Sunday, July 12, 2009

WIHTWH: Our guards

We've been taking leave, bidding farewell, saying our goodbyes. When it's not past midnight on our last night of "good sleep" I'll download and let you listen to the very sweet poem Gabriel wrote for us. For now, here's just a few lines from the middle. It's really very sweet, and makes me laugh too.

And our Madam we really happy with her
She used to tell us stories about America
and even American soup is not strange to us.
Ho They have gone.


Also, this overheard through the kitchen windows:

Michael (who is engaged to be married in a month): "I consider God has done good things in my life because of knowing you. I thank God for you... (unintelligible)...

Andy: "You will remember me on your wedding night?!?"

M: "Yes, I will remember you on my wedding night."

A: (uncomfortable) "heh heh"

About last night I got really really really excited to come back to the land of plenty. Libraries. Bookstores. Cheese. Ice cream. Almonds. Mexican food. No gates, guards, "staff," or panic buttons screwed into the bed frame. Instead, new socks, big counters, my bright round Pyrex mixing bowls. Some new threads, some new music, some new toys. Fast internet. Purple mountain majesties, amber waves of grain, alabaster cities.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

WIHTWH: Going to the lake

Even though it means taking Praziquantel* three months later, it's still one of the funnest things to do in Malawi.

*I'll let you look up schisto (or bilharzia if you prefer) on your own; when I accidentally saw pictures in a Nature magazine right before we moved here, I just about kept us all in Idaho. I may have mentioned, worms were my greatest fear when we moved here. Seems sort of silly now. Even if we have them, which the kids at least probably have, we just treat ourselves every few months and it hasn't been that big a deal. We have taken the Praziquantel twice too, and it's not a nice drug. Only approved for animals in the US, though Andy tells me if schisto were a bigger problem in the developed world, undoubtedly there would be a more palatable way to treat it. Think HUGE pills--maybe the size of four or five Tylenol capsules, that make you dizzy and nauseated (rumour is, the more you're infected the worse you feel...I lay in bed and didn't move for four hours the last time I took it) (which is why I took it right before I went to bed last night) and the aftertaste it leaves lingers for hours, a bitter, oily, horrible thing. You have to really trust that invisible worms in your blood that want to live in your brain are worse.

Yeah. They're worse.

(Sorry, the temptation to brag about how crazy/dangerous/wild our experience has been is real. But really. See these pictures? Truth is, we're not that close to living on the edge, folks. There was the time last week we found the kids poking a little fat, square frog that seemed to be sweating drops of milky fluid on his back. Gabriel our guard informed us we should put the frog somewhere else, it's not sweat it's poison. That seemed pretty cool. But I mean, we have hobos, black widows, and rattlers back home.)


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Great Hair Day

Andy mentioned Scout's hair a while back. She had been quiet for a while, didn't answer when I called her so I knew something was up. I found her at the end of the driveway working on her "fringe" with the little scissors. It was still very salvageable, but when I asked why she was snipping, she said, "I want to be dry."

"Like, bald?"

"Yes, bald."

It felt kind of dangerous and risky, like I might get caught breaking some big parenting rule or like I was revealing a secret of adulthood. It felt like I was passing down a rite of independent womanhood, of secret self-knowledge, of confident empowerment. I let her keep the scissors and keep working on her project.

This morning, I overheard Scout retelling the story to some visitors who hadn't seen her in a while. She finished her haircut story with, "And my mama said, 'Go for it!'"

Please, daughter, will you remember this for the next five, ten, and fifteen years?

(Break for toe inspection.)

(It feels so weird to hold a hank of hair unattached to your head!)

(Haircutting--hard to stop once you start.)

(She's willing to share her talent.)

(And how fun is it to show a new haircut to your friends?)

(She really did do it all, except for two snips in the back, "by her own". Brava!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Last night of football. Brought cupcakes. Perks of playing on a women's team.

These pics from another time made cupcakes and creme. And found that two little sweet teeth had eaten the entire container of frosting leftovers on the sly, by themselves, in the deserted kitchen...

Monday, July 6, 2009

WIHTWH: you can go to the market or the market can come to you

We're on the mop guy's route, but only once every two weeks or so. There is also a pot guy and a basket guy who know the kind of stuff we're likely to buy and pay us a visit every few weeks. At first it's kind of creepy feeling like your house has been staked out, and people know to knock on your gate. But you get over it and then notice how convenient it is to have this Malawi version of surprise Amazon deliveries come right to you.

Mops For Sale  
Download now or listen on posterous
mops for sale 1.mp3 (1036 KB)

Posted via email from mangosunrise's posterous

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Luke chapter 4.5

And it came to pass he did head down to the shore as He had come so many times, crumbs of pale sand clinging to the dark hair of his ankles and toes. But this morning: discipleless, in silence, contemplative, combing the lumpy beach for smooth stones to skip.

