Monday, December 31, 2007

YBL Closing tournament- December 22/23rd, 2007

Just to catch up before the New Year is upon us…here are a few shots from the Youth Basketball League's closing tournament.
It was an exciting tournament for us because three teams travelled from the Copperbelt to compete (girls, U15 boys, and U18 boys). The teams came from one academy and performed very well, especially the girls- who won the tournament! The YBL is also happy that the Zambia Basketball Association supported us in terms of providing us with an official for Sunday’s playoff games. It certainly reduced stress on the coaches & organizers. We hope that this partnership will take off in 2008.

A big thank-you as well to all those who provided prizes:

Paul – shoes for the U18 MVP
Ingeborg & your forces in Norway- your donation from the beginning of the year provided individual awards
Sue Leighton- a basketball was given to both the U15 and Girls winning teams.
Connie- the First Aid Kit was used for minor injuries and we appreciate your contributions so much!
Our events have been all the more successful thanks to everyone’s support.

Here are the winners! (Oh, and the girls Crusaders team had dispersed by the time I could get a photo, so I’ve only managed a shot of their MVP- I’m so sorry that I didn’t get them all together- they were certainly an inspiration to the Lusaka-based girls team)!!

MVP of the U15 reigning champs the Matero Magic- Bongani

Most disciplined Player, from the Magic- Emmanuel

U15 Winning Team (both the league & the tournament for both 2006 and 2007) MAGIC

Kitwe Crusaders MVP- Carol

Since I couldn't get a team shot, here are the winning girls in action! Kitwe Crusaders vs. Chawama's Taifa Panthers

U18 tournament winners- Fountain of Hope

MVP U18- Fountain of Hope's Elliot

Out with the old & in with the new!

Before I forge ahead into 2008, I wanted to thank each of you for your holiday greetings. My little Christmas tree is surrounded by beautiful & thoughtful snail mail cards, my inbox has also received plenty of wishes and photos from your own festivities, and I have also received texts and phone calls. Thanks so much for thinking of me despite the miles.

2007 has been a wonderful year, & I look forward to what adventures 2008 will hold! Best wishes to all of you (as impersonal as it sounds on a blog, I do sincerely wish you the best)...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It’s been a lovely Christmas in Lusaka!

Alvin & I hosted a Christmas Eve party (it seems to be becoming an annual event)- and had a blast. The house emptied of the last party-ers by 3am. Needless to say Christmas Day morning was slow!

Here are Namukolo & Noah

I got in trouble once for not putting a photo of ME on my blog- so here's a photo of me. I don't remember this photo being taken (perhaps one too many glasses of Amarula?), but I sure have long eyelashes in this shot. I wonder if it's a shadow?!

Here I am again with my bululu (Namukolo). (Bululu means 'family')

Sugar with Kolo (It had been a long time since I'd spent time with Sugar, we were all so happy he came over). Note- that's my NEW FRIDGE in the background*WHOOP*. How does one live without a fridge in sub-Saharan Africa for over 2 years...I suppose I adjusted (& of course maximized the use of a deep freezer)- but this IS excitement!! (It allowed me to do up scrumptious tzatsiki and guacamole for the party...)

Sarah T left her edition of Canadian Cranium with me upon her departure. And let me tell you, we had a SCREAM playing Cranium...we started 4 on 4, but others had to leave, so here were the die-hards. Felt just like home...*smile*

Here is Kolo (again) with our good friend Gabby.

We headed off to Alvin’s grandmother’s farm for Christmas Day. There’s an annual get together with plenty of food and much laughter. We had a lovely time, though I forgot to bring out the camera - oops!

Like Christmas back home- it was nice to spend it with family and friends…& over indulge*smile*.

I’m sure there’ll be more to report as we coast into the New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tids & bits

I've been meaning to write, but I've not been 'moved' because my camera has been on loan to a none of my stories can be highlighted by photos. Sorry.

Friday afternoon I was in the Christmas spirit & happily did up some sugar cookies in the shapes of stars & gingerbread men. I even had icing & sprinkles (I am not my mother's daughter)*smile*. The Zambian bit of the whole baking escapade is that as I was re-rolling out the dough (some cookies had already come out of the oven- baked to perfection) I noticed a dark spot in the dough. Confidently, I thought "worst-case scenario, cockroach"; these things to happen. To my horror, when I went to remove the dark spot, it was a live mealworm. EEwwwwwwww. Hesitation. What to do. Throw out everything & waste all my hard work? With Dolly Parton's christmas tunes serenading me in the background, I made the woman's decision to keep on cooking...though I would refrain from eating the dough raw. Isn't that awful?

Saturday evening after a busy day of basketball, I came home to a refridgerator! I'm thrilled. Absolutely. How does one survive in Zambia without a fridge for over two years...?? You just get used to it. But now I'm excited about all the options I have with our very own fridge*WHOOP*

The team I used to play for (Shells) won the National Championship on Sunday, so it was a very big day! We beat our long-standing rivals- the Buffaloes (& buffalo soldiers they are) by a score of 100-90. There was much excitement & an ice cold Castle Sunday evening*smile*.

