WH Chronicle No. 1.15

Oct 25, 2010

Tom informed me that he is not cutting any hairs until our return home.  His beard is starting to curl.  When I mentioned this, he said, “I’m letting my freak flag fly free.”    One of the theology professors commented about Tom being an obvious musician because diligent practicing doesn’t allow time for haircuts.   My grandmother made a similar observation, but assumed Tom wasn't lacking in time, but rather funds.  She therefore, offered her services free of charge.  Tom declined.  But, in time, the lady who braided Daryl’s hair could be employed for Tom’s beard.   We’ll send photos.

Speaking of Tom’s good natured-ness, he admitted that he has quit counting down the days until we return since settling into a routine.  He wrestles the kids away from favorite pastimes like monkey wars, climbing mulberry trees, milking goats, chasing chickens, building forts in the banana trees, and so on…long enough to have them, ‘curse cursive’ and ‘repel the recorder’, maybe, ‘swear in Swahili’  (his words) for a mere hour each day.  They haven’t a clue of their fortune; but that, philosophically speaking, might be the bane of one's youth.

We've been taking Mr. Twinkie for walks—on a leash.    Yes,  I’m not sure if it’s weirder here or there, but we're just doing our part to "Keep Africa Weird".    It’s actually been easier walking a rooster than taking the cat for a scrape, as his resistance is more like flying a kite than dragging a rock.   
Mr. Chicken and Mr. Twinkie meet.  Notice Mr. Twinkie's leg leash.  

We’ve also found the world’s smartest spider in our house!! Seriously, it was rated #10 in the “World’s Most Intelligent Animals”.   It’s a version of the East African Jumping Spider (which love to feast on blood-engorged malarial mosquitoes).   The Portia Labiata—the white-mustached jumping spider found in Usa River, Arusha. 

Sam's shoe in the background.  He was disappointed about our  'catch and release' policy.
Tom's mustache isn't quite so full...yet!
 Also known as the White-Mustached Portia, they inhabit wastelands and secondary forests in Africa, Asia, and Australia. These spiders have demonstrated learning abilities in laboratory tests and have been labeled the smartest bugs in the world. They perform astoundingly well on numerous problem solving tasks. One of their principle skills is luring other spiders from their webs for food. To do this they will pluck out rhythms at the corner of a web to mimic a trapped bug or insect intruder.  If the Portia has encountered this type of spider before, then it will remember what rhythm pattern to use in order to achieve success. The Portia labiata has great eye sight and has been seen using incredible instinctive behavior. The spider uses a planned trial-and-error approach to hunting and shows a strong cognitive base. As the prey comes and goes, the spider will sit and wait for hours until it has a perfect moment to strike. Subsequently, plotting ahead and understanding that the meal will eventually return. These spiders have also shown signs of selective attention by identifying specific objects and prey over others. — toptenz.net for all 10 animals

For those of you who want to send us some loving treats from home: 
Hale Family
Makumira University College
PO Box 55
Usa River, Arusha, Tanzania
Remember no boxes, only padded envelopes!  It will take about 3 weeks, and run you about $6.00. 

 Things from home don’t seem too far away.  We had home made enchiladas a few night ago.  Beans and rice are a staple here, just as in TexMex land.  We have popcorn, though I had to learn how to cook it on a stove (actually an alternative to the microwave?).  All of you friends and family are kind to send us packages, emails, photos, and videos—we especially love those!  And, of course, Skype is an incredible remedy for long distance lovin’.   I chat with my dad every few days.  It affords us the ability to bicker about existentialism and politics, as if I lived only a few miles away.   I just hope I don’t have to sew up any chickens without him.  
 “Will you walk into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly.  “Tis the prettiest little parlor that you ever did spy.”  Mary Howitt

“There was an old man with a beard, Who said:
‘It is just as I feared!
Two owls and a hen,
Four larks and wren
Have all built their nests in my beard.’”
Edward Lear

For the TOP TEN AMUSING BEARDS, click here.  2011 is the year for Tom.

Responsibly walking my chicken with a poop-bag in hand,

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