Thursday, May 15, 2008

Virtual Tour of 2iE

So I thought I posted this a while back, but it turns out I didn't. This is a photo tour of 2iE, where I work :) I am trying to get them to put up the pictures on their website; however, turns out no one really knows who runs what around here making it difficult to get something like an online tour of the campus up and running. One can always hope...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nanny Diaries, Singing Nuns, and an Amazing Brownie Farewell Message!

Last Thursday, after I had just made my graduate school decision, I felt great. Also, Thursday was “Labor Day” for Burkina so I had no work! I stayed home for most of the day. I did go into my office and use the internet, but mainly I stayed home. I also made a quick run out to pick up the book club book from one of Susan’s friends. Susan had taken off for Bobo for the weekend, but reminded me that the next book club meeting was that Sunday and I could try and track down a copy of the book if I wanted. I did and made it my mission to read all 309 pages of the Nanny Diaries before Sunday. Leanna left Thursday morning to go to Bobo and onto Mali for the long weekend so I was out both of my good friends. It was okay though. I needed the low key time to get back into the swing of things. I have to say, that the day off what exactly what I needed!

Since Leanna wasn’t around, Ben and I ran Wired. It went fine. I taught the Jr. High and Ben taught the Sr. High. The music was supposed to be taken care of, but I found out only a few minutes beforehand that that wasn’t the case. I brought my guitar and ended up playing! Sheesh! I was glad it came off okay. I hadn’t played my guitar in over a month and was a bit worried… After Wired Ben and I headed over to the Peace Corps hostel and hung out with Bianca. She was going to go back to her village on Friday, but we convinced her to stay around until Saturday… and promised her an awesome dinner Friday night. By the time we were done catching up and hanging out it was about 10:30pm and so Ben rode back with me to 2iE because it was too late to go alone and apparently there had been a few incidents in April and I didn’t want to take any chances.

Friday, I all of the sudden felt inspired to work. It was glorious. I think it had to do with the fact that Thursday was a day off. In the morning, I started typing up and analyzing the results from my experiments. I wanted to send the preliminary results off to the MIT grad student who wanted to use some of the information as soon as possible. I got pretty far but not far enough to send it before lunch. I had like no time for lunch or even to prepare for bible study. I have to be better at stopping when I need to. The problem was it was one of the first times I really felt inspired to work and I didn’t want to lose it…

However, the reason to stop was pretty good. I was hosting a Pool Party for my Jr. High Girls bible study. Since Prom was Wednesday and that would have proven a problem for some girls, we moved bible study to Friday afternoon and brought it to the pool! What is not to love. It was great. We played Marco Polo and a game called “Categories”. I brought sugared peanuts for a snack. The girls love them :) The fellowship was great, the lesson was only mediocre. I was suffering as a leader because I hadn’t taken the time to prepare. Not a good thing. Anyway, the pool side bible study will go down in history as a great success.

Afterwards, I went home showered and changed for work. Normally would have been pretty averse to going back to work especially because Bianca and Ben were coming over in the afternoon to cook dinner and hang out in my air conditioned house ;) However, I had a goal in mind and I worked really hard to finish the report. I stayed long enough at home to let Ben in and then headed back to my office. I was done with the report by 5:30, but my email wouldn’t attach the files! I spent 40 minutes trying to get it to work, but no luck. I left my office at 6:15 done with the report, but not having sent it… Dinner was amazing. Ben had made an awesome red wine pasta sauce so we had spaghetti and cheesy garlic bread. There were four of us: Bianca, Ben, Will and Me. After dinner we did all the dishes and I made up some bread pudding. I had wanted to try and make bread pudding for like for some time, so I was so happy to have a crack at it. I even bought real milk with the intention of making it. After mixing up the ingredients and putting it in the oven the four of us headed over to my office. Firstly, because I had to send that email! and Secondly, I thought it would be fun to show my friends where I worked. Thankfully the email worked and I was able to take my computer back with me happy as a clam. We got back and I found the oven was turned off! Not good, what about my bread pudding?! I must have turned off the gas we walked out of the kitchen. It is kind of an automatic reaction for me. Thankfully, we were able to relight the oven and the dessert finished cooking. While it was finishing up we started the entertainment for the night which happened to be Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail. The movie was great. I love the part when he picks out the right cup and can pick it out because it looks like a carpenter’s cup. Awesome. Oh and it had been a really long time since I last saw the movie and I don’t know if I have ever seen it in its entirety, but regardless, I was totally surprised by the Hitler scene. Talk about crazy, coming face to face with Hilter and having him autograph your Dad’s sacred book on the Holy Grail. Ridiculous! Oh, and before we put on Indiana Jones I made them watch an episode of Hannah Montana just for kicks. It got mixed to negative reviews, but that doesn’t bother me. I enjoy it and that is all that matters…

