Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best wishes for the new year.

2013 has been exciting.... filled with moments of incredible joy and some genuinely heartbreaking times...a bit of a roller-coaster ride.   Every day we thank our lucky stars we have such a wonderful bunch of friends and family with whom to share these highs and lows.  Every day seems to bring new challenges and valuable lessons.  For 2014 we will strive to continue to grow and learn in our love of life and our love for eachother.  We send you the most heartfelt wishes for HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Best of luck for us all in 2014.

Christmas in Malawi

Christmas day at Ngala Beach on Lake Malawi 

And a collection of snaps from our week away from home.....

Santa found us - and dropped off emergency nutella...these were teeny tiny glass jars, perfect for the stockings, THANKS SANTA!!

We drove around 2,000kilometers....6 hours from Lusaka to Chipata and then another 6 to Ngala via Lilongwe and Salima....we returned via Nkhotakota Forest Wildlife Reserve to Mchinji.  My driver really is incredible...cute too!  Todd does nearly ALL of the driving on every road trip without a single complaint, and keeps us all safe and happy and entertained with an endless lineup of podcasts and music.

 We had a great day at the Nkhotakota Pottery studio but the restaurant there was...less than impressive - this photo kind of summed it up! Unfortunately for O the visit was on one of those days when he was RAVENOUS and the lack of sleep + the lack of ketchup sent him into an absolute tailspin!  He had a breakdown at the lunch table and ended up in my arms, sobbing.  The service wasn't THAT bad??!! (but, in his defense, the grilled cheese sandwich he ordered was kind of gross and I think they poured evaporated milk on something that vaguely resembled a mini apple tart....making it doubly unpleasant.)

we found ourselves smack in the middle of malawi

 Lake Malawi is famous for its ciclids and....scuba diving! we swam and paddled and frolicked but always with an eye out for crocodiles -- it was pretty difficult to trust that they really weren't there.  Malawi is also famous for it's pottery and....it's potters.  The boys (3) had a great lesson and session at the pottery studio....it was tough to leave -- they are hooked!


(below)...rain in Mozambique --- NOT an underwater nuclear test!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Professor Siku

Musiku, Busiku, Zeekey or just plain Siku:  this is our dog. People say "He's CRAZY!" and we cannot disagree.  He eats frog jerky and ignores his dish of gravy train kibble, nibbles on sword ferns (eats them to the ground) and has to be begged to take a bone from the butcher.  He can outrun a car and out-jump Michael Jordan.  He can eat (and throw up) a whole stomach-full of honey bees.  He believes he's invisible and indestructible.  In short, he's completely nuts.

But -- my new prime lens managed to capture him looking so scholarly and dignified, I just had to post the pooch.... thoughtful and serene.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Let us Prey.

why, hello there. can I HELP you?

I can always tell when I've been cooped up too long--in the house or just in lusaka....I start taking pictures of bugs and frogs and leaves.  Perhaps it's out of desperation to 'see' or just notice something new but maybe within these same four walls -- but then again, we've had quite the insect-invasion lately and have see many new and strange little critters around the house as of late.

Something which I've not noticed before (after 5+ years?) are the preying/praying mantes/mantises.  We've seen all kinds of them--inside and outside.  For the past few weeks a brown one has taken up shop in our bathroom; there was the incredible and too-big-to photograph* stick bug dinner guest; and a beautiful fairy-winged iridescent mantis that blew into the kitchen one night and took up temporary residence in my hair (on more than one occasion. three nights in a row in fact!) and then today I was outside pacing while taking a phone call and saw one crazy-camoflaged one that I had to photograph.

The challenges are two-fold:  I don't really have the 'right' lens to photograph something so small and I don't have the right....level of comfort with these creatures to get very close.  Because I use the eyepiece and not the LCD screen almost exclusively, I feel like I really am putting myself in harm's way sometimes.  My experience with ants (bad) had kind of damaged me and maybe now the 6 legged world has an APB out for me b/c I seem to be the only one who gets attacked and bitten regularly by bugs that 'don't bite humans' like....the mantis.  Technically they only "pinch" but WAAHHHH, pinching hurts!

*one that was big enough I didn't want to get close to it! And BTW a stick bug isn't a mantid, it's a phasmid.

It is alway a bit creepy when these guys 'track' you but nice to get a  snap where they are "posing."

Here is our bathroom buddy.  We have for the past few weeks had a stream of ants -- not the little tiny ever-present sugar ants but big fat juicy ants -- and this one set up shop and was having a buffet.  We also had a gecko in there who was doing the same thing until...either it ate all the ants or the ants figured out that this route was NOT a good one.

sharsies?  this one is actually hanging upside down over the bathtub and it's one I used auto focus for b/c i didn't want it to even THINK of dropping down on me.  It's only an inch or so long.

The geckos all seem to be hatching out at the same time, too.  These little guys are easy to photograph b/c they don't run away but also, they are tiny, less than an inch long so it makes photographing them 'well' or composing an interesting shot a good challenge.  I have a thing for geckos.  There is one in my office, however, that comes out at night and makes all kinds of threat noises and runs around like it's going to attack me at any moment.  Usually when it appears is from it's hiding spot is when I shut down for the night.  I want it to stick around b/c it does an amazing job of keeping the office (otherwise) critter-free!

this little bathroom guest is just tiny-tiny.  it looks like it is looking at
intently at something, but there's nothing...it's just spacing out.
yummmm .... tile?
doesn't it just have the look of a baby trying with all it's might to just keep it's head up?

in the photo below it's eying an ant -- I think the ant (the blurry blob up front) is really too big for it to eat.

Oh, I absolutely can't forget this visitor!  I went to open the glass door one morning and saw this right at eye level.  What the......

i went outside and saw it was this strange, sleepy-cozy little tiny tree frog.  have never seen one like it -- and haven't seen it since that morning.  does it look sleepy or is it just me?

Here is one of XXL garden snails.  They can be about 6 inches long and leave poop all over the patio walls.  This one was sliming it's way across my cane chair.

hasta la vista, baby.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


This pretty much sums it up.... after a week of assemblies and parties and plays and Santa arriving at school by helicopter.... our school families are packed and ready to leave for their christmas holidays.

Let's go!

waiting for the rains

Farmers are anxiously awaiting....rain.