Friday, June 25, 2010

Yod Abyssinia...

I was waiting outside of The Sub-Saharan Informer in downtown Addis Ababa (by the way, Ababa means "flower" in Amharic) and this young man and his flock walked by on their way to the market. What I liked best was his "goat scarf" which he had around his neck.
A couple of nights before I left, the Capital staff and Tabotu Michael took me out to Yod Abyssinia, a traditional Ethiopian restaurant so I could enjoy more delightfully tasty local foods but more importantly, so I could get a feel for Ethiopian dance, music and dress of the other regions of the country.
The dancers and their body parts moved in ways I did not know one's neck, chest, arms, shoulders and more could move.

This is our group, seated around a table and we all ate off the same tray. Teguest, the GM at Capital is to your far left; I am seated next to Tabotu, the IREX woman who kept everything working smoothly; Eniyat, third from your right is the Advertising/Marketing manager; Seble, the finance manager is next and then, Salomon, the operations manager is to your right. I am missing Groum from this photo...he is the deputy editor and a delightfully funny young man.

This is the platter that fed us all.
There are about 10 different dishes placed on this tray along with spices and the rolled up pieces are injera bread which one tears apart and unroll as you eat. Very messy. Very tasty. And very fun. Everyone just reaches in, tears a piece of bread off, dips in cheese, spices and then grabs up a tiny portion and pops the food directly into their mouth. Only I used napkins and tried to clean my fingers after each bite. They use one hand, their right, and just eat til finished. One washes one's hands both before beginning to eat and right after. Love it.

The Lions...and more

This is a photo of Haile Selassie on horseback and while the photo is awful, it reminded me of Simon Bolivar on horseback which I saw in every town throughout Colombia. Bolivar would be in the central plaza and this just made me smile. My driver said he didn't think Selassie was like this in other towns, which made me sad. Trying to find parallels amongst peoples.
This lion symbolizes Ethiopia's strength and was erected while the Lion of Judah, below, a symbol of King/Emperor Haile Selassies' reign was out of the country.

The Lion of Judah was taken to Italy during the Mussolini occupation and was returned to Ethiopia in the 1960's. Everyone asked if I had seen this statue and there was much pride in the return of fact, while in the National Museum early in my stay, many of the artifacts and records had been returned to Ethiopia...apparently, much had been taken by the British and there is a movement afoot to repatriate the Ethiopian treasures.

The Dergue Monument, Ethio-Cuban Relationships

The Communist bond of years past is marked by the Dergue monument. This is Mangusto Haile Mariam leading the Ethiopian charge and interestingly, the dress and the faces of the people he is leading in this monument look quite American and don't have either Cuban or Ethiopian features.
And here is Castro leading the troops in the other direction. There was also a photo gallery of those who lost their lives during the conflict...but only the Cubans who died were memorialized.

And the center of the monument is this tower, featuring the red star, the hammer and the sickle.
Here the soldiers do reflect the ethnic features one would expect on fighters from Cuba and Ethiopia. Mussolini and the Italians occupied Ethiopia for several years and consequently, when one listens to people speaking in Amharic, one can hear Italian and Spanish words, as well as English woven into their conversations. I enjoyed that a lot because I could often get the gist of what was being said, so could ask a question and APPEAR intelligent. It upset folks to think I might be able to understand what they were saying!

King Menelik, palace and church

This is King Menelik's palace dating from 1883. The inside was moldy and they are in the process of redoing the grass roof. The compound was surprisingly small, while the church was incredibly large. There were rooms for the women to sleep apart from the men and servants slept in a totally separate hut.

This is the octaganol Orthodox church in Menelik's palace compound. Mass has just finished when we arrived but women were inside ululating and it was very beautiful to hear.

