Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Seeing through someone else's eyes

            The last month and a half has flown by. Hard to believe that “Where the Sky Meets the Sand” will be officially released in just a few days. Back when I was notified of that magical date, I promised that I would try to post some excerpts from the discarded files, all the scenes that I had to delete because I had too many points of view and was confusing even myself. I mostly needed to cut the scenes told from the perspective of my Maasai characters because I felt that I couldn’t do them justice. I didn’t feel right being in the head of people I hadn’t lived among for more than a few days at time.
            In this scene, the Maasai boy Ole first meets Jenny, the American businesswoman who changes his life just as he changes hers. 

The sun, as it burst upon the horizon, woke the boy in the morning as he slept in the crook of the tree. He cursed himself for being so lazy, so useless. He would simply have to find the lion now as it slept away the day in some shady spot on the savannah.
The boy broke off a piece of chapati and chewed it while he walked. Then he pulled a short stick from a scrubby bush and rubbed the end of it on his teeth, until the fibers of the stick were splayed and tickled his gums, reaching the places between his teeth.
He passed a herd of zebra and several giraffes. When he drank water from a muddy river, he heard the baboons in the trees on the other side. He imagined that they were chastising him for taking their water. He thought he saw a hippo downstream, but couldn’t be sure as they wallow deep into the mud at the bottom of the shallow river until only their nostrils are sticking out.
The boy had never been this far from the village by himself. His innate sense of direction gave him no cause for alarm. He knew he only had to turn around and he could walk right back to his little mud and dung home. But he also knew he couldn’t do that until he had killed the lion and tucked its tail in his pouch.
He heard a rumble in the distance and saw dust rising. As he watched the dust cloud move closer, he sometimes saw a spark of light as if a fire was about to start on this object. Soon, however it was close enough that he could see it was only the sun bouncing off of the metal roof. Leaning all of his slight weight onto his walking stick, he waited.
As the jeep stopped in a cloud of dust next to the boy, he wondered what interesting things would be inside. The driver looked like any other man from his tribe, except that he wore clothes all over his body. The other people – the boy assumed they were people though they didn’t look anything like him – were covered in clothes too. But their skin was bleached the color of white sand, their hair was straight and fine. They had black straps around their necks from which hung black boxes, some large and heavy looking, some small.
There was even a woman in the truck. Her hair was long, down past her shoulders, and it was the color of the sun. Her skin was the lightest, almost pink, and her eyes were the brightest blue. He didn’t even know that people could see with eyes that color. She smiled at him and said something through the open window.
The boy looked at the driver and didn’t say a thing.
A Maasai warrior. Picture taken by my daughter when she lived among the tribe for several months in 2010.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Weathering the Storm

As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:23-25 [NIV]
I’ve gotten together with various members of my family more in the last seven months than I have in years. Unfortunately, as you may know if you have been following me, few of these occasions have been happy. Earlier this summer, Hubby and I decided that we needed to host a family picnic so that we could all feel good about seeing each other for a change.  

We’ve not had much of a summer here in the Northwoods this year, but we have been blessed with at least mostly decent weekends. Today, however, the day of the family picnic, it is cold, cloudy and the forecast promises rain and possibly thunderstorms.

Hubby and I have a contingency plan; we have a large living room. We may all be cozy by the end of the day, but we will have a good time. (At last count, 38 people may be here, in addition to four dogs!)

And in perspective, what is a little rain compared to Hurricane Harvey which has been belting the Texas coast.

Lord, Jesus Christ, help us to remember that whatever storms may roll through our lives, whether from the weather or personal problems, it is all under Your control. Amen 
The potato salad is ready and the burgers and brats will be going on the grill by noon. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Day Two in Door County

Our second day in Door County last week, our first major stop was Whitefish Dunes State Park. What a beautiful shoreline. 
 I guess I don’t have to narrate every picture. 
 This one certainly needs to comments from me. Isn’t this clever? 

 The furtherest beach access was the dog beach. We were all happy to see Dino out swimming. It turns right back into a puppy. 

 This is Cana Island. On the far side of it is a neat looking lighthouse, which I would have loved to see.
 There isn’t a bridge to cross with a vehicle or open water to cross with a boat. Instead there is a watery isthmus, which you cross by riding in a wagon pulled by a tractor. I don’t know. That didn’t seem right to me somehow, so we didn’t even check it out. I don’t know how much it would have cost or if they would have let Dino on. Maybe another time.  
 An old barn somewhere along the road between Gill’s Rock and Sister Bay. 
 Liberty Grove Historical Society Museum at Ellison Bay. 
 Had beautiful views. I can see why someone would build their farm here 150 years ago.
 Last we drove through Peninsula State Park. Also had beautiful views. 
 And a lighthouse! It was starting to get late in the day, so we didn’t take the tour of it. I think we are going to come back some day, though. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Day One in Door County

After cancelling our campground reservations and spending five hours in the ER last Monday to find out that my pain was from a kidney stone, I woke up Tuesday morning feeling physically quite a bit better even if I was in a sad emotional state. Around 8:30, when Hubby suggested we take a ride to Door County, I sprang into action. We left the house an hour later.

