Sunday, June 24, 2012

One of Those Foodie Blog Posts

I made pizza today from the Vegetarian Times magazine. If they had the recipe posted online I'd send you to it but let's face it: you would never actually try making that pizza. It took me two full days to actually get it made what with it take 2 hours just for the dough to rise and having to retrieve peppers from the store last night. It wasn't supposed to have cheese but my brother refused to try it if it didn't have it. I realized how crucial cheese is acting as an adhesive for all the vegetables. So one had cheese and one just had a little sprinkle. 

Pretty beautiful aren't they? Mostly whole wheat dough mixed and kneaded with love. Fresh basil and thyme added as well but it didn't need it- the sauce was garlic- strong and potent. 

For the Possible Future Ahead

If the days come when you discover I have moved to Africa, remember this: I know it's bad. Today, I think there is more bad than good in the continent and it's only worsening. In the last few months I've read several books about personal lives in Africa with a few entertaining ones in between to lessen the severe cut on the psyche inflicted from the others. But I've never seen it bad in Tanzania. In the seven months I've spent there over the course of three years, there's very little to pull out that has anything to do with the disease and terror that goes on. So I don't really know first hand. It's not broken my heart.

Sometimes I read blogs and memoirs and hear stories and think, "I cannot relate to that life at all. Even the worst it's been for me is really not that bad. How do people live lives like that? Why do they continue?"

But I've heard enough to know that there are far superior places to live.

New Zealand is a safe, beautiful country I'd be happy to have the privilege of living in again. I love Italians and the land there. Spain might be worse than broke but it boasts an ancient pink light that spreads over the old dusty paths that traverse miles and miles of naked, sorrowful land that remains hopeful in the morning light. The U.S. has so many problems that a lot of Americans are blind to but it's not the worst. There's a justice system and checks and balances. Careful voting processes. Aid. Loans. Money with value. Cheaper gas than the rest of the world. Fast food and bean burritos. It's not so bad here.

I know of really decent places to live but some nights, to be honest, I drive home at that time of day- dusk, when the sun is just disappearing and the shadow trees stretch far across the spilt gold wheat fields on a green landscape and look for the little dirt driveway and house on the hill that reminds me of houses in Tanzania. And my toes involuntarily curl up into the callused pads of my bare feet and my mind catches up that that little dirt road is something my heart responds to and feels an inexplicable kinship with. Only people who've decided to live there despite everything can maybe understand what I'm talking about. I think everyone has their own land in their hearts the body's driven to find. Some spend a lifetime searching for it and many times if they're lucky enough to find it, they allow too many things to stand in their way. A heart can waste away with ache and bitterness beating with that knowledge of separation.

So someday, if I make the move, just know I've sought out and not shied from the horrible that goes on in this world. That I'm aware when I close my eyes the problems don't go away and cease. It's only by bucking up and asking for the knowledge that one becomes aware of what's actually going on. Sometimes it's brutal. Then it becomes reality. Then you know what you're up against and how much it's worth it to you. If it is worth it.

I'm naive. I can tell people from Africa (and everywhere else I've been come to think of it) think I am when they hear I consider moving there. It's not untrue but not totally true either. I don't have some rosy single Christian girl idea that I'll keep my fancy American life and go visit the orphanages and play with kids in between a career. No delusions of grandeur that I can cure people and save the poor people. Helen Keller said,

Life is either a great adventure or nothing. And everyone finds adventure in different places. I only suggest you look for yours and if you find it, be courageous enough- yes, courageous by definition- to tackle the challenge. I'm not sure what my future holds, but after seeing some particularly gruesome images and reading pages that had me losing faith that good exists in people, I felt compelled to write it out. Maybe I'll suddenly fall in love, get married, have twelve kids, drive a minivan and decide cooking and sewing is the life for me. I'll go to bed at eight, domestic as a plate.

