Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Still Moving

I can't wait to post pics of our apartment here.
But alas, it's still being unpacked piece by piece.
It's coming together though - the craft pantry? OMG, it's like a dream come true. I have what is described as a "super-legit" craft space. EEEK!

Other things - like where to unpack and put our clothes - well they're coming along at a snail's pace, LOL. My clothes are strewn about in two differe
nt rooms in multiple different bags and suitcases. DISORDER.

Lucky for us, we bought a bedroom set yesterday. Jam had scoped it out over the weekend and liked it, and I went in for the second view. After two nights of sleeping on an air mattress (yes I know that is nothing - but I am getting old and I'm a lightweight when it comes to sleep comfort and I have sciatica people!) I was ready to buy just about anything, but luckily we found something we both really liked, a queen-sized bed with d
rawer storage. We bought two dressers and a mirror as well (llllurve) and I'm looking forward to getting all our stuff put away. While we do actually have an embarrassing amount of clothes, we don't have a TON of storage. Ironic because we have a pantry and about a million cabinets in the kitchen - not so in the bedrooms. There's a bootleg closet someone built, but the built-in closet that came with the bedroom is this odd 2'x2'x2' triangl
e....which really threw them off of the room-planning scheme at the furniture store. Oh well, all is good now, we'll have tons of storage. Jam is worried a
bout TV placement, but I have assured him that we c
an put it on top of his dresser and we'll be fine.

Why his dresser?

Well. The hummingbird tray needs a home after all :)

I was so pleased to see it unwrapped and out of storage. I felt like Royal Tenenbaum did when he finally tracked down his beloved javelina: "There you are!"
Heh heh.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

But I Need You to Know

That for every sad or heartbreaking memory I have of Africa, there are about a bizillion happy, beautiful, humorous, awe-inspiring memories....memories of "the first elephant," memories of happy little kids playing games with us at the school, field research, getting drunk in back of beyond little towns and stumbling home or to the cars, finding the most beautiful place on earth and having the "perfect day, standing over the "cradle of civilization," our safari vehicles breaking down, endless references to "The Lion King" and "Jurassic Park," inside jokes like "Science Camp," and of course, the wonderful wonderful staff that was like a second family to all of us:

There's No Man I Love Annoying as much as Otieno

The Bar on our Final Night

Mboya and Me

Salaash Sportng Melu's Sunglasses

Featured last is Salaash. He is one of the most special people I know. He loves nature and all animals. He loves animals so much that he fought off a leopard that was taking down his livestock, one animal at a time. Yeah, I said leopard. Did I mention that he did this with a stick and his bare hands? Believe it. He has the scars and the detailed story to prove it. He took us to his homestead once to meet his family and to show us his bird-feeding station. He took us hiking in the Ngong Hills and snuck us into Kitengela so we could buy bootleg CD's (E-Sir's album. He had just died in a traffic accident, his talented life cut tragically short, so his albums were hot stuff). He loved birds and sometimes reminded me of one - especially when he was spinning around in the pool at Ngulia Lodge singing to himself. He was so proud that by the time I got back to Kenya in '06, he had learned how to swim. Salaash was in charge of getting us "home" in one piece when we had food poisoning, an agonizing 5 or 6 hour drive. He patiently pulled over whenever we had to hurl, while pointing out random herds of bovines. I remember my friend Rachel throwing up on the side of the road while Salaash yelled "Oryx!! ORYX!" When I was sick, Salaash drove, Kioko brought me juice, and Otieno brought me tea. They were my second family.

The funny thing is, when I went back in '06, they were all stunned I remembered them. Our lives were so intimately intertwined when we lived at the camps. The staff were our link to the outside world and we needed them for just about everything, from killing poisonous snakes in the middle of the night to hospital runs when we got sick or hurt to translating to getting us goods from Nairobi when we ran out of something. How could we ever forget them? I guess people must though...I remember Damaris, the secretary at one of the camps, kissed me when I said her name. "You remember me?!" she asked, incredulous. "You let me use the internet to email home so my friend could register me for college classes!" I exclaimed. I do not forget the smallest of small things....which in turn means that even the smallest victories or joys or happinesses or celebrations or humorous moments will never, ever, be overshadowed by the struggle, the sadness, or strife.

Oh, did I mention that I can't wait to go back??! Someday.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Africa Post

Today I remembered something.

I was in a hospital in Oloitokitok, in the back of beyond, in a pediatric unit.
It was filled with burned little kids. There were other kids with other problems too, but most of them were burned. The room was small. It was unsanitary, highly unsanitary for kids with severe burns. It smelled. There were flies. Some of the beds did not have sheets. I don't want anyone to think I'm sitting here saying that the doctors and nurses did not care, that they were not making the best of what supplies and resources they had. They cared very much about their patients. There were just not enough supplies, not enough staff - just not enough.

