#17 – Many Events

I haven’t posted for more than a week and it’s not because I’ve had nothing to write!Au contraire, I’ve been too busy to write.

I think I’ll work backwards.  I had yesterday all planned to the micro-minute.  Should know better than that by now and I soon found the world was not following my schedule.  Sigh! I had understood the SFG staff would be meeting in the morning, only to arrive to a virtually empty compound, the students having left for August break the day before and teachers gone home. Lydia was  busy in town, the room where my desk is was locked.  I’d been asked by a former student to pick her exam results, but the only person around, the accountant, didn’t have the key to Lydia’s office nor the authority to give me the exam results.  Pretty much of a loss.

OK, I’d drop by Minalyn on the way home to pick up a backpack for one of the Mji kids, Margaret who is Mary’s older sister.  Call Minalyn.  She’s in Nairobi.  OK, Catherine and I had agreed we would get together in the afternoon so I could see Michael, Lucas and Joseph.  Call Catherine.  She’s on the way to GilGil.  Boys are someplace in town.

OK, I’ll go home, have much to do and by that time, I’m hungry.  Eat something.  Talk to a very troubled young girl for over an hour, hoping I’ve been of some help.  She leaves. I start the blog, type about 10 words when Lydia arrives with the exam results.  She’s hungry and wants to talk.  I make her a grilled cheese sandwich and hot chocolate.  She’s leery of the sandwich until she takes the first bite. Then she smiles, proclaims it “sweet” (yummy) and we talk.  By the time she leaves I have to start the pizza sauce—but I have no souschef.  RATS!!!

Chop 3 onions, the remainder of the garlic, 10 tomatoes, 1 green pepper. Saute onion and garlic, add toms and pepper and a glop of each of the herbs I can find in the cupboard, plus some bay leaves, which Julie and Niki (to be introduced later) have brought from home.  Oh yeah, there is he ½ can of tomato paste left from the last batch of sauce.

Sauce burbling away on the stove, I dig out the dishpan to mix the dough. Find flour, yeast, sugar, salt, oil, mix together  Oops! I need to light the oven so I’ll have a warm place for the dough to rise.  Hmmm.  John has always lit the oven for me.  Which buttons do I push???  Ten matches later the oven comes alive.  I am greatly relieved I didn’t blow myself up.  It’s a “difficult” oven, which, you may recall has no temperature regulation. Pray.

Sauce cooking, dough rising, I return to my room to write several emails, hoping to help the troubled student.  By now it’s late, Julie, Niki, John, Mary and Tylon (another Mji kid who dropped by the previous day and spent the night) all return from a great afternoon, walking all over town and down to the lake where they had an exciting boat ride among the hippo population of Lake Naivasha.  I’m not sure I want to do that—ever—but it’s seen as a fun activity for families and tourists here.

I put one pizza together on my new cast iron grill and another on the oven pan that comes with the stove.  We’d found mozzarella cheese in the Naivas, added shredded cheddar and parmesan cheese from Trader Joe.  Back to my room while they bake.  The one on the grill is perfect—I’m getting really good at this, except I don’t know how to twirl the dough to make it nicely round and even.  Oily fingers must suffice.  The other one is slightly burned on the bottom, but we all eat until stuffed.

Back to my bed to finish my emails, but too tired to do this blog post.

Now I realize I need to write you a short synopsis of the past week, beginning with the SFG board of directors meeting on Friday, July 26.  The 10 am meeting began at 11.  Everyone was late because they know everyone will be late and the meeting will not begin promptly.  Seems kind of circular, doesn’t it?

Lunch is brought in at some point, but we don’t break.  I get myself some tea and try to eat an apple quietly, not an easy trick.  The meeting is a bit contentious and goes on and on and on.  We finally break to eat at 5:30 pm!!!!!  I didn’t stay to eat.  Too tired. 

Saturday Hillary and I drive to Nairobi.  My next 2 visitors, Julie Schatz and Niki Theil are arriving at 6:10 am Sunday.  I have arranged to spend the night with Sr. Irene Loina at her convent.  Hillary, a former seminarian, will stay in his old seminary.  Many of you know Sr. Irene, who organized the Alternative Rites of Passage (ARP) among the Pokots.  She has just returned from Tanzania, where she expanded a medical clinic for HIV+ people, about 90% of the population in that area, as well as installing a water system for the clinic and the local people, saving the women countless hours of water toting.  It makes me tired just to hear all she has done and plans to do.  She’ll be coming to visit as soon as the US embassy gives her a visa so you can all hear from her mouth. 

We have a wonderful vegetarian meal from their garden, including the freshest lettuce you can imagine.  Her sisters are very welcoming and friendly.  Next morning, bright and early, after a lovely breakfast of eggs from the convent hens and homemade breads, Hillary picks me to go to the airport. Arriving he checks the airline ETA only to discover the plane is 2 hours late.

Since Hillary hasn’t eaten, we head for Java house, where I have “white tea” (with milk) and he has a full breakfast.  We note the plane has landed and try to estimate the time it will take to get through customs and all the other arrival details, then head back to meeting spot. 

Julie is a fellow Rotarian from Menlo Park and a financial planner (including mine) and Niki is her business partner.  Julie came last year, but this is Niki’s first visit.  Like all the rest of us upon first arrival, she is full of questions and is thrilled to be in Africa. 

The drive to Naivasha passes through many typical scenes.  Great freeway until it runs out and we detour through a small settlement, dirt road, but much to see, back on the older road, through slum areas, farm land, up to the edge of the Great Rift Valley, where the views are spectacular and the hawkers relentless as we stop for a photo op. Niki is over the top with so many impressions.  She loves it, as does Julie.

Finally back in Naivasha, they settle in their sparse and modest accommodations.  They’re really good sports, sharing a small room crammed with 2 beds and 1 frilly pink bed net that doesn’t quite cover the beds.  They love John and Mary and vv.  I can see this will be a fun visit.

Monday we visit St. Francis and meet Lydia, forming yet another mutual admiration society.  The students are all in exams, but J and N get to meet and talk to some during a break. They have brought books, mostly novels, many of them classics. Evidently Niki put out the call to friends to clean out their bookcases, with a generousresponse.  Lydia is delighted as they leave the boxes with Alex, the accountant, to be entered into the system.

From SFG we’re off to Minalyn’s Beads of Life Kenyawhere we all buy many of her beautiful jewelry pieces and other items.  One of her workers is a master leather worker.  I ask whether he can make me a backpack purse like the one I use, but not lined in black.  I love that purse, but can never find anything in its dark innards.  He takes careful measurements and pictures from several angles.  Minalyn is a master repurposer of materials.  The purses are made from recycled SWA seats.  You can imagine the leather has to be strong to hold so many behinds for so many miles! 

I’ve gotten only through Monday (this is Saturday), so to be continued.

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