Mother's Day Self Care Looks Like...

... knowing that we needed to do something different. It is usually a complicated day for me, sometimes horrible. Hubs was super supportive and orchestrated some major magic.

Despite gloom and some discouraging rain we drove into Boston with the six children and Blue, of course, and they went for a walk in Boston Common. They saw swans and fed ducks.

They even did a few hours at the Museum of Science, which if you ask me, is heroic of Hubs, because I was not there. They dropped me off at church.

Not the kind with pews. The kind with Tchaikovsky. Me, and a date with Pyotr Ilyich. My boyfriend who was gay and no longer with us in life but gives us good ballet and the best violin concerto.

Almost every single moment of Swan Lake was stunning. I wanted so badly to live Tweet the show because my brain was buzzing with commentary. Here were some highlights

Opening music: holy crap their sound is so solid it sounds like a recording. Is this a recording? I can't see down into the pit. If they are using a recording that is pathetic but this sounds so cohesive it cannot be live music.

The opening with Rothbart kidnapping Odette is shocking. I am actually am emotional. For crapssake why are all women at risk for assault?? We can't get away from dudes not respecting women's bodies even in the ballet. It was a violent abduction. Wow. Powerfully performed. I had forgotten that part. Odette looks fierce.

Next scene: curtain opens on the best pastoral costuming and set combo ever. Jaw dropping. Everything looks like a frigging fairy tale. It is flawless. The colors. OMG the colors. It looks like a painting. Freeze it, frame it, take it home and put it on the wall. Robert Perdziola should win a trophy. I hope he has given himself a trophy for the design. I hope he is over paid. This is amazing.

Hello there corps, you are looking gorgeous. Everyone in the world should be seeing this right now. No one should have to live without seeing Swan Lake. I am crying. It only took five minutes. The choreography is lovely.

This castle garden waltz and polonaise so well done. The cups and the clinking are adorable.

I love when you sit close enough to hear squeaky shoes and see a little sheen on their faces.

Oh crumb, Prince Seigfried, get it together on the adagio. A little bouncy. PATRICIA.

Ok, Boston Ballet, I am gon' give you a huge thumbs up here. So many different body shapes and sizes among the dancers. No one looks thin and starving, lots of muscles, lots of variety. Balanchine can go make himself throw up. There. I said it.

And more dancers of color than I've ever seen you do. Black dudes, several Asian dancers. It's still pretty white, but way less so than past performances. Good on ya, Boston. I like what I am seeing here.

Soloists are killing it. Oh I love ridiculously fast petit battements.

Odette. Amazing. The only dancer on stage who does look like she could use a few In-N-Out burgers. But golly she is breathtaking. She is not messing around with being swan like. Bourrees are out of this world. Her arms go on forever. Marry me, Odette.

Glanced again towards pit, See conductor baton! I knew it awhile ago but still happy to see def not recording. this conductor is making the dancers' jobs so easy. He follows their every single move. What a great sound, I've never seen music so in sync with the dancers. I may cry again. What a fabulous orchestra today. They are a blessing. The oboist is hitting home runs.

Crying again. The swans in the fog. I can't take it. These ladies have got it together. I am liking everything they are doing.

Pas de deux between swan and prince are stunning. She does not mess around. She is so believable, what a dancer and actress. She's terrified.

Admitting to myself: Rothbart is HOT. He scares me but he's gorgeous. Stockholm's Syndrome anyone?

I am irritated men get such great jumps and that they are so powerful and just hang in the air. Not jealous of the pale green and peach tights today for them. I am seeing a lot of outlines. There is no room for imagination today at the Boston Opera House, gentlemen. None.

I CANNOT WAIT FOR MORE SWANS. Bring me the Cygnets!

Queen Mother, your passive aggressive gestures to the left hand to make the Prince know you are ready for him to marry the next creature in pointe shoes is obnoxious.

Second act: My least favorite character dances. Mostly because I am totes ready for Black Swan and I don't want to sit through this before she comes out. Also because something awkward is happening in choreography. A weird knees and toes pointing inward thing  that is repeating a lot as if doing it more than a few times will make it ok. Who did this? Mikko was it you?

TRUMPETS! here she comes! Oh this is by far the best part so far. She is a treasure. It's like she's a different person!

Girlfriend finishes every turn and completes every jump, arabesque with a glance in Rothbart's direction. What great acting. She is so evil and cunning. Please, God, let the fuetes go well. I told the kids there would be 32 and they asked if the dancer ever falls and I said no. Please don't let me be wrong today.

