WH Chronicle No. 6.7.14

June 7, 2014

Dear Loved Ones,

Hope this chronicle entry finds everyone enthralled in your summer activities of walking, swimming, yodeling, or attaching homemade telemetry equipment to weather balloons (click here to see our friend’s fun).   

With some tears and heartache, we wished Kaghondi farewell as he returned to his motherland.  The Sunday before his departure was especially touching as our whole family enjoyed his vocal solo at Central Presbyterian.   Between the Swahili, the deep well of African memories, and his imminent departure, the moment broadsided us with emotion.  Snot, snorts and gasps were heard from whaleherds (mostly me, though).  Several little ladies patted my shoulder.   I began to worry that I might affect Kaghondi’s performance if he were to see me in the midst of this messy emotion.  I slumped over and waited for it to subside.  Though in Swahili, the song was probably about something very emotionally and spiritually powerful, like sheep grazing.   We were all affected, in the best possible way, of course.   It wouldn't be so sad, had it not been so wonderful. 

That afternoon, in the park, Tom burned some burgers and dogs for about 50 people.  All the patrons were big Kaghondi supporters; though, most of them would say they were there to help the Hale family get through their post-Kaghondi blues.  

Several times Kaghondi tried to express his thanks to us and would become completely flummoxed with his words and emotions.  We've explained that the blessing worked equally in both directions. Regardless, I would give a dismissive wave and then tell him to ‘just go home and make babies”, as he and Deborah are eager to share their love with more children.    

Unbeknownst to us, Kaghondi is a bit of a rock star with his multiple achievements.   New acquaintances would say to us,  “Did you know he wrote a book?”  “Did you know that he wrote a new choir piece?”  "The Bishop was blown away by his sermon on World Relief Sunday." To which we could respond, “Well, did you know that he wrote multiple chamber music pieces and just recorded a vocal track for a new album?”   When I asked Kaghondi about his book he was so unassuming that he wouldn’t acknowledge its existence until he tired of me making up titles.   It is a collection of stories of his life as a pastor in rural Tanzania.  “After She was Born a Woman”  It will be available for Pre-order on Amazon soon…

Even though Kaghondi’s time here has come to a beautiful close, his time in Tanzania with a new perspective and title is just beginning.   The last two years he absorbed science museums, movies, NASA, books, documentaries, art museums, musicals, ballets, operas, concerts, Dogtober, Gay Pride, and amusement parks.  Now he has to re-assimilate in his home culture with a wildly different understanding of the world than most of his fellow Tanzanians.  This inherently presents challenges.  Though I want to wish him the happiest life, I know that his newly acquired knowledge, worldview, and new title will bear a burden.  Many are intimidated by education and critical thinking and will revel in creating barriers, perhaps even more so in Africa than the USA.  So for Kaghondi, I wish him happiness, but more importantly, I wish him the courage, tenaciousness, and compassion to pursue his truth despite all obstacles.  Godspeed, Kaghondi.
  “The scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.”
~ConfuciusThe Analects of Confucius "It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem."
~G.K. Chesterton

"Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit."~Bill Cosby 

 "The badness of a movie is proportional to the number of helicopters in it.”  
~Dave Barry

Bon Voyaged Out,

Kaghondi's last weekend at an amusement park!
Post-scary-big-coaster-ride: he's still smiling. 

Shopping for the Party

Kaghondi's Welcome Home Party!

Happy Family Sharing Cake

Now THAT is a happy lady!

Despite 30+ hours of travel--he is  happy to become African, again. 

And the happy family is together at last.  
The End (not really).  


Whaleherd's GHD 2014

Feb 2, 2014
Six more weeks of winter!  Despite overcast skies, Phil saw his shadow!  At least if he is wrong, an early spring is less likely to attract lawsuits than a sky-dumping blizzard.   And with a 39% accuracy rate since 1886, one might take these things into consideration.