The bread pudding turned out okay. I liked it, but I know it wasn’t the best thing ever. I like that it tastes like French toast... I had enough of it left over that it lasted me all week as a dessert and some breakfasts. While the boys left, Bianca stayed over and slept on my couch. She was getting up really early to catch her bus back to village so I said goodbye at night and she got up and left in the morning. (Kind of like what I did in Boston…) Before I went to bed, I snuck to the front door and left a bag of M&Ms for Bianca to take with her on the bus. I got a text message from her later saying she got them ;) It is fun to do little things like that. I wish I had more time to do random acts of kindness.

The weekend was amazing. I did very little and loved it. I slept until noon on Saturday. You think I am exaggerating but I am not. When I did finally get up I spent most of the afternoon time reading the Nanny Diaries. I finished it! I also went in and talked to my family online briefly and then spent an hour scrubbing filters and setting them up to saturate for 24 hours. I worked out in the evening and watched the last episode of Grey’s Anatomy I had on my computer. I knew I was going to be getting the next two episodes in the series on Monday and it had been so long since I saw the last one I wanted to refresh my memory. I have to say though; it is amazing how short the day seems when you get up after half of it is over. Oh, my housemate left on Saturday to go to Niger for 6 days. She is very nice, but I enjoyed having the house back by myself.

Sunday started out much like Saturday. However, this time I only slept only until 11am. The other thing I should note is that when I woke up on Sunday my eyes looked just a little funny. A little like they did after my trip to Bobo and Banfora… hum…
I got myself a breakfast together and sat in my PJs and watched four, count them, four episodes of Hannah Montana. I have decided to watch them in sequential order. My brother gave me seasons one and two and I plan to be fully caught up before I get home in June. I also worked out, cleaned my kitchen and room, and was showered, done and ready to go to the book club meeting at 3pm. Susan and I walked over to Joann’s house. Oh, it was so much fun! I would have liked to discuss the book more, but we watched the movie so that makes up for it. And there were incredible snacks! Cookies, popcorn, and chips and dip. It was like being back in America!

When I got home, I stopped by the lab only to find my plan for saturating the filters didn’t work because the drain plugs I rigged up were slightly less than water-tight. Oh well, I would just have to saturate them on Monday when the downstairs lab was open. I listened to a sermon from HTB and then planned for both my bible study on Wednesday and Wired lesson on Thursday. It felt really good to have them both done! Sunday night I broke out my drawing pad and colored pencils and sat and drew for a while. It was unbelievably relaxing, and the picture I drew of the mango actually looks pretty good if you ask me. I want to keep up with this sort of thing and one of goals for the summer is to try painting; like really painting, oil painting. My Great Grandmother Fischer painted and was very good at it. I am thinking since I kind of look like her and have been told I have some of her other qualities that maybe, just maybe, the painting one was passed on too… One can always hope. And I have to say after going to Giverny, seeing Monet’s Gardens and all his paintings and the new affinity I have developed for impressionism I am so ready to pick up a brush!

Monday, the start of the work week, was surprisingly pleasant. Several things happened that made it that way… first, I was able to put my filters in the proper sinks this time. I also got word from Susan Murcott regarding the WHO Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage Network annual conference that would take place in Accra, Ghana at the beginning of June. I found out I would be able to register with her group and am now really excited about being able to go! It is such a motivator to get my work done… Plus when I get back from the conference, I will have about two weeks left in Burkina. Crazy! The only negative is my eyes still felt funny. I did some deep thinking to try and figure out what the problem could be, and I came up with several factors: 1. my malaria medication 2. the chemicals in the pool I swam in on Friday 3. the sun. So I stopped taking my doxycycline and will see what happens.