Tower next to Menelik's church. We couldn't go inside this for some reason and when I asked what was inside, the church guide said, "nothing."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Church Ragual, Ehtiopian Orthodox

This photo is very dark...or at least, very dark with the sun shining in on my computer in my garage office here in Caseville. I am hoping you can see The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If it doesn't come through, scroll down because the others are much better. This photo was up near the ceiling about 45 feet above my head.
I visited this octaganal Orthodox Church, Church Ragual. I asked if this was Greek Orthodox and told, Ethiopian Orthodox which is a very large faith which actually practices very much like the Catholic Church. This building is 150 years old and they celebrate mass here every morning.

The inside of the church center...all eight sides were painted with a variety of saints, the Trinity, Jesus, and this charming fellow, the devil. Now, the church caretaker had to move a board so we could see this painting. He scares the children at mass and we had just arrived right after the service ended.

I found these paintings interesting for what they arent't more than what they are. Consider that these are painted in a rural community where everyone pretty much is black. None of their saints, their God, their devils or angels are of color. These could be painted in a church in Rome, Milan, Germany or the United States.

All of the conversations, and bubbles outlining what is occuring is in Amharic. The colors were brilliant and the paint laid on very thickly.

I will post some more photos of other sites shortly but did want to mention that I ate a couple of interesting things before I left Addis Ababa. I had some "Billtong" which is a dried meat served often with drinks. Much less chewy than the jerky Richard makes and the Billtong we bought was spiced with Jalapenos. And the other drinking treat was Kola, the seeds of a wheat plant...kinda like popcorn seeds. More coming.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mercato...Ethiopian style

Note: Read or scroll to the photo is down there!!
Today ended up being fun after having gotten to work at Addis Admas, only to wait for 45 minutes and then, decide that I may as well go back to the hotel and do some work. Tefera, the Finance guy, could not find, or connect with anyone by phone to see if they were coming in. Poor guy was soooo upset and I wanted to just hug him and tell him I knew it wasn't his fault. So, Tabotu and Shemelis took me shopping and I was very lucky to find some wonderful Christmas gifts.

The photo above is horrid but you can get a flavor for how jammed the market is...we were driving ahead, guys walking in front of us, trucks going both with and against us, kids and goats running in front and around us...a mess. I couldn't get out of our vehicle nor could I hang my camera outside...not a safe area for that so apologies on these photos. I was telling Tabotu that there is NO way to explain the chaos, the smells, the colors, the noises without your being there.

On the way to the market, the Orthodox church had just let out and this was the group on the street...thousands of people walking. These are not Muslims...this is traditional and the country is mostly Christian. It was the Feast of St. Michael today and on feast days, most every day, there are huge services which the women mostly attend.

And we are again in Mercato, where one can buy everything from shoes made out of tires, to the most wonderful smelling peppers and spices to rusted metal. This was a typical load seen in the market.
Here, we are on the outskirts of Mercato, which is where the average Addis Ethiopian shops. There are malls and upscale shops here...just wasn't interested in seeing those. So, like in many other countries, one sees the requisite donkeys, pack mules and more. By the way, in Rwanda, I saw many women carrying huge loads. Have not seen one woman carrying packages on her head, her back or shoulders. I was told that is a man's job...very civil.

Typical shop in Mercato...these are belts hung with plastic bags over the "metal" hooks so they don't rust.
Most everything was wrapped in plastic. It rains here a lot. I heard this morning that Addis Ababa, is the fifth highest elevation capital after Bogota, Katmandu and not sure of the others. So, it gets very chilly here...wishing I had shoes other than sandals. Today at lunch, I asked for a pool towel to wrap around me. It was sunny and nice out when I went down to the pool area to eat, but very chilly fifteen minutes later and in another fifteen, torrential downpours.
Keep scrolling good friend, Ed McGraw frequently feels a creative spurt and sends these delightful pieces of art. Love them.