Tchaikovsky goes together with 3/4 time like I go together with snooty dark chocolate.

Fun Fact: The ballet music of Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty performed by Boston Symphony Orchestra was my first CD ever. The second, of course, was Joshua Tree by U2.

Best moment so far: Odile is totally fooling Numbnuts Siegfried (and with his costume and how close I am to stage I am fully qualified to comment on this) anyway, she's got him wrapped around her finger, he's about to declare his love and hologram of Odette doing pleading sad bourrees appears above him in the window of the ballroom but he doesn't see her out there beating her wings, trying to catch his attention and prevent the disaster. People actually gasped. That was really intense. What a cool lighting/video effect!

Tears more tears. The fog, the lake. This is my favorite part. I really love this. Crying. Wish kids were here. Fight for your life Odette, fight. Her hands are so expressive. Her face is misery. Her posse of swans at end of second act is killing me. Beautiful.

I wish Rothbart got more air time. He was great. Aaaaaan, now he's dead. Crying some more.

It was good I didn't have anyone to sit next to that I knew, I might have gotten in trouble for talking. My brain was not silent. I devoured the whole thing. I wish you could have been there. The music and dancing were stellar. It was a moving, personal, relaxing afternoon.

Hubs and the kids picked me up and as I exited the theater saw the rain had cleared into a beautiful day. We went to the park so the kiddies could play a bit. Brady is in trouble for not opening his eyes here but I am glad to say I have one shot with my humans on Mother's Day.

At home we ate take out, did a leisurely bed time. I felt so content. The first Mother's Day in years where I wasn't filled with stress, anxiety, dread. The kids had fun with Hubs and we all had fun together and there were only a few tears.

Tonight, at 11pm after Hubs and I had been chatting a few hours and he leaned over to hug me good night as he held me to him he said I have to tell you something. I lost Brady at the Museum of Science.

WHAT?! How lost? 

They had to say my name over the loud speaker and get me to the info booth on a different floor. That lost.

Are you kidding me?

Nope. Look at it this way, it make me appreciate what you do!

Wait. Did you KNOW he was lost or did you find out when they called your name?

I knew, Mimi was herding the kids as I walked around looking. When I got down to where he was he was on a stool surrounded by a bunch of security people and he had a huge smile on his face like he had just told a good joke. He was pretty happy about the whole thing.

Am I allowed to blog about this? 

Fine. Go ahead. Happy Mother's Day.

Crappy picture of him grabbing my hand in the car and not pictured, him winking at me and smiling. Mother's Day is fraught and unpleasant and complicated for so many people for endless reasons. I feel like a braggart by even blogging all the goodness of today. But I would be sorely ungrateful if I didn't jot down a day filled with joy in my family. The hard days will be there (starting tomorrow. I promise) but today, with a little luck and a lot of effort and apparently a crack squad Museum of Science security people, today was good.

I am grateful. 


The Price of Saying "I Don't Need a Career"

Just got the email about next year's expenses for Samantha's gymnastics team.
Look at how worth it she is. I mean, me, Scoopy, LOOK AT IT SO YOU DON'T FORGET

I had a small heart attack. No seriously. I actually think I had momentary cardiac arrest. And while biting my nails and sweating profusely in stress I stayed up until 2:30am setting up a profile online so I can maybe try to start getting paid for my writing.

I've been doing it for basically free on this blog for eight years, why not try a hand at writing for actual dollars in that lucky 11pm-3am time slot?
I have no resume. I have no portfolio. I graduated from college in 2002 and proceeded to be as cliché a Mormon as I could be by getting married young, not pursuing a career at all and stay-at-home-momming to such a degree that now, when I do want and maybe even need to work, I do not have a strong history of marketable skills and look like a fat wad of NOTHING on paper.

It makes me sigh. I made my choices. I have to live with them. But I have to say my choices were heavily influenced by what I felt were a lack of choices and a certain life path that was prescribed to me as "ideal." I was young, ignorant perhaps of a long view and my needs and even maybe under-appreciative of my potential. And some of it is tied to my religious upbringing. Not every LDS woman managed to wander into the same desert of Missed Opportunities that I find myself in, many have meaningful careers. I look at them and think “You did it! You broke the mold that I managed to let myself be poured into! You are a hero!”