In the break time I went over to the rec center. It was first time I had been back…bizarre I know, but I was enjoying working out at home and there is nothing wrong with that. I wanted to run but there was some lady there on the treadmill. I used to enjoy ranting about how much I hate it when people walk instead of running on treadmills, but Annie pointed out that when it is 105 degrees outside they have a right to use the treadmill to. Fine. Thanks a lot Annie, ruining my pitty parade… So instead of running I had to use the elliptical machine. No big deal, worse things have happened to me.

For dinner I enjoyed the leftovers from Friday’s dinner along with a small glass of red wine. The pasta was great, but even if the wine is just to compliment the meal I don’t think I should have it when I am alone because without other people around I started to feel very melancholy. This is probably something I should pay attention too. After dinner, I watched Grey’s Anatomy. It was glorious! It had been six long months since a news Grey’s Anatomy came out, thank you writer’s strike… Anyway, I love being able to get into their drama instead of my own! I had two new episodes on my computer and told myself I would only watch one Monday night and then the next one on Tuesday night. Well you can imagine that didn’t happen. I watched both episodes and went to bed blissfully happy reveling in the twisted and wildly entertaining lives of the resident doctors at Seattle Grace Hospital.

Tuesday was equally as pleasant as Monday and, in fact, even more satisfying. I worked in the morning and started flow rate tests again. I was able to contact the people at JStor about our registration and started reading a great book called White Man’s Burden; Very provocative and critical of development work. I Love It. Anyway, I worked all morning and then went to ISO to meet Leanna for lunch. We walked over to Paradisios and both ordered full pizzas for ourselves ;) I got one with salami on it which ended up being very much like pepperoni. I have nothing, nothing to complain about in regards to the food or the company. Since Leanna left the day after I got back and was gone all weekend we hadn’t had a chance to catch up so lunch was much appreciated. I went back to work in the afternoon and kept busy with making Ghana plans. I also had my normal French lesson at 5:00pm. It went well. My French is super duper rusty and it is hard to motivate myself to get back into it…

In the evening after work I went home and had originally planned to be domestic on Tuesday night, making pita bread and doing other things generally associated with domestic upkeep. However, I remembered I wanted to get the article revisions done and out of the way and had been putting them off. At lunch with Leanna, I mentioned that was one of the things I wanted to do while in Africa was get this paper published. Well, I knew to do that I needed to get moving on it so I buckled down and was up pretty late but was able to get the paper very close to being ready to submit. It was actually really good that I did this because, surprisingly enough, Wednesday midday I received an email from my professor inquiring as to the paper’s status and thankfully I didn’t have to backpedal and come up with some excuse for not having it done! I was also able to put into writing some next steps for the IWA toolbox I am working on. Debborah, another woman on the project, and I are kind of the driving forces behind this thing and work had stalled out so we were emailing back and forth to figure out how to jump start things again. We came up with breaking the large group into smaller teams with one team leader each to work on the various aspects of the website.

Wednesday morning was just another day at the office. I spent a lot of time trying to email Tuesday night’s work to my professor, but Gmail was acting up. Just as I was sending it, though, I got an email from her asking if I had made any progress; great minds must think alike! I kept up with the flow rate measurements and finished up the first half of my day in time to hit the gym before bible study and lunch. This time, lucky for me, I was able to use the treadmill. It is so hit or miss over there! I ran for 30 minutes easy. It had been a while since I last ran and I didn’t want to over do it and be hurt the next few days. On my way back from the workout I stopped and had some pages photocopied for my bible study lesson as well as the Wired lesson on Thursday. It was surprisingly difficult to get the guy to give me the number of copies that I wanted. In the end it worked out and I even picked up a blank CD-R which I planned to use to make a mixed music CD that I can bring to the gym considering I am again without music. Such is life…Oh, and my experiment of stopping the doxycycline worked. My eye condition improved so instead I have started on Mefloquine again. Man will I be happy to get off these wretched medications ASAP.