I read this boy a Berenstain Bear's book, one of the few children's books we kept at our field camp.
The only swahili words I could say to make him understand were "mama, baba, toto, toto" I would point to Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear and he would whisper the swahili words as I pointed.

This day was more than seven years ago, and today it just dawned on me that I have not the slightest notion of what happened to that burned boy. No clue. Did he live? Die? Die of burns? Die of infection? Does he have bad scars? Was he disabled because of his injuries? No idea.

Jam makes fun of me because he says if I ever win one of those multi-million dollar lotteries I'd be broke from giving all the money away. He's almost right - I'd make sure we'd have enough to live on. But I would go back to Oloitokitok and build a hospital - a decent, clean, sustainable hospital. With a burn unit, with a TB ward that wasn't corrugated plastic huts in the back yard. I think that's what I'd do first.


Monday, August 09, 2010

We signed a lease!

Jam and I are moving to an apartment!
We signed the lease last week!
This is very exciting, but also very hectic.
I'll have some before/after pics of the interior when my painting crew (grandpa, dad, neighbor) finish. I'll probably be a bit absent from this blog and the wedding blog...but hopefully not too absent!
For now, here's the outside.

I'm spending my post-work hours today cleaning. Fun times!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Um. How did I manage to not read any of these books until now?

I'm in a bookclub (think I've mentioned it before) where we alternate between fairly heady works of award-nominated fiction and sometimes dry
non-fiction. I love it. I love that the members can be very snobby about books, and find i
t funny when they rank on authors or series or even magazines and movies, because the generation gap is such that usually they're mocking things I love or at least enjoyed (and I have very low standards when it comes to books and movies. I'll read/watch nearly anything). I love my book club because they force me to read things that I might pass over at the library as too boring or too academic, and I've read a LOT of book
s that have been a challenge. But sometimes I need to escape. That's when I'll pick up stuff like
Twilight or some random brit fiction, a la Shopaholic series. I need the slightly trashy and highly entertaining!

I mentioned this to a woman in my bookclub. Two mon
ths ago she recommended the Sookie Stackhouse series. I needed a vampire break, so I wrote down the Charlaine Harris books to save for later and entertained myself with library books - you know, things I see at Barnes and Noble, write down in my iPod and borrow from the library because I am too cheap to buy books most of the time. This month she came in singing the praises of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. She's like "oh there a bit bodice-ripper-y
, but decent historical fiction....in Jacobite Scotland....
and there's time travel."
Um WHAT?!!!
I mean I'd heard of the book title and author but knew nothing about the series. How is this possible when:
1. I (mostly) love time travel books. TOTALLY addicted. Since Carolyn B. Cooney's Time Traveler's Quartet (and no, I did not know there wa
s a fourth book, and yes, I am totes going to buy them all and reread, young adult fiction categorization be damned!
2. Scotland! Those are my people! On both sides! We're septs of Clan Bruce and Clan Gordon! And probably others! GOSH.


I feel like I should be giving some sort of primal Clan shout right now....

3. Summer is the season for delicious books! I need delicious Scotsmen in my life (fictional Scotsmen, that is LOL)

So I planned to check Outlander out of the library. Buuut it is ALWAYS checked out in every library that owns the book. I felt the need to read it was too urgent to put myself at the mercy of the holds list. So I bought the Kindle edition for my ipod touch and began reading it on the train on Friday morning. It took me about a commute's worth of time to become completely addicted, so I ordered Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber on half.com for cheeeeap, because, as much as technology rocks and the kindle app is awesome, this was the kind of book I wanted to physically hold in my hands....

.....but then I couldn't wait. I couldn't stop reading. I thought I could get through the weekend on the Kindle app, then pick up another book and wait until the Outlander books arrived (it doesn't matter, I'll just reread them eventually anyways!) I finished Outlander yesterday at platelet donation and began Dragonfly in Amber on my way home. And let me tell you, it has me ANXIOUS. I want to sneak it at work, but I have too much to do :( Since there are five more books, I'm thinking that everything works out in a certain way, but the uncertainty is killing me! I see why people who are just starting the series now say they start with the first book and have to continue right through to the seventh. Books 1-5 are currently in the mail on their way to me :) because I can't keep reading these on kindle. And what better books to keep me entertained during our weekend getaway in New Hampshire, which is a bit rugged highlands-y...