Friday, June 18, 2010


So, here I am in my second seizure inducing dress...I was training with The Reporter's staff and as you can see in the second photo, I have pen in hand as I tore up their content. There are content opportunities.
Today, I began working with the staff of Addis Admas, an Amharic newspaper. However, they were "busy" so the only ones who showed up were the Finance manager and two clerks. The clerical staff were not involved in any decisions, nor are they involved in any meetings where any planning conversations occur. So, cancelled the day but the Finance guy, Tefera, took me to lunch. Today is Friday, a fasting day. Wednesdays and Fridays in the Orthodox religion here are days without meat. We went to an Ethiopian restaurant and Tefera was quite apologetic because of the lack of meat. I ate seven different concoctions made out of various grains, spiced wonderfully and of course, like usual, scooped up with hunks of injera bread.
The Chief Editor of Addis Admas is a former convict who translated, "Gone with the Wind" into Amharic while in prison. He wrote this on the paper packaging around cigarrette packages and is quite the hero here in Addis Ababa. He apparently also translated, King Lear, and had that produced on stage at some point.
Today was an interesting day because of what wasn' wasn't a training day; there weren't normal flush toilets at the Addis Admas offices...we were back to squat and hose down, though, I had my trusty napkins in my briefcase. I did some report writing which was super and was able to proof a few of the business plans and send those back to the teams.
I royally screwed up though. Bruh, from The Reporter called to invite me to dinner tomorrow night at Yod Abysinnia restaurant and I knew I was going there so said, "super, what time?" He said 8 p.m. and that was later than we had planned...but oh well. Two hours later, I realized he works at The Reporter and I am going out to this same restaurant with folks from Capital tomorrow. So, had to call him back, apologize for my forgetting I had plans and thankfully, we could reschedule to Sunday. So, eating out two nights at an Ethiopian restaurant famous for its music and dancing. Should be fun. Can't wait.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Leaving Capital and moving on....

This morning, my driver decided to take me to Capital in a different direction so he could show me some sights that I had yet to experience. We went by a shopping area filled with tiny shops for shoes, clothing, seamstresses and then, we saw this. One can buy sheep, donkeys, dogs and very emaciated horses at this open air animal market. These animals were rummaging or lying around bleating their hearts out. I approached to take a photo and the animal sales people began begging for money because I was taking a photo.

This bundle is hard to see clearly and taking photos of this crop is against the law in Ethiopia. Why? This is "chats" which is a leafy crop/plant that is similar to hashish and which is grown here and exported with the knowledge and support of the Ethiopian government. I hadn't seen this type plant so asked my driver and then, asked the staff at Capital about it. It is a hallucinogen, very powerful and its best characteristic is that it gives a swift high and the crop can be planted and harvested twice a contrast with coffee which takes four years from planting to harvesting. So, exporting "chats" is a growth industry for the country. Think about that!

Here I am using my hands as I train...Salomon, the chief editor is next to me and Aniyet, the Sales and Marketing Manager is next to him.

Here is the whole Capital team...with Groum, a managing editor in the striped sweater next to Teguest, the Gm. Seble, the Finance Mgr is next to me on the left with Salomon, Aniyet and Nebiyu the last man to your right. He is the Distributor Mgr.

I spelled Injera incorrectly...this is the local bread, light and fluffy and is presented in a roll. One tears a piece off and scoops up food. I just cannot manage to do this neatly and without lots of drippings and droppings. Like eating this way, just wish I could do it professionally.
Saw Brady Walkinshaw, a young friend from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, from two or more years ago. I last saw Brady in Nairobi, before that, we met in Washington, DC when I was there with Kenz and Logan and before that, Honduras. Funny to meet this young man across the world. We are having breakfast tomorrow...he had meetings today and was wiped out, having arrived late last night. Jet lag is serious here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interesting items.... or oddities

Did I mention that I have been "editing" the newspapers here and sharing an opinion of one with the news folks. I read a column yesterday regarding seed distribution to farmers which are supported/funded by some group and will be throughout 2002-2003 E. C. Yup...we are in the year 2002-2003 here and this follows the Ethiopian Calendar, hence, E.C. Now, the right hand corner of the page had yesterday's date, and 2010. I was confused so had to ask. I guess the dates get a bit confusing...they just celebrated the millenium a couple of years ago also.