Last night (despite the rainy weather) I was able to train my boys, we have our closing tournament this weekend, so we're gearing up for one last weekend of basketball. The skies were clear for the hour and a half I spend with them. As training was about to end, a couple of raindrops fell- the boys start scattering- & within seconds I found myself in a torrential storm. It was crazy! I ran from the courts home, and was completely soaked to the bone. I had to ring out my t-shirts before stepping into the house, I had to towel my hair dry because it was dripping everywhere, and the aftermath is only a tiny aching in the ears. Really nothing to complain about since Luke is down with salmonella- right?! I'm counting my lucky stars...

I hope to put up some festive shots as my camera eventually makes it back into my hands!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hen Party

After Monica's matabeto comes the "kitchen party"- hen party if you will. It was a fine way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Monica, the bride to be

Alison with Monica.

I'm busy drinking wine with my colleague's friend Pamela.

Saturday evening we came home to find my favourite toad came to visit! Isn't she lovely?

Probably the biggest bit of excitement over the weekend came from buying my first Christmas tree. Alvin laughed at me as I happily decorated & moved things around...but he did mention that he wants to buy a green cloth to cover up the table with- I've got him on my side!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The art of mango-eating

I’ve just come from the kitchen in my office after eating a mango. I used a knife to peel & cut the pieces, allowing for minimum juices squirting down chin & arms, as well as keeping most of the hairs out of teeth.

What a sad way to eat a mango.

I’ve decided that half of the joy (scrumptious-ness) of mangoes comes from eating mangoes in their full glory. That’s right- teeth only- indulging in pieces of skin despite strong health warnings to eat only peeled fruits. Juice running down my chin, my tongue reaching my wrist trying to stop the juice from creeping up my arm and staining my top. Once only the pit is remaining, sitting back with whoever I’m with (a bit shy to smile), smacking lips & digging the mango hair from teeth. Doesn’t "givin' it your all" sound much more enjoyable than coldly cutting up & wasting so much of the sweet juice and worrying about staining work clothes*sigh*. There’s something about picking the mango from the tree & enjoying the sweet stickiness as it was meant to be enjoyed!

I suppose this if for all of you stuck in a cold snap!

And as an aside- the last two evenings when I've left the courts, I've been caught in wicked rainstorms. Tuesday there was torrential rain, a brilliant light show & booming thunder. (I actually called for a ride home)*hahah*. Yesterday evening there was a beautiful shower for my walk home, the rain falling heavily only much later in the night. Gorgeous.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I was counting down the days until December 1st! That was always the day my mom would throw on the Christmas music & put up the Christmas tree. True to my roots, immediately after my Saturday morning run, I popped in the Christmas music & pulled out my Christmas decorations. In all of 2 minutes, my decorations were up & I realized this year I need to invest in some more decorations.

This is my favourite new addition that was donated by Sarah T before she headed back home. I love it!

Then it was off to Youth League. My boys lost their last league game by 1 point (heart breaker) while the U15 team won their game in overtime by 1 point; too much excitement*smile*.
After youth league I wanted to go home & do a bit of cleaning & a bit of resting, as we had planned on linking up with some friends for drinks later in the evening. I head to the bathroom to do some cleaning & found this lizard in my tub.

Like I've mentioned before, I do like lizards as they eat roaches & various other bugs I hate; but I wasn't keen to try to sweep it out of the house. I simply closed the door & thought I'd wait for Alvin to come home to get rid of it. (Any excuse to curl up & get into Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns). I don't know why I was relying on Alvin, he likes lizards less than I was a good thing he brought home our good friend (& my running partner) Coach Roomie who quickly set our lizard to freedom.

Otherwise it was a great but busy weekend. One of our neighbours invited us out for drinks on Saturday night...and for those of you who've been invited out by an older male Zambian, you know he's paying for all the drinks. Inevitably I had maybe one too many Amarula's. We hit a bar I'd never been to before that had di-vine chicken wings- & all I thought was I'll have to take my brother here if he ever comes to visit*giggling*. (These are not like the 25 cent wings from Fraggle Rock, these are full-fledged chicken wings). Oh, they also ordered chicken gizzards which I'm sure you can't order at Fraggle Rock*grin*. It was a great weekend though it's been a rough Monday morning!! (I'm so tired- I blamed it on the basketball we played Sunday afternoon...Alvin disagreed & chalked my exhaustion up to Saturday's drinks...he's probably right!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thunder & Lightning

I think I owe my love of a good storm to my mother. I remember when we had the rare thunder & lightning storm in Edmonton, she’d wake the whole house up to come & watch the light display from a window. I’ve always felt sorry for people who fear the loud cracks of thunder, and who can’t appreciate the natural lightshow. Or maybe I should owe my fearlessness of a good storm to my Pop…after our drive through Edmonton’s notorious tornado in the 80s. Or maybe it was the time we went to Ottawa and my folks let me & my brother throw on our bathing suits and play in the warm rain. Perhaps it’s because rainstorms were so rare in the parched prairies of my memories. Any way ya cut it- I love a good storm!

