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Showing posts from February, 2010

And Then the Stomach Bug

I've been struggling all week to come up with something positive or at least novel and interesting to write about. But I'm at a loss. It's been a week of ho-hum to not-so-great.
I had a stomach bug that kept me couched on Monday and Tuesday. When I was finally feeling good enough, stomach-wise, to drag myself to work, I was overcome by the aches and discomfort of pregnancy, which everyone assures me is normal but that doesn't make it any less annoying.
Our housekeeper is sick. No, it's not the end of the world that we do our own laundry and cook for ourselves for a few days. I'm worried about him. He worked half-days on Monday and Tuesday and we haven't heard from him since. It could just be bad cell reception -- the network is terrible here and he lives in the mountains far out of town, where the reception is even worse. My fear is that he has malaria. He looked terrible on Tuesday. I tried to send him home right away but he insisted on doing a few things ar…

Please Don't Pave

Last Saturday morning we heard some machinery going up and down the street (unusually early, I might add, since most commercial work doesn't begin until after 10 o'clock on Saturday mornings). The machine was grading the road. We live on a rutted dirt road. At first, evening it out seemed like a good idea. Until it occurred to us that grading it might be the first step toward paving it.
Several issues.
First, we live on the edge of a blind corner that's also a three-way intersection. While there's little traffic on this road, we've had more close calls than we should have with drivers coming around that corner as we're pulling out of our driveway. Keeping it unpaved will keep people from driving even more quickly and recklessly.
Second, this is a small road with nothing but a handful of private residences along it. Why would they pave it before any number of the chewed-up, pot-holed, much more travelled roads in the neighborhood? We suspect it has to do with the o…

The Acid Bug

My blog will now join the short list of results that pop up when you search for "nairobi fly, acid bug" on Google. Mike was hit by one over the weekend.
The Nairobi fly is a small beetle that does not bite or sting, but based on its nickname acid bug, guess what it does? The insides of the bug are toxic, and if you smack it against your skin the juices cause a burning rash. They are common throughout East and Central Africa, and it's the season for them here in Burundi. We think Mike and his friend rode through a swarm of them on their bikes over the weekend, because his friend has some burn spots, too, and the spots appeared on both of them after they returned from the ride.
We've heard of two remedies to soothe the burning, but Mike hasn't tried either yet. One is to use toothpaste, the old-school white kind, and the other is to cut a potato and rub it on the burn area. Both the toothpaste and the potato are supposed to draw out the acid. If you wash the area imm…

Mr. and Mrs. Gray Sparrow Expect a Family

Shortly before we left for vacation, we had the fun of watching our terrace become a singles bar for gray sparrows. For several days we spent our lunch time watching the pudgy little males puff their feathers up in hopes of attracting the slender females. There was lots of chirping going on, so much that we could hardly talk between ourselves while we were out there. We assumed that our presence on the terrace would scare the birds off, but they didn't seem to care. I counted up to 6 or 7 sparrows at once, chirping and flaunting.
When we returned from vacation, it was evident that one couple in particular had hit it off and chased away all the other sparrows in order to call our terrace "home." For the last few days I've been watching them make a nest, wondering if I should deter them or let them go. They're making the nest in a corner of the terrace we really don't use, so I'm not too worried about the mess. The noise of chicks won't bother me too mu…

Smoke Happens

Mike's working this morning so I planned on some alone time with some crafty hobbies. I was ironing fabric when I smelled something horrible. I looked down at the transformer that the iron was plugged into and there was smoke pouring out of the ventilation slats. My first instinct was to open a window, but I went with my second instinct instead and unplugged everything. Then, since the handle was still cool to touch, I carried the transformer out to the yard. It was still smoking and it started making a crackling sound. I ran back inside, grabbed a fire extinguisher, took a few seconds to turn on a fan and open a window to prevent the smoke detector from going off, and ran back outside.
I've never used a fire extinguisher before and I was afraid it would be too heavy and unwieldy for me to handle. But it was easy. Pull pin. Aim. Pull trigger. I was able to stabilize it on the ground so I didn't get bowled over with recoil. The poof of stuff that came out was pretty excitin…

In need of the three-day weekend

It's been a rough couple of days. I hate to say they've been bad days, because in general life is pretty good. We're not having earthquakes or blizzards or anything like that. Maybe I'm just having trouble adjusting to being home rather being on vacation.
We got back on Tuesday afternoon, twelve hours after our scheduled arrival time on Monday night. Our luggage followed about twenty-four hours later -- which is actually a pretty good record for Kenya Airways. Jetlag and fatigue kept me from working a full day on Wednesday, but I at least sorted through over two weeks' worth of emails, even if I didn't respond to them all. Thursday was somehow one of the most productive days I'd had at work in months.
But by Friday I was crashing again. Just a series of unfortunate events, you could say. I woke up in a panic because I'm having trouble finding a place to rent while we're home for the summer and the internet was down so I couldn't go online and scr…


Yes, we've been on vacation. We've been doing our part to keep the economy afloat by shopping at Target and eating at Uno's. We've been enjoying staying in our old neighborhood, although we could do without all the chatty people in the breakfast room each morning. We've loved seeing friends. I'm not loving the relatively chilly temperatures. (I know it's one of the warmest spots in the United States right now, but forgive me. I live on the equator. To me, it's chilly here.)
We thought about buying a house, but the stars are not aligned in our favor at this time. Maybe over summer vacation.

We've been buying new clothes instead of doing laundry. We bought several pounds of chocolate chips. I got my Mac fixed, somewhat. We love high-speed American internet. We don't love all the commercials on the radio and television.
We've taken care of some doctors' appointments -- all healthy. Mike's been indulging in my Pizza Safari, as I sample gl…

Language Lost and Found

I had a column published in Foreign Service Journal this month! Family Members Matter, page 76.
I promise regular blogging will resume shortly. We've been on vacation, doing mass amounts of shopping while we're back in the United States for the first time in 18 months. We had back to the Buj this weekend and I'm looking forward to being warm again.