And I worry about those young women growing up now in a patriarchal religion who may yet find themselves unhireable unless an intervention takes place. Unless they have support. If I could, I would take every young Mormon girl firmly by the shoulders and say to her: 

Don't believe it when they say or imply you shouldn't have a career. Don't believe you should neglect your personal skills, growth, marketability, path, dreams and simply stay focused on using that uterus and nurturing the humans that come out of it. It is awesome to parent if you can and want to, and it is important to be dedicated to that encompassing role, but I do not know one woman who has not wanted to or needed to work at some point in her life as a mother. Not one. And I do know many who thought they shouldn't or didn't want to have careers and only supported husbands in their careers because of the teachings (either direct or indirect) of the Church about Women's Roles, and then had a hard time when they needed/wanted to work.

What about the women -sans resumes, sans work experience- who are capable, smart, even well educated but put everything on the back burner to, well, burn? We are a dime a dozen. We are everywhere. Don't join us. Fight for as much education and career growth as you can. Working part time or full time does not diminish your ability to nurture kids one bit. It complicates it, sure. But you know what else complicates your ability to nurture kids? Being burned out and feeling trapped and being completely dependent on a spouse to make family finances work. That is stressful on (you both) in its own way. There is no right way to be a family. I repeat: There is no one right way to be a family. "Ideal" is a myth. Don't let anyone imply or believe a message you may hear that God Wants You, as a woman, to Limit Yourself. Be creative with your possible future, make your own ideal family. Nothing you do will be perfect nor easy, so don't be afraid to go with the choices that won't limit you in the future. What path leaves you with options? I recommend making sure you cultivate your skills and talents, bullet points on a resume in such a way that you can work when you need or want to. Because whether you believe it now or not, that is probably going to happen. 

And then I shake myself from this wringing of hands and self-pity and realize, it's never too late. I can figure this out. God gave me a brain and the ability to multitask and a weird ability to stay up late. I can find a way. I don't know what my future holds but I don't need to stay in the Desert of Missed Opportunities and the Totally Unnecessary Pedestalization of Non-Working Mothers.

The world is my oyster right? Just as long as I can explore the oyster in the middle of the night...after all, I home school -what seems at this moment- several hundred children.

*Edit to add: Got a TON of emails from this little late at night brain-spillage. The emails from some women said it struck a chord, from others, also LDS, felt attacked and angry and felt the need to defend the Church's stance on women's roles and their choice to follow those directives. I don't have the time to respond individually to all the emails, but I do want to say: I know I cannot speak for all LDS women and what they "took away" from the lessons they received about women and their proper place in the home and society. I can only describe myself. I know many many women did and do not feel oppressed or limited. They feel all is as it should be and they were never held back in any way. That is wonderful and I am glad for them. We all deserve to find joy and peace in our decisions, even when things are hard (and its hard for everyone, mother or not, working mother or not. It's all hard.) 

My hope is that all young women, especially in conservative Christian religions that teach similar God-ordained gender roles as the LDS church, end up feeling no limits placed on them because a leader or document says "this is what women should do." Any limits should come from herself saying "I do not feel good about pursuing that path." God can speak to us. He can encourage us. And there is no one-size-fits-all life. I just want all women to find which one fits her. 

I will be over there in the dressing room. I think will be in here awhile. Carry on.


Teaching About Fear

We requested the Uber, as we do one or two mornings a week. My lovely teen Mimi has a trickier school schedule as five of the six kids do part time at a private school this year. But as luck would have it, on most days the classes they all take don't line up at the same hours. We have had a serious driving/timing challenge this entire school year.

So sometimes, she takes a driving service. It saves me time, gets her out of the door on time, and I can do more meaningful educating with the other children instead of us sitting in the car. It has been working.

Until a few days ago. I hit the "request Uber" button and it was taking awhile for a driver to respond so she walked away to pack her lunch.

I glanced down and the accepting driver's face appeared. My heart froze. Bad feeling flooded my body. I've never had that happen before. And I paused. I didn't want Mimi to go with this driver. And I hated myself that I was making a decision based 100% on the feeling I had looking at his picture.

I teach my kids every single day that looks are the least important thing about someone and that it is vital we continually check our gut assumptions about people because our biases and life experiences can get in the way. I drill home it doesn't matter what people look like.  They sadly know the truth that people like John Crawford and Tamir Rice are dead because people made wild, dangerous, cruel assumptions about them within seconds of seeing them.