What would have been a three hour drive was much longer due to lots of potty breaks, but that’s okay. We finally stopped for lunch around 1:30 at Bay Shore County Park in Benderville. Dino wanted to play, but no dogs were allowed in the playground area. He really needed a nap by then anyway, so finally laid down by our picnic table while we ate our picnic lunch. 
Before we left home, I had taken a few minutes to see what accommodations were available in Sturgeon Bay. I thought that Beach Harbor Resort sounded promising as they allowed pets, was right on the water and was reasonably priced. 
Hubby had doubts as we pulled up. It looked fairly old, but I told him life is an adventure. 
In fact it had been built in the 1940s and had been very fashionable at the time. After it’s heyday, it had sat empty for years, before a couple bought it, fourteen years ago, revamped it and reopened it. 
Our room was nothing fancy, but was clean. Didn’t stay that way long once we moved in though, huh? 
After settling in, we took a walk, first down to the dock. 
Then along the dead-end road until we reached the end and the beginning of the trail into Potawatomi State Park. The trail offered beautiful views of Sturgeon Bay

 We didn’t spend much time in the state park, as it was getting supper time and we were tired. 
There would be much more to see the next day.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I will not be shaken

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. 
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:8 (NIV)

I was going to write about Job today, the guy from the Bible, not the place we go every day to make a living. I was going to write about Job today, that guy from the Bible who had a really bad spell in life, everything that possibly could go wrong in his world did – his crops failed, his livestock succumbed to illness, his family died, he was afflicted with physical ailments.

I was going to write about Job today because I’ve been feeling that way the last seven months. The emotional and mental stress I’ve been through since January 15 has worn on me like Chinese water torture. But it wasn’t until a week ago that the physical junk started weighing me down as well.

So I was going to compare myself to Job today. But when I opened up the Bible Gateway website, from which I glean all my Bible verses, to find a passage from the book of Job, the verse for today was Psalm 16:8. I can’t add anything to that. God is good and with Him by my side, I will not be shaken. Yes, this too shall pass. 

Praise God. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

This too Shall Pass

When things are not going well we say, “This too shall pass.” This actually comes from the Bible, Acts 2, which reads, “And it shall come to pass”. In recent years, I’ve heard a little something added to the end of it. “It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.”

I woke up Sunday morning with a belly ache; I blamed it on supper the night before. A chicken chimichanga, which was so good that even when I was full I pushed through and ate the whole thing. We were going to leave the next day to go camping all week, so I had lots to do – four loads of laundry, air out the bedding, put the camper up, clean it, stock it, put it back down.

The belly ache kept hanging on, with a few bouts of diarrhea throughout the day. I had checked the weather forecast for the week and it promised a few days of rain and only partly sunny the rest of the time. Highs in the mid-seventies at least. It crossed my mind that this camping trip wasn’t going to pan out.

Then, walking back to the camper late afternoon, I blew out my sandal. I know, big deal, right? Or a sign?

By dinner time, the belly ache and diarrhea had escalated so I only ate a piece of toast. That seemed to set pretty well, so a while later, I tried a bowl of cereal. The tummy did not like that. Or the lower right back.

By eight o’clock, I was in bed writhing in pain, the belly rumbling and tumbling, with a knife stabbing me in that lower right back. Hubby thought a trip to the ER was warranted, but I told him we should give it some more time. I laid down on the heating pad and tried to get comfortable. By nine, it wasn’t too bad and I slept most of the night.

Monday morning, I still had lots to do to get ready for camping. Since we couldn’t check in at the campground until three and it was just over a two-hour drive, I knew I had all morning to finish packing.

My back was only aching and my tummy only rumbling, so I took a nice hot shower. Then I ate a piece of toast. My body liked the shower all right, but not the toast so much. Nausea started rolling through my stomach like waves from a hurricane. The knife in my lower right back was joined by his friend the taser. Hubby made me cancel the campground reservations. “We can do something else this week, take a ride, stay closer to home and the hospital.”

“They have hospitals everywhere,” I retorted.

Shortly after that, however, I said, “Maybe we should go to the ER.”

Part of my problem is that every day, at the clinic where I work, I see patients who have had benign symptoms for a day or two. “My back pain is a nine on a scale of one to ten,” they tell me even though they have a smile on their face and are sitting at ease in their chair. “I woke up with a sore throat this morning, it must be strep.” “No, I didn’t take my temperature, but I know I have a fever.” “Oh, your thermometer reads 98.7? That’s a fever for me because my temperature is always low.” “I threw up an hour ago, it must be something serious.” “I’ve been coughing non-stop for weeks.” (Though they don’t cough once the whole time I am in the room with them.)

Anyway, so you can understand why I refuse to burden the medical community with my minor ailments. And actually, I was counting on the pain going away as soon as I walked into the building.

Nope, that didn’t happen.

When the doctor offered me something for pain through my IV, I naturally first declined it. When the nurse was sticking the needle into my arm, however, I asked if I could just get a small dose of pain meds. You’d think, from the way, I was curled up in a ball one minute, then thrashing the next, that they would have wanted to knock me out, with or without my permission.