But today I must confess that I was nearly in tears after an hour on the Lusaka roads in a rainstorm after dark last night. For those of you who know me well, you know I’m probably the worst back seat driver ever. Yesterday I had my own brakes in the passenger seat and was busy telling Alvin everything he was doing wrong (he has the patience of a Saint). But seriously, after we’d had a brilliant afternoon of (indoor) basketball, we decided to head home in the downpour. We had to drive a couple friends home who live in the boonies (which is why we couldn’t stick to the main drag and be home in minutes).

For those of you who know Lusaka, you can picture the pot-holed dirt roads that lead to the residential areas. Last night they morphed into muddy lakes, illuminated only when there were flashes of incredible lightning. With the sheet lightning, the whole sky lit up, thus becoming the most effective (though brief) streetlights in a town with few streetlights.

I should also add that I have a bit of a phobia of driving at night in Lusaka on the weekends. Sadly, drinking and driving is the norm here, and after a weekend of drinking, Sunday evening the drunken folks are starting to head home. For a couple of very long stretches of road, we followed (at a safe distance) a man who continually popped his head out of his window thanks to zero visibility through his completely fogged windshield. In doing so, he regularly swung over to the wrong side of the road into on-coming traffic. He did have his hazard lights blinking, but that small fact didn’t help me breathe easier.

After dropping off the guys, we high-tailed it home. But not without incident; Alvin thought a back route would be nice to take because the drunk drivers were sticking to the main routes. We headed slowly into a road that looked fairly flooded, but manageable. Thanks to another flash, the sky lit up, & we were able to make out just how flooded the road was. Alvin pulled to higher ground to turn round, as a Corolla chose to dive into the same road without caution. I was watching out the back window as the water nearly reached his tail lights. Unbelievable. I wonder too if that gentleman made it home last night.

After these travails, I will admit, I was almost in tears from exhaustion (and I wasn’t even driving). I was so happy to be safely home, and thankful to be in a dry house that I didn’t even lift the curtains to watch the light show- sorry Mom!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Updated: Zambian time

I had a date at the internet cafĂ© on Friday; I was hoping to resolve the difficulties from uploading photos to my blog. Well, the rains came & swept away the internet connection (after my anti-virus was 70% updated) GAH. But today things seem to be working out fine. I’ll just need to make another date with my laptop to upload the long awaited shots of my “peach” flat, and my favourite chickens.

I’ve managed to update a post I drafted a while back…so if you go a few posts back you’ll see photos of the other weekend’s festivities!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A close call

Yesterday I felt like I defied fate. I seemed destined for a head-on collision with another cyclist (who trusted his brakes less than I trust mine)*giggling*. We each managed to slow and turn just enough to eke out a passing route of inches. I was indignant, it was not my fault; I am very aware of when I am in the wrong, because I’m still getting used to the rules of the road here (& the fact that we drive on the left-hand side of the road).

Number one rule of the road (ok, the only rule of the road): the person driving the biggest vehicle has the right-of-way. Read: I’m on a bike; I’m n-o-b-o-d-y. I learnt that this morning…I did not feel like yielding to the gentlemen in the fancy little Toyota because I was driving straight & he was turning. I figure he had to prove his superiority in driving a car because nearly every other vehicle in Lusaka is bigger than his, so he must take his hits where he can; mzungu on the bike must yield or crash.

Confession: I love the bike despite the hard Lusaka road rules…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Technical Difficulties

I'm experiencing some trouble uploading photos. My goal is to resolve the issue by keep checking in. All 1 or 2 of you*wicked smile*.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Matabeto (mat-a-vey-toe)

Unfortunately my plans to attend Diwali were foiled- by the time I found a place from which I could purchase tickets, they were sold out. I’ll plan better for next year:-(

On the other hand, I was lucky enough to be invited to my colleague’s “matabeto”. This is a traditional Bemba ceremony where the soon-to-be-bride’s family cooks up a big feast, & brings it to the soon-to-be-groom’s family. Starting Friday night, a whole bunch of ladies get together to start cooking; I arrived late Saturday morning, so I didn’t have to embarrass myself in trying to cook a massive pot of nshima*giggling*. After the food is ready, there’s a bit of a ceremony with the almost-wife cooking the nshima and opening all the pots to show her elders what will be brought to her almost-husband’s family. (She remains behind…once the feast has been delivered to his family, all of the women come back to the house where they were cooking, and eat the portions of Zambian cuisine they left behind).

Here is Monica showing off all of her hard work!

