WH Chronicle No. 12.5

Nov 7, 2012

By the time you read this we will once again be homeowners, but it was not without a long and tedious saga.  The gruesome details of lenders and liens should be avoided in polite company, and discussed only within close proximity of a solid waste disposal system.    That aside, we have been squatters inhabiting a portion of our yet to be purchased home.  Kaghondi has had the luxury of living in 3 different domiciles since his arrival to this country.   Currently, we are living like rich Africans with all 5 of us (not counting the cat, dog, bird and fish) residing in the two bedroom side of our new duplex.   Luckily, there is plenty of room because we have a bare minimum of furniture; our mattresses on the floor; just 5 plates, 3 mugs, and a variety of paper utensils.  I can vacuum the dog hair from the entire place by utilizing only one electrical outlet.  It is liberating to have a reduction in inventory; at least as long as the weather stays warm.  Regardless, Kaghondi says he is happy because all of his accommodations allow him to sleep when it rains—unlike the thatched roof of his first home that dripped mud during a heavy storm.

Tom and I are thrilled to be in the new house and on to new adventures, though it was entertaining moving around.   We teased about the method of transporting pets to each new location.  First the dog and cat, then take the cat back,  and get the fish and the bird, return to the bird to the first location with the dog—wait, no, the fish, then get the cat, etc.  Good thing we didn’t have a cabbage and a canoe. Our non-perishables and non-living stuffs are still in storage and are to be delivered next week.  Outside of a few couches and a box of dishes I couldn’t possibly recount the numerous contents, or even the reasons that I own them.  Perhaps there is a garage sale in our future.  

As we enjoyed Halloween, Kaghondi commented on some of our unusual traditions of decorating with plastic skeletons, ghosts, blood, and tombstones.  “People in Tanzania would kill you if they found that in your house.  They would blame all the ills and calamities occurring in the village on your communing with the dead.”     He also asked, “If this is a children’s holiday, why do the adults dress up?”   I’m not sure I have a good answer for that one.
Kaghondi and his 'wig'. 

Flower Power Girl

Kaghondi is an astute observer.  One day he asked, “Do you [Americans] have dog ambulances?”  It cracked me up at first, but it wasn’t too long before I realized that it is a legitimate question.   We have driven by doggy daycares, dog hospitals, dog clothing stores, dog bakeries, dog toy stores, dog walks, dog parks, etc.      And, after a quick Google search—I learned that, of course, we have dog ambulances.  Why wouldn’t we?   Kaghondi told me about a lady that married her dog recently as declared in grocery store tabloids.  I have no doubt it all happened with a Milkbone wedding cake.  In Vermont there is a Doggy Chapel boasting all creeds, breeds and no dogmas. 

So I asked him about pets in Tanzania.  He explained the he was once sad about losing a dog that helped him with the goats.  But to talk about dogs the way we do would be a sign of craziness in Tanzania.  Imagine visiting about your pet in a country where most people have lost children, battle malaria, HIV, and starvation. And when searching for a trivial parallel in our society,  something so insignificant that you might be embarrassed to mention it, I find that those subjects are already surrounded with interest groups, websites and nonprofits.  Even if I were to describe to you the effectiveness of our dishsoap on olive oil, we could spend hours surfing the 4.5 million websites related to this.  When that topic gets old I can then tell you about our whistling-impaired parakeet and the $2,500 prothesis that the vet recommended for her.  

After seeing “Just Married” on the windshield of a car, Kaghondi asks, “Do they do the same for ‘Just Divorced’?”

Culinary adventures:  Kaghondi eats everything.   His friends in Tanzania ask, “Have you eaten ‘Taco’?” while bursting out in laughter.    ‘Taco’ means ‘butt’ in Swahili.  
He answers them cheerfully that his favorite place is ‘Taco Cabana’; which poetically translates to ‘butt squeeze’.   He also touts eating a ‘chuychanga’ (at Chuy’s) which translates to 'baby leopard'. 

“Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.”  Samuel Butler

“Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant?  I’m halfway through my fishburger and I realize, Oh, my God.  I could be eating s slow learner."  Lynda Montgomery

“Halloween was confusing.  All my life my parents said, “Never take candy from strangers.” And then they dressed me up and said, “Go beg for it.”  Rita Rudner

"America is the only country that has gone from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between."  Oscar Wilde

Dreaming of 'Bark Mitzvahs' and 'Muzzle Tovs',

PS You all will be glad to know that all meat-scented doggy condemns have been recalled.  Choking hazard.  Seriously.

My favorite parakids!

Who's taking care of whom on 6th Street?
Kaghondi and Take 6


WH Chronicle No. 12.4

Sept 23, 2012

Since our last conversation we’ve added more candles to Daryl’s and Tom’s birthday cakes, driven to Santa Fe, NM for Kathlene’s wedding, moved out of our house, started homeschool, put an offer on a new house, began University classes, started private school, opened another symphony season, transported a donkey, visited family in the hospital, moved into a rental house, moved out of a rental house, and are now moving into the duplex that we plan to purchase.