At the Capital, a business/economic newspaper, we are spending time in a room about the size of a kitchen. The woman to the left, Teguest is the GM, and Nebiyu is the circulation distributor and Eniyat, is the advertising and marketing manager. By the way, yesterday, I wore one of my seizure inducing dresses and when I got to the Capital, Teguest had a similarly patterned black and white dress but her outfit was topped with a stylish short sweater jacket.

We are all quite stuffed into this tiny conference room and exiting is not an option...until the people closest to the door leave. Nevertheless, we have had lots of fun and I have had a great time learning more about the Amharic language and how we do things here in Ethiopia.

Today, we ordered sandwiches in and sat outside under the umbrella. Ignore my ugliness...not looking good at all today. One interesting point is that there are female managers here...didn't see that at The Reporter. I have one more day with this group and then, move on to Addis Admass, another newspaper.

The chair just under the US map is my chair, butting up against the wall. We were conducting a SWOT analysis and I did have to ask about the US map and why it is in this room. Seems there was an old editor who loved all things American and he used to use this room, which is outside the building, back near the bathrooms and kitchen area.
One of the guys asked me today if I would like some, "spris" to drink. This just means, "mixture" in Amharic and you can have mixed sodas, mixed juices and even, mixed tea and coffee! So, he had a cup of spris and he offered me a sip of this concoction. Going to get some...yummy.
Forgot to mention that appetizers and desserts are not part of the Ethiopian dining experience. "Dessert" is popcorn. They deliver a bowl or two of it and one just sits and munches! Oh, and coffee happens after meals but tea is served in the mornings. For me, they bring coffee, but everyone else drinks tea.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ethiopian dining....

The last day at The Reporter, the guys took me to a typical Ethiopian restaurant. Before we began our meal, the ceremonial hand washing occured. This was a nice restaurant, so we had a pitcher, soap and basin. In other places, they will bring you a bowl of water to dip your fingers in with lime slices floating in it. I always want to keep the bowl to wash as I eat because I am a mess at this scooping and eating by hand. One may NOT keep the bowl. You can ask for them to get it for you but no holding on to it.
This young lady below, was roasting coffee beans by hand, traditional in homes here. She started with green beans and then called me over when a rich dark color like we buy in the store. The aroma was delicious. She then brewed a pot of coffee for our table but one can also sit in front of her, sip coffee and chat.

These guys ordered a "family" plate of food. It is served on a huge platter, with injieri bread underneath as a liner, of sorts. There were about six or seven different meat dishes and three men shared the whole thing. Now, Ethiopians eat bread, thin injieri bread but it, along with the meat or vegetarian dish, fills me up quickly. I have not once been able to eat an Ethiopian serving. This day, I had kitfo...a meat dish that is also served with small dishes of turmeric, and another with mashed spices and cottage cheese. One dips the injieri bread in the spice, scoops up some cheese and grabs a bunch of meat and pop it all in the mouth..of course, this is done by hand and is slightly messy. My kitfo was cooked...the controller next to me had raw kitfo and tried to get me to try this mass of meat and blood. I passed and generally, I am quite willing to experience most anything. This? NOT.

As you enter the restaurant, there are these table settings, covered as you see by the cloth. This is family had the three men sharing their platter been without the rest of us, they would have pulled off the covering, found a small table that exactly fits the platter, and sat in these chairs. Intimate. Cozy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Language, food, laughs...and more

Here are three of my guys who work at The Reporter which is written in Amharic and they also have another product in English. "Zach" or Zekairius; Bruh in the jacket and Yibekal are three of the eight men I am working with right now. As you can see, they are young and lots of fun and clearly enjoy working together.

I haven't had any time to see anything much but my driver let me stop and take a couple of photos as we drove by...this is Trinity Church (get it, three?) and apparently is spectacular. I am hoping to get inside of this yet this week. There are lots of vendors and beggars sitting outside of the security gates as you can see.

This lion is the symbol of Addis Ababa and everyone is very proud of him...he symbolizes strength. The man, whose head you see the top of was pretty sure I was taking his photo and grinned and asked for 100 Birr. I laughed and we took off.