OR, as Carrie said on Sex and the City, "Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with."But seriously, if the man doesn't wear Lynx Africa deodorant, we have a serious problem. Not because ooooh it's Africa, but because Lynx's Africa smells so damn good. It could be Lynx Brazil for all I care. Just layin' down the law for any hopefuls out there.

Here's the books I've read recently that have to do with Africa: 
Kisses from Katie, Katie Davis. Read in October 2011.
Another Man's War, Sam Childers. Read in November- December 2011.
Morality for Beautiful Girls, Alexander McCall Smith. Read December 2011.
Whatever You Do, Don't Run, Peter Allison. Read in January 2011.
The Kalahari Typing School for Men, Alexander McCall Smith. Read in December 2011.
A Long Way Gone; Memoirs of a Child Solider, Ishmael Beah. Read March 2012.
Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Read in April 2012.
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, Alexander McCall Smith. Read in April 2012.
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller. Read in April-May 2012.
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, Peter Godwin. Currently reading May- June 2012.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Genocide & Racism in South Africa's Post-Apartheid World

‎"Genocide Watch continues to be alarmed at hate crimes committed against whites, particularly against Boer farmers, an important early warning sign that genocide could occur. " -from the website of Genocide Watch

A story rarely told outside of Africa is the shift to whites being targeted and victimized. This piece is a reaction against this shift- albeit with roots in Apartheid and racism. Truly phenomenal work by the journalists. I have personally met several South Africans in the U.S. and New Zealand who have emigrated from South Africa due to safety concerns. 

In this situation, it's hard to know which side is telling the truth or how much of it. There are multiple websites dedicated to getting the word out about genocide against the Boers and to be honest, I find it hard to believe it all to be the recent work of black Africans. This Facebook page (Stop Farm Attacks Murders in South Africa) updates almost daily to provide information regarding what's going on.  However, in no way do I seek to promote racism. 

To be ruthless and unsympathetic, whites in general have treated blacks and every other race as inferior and subhuman for most of history. It was bound to catch up with us. On the other hand, I've read a couple of books, seen a film or two, and met people who in no way asked for or deserved the treatment they received. It comes down to this: it's all bad. What's been done and what's being done. It's all people hating and brutalizing other people with a whole lot of history and strings attached. 

*Personal note: I completely disagree with Franz Jooste's opinions and racist views. While there can be clear cultural differences that manifest themselves in the form of skin colour, no person should ever be thrown in the lot with everyone else. I have met South Africans who are against racism and treat their black South African neighbours as brothers who treat all skin the same and others who detest fellow human beings for being black. We are all different but fundamentally quite similar. We all know what it is to feel cheated, the desire to belong and we all require love and human connection to be on the better side of life. 

I hope you who read this post and watch the video will further researching on your own and seek and consider information from both sides. 

1st Young Life Paint War

I hate heaps of photos posted at once but I just loved these and want you to see how fun us American youth can be with some paint and whiteness.

For those who don't know, which is probably most people, I lived in an apartment with several Young Life leaders and have become rather involved in Young Life without actually being involved in the program itself. I sure as hell wish I'd known about YL when I was in high school- it's a global thing so I'd recommend you check it out to see if it's in your area. I've seen the devotion and love the leaders have for their kids and to YL. Here's what it is:

"Young Life doesn't start with a program. It starts with adults who are concerned enough about kids to go to them, on their turf and in their culture, building bridges of authentic friendship. These relationships don't happen overnight — they take time, patience, trust and consistency.

So Young Life leaders log many hours with kids — where they are, as they are. We listen to their stories and learn what's important to them because we genuinely care about their joys, triumphs, heartaches and setbacks.

We believe in the power of presence. Kids' lives are dramatically impacted when caring adults come alongside them, sharing God's love with them. Because their Young Life leader believes in them, they begin to see that their lives have great worth, meaning and purpose.

