WH Chronicle No. 55

July 22, 2010

We have pictures of our house (and the place you are going to stay when you come visit us) in Tanzania!! 

The kids are mesmerized by the photos. The last one is a picture of a vervet monkey (male-by my guess)—this particular species runs rampant around the University campus similar to our Texas squirrel population. They like to wreak havoc by digging up gardens, running down/chewing up power lines and occasionally chasing University students. Sounds like fun.

Back on the home front—fingers crossed so I don't jinx the deal—I think our house is rented. Pending a final signature and a deposit---it seems to be official. What a relief it will be to not have to make the bed every day and live in terminal cleanliness while people parade around disparaging your belongings. These potential renters actually like our furniture and appear to have conquered any serious personal hygiene issues.

We enjoyed visiting with my country cousins last week.  Wonderfully sweet people!   They refer to Uncle Darrell (PawPaw) as 'the smartest man in the world'.  So they are always tickled to tell the story of when Uncle Darrell first learned about his grandaughter's name and asked, "How will they tell us apart?"   His nieces all giggled and told him that it is not a problem because he is much taller.  

Grandmother Ritch came to visit at us. She was threatening to make a serious road trip from Bear Valley to somewhere while commandeering the navigator seat. I hope it happens, we want her to get enough of us—so she won't miss us at least for a week after we leave.

With our departure date looming in the near future, Tudder and PawPaw 'swing by' as often as possible. Of course, my children's behavior now resembles that of my dog from several years ago. Those of you that remember Dizzy, remember that she moved out on her own accord. Just like Dizzy, the kids beg Tudder and PawPaw to take them home with them; as if staying with their parents represented the harshest and most inhumane conditions. Of course, green vegetables have been banned from the grandparents' house. Popcorn is health food and exercise is picking out a new video game to play for the next four hours. Dizzy led the way—she's no dummy.

We've ditched feline unit #2. That is, freaky weird cat, Chuck, who will never be forgiven for pooping in our bed in the middle of the night. He is a shoo-in for "Cat vs. Wild" or a "Survivorcat" realty TV show. Chuck's blog stands to outperform our own as he makes the move from soft indoor kitty to scavenging outdoor ratter; feasting on mice, guineas, and other vermin with some ol' dry cat food on the side.  We've offered him a courtesy canteen and a compass--I look forward to the video confessionals.     And the award for taking the freaky cat, tending all mail/bills, as well as the renters wins Tudder and PawPaw the one year use of the coffee machine.


In a moment of weakness I bought a new little fish at Petsmart for our aquarium, which is scheduled for departure to Don and Debra's house this week. It is an 'upside down catfish', it actually swims upside down. Sam named it Colonel Mustard. He also commented that if the fish is ever rightside up—we'll know that it was Prof. Plum, in the aquarium, with the fishhook.


African tidbits:
One of my favorite 'expats in Africa' stories comes from Mikal when he was a young lad living in Kenya (on Fulbright's nickel). While driving home one night, a baby rhino appeared in front of their car.  Before anyone could utter, "Awwww, look at the cute baby rhino", Mama rhino bolted from the bush and crashed into the car, hooking her horn through the driver's window.  Then, she unhooked herself and ran off with the baby.  The driver kicked out the dents and the family went on their merry way.
I love sharing this with others and watching their expressions. Casey (Tammy's sweetie), calmly replied, "I wonder how they report that on Carfax?"

Tanzanian Proverb:
"Suffering is prior to attaining success or perfection." Chagga Tribe

"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything."  ~Charles Kuralt, On the Road With Charles Kuralt


"Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness."  ~Ray Bradbury


"Just get on any major highway, and eventually it will dead-end in a Disney parking area large enough to have its own climate, populated by large nomadic families who have been trying to find their cars since the Carter administration."  ~Dave Barry


Honking and waving the middle finger,

 PS Notice the favicon at the top of your browser's tab--this no small accomplishment for a bassoonist.


WH Chronicle No. 54

July 16, 2010

How gaudy--Angels playing bassoon?  Maybe they ran out of harps. 

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona  (Sent by loyal Chronicle reader, Adita).
Sagrada Família, is a massive, privately-funded Roman Catholic church that has been under construction in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain since 1882 and is not expected to be complete until at least 2026. A portion of the building's interior is scheduled to open for public worship and tours by September 2010.Considered the master-work of renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), the project's vast scale and idiosyncratic design have made it one of Barcelona's (and Spain's) top tourist attractions for many years.  It is said the famous architect emboldens the adjective function of his last name. 
(Chronicle readers are encouraged to send original photos/stories!!!)