All of the pots are loaded into trucks and we drive off, wrapped in chitenge (sarongs), bearing drums and in high spirits. It’s a bit of a drama; the group of women (all dancing with pots on our heads) only proceed slowly after the groom’s family gives money. Eventually we make it into a packed room full of seated men, temperatures suffocating & place the food down. Again, there’s a hullaballo with drums and dancing & the ceremony to present the food continues. More money is thrown, hands are washed- it’s beautiful. The brides’ side high-tail it out of there while the groom’s family enjoys the feast (I’ve decided it’s much more fun to be on the receiving end)*giggling*.

Here are my lovely colleagues (Left to right)- Alison is my Ugandan colleague (pink top), Mwiya next, Priscilla, & Miriam. (As a side noteI also take yoga classes with Alison & Priscilla. Yes a compeltely irrelevant detail)

It was a beautiful day. AND, I got to sport my new top (which also has a story). I had gone out on project site visits for work & we visited this one women’s club that knits and sells various products. My two co-workers left the women’s club with floor mats in hand, and as the token white person, I suppose they ‘gave’ me a much more elaborate gift- the top modelled below. I ended up having to pay an arm & a leg for it- but I think it’s a gorgeous top & sported it proudly at the matabeto. (Though I will confess I did get a bit of a sunburn through all the holes)*hahahaha*.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's certainly not raining cats & dogs

Well, the rains have come! It’s intermittently cooling things off, and disturbing morning runs & basketball training sessions. But it’s a beautiful time of year. Yesterday I got soaked in the morning on my walk to work, had a sunny warm poolside lunch, a gorgeously cool jog to the courts, and rained on again as we cut training short. Oooh the unpredictability!
Along with the rains come countless creepy crawlies. Yesterday morning I was grumpy due to a big dead roach in the bathroom, and a rather large flying black beetle thing that met its fate in my kitchen sink. Eeew. (After three years, I still don’t handle big flying creatures very well).
This morning there was a toad in my kitchen. She’s beautiful. She visited us last rainy season too. I think she’s female because she looked pregnant this morning. It’s either that or she was bloated on eating all the roaches*whoop*. We swept her out (but not too far)- I much prefer the toad to the beetle-y things. But really, in my kitchen is a bit much.

The sky is clear for now…we’ll see if I can squeeze in a run with the Shells this afternoon. Is it already Thursday? Happy weekend!

Monday, November 05, 2007

One for Guy Fawkes

I feel like blogging but I don’t have anything coherent to say; so here are the trials of the weekend.

Guy Fawkes: I always feel nostalgic for Lombard Crescent when Guy Fawkes day/night rolls around. All the neighbourhood kids would watch our parents drink & visit while we were allowed to stay up late watching the biggest bonfire of the year (burning a scarecrow of course). Guy Fawkes celebrations were looked forward to much more than any Halloween sweets...

Face lift: Friday morning I stepped out the back door to put my runners in the sun to dry after having washed them. I was shocked to see a layer of paint on our block of flats; shocked more to see the alarming pink colour. There are only four flats in the block on the plot where I live. But all of the flats are owned by different people…so the upkeep of the block is dismal. Somehow the four landlords finally agreed that the outside of the flats really needed a coat of paint. How they chose “peach” is beyond me…& I thought I left the pink palace over a year ago*sigh*. I do have to admit it needed a paint job…& I think it’ll look fine once all of the coats are on. Now if only they’d clear the trees that are growing out the eaves troughs… I’ll have to take photos

Basketball: Saturday morning both of BSA’s basketball teams had league games. The U15 team (in their second ever league game) got blown away by the 2nd place team in the U15 league. Poor babies. The U18s managed to redeem BSA’s name after a convincing defeat of the Munali Heats.

Suzy Homemaker: It happens rarely that I am in the mood for cooking or baking, so when that urge takes hold, I fly with it. I found the basil I was looking for, and consequently have a freezer full of scrumptious calzone*whoop whoop*. Falafel for lunch this week after my batch last night. Mmm. Admittedly, it wasn’t the most exciting weekend, but I’ll enjoy the benefits!

The heat: After my early run on Saturday morning, Alvin commented that he was surprised it was so warm before 7am. I was sweating buckets on the stairs as usual and thought nothing of it. However, on my walk to work this morning…let me tell you, it’s like an oven before 7am- it’s not fair. This is the time of year I love & hate. It’s close to rainy season, though the unpredictable rains haven’t yet started (I think we’ve had one day of rain). It means days that get so hot, then maybe late afternoon there will be the threat of rain, then nothing but humidity. Sometimes I think the rains cool things off, other times I think it just gets hotter.

Bathtub update: I remember recently raving about a spectacularly gleaming white freshly re-finished tub. The follow-up is that for some reason these people didn't smooth out the sides of the tub, only the bottom. So the walls of the tub are quite rough. I was livid yesterday morning when I cut my hand (from rubbing the back of my hand against the wall) while washing my greying hair. Pretty bad combo eh?

