Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's the Final Countdown

The whole family is heading to Istanbul tomorrow. One week of work and two weeks of play. So looking forward to seeing MB and Bill. Yea! The list of sites to see, places to eat and things to drink is not very long but on the very tip top of the list a pair of bejewelled slippers so I can play at being the Queen of Sheba. Photo Credit

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pretoria Zoo

So, I have to admit that I am not a huge zoo fan. Its the same old thing about animals in cages, etc. etc. The thing is having O boy has made zoo's much more appealing. They are outside and help to dissipate the yelling that comes along with a two year old, you walk around and use up lots of energy guaranteeing a good nap later in the day, there are a million neat and interesting things to look at...the list goes on. The zoo in Pretoria, South Africa is the country's National Zoo. It's a fine zoo - nothing too crazy or out of the ordinary and still lots of chain link fencing. Nose to nose with a camel...funky!
He looked like he wanted to kiss Orion
Barnyard fun (at least for the kids - I felt a little sorry for the rabbits)

Orion loved this ostrich - the thing was HUGE!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Two Books

I gotta tell you kid loves to read or maybe I should my kid loves his books and I love this. I love to read and I have read to O since he was a wee tike. When we knew we were going to be flying to Africa I started research kids books about flying and found this great book it has been the best book ever. I have read it so many times I know it by heart, Eric knows it by heart and of course O knows it by heart. If you have a kid or know a kid or are thinking of kids this is the perfect book to buy for a kid that is taking an airplane ride. In buses and in cars, people come to the airport. They come to fly in big jet planes. In the waiting room they sit and wait, while outside their planes get loaded and checked. Suitcases go into the cargo hold and fuel goes inside the wings...I won't spoil the ending but let me tell you its a good one :)

The other book I have been crazy about is a book called Perfume. I had never heard of it before but swapped a bunch of books with my friend Craig and this was in the stack. Its a great book. Originally written in German and "NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE" it is super interesting. A book that can be a little hard to get into but one that leaves you awed at the authors ability to describe smells. Ever thought about what a pile of wood smells like - maybe or maybe not but I am sure you probably wouldn't be able to write a paragraph about it. Anyways...really freaky read and even crazier ending.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tea Time

Most embassies have a Community Liason Officer - this person organizes trips to different places in the country, plans parties, and keeps a finger on the pulse of the embassy. They host a bunch of interesting and fun things to do. Last week the nurse I work with in Bujumbura was here for a visit that just happened to coincide with a visit to a tea plantation. What a perfect get outta Kigali trip. We had a fantastic time and I learned a ton about tea...who knew there were so many details. It made this coffee drinker want to start drinking tea...

We left the embassy about 7:45 am and arrived at the tea plantation after a 2 hour pretty painless drive (though I did get car sick but hey - what do you expect in the land of a thousand hills?) We put on long blue cotton coats, these funky blue hats and face masks. Then went on the tour...

This is a chart of how the tea is graded - the PF1 in the middle is the best - meaning it has the right percent of moisture, an even texture and a good color. The only real difference I could tell between the types was the texture - the ones on the left of the chart were really finely ground - almost like a powder and the samples on the right of the chart were really coarse and looked more like some sort of dried out plant.

Flowers are planted on the borders of all the fields. It is amazingly beautiful!

Stacks and stacks and more stacks of bulk tea getting ready to be shipped out.

Stack and stacks and more stacks of chopped wood that is used to heat the furnaces that help dry out the tea. This plantation plants and harvests its own supply of trees to have enough to keep the furnaces going.

Dried out tea on the conveyor belt on its way to being bagged.

A picture from the bus of the acres of trees that are being grown to keep the furnaces going.

Beautiful tea plants. There is a big push in Rwanda to stop child labor on tea plantations.

After our tour we got to taste test all the different types of teas. I wish I could have remembered them all but what I can tell you is that the cup closest to the bottom of the picture has the finest grain which makes it the strongest tea.
I have more pictures of this field trip - you can check them out here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Right Now

O really likes the dress I am working on...
Show mamma "big eyes"
My girl is always full of such good ideas. I read her post on this and was smitten with its simplicity, the rhythm of the words, the vivid pictures. It made me want to slow down a notch.

Watching - Right now this but really anything on DVD cause I can't bear to pay out the nose for television. I miss HGTV.

Making - a sundress for our friends daughter out of really cool African fabric

Smelling - my fruit salad for lunch

Hoping - that O gets the hang of potty training soon

Reading - just finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - a Pulitzer Prize winner!

Enjoying - planning an upcoming holiday here

Thinking - about how tired I am and how much I want to go to sleep in clean sheets! There is nothing in this world like clean, fresh sheets to make a nights sleep that much better.

Eating - green chili stew that the tall one made, memories of our time in the Southwest. Wish I could find psole here.

Listening - to the AC rattle and roll

Coveting - more time in a day

Monday, March 7, 2011

Funky Trunks

On our trip to Pretoria we found a nice big park just down the road. The walk way was lined with trees that all had funky trunks. No one I asked seemed to know what kind of tree they were and they were not in my Audubon book.

Friday, March 4, 2011

What Would You Do...

if your boss found out you were kinda crafty and then asked you to make a santa costume for the embassy? Would you do what I did and graciously accept a bag full of all the supplies to make the costume? Take them home, open the bag and then ask yourself "what have I done?" The bag was stuffed to the brim with fabric, faux fur, notions, interfacing...everything you could ever want or need to make a santa suit. I have not used a pattern to sew with in years so this should be an interesting experience. This pattern has 23 pieces...HOLY SEWING BATMAN! I will need to put myself on a schedule just to get it done in time for Christmas next year. Let's see 9 months until Christmas and 23 pieces to stitch - I think that means I have to stitch 2.5 pieces a month. I will need luck and fairy dust on my side.

O Boy Toys

We have had a giant box of duplo blocks hanging around for what seems like forever. We got them from our friend Gina way back when O was still a lime. We drug them across the country then across the globe and now they seem to be his favorite toy to play with.