This is the first step of a lifelong journey; the choices they make today, based upon God's love for them, will impact future decisions … careers chosen, marriages formed and families raised. All ripples from the time when a Young Life leader took time to reach out and enter their world."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Delicious Dinner & Vietnamese Coffee

On the plate
1. Salad (4 kinds of lettuce from the garden, beets, steamed and chilled asparagus, onions, fresh red pepper, red cabbage and cucumber) with the world's most amazing balsamic, vinaigrette olive oil and a little of Wegmans parmesan dressing. 
2. Oven baked artichoke with garlic, olive oil, rosemary and a little lemon squeezed on top eaten with...
3. Homemade tzatziki my roomate Tonja and I invented in Spain (plain greek yoghurt- mine's from Wegmans, shredded cucumber, lemon, salt + pepper, and a lot of pressed garlic). 

In the cups
2 tbls. (ish) condensed milk to taste with fresh ground French pressed mystery coffee I found in the snack drawer and coffee ice cubes. Thanks to Tracey Curran in New Zealand for introducing me to Vietnamese style iced coffee!

In the chair
 one poison ivy covered brother and his new butterfly knife. 

I proudly made all the dishes! 

The Chicago Bean & Navy Pier...(with a temperature)


the end of Navy Pier

Two weekends ago I drove 11 hours to visit my friend Angela from Tanzania. I got there, sat down for dinner, then we made a fire. Then we went out to hang with Ang's homeless friend Josh for a few hours. 

On Saturday she took me to Chicago to see the bean and Navy Pier where I lamely got sick for most of the day and we went home early. When I got home the next day after a grueling 10.5 hours I hugged my mom, collapsed on the floor with a 103 degree temperature and thought, "I didn't hug Mom yet..." Spent the next week in bed shivering in 85 degree heat. But all's well that ends well- Angela even survived Tijuana, Mexico. We both survived the week!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

One of the chief problems that inevitably comes with sharing your personal life with people is exactly that. You're sharing your personal life with people. Obviously, I haven't been doing that lately. Technically, if you asked the US border patrol, I've been back just over one month now. Really though,  it's only been about three weeks and it seems like a year.

I've been to Canada, gone apartment hunting, failed at making pavlova, learned to make amazingly popular New Zealand afghan cookies, missed church to catch up with my aunt, been to church, smoked a cigar with friends, applied for jobs, spent heaps on gas visiting people, helped friends move, went dumpster diving and raided Dunkin Donuts' for a treat at the end, been given a veggie garden to care for in Fairport, said goodbye to a friend, driven to Chicago, and been horribly ill with fever and coughing for almost a whole week. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I like, no, I love to write. But my life simply isn't as interesting as it's been for the last eight months. Judging from the stats, not everyone who reads this is an American. (Although I have learned South Americans take offense to this, what else do you call us? United Statesers?)

Still looking for a job, though I might have found one. Last night I went to a pottery class and my hands remembered all of the bad habits. A few bowls came out but it was pretty frustrating to feel like after two semesters and being offered the managerial position of the ceramic studio I need to re-learn the correct way. If not, I'll have all the dessert bowls I'll ever need. It has been three years since I've sat at a wheel.

These days I take my dog for a walk now and then, try my hand at cooking (and usually fail), visit friends in the city, vacuum, and try to figure out RIT's system so I know when I'll be graduating. Such a process.

Tomorrow I'll be driving 10 hours to Chicago to see Angela and stay with her until Sunday. I wish everyone in the world had Angela in their life because I don't think anybody could ever forget her. She's unforgettable. Angela and I met three years ago on our first trip to Tanzania. One simply should not live in a tent with people for three months and experience the "I can't believe this is happening right now! TIA!" moments without having friends for life. Somebody has to remember when the choo collapsed on Megs or waking up in a Maasai land to find yourselves camped in a floodplain where savannah had been the night before. Or the rat in the jumba roof that ate Moby Dick. And the first time we saw zebras and were informed the rabbit-sized deer is called a dik-dik.

So I'm going to see her :)