Monday, December 29, 2008

New Neighbor, Part 2

Oh my, I didn't realize this snail is Melvin! I've heard so much about him; I mean, he's practically legendary. Melvin is well known around these parts. (Thanks, Lacey, for the heads up!)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Neighbor

For those of you that don't know we have officially moved. We are no longer staying up the road at the "Farm," but instead we are staying down the road on the ASM campus where our offices are located. We completed the move after staying at Bernard and Julia's house for a week. We had a wonderful time swimming and relaxing, and now we are getting settled into our new home, "Westmont." No one is really sure where the name Westmont came from, but it is painted just above the door when you walk in. It is considerably bigger than our last place with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We won't be alone however, our friend Levy from Zambia will be sharing the house with us. Levy as it turns out will be gone for the first three months of the year though. He is going to Zambia to help out with the projects there and help start a new community based organization (CBO) in Eastern Zambia.

Since we have moved in on Friday it has pretty much not stopped raining. I know it is the "rainy season" here and I shouldn't be surprised, but 36 straight hours of rain is quite a lot. Okay 36 straight hours might be an exaggeration, it might have stopped for an hour or two somewhere in there. Rain here is so loud on our tin roof. The drops sound like hailstones sound when hitting cars back in Minnesota. Since it is raining we haven't gone out much and with the constant pounding it is like we are in some sort of torture cell where the noise just won't go away!! It really isn't as bad as I am making it sound and because of all the rain it is getting incredibly green outside.

The rain also brought something else I thought was fairly interesting. The biggest snail I have ever seen in my life!!! Okay, so I know I am from Minnesota and we probably don't have very big snails there, but I have been in Africa for 17 months now and I have seen some, what I thought were, big snails. They would be about the size of a half dollar, or for you Canadians a "loony." But the snail I saw today was about 2/3 the size of my foot! I found him climbing up the exterior wall of the house. I'm sure that with all the rain wherever this guy usually stays is getting extremely wet, so I think he might have been looking for a new home. Let's just hope the rain stops soon. I'm not sure what other huge creatures are looking for a new home.
Our new neighbor

Our friend next to Brooke's shoe
(he shrunk up a little bit when I put the shoe next to him)

Here he is full size
(if you look at the picture above he can even retract his antennae)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sports Santa, the bane of my existence

By request, I'm posting a photo of the infamous stocking. I will fill you in on the background of this stocking fiasco...Three years ago today, Kim presented Mike with a beautiful felt stocking she had embroidered and appliqued. It was beautiful, with birds, which is perfect, because Mike is a bird nut. Kim and I also have really nice handmade felt stockings that our mom appliqued for us years ago. Of course, when I purchased the kit to make Jed a stocking (called "Sports Santa" perfect for Jed) two years ago, I wasn't feeling any pressure at all. Ha! Well, the stocking didn't get made two years ago, because it didn't come in the mail until just before Christmas. I packed it to come to South Africa (seriously) and worked on it last year for months, off and on. (I can only work on it for an estimated 64 hours before I get so sick of it I have to put it away for a few months.) Anyway, it's finally finished!

Maybe you really have to see it to appreciate it. There are 172 pieces of felt involved, many of which were stuffed, embroidered, sequined and/or appliqued. The bowling pins hang, the soccer ball and the tennis racket come out of Santa's bag, and the three golf clubs (one driver and two irons) can be taken out of the golf bag. (What was I thinking? I'm not sure it was worth it.) Anyway, I'm so happy it's done. Now poor Jed has to guard this thing with his life for the rest of my life. Merry Christmas, honey!

Christmas in South Africa

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We wish we were back in Minnesota with our families today. This Christmas was tougher to be away than last year probably because it has been another whole year since we have seen most of you. We are dreaming of a white Christmas but have a 'wet' Christmas instead. We got in a little bit of swimming before it started raining yesterday. We had Emily, a co-worker from Zimbabwe, and her niece (Faith) and nephew (Divine) over for Christmas eve. Watched a movie, played Yahtzee and Twister and had a great barbecue for dinner.

Divine and Faith playing Twister

Divine and Emily enjoying the pool

Last night we went to Christmas eve service last night at the Catholic church in White River. It was really nice, but nothing like church back home. There were only like 30 people there. Probably will be much busier on Christmas Day.

Today we are going to George and Carolyn's house for a Christmas barbecue, we are bringing bacon wrapped weenies! We will probably get a call from our parents today as well, looking forward to hearing how their Christmas is going. Tonight we will probably go to bed early; Brooke was complaining about not getting enough sleep last night. Something about midnight mass and somebody waking her up early to open presents? Not really sure what she means, I let her sleep until 6:45!

Anyway we wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year! We miss you all.


Jed and Brooke

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Gift for U

The heart of Hands at Work is to mobilize the African church to reach the continent's most vulnerable children, to reach 100,000 orphaned and vulnerable children that would otherwise not be reached. And we are striving to reach them by the end of 2010 by caring for the basic health, education and food security of each child at just $15 per month.

Click here to learn more about our Christmas campaign.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where is Jessie?