Gecko alert- I almost had a heart attack yesterday when trying to put a book on my bookshelf; this gecko zipped from before my eyes, and disappeared behind my treasured books. I jumped a mile & alerted Alvin (who hates geckos & lizards). I like the idea of geckos & lizards, because they eat mosquitoes (that are starting to swarm in this hot weather) and roaches…but I don’t actually like knowing that one is living in my bookshelf. The only other lizard we’ve had in the flat was a baby lizard (far cuter than geckos) that was about an inch long. T-i-n-y! I found him in the bathroom & wanted to keep him as a pet. Alvin refused. Now I’m left with a big gecko living in my bookshelf*sigh*

I don’t think there’s anything else to report today. Hope you enjoyed a disjointed update*smile*

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bad karma on a Monday morning?!

Well I got all excited to let the cat out of the bag this morning. In that place between sleep and awake I was thinking about how to word this post. Mostly I wanted to boast that I've finally chosen a program I would like to do to further my education...AND I've been accepted! I received the official letter of acceptance last week. I will commence my MSc in Human Resources Management by correspondence from the University of London's external programme in February. I'm really excited, it's taken me a long time to decide on a course...I will let you know how it goes as things progress.

But I got sidetracked this morning when I went to run a bath...and there was no hot water. I turned on all the hot water taps in the house expecting there to be an air block, no dice. I get a bit frantic...but there's cold water. I am no plumber. I give in (with some choice words) & have a cold bath. At least if I had a shower it could've been quick- but there's nothing worse than a cold bath. Immediately after I drain the bath, I hear water start running. No. No way. But yes, there is hot water- seriously, instantly after I stepped out of a cold bath. Insert stream of expletives.

Now I'm really getting worried about by walk to work. (I was excited to get up this Monday because I went back to my favourite cereal- it had been out of stock for a while...mmm, raisin muesli). That didn't last long. Cold bath. Surprisingly my walk to work was lovely. Except for the old man on the bike who got sidetracked while preparing to say goodmorning to me, missed a pothole & almost crashed into me. Poor old man, I think he would've broken into pieces if he hit the ground, he was seated on his bike so rigidly.

So, I guess it's the same old*grin*. A post that's neither here nor there...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Good morning, good morning to you

While home this summer, I missed waking up to the sounds of Lusaka. At 17 Lombard, I awoke to lawnmowers or car alarms. At my flat in Northmead, I love(d) waking up to barking dogs, roosters crowing and the constant hum of the fan.

Things have changed.

On the plot of land where I live, there are cottages (formerly known as servants’ quarters). One of the enterprising renters has invested in chickens. I wake up at 4:00am to switch on the hot water tank. I usually hit the toilet for that morning pee as well. At 4:00 every morning, I hear a rooster that sounds like he’s in his final death throes. He appears to be directly outside the window & his “cock-a-doodle-doo” sounds more like a rooster hitting puberty- the voice cracking after the first “rack-a-crack-eeerr”

Groggy & grumpy, I hit the sack until it’s really time to get up at 5:15. The puberty-aged rooster serenades me while I bathe, brush my teeth, apply various girly creams & comb out my wet hair. I’ve started talking to it nicely “Hey chicken, I can hear you, I’m awake- please shut-up”.

To no avail.

I went to the kitchen to prepare a quick breakfast & the attempted cock-a-doodle-doos seemed to be coming from just outside my door. I opened it and found the beady-eyed culprit. (To my surprise it’s a gorgeous black healthy-looking bird with bright red rooster-y things on its head & jowl). Despite his beauty, I was still miffed. There was a stare down. He stuck his bright red head high in the air & stalked off.

I’m praying that the cocky bugger doesn’t discover that I sleep at the front of the flats. If he trumpets outside my window he may have to die. So much for the nostalgia and romantic remembrances of African mornings while I was back in Edmonton-hahaha!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Recent reads

Every now & again I like to take a few minutes to reflect upon places I've escaped to in the beautiful world of fiction! I suppose this indicates that I miss book clubs...but anyway, here are a few of my recent reads. (My bookshelf is fuller than it has ever been since I packed half a suitcase of books en route from Edmonton to Lusaka, then inherited a couple from sojourners in Zambia)...

I read this great book called Summer gone by David MacFarlane (Canadian content). I was excited to read the book because it was supposed to weave tales of three generations (grandfather- father- son) of northern Ontario summers. And weave tales he did- but lacking one major aspect. Many of you know I spent a summer (or five) in Northern Ontario growing up. I used to live for the long days spent in the deep lake at Old MacDonald hill (we're talking North of Timmins people)*grin*. But being an Alberta native, I'd never met with the horseflies of Northern Ontario. I remember being quite like a hippo in the water, I'd swim underwater for as long as possible, then come up for a quick breath of air before diving below again. I wasn't in synchronized swimming training, but only dodging horseflies. And believe it or not, MacFarlane didn't mention once, the crazy number of vicious horseflies while telling tales of summers at the cottage in North Ontario. I was indeed disappointed.

