Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sloppy Joes, Strawberries, Softball and a whole lot of loving life...

Picking up where I left off dinner at Mary Ellen’s was great. She made baked ziti and afterwards we all sampled some of her very special teas. She had about 15 types of fresh teas that you put into your own tea bags. Very cool. Afterwards we watched Hairspray with her projector. I am getting pretty spoiled with all this big screen movie action :)

Sunday I slept in. When I did finally get up I listened to an HTB sermon about God and Science. It was pretty awesome. In the afternoon I ventured to take a walk to the market to buy some fruit to make a fruit salad to bring to the super bowl party. Most of the vendors were closed, I kind of forgot it was Sunday. But the walk was nice and much appreciated even though I was pretty hot by the time I got back. I tried to get online and talk to my family but the internet was down. What a disappointment. I later learned they were doing work on the network. ugh. However, making the fruit salad was fun! I used pineapple, papaya, mangos, and apples. Jealous? After constructing my masterpiece of fruit perfection I hit the hay for two hours to prepare myself for the hours I would miss going to watch the super bowl. The game started at 11:30pm our time. But it was great! I didn’t even mind staying up to watch it, it was kind of fun, in fact, sacrificing to watch the great American tradition of football. As far as the game goes, I would have been happy either way. Deep down I think I wanted the Pats to win, get Brady that 4th super bowl win and a perfect season. But having Manning win and now each brother has won a super bowl ring is pretty darn amazing. I wasn’t at all surprised by the Pats coach wanting them to play out the last second. It’s a formality. They should have done it anyway without him saying so. In the end, I got to bed at 3am.

Monday, got up very early to go to the Kamboise campus with Susan to watch some of the presentations by her students. 2iE has another campus about 30 minutes from where I am at now. I had never been there before, but had wanted to go for a long time. While the timing being the day after the Superbowl was somewhat inconvenient, I take what I can get. The presentations that the students were giving were their final projects on the topic of their ideal city. They were given in English and it was a bit disappointing that the students were not very creative in how they presented the information. They very much all went by the outline Susan provided them. However, it was interesting to see the order which they listed the priorities, it gives some insight into what they think are the most important problems. I watched presentations from 7:45am until noon at which point I headed back to Ouaga and Susan stayed to watch the last few presentations. I left early because the next bus back wasn’t until 5:00pm.

When I got back I started the flow rate measurement for that day and then slept for three hours in the middle of the afternoon! I went to bed early as well. However, before I went to sleep I tried to make pita bread again, not as bad as last time, but still not successful. This time I think I heated the water up too much and killed the yeast. Third times a charm right. I’ll let you know what happens when I try next week. I could buy the pita bread, but now I feel like it’s personal…

Tuesday, I had planned to clean my filters. However, Maggie had also sent me a text inviting me to have pancakes with her at 8:30. So I figured out how to measure the velocity and clean the filters while still working around this morning commitment. I show up at Maggie’s in the morning and it turns out she meant 8:30pm! It was fat Tuesday and there are two English girls living next door at SIM and I guess it is tradition in England to have pancakes for dinner on fat Tuesday. Not all was lost. I had a bunch of errands I wanted to run so I did those in the morning. I went to the bank… waited 45 minutes to get my money! It was ridiculous. But I also went to the shopette for some essentials and the market where I bought a strainer, fabric, and string for the filters. After I clean the filters I want to pre-filter the water going into one of them to see if it helps slow down the reduction of flow. I came back took some microbiology samples and ran the tests. I finished in time to go meet Leanna for lunch. We ate at the ISO rec center. It was first time I had eaten there. The food was pretty good and cheaper than the American rec center. Later that day I had my French lesson, I’m not liking my teacher as of late… and he wants to change the times and I don’t want to do that so we’ll see what happens. The pancake dinner at Maggie’s was really fun. It was quite the party and they were really more like crepes, but with strawberries for toppings call them what you want I was happy :) We also played catch phrase afterwards. It felt like a weekend. Going to work the next day was not high on my priority list to say the least.

Wednesday I finally got around to cleaning the filters as I had planned. I also ran some tests to determine the amount of suspended materials in the raw water. I had been planning to do this for some time and not that it takes a long time to do, I just never got around to it… In the afternoon I had bible study again with the junior high girls. It went well. But, I just wish I had a book to use… Maggie made cookies which was very nice of her to do. In the afternoon when I got back from the study I read the micro tests from the day before and to my delight Susan invited me over for dinner. We finished up the Sloppy Joes, this time using buns that Susan made herself. They were very good. It was just a nice chill dinner. After I got home I finally brought myself to write my speech for the toastmasters meeting on Saturday. I was to give my third speech, the point of the third speech is to, well, make a point. The point I wanted to make was that women should be encouraged to pursue higher education and careers in science and engineering. This is a topic I am passionate about and one that I thought would be somewhat controversial, yet still appreciated. The speech writing went well, and I was looking forward to giving it on Saturday.