On one particular day, I packed my stationwagon to brim at sunrise, left the old house, drove to the University,  met 325 students until sunset, Mapquested the next house, and drove to the new place and felt quite thankful it had a bed. 

As we drag Kaghondi along behind us, there's a chance he considers this a normal American life.  He has a cozy place on the couch for which we apologized.  He cheerfully recounts stories of his last bed that consisted of sticks, ropes and cowhides, all under a thatched roof that barely hindered the rain.  Kaghondi seems to be unflappable and immensely resilient—we’ll have to try harder.

African music, Swahili, and his cheeriness waft through the house.    It is wonderful.

Kaghondi enjoys toying with the kids by offering inane answers to their questions. 
Daryl asks, “How long have mommy and daddy been married?”
He responds, “Ok, add your ages together, now subtract the difference, now add 3 because it is Friday.” 

Another time, one of Sam’s friends asks, “Why is your skin dark?”
He cleverly answers, “It’s not dark, I’m just sitting in the shade.”
We all enjoy the quality entertainment from confusing an 8 year old. 

Kaghondi and the kids also have philosophical discussions about Halloween and Christmas traditions.  The kids endeavor to prepare him for these future events that are so vital to all of kid-dom.  Sam explains, “There is no such thing as Santa—it’s really the UPS guy that comes down our chimney.”

Since our rental house is immediately off South Congress Kaghondi has also had the pleasure of escorting the kids to the food trailer parks and candy stores.   The five of us often walk to restaurants, ice cream shops, barbershops, sports bars, clothing stores, hamburger joints, as well as to Congress Avenue Bridge to watch the weirdos watching the bats.  Funny how they were all looking at us.

Kaghondi doesn’t often comment about American culture but he did mention that his mother would clutch her chest, gasp, and then faint if she witnessed the lack of clothes covering the women in this country.   She might assume these poor girls don’t even have the funds to properly dress themselves.  Why on earth else would they go out in public half-naked?

He also articulated another point about the ubiquitous nature of technology.   From smart phones, automatic sliding doors, escalators, ATM's, to a button for food at a Sonic, he was concerned that if we abandon him, he might die.  Hard to imagine anyone equating the act of ordering at a local Sonic to the valuable skills needed for survival in the Serengeti. 

But he is right, not about dying from abandonment, but rather that technology is seeping into every aspect of the American life.  The compelling nature of this technology is evident from the hundreds of people camping on the streets for over a week (presumably with their IPhone 4s) in order to get an IPhone 5.    When walking across a University campus one rarely finds a person free from digital consumption.   Social gatherings are plagued with people tapping messages to other people elsewhere.  The elsewheres do the same reducing our social gatherings to bus stops with hors'doeuvres.    Is texting “Get Well” as good as seeing someone in the hospital? It is certainly easier, germ-free and better than nothing, but we definitely lowered our communication standards. And yet, here is where my truncated ideology falls flat on its face as I communicate to you via guilty fingers while using the criminal element internet. 

Beyond obscuring face to face communication how is the ever pervasive technology affecting our development? Article after article boldly declare the detriments we are bestowing upon our youth (radiation aside).  Education Week’s homepage describes the college freshman class of 2016 as “…addicted to a new generation of ‘electronic narcotics.’”  Along those lines, Nomophobia, fear of losing your cell phone, has been recently labeled as the biggest fear in the industrialized world.  With the advent of Siri and the boom of virtual personal assistants,  there is now digital grief counseling available giving us the benefits of companionship without the responsibility.  When will humanity be available without an appointment or loss of electricity? 

Ok, maybe I’m being just a lowbrow Luddite.  Hopefully, will we never have to look back and shake our heads with the same smug pity with which we view the Lucky Strikes girls.

So, I shrug when Kaghondi asks why so many of us behave this way.   I guess we are looking for something—not to feel alone--maybe?  And yet with that search we lead ourselves into a more solitary state.  It seems our cultural insanity is escalating and we continue to remove ourselves from truth through distraction.  But I find solace and peace in the fact that my life's circumstances have introduced me to a taste (though be it not all sweet) of authenticity.   That, in itself, is refuge for now.    

Stay tuned for updates on our housing situation--at least there's wifi under the Congress Ave bridge.  

“The universe is merely a fleeting idea in God’s mind—a pretty uncomfortable thought, particularly if you’ve just made a down payment on a house.”  Woody Allen

“Where thou art--that--is Home.”  Emily Dickinson

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."  Albert Einstein

“May your cell phone battery die on a sunny day, and may you be not too far from the beach.” Daris

Wondering if zombies carry cell phones,

Greetings from Norway!!

Wedding photos in Santa Fe

Wedding reception--notice the paper airplane...
Kaghondi has already mastered the skill of creating answers. 


WH Chronicle No. 12.3

Aug 10, 2012

 ("Huh?" You say.  Keep reading and you'll still have no idea.)

Welcome back!  After a long, dark, hiatus, your Whaleherdienda correspondent is finally able to construct run-on sentences without spewing anti-consumerism vitriol; but still happily reports with surprisingly little objectivity.   

