#13 – Sometimes It Doesn’t Pay

This was one of those days when I conceded it didn’t really pay to get out of bed.  I woke up reasonably early, but just couldn’t get myself going.  I’m not a morning person—just leave me alone until I eat my breakfast, complete the sudoku and the X-word.  Then I’m ready to be a human.  Before that, well, it’s questionable.

Lots of interruptions this morning.  I’d like to believe that’s what caused my Sudoku mistake, which I never found. Bad start!  Answer emails, write new ones, get together the stuff I would need at school.  That doesn’t sound like much, so why was it 11 am when I finally got into the car—but without my watch, earrings, medallion I always wear, rings, and most important HEARING AIDS? ARGH!!! 

Got to school with the electric adapter, you know, that grey thing that allows a grounded (3-prong plug) to plug into a 2-prong socket.  Mary Fitzgerald had brought that, along with another graphing calculator with the special adaptation to plug it into an overhead device.  Must have spent an hour just trying to get the overhead I brought about 10 years ago, all plugged into the adapters and converter (240 to 120) so it didn’t blow out the bulbs.  The adapter didn’t quite fit the plug—had to force that.  Then the converter wouldn’t plug into the electric sockets here. Ready to go home at that point. Finally found a power strip that I could force the plug into. 

If all that is Greek, don’t fret, it just is a list of my frustrations.  Why can’t things just work the way we think they will??????

On Saturday, I had come to school to teach a certain topic and had made up some questions for the girls to practice.  Only today, as I finally got the overhead to turn on, I sat myself down to work the questions I’d given them, only to realize what I thought would be nice numbers were not at all, AND like a bolt, it hit me there was a much easier wayto do those seemingly messy questions.  Like I said, not sure it was worth getting out of bed.

Next I wanted to take a picture of the final piece of the overhead, broken by someone who forced a knob too far until it broke.  No way in the world to get one here, but my good friend, Gregg Whitnah, from MA thought he might be able to find one.  Get the parts all set up to send a picture—-OH RATS!!!—the battery in my camera has run down.  I’d charged up another at home, but failed to put it in the backpack. 

Sit down to eat my lunch, specially made for me by the kitchen b/c I really don’t want ugali.  Hmmm, vegetables, with potatoes and rice—lots of carbs and (first bite) TOO MUCH SALT!!!  At that point decided to go home, get the new battery and a peanut butter sandwich. 

Meanwhile Mary Fitzgerald is having her own frustrations.  The wifi at the rectory, which we are free to use if we want to go there, hasn’t worked for several days.  No one seems to know why.  They call someone, only to learn that the bill hadn’t been paid!  Since I’m going back up to school, tummy full, new battery in camera, Mary asks can she go with me to use the school wifi. 

She gets connected, I get my picture and we go back home.  All I want is ½ hour rest. 

½ hour later, I go outside to find that Joyce, one of the Mji kids, has arrived and wants to stay—for how long?????  Next thing I know, David Wekesa (another Mji kid) has sailed in. Instead of 4 for dinner, it’s 6. I’d planned to make spaghetti sauce from scratch, but my pots are not very big.  I put David to work cutting up some stew meat, Mary (Mji, not Fitzgerald) cutting up onions/garlic and Joyce the tomatoes.  We dump it all in the pot, which is almost at the rim and let it simmer. I dump in basil, oregano, mixed herbs (whatever that is) tarragon, parsley and whatever I can find in the cupboard.  Biggest pot has the noodle water, which takes forever to boil—propane doesn’t burn nearly as hot as natural gas.  David announces he must catch the last matatu at 8. 

We sit down for dinner, 6 of us in my tiny one-butt kitchen, having had to borrow 2 chairs from the Mji dining hall.  But for all that, the sauce was good (not great, I thought) but more than just edible.  The noodles and sauce seemed to feed us all and we chatted about how everyone’s day had gone.  Needless to say, my report was not joyous!  At 7:50 David dashed out, with John to see him to the gate, Mary F began to wash the dishes, Mji Mary and Joyce cleaned up the table and put it back in its proper place and I excused myself to my room to recover.

Suddenly an idea.  Ebay!!! Sure enough, ebay had the part I need at a reasonable price and no shipping fee!!!  Had it sent to my next visitor, wrote to Gregg that he was off the hook, wrote to visitor that part is coming, worked 4 of the 6 questions, using the easy way, talked to Fr. Kiriti, arranged with Hillary to go to the Maasai Market tomorrow, taking both Mary’s and meeting Njeri, one of our Kenya Help Kenyan board members, in country to visit family.  Details all taken care of (but of course I’ll forget something tomorrow!!!) settled in to see whether my muse has returned from 1-week holiday. You can decide for yourself, whether this was boring and useless or muse-inspired.  My vote is the former.

Had intended to end there, but realized I’d not written about Njeri and her 2 darling children, Jumo (boy, 8) and Wamu  (girl 6).  They visited Fr. Kiriti Friday evening, then Saturday went to a resort to swim. Turned out the pool wasn’t very warm and the showers were COLD.  Kids enjoyed it, though.  Our plan was they would come for dinner. Njeri is a vegetarian, but told me in confidence the kids would love an American hamburger.

Off to the Jaama supermarket, which has really nice mince meat (aka hamburger), get same, buns, milk, bread (had forgotten the freezer was full of it). My math-brain must also be on vacation, because I bought ½ kilo of HB, sure it would be more than enough, forgetting that’s about 1 pound.  For 5 people????  NOT! Jumo down his in one gulp.  “Is there another burger”. Alas, there was not! Did he want some of his mom’s ugali (“Oh yes, the kids love ugali!”) he didn’t.  Felt like a terrible hostess, particularly when Mary F had suggested we buy some fresh made French frys and I had nixed it—no, there’ll be plenty!! NOT

John loves little kids, and both Jumo and Wamu delighted in the attention of this “big boy”.  They played on the teeter-totter, threw a ball around, giggled a lot and had to be coaxed into dinner. Tight squeeze as always.  I’d asked Njeri whether her kids liked cheese on the burger, Jumo yes, Wamu no. So 4 with cheese, one without.  We sit everyone down and of course Wamu wants cheese!  Oh well, I didn’t mind my cheeseless burger.  We rounded out the dinner with the box of biscuits (aka cookies) I’d bought, thinking they’d last us the week.  Nope, all gone, but Jumo’s tummy was full and all were content.

I wanted to show off SFG to Njeri and kids, so Sunday they stopped by on their way back to Nairobi.  It took Jumo all of 15 seconds to spot the basketball hoop and go running to find a ball. Students are free on Sundays, relaxing in the sun until they saw the 2 kids.  Quickly a bball was found and Jumo was a happy camper, swamped by girls twice his size, but giving him the ball to shoot.  Wamu, on the other hand was uncharacteristically shy and hid behind mom, until at some point she agreed to be loved by a large band of girls. 

Wanting Njeri and Lydia to meet I called.  Lydia soon joined us with her 2 visiting grandchildren, about the same ages as Jumo and Wamu.  Lydia is a true Kenyan lady, who can’t imagine having visitors without feeding them. Off we went to her house to have mandazi’s, which were delicious, and fresh-made potato chips.  It was the only thing that would tempt Jumo away from the bball court.

It was a lovely visit.  Njeri was impressed with the school and with Lydia, the kids had fun and got their tummy’s full.  They went back to Nairobi, while Mary and I went back home to relax. 

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