Shades of Blue

The point of my post? hmm don't really have one except to say that I'm totally grateful to my book club friend for emailing me about the series, and that I'm loooving it. If you're looking for some adventure, 18th century medicine, Scottish history, romance, sexy time - READ IT! And if you're so inclined, imagine that sexy doctor from Grey's Anatomy as Jamie (Dr.Owen Hunt/Kevin McKidd) Oh HELLS yes.

Alright. Off to do real work.
Seriously though. Read Outlander.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Bridal Shower!

Posted from the wedding blog....cause I just had to share!

I knew my wonderful mom and MOH-sister and bridesmaids would be throwing a shower, but I didn't know when or where (well not really where...I had my suspicions). They surprised the heck out of me a week ago with a huge gathering of ladies in the back yard. They very craftily planned the shower on the same weekend as my 10-year high school reunion. This way, I'd be out of the house on Saturday and would be spending the night in Boston, the perfect setup for a sneak attack!

I knew that my mom and sister were putting a lot of work into planning, but I had NO idea how much they had done. They made a lot of the food and did all of the decorating!

My sister made a bunch of these pinwheels and had them all over the yard. She printed her own "Allison and Jamaal" paper - how amazing is that?!

I was so sad that these were only used for a day...until I realized that she craftily made them to match our wedding colors! I'll be dropping these in Middletown before the wedding so they can find a home at the Barns for our reception!

Every little detail was taken care of - the shower itself was a sort of brunch/tea. Favors were little teacups with a tea bag in them. The butterflies and flowers found on the teacups were an overall theme that carried over to everything from the signs used for the food to the cake.

Each teacup had a little butterfly- and flower-adorned 'Enjoy' card - my sister's handiwork:

She bought a couple Martha Stewart butterfly punches! Jealous!

Paper flower bouquets on the table for decoration

Amazing paper banner that said "Allison's Bridal Shower" The picture does it no justice at all, this thing was beautiful and was made out of coordinating pieces of scrapbook paper. I love it...and it's still hanging up there! Amy is going to help me make something similar for our chairs at the reception :)

Before I arrived there was a lot of prepwork. The tables were set and the fabulous hydrangea/rose centerpieces were put out.

My friend EE put together my "bridal chair"

My dad cleaned the pool. Everything must be perfect!!

The gift table piled up quickly (because I am a lucky girl!)

Guests gathered in the front yard right before I arrived (I wondered who Jamaal was texting)

Woohooo, surrrrprriiiise!!!

After a round of hugs, we moved into the backyard so I could marvel at the splendor:

There was even better stuff on the porch....FOOD:

Look at that spread! My mother had made almost 100 muffins in about 8 different flavors (yummmmm). There were sandwiches and quiches, seafood-macaroni salad and bean salad. Oh there were appetizers too (cheese, pepperoni, edible arrangement, veggies and dip), but I barely had the chance to eat them! Actually, I didn't get a chance to try the quiche at the shower, because a guest took the last piece, but that's another story ;) and my mother had the sense to put two in reserve!!

After eating (and sweating, it was about 100 degrees!) it was present opening time. I won't bore you with a million shots of me opening gifts, and I won't show you the shot of me with backsweat, but here are a few pics (I apologize for the cleavage, I had NO idea my dress was so boobylicious)

Some every day silverware - we can eat! WahoooO!

My sister designed and made me this cross stitch picture. It's a quote from "Across the Universe" by the Beatles, and it's beautiful. I wanted it on our aisle runner, but aisle runners are banned in our church. This is even better, now I can hang this in our apartment and see it whenever I want. The quote is: "Limitless undying love which shines upon me like a million suns, it calls me on and on across the universe."


Evelyn vase - beautiful

It's not a shower without lingerie! This was, thankfully, very tasteful!

I started to flag towards the end. People were insanely generous. I'm not going to show you all the pictures, or tell you everything we were given, but here's a basic sampling:

most of our "everyday dishes," baking supplies, tea kettle (the coveted one!), keurig, vases, 5 place settings of china, crate and barrel glassware, a silver chest, waterford flutes and goblets, the coveted charleston centerpiece bowl, a few pans, and....

last but not least, from all the bridesmaids:

A RED KITCHENAID MIXER!!! Yes!! I have already had one request for baked goods (future father in law, oatmeal raisin cookies) so I know what I'll be making first once we get our kitchen set up!

Of course I had to take a shot with the bridesmaids:

sans future sister-in-law, who had e. coli poisoning (how awful is that?!) I think this is a great bunch of good-looking ladies, and I can't wait til we're all dressed up and fancy :)

So that's just snippets from a totally amazing shower. I can't even tell you how perfect the day was - it went by like a flash though, it was over in what seemed like a blink of an eye - probably a good preview for what the wedding day will be like!