Sunday, July 10, 2011

Calling me back for more

All right, one more post. I wasn't sure if I wanted to put this on the blog or not, but it's been in my thoughts a lot lately.
It's been too long since I've been an adventuresome traveler. I travel a fair amount, but it's been over a year since I left the country and that was only for a cruise. I didn't even get a stamp in my passport, which was kind of lame. So now there comes an event which is a long time in planning and is still in planning, let's be honest.

Africa is calling me. It's been calling me for a while. I know I'm not remembering some aspects of it as well as I should, like being asked for handouts all the time and dealing with bugs and humidity and ugali for lunch every day. But smiling faced are calling me back.

I mentioned my friend Grace and her NGO on here a little while ago. I don't have time right now to bulk out the full story, but Grace is amazing and I love her. She's going to University right now to get a degree in community planning, which will really strengthen her skills and abilities to find the right people and set things up the right way to get grant money for orphans and street kids. And I get to help.

I'm definitely going to be doing some sightseeing when I get to Africa (mountain gorillas in Rwanda, anyone?), but the last part of the trip, in Kenya, will be a lot about Grace and James Njuguna Foundation. I promised Grace that I would raise some money for JNF, which is where I'm at now. Waaay out of my comfort zone. Which is so good for me! But I'm beginning to explore options for hosting a 5k, a massive bake sale, or some other thing that would allow me to present Grace with at least 1k when I meet her in Nairobi. Wouldn't that be great? Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Would you be willing to donate to the cause? Every stitch of money that I get will go straight to JNF, even if it means paying bank funds and such out of my own pocket.

Meanwhile, I'm working on getting a blog up and running for JNF where I can share stories of the women and kids that Grace is working with. Add it to your RSS feed! There will be a website soon, too- as soon as I can get it designed. I wrote all the copy from material that Grace gave me and my friend Michael the Chef constructed it- but we are not designers and we are looking for one. Do you know anyone who would be willing to design a fairly small website for a rather small fee? (At this point, it would be coming out of my pocket as well, since our funds are pretty much nonexistent).

But I exhort you all to go read the new blog and learn about the people that I am beginning to work with. The stories are quite amazing. You'll love them. I know I do.

Of gardens, outdoor oases, and other such things

My garden is growing! Most of it looks beautiful, but there are a few things that will definitely be improved upon next year. Something is eating the leaves right off my beans, although the cucurbits (vine fruit in the cucumber family) are not being eaten very much. Right now it looks like the cucurbits and the tomatoes and the basil are the big winners of the year. They are all healthy and thriving and producing flowers, excepet the basil, which is good. When basil flowers it puts all its energy into making seeds instead of deliciously scented and flavored leaves. I crushed a leaf from my cinnamon basil yesterday and it smelled like cloves. Yum!
Meanwhile, the beets and carrots are coming up in a rather patchy manner, mostly because the seed packages were a few years old and the seed viability was probably falling quickly. The peppers look healthy but the flowers appear to be dying before they can set fruit- I wonder if they want more sun. And I am very excited for my lemon cucumbers, sugar pumpkins, and nine varieties of tomatoes. See, isn't gardening an adventure?

I also finally got my new picnic table set up outside a few weeks ago, the solar-powered garden lights in, and my pots of hostas and bleeding hearts established. And I planted impatiens in Amber's window well, which, fortunately, she thought was funny. It was better than the weedy tree of heaven that was growing up from her window well before I sliced it down and put in the impatiens.

In order to celebrate the backyard oasis, and also because Trevor was bored, he come over on Friday night and we made kebabs on Cassaundra's little gas grill along with my roommates and our friend Jon the Amazing Mechanic. I was very excited for the bacon-wrapped mushrooms, even after they dripped on the grill and started a grease fire that somehow spread to the lid of the grill. Fortunately, Trevor, like many men, is a pyro enthusiast, so between the two of us we got some very tasty and not-too-badly-singed kebabs made. Kerstin, Cassaundra, and Sarah made mangoes and sticky rice for dessert. It was a lovely evening, and it solidified my pleasure in my picnic table purchase. Good friends and good food on a pleasant summer evening is one of the great pleasures in life.

And many things did come to pass

One unfortunate mark that depression has left on my life is that my desire to write is substantially decreased. I'm not depressed any more, but I used to have words almost flowing out of me, as my journals can attest. I make no claim as to their quality, but I wrote and wrote and wrote- mostly personal reflections and experiences that I didn't want to forget any details for. The year that I started keeping my journal electronically, I had about 70 pages, single spaced, by the end of the year.

I still love the idea of writing a lot, but it doesn't seem to compel me to the point where I have to sit down and pull out y computer. Thus, both my blog and my journal are scantier than they used to be.

This is sad to me. I wish it were not so. I'm starting to work on changing it back to how it was- especially since I know, as a scientist, that record keeping is critical. I also know that as a religionist. And just as a person who likes to remember what she's done and how she's felt at various times in her life. I think my favorite thing about rereading old journal entries is how much I can remember about how I felt at a certain stage of life based purely off of the topics of choice and also word choices. I've gone back and read entries from very hard times and been amazed at the upbeat, optimistic tone that I chose to record my emotions of the time. I've also read a few entries where the sheer pathos I put into baring my soul almost made me feel like I was intruding in a time that ought to be left alone as a sacred period of grief. I've chuckled with myself on rereading accounts of summer days and nights where life just seemed too delightful to be true, I've rolled my eyes with myself at anecdotes of confusing boys acting in ways that are hard to interpret, and I've sighed wistfully, rereading accounts of longing for certain events to come to pass in my life, some of which have been achieved (finally getting my master's, going to Kenya, singing in the choir), and some of which have not (marriage and family, having a well-established NGO, being independently wealthy and traveling the world).

I guess the point is, life is so rich and full of so many emotions and experiences that I really cherish my records. So I'm working on becoming an instinctive writer again.

As part of this, I am writing this post at night, per tradition, although it's not really late enough for me to start with "It's so late! I should be in bed!" (That's how about half of my journal entries start). But to prevent myself from going overkill and writing a huge, long entry, I will now end this ruminative post and start another one with a different topic.