Thursday I had a tennis lesson at 9:30am. I figured what is the point of having a lesson during the break time when it is super hot out when I can go in the morning and then just work during some of the break time later. Anyway, we’ll see if anyone questions me about it… The lesson was good, but it was tough at first since with going to Bobo and all it had been over a week since I last played. But I got back into the swing of things… pun intended. Thursday was also a good day in that I found out the slow sand filters are working. I checked the flow rate and discovered it was too low. This will need to be fixed somehow. I get frustrated with Omar, the technician, sometimes because he just changes things without telling me! grrr…Thursday night was WIRED as usual. Leanna wasn’t there. She was with all the other CMA missionaries at a prayer conference in Bobo for the weekend. Anyway, the power went out and stayed out until 15 minutes after the youth group ended. Lucky for us the battery on Tyler’s computer lasted long enough to show all the pictures and movie clips from the previous weeks scavenger hunt. It was still a bit of a hassle though and a disappointment we couldn’t show the stuff on the projector as originally planned.

Thursday night I spent the night at Burgs. Nancy and Larry Burg went to prayer conference in Bobo for the weekend (same one Leanna went to) and asked me to be like the big sister for the weekend. I happily agreed, with the disclaimer that I could stay Thursday and Saturday night, but that Friday I needed to stay at my place.

After WIRED the girls and I watched some of the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals soccer game on TV before heading to bed. I have to admit I didn’t sleep well that night. The Burgs don’t have a mosquito net over their bed, and I was not very comfortable without one. I just felt very unprotected, and the fact that I heard mosquitoes buzzing in my ear did not help the situation.

On Friday, I got up and made sure the girls got off to school. I had no French lesson that day since my teacher can’t come at the right time… At lunch time I worked out then went to the Burgs to eat lunch with them. When I came back to my house I made a carrot and raisin salad… It was so good! It was just like the kind they make at Colonial Club. I had meaning to make one for ages, and finally did. AND it was a success. Wahoo! Also, Friday afternoon, I felt super inspired to work. This was actually kind of annoying. Why can’t I feel that way on a Wednesday! However, before I had to go I did have a nice conversation with Konate about some ideas I had. I also was able to start calibrating the slow sand filters. Omar figured out that there were leaves blocking some of the intake pipe which is why the flow was so slow before. Oye.

At 6:00, even though for once in my life I felt like working, I rushed home to get ready and head to Joanna’s house for Bunco night. This was the second Bunco night Pot Luck I have been to. I brought the carrot salad :) I didn’t win anything this time, but it was still really fun. I ate too much as usual, but oh well. Like I said I didn’t go back to the burgs that night…one because of the Bunco night and two because I toastmasters in the morning and I was giving a speech. Before I went to bed I worked some more on memorizing my speech.

Saturday morning I gave my speech at toastmasters. I had planned to practice more before I went, but my alarm didn’t go off. I still had some time to rehearse but not as much as I was hoping for… however, I am happy to say the speech went great. And, I didn’t use notes. What an accomplishment! At the end Susan said, “I think you missed your calling, you would be a great public speaker.” Well I’m here thinking, gosh, I’m only 22 years old, I hope I haven’t missed it yet! I think there is still time ;)

Toastmasters ends around lunch time and by this point in the week I was running way low on food at my house… However, to my delight I found out the couscous I bought was precooked so it only took 5 minutes to make. Yeah! So I made couscous with peas and corn for lunch. It was actually not that great. Couscous needs some kind of sauce and that was something I did not have. Anyway, at 2:00 Susan and I headed over to ISO for a softball practice. She and I are playing on the embassy team in this weekend’s softball tournament. Let me just say it’s not going to be pretty. It’s a good thing we are in the social league division ;) Afterwards, on the way home, Susan showed me a little booth owned by a Senegalese woman with some really neat fabrics and lots of other decorations that I actually really liked. I think I will go back there when I am looking for gifts to bring back for people. Anyway, made it home showered and packed my bags. I rode my bike to the Burgs and bought some strawberries on the way over. The price for strawberries is going down dramatically. I got 2 kilos for like 2500CFA. The first time I paid 3000CFA for 1 kilo. Saturday night Lindsey and Diana, the two Burg girls, were having some friends over for a sleepover. They made pizzas for dinner which were so good. They actually make and sell the pizzas frozen, they are really good. I wish I could make pizzas like that! Anyway, I made the girls some strawberry smoothies that night and hung out with them a little bit, but then went off and did my own thing. I had started reading “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini on Wednesday night… I paused the book I had started on Saturday, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” to read this other one it because it is the book club book for the month of February and I wanted to read it quick to get it back to Susan to read. It was her book to begin with. I am also borrowing Omnivore’s Dilemma from Mary Ellen. Caroline Chopko recommended it to me so when I saw it on Mary Ellen’s shelf I couldn’t resist. Anyway, that night I read like 150 pages of the “A Thousand Splendid Suns” book. The author also wrote “The Kite Runner” which I read last May. This second book is just as good as the first. The stories are not linked at all, and each is incredible in itself. I seriously did not want to put it down! Finally at 1:30am I shut off the light, promising myself I would read more on Sunday.

