Archive | December, 2011


8 Dec


Climbing the curtain to sniff out her prey.



8 Dec


Climbing the mosquito net in pursuit of a bug.

Fur Parenthood

8 Dec



Helen could’ve picked a better time to come into my. She arrived at a low point and at first I think both of us were pretty frustrated. Me because I had this cat who played REALLY rough, woke me up in the wee hours of the morning, and added the stress of making sure she didn’t get outside for the first two weeks. Her, because she had to wear a stupid cone, found herself in a new place and spent the majority of her time locked in one room with almost nothing to hunt/pounce on (which she REALLY likes to do).


Helen comes from another volunteer who loves her very much, but finished her service and returned to America. Part of my initial stress related to worrying that something would go wrong, like she’d escape and try to return to her former home or have an issue with her stitches from getting fixed. It didn’t help that I was supposed to remove her stitches with the help of a sedative the vet provided, which didn’t work.


I felt the same kind of stress and worry when I first started taking my mom’s dog out, some might consider her my mother’s third child. I dreaded having to tell Helen’s mom bad news much the same way I wondered if my mom would forgive me if harm came to the dog while in my care.


I kept reminding myself that she only had to be kept inside for two weeks and that eventually I’d be glad for her company. Indeed that day has come, we have spent quite a few hours with her in my lap while I read or watch a movie and I enjoy talking to her in silly voices (my housemate probably thinks I’m crazy).


She’s also been a really fun subject to talk about with my coworkers. They want to know what she eats, how old she is, how she’s doing etc. On the downside, I think the combination of having a cat and school being on break has caused an increase of kids hanging around my house (kids have sticky fingers literally and figuratively).


There are a few quirks that I’m still learning to live with; she used to suckle her mom’s ear. So far I haven’t let her do that (I can’t even handle a dog licking me) but I do cringe every time she gets too close to my face or neck. She also like to Parkour…. off of me and usually it hurts. I feel like my back might look like Nancy Botwin’s when she was dating that Mexican drug Kingpin.


Upon arrival she made haste to the highest point in my room, even though she was still wearing her cone and there wasn’t too much room on top of the thing my clothes hang on. She’s also climbed my mosquito net and curtains in search of prey. Photographic evidence below.

Wine Turkey

7 Dec

For Thanksgiving this year I went down to the Peace Corps Regional house in Kamembe and celebrated the following Saturday with a few other volunteers.

The menu was a mix of everyone’s favorites and included:

-Corn pudding

-Buttered carrots

-Garlic mashed potatos (I made)

-Squash soup (YUMMY!)


– (canned) Cranberry sauce

-Baked cinnamon apples

-Lemon raspberry pudding pie

-Pumpkin spice pudding pie

It was a pretty low-key day which hasn’t been like all the Thanksgivings I’ve ever had. I was in charge of the mashed taters and the pies. I was going to make stuffing but we weren’t able to get some of the ingredients and I just wasn’t feeling it. The pies are an homage to Christa, a volunteer who finished her service and returned to America in mid November. She taught us to appreciate the goodness of a pudding pie with a crust made of sweet biscuits you can buy here.

It was strange to not be drinking my weight in water, abstaining from alcohol, and getting lots of rest in preparation for the half marathon I’ve run the Sunday after Thanksgiving for the last couple of years.

AJ who we’ll call the main coordinator of this turned out to be quite the hostess, making a turkey out of poster board and igitenge (what the fabric they sell here is called) in addition to name cards and a lovely tablecloth.

Because I wasn’t abstaining from alcohol I was pretty stoked to imbibe some wine. During my visit to Kigali I finally tasted a red wine that I liked and it just so happens to come in a box. But hey, it’s from South Africa so that makes it kinda classy right? So we picked up a big box (6.5 bottles) and it became the thing which we attached the turkey to. It was so much fun to refer to it as ‘the wine turkey’ that I proposed that we refer to all subsequent boxes of wine as ‘wine turkeys’ we shall see.

After eating and washing dishes I continued the Wiersma family tradition of playing spoons. It wasn’t all that lively though as half of us were pretty tired from going out the night before.