This photo made my driver, Shemelis, laugh his butt off. This is a bank. Just liked its design...kinda cool.
As usual, my favorite thing is eating strange food items. Today, for dinner I ate Doha Wat, which is supposedly a stewed chicken in a sauce which one eats with the traditional bread and by hand. The dish came with the largest boiled egg in it that I have ever was size XXXL! And it was accompanied by the tiniest drumstick and thigh I have ever seen. This chicken did NOT lay this egg. Anyway, the sauce was spicy and the mix of egg and chicken delicious.
Lunch was Ybege Tibs, a diced lamb, hot pepper, green pepper and onion dish in a spicy light sauce and again, one scoops the meat mix up in the light bread by hand. Yesterday's lunch dish was Shiroc Quanta, and Shiroc is made from a pounded grain with onion, oil, spices and who knows what else. The Quanta part is just a dried meat (the guys couldn't tell quite what type) but yummy. Had yogurt and an apple in my room last night...eating too much but none of it is fried and I am eating half portions so feeling very responsible.
At lunch today, I asked my guys to teach me some Amharic words and hear they are spelled phonetically:
please: abkeh if speaking to a man; abkesh if speaking to a woman
hello: salaam which one can also use to say "peace be with you" which could be a good bye or it could be a thanks also
goodbye: dehenahun to a man; dehenahunu to a woman
thank you: amesegunaluhu (try this one three times)
umat: really?
f**k: tenafu (this doesn't matter if you are speaking to a man or a woman)
what the heck?: menabatu to a woman; menabatwa to a man
One of the editors told me there are 37 letters in Amharic but there are seven or so "extensions" to every it would be like adding a dot over an e to make it an "extension" of the e sound, if that makes sense. There is a reason the world does not speak Amharic...the guys started me off with a word that had 19 syllables (not letters) in it and I just could not get my tongue around it.
All were quite amazed that I wanted to learn how to swear...not that I would here. That would be horribly inappropriate. They swear but "just in private" and I wanted to know what good that would do. They laughed...if they really want to be rude in public they do a tongue sucking sound or click their fingers. That is worse than a nasty F word. Sounds much more civilized.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 1, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

These are not good photos, but like in Rwanda, trying to snap a few while on the move. This corner was interesting because there were street vendors, small shops and bunches of people just sitting around waiting...for I know not what.

A typical apartment building atop drying outside and there was a small restaurant on the balcony of the first floor with all of the umbrellas open. The blue and white vehicle is one of the "sanctioned" cabs in the city...all regulated cabs are of this type.
I went to the National Museum which is in serious dis-repair. What was interesting was the huge amount of information on evolution of Homo Sapiens, with many excavated examples of fossils, early primates and, of course, examples of Australopithicus and Lucy information. Interestingly, early primates had only 300 cc of brain capacity and they show the difference between the male and female. Males had larger heads and supposedly, that translated into greater brain capacity. Who knows? There were also many examples of prior Rift Valley environments where these fossils came from. Many Ma ago (Ma could mean thousand or million, no one knew and the exhibits didn't say!) the Rift Valley, now nothing more than a desert, was a hearty jungle full of incredible plants and animals, now extinct.
For example, there used to live Hipparion, a small three toed horse which is no more. And there was an artist rendition of the Swatherium, a relative of the giraffe. It showed stripes on the legs, but a brown body and huge ears. Its teeth were similar to the giraffes and it ate leaves like the giraffe.
One of my favorite subjects. I had breakfast buffet which costs $20. a day here and is all one can get. Typical buffet with bacon, sausage, omelets made to order and then, there was Ethiopian bread and Fasting Fir Fir, is a vegetarian dish with a bit of kick to it. Yummy and you break off the bread and scoop the Fir Fir up and eat. Loved it and thought of Kenz and Logan in the Ethiopian restaurant in DC. Heard one American whining because his omelet was overcooked and I wanted to tell him to try the Fir Fir, but didn't. For dinner, I ate Zil Zil Tibs, again a dish with some spice and kick to it. Chopped up beef cooked in tomato, green pepper, onion and spices which is scooped up with the bread. Yummy.
I was supposed to go out this afternoon with Taboutu to see something but she came to get me late so we just had a cup of tea and she filled me in on the media landscape here. Am going to The Reporter to work for the next three days, starting tomorrow morning.
Oh, and I should mention that I asked the concierge to get me a cab to go to the National Museum. He called his buddy in the travel company housed inside the Hilton who came to get me. The boss man told me it would cost me 324 Birr. Now, while waiting to get my cash earlier from the ATM, I had met a young man working here and he told me it would cost at most 54 Birr each way. I got up and said I would call a real cab. Bye Bye. About ten seconds later, the man came running after me and told me he could take me there and back for 120 Birr. I agreed and then he wanted the money then. Told him I would pay him when the driver picked me up...not before. He just him. But irritating that folks look at me and think..."ah, old white woman, she is an easy mark." How wrong can they be??
World Cup has started and a huge party here in the hotel and the bar was about 10 people deep, not that I wanted to be there. They were, of course, all men and drunk!!