I also just finished reading the last of the Harry Potter series. I love them all. And perhaps now I can indulge in watching the movies...

On a completely different tangent I read Pox: Genius, madness, and the mysteries of syphilis. I thought this Deborah Hayden book would be a little too heavy on the epidemiology for my liking, but it was a fascinating read. It takes into account several famous (or notorious) people during the past centuries and explains how they may have actually had syphilis. Like I said- fascinating.

While home, my mom lent me a must-read. It's called Water for elephants by Sara Gruen. I think everyone has a secret curiosity regarding the circus, and Gruen masterfully ties circus-life into ageing seniors and their fantasies while whittling away hours in seniors homes. I'd recommend this book to anyone! On the never ending plane rides to & from home, I did finally get through Harriet Beecher Stowe's acclaimed Uncle Tom's Cabin. I'm so happy I made it through all it's "classic-ness"- it is a lovely timepiece.

Now I'm knee deep in A civil action & again, am intrigued. Was it really a blockbuster movie? I did read a bad book recently- Black Chameleon. It sounded a bit promising in that it takes place first in Kenya, then UK, then Zambia- but it's a bit too colonial for me. Ok, not even well written and racist. But I had to finish it in hopes that it would get better.

So, when I'm not blogging I guess you know where to find me*smile*. And just to move away from books for a minute- I rode the bike into work today for the first time ever! I'm so hyper, it was such a great ride. The worrying bit is how I'll manage in rush hour traffic after work. I'm sure my cycling trials will instigate a blog or two...keep an eye out*grin*

Friday, October 12, 2007

No longer empty

First prize is split between my Pop & Clara for sending the first snail mail to my new post box! Whoop whoop! This must be the first letter my Pop has ever written me (usually when I SOS for a document, he'll FedEx the thing & not even write a note). Redeemed, 100%. And Clara had previously been one of the worst people for staying in touch, but now I'm sure she's sent me more postcards during my time in Zambia than anyone else.

Mom is the runner up- sending me beautiful fall leaves from home!

I feel so loved, what a great way to start the weekend!!

Thanks for opening up the floodgates! (Right). Happy Friday.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Canadian Thanksgiving

As many of you know, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favourite holidays. I'm not sure if it was Gran's annual feasts, or her glow while watching her troops eat, or the fact that there were never any Christmas-gift pressures. Whatever the case, I've always loved Thanksgiving & even when away from Canada, I want to celebrate. I had my whole post planned out as well. I decided it was time to roast a chicken with potatoes & carrots, do up some home-made perogies & whip up the gravies. Alvin & I invited a friend (who actually didn't make the dinner)- & I set the table (yes, I have a dinner table for 4 now) with these beautiful burgundy place mats printed with elephants that were a gift from Zimbabwe. I dug out the ol' camera & realized all the batteries were dead. My recharge-ables really don't have any juice left, & the batteries we most recently selected are apparently not strong enough for digital cameras. I had no idea one could purchase a 'weak' battery. I better see if I can't find any old reliable Duracell or Energizer here, at an exorbitant cost I'm sure.*sigh*

The other photo I wanted to load today was of my new re-finished bath tub!! For those of you who'd seen (or used) my old cracked, water-stained ugly tub, rest assured the next time you come you'll find a gleaming white tub!! Woo hoo

It's been an exciting weekend (especially since I spent the whole of Saturday afternoon swimming- it's been so ridiculously hot...oh, & I didn't mention that the end product of the tub is brilliant...but I couldn't bathe in it for three days YIPE). I believe I've had enough sponge-bathing this hot season. Inevitably I've come to work rather pickled after swimming Saturday & bathing most of Sunday*giggling*.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadians!!!!!!!! (I'm in the office)*hahhaa*. We get Zambian Independence Day off instead- October 24th. Laters

Friday, September 28, 2007

Many thanks

There are some very special people in my life back in Canada (actually...people all over the world) who stay so well connected with me & my life here across the many miles.

I wanted to send some photos as a kind of THANK YOU (on behalf of the whole of BSA) for the loot I managed to take back with me in August. My 3 fellow coaches are sporting new whistles. Alinafe and Mulemwa (Coach Mule, pronounced moo-lay) balance a handful of girls and the under 15 boys team (see following blog for exciting news on the U15 boys)! The other loot includes various pinnies, numbers for jerseys, cones, & these beautiful basketballs. The kids still surprise me each day. I wish I had time to introduce each one of them…I cherish my time with them, and how they’ve grown with me. Thanks especially to my Pop & Sue for sharing my happiness & contributing to our programs at BSA. It’s all very humbling for me.

Here are a few of the items on display during our training sessions. Taken with the photos in the next blog...I hope it gives everyone a good idea of just how happy we all are??!!

Coach Alinafe in action

Gift (Bupe) sporting a Bellerose Academy pinnie!

Here's one of the few girls we have participating...for now she's training with the U15 boys.