After showering and grabbing a quick bite to eat I was off to Anna and Rosie’s for bible study. This time I brought the peanut M&M’s for the snack. I got them in Paris for the girls, but wanted to wait for the perfect time to give them to them. It was the perfect time and the girls were so excited :) The week’s lesson was on Trust Psalms looking mainly at Psalms 139. Awesome one by the way. One of the main points I wanted to take away was that each one of the them is special and unique and God really loves them! He knows the number of hairs on your head, he perceives your thoughts, he knows when you are coming and going… They got it a little, but they kept focusing on the portion talking about being made aware of your sins. This is also important so I was in no way disappointed. After study was over I stopped by the little shop called Prix Bas to buy some food stuff. I also stopped and picked up a bunch of fresh vegetables which made a few wonderful salads over the next few days. I am trying to each more fruits and vegetables. I got back to work by 5pm, just in time to get the call I was expecting from Professor Soboyejo. It was very helpful to reconnect. I was able to talk to him about the experiments and Ghana plans. I think these next few weeks will be very productive which is a great feeling. I have a real plan and vision and am ready to move.

Wednesday evening I spent a lot of time at my computer. I typed up a summary of my conversation with Professor Soboyejo and the action items that were to result so I wouldn’t forget them! I also typed up the April Africa Update which is why this blog post is so late… I only have a couple of hours a week to devote to this stuff and I had reached the limit. Once the update was written I spent a good chunk of time reading. In addition to White Man’s Burden which is a pretty deep book, I started at the same time a book called Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. It is a novel about an opera singer and a terrorist hostage situation. Very enthralling and well written.

Thursday I continued with flow rate measurements and received not such good news that the place I was hoping to stay in Ghana was booked! grrr… I had lunch with my friend Moulaye who I hadn’t seen in like forever. He originally wanted us to go out to dinner and after already having made that mistake once, I insisted we have lunch at the cafeteria if anything at all. Afterwards, we grabbed some coca-colas and he showed me some of the movies and music he has on his computer. At 4pm, I had my first tennis lesson since I returned from the states. It went great. Before I left, Emile, my first teacher, had hurt his finger and was out for a while and I had to have another tennis guy. But Emile was back and it was very nice to play with him agin. I was also doing pretty well if I don’t say so myself. At the end he was like, “Wow, what happened? You didn’t play this well before you left…” I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder and the tennis player more coordinated ;) In the evening I taught the Jr. High at Wired again. Leanna helped and that was greatly appreciated. We did this thing were I cut up papers into puzzles and hid the pieces all around. In teams they had to find the pieces and then assemble the puzzles. It went great! Except that it took them much much longer than I had anticipated and had to really cut the reading and questions short. But, oh well!

Oh, Friday. I love Fridays. Really, truly I do. The prospect of the weekend on the horizon just makes everything more pleasant. In the morning I finally had some incentive to get into work because I was going to have a skype call with Adrian who is the toolbox point person at IWA. The call was productive, but not all that enjoyable because the connection wasn’t great and I had to try and piece together what he was saying. I am sure it was the same thing for him as well. I did another flow rate measure in the morning and kept myself busy with some articles and cleaning up my office which was very much needed. Friday I had originally planned to go swimming at the rec center for my workout, but my arms were killing me from the tennis lesson the day before. So instead, I took the day off. I love that I can do that!

So, randomly enough, I go back to my office in the afternoon and the female guard at the reception follows me to my office and closes the door behind us both. I am like, huh? But them she starts talking to me about if I know anything about how she can become a guard for the U.S. Embassy. phew… My goodness, I thought she was going to ask for a visa or money or something. Information on the embassy, that I can handle. Anyway, she has been a guard at 2iE for 2 years and would like to work instead for the U.S. Embassy. The embassy employs many many Burkinabe as guards for the actual compound itself as well as all the employee’s homes. They are on a 45 minutes rotation so they don’t fall asleep. Try that one on for size… I told her I would ask and try and find out what she has to do to apply. After that I read my book Bel Canto until my Mom called. We were supposed to talk from 6-6:25pm my time, before I was picked up by my friend Pam to go to dinner. At 5:55pm I got an email from my Mom saying she was still at school and had to finish programming the electronic baby dolls her child development students use. That was super disappointing! But life goes on…