Sam has been attending a half day Legos Robotics camp this week.  He is heartbroken that it is over.  He kept talking about his pretty teacher and how he loved to grab her elbow. 

Daryl went to cooking class.  Fruit salad, chocolate pie, marshmallow rice crispy treats, chocolate covered pretzels.  Basically anything you can make in the teachers’ lounge at school with the help of a microwave.  Soufflés are second semester. 

Jamillie, our Kazakh sweetie, wrote back to me, basically laughing at my hysterical emails about her engagement.  There was probably a heartbroken guy involved, but the binding bits of this engagement seemed to have dissolved into shreds of bizarre Kazakh humor.  Silly girl!   I always knew Borat wasn't her type. 

PawPaw seemed a little self conscious about the description of his whistling S’s.  I explained that I had never noticed it until I was 22; away at a music festival listening to a trumpet player from Julliard humorously mocking southerners’ vocal idiosyncrasies.  Not getting the joke, Tom leaned over and whispered, “That’s your dad.”  On the phone that night, I couldn’t hear a single sentiment my dad expressed over his ear-shattering whistles.  Makes one contemplate the sounds from a rural Baptist church as “forgive us of our trespasses,”  must resemble “whistling Dixie”. 

Stevie, aka Mr. Clarinet,  expressed his perspective last week and it appears to be a common theme amongst our family. 
“I just want it to be OVER!  I want to you have gone and had a good time, and now you’re back and it’s over.  There.  I said it. “  
Thanks, Stevie.   That’s sweet. 

Tammy took Rooster, the cat, this week.  After wedging him into a kitty carrier box and chuckling about his fat poking out the holes, we drove across town to dump out a cheerful cat at his sabbatical home.   We had offered the coffee machine as a reward for catcare, but since Tammy lives in a condo there was only room for a 20 lb.cat or coffee machine, but not both.  
Inquiring about Tammy’s recent work load, we learned that the biker rally, which, as a Brackenridge wound care specialist, is her busiest time of year.  And, luckily, this last 4th of July celebrations failed to produce any peri-anal incidents.    
We’re getting ready for our annual trek to California to Bear Valley.  We’ll be stationed at Tamarack Lodge--this is for Ruth (our coolest California lady with hip LA hair!):
“Back at Tamarack”
There once was a lodge at Tamarack
Whose trash the bears did oft attack.
The families were great
As was the food we ate,
Too bad the trees echoed of our French horn kacks! 

African Fun Facts:
·         Despite their size, hippos can gallop at speeds up to 30 km/h (18 mph).
·         The smallest African country, The Seychelles, covers an area of 453 sq km.
·         7-19-1836 HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin reach Ascension Island (coast of S. Africa)
·         July 17, 1959 Louis Leakey rewrote evolutionary history with his famous discovery in Tanzania.  The British archeologist unearthed a skull in the Olduvai Gorge (in the Ngorongoro Conservation area) that would change all previous hypotheses about human evolution beginning in Africa and not Asia as previously thought.  The superb condition of the skull allowed scientists to date the beginnings of mankind to about two million years.  The Olduvai Gorge is known as “The Cradle of Mankind.”

“We [Americans] are the lavishest and showiest and most luxury-loving people on the earth; and at our masthead we fly one true and honest symbol of the gaudiest flag the world has ever seen.”  Mark Twain

“Come, let’s have one other gaudy night.  Call to me.  All my sad captains.  Fill our bowls once more.  Let’s mock the midnight bell.”  William Shakespeare, 1564-1616

 “Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid and the other was eating fireworks.  They charged one and lit the other one off.”  Tommy Cooper

S~~~ingin’  S~~~~as~~~parilla,


Pilot Episode

July 8th, 2010
Here in our pilot episode, we make a cockeyed attempt to explain any possible giblets of plot, theme, and character development. 

Whaleherdienda is the place we call home.  It is not a location, or building or even a residence.  Perhaps it will prove to not even be the people, but rather the spirit it encourages while encompassing a sense of adventure and silliness.  The Chronicle, or our letters home to loved ones, is a collection of obscure observations and perhaps, the accidental unsheathing of a few truth kernels along the way. 