Cones, pinnies, & Basketballs galore!

Under 15 BSA team

We at Breakththrough Sports Academy are thrilled to announce that the BSA under 15 basketball team has won their first league game! Coach Alinafe was out of town for the big match, so Coach Mule led the team to a 12-6 victory against the new Taifa Panthers team!

Aren't they beautiful?!

The pre-game huddle

Coach Mule mid-game


Close up during a time out...

Coach Mule (mulemwa), and my co-coach & good friend Kennedy

It's raining jacarandas!

My friend Paul inspired me when I saw some of his photos of jacarandas in full bloom. He took some great shots of the ‘mystical mauve’ petals against the bright blue skies. The next day I set off for work, I carried my camera & thought "If I can capture some morning light…who cares about looking like a tourist"- right? (Only I'm really bad at that & usually pawn my camera off on others to take photos)!

Nonetheless, I dug out my camera (and you can probably tell by the photo below that I paused long enough to take the shot, and hastily moved on, not worrying about morning light at all- I only hoped no one had noticed my mid-stride photoshoot)*grin*.

Funnily enough, my sights weren't drawn to Paul's sky views...but my attention was diverted to what was below the jacarada trees. Underneath the jacarandas lie huge beds of the fallen purple flowers. Call it the Canadian in me, but I wanted to tromp through the petals as I would the crackling fall leaves that should be present back home this time of year. But the petals are not at all crunchy, & I let my imagination run wild as I felt a spring in my step. I reminded myself of the gummy bears, after they had drunk their “super juice”, and sailed through the air. Ridiculous I know. I really giggled as I certainly had extra bounce in my step while diverting myself from the main road, to the earth spattered with the flowers that have blown off from the jacaranda.

Still, the smallest things amuse me.

Catching up

I hope to post a couple of blogs today...I had written some last weekend but never had the chance to upload, so sorry if there are things a bit out of order*smile*

Here goes (keep your fingers crossed that the electricity doesn't cut as I'm about to hit "publish"). Zambia- I love it!!

Sultry summer daze

After a long cold season, the heat is back. I was trying to think of good descriptors -for the heat- during my afternoon walk…I didn’t come up with any keepers. The intensity of the sun is incredible, then all round there are colours- bright petals of the bougainvillea (hot red or a screaming orange), the greens of the banana trees colliding with the clear blue Zambian sky. What did make me giggle was the relief from a breeze (not a cool breeze, just a slight shuffling of hot air). I was watching for movements in the trees- the breeze is so slight, that the petals of the flowers move, or the leaves on the trees- not the branches themselves. And that barely perceptible ‘breeze’ nearly made me cry out in bliss.

(The next day I was heel toe-ing it to the pool. The heat was yet again intense. This time I noticed the slight breeze moved the soft hairs on my back & arms; who thought it possible to feel such a cooling effect only from the shifting of hair?)

I was so wired today. I rode the bike over to the Youth Basketball League games this morning. I’ve been to chicken to cycle what with all the traffic, potholes, & other cyclists. I think I fared rather well, despite the fact that I don’t really trust the brakes. And the gears have this bad habit of randomly changing. By the time I made it home in the midday sun, I was dripping with sweat. Kolo suggested swimming earlier, which I declined as I had made running plans with some other friends. As soon as I reached my doorstep (I didn’t even put the bike away or unlock the door), I called Kolo & asked where & when we should meet to swim.

It turned out the be a lovely afternoon- it was great to have some chill time with Kupela before she heads off to the UK to study for her Masters degree. Aren't we a lovely group?!

Kupela, pregnant Vicki & Kolo

This is Kupela/ Shakira:-)

Kolo and me chillin

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another one bites the dust

Ok, that's certainly not the most diplomatic way of saying goodbye to another friend. Marilyne has left Lusaka after seven years here (with at least a little drama)*giggling*. I suppose after seven years, she may as well have left with a little bang. She is a former colleague, turned friend. She's been a great support to me in Lusaka, & is taking a big step to start a new life back in Montreal.

That's all I want to post today. I have lots on the go...but this one's for Marilyne!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

c/o Canadian High Commission

It's only taken three years...but officially- wait for it

here it comes

I have my own Post Box number now!!!!! Well, let me rephrase that, you can reach Alvin & me at the same post box now. I have been assured that incoming mail should be more secure (fewer hands should have access to taking)- so I thought- let's give it a go!
Please please don't disappoint me & send something to our brand spanking new EMPTY box*hahaha*.

You can send Alvin or me mail at:
Post Net Box 358
P/Bag E891
Manda Hill Centre
Lusaka, Zambia

Can't wait to hear from you via snail mail. It is a small wonder to receive words, thoughts, or pieces of my friends from around the world- so please share even the mundane details- they don't seem so routine to me!