I’ve rambled enough. I was thinking appendix or maybe a bowel obstruction. Kidney stone was on my list, and it even crossed my mind that I had picked up some nasty bug in Kenya in April and it just now had decided to take over my intestines.

Labs and CT scan came back with everything looking good, except for a 4mm stone in the right kidney. “Here’s prescriptions for Zofran (for the nausea), Vicodin (for the pain), and Flomax (to open up the ureters so the stone might pass on its own)."

Hmm? Here I am, four days later, in not much pain, but that darn kidney is still hanging onto its little stone as if it is a ruby or a diamond. My husband is just hoping it turns out to be something valuable. We have a better chance of buying the winning lottery ticket, dear. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Night Sky

 When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them? 
Psalm 8:3-4 (New International Version)

Too dark for a picture last night, but this was my spot. 
Before I went to bed last night, I thought I would hunker down on my deck and see if I could see any shooting stars. The Perseid Meteor Shower is going on now through August 24 and we are currently in the peak of it. The experts say that during this time a person can see 60 to 100 meteors in an hour. It’s been more than a couple years since I intentionally watched for meteors and since it was warm and clear last night, I thought I would try it.

Why do we find shooting stars so fascinating anyway? Is it because it is something different in the night sky? Is it because, even though we know scientifically what they are, there is still a mystery to them? Is it because we want to make a wish?

I don’t know why they fascinate me either. The greater fascination for me, however, is just the night sky. A hundred-million stars, some bright and twinkling, others hardly a pin point in the black fabric. Cassiopeia, Orion, the Big Dipper – the only constellations I know and can easily find.

The distance, the vast expanse. During the day, the sky feels finite, as if there is any end to it, as if that blue is the ceiling. If there are clouds, they mark the end point.

But at night, the stars go on and on forever. They do not end.

Thank You, Lord, for giving us the stars, the moon, the sun. 
Thank You even more for Your love which does not end. Amen.
The sky this morning, where I watched for shooting stars last night.
In twenty minutes, I counted ten, two of them even left a momentary tail in the sky.

Friday, August 11, 2017

2017 Kenya Log Entry 20

 I am going to make the official announcement. This is my last journal entry from our trip to Kenya this past April. We’ve been home for four months; I think it’s time to finish this out.
 Our second to the last day in Kenya, we went to downtown Nairobi for shopping. People always think that all of Africa is a modern-day wasteland, where there is no running water, no electricity, no modern business, certainly no skyscrapers
 Downtown Nairobi, however, is just like any other twenty-first century large city. You can look around and believe you are in New York City (I guess, I’ve never been to New York City and don’t plan on it any time soon).

 I wish I could have taken more pictures as we were walking around the streets. The only constant reminder of where we were was that Dan, the Maasai, was with us. 
 We shopped at Baboa’s and Haku Crafts in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel. Then walked a few blocks to the City Market. The City Market was a nightmare, I think. Nothing is marked and every price has to be negotiated. They will not let you walk away without purchasing something, so you finally cave in and buy something you don’t really want at a higher price than you should have paid. Or that’s what they try to do. All I can do is keep saying, “I have no money”, as the seller physically clings to my arm, as I practically drag them out of their shop with me. It’s pretty intimidating and stressful.

 My daughter Val was a champ, though. She was like a dog with a bone, not letting go when she wanted something and at her price. No, she didn’t always win, but we didn’t get ripped off either.

 Then things got crazy. We were going to meet Samson in the van at a certain location at a certain time. Loaded down with all of our purchases (which included probably 50 pounds of soapstone – it’s heavy stuff), we ended up running down the middle of the street, between city buses, . Dan, the Maasai, being ever the gentleman, insisted on carrying most of it, though he is skinny as a rail.

 When we finally got to the van and jumped in, as it was moving, all of us were pretty winded and starting to sweat. Dan just smiled. Even carrying six of our heaviest bags loping down the street behind us, his heart rate was probably less than 60. Those Maasai!
 Some of the soapstone. 
 Some of the paintings and batiks.
All such cool stuff. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

2017 Kenya Log Entry 19 (I think)

The last time I blogged about my most recent trip to Kenya, I was still sharing my adventures at Hell’s Gate. But we saw much more that day.

After the long hike into and back out of the canyon. 
              Just    have    to    walk    this    last    walk.
 Yes, I made it. We all did. 
 A short drive later, we were rewarded with a hearty Kenyan lunch. Apparently at the break room of the thermal power plant. 
 Next, was the even better reward – soaking in the thermal hot springs. I could have spent the rest of the trip there
But no, we drove off to Lake Naivasha for the boat trip. We were all thinking on the ride there that we were so exhausted that we would have been happy turning around and heading home. 
 Glad we didn’t. 
 And more Birds. 
 Then some warthogs.
 Then zebra and baby wildebeest. 
And zebra, wildebeest and gazelle. 
 Last. Hippos. 
And Hippos. 
 And more Hippos. 
 Yikes! It was a long day, but completely worth it! I love Kenya.