28 September, 2009

In Brief

The guests came. They conquered the cake buffet. The sun shined the whole time. Coffee and tea were served. I don't know much more than that because it was one of those out of body experiences. I am definitely not a party queen, a gracious hostess, or master of smalltalk.

Lessons Learned

About half the people who said they would come were not able to (sent their apologies) or didn't show. This meant there was more cake than needed, though if everyone had shown up, I think we would have been a bit tight for cakes. So, next time, invite more people and bring cookies for when the cake runs out.

Because not everyone came to the event, the amount of people donating was less than expected. Note: make a Plan A and Plan B on what the money is needed for. Originally, I said we would use the money to make a down payment on land and to pay for two business training workshops. We'll be able to do the later, but not the former. Even if we don't have enough to make the down payment, we will be able to buy one or two family drip irrigation kits to help the families through the drought. It is perhaps best to aim for something incremental (irrigation kits) and not monumental (down payment on land).

Everyone came at the beginning of the afternoon. Our "operating system" (my kids and friends who came to help) was not up and running. Best, to ask for a few friends (guinea pigs) to show up beforehand, so the kids can get everything sorted about who is to do what when, and then have the real guests come.

Raffle was good. Need more little prizes.

Weather was great. No one wanted to sit indoors. This meant all the tables we had set and all the flowers we ordered, did not come to use. On the other hand, thinking about all those children running around in the restaurant instead of outdoors, gives me goosebumps. Not sure what I would do about this if there is a next time and the weather isn't as good.

Really liked the saxophone quartet who played out in front of the restaurant twice for a short period of time. They also got some of the kids and adults moving from the back of the terrace to the front. They also annoyed some funddy duddy who called the police for disturbing their peace. The police were very polite, if somewhat miffed, and left without telling us to stop the music. Admittedly, the quartet would have been too loud to play indoor if weather hadn't permitted it.

My kids and friends helping were just spectacular. Sevnja the waitress was phenomenal. Couldn't have done it without any of them.

26 September, 2009

Tomorrow's Tea Party

Tomorrow is the tea party fund raiser! Organising the event has been quite a learning experience indeed. This was supposed to be a modest, but serious attempt at raising money for a good cause (see below). It's turned out to be a bombastic and fun affair. I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow, and perhaps it isn't really important, the main thing is just to flow with the moment. The original scenario was,

Expected guests: 20-30
Expected location: our apartment
Beverages offered: coffee and tea
Cakes: 2-3 (10 pieces/cake)
Expected helpers: me, myself, and I

Tomorrow's expected tea party scenario:

Expected guests: 100 (40 adults/40 children/20 teenagers)
Expected location: my favourite restaurant
Beverages offered: everything that Svenja from the restaurant can create from their industrial Italian espresso machine
Cakes: 13-15 (I've lost count)
Expected helpers: 8-10 (I've lost count)
Children's raffle: 35 prizes to win
Adult's raffle: 40 prizes to win
Entertainment: saxophone quartet from my children's school's big band

I'll have to tell you how the end scenario goes. If only two-thirds of the expected guests show up, it should be interesting since the restaurant only seats 40 people.

What I have learnt in these last weeks, is how kind and generous people are. The people at the restaurant, those people who have donated stupendous gifts for the raffles, all the housewives and students baking up a storm of homemade cakes, and my children's friends that think it will be a blast to spend six hours helping. Who would have known?

The funds donated from tomorrow's event will be going towards; small downpayment on some land for a new school, two best business training workshops at the end of October, and, if the money is sufficient, a few family drip irrigation kits. The workshops will concern possible small-scale gardening and farming business models. Since there is no existing farmers association in the Kimilili, we are trying to get online training information to two CBSM community members who have offered to supervise our garden vocational training program.

This year, the area around Kimilili suffered from food shortages due to a drought, and there is every indication that the situation will become even more severe next year. We are hoping to build a small network of people in Nairobi and Kimilili who will offer training to the people within the CBSM community about what they can do to assure proper harvesting. Their very existence depends upon the produce they grow in their household gardens.

21 September, 2009

19 September, 2009

Small World

I had a very surreal experience this afternoon when I went to get my hair cut. As I walked through the door of the salon, all the hairdressers turned and said hello (this is a normal practice when entering any shop), as did all the six customers they were cutting hair of. I knew all of the customers (a colleague, two friends, another shop owner, a friend of a friend, and an ex-neighbour), but none of them knew the other. This was a totally bizarre experience. For one instant, I had the feeling as if I was part of a waking dream.

P.S. Luebeck is small, but not that small. It has 250,000 residents.

18 September, 2009

Next Step


work contract runs out in a few months time/ trying to figure out the next step/ options do seem less feasible than they did even a few years ago/ friends deliver predictions or platitudes such as "you've always managed before" on my doorsteps/ or, some give up dire predictions about the finality of life on the job market/ nothing really is reassuring/ yet, I remain, for the most part, optimistic/ silly isn't it?

13 September, 2009

Sunlight Shimmering

Poppy Green

Late summer sunlight shimmers on our living room wall. My dear son turns 19 today. My dear daughter returns, the gods willing, safe and sound from her travels. My dearest husband listens to music on his iPod and irons this week's worth of shirts and blouses. I listen to podcasts of books and films and flirt a little with the colour turquoise, which is one of my favourites.

10 September, 2009

Music of Nature

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

The photographer Paulo Pinto published this picture of birds on electric wires in a newspaper. Jarbas Agnelli made the association like many of us do that it looked like music notation. The difference is, he went about finding out what the music sounded like. Don't you wish you were one of those people who could play or just be looking could hear the music the birds formation are making?

06 September, 2009