While we were away the world kept turning so the following is a synopsis to bring you up to date. 

In order of increasing interest:
1.     Daryl had to trim her toenails a few weeks ago.  They were getting a bit too long and starting to poke through her socks (We’re starting at the bottom of the 'interest barrel' in order to lower your expectations). 

1.5  Jamilly is doing great.  She has decided that boys are a waste of time.  She reports that girls are better and more likely to be sober at 20 years of age.
2.     Both kids are now Camp Veterans.  Despite daily letters to us claiming severe homesickness, they report having had a great time especially after facing the boredom of home.
Daryl (with busted lip) and Sam at Brother/Sister Picnic

3.     Our friend Gary is home from teaching in Tanzania and brought a little kitty stowaway.  His blog is another beautiful view of Makumira and the music world we enjoyed. 
Gary's Tanzanian Kitty acculturating with his American Kitty

4.     Our friend Jacque and her family will be leaving in September to teach at Makumira.  Randy and crew are looking forward to having them.  I’m sure they’ll have a great time.

5.     We sent our beautiful Norwegian Princess back to the Viking Motherland.  We miss her.  She kept a lovely blog while she was here with us.  You can find it at:  Hilde's Blog 
Hilde swimming in the sunshine.

6.     New members to the clan:
a.     “Broke Beak” Louise
Louise, the broke-beak chicken, urr, I mean, cockatiel taking a bath in the fish tank.

b.     Posey the Pooch
We missed the kids so much while they were at camp that we got a dog.  True.
Posey--there's nothing unusual about her, yet.  She's just cute.

7.     We’ll be searching for a new place to hang our hat.  We’ve been back in our house long enough for the shower curtain to get moldy so it is time to move on to a new domicile.  Lord only knows where we’ll end up, but it will probably be closer to you than Tanzania (unless your last name is Stubbs).
A house is where you hang your hat and it is time for the next hat rack!

8.     Speaking of Tanzania, our new family member has arrived!!

Someone should rescue this poor man from our evil clutches!

Meet Kaghondi (Ka-goan-dee).  He is a graduate of Makumira University and has been accepted to The University of Texas’ Butler School of Music in the Music and Human Learning Master’s Program (cue:  ooooohhhh, aaahhh).   The program is two years long and will insure him a faculty position at Makumira University Music Department upon his return with a master's degree. 

Needless to say, he is up against a steep learning curve on American culture shock.  While driving to the airport Tom and I were looking through our ‘African eyes’ wondering what it will be like for him.   I kept questioning what bits of advice to offer.  Seriously, where do you start and how far do you go?  We’ll all live if there are elbows on the table while eating, but what about wearing a hoodie at night while walking down the street?  Or explaining not to follow too closely behind a nervous white lady?  And who's going to disclose the N-word?  And then there's high fructose corn syrup.  Oy, good thing we have two years to iron this out.  

Driving home from the airport Kaghondi points out the car window to the miles of consumerville along the interstate highway.  We happened to be passing a Home Depot and 20 of its closest box-store friends.  “Is that a government building?” he asks.  
“Nope, just a place where we buy things.”   I stopped there, as you all can imagine how hard that was for me. 

We offered him a wristwatch as a welcome gift.   I also refrained from diatribing about how often schedules and deadlines take priority over people and situations.

We ate at a Mamacitas on the way home.  They brought out his plate of carne guisada  and he asks, “Is all of this for one person?”   Of course, this is after the shock of free chips, salsa and tortillas.  He was full before his plate arrived, so imagine his concern when we requested a 'doggie bag'. 

Of course, Americans are extremely friendly even though very busy and distracted.   I just hope Kaghondi sees the truths and detects the distortions.   Money, technology, spray tans, and dog sweaters are only tools and not solutions.  But just to make sure, we've already taken him to  Target, Taco Cabana and Dave and Buster's Video Arcade within his first 24 hours.  We have earmarked Six Flags Theme Park and Costco for the next 24. 

How do these cultural differences affect someone?  We will all watch from the other side of the mirror this time.  

"I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed.  I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible.  But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any."  Mahatma Gandhi

"But in the Kalahari, it's always Tuesday, or Thursday if you like, or Sunday. No clocks or calendars tell you to do this or that."  Gods Must Be Crazy, 1980

"So, what games do ya'll play in Africa?  Chase the Monkey?"  Coming to America, 1988

Until my calendar says we meet again,



WH Chronicle GHD Final Cut

Feb 2, 2012
Happy Groundhog Day!!

Go make the popcorn.
Get comfy.
Enjoy 9 minutes and 48 seconds of Whaleherd silliness.

for the infamous family Christmas newsletter, 
via video format, 
delivered on Groundhog Day.

Dancing the Punxsutawney Polka,
Daris and crew


WH Chronicle GHD 2012 Trailer

January 25, 2012

To get everyone in the mood....

In case you have any problems seeing the above video, click here for an alternate link.

Counting down 'til the groundhogs,