At 6:25 Pam picked me up along with her daughter and friend who were coming to dinner to, then we swung by and picked up Emily who was leaving Burkina the next day. We wanted to take her out to eat on her last night in Ouaga. We decided to go to a place called L’eau Vive, or Living Water. There is one I went to Bobo and loved it. The restaurant is run by nuns and the food is pretty good. But better than the food is the mango juice. It is really thick and yummy. I ordered an omelet and mashed potatoes and for some reason they brought it out before everyone else’s meal. I was a bit frustrated and they seriously didn’t bring out the other food until I was done! Anyway, the juice was amazing and then to top things off at 9:45pm every night the nuns sing Ave Maria. It was beautiful. I thought it would be sister act style with the robes and all the swaying, but there were no black robes and the nuns spread themselves out amongst the tables. They all stood and faced a statue of Mary that was on top of a pile of rocks that water flowed down. Hence, living water… whatever, singing nuns definitely equal a highlight of my week. Friday night I had a terrible time going to sleep. I just wasn’t tired at all! It was actually pretty frustrating because I knew I had to get up early the next day and I wanted to sleep, but couldn’t! When I did finally get some sleep it was shallow and not refreshing at all. Ugh!

Saturday morning was very busy. At this point, I had like no clean clothes left at all. I had had to hand wash the essentials earlier in the week! So I got up and packed all my clothes into my big backpacking pack to bring them to Leanna to wash. I got on my bike and struck off trying to quickly master the balancing act that riding my bike with this massive backpack required. I stopped at the bank ATM since I had no money and still made it to Leanna’s by 8:00am. I put in the first load of wash and then Leanna, myself, and another woman Martina all headed over to the ISO yard sale. It had been open for 10 minutes by the time we got here, but it was already a full house. It was fun to look around and see what everyone was selling. There wasn’t much I needed and, leaving in June, the last thing I need to do is accumulate more junk. I did, however, buy a DVD, The Pursuit of Happiness. It was one I wanted to see and I knew the guy selling it so I only had to pay a little over a dollar for it. Well worth it. Anyway, we were back to Leanna’s by 9:05, I jumped on my bike and rode home really fast. I had 25 minutes to get home change and get to Toastmasters. I walked in to Toastmasters at 9:31. They had just started. It wasn’t that bad. The meeting went well. I evaluated a speech for the first time ever and it as really fun. It also helped that the guy did a really good job. I also found out the Gala is May 31st and not the 30th which is what I had originally thought. The youth group end of year banquet is the 30th and I didn’t want to have to choose between the two. However, now I don’t have to. I can do both! Especially since I plan to leave for Ghana on June 1st. Everything is falling into place :)

I got back from Toastmasters and promptly started my video workout. I finished and was showered and dressed when Leanna came to pick me up at 1:30pm. We had lunch with Ben at her house, I put in the last load of laundry and then we worked on decorating the cake for the CMA cookout the next day. Leanna was going to draw an airplane and put pictures of the people leaving in the windows. It was a great idea, but I must admit I was quite skeptical. However, I am happy to report the cake turned out great! Very professional looking indeed. While Leanna finished up the big cake I used the leftover icing to decorate the tray of brownies she made for our dessert. We were having a special dinner in Will’s honor. Will has been in Burkina about 9 months working with the group called SIM. He and Ben were housemates. Anyway, he was leaving Burkina on Tuesday evening and we were having a farewell dinner for him. The message I put on the brownies was, “Will, miss you!” Get it? Get it, Will (We’ll) miss you… I crack myself up. In addition to the clever message, I drew a Canada leaf and an Eiffel Tower with interlocking rings because he is going to Paris with his girlfriend on the way back and is planning to propose to her! Congrats Will!

