I am trying my hand at gardening. I bought some seeds for cauliflower and mixed salad greens back when I was in Nairobi and have just now gotten around to planting them. Part of the problem was that I didn’t have anything to plant them in. I tried these little plastic cups but they kept blowing over. I can’t use the bare ground because I don’t have a jembe (hoe) and the dirt is too compact. There is also a forest of four inch high acacia trees that I would somehow have to uproot. My neighbors have plants in 20 liter jerry cans with the tops cut off, but I don’t have any spares I can use. Then, through my own stupidity, I found the perfect planting container. It is the large plastic tub that I use to take bucket baths in. I also use it for laundry and dishes. Last weekend I decided that it had been awhile since I’d done something really dumb, so I decided that I really needed to see something up close on the map hanging on my wall. I didn’t have anything to stand on so I, for some reason, chose to use the one container I use every single day. I stood on it and it, being plastic, broke. I was very pissed at myself. But it all turned out for the best because now have a nice big planting container complete with a large drainage hole in the bottom. On Sunday, I planted my seeds in concentric circles, lettuce on one side, cauliflower on the other, and watered it lovingly. The next day, like a sign from God, it rained on my little garden. Then it was sunny for a few hours, then it rained again, then it was sunny again. Besides the overwhelming joy I felt to be getting rain for the first time in six months, it was perfect weather for my baby plants and today they are starting to sprout. I am very excited to have salad. I miss salad. I am going to get some acacia branches to make a dik-dik proof fence; I will be very upset if a six-inch tall deer eats my salad. Now if I can just contrive to get someone to send me some blue cheese dressing, I will be all set. (yes, that was a hint )
Speaking of people sending me things; I want to say a big thank you to Denise of Beauty Supply Zone in Newport, CA for sending me the care package of beauty supplies and twizzlers. I don’t know if you read this, but you are a great friend and the best hairdresser a girl could ask for. I beautified my hair, exfoliated, painted my fingers and toes, and ate all the Twizzlers. The next day, everyone said how especially ‘smart’ I looked. Thanks for getting me a little bit closer to the clean, American girl I used to be.
There is a pack of feral dogs who live at my school. They are skinny, mangy looking things covered in large bugs. They are terrified of humans, because we all throw rocks at them. I don’t throw rocks, but I would if they came any where near me, they look diseased. One has an open wound that has been there for two months. Gross. One of the females had puppies and I gotta say, they are more adorable than non-feral puppies. I think because they are allowed to run free across the fields and roll in dust. The pack also just adopted a new female, she is dusty brown, though I think she would be white if she was given a bath. The other dogs love her and they all spent the day frolicking. She is a pretty young dog, and was barking a lot. The dogs rarely play, and never bark. My teachers are concerned that the strange behavior means that she has rabies. That would be just awful, not only would she die, but she’d probably infect the whole pack. And I’m sure my mother will be glad to hear about the pack of rabid dogs fenced in with me every day at school. But don’t worry, though I seem to enjoy taunting dangerous creatures, I draw the line at provoking rabid dogs. And besides, I have my rabies shot.
I know I have said this before, but I hate the bugs here. Today, I am going to complain about the flying creatures. The flies drive me crazy while I am walking to and from school. They like to land on my face, which is super annoying. About four times every second, a fly will land on my face, and I will reach up to brush it away. This is, obviously, very tiring and so I am trying to decrease my annoyance threshold. I let the fly land and see how long I can let it crawl around until I uncontrollably smack myself harshly in the face. The Kenyan children are especially good at the ignoring game; they will let the flies play in their eyelashes all day without a care. My time is up to about half a second. Yeah, I have a long way to go.
Sometimes, while the flies are using their tiny brains most effectively, they will fly up my nose. This happens WAY, way more than I would ever have thought possible. And if you think a fly up the nose is an awful prospect, just think how pleasant it is to get one in the mouth. Today I was taking a refreshing deep breath, with my mouth only open a few centimeters to avoid this exact situation, when the fly zoomed straight to the back of my tongue and got stuck. I tried to spit, but I was too dehydrated, so I just hacked and gagged for a minute and then, this is the worst part, I had to reach in my mouth with my hand to grab the fly and flick him away. Now is that not the most disgusting thing you have heard in awhile?
And I have another bug swallowing story for you, this one just shows you how truly strange I have become. A few weeks ago, I was over at St. Pauls’ school for a party. It was the same one where I learned how to dance Kenyan style. The drinks provided were cold Tusker, the beer of choice for Kenyans. I was taking a break from dancing and paused to take a big gulp of Tusker. Right before I swallowed, I noticed, with something like curiosity, that there was a moth IN my mouth. Yup, it had flown into my beer when I wasn’t looking and I drank him. Just gross-tastic. So I am sitting there, with a mouthful of beer and live moth, and I am thinking. Thinking! Right there I should have realized something was wrong with me. If you find there is a live bug in your mouth, you should never pause to contemplate the fact, just spit it out! But I sat there thinking; I thought “I have two options, spit the beer-moth out or swallow it”. Now which one did I do? I swallowed the moth. I must have temporarily (can two years be counted as temporary?) taken leave of my senses to put a higher value on a single mouthful of beer than my, not inconsiderable, desire to avoid eating insects. I told Brother Boniface about this and he laughed and said, “you should have let the moth go and encourage him to, next time, buy his own beer.”
I don’t know what game God is playing with me, but everytime I write something here, I get exactly what I didn’t want. Last week is was a new mouse enemy, and today, after I just wrote about my plans for a fence yesterday, I have someone’s paw marks roughing up my new garden. I can just picture God saying, “Oh, you said you DIDN'T want someone to uproot your lettuce? My mistake…”
I got the best compliment yesterday. Talking with the Minnesota students who were wanting to have a “no talent show” and I said that I would love to participate. I said that I have no talent, and while I know I am good at lots of things (lots and lots and lots of things), there is nothing that would win me the million on America’s Got Talent. I’m not good at sports, I can do nothing artistically, I can’t sing or dance, I can’t even do anything creepy like dislocate my shoulders to use my clasped arms as a jump rope (I know someone who can do that). But when I said that, Brother Steve said “your talent is courage”.