Main sources of Chronicle Fodder:

 Tom Hale—who exemplifies the zen philosophy of endless accomplishment with no effort.   The patient husband who is either nursing his wife back to good health,  taking orders for home restoration, or preparing to give up his work to travel half way around the world to home school the children.   Amazing man.

Daryl Hale, progeny number 1, Whaleherdita, exudes 8 year old indigence with all matters of concrete thinking.    Nothing escapes her keen awareness…protecting this one’s childhood innocence is in vain.   As mom, I agonize over her desire to know the truth as it is sure to part company with childhood innocence. 

Samuel Hale, progeny number 2, Whaleherdito, is a clever and impish young man, who, at 6 years old, has already mastered a startlingly accurate impersonation of his mother by snapping his fingers, pointing in my face, and chiming “Onnne…..twwooo…..” 
His vivid imagination oozes into reality.  Any paper clip or trash giblet serves as a gun to pulverize the bad guys lurking at every turn.    Sambowhambo also never responds well to verbal admonishment.   A simple “No, don’t do that!” sparks a threatening reaction.  His smile widens, his eyes inflame, all as if I had just struck the pose of soon-to-be-gored matador.   Exhausting…this one….

PawPaw is the grandpa whose southern accent rolls forth like Brer Rabbit Molasses. His words are gently brushed by his whistling S’s, like the wind through an abandoned pennywhistle.   Extreme deception to anyone who conceives genteel accents as an indicator of lesser intelligence. And, of course, Tudder, who keeps us all honest.

Me…well…I’m the somewhat omnipotent composer/observer who creates your report through my very fractured lens of humor.


Someone suggested this year’s title should be: 
“A   Frican Safari”,  translating to “Whaleherds on Tanzanian Sojourn”

I'm not sure where this adventure began.  Maybe with my naked toes (a story for another day) or my bout with Hell's mosquito or just an effort to support my brother in law—maybe all three, but, regardless of what set this in motion, we're off spinning like a top.  But, maybe it was the people I met in Africa.  The ones who had nothing, and yet offered out more than anyone I had ever met.  Once you learn the stories of these individuals, one can only shed tears of inadequacy and graciousness.  Maybe that is what inspired this adventure.  

There are times you want to exit from the main highway, perhaps you've seen enough of what the road has to offer.  Or you see a horizon that needs investigating, and it just happens to be at a right angle to your current trajectory.  There's no exit.  Maybe you veer on and off the shoulder but the dumb (braille) bumps coerce you back to obedience.  So sometimes you just have to yank the wheel and …

…hit the bar ditch straight on... it’s ok to close your eyes…and hope the car keeps running….heading straight for--who knows what...imagine chickens fleeing and goats scampering…  We might even be bringing that barbed wire fence with us. 

I suppose I seek perspective.  New experience causes growth.  Babies are exposed to new experiences daily, but adults lose these original encounters and our growth slows.  It’s time to step outside the hothouse and feel the sun, the breeze and the rain.  When the world is good to you, you come to expect it.  Fortune is like cosmic candy wreaking cavities in perspective.   When only 1/3 of the world is rich enough to use toilet paper, shouldn’t I be glad that I don’t get what I truly deserve? 

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”  Malcolm Forbes 

 Prepare for culture shock to be measured on the Richter scale. 

The things we anticipate missing…
Rudy’s BBQ with Tudder and PawPaw
El Camino Real with Ian
Walks with Laura
Carpooling with Bob
Lunch with Tammy
Wild Basin Winds lunches and Stevie cooking in our kitchen
ASO Breaks
Spewing wise cracks during orchestra rehearsal to make people chuckle and playfully annoy Bill
My students…of course.
The full house of Whaleherdienda tenants, Lizzy, Rebecca, Oliver, Carolyn, Hilary, Jamilly
Don dropping over for a football game
Riding around the neighborhood in the golfcart
Going to Kerrville and Arkansas, seeing our beloved family
Scissoring up the ASO 4th of July shirt, Wearing a wig to a children's concert. 

The details—you request?
That’s the boring part.  You know, just the foothills of Kilimanjaro, a few hours from the Ngorogoro Crater (where ‘Lion King’ was filmed),  and the Olduvai Gorge (the cradle of mankind), and even Jane Goodall’s ‘Chimpland’ is right around the corner.  We’ll be staying in University housing, teaching some classes, and traveling to other regional universities and embassies to offer classical music performances, as well as US State Department Outreach.   Typical day’s work….