Enough about the brownies. Ben planned the dinner. He made chicken, rice and stir-fry vegetables. He marinated the chicken at Leanna’s, but then we moved the operations over to my place with Air Conditioning. We made up the vegetables and cooked the meat at my place. My housemate who had gotten back from Niger joined us for dinner which was nice. After dinner, Rosie and Anna, Naomi, and Naimi came over and the eight of us played Speed Uno. It was a blast! Ben clearly dominated, but Leanna played really well as well, she just always got stuck having to pass her hand with one card left because someone would play a zero. But hey, that is part of the game… After a full cycle of rounds we stopped the game and unveiled the blessed brownies. Everyone enjoyed my pun of a farewell massage and we served the brownies with ice cream, a rare treat in Burkina. But I have to say the ice cream really made the dessert. Separately the brownies and ice cream are good, but together they knock your socks off. After dessert the girls left and Ben and Will hung out a little longer. They peaced out about 11:30pm and I stayed up and did the dishes. I figured as much as I didn’t want to do them that night, I would want to do them less the next day and the food on them would be dried up and they would be much harder to clean. So I bit the bullet and did all the dishes. I had music going, though, so I didn’t really mind.

Sunday I got up early and went to church. Mark your calendars. I haven’t been to an organized church in Burkina for some time now. I preferred to simply listen to a sermon at home and play my guitar for worship. In fact, I still prefer that, however, I do realize it is important to participate in a more corporate church service, so I went. I was regretting that decision after getting up at 7:30 though… I went to the CMA Patte d’Oie church with Leanna, Lorinda and Martina. Anyway, church was fine. The music was grating on my ears and the sermon was confusing, but I did sketch a pretty picture on my scrap paper store list so not all was lost. After church we headed to Marina Market to do some grocery shopping. This is the tradition and I was so happy to get to pick up some of the things I needed without having to ride my bike downtown. Since the CMA was having a cookout in the afternoon Lorinda had ordered a bunch of sausages and bread last week to pick up that Sunday. Surprise, surprise, they didn’t have her order. So we ended up having to drive to the other Marina downtown too, and they didn’t have any either. They were quite a pickle with 30 people coming over in less than 2 hours and nothing to barbeque! I still haven’t found out what solution they came up with. They dropped me off on their way to search other meat shops for the goods.

It was 11:00am when I got home. I went straight to my office to talk to my family. I told them I could talk starting at 7am their time. Well, they weren’t online. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I was an hour early. For some reason I only added 4 hours onto 7am instead of 5. Anyway, when 12 rolled around the power went off! Can you believe it? I sat and read and waited for 30 minutes and thankfully the power went back on. However, when the power goes out someone has to reset the server and since it was Sunday there was no one around to do this. Quel Dommage! Also at noon a huge dust storm came though. I was crazy. Trees were shaking like crazy in the wind and you see the dust clouds blowing all over. In any case, I couldn’t gamble on somebody coming in later so I went home had a great salad for lunch. I then packed up my stuff for the afternoon and headed over to Les Petites Delices, my resident internet connection place if something is wrong at 2iE. I didn’t really want to talk there, but it was Mother’s Day and I had to connect. Anyway, it worked out and I got to talk to my family which was nice. It was a bit strained though since we hadn’t talked in a while. I don’t want that to happen again…

After spending the afternoon online I headed over to the rec center at 4pm for my tennis lesson. It was, again, fantastic. I went home and had Saturday’s leftovers for dinner, yum :) and then filled out the PiAf 6 month report. Even though it is a month late, I figured better late than never! My reward for finishing the report was to watch an episode of Hannah Montana. Then I worked on the finalizations of my article for resubmission to the Natural Hazards Review Journal. When I had finished those, I made some popcorn and sat on my couch and finished reading Bel Canto. Talk about a loaded last 7 pages. I didn’t think I could handle it; it was super intense and you don’t know how to react as a reader. I went to bed after that, but not before spending ample time looking over my finances. I like to make sure things are in order every once in a while.

