring trying to win her over, I said "screw it" to errands and grocery shopping, dug through the fridge and found some beer and left over fettuccine and plopped on the futon to catch some Grey's.

The homeowners called from JFK and I told them about the problem with Lulu. They pretty much had no recommendation, with the husband saying that when his wife is away, Lulu acts exactly the same around him. Great! My only true worry, once I figured out that Lulu was not actually going to bite me, was that she would refuse to go out and pee. I tried to coax her out several times last night with cheese, with positively no luck. Oy.

I'm staying in the homeowner's room because they have the most comfy bed and a sweet flatscreen. That's where Lulu sleeps. Needless to say I was freaked out: 1. Lulu could jump up and eat my face while I slept 2. she could jump up and eat my face AND pee on me while I slept 3. she could run away to another room and never come out for the rest of my stay and pee and poop in some random part of the house. Eeeh. I called Jamaal and told him all my many dog woes. As a pet-less man, he had little advice. I finally decided that there was nothing I could really do (without getting bitten at least) and turned out the lights to go to bed....

.....only to feel Lulu hop up on the bed and curl up next to me around 12. What the hell? I was sure she'd growl and bite, but nothing, nothing but sleeping. At 2 I woke up with Lulu in my face..licking me. What? This happened every time I shifted, as if she was checking to make sure I was OK. When the sun came up (and the birds started SCREAMING!) Lulu turned over, looked at me, and went to hide under the bed. Normally when someone does that after sleeping with me I am gravely offended, but since this individual had just wanted to bite my hand off, I decided not to read too much into it. Lulu resumed hiding and growling for all of today until 3pm - yeah 3 PM probably almost 48 hours since she had last peed - the spirit moved her to walk down the back stairs and take a leak. She even frolicked in the yard for a bit. Such behavior is rewarded with a large slice of cheddar cheese. Sure, she may have gone back upstairs to hide, but at least we made progress - she's not going to eat me in the night, and her bladder is not going to explode. Rockin'

Meanwhile, the other creatures are an absolute breeze. The cats are my buddies. Cats can be so weird about people, but these two cats are compensating for the anti-social dog. Nancy and Loretta (a la Nanci by Toad and the Wet Sprocket) are sweet kitties who like to curl up and nap OR "help" with whatever task I'm trying to complete at that moment in time. Here they are:

The macaws are big and scary. I'll try and get some pics later. I bring a broom with me whenever I go into the barn, where they are free-flighted. While it is scary to have them able to pounce on me at any second, it's sooooo sooo much better to have them out and about than confined to a cage where they will only get more pissed off at me. There is also an aviary full of cockatiels that are twitchy as hell, and a room of amazons, but they are caged as well, and therefore totally non-threatening (to me at least). Oh, and a room full of caged conures...and the yes, it's quite an adventure over hear, but we all seem to be settling a bit better. I'm sure I'll have more to blog about later too...I can say that now because I know the animals aren't going to kill me in the night!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Favorite Quote from Last Night

"Do you have to pee? Cause you're getting kind of antsy...."

Tee hee hee. I absolutely did have to pee...and many times at that.

Here's to drinking two bottles of wine with your high school buddy and cackling for about four and a half hours straight. That was exactly what I needed!!

P to the S: We tried Five Rivers Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was gooo-oood. Maybe it tasted good because we had already killed a bottle of white, but I went to check out Five Rivers' website today and they've started a pretty cool campaign that supports women who are battling or have survived cancer ("Save a Goddess"). So I guess the whole "goddess" thing happening with the Five Rivers labeling/philanthropy is to appeal to women. True, one of the reasons I bought the wine in the first place was the nice label, but mostly because it sounded tasty and there was only one bottle left...and in a liquor store that's mostly pushing 40's and fifths of Hennessey, I figured that was a promising sign! Anyways, it's good stuff, even better than Bitch in my opinion!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Coolest Russian Wedding Everrrr

Go here....I would link to the photographer's site, but am lazy lazy!
you can link to more through there, plus then my wedding blog won't feel so lonely, ha ha ha.

What to do, what to do?

So the Olympics are over. They were fun, and like a lot of people who are into the Olympics, I spent nearly two weeks filling every spare second ice skating, skiing, bobsled, snowboard-viewing, sometimes with dinner on my lap, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning (it was worth it for Evan and Joannie alone!) but now I find myself in that weird interim time between winter and spring...

It's a frustrating time! The beauty of New England is that at the beginning of each season, even though you've lived through dozens of that season, it feels new and unexpected. You're like 'AH! SPRING! You are so warm! And the sun is staying out longer, and the little crocuses are blooming. O GLORIOUS SPRING!' Then you get all pissy that spring is dragging on for soooo long, and by the end of May, if it hasn't been hitting 70 consistently, one gets a little restless. Then by August, everyone is like "WTF I am so ready for fall." Eventually it's "Snow! Oh snow!! I forgot how cold and white and glorious you are! I love you snow!" Which then brings us full circle, back in between.

While I have plenty of inside things to do, I would love to work outside for a bit. Tend my tiny garden that my parents allowed me to start in high school to hold all my castoffs from my landscaping business. Maybe I would plant some cold-hardy annuals in there for some color, or maybe just clear the mucky leaves out of there. I would like to sit in my front yard in the early morning and look for warblers (because I am nerdy - a well-established fact). Actually I would like to open the frickin' windows and air out my room. It's not quite time yet though....not just yet. But soon.


last April...well end of April. Ugh. Still 8 weeks away.

Maybe I should go to the Spring Bulb Show at Smith. Especially now that my car is fixed. Anyone? Anyone up for spring bulbs and flowery goodness??? Maybe that will tide me over til spring appears...

both photos found here.