Sunday I spent the morning at the Burgs. It was very relaxed. They had no internet all weekend which was a bit of a bummer, but oh well. The girls and I listened to an HTB sermon since we had no way of getting to church and afterwards I headed out. There was softball practice again at ISO at 3:00 and I had tennis at 4:00. My tennis lesson was awesome! Emile wasn’t there so I had to have a different teacher. I was skeptical at first… BUT it was great. I am actually getting to the point where I can hit the ball from the baseline pretty consistently keeping it in bounds and not drive it into the net. After tennis I was planning to watch the Africa Cup of Nations soccer final at home with my two housemates. Things are better between us and I think we can be friends which is good. Anyway, I get back to find a note asking if I want to come watch the game with them at a bar by the airport. I would have really rather stayed home, but I thought that in the interest of the household I should go. I was planning on taking a taxi, but then I saw a friend I had met at the university who offered me a ride. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but then figured that this wasn’t anymore sketchy than taking a taxi… so I said a little prayer and agreed. Wouldn’t you know I got there no problem… I also found Nathalie and Elodi at the bar, phew! The place was pretty impressive really. Very large and pretty nice. It is all open air as are most places… The reception of the game on the TV was pretty bad, but I guess it was the atmosphere of the place that was the draw. The winner of the game was Egypt. I heard they won last year as well… They were up against Cameroon in the final, and most of the people at the place wanted Cameroon to win. I don’t really blame them, I don’t really think of Egypt as being in Africa. I know it IS in Africa, but there is a big difference between Egypt and where I’m at. After the game we sat around for a while. Elodi and I got up and danced on a sweet mirrored dance floor when Shakira came on over the speakers. Most of the time they play African music. I swear it all sounds the same. It has the same annoying beat repeated over and over! Whatever. Elodi drove me back home on the back of her moto which was actually quite frightening. She drove really fast. I was just glad there weren’t a ton of people out… I won’t be using that mode of transportation again! While I had a nice time, when I got back I developed a pretty bad headache. I read for a while, but then had to turn in for the night, but not before I took two Alieve hoping to wake up pain free.

Monday started out well. I was feeling better but not great. No more headache, but a slight upset stomach. I went in to the office at 7:00 to prepare for a meeting I had with Professor Maiga at 8:00. I was all ready to go and wouldn’t you know the printer wouldn’t work so I had to email the information and have Professor Maiga print it… not what I was hoping for. Regardless, the meeting went great. I have a much clearer picture of what is expected of me at the end of June. I also asked if there is anything I can improve on or should be doing differently and there was nothing that he had to say. I also presented a short update on the progress of my work and suggestions for two master’s projects this spring. He was very encouraging with these ideas and I plan to make up the formal proposals this week.

I was pretty pumped about the outcomes of the meeting. However, as the day went on, things got worse and worse as far as my health was concerned. By lunch time I was feeling pretty queezy. I had planned to go to the rec center to hang out by the pool with my housemates, but had to cancel and instead I slept for 3 hours. I slept like a rock. I couldn’t eat much and the thought of food was pretty discomforting. I did go back into work for the afternoon and made some headway with the librarian in signing up 2iE for a network which will allow them free access to some very powerful academic journal publishers. It is long process so I am glad to have it started. It is will also be a great opportunity to practice my French since the librarian does not speech English. After work on Monday I showered and crawled into bed. I finished reading my book and then went to sleep. The book finished up so well. It was such an intense story! All and all by the time I fell asleep I was feeling much better. For dinner I had only some bread and jam. I seemed able to handle it fine although I would occasionally feel a sharp pain in my stomach.

Monday night I was asleep by 7:00 and I didn’t set my alarm. I woke up at around 8:45 on Tuesday . I stayed in bed a while and finally got up made a sandwich of a scrambled egg and cheese for breakfast, cleaned my room and went into work around 10. It worked out fine. I got feeling better and better as the day went on. I still slept through the break though. I think my body needed the rest still. The afternoon at work went fine. Not too much to report. I spent most of this time writing this post. When I finally did leave my office it was too late to go to the Petites Delices so I tried to make pita bread again and failed, sad. I think I am going to look for a new recipe… I also planned for bible study on Wednesday and then watched Tallagadega Nights which I borrowed from Susan… Funny movie.

Oh, I also learned the package my parents sent won’t get to me until the end of the month instead of this week… talk about a disappointment. The family who was supposed to bring it left their house and went to another one for a few days before heading to Ouaga so they didn’t get the package. It will be sent with the next team that comes, but I was so looking forward to getting my new ipod, sandals and the movie Miss Potter. Again, I am learning patience!

Thursday is Valentine’s Day which is always exciting mainly because it means my birthday is only 3 days away. Can you believe I will 23? I can’t believe I will be 23… I feel like I am still 20! I am teaching at WIRED on Thursday and then I’m looking forward to the softball tournament this weekend. I will let you know how that all turns out!