The trip from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Now, since my arrival, I am entirely excited to see and learn what I can within this country...but it was not a pretty trip at all. Seems school is out and every flight, including from Detroit to Amsterdam; Amsterdam to Khartoum and Khartoum to Addis was full of screaming children and babies. I had one creep, about four who was behind me shrieking from Amsterdam to Khartoum, for 9 hours. His mother screamed at him, he stood and spit on my head, slapped my arms and head and more. The little shit almost died!! And every leg, except Khartoum to Addis Ababa, which was only a 2 hour flight was completely full so NO chance of moving to another seat.

When we arrived in Khartoum, we were not allowed to exit the plane and we had to sit in our seats. We had just completed an hour long leg of the trip and had to sit with no drinks and no moving around. Again, I was not a happy camper. After the plane was refueled, we could stand, but when I suggested a drink, I was told no alcohol could be served while the doors were open. I had asked for a "drink" and they did decide I could have a water! Would love to stay in Khartoum for a bit just to see/hear what happens during call to prayer, especially in the mornings. There were more mosques and minarets than I saw in Iraq.

NO sleep, or rest. But I met the neatest Sudanese-American who was coming home to Khartoum to see her family for the first time in 20 years. Her parents, brother and sister, had not met her husband or her children and most likely will never do so. Why? The flight from Edina, Minnesota where they live and work would cost more than $2000 per ticket and they don't have $10,000 for the family to go over. And she was covered top to bottom (the parts I could see) with a gorgeous henna tattoo which she says comes off after about 10-15 days. Women in the Sudan are tattooed at puberty but only on their hands (not permanently so they can change for the season, the holiday etc). Married women are tattooed all over and it was gorgeous. She preferred I not take a photo, otherwise, here it would be.

We flew over the Sahara and while very cool, it looked hot and unforgiving. Saw not one thing other than sand and periodically some rocklike formations. At one point, it looked like a jeep was out there kicking up dust but there was no road in sight.

I have few photos but will post them later tonight or tomorrow. This is the first that I have been allowed to get to ANY blog. I asked the internet provider here if there was online censorship and the guy turned purple (hard to do when you are dark skinned!) and I told him I couldn't access my blog or those of my friends...he asked me to "rest my computer" and he was sure it would work when I got back to my room. Guess what? Here I am and funny it should work after talking with him.

This morning, I went out for a walk to see what I could see. First, though, I had to get some Birr, which is the Ethiopian currency. The ATM was outside of the hotel, but still on the grounds. So, out I went. Both machines were being stocked with money by two men in street clothing with nary a guard anywhere to be seen. So, the guys would take a wad of Birr from the suitcase on the ground, walk to the money machine, insert it, turn his back and go back to the suitcase. No hurry, no worry. Very odd.

And it is a bit hilly here in Addis and while walking I was approached by so many beggars and people who wanted to give me tours, that I came back and took a cab to the National Museum. The potential tour folks are like those experienced in other countries...start up a conversation, see why you are here, and what you want to see and then, offer their services.