Feb 1, 2014 

Dear Fellow Groundhog Day Lovers,

Once again, we wrap up our Groundhog’s Day Eve events with the Groundhog Day caroling and some hot Groundhog tea while sitting near the swamp cooler.  Making those dirt angels was exhausting.  Now we anxiously await P. Phil’s prognostication and hopefully, this year, he won’t be indicted for a bum forecast--furrvilious lawsuits (click here to read news article).  

Recapping the Whaleherd's 2013, that wild ride started in February when we found out that Tom had to have his heart re-plumbed.  Evidently, it was leaking as bad as the house we were remodeling. 

The doctor mentioned that the surgery was not a big deal.
“We do it all the time.  We just crack the chest open and repair the little valve.”   
Tom responded, “B-b-but, I play French horn for a living.”  
“Oh, that’s not a problem for us.  My niece plays the recorder,” he poorly introspected. 

That sent me into an internet-information-gathering-tail-spin resulting in the conclusion that Tom should apply to be a candidate for a robotic, minimally invasive procedure at Cleveland Clinic.  Though it can all be summed up in a few sentences, it was a real saga of hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, preparation, RV travel, and anxiety with a side of family vacation thrown in for good measure.  Outside of being dead for 8 hours, Tom fared the experiment quite well.  Sam announced that the summer’s travels were ‘better than Africa’.  So, of course, we bought a bus. 

Currently, this bus operates splendidly as an extra bedroom—as long as you don’t mind that extra bedroom being in a diesel truck mechanic's shop.  We are working towards bedroom mobility, but feel confident that its glorious deficits will always provide ample chronicle fodder.  AAA appears to be an excellent investment for the upcoming maiden voyage.

MADLIBS Section (fill in the blanks with an appropriate word):
With the smashing of a bottle of (alcoholic beverage) on the (part of a vehicle), 
we’ll christen our (RV type vehicle) named, (proper name), 
as it rolls out of the shop (direction)-ward, into (location).   
Tom (verb) his (noun).

No matter your insertions, it is plausible. 

Suggested names to be painted on the front of the bus: 
Rhoda Geen (as in “On the”)
Hale on Wheels
Hale’s Handbasket
Birdienda (it is a Blue Bird bus)
Birdienda Basket 
Bird Brains

Other news of non-interest:
We were invited to a wedding recently and I had the sudden realization that we looked like a refugee family fresh from escaping the throes of mayhem.  I decided to exercise some quality control so that we wouldn’t be confused with the Duck Dynasty crowd.  Everyone’s hair, pits, beards, were cleaned and trimmed.  We managed to wash the mud off of Sam.   Somehow, they recognized and treated us as human beings and not stray groundhogs.  

But oddly enough, the principles of quality control that were applied that singular day did not go unnoticed by other members of our family.  Shortly after the wedding, Kaghondi indicated that the jeans I was wearing needed to be retired.  They were no longer even candidates for a Goodwill donation.  I’m not sure which is worse, someone from a developing country exercising quality control on my wardrobe, or the fact that I’m not convinced by his reasoning.

We did manage to find some warm clothes with less holes for our New York adventure.  In an effort to practice wisdom in gifting, we try to purchase experiences rather than stuff.   So Kaghondi’s birthday, graduation, and Christmas presents were a round-trip ticket to New York.  Daryl, too; though, if she doesn’t graduate from anything we’ll request a refund.  We stayed with a dear friend in Brooklyn and ran completely out of time and legs before we could see it all. 

This year’s Groundhog Day video is another collection of poor cinematography, sad editing, and weak attempts at cinematic humor.  As my actors/actresses/crew continue to age and become potentially more help, their interest in the creation of the project wanes.  Other seemingly urgent technology (such as Mine Craft and TV) offers convenient distractions and trumps my efforts in fabricating the family docu-drama.  But I persevere so that the GHD video becomes my kids’ newest distraction and then I can express disdain with perfect circular logic.   

 "The groundhog is like most other prophets; it delivers its prediction and then disappears." -- Bill Vaughn
"This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather." -- Phil Connors from the movie, Groundhog Day

Decorating the Groundhog Cookies with Quality Control and Circular Logic,