Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Adieu, Odyssey

I'm so sad and disappointed to hear of the closing of the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center. Odyssey was the brainchild of my professor and friend Dr. Marc Hershman, who died last year.  It was a Seattle waterfront gem that never got a proper introduction to the public and remained an undiscovered treasure.  The exhibits that highlighted Seattle's rich and varied maritime traditions are now being housed....where?  

We'll miss the our impromptu survival suit races, virtual kayaking in Bellingham Bay, piloting mini-tugs and loading container ships,  surveying Elliot Bay from 'the bridge' of a navy destroyer, throwing giant rubber salmon in to the hold, huddling together in the emergency escape pods...I hope these fantastic exhibits find a home at the Pacific Science Center, at the Children's Museum, at the Aquarium...? Somewhere? Anywhere?

flora encora

Monday, February 23, 2009

ANTS are amazing

In preparation for Science Week at the International Community School, we have been doing ExperimANTs around town.  Above, ants working together to carry away pieces of an avacado and garlic crisp. 

Lousy nit-picking

We are optimistic that we are at the end of our odyssey into nit-picking -- at least for this round of lice infestations that ran through the school this past month.  The treatment method we settled on was suffocation and manual removal which involves dunking our heads in herbal-essence spiked oil (neem, lavender and tea tree), wrapping our hair in plastic (or in this case silicone swim caps) for 2 hours, shampooing and combing and then....hours of hand picking the eggs off the hair which are miniscule and are absolutely and stubbornly cemented to a single strand of hair.  It is slow going but I do think we are in the home stretch. (scratch, scratch)

The kids are tolerating the treatments fine (round 3, one more to go before I can sleep soundly).  Owen has used his 2 hour wrap-and-suffocate time to rediscover a pastime he took up 3 years ago - lobsterting!  Finn is continuing his fashion quest to get his shorts as HIGH UP AS POSSIBLE.

The quintessential Finn outfit as of late?  Where should I start?  From the bottom up:  Grungy Fila hightop basketball shoes, beige football socks pulled up OVER his knees, shinguards (just in case), Kyla's old demin shorts pulled up over his belly, Nemo tighty-whitey underpants that Owen got from Matty May one day about 3 years ago, one of two favorite shirts (mariner's shirt from nana or owen's alligator shirt he got from emily), his green zambia football hat, Owen's red baseball hat, AND the black wool Permanet cap with the suede brim.  Yes,  three hats.  He is a vision.


Here are photos from a recent visit to Chikumbuso (meaning 'rememberance'), a women's and orphan's center in the nearby Ngombe compound.  Once a bar and brothel, the center has an amazing history and has given hope to many people in it's three short years of existence.

Above, the former brothel. below, the former bar.

above, kids in the play yard - the carosel is actually a pump for their well

Sunday, February 15, 2009


One of the many frustrations of living here is the lack of proper shops. But, one of the joys is lack of proper shops! I got to know a carpenter here through a friend and designed a few pieces. We are keeping him busy and now that the exchange rate is so favorable (5300 kwacha to the dollar as opposed to 2900 last year) it is suddenly affordable. Crispin works exclusively with Mukwa/Kiaat hardwood.

The Grands

The rumors are true: the Grandparents DID come to Africa! It has been a while now but here is photographic evidence of their trip. In all, they (Bev, Hugh, and Jane) were here October to November. Their trip coincided with our move over to plot 23b, Zambia's hottest weather, the start of the rains, Zambia's independence holidy, Zambian presidential elections, US presidential elections, school vacation days, the end of the jacurandi trees blooming and the beginning of the flame trees blooming and the very best birding and game-viewing of the year.

It was a great visit for many, many reasons.
Above, Hugh and Anne had a chance to go 'Birding with Bob.' In Livingstone, we went out in the bush with Bob, (Robert Stjernstedt, a respected ornithologist with 35 years of birding experience in Southern Africa) and spent the morning tromping around the mopane woodland upriver from Victoria Falls with our binoculars poised. It was a truly Birding-with-Bob-experience complete with stalled Landrover, chain smoking and...incredible birding.
Below, the Jacaranda trees were in bloom in early October. In South Africa, Pretoria is known as Jacaranda City and, according to my WIKI research, the time of year the Jacarandas bloom in Pretoria coincides with the year-end exams at the University of Pretoria and legend has it that if a flower from the Jacaranda tree drops on your head, you will pass all your exams. However, in Australia, where the Jacaranda tree is also found, University of Queensland students maintain a superstition that if a Jacaranda bloom falls on their head during exam time, they will fail an exam. The bad luck can be broken by catching another bloom before it hits the ground. Mercifully, we didn't need to worry about exams and were able just to enjoy the show, which was followed by a spectacular floral display from the Flame Trees.

We showed the Grands big things--Victoria Falls/Mosi-oa-Tunya, and tiny things (below)--

Even in the dry season - it had not rained since March when we were there in October - the falls are spectacular. There are 7 or 8 main/principle gorges and the Zambezi River falls over 100 meters; it is the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe. If you want to read more on the falls: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_falls ) The photo above is of the third gorge. The land to the left is an island belonging to Zimbabwe. Were we to go there today, at the end of the rainy season, we would not even see the rock for all the water.
Below, Finn's tiny frog - he found a bunch of them (maybe 30 in all) at the base of a tree one afternoon; Finn brought it in to show Grandma Bev while she was working on a journal entry! Finny is the master spotter -- the smaller or better the camoflauge, the more likely he is to find it. "Well spotted" as they say.
Below, Finny, enjoying his class performance at the Lusaka International Community School's Independence Day celebration (which was televised live on ZNBC!). In front of him in his dance queue is Iona. According to Finn, he and Iona have done nearly EVERYTHING together --they have even been to Australia once with Nana! "I have been there, I have!" They even got to see a movie together when they went to England....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy day

One year ago I snapped this photo as this nice gentleman came over to shake hands and say hello to us. How cool is that?
Feb 08, Seattle Center, outside Mercer Arena