And yet here I was, feeling like a hypocrite judging this man, trying to make a living, based on the picture. But the pit in my stomach was there and I couldn't deny it. Because that fear is a real thing.

I felt it when I was followed home for a few miles by men in a truck calling me all kinds of sexual names and promising they were gonna "give it to me." I've felt it when I was waiting for a ride outside my work, age 19, and a man pulled up in his car, no other humans in sight and begged me to get in the car with him, and then threatened to pull me into the car when I refused. I ran as fast as I could and didn't know when it would be safe to come back out of my work building. I have felt it walking home at night, while the words of my college RA echoed in my head Girls who wear ponytails are easier for men to drag... I thought of the all the times every day women are blamed for their own assault because if they just hadn't been in that place, wearing that thing, looking so tempting, they would have never been harmed and grew angry. I thought about the ridiculousness that most girls and women aren't taught they are more likely to be harmed by someone they know, or are on a date with than a random stranger and that even when we know it's still hard to believe.

All the lessons on consent, rape, fear, harassment and moments of pain wherein I'd learned of my friends and family being assaulted flooded back to me and I decided that it's all well and good to know we all make decisions based on bias and fear sometimes and it's essential check those feelings and thoughts and to challenge our assumptions about people...And then in the moment when fear hits, the fact remains: I don't have to send my daughter in someone's car who scares me. I can own that it's my gut, and maybe has more to do with me than him, but sometimes you just have to listen to your feelings and live with it.

I felt awful for "canceling request" and two minutes later, with a pounding heart request an Uber again praying the same guy wouldn't answer.

It wasn't him. Relief flooded through me. It was another driver and for some reason I felt better. I said out loud, This is stupid. I am a huge hypocritical jerk. This new guy could be a creep for all I know, what the heck am I doing? 

I sat with those conflicted feelings all day.

And then when I spoke with a friend about it, she reminded me I'd failed to do the most important thing: Tell Mimi. Tell her I was afraid when I saw that guy and for some reason I couldn't put my finger on, didn't want him to drive her, so I deleted the request and sought another person to drive her.

I fixed that as soon as I could. I called her to me and told her about those emotional few moments, the feelings of fear mixed with guilt that I was just being mean. But then said to her with all the pleading and sincerity of a mother who knows she cannot always keep her child safe:

Mimi, if you ever, ever feel afraid to get in a car with someone, don't get in. You have my permission to say no thanks and run like hell away from him. If you feel weird, get a strange feeling, feel like something is off, you listen to that. I will never be mad, it will never be a waste of time or money, and it will never be "too mean" of you. Whether its your awesome intuition, or God sending you a feeling in your heart you are allowed to say no and walk away, any time and every time a feeling like that comes. 

She nodded, quietly. Didn't say anything much. But I know she was listening. 


Bearing it

Got it over with: the first day of the year where it's warm enough to go the beach and so we drive, arrive, set up towels, blankets, the kids run off with buckets and smiles and I start bawling because I am so so happy. I can't even stop it.

It happens every single year, the first trip I realize how very seasonally depressed I was for so long, and how everything feels better when my feet are warm and bare in the sand, and I am baptized anew in sunshine and I don't put on sunscreen because I want the heat to stay in my skin for a few days.
I don't know if I will ever again live in a consistently warm place, and I don't know if next winter I will once again forget that the reason I feel so dark and hopeless is in part because I am cold and miserable when the temperature drops below 70 degrees.

My kids don't understand it, how I shiver in agony when they all feel fine. They don't feel the weight of darkness. I am glad they seem to be immune to it in a way I am not.



At the beach this week I felt hope that it's going to be alright. All the junk. Normal life junk. Nothing terrible but somehow over the last few months it all felt so heavy I have been staggering; paralyzed. And now, the junk is still all there, but somehow with sunshine on my side I can bear it. At least I feel hopeful. And that's a good thing.
Blue concurs.


Not a Pendulum

I was trying in my head to articulate how life feels lately. Today the image of a pendulum appeared to me and I immediately rejected it. I do not swing back and forth between joy and misery, stress and contentment. I am not moody.

Rather, I am in a place in my life where I have concentric circles nearly completely overlapping. The exact things that make everything painful and challenging and difficult and hard to hold happen to also be the same things that bring me satisfaction, joy, love. I find myself at various moments both profoundly content and proud of what I am doing and also convinced I am a terrible failure and completely unlovable.