Thanks bunches in advance!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Eureka Farms

The trip to Ndola was foiled by a minor transport dilemma. But Plan B was great fun for all! We decided to check out a ‘game farm’ only minutes outside of Lusaka. We headed out after a delicious nshima lunch- destined for swimming pools & adventure.

We settled into our comfortable lodgings, swam, & savoured cold Castle on a steamy hot day. After we’d dried off, we thought we’d take a short walk to see what the farm had to offer. Well actually, the fact that a group of Zebra parked in the campground looking for some nibblies inspired us to see what else was out there. To our surprise, we headed just outside the gates to face a small heard of buffalo. These beasts are massive (Alvin & I reminisced about the lion vs. buffalo Kruger Park video on YouTube that was all the rage while we were home- in Canada). I certainly wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of those horns!

Even more shocking than the close proximity of the zebra, puku (or kudu…I’m not sure which type of antelope were bounding nearby), buffalo, and monkeys were the giraffes. I had no idea we would be able to see such creatures at Eureka Campgrounds (guess I didn’t fully research this quick trip)*grin*. I think giraffes may be my favourite African creature (so far). They look so awkwardly put together, yet are ever elegant; watching them run is a wonder.

Here are a couple of shots…& now back to work.

Jenny, Gabi & I. Mmm, Caslte!

Our rustic accommodation

Look how close we are!

This shot is for you Tom. Gabi, Al & a giraffe- & NO Castle. Hmmm.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Labour Day

Well, things have been pretty hairy of late…so unfortunately, I haven’t found time to post. Forgive me, my loyal readers*grin*

This morning I’m feeling back to 100%! Like Canada, Monday was also a holiday for my High Commission. However, in preparation for the “results-based management” training offered through CIDA from Tuesday through Thursday I worked for a couple of hours in the afternoon. When I arrived back home from the conference facility, I was exhausted and I crashed out. I was woken up for dinner & found myself hanging my head over the toilet, rather than enjoying a meal. It was awful. I have no idea what set my stomach off, but I was sick! I didn’t manage to make the first day of training on Tuesday. I slept for most of the day. Wednesday I found myself feeling much better, & I headed out to the training. This morning I’m connected to Chaminuka wireless updating all of ya’ll on my whereabouts*smile*. I’ll be back in the office for my half-day of work on Friday…& then off for adventure on the Copperbelt. Details to come!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Small victories

This is completely random, but I’ve been so chuffed with my personal filing system of late. Hear me out- I’ve earned a reputation for my terrible capacity for short-term memory. It seems countless times in a day that I will reach my destination, & forget why the heck I wanted to go there in the first place. And the usual things, such as misplacing my keys, forgetting one item for my run to the courts- either a sports bra, socks, or my contact lenses- it’s always something.

So this week I told myself that there were two documents I needed to find in my house. One is an email sent from a colleague that had a whole bunch of brilliant information on Universities. The second is a magazine that has an article on this mystical Zambian lake (that I’m planning to find on a road trip next month). And surprise- I’m two for two! I found both pieces of information in the first places I looked. I laughed so hard when I read the date on the email- October 2005.

I’m a machine!! At long last, proof that there is method to my madness.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Asleep at the wheel

My posts regarding my trip home are fairly rushed. I’d like to post once more, a few more memories of our (mine & Alvin’s) trip to my motherland.

We happily linked up with our Zambian friend Kelvin (who has lived in Canada for the past year). There was much to catch up on, & plenty of basketball to play!

I took a lesson from my dear Gran on how to make her veranike. I thought I had mastered the perogy-making methods on my Lusaka countertops…however, Gran provided me with some short-cuts & some good ideas! It’s always fun spending time in the kitchen with Gran though she must never have cooked with measuring cups…

The all-American game of baseball…we had a great time with my folks & the Haley’s at Edmonton’s Cracker Cats game. Astoundingly, they won (though I must admit we didn’t stay until the end of the game…I was ready to go after the 7th- or is it 9th? inning stretch)*giggling*.

Folk Fest, as always, is a highlight of Edmonton summers. Family had come up from Seattle & I got to catch up with my friends, & some of “Tom’s” friends. I think it may have been folk overload for Alvin though…in fact, four days has become too much for me!

This guy had us in stitches...he must've been Scottish in a past life. You know how they always joke about what's under the kilt...YIPE!

Four strong in the beer tent*wicked smile*

This was a great night. Like old days, surrounded by good friends, too much booze, & too much laughter. I'd like to point out two things in this photo: first, that tantalizing plate of nachos (someone was quick to get the photo because they didn't last minutes). Second, those wine glasses. Wine tasted better from that glass...I wonder if I could find something similar in Zed...

Again, it was so great to be surrounded by so many loving people! I was hoping to catch up with the Ottawa clan in September, but unfortunately I will not attend training in Ottawa this fall. I suppose the next trip will be equally as busy*smile*. Please don’t be offended if you didn’t make my blogspot…I kicked myself on several different occasions for having left my camera at home. Plenty of memories are residing safely upstairs though- so thanks to everyone once more.