Monday, July 6, 2009

One of the Best Parts of Summer....... visits with family!!! Before you is a photo taken last week of my brother, Peter, his wife Elise, and my two neices Mali and Kate. We were so lucky to lay claim to them for 2 and a half days during their current home viist from their posting to Tanzania, in East Africa!! The main focus of this home visit is a college tour for Mali. She is 17, the same age as my Matthew, and the family has a country tour mapped out that takes them to about 10 colleges that Mali is interested in. They landed here in VA at our house last Wednesday evening and we had a wonderful relaxing visit. We were all sorry to see them leave but very grateful that we got to see them at all!!
We managed to fit in a river float on the Rappahanock river, a bit of Civil War sight seeing, several loads of laundry, some fun play time ont he WII attempting to teach Uncle Peter to play wII golf and then a wonderful tour of several galleries in Fredericksburg on first Friday evening. Peter also managed to squeeze in time for a compost pile assessment and reorganization .(more about the glories of COMPOST later in this post!) Then on the 4th, they were off to join friends in Baltimore to watch the Fire works from a deck over looking the Inner Harbor while dining on Maryland Crab. (tough gig for them don't you think??) We stayed in on the 4th attempting to keep our critters sane while the neighbors set off firewarks!!!!

Somehow the WII does not play golf like one does on a real golf course, but we had fun trying anyway!! Check out the form of that shot!!!!
I love this shot of the kids! Of course Buddy refused to be left out- he would have prefered to ahve been left alone to bask in his sun spot!!! The kids had a great time together!
The Jensen's always bring us amazing treasures form their part of the world. This visit was no exception!!
Matthew was gifted with two Ethiopian Daggers.

Everything that we are given has been a functional object at some point in it's life. These were purchased in Addis Ababa, by Peter during a recent Peace Corps trip.
Matthew also recieved a wonderful chunk of Obsidian form the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Last Fall, Mali and Peter trekked to the summit, with a hand made OBAMA sign in hand!! Kili is a long extinct volcano so I have no idea how old this piece of stone is but I do know that it is at least ancient!!!

Becca was given a wonderful handcrafted instrument that is a cross between a western guitar and a violin. It has two wire strings and a "bow" made from a very straight twig. The challenge now is to figure out how to play it without driving the entire household mad!!!It is called a GITA and is made from carved wood and a calabash gourd.

One side of the opening in the gourd is covered by goat skin . The skin is held on with thorns from the Acacia tree. You can see the needle like thorns thru the opening in the back, here.
I got a wonderful strand of paper beads and then two strands of beads from Ethiopia made from silver metal and bone.

Peter also gifted us with a real historical treasure. He is always on the lookout for oddities and knows that I love to collect glass and that Tom is an engineer and would also appreciate this gift.
This is a Codd Bottle. It was designed in Germany to hold and transport carbonated beverages before the technology had been developed to holding vessels closed when the contents was stored under pressure.

This is an ingenious invention that has the bottle and the cap of the bottle as a single unit. By placing two pinches in the molten bottel and encasing a rubber gasket and glass marble in the neck of the bottle, the carbonated beverage could be stored. when the liquid is dispensed into the bottle the marble is forced up against the gasket at the top and protrudes just a bit from the top. Thus the bottle is sealed .

To get at the beverage, one must smack the marble down into the bottle where it is stopeed by one pinch in the glass and held away from the opening by the other pinch.

These bottles are quite rare as they were meant to be recycled but once the kids of Zanzibar saw the marbles contained inside as a potential toy, the bottles were smashed to get to the marble and therefore were not returned to the factories for refilling. Apparently one of these bottles , cobalt blue in color , was just auctioned off for over 500,00 dollars!!
Cool stuff, don't you think????
Many of you know about what my family is doing in Africa, but it bears repeating. Elise works for USAID- a division of the US State Department and PEter does contract work for the Peace Corps as well as developing a wonderful program to educate folks on the glories of compost!!!!
Yes, I said COMPOST!!!!! He is proving to all who are listening that they can grow enormous yeilds of healthy crops in gardens right outside of their homes and can do so with tools that they create themselves and with native crops and no chemical fertilizers.!!! Folks all over Africa are after him to come to their county to train their people to use this simple and elegant system for self sustainability!!
This is his Logo on a shirt that he brought for Matthew.
This stool is a very sturdy cooking stool that has been used for many many generations by women tending the cook fires to feed their families.
The stool is a symbol of strength, stability and sustainability. Permagardening is a sustainable method because each of the legs of the stool remains intact: environmental soundness,(compost) economical viability and social acceptability. Means its good for the environment, makes money and it fits within the social/family framework. Bustani kwa Maisha Bora means Gardens for Better Living in KiSwahili.
I am in the process of convincing him to get a blog up and running so all who are interested can follow along with him on his incredible journey. he knows that he wants and needs a blog, it is just a matter of geting him out of his compost piles long enough to put one together.!!! as soon as he has a blog up and running I will be sure to announce it here!
I hope that everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July! Our visit from family was certainly one of the highlight's of our summer!!


Sharon said...

What a neat time you all had. I am amazed with all the gifts they brought you. I bet inspections at the airports were exciting. LOL Sharon

Beena said...

I would follow his blog! Sounds like they are doing amazing work.
Beautiful treasures!
Glad you had a nice time with family!

Anna said...

I'm so glad you had such a great visit. Those quick ones with very loved family from far away CAN be tough. Plus, I think I have a green one of those bottles! I'll bring it to LT tomorrow to show you.

Judy said...

I've been waiting till I had time to sit down and really enjoy a few of your posts. I'm so glad that your visit with Peter and family was so much fun! You must be very proud of him and all that he is doing in Tanzania. What extraordinary gifts too! I, for one, can't wait till he gets his blog up and running. I know it will really jump start a lot of folks here in the US to 'beef up' (poor choice, I know) their composting!


Mzuribeads said...

hey, great blog! Mzuirbeads have been individually hand rolling paper beads to create unique pieces of jewellery from the village of Ndejje in Uganda. I would like everyone interested the art of paper bead making to take a look a our website, where you can find a shop near you, our visit our online shop where we are selling our loose paper beads and paper bead jewellery.

Thank you,
Kirstie MacLean

Dot said...

What a interesting post my friend. Loved seeing photo's of your family and seeing the gifts you received too. I am sure this trip will be remembered for a long time.
I am always struck with how loving your family is and how much you embrace that love.
Dot xoxo


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