Monday I slept in until 9:15. I was feeling a bit under the weather, but there was a lot waiting for me at work. I worked all morning on IWA stuff as well as submitting my ASCE paper again. I am so happy to have that monkey off my back again for another 3 months until it is reviewed and I have to change it again… However, I have to admit I feel this version is way improved over the other one. I replied to a bunch of emails and finished in time to get a very late lunch. I didn’t take a long break, but instead had to be back by 3:30 for a meeting with Professor Maiga. I had some stuff prepared which was good. We went over my preliminary results and agreed on what I would do as far as reports go. Then we had a nice conference call with Professor Soboyejo. It was tricky to get the call to connect, but it was well worth the hassle. There are so many opportunities for collaboration and really neat projects and ideas coming down the pike. I am so happy to be helping facilitate and contributing to work that is making a difference.

After all that I played online for a little while and then headed home. I grabbed my swimsuit and rode over to the rec center. Bad idea. Actually, it was a great idea, just everyone had the same one! There were so many people in the pool, I couldn’t do my laps. I had also forgotten my goggles and headlamp to ride back with so I only swam for a little while and then called it a night. When I got home I felt inspired to make some corn bread… random I know, but I didn’t fight my inspiration and made some corn bread. I also made up some spaghetti sauce. It turned out way better than last time. Once I satisfied my cooking impulse I sat down and wrote the better part of this post. However, I was still not feeling great. I had battled a headache in the afternoon and it was still there so I turned in early for the night. I did, however, have a stroke of genius before I went to bed and froze my pasta sauce in little one serving amounts using saran wrap and all my Tupperware containers. That way I can grab a one serving disk of pasta sauce and defrost it without the hassle of managing that big block of frozen stuff you get when you freeze things normally…

Tuesday I didn’t set my alarm. My headache was pretty bad as I went to bed and it freaked me out so I wanted to give my body a chance to fight whatever the problem might have been. It seemed to work. I was in bed by 11pm and got up at 9:15am feeling pretty darn good. I worked at home in the morning and went to the gym around 11:30. I had to wait for a guy to finish using the treadmill. That didn’t really bother me. What did bother me was the fact that I had made a sweet workout mix CD and when I turned it on the guy complained it was too loud…Well, buddy, the treadmill kind of makes a lot of noise so for me to hear the music I have to turn it up load! So he would turn it down and I would use the remote I stashed in the cup holder and turn it back up again. Ah-ha! Take that… I mean seriously. It was even a pretty killer CD. Whatever, he finally left and I turned it up even more. My run was amazing. I could tell my legs were ready to go! I ran 4 miles at about an 8:30 mile pace closing in a sub 8. It was sweet. After showering and getting dressed again I stopped by my office and then rode over to the Burg’s house. Nancy had called at 10:15am and invited me to lunch. Of course I agreed! It was great to have a family meal :) I was also able to get them the map, guidebook and british pounds I had gotten them on my trip to England. They are visiting England on their way back to the states, and I stayed and talked to them about things to do and transportation essentials.

After lunch I hung around and used their internet. It was 3:15pm and I had a meeting with Nicolas at Helvetas at 4pm and it didn’t make sense to go back and forth. The Nicolas meeting went great. We are going to go visit a potter’s workshop next Tuesday! I finally figured out if I want something to happen I have to initiate it and make the effort. Waiting for others to do something you can do yourself is not advisable. You waste so much time and frankly life it too short. Take it by the horns! I also got an email from my Mom saying my Grandad went into the hospital with some cardiac issues. So please keep him in your prayers.

On the way back from the meeting I stopped and picked up vegetables to make mango salsa and guacamole for the Mexican dinner and movie night Susan I were hosting that night. The chip dips turned out really well. The mango salsa recipe can be found here:

I would highly recommend it. Very summery feeling and the mangos here are to die for! I slightly burned the ground beef when I was seasoning it, but no one noticed and I didn’t say anything…Oh, and my housemate left for good. She was really nice. She worked all the time so there wasn’t much time to get to know her, but I much prefer that to the last arrangement, if you know what I mean. The Mexican food was a hit with the Burkinabe women who came. We watched Rent the movie. Very good movie. Sad, but it deals with tough topics that can’t be ignored. Anyway, I came home and did my dishes, wrote some emails and finished this post. That is all. Good night my friend.