I am trying to sit with this. The intensity of the challenge. I am a disaster but also simultaneously know that I do things that other people cannot conceive of doing; and I am happy and capable doing those things. It's not about other people, though. It's about me loving the mess that is me. Opposition is my middle name, and I am figuring out how to be good with that.

Other things I am good with today:

This old photo I found of my Cookie, who is almost eight-years-old. He was a seriously cute baby. He was a rotten sleeper, but golly he was cute.

The ridiculousness of these girls.

Ponies. Always ponies and kids unafraid of all kinds of animals.

The other day it rained while the sun shone. Brady screamed in excitement for a solid five minutes as we drove through the center of this rainbow and could see both ends meet the earth on either side of us. He was right, it was magic. After it was behind us and no longer visible he said "I miss our rainbow." I told him whenever he felt sad he could see the picture of it.


Yesterday I needed a Mom Time Out. I ran to the bed to breathe for a moment in relative quiet. Benji followed me and climbed on me to give me some head bonks and then purred into my arm pit. He knew I needed it. I love the many fur family members we have. They really give us all someone to love when the humans are bugging us.


Samantha still takes many breaks between home school assignments to stretch out and move. I love her growth in her sport and how strong she is. She rocks my world. And sometimes I say "That's enough, get out your spelling."


This winter was not very bad compared to last winter, weather wise. I cannot complain. But somehow emotional health wise it was brutal. Spring, despite the trick snowstorm this morning, I embrace you, I am ready for you.

And can you, my readers and friends, and I pretend that New Year doesn't start January 1, but rather, April 1? Can we have do over on new beginnings?



Stories of Ethiopia in a Few Thousand Words

The pictures, sillies. Each picture is worth a thousand words, right? I may slip in a few extra for context. And will still start off by asking you to please not steal these pictures - the good ones. The non selfie-in-bad-light ones. I already know you don't want to use those. All photos on this blog are my property and are copyrighted. If you want to use any photos please respect and ask. scoopingitup at gmail. Thank you.

I shared this already on FB, but if you missed it there I had a blissful 27 hour flight to Addis, the capitol of Ethiopia. The only words I spoke the entire time were 'thank you' to food vendors and stewardesses on plane. I loved my vow of silence and alone time. I read two and a half novels. When I landed in Ethiopia the young Habesha woman behind me said, "You go ahead, I am waiting for my brother." I responded "Thank you!" She asked, glancing down "And how far along are you?" I raised my eyebrows. "Excuse me?" She looked away and muttered, "nothing."

This is me, my youngest "baby" is five years old, and apparently I look like I am pregnant. Fabulous.

We're gonna talk more about this in the next post, but this is a file drawer, in a "medical room" that contained mostly destroyed and missing files at a now desolate orphanage where more than five thousand babies and young children were housed before they were adopted from 2004ish-2015. I walked through the buildings, empty of little ones and furniture while some workers pretended to try to get my child's original files. They bought themselves time while we toured around, sent us away with promises to give it to us the next day. Then they loaded it and hundreds of others into boxes, put them on a truck and move the files to another location before we came back. Because orphanage workers didn't already come in number one on my list of sneakiest liars... Again, more on this in the next post.


Excuse the shaky hands in the following shot. It was almost pitch black, that "bright light" only looks so because I held the shutter open for five seconds. I lay on my back taking a picture of the roof over my head, the roof of a house/hut built in northern Ethiopia, a house more than sixty years old, that had sheltered the birth of at least ten children. The grass smelled sweet and crunched a little as it padded my sleeping bag. I rested about five minutes in that sleeping bag. I arrived at this darkened hut in a place far from a town, and electrical outlets and toilets (this will get important later), and moments later, the wedding party woke and started to get dressed. I never slept.


Getting ready for traditional Tigray wedding, bride and helpers trying to see necklace clasps by light of solar lamp and my head lamp.


3am, I take advantage of the videographer's garish spotlight to capture the bride and groom and wedding party waiting for all the priests to come. I am fully jealous that the men are draped in the warmest of blankets, called gabis. It is chilly and I'd have killed for one. I had slipped my flimsy dress over the pajamas I showed up in just thirty minutes before. I looked awful and I will prove it soon.

A priest lights a candle right before a light comes on in a rock church, carved into the mountain, hundreds, maybe a thousand years ago.

I didn't know this going in or I would have found a spot to pee in the trees before the mass started, but this Ethiopian Orthodox wedding in the countryside north of Mekele was well over four hours long.

