Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I am finding it hard to be motivated to do much of anything this month. I don't feel like cleaning my house. I don't feel like working at my kitchen tools job. I go through the motions around chores. All I want to do lately is read my bible, take naps, and play my djembe, surf the net for new and interesting campgrounds on the Cape, maybe study Vietnamese for our trip.

Maybe it is because the activity level for a stay at home mom with two-little-boys-who- refuse-to-go-to-summer camp is high over the summer. For three months there is very little time to myself. There's lots of relaxation, but it is always syncopated with the kids activities.

So, lately, I am in what my friend Emily refers to as 'receive' mode. I just don't really want to DO much of anything. I just want to BE.

I got a bruise on my palm while playing my djembe last night.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


The other night
At my drumming lesson
My teacher listened to me

He bowed his head
With his drum in his hands
Eyes closed
And after several minutes
Began to play and I knew that he was singing back to me
With his drum.

(I'll never forget it)

And then yesterday
At the lunch that should have been
My spiritual teacher listened
And when he spoke I had tears in my eyes because even now it moves me
To be listened to

So closely.

Please God,

Let me learn to listen as well as these teachers do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Happy Happy Africa

My brother Jake came home from Botswana and Namibia yesterday, thinner, tired, and happy. It sounds like it was a wonderful trip! After dinner last night I went over to his house and saw some of the photos. Amazing. Elephants, rhinos, hippos, crocs, giraffes, zebras, baboons and tons of wild colored birds.

I am glad he is home safe. When he has some photos on his gallery site, I'll post the link.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Better get my earplugs

I have arranged for my drumming teacher to go to my kids' school and teach all the students about Mali and drumming. He is going to rent 60 djembes and have the kids come in in huge groups to learn a little about the culture and try out some rhythms. Isn't that great? I told him I will volunteer to help out and bring my two drums to share.

I can't wait to hear what 60 kids on djembes sound like. Wow!

The principal of the school is thrilled because it is the week after the big testing and she is sure the kids will LOVE to blow off some steam.

Fear of Paperwork

Is there an official phobia for that? Fear of filling out forms. Fear of bureaucracy? Fear of spelling bureaucracy wrong?

I sat at my computer with social security cards and old passports and birth certificates and had to print the same form over and over because I made mistakes and God forbid to mess this up because it is the State Department and if you mess up your passport applications, you are so screwed.

But I think I am done.

Tomorrow we go to the post office to get our photos taken and submit the apps and hope that we never end up on the wall with those OTHER photos.


Next: Airline tickets and visas from the Vietnamese consulate. Then lots of shots for diseases that should have been eradicated a century ago. (Can you imagine cholera for crying out loud? My friend Michael actually caught it when he was in Thailand a few years ago. And rabies, but that's a whole other story.)

I found a gorgeous little Inn about a block from the beach in Nha Trang. It is called the Perfume Grass Inn. At $17 a night US it is a bargain, too. And I can't wait to try the mud baths. And grilled lobsters for $3. And hanging out with my in laws. And visiting my husband's home town.


Even with the paperwork.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6 years later

and I still cannot talk about it without weeping.

Is it rhythm?

I seem to like rhythm, in my life, in my religion, in my week and in my drum. I like the cycles of the church year. I like the predictable nature of my week, with Sunday at church, Monday drum class, Tuesday bible study, Wednesday noon mass (this is a new addition I am trying to do regularly.) The structure creates space in which I can be


or productive

or lazy.

Drumming class was just me again last night. The first time I was alone with Sidy, I was scared to death of messing up because I knew I couldn't hide behind someone else's drumming. Which meant, of course, that I got nervous and messed up a lot.

Last night was different. Something shifted. How this works is that I am playing the recurring rhythms while he solos. It is part of the learning process to get stable enough in the rhythm to allow a soloist to work off of you. Last time, I was too tentative... quiet, unsteady. I didn't feel like I was able to hold up my end of the conversation, so to speak.

But last night, I played powerfully. I recovered faster when I screwed up. I played loud enough and fast enough that Sidy could play inside and around my rhythm.

At some point, people came in to the bar through the back door. My teacher is a performer. When there is an audience, you can sense that he kicks it up. I was able to keep the rhythm going. I created the structure that gave him the space to break loose. I think we sounded good.

