Monday, August 23, 2010

End of Summer Break

Our summer break ended this morning. Julie returned to work and I returned to making breakfast and packing lunches.

On our last weekend we worked Friday and Saturday around home and agreed we would take Sunday as a play day.

Play turned out to be a lazy breakfast and doing nothing for most of the day. In the morning I told Julie about pole, bush and fava beans in the garden. We walked down to look only but she began picking tomatoes, peas, peppers and carrots. We unintentionally found some work for part of the day.

Garden harvest.
Morning's garden harvest. Sugar peas, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, two varieties of potatoes, summer and winter squash, Thai and bananna peppers, onions, cabbage, turnips, and orange and purple carrots.

Unknown critter.
I found this moth pupa while digging potatoes. The shell is hard and the tail (antennae?) is rigid and affixed to the back (or abdomen?). We kept it. Hopefully we'll see the adult emerge.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

News From South Africa

My younger sister and brother-in-law are in South Africa. I received the following email this morning.

Hello Everyone or as they say here, Dumelo!

I don't even have the words to explain what we have seen and done these last few days. I get quite emotional. First off, we are healthy and happy, both of us. The elevation here is right around 5200 feet so we did have some headache issues the first couple of days and combined with jet lag we were a little like zombies.

On Tuesday, 2 of the school teachers here were out sick with fevers and bronchitis. They asked if some of us would step in as teachers. So, going in with just a lesson plan written on paper, never having seen the books or such, I had the amazing experience of teaching 3rd and 4th grade all day - in the same room, with kids that speak mostly Tswana, but do speak english. I'll save the stories for when I get home. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

The poverty here is unimaginable, even having seen it. However, the people are always happy to see us come. They wave and yell in Tswana (or maybe Zulu or Tonga) "white people - give us some sweeties". We went to a Nursing Home yesterday. When you see the pictures, you won't believe them. It was phenomenal. We sang, put on a little skit for them and just greeted them. None of them spoke English much but they were so happy just to have visitors.

I am wondering what life will be like when we get home. How do you assimilate back into a self-centered society where the majority of people have more stuff in one closet of their homes than these people have in their entire little corrugated metal house.

A special note to Abby, Avery, Maddy, Jillian, Gavin and ? - I miss you all more than you can imagine and I love you even more than that. Grammy needs a lot of hugs and kisses when I get home.

Hope all is well with all of you and I'll email when we can. The electricity has been off and on and internet is always iffy.

Oh and we had Mopani worms and chicken feet for lunch the other day. Dad ate it, I of course did not. We have lots and lots of pictures but cannot upload them until we get home.

Love to all,

Lee & Gale
I have two sisters both younger than me. The older of the two, Jean, spent three months in Turkey when she was 17 as a foreign exchange student. Both have been fortunate to see the world from a grounding perspective. Everyone should be this fortunate.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Quite Well

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row
As I began this post the phrase "how does your garden grow" popped into my mind. Where had I heard that phrase. It seemed to be a nursery rhyme my mother read to me. A little research and I found the poem.

The rhyme confused me at four years old. Silver bells planted in a garden? What's a cockle shell? And maids? I had a vision of long haired blond girls wearing fluffy dresses and knee high white socks planted ankle deep.

But, back to the present. How does my garden grow? Quite well!

Garden on July 2.
The garden on July 2.

Garden on August 9.
The garden on August 9.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Three weeks and three days since my last post. Several things have happened during my absence.

Julie and I celebrated our tenth anniversary. We didn't exchange gifts or cards. We spent unstructured time together without an agenda or plans. When the weekend was over we had walked a historic residential section of Flagstaff, visited a community garden, had supper at a Mexican restaurant, browsed a store selling used items and stopped by the farmer's market. We always celebrate our anniversary in some way. This was not the biggest or longest or most expensive celebration but it was good.

(BTW: When we had been married a year or two and our anniversary was approaching Julie asked me the date we got married. I knew it was in July but couldn't remember the day. Naturally, I didn't want to admit this. I responded in some evasive way with a teasing comment, she pressed for the date and I tried another defensive comment. In the end we both admitted the truth. Neither of us could remember the day. We had to get our marriage certificate to know when we got married.)

We've been landscaping the yard. The local arboretum has an annual plant sale. We attended and bought several plants to add to the ones we bought in Santa Fe. To these we added more from a local nursery. In the fall we'll plant seeds of several native perennials. Hopefully, next year we'll have a good start on native xeric landscaping.

A few years ago I could sit on the floor with my feet extended in front of me and reach a few inches beyond my toes. That is no longer true. Some days at work after sitting for a few hours I find myself stiff and achy. Julie has been stretching daily for two or three years and doing some yoga. I did join her for a while but got busy and stopped. Recently we agreed to adjust our schedule: to bed by 8:30, read until 9:00, get up at 4 AM to stretch and walk before work. I'm amazed by the difference I have experienced in just three weeks. This time I vow not to quit.

The garden has done fairly well. During one of the hot sunny days when the temperature peaked at about 101 we arrived home to find wilting squash leaves. I took a hose, watered them and changed the timer to give them more water. The next day the same thing happened. I discovered I had mistakenly turned off the faucet to the timer which is close to a hose faucet. But in the end no harm was done. It is doing so well that we are giving away more squash than we are keeping.

Several other good things have happened but summer is not a good time for blogging. There's too much sunshine, too much work, too many enjoyable options. Hopefully, I won't be absent for another three weeks.