And he is quietly delighted by the line of light separating from the dark sea waters; the rustle of ripe grass seeds heavy against each other, preaching in the dawn breeze; the rising sun lifting a continent of sound—warbled queries—from the beating breasts of fowls of the air, bright as a new coin rendered to Caesar.

And at his knee a hairy creature, a sincere canine, not worth mentioning by the Apostles, but true in the Wilderness, a steadfast and constant companion, who doth lift his eyes to the Master.

And Jesus, answering, saith unto him, “See here, the workmanship of mine hands.” And they stood, man and dog at the break of day, and it was good. And they did breathe deeply , gladly, paused as one for a mortal minute.

(Wendy: heartfelt thanks for taking care of Duke for us while we've been here.)
(Duke: we really hope you can adjust to being displaced by two little humans.)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

WIHTWH: seasonal delicacies

Dry season: mice on a stick
Boiled and salted field mice, skewered.
"Crunchy and delicious."

Rainy season: termites

Caught, drowned, dewinged, fried in oil, salted.
"Tastes like popcorn."

Friday, July 3, 2009

WIHTWH: a very supportive breastfeeding environment

It's one of the profound joys I have in motherhood and womanhood, and I'll tell you, it only gets more and more fun as my babe gets older. I love being in a place where, if I'm in the middle of a Relief Society lesson, I'm not only allowed, but encouraged to multitask: stand at the blackboard with my boy cradled in one arm, calmed and stilled with warm milky familiarity, chalk or teaching manual in the other.

"It's not a problem," our Relief Society president assures me. "This is part of our culture."

ps: In the category of "odd ways to measure a life's time,"
Finn turned one a month ago. That means I've been nursing offspring for roughly ten percent of my life.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

WHITHW: Mohammad's chapatis

One of the interesting social dynamics in Malawi is the Indian subculture. Indian by genetics, tradition, and history and Muslim by faith, they dominate the trade world (ie, own most of the stores and shops) and almost all the forex offices. For the most part they have western expectations of standards of living, and unlike many of the white Malawians who go to South Africa for school, the "asian" Malawians tend to go to the UK. They don't seem to have much to do with the very transient expat community. But inevitably, some of their food culture is disseminated, and even though Mohammad says he doesn't like "Moigneh"food because it's too spicy (and he has a (perhaps earned?) grudge against Moigneh's in general, even he knows how to make one of the cuisine's non-negotiables: chapatis. You might know them as roti. We sometimes call them tortillas, but they're not, but they're the closest we come here, but I'm pretty happy with tortillas that are really chapatis that we call tortillas.

Today I share with you his recipe and technique. Mohammad promises, "It is simple," and makes it look that way. You should give it a try. Rob, I mean you. I will teach you personally when I get home if you can wait that long, but you shouldn't. It's the boiling water--that's what makes it so different from any other thin, rolled-dough thing I've made. It actually cooks the flour a little before it ever hits the pan.

Mohammad's Pot Lid Chapatis
makes about 25-27 pieces

2 heaping mugs flour (about 3 cups?)
1 tsp salt (use a small spoon, heap half of it with salt)
2 tbs oil, roughly
boiling water
a bit more oil, in a cup
extra flour, maybe a cup or two

1. Mix together flour and salt. Pour in oil.
2. Pour in some boiling water; mix it all together to make a stiff, but soft, dough. More water=softer chapatis. It will feel more like playdough than bread dough.
3. Knead this on a well-floured counter till smooth, not sticky, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
4. Roll it into a log and cut into pieces, roughly the same length as the width of the log.
5. Make the pieces into balls; with your thumbs, hollow them into little nests. Dip your fingers into the oil, then coat the inside of each nest with oil. Mohammad does this really fast.
6. Then put a heaping half teaspoon of flour inside each nest, pinch it closed (but not sealed), and let it rest on a floured counter.
7. To roll the little guys out: open the ball, flattening the floured part out onto the counter, and roll to the thickness of a dishtowel. Thinner is better, IMHO. Mohammad flips his from side to side, moving it around and keeping the counter scraped and well floured. He cuts them into perfect matching circles with a sharp pot lid.
8. Heat a pan with a little oil to very very hot. Flip one chapati in. Once it has cooked (little black spots, gets more opaque, etc.), flip it and do the same to the other side. You only need to grease the pan once; as you cook your circles, the pan will probably get a little floury. Just give it a quick wipe off with a damp washcloth.
9. Stack them on a dishtowel so they don't get soggy while hot, but then store them in something airtight so they don't dry out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

WIHTWH: patchwork landscapes

I'm sure there must be several positives to small-scale subsistence farming.


I appreciate its organic lines.

I took these photos out the windows of the little bush plane we flew in to Zambia for Christmas. I kept looking out and seeing not rained-upon soil and maize, but quilt inspiration. When I get back to a sewing machine, I'm going to give it a shot. So help me.


Speaking of patchwork, keep your eyes peeled for another, different, fabric event coming up in the really near future.