I had a big blister on my palm last night. When I got home, I excitedly showed Nguyen. Look, I said. I got this from playing.

My shoulders hurt today. I couldn't be more thrilled.

Monday, September 10, 2007

PS: Happy Birthday to me.

Not my actual birthday, but the anniversary of my baptism.

4 years ago today, I was 'whacked over the head by the Holy two by four'* of Christ and life hasn't been the same since.


Thanks be to God.

*thanks to P.D. for that great expression, LOL.


Big doings around here...

About a week ago, after getting back from our camping trip, my husband received a letter from his father saying that his health is deteriorating and that he doesn't feel well. He has had several strokes over the last few years, so we were immediately concerned.

We have thought about traveling to Vietnam a lot since Nguyen's trip back a couple of years ago, but time and money (and the hassle factor, I think) have prevented us from moving forward. But you know what? We have to go now. We want Nguyen's dad to see the kids in his own town before he passes on. We want the kids to see their dad's homeland. Heck, I want to see his homeland. So we put the little trailer on the market and sold it within 2 days. It is going to finance our trip.

In February, we are traveling to Nha Trang for a couple of weeks. Maybe three. But at least two.

I am intimidated by the 23 hour plane ride and the 8 hour drive from Saigon to Nha Trang. I am a little worried that I am not usually at my best in humidity. And I am pretty sure I am going to miss western food at least a little. But I am also incredibly excited, even as the list of things to do gets big before we even start. (Visas, passports, inoculations for terrifying diseases.)

It feels, though, like this is some kind of major shift in our lives. I think it is going to be huge.

Off we go.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Breakfast of champions

It's not cheap, ($1.75 per container) but if you can find Fage Greek yogurt in your area, grab it. It is, without a doubt, the best yogurt I have ever had.

So, breakfast:

1/2 an apple cut into chunks
7 oz. container of Fage 2% plain yogurt


Eat with a big tablespoon.

Then lick the bowl.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Thank God for hot water

After a weekend of camping in a place with no hot water, no bathrooms (think porta johns) and no showers, I was READY to come home.

Not that we didn't have fun. The campground is great, with a little pond stocked with fish, miles of hiking trails, great sites with fire pits and picnic tables and friendly neighbors. And the weather was spectacular as only an early September weekend can be. The sky was brilliant blue and virtually cloudless. The temperature was in the 70s during the day and down to the 50s at night.

We have a very cute camper called a Casita. It is made of molded fiberglass, which means it is pretty lightweight and doesn't leak. (No seams!) It has many of the creature comforts that make camping more fun. A comfortable bed with down pillows we inherited from my grandmother. A little refrigerator and a propane stove. A sink with cold water. It's a cozy place to hang out. (Pictured above, in our driveway.)

My favorite part of camping this time was cooking in the dutch oven. I am learning as I go along with this. This time I made two dishes. The first night was a dump cake. This is a concoction that was invented by the boy scouts. It involves cake mix and canned fruit and is surprisingly easy and delicious, except I left it in the fire too long and it ended up a charred mess.

The next effort was MUCH more successful. I made chili with cornbread. First, I fried up the onions in oil, then added a couple of pounds of ground beef. Once that was cooked, I added the chili spices, a can of tomatoes, some tomato sauce and a can of drained black beans. I put that in the fire and checked it regularly for about 20 minutes. When it was done, I mixed up some cornbread batter and dropped it on top of the chili. Put the giant cast iron lid on and covered it with a few embers from the fire. About 10 minutes later I brushed the embers off and opened the lid. Like magic, the cornbread had baked on top of the chili. It was absolutely delicious.

We saw lots of animals this time. The chipmunks, of course, with their little holes at the base of every tree. Each morning I was awakened by the red squirrels fussing in the trees. We saw a garter snake and dozens of kinds of dragon flies. The kids went frog hunting in a swamp and sank up to their knees in the mire while in hot pursuit. We kicked open a rotten log and found a couple of salamanders. We saw hawks and sand pipers and all manner of creatures, great and small.

I managed not to get too cranky when the campsite was left a mess by all three of the menfolk.
The kids, for the first time, were given free rein in the campground, tooling around on their bikes, or walking down to the beach on their own.

It was a wonderful way to top off a great summer.