It may have been longer than five. There was no way to know. Some of the older aunties totally took naps during it. Here is the bridal party from the back facing the beautiful front of the church. I think this shot is about two hours in.


I am positive this service is successful in bringing people to God because after the three hour mark folks are leaning on their wooden shepherd sticks pleading Save me, Jesus. Come to me and save me.

(And PS. I love this old traditional ceremony, with someone checking their celly real quick.

It will be one of the most awe-filled, honors of my life to have witnessed and been part of such a beautiful ceremony. I felt like I was transported to a different time. Despite numb bare feet and having had no sleep, food, or potty breaks for way longer than feels humanly possible (TMI: I have a bladder capacity that is sublimely impressive. No one could have lasted longer than I did on this sleepless night. NO ONE.) I wouldn't have traded this for the world.



There was a small window in the back, eventually some daylight filtered in. And then I realized how very long it had been. This is me, right at the end of the wedding mass, ready to get outside and see what awaited me. I look like a train wreck. I was dirty and tired and delighted and grateful. Twenty four hours no sleep and completely worth it. (And I had a long time to go before I would rest.)


When we emerged from the rock church it was gorgeous sunny day. We picked our way down a rocky trail and I ran ahead of the beautifully robbed newlyweds to capture the hike we'd done in the dead of night, with my dear friend the bride in heels. I kept thinking We all did this in dresses and heels in the dark and no one twisted an ankle...how?


I am busy with home school and life and work and farm stuff so I hope you all know I do not have time to edit these for the blog. I didn't touch these photos. This is straight out of the camera shtuff. And on this 82 degree morning my family back in Boston was slammed with a snowstorm.


A traditional post-wedding snack for tired and hungry attendees.

The next day (after sleep, food, toilet access) there were many parties culminating in one large party/reception. The first was at a family member's home back in Mekele. I realized after a lot of time walking around taking photos that there didn't seem to be any sinks. Perhaps there was no running water. It seemed possible that all the water for drinking, washing dishes, washing hands and "flushing" (with a cupful) had to be carried in and carefully conserved. This guy was just outside in the street. Everyday I am guessing his main job is lugging water. Luckily, the wells are not terribly far. But it is not easy for sure for anyone, donkey or human.


You can't have a big Tigray wedding without horses



Or live music

Or dancing

Or a wonderful, humble, fierce, do-it-all-bull-by-the-horns bride who gets stuff DONE

Or stunning bride and bridesmaids

Or the cutest couple on earth

No srsly

Or a little help from your friends


Or shutting down traffic with a wedding procession that honks and beeps and beeps and honks and horses galloping alongside all over town.


At one point one of the bridesmaids gave up on her platform heels and pointed at my feet shrugging. I shucked off my low heeled sandals and handed them over to her. I put on the only other shoes I had. My worn and hideous but comfy Minnetonkas. I'd say no one was looking at me so who cares, but TONS of people were looking at me. I was definitely the only white person there, and some of the little ones maybe hadn't had much exposure because a few babies cried when they saw my face. Still, no one cared about my shoes.

Have a few roses when you ascend the tower to cut the cake in front of two hundred fifty odd people.

Oh, oh! my favorite thing was how the guests just hacked into that cake with violence. Massive uneven chunks with no supervision by a fussy cake cutting team. Just messy yummy glomp slipping well beyond the edges of the plate, enough to share with their neighbors and family, screw the forks and dig in one and all.

The couple who really is like royalty here throws candy (so much chocolate I thought I'd never smuggle it all into Ethiopia for them) to the adoring crowds.

And of course, there was dancing.

So. Much. Dancing. All in I tallied the dancing and festivities starting around noon and ending at 12:45.

I don't know who is more exhausted but we certainly know who is wearing it better.

A few more beauties randomly thrown in

My stalwart driver/translator/problem solver Abel, playing with a little friend of ours outside a hotel in Nazret. If you need a trustworthy helper in Ethiopia, do let me know. He is awesome. And he will race with you, rocks in hand, should you be in the situation where you need run from wild dogs and/or hyenas at night. Don't ask how I know.

I am a sucker for kittens in any country.

Some of the most intense and most joyful and amazing days of my life I owe to these gorgeous people who let me be part of the family and experience something up close so few others will ever get to do.


I am almost back into the groove of life at home. And I already miss it. Ethiopia, I will be back, friend. Next time, with some of my lijotch, or there will be a mass mutiny.