Photos coming after dinner...IF Big Brother allows me to return to my blog.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Leaving for Ethiopia!!

Leaving for the Detroit airport in an hour or so...wanted to catch up. We have been having an interesting and often, fun time. As you can see, my son-in-law is having a ball handling the vacuuming here at their home. We all did a bit of cleaning the other day. Chris can and does ham it up...this morning, studly, walked down with just a towel wrapped around himself...he was grabbing his khakis and shirt for school. He irons his own clothing every morning. Now, who wouldn't smile seeing this hunk o man walking around with only a towel on??

Yesterday, I had shopping to do and on the list were tampax. Chase, my five year old grandson was with me as I was looking at all of the options which seem to have expanded since this old lady needed these items. Chase asked, "Grandma, do you put those in your butt hole?" Died laughing and so did the woman a few feet away. And then later, when I asked Chase to check both ways before crossing the street, he told me, "I did before." I suggested sometimes new cars come down the street during his absence so he'd have to look many times. He gave me a "eat shit and die" type look but he did look. It has been fun having time with him and Kenz.

Heidi has the blow up bed still up in the living room and everyone uses it. She will often just sit and recline while watching TV and you can see her get well card collection. Last night, one of her friends and former co-worker brought over three full dinners...she had heard that I was leaving and that Alex wouldn't be back for a few more days. And here are the dogs sleeping/resting together peacefully on the bed. This would NOT have happened even last Christmas. Everyone and everything are working together these days.

This is my new office! Welcome to our garage in Caseville. We have no internet connection, but the neighbors said I could steal their connection so, Richard set up the table for me. I have a jacket on because it has been sooo cold here in Michigan. The two story garage can only be described as more full than our garages in Florida. Need a boat? Come get one or two!!
So, leave for Addis Ababa shortly. A bit concerned because I haven't heard from the three properties I will be working with. Had sent questions ahead so I could have a sense of who/what they are and how they work. We shall see...another experience. More another day. Hugs to you all.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Memorial Day at the Cottage with the Family

McKenzie is just 15 and a huge soccer and volleyball star in Davison. She is just back from a soccer game and is sitting outside with Uncle Alex just before leaving for the cottage for the Memorial Day weekend.
Meet my family...this is Pat McNamara, Kristin's husband and father to Layne, Owen and Addison.

Uncle Alex, our youngest, is here playing catch with Chase, Heidi and Chris' youngest. Chase just turned five and he received lots of outdoor sports gifts.

Four of our six grandkids are here on the floor of our livingroom at the cottage. Layne is 6 months old; Addison was turning 7 the day after this photo was taken, and Chase and Owen had both just turned five. Serious trouble congregated in this room but, for the most part, they and Kenz, who isn't in this photo for some reason, all got along very very well.

Heidi and Kristin on the deck at the cottage. Kristin is feeding her munchkin who sleeps like the dead. A very very good baby. If you are having a third, you HAVE to get a good sleeper. They won!!

Grandpa played soccer, t-ball and more with the kids. Very fun to watch because he sure didn't do much of that with Alex!!

Kenz had her 15th birthday party with cake, ice cream, sleepover etc at home and then I made 30 cupcakes for Chase's pre-school friends for his fifth.
We had enough cake mix left over for just one more layer so I built a makeshift two layer cake...butt ugly but he had cake and ice cream with us at his home and cupcakes for his birthday with his buddies. He celebrated his fifth twice!!
Grandma is loving being around all the kids. Saw two of Kenz' soccer games and spent time with all of the kids playing games, laughing, talking, cooking and more.

Chris, Heidi's husband and Chase's dad is here helping Chase with his new t-ball birthday gift at their home in Davison. Chris couldn't come up to the cottage because besides teaching, he is a swim coach for two groups and with one income, while Heidi is recuperating, work is his priority. Missed him alot.
The whole family was together, minus Chris and Logan. Haven't heard a word from Logan since I took Kenz and him out to dinner. 16 year olds are a pain in the tuckus...we missed him and talked about him!!