Even though there wasn’t any turkey to put us in a tryptophan coma we were still pretty sleepy and after a movie (Tropic Thunder) we called it a night.

Now for some pictures!


6 Dec


Additionally, I updated my wishlist to reflect the generosity of folks. However, there are some things that didn’t make that list and are needed pretty quick. They would include:
1. Funfetti cake mix and frosting for my birthday in January
2. Moleskine 2012 planner
3. A watch because mine died the other day. A cheap water resistant timex with an alarm would rock my world.
4. Arm and Hammer with baking soda toothpaste. I’m down to my last tube!

It’s Not Beginning To Look Much Like Christmas

2 Dec

As I read stories about Halloween snowstorms in New England, Christmas shopping, Black Friday, Baker opening, and a day after Thanksgiving powder day I find it difficult to believe that 2011 is almost over and the Christmas season is almost upon (some) of us.

The lack of change in seasons here is throwing me for a loop because I used the changes in seasons in the US to get excited about upcoming activities the new season brings and reflect on the ones I’ve enjoyed in the passing season.

The weeks here feel like a roller coaster. Monday the slow tick tick tick wind up to the week bringing anticipation and a little fear about the what the coming week may hold. The hours contained in Tuesday and Wednesday bring enough ups and downs with sometime on Wednesday offering a bit of a reprieve where I start to enjoy myself and relax a bit. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday seem to fly by and before you know it it’s Sunday evening and I feel like it’s the end of the ride and I’m sad to see the weekend go.

Despite the how each week feels they seem to add up quickly and though I’ve experience both the rainy and dry seasons in Rwanda I don’t sense much of a difference in the places that I’ve lived. Though other volunteers, especially those living in the East definitely have a different experience.

All of this has me wondering how I should spend the holidays, if I should make special plans to celebrate them or just treat them as a normal day. Never fear, I had/have plans for both of them and it’s not crying in my room watching chick flicks and eating all the chocolate I can get my hands on.

I like the activities and seasonal beers that winter brings and the time for family that comes with Christmas. As far as decorating and ‘getting into the spirit’ I’ve never been big on that. I think I get more excited about decorating for Halloween. I have to admit though, there are some holiday traditions that I really enjoy though if it were up to me to keep them going they probably wouldn’t.

Where am I going with all of this? Well last Christmas this really amazing lady I know gave me a small X-mas present (that she made) even though we both new I was counting down the days until I came here. It just so happens that that particular item made it into my baggage and is my sole Christmas decoration (for now at least). I can’t think of a better thing to have, a reminder of a place I love dearly, and a person I love even more. So thanks buddy!

An ornamate that mimics a mural in Bellingham

Cutest Care Package Award

2 Dec

Winner of the Cutest Care Package Award


To be honest I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with the kindness and thoughtfulness of some family and friends when it comes to letters and packages. I hope that I’m doing an ok job of reciprocating.

Last weekend two highly anticipated packages finally made it into my hands. They were complete with everything a good care package should have, some practical, some whimsical, a couple photos, and a nice long letter.

My friend Kelly made her summer project writing letters to me but she’s been a bit preoccupied since starting her new job. However, I was treated to a ‘small but mighty’ care package of her doing. This isn’t everything she managed to cram into the box, but rather a highlight of some of the cuter things.

Did you know they make an Arnold Palmer insta drink powder? My life in forever changed. That little pencil pouch says ‘french toast’ and ‘oui oui’. I laughed for quite awhile after reading that. There’s a couple pictures, a MATCHSTICK HERB GARDEN…… seriously where do you find something like that? A couple of my favorite pens (pilot G2s) and a super cute wall hanging, though I’m not entirely sure that credit goes to Kelly for that since I also got a package from another friend and everything got jumbled together.

A big thanks to my mom who has been AMAZING sending dried fruit, a bottle of syrup, and two pounds of goldfish recently among other things.

My former corworkers have also been spectacular, one of them kind enough to do all the coordinating for quarterly care packages. Their thoughtfulness and sentiment continues to boost morale.

More than packages, I covet letters. I keep them all in a big zip lock bag and unearth them like burried treasure on the rough days or when I want to feel closer to home and people there.