The other night, around 10pm, I got a strange text message from Busie, a Hands volunteer who lives on campus. This is Busie -->

I was at home at the farm, trying to get through some emails; Jed was sleeping (and probably had been for like 2 hours by the way). Busie's message said "Is jessie up there?" I thought that was really weird. Jessie lives near campus, just up the hill a bit, with a bunch of other international volunteers. This is Jessie -->

Jessie is a very sweet girl who happens to be a UNC alum. (Go Tarheels!) She's been volunteering here since August. Anyway, I couldn't imagine why Busie would think she would be up at the farm so late on a weeknight. I called Busie and told her I was worried about Jessie. I asked her to call Lacey, Jessie's roommate, and then call me back.

Busie sent another text message 20 minutes later. It said, "She not up there [with Lacey]...Trust she'll come home wheneva. She does this sumtyms...I'll keep checking the balcony b4 I sleep cause thats where she sleeps when she comes late."


What!? She must be kidding. And is Jessie staying with Busie? I'm confused! So I called Busie again and asked her if Jessie was staying with her. Yes, she said. Busie then said that the Brooke-Smith kid had been over later, and she thought maybe Jessie followed him home. I thought that was really weird, but I asked her if this was something Jessie had done before, staying out late like this. Busie didn't seem to think it was that big a deal. "And she just sleeps on the veranda? Huh?" I asked. Then there was a long pause...

Oh, wait a second...

Jessie the DOG! Oh my goodness it all makes sense now. Busie is staying at Myburgh's, and they have a dog named Jessie! Whew! This is Jessie the dog -->

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snakes on a plane...I mean at the farm

So we had some excitement around the farm yesterday...a scary snake. It was awesome! We've heard stories about snakes at the farm this past year, but this is the first we've seen with our own eyes. I should tell you a story about how it came at us and Jed smashed it's head, but it went more like this:

1. Jed heard something in the bushes and thought it was a lizard (because it usually is).
2. He saw it slither (not a lizard!) and ran in the house to get me.
3. We went outside and found it hiding, all coiled-up.
4. According to Jed, the snake spit at him. That report is, however, unconfirmed.
5. I ran across the yard to get our friend Westen, a large Zimbabwean man who luckily happened to be visiting.
6. Westen crushed the snake with a scary weapon (the one Marc's uncle bought), and threw it over the electric fence.

I hate to even venture a guess at what kind of snake it was. Westen thought it looked like a Mozambiquan spitting cobra. We tried to find a picture online, and it pretty much looked exactly like this black mamba. ..

Yes, it's poisonous either way. But just to reassure our mothers, (despite the report about spitting) the thing was generally petrified of us. Also, if it makes you feel any better, we're moving to campus in about a week.

Whew! That was enough excitement for our Saturday.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What have we always said is the most important thing?

Today was a hard day…a sad day. Today we said goodbye to two of our favorite people in the whole world…


and Marc...

Joey is a Peace Corps Volunteer from New York. Joey is funny. In fact, he’ll do almost anything for a laugh. He’s an incredibly loyal friend. He’s hairy and a little smelly, but he’s also a magician, and that makes up for it. He’s also an awesome photographer and a musician. Joey loves us, and we love him.

Marc is a Hands at Work volunteer from Canada. He is a big Flames fan, but he plays hockey with Jed, so that makes up for it. Marc loves God, deeply and quietly. We like to watch Arrested Development with Marc, because he laughs SO hard. (Ta da!) He also likes politics and economics, and his ping pong game is much improved. Marc loves us, and we love him.

We’re going to miss these guys SO much! But we’re excited to see what’s in store for both of them in 2009.

Joey on Kristy on Jed at In-service Training (IST)

Buhle and her favorite pillow

Three hockey-teers: Dan, Marc, and Jed

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Back in Zambia

I was back in Zambia this week for a workshop with all the Hands at Work service centers. These are the guys who support the community-based organizations (CBOs), which are made up of volunteers who care for patients and orphaned children in their communities. The service centers help support the CBOs with things like finance, reporting, proposals, and encouragement. They also go into new communities where HIV rates are high and resources are minimal and challenge the churches to care for needy people in their communities.

Bernard, a Hands volunteer from Germany, spent time with Stuart and Innocent from Zimbabwe and Carlos and Ricardo from Mozambique

Me helping Pascal and Erick from DRC with their computer

It was a hard week. I went with Marc, Lisa, and Bernard from Hands at Work "hub" in South Africa. We presented and work-shopped and discussed...the days were long. But, it was awesome--a huge priviledge--to spend time with this group of people. They make practically no money in this work, but they believe in it and they believe God has called them to it. And they rely on God (they have to) to get them through heartbreaking work on a daily basis.

We also had lots of laughs. We especially enjoyed a reenactment of the trip the Moz and Zim guys made to get to Zambia for the workshop. Let's just say it involved a missed bus, a ride from a drunk truck driver, elephants on the side of the road, and knocking on the door of a very surprised friend at 1am asking for a floor to sleep on for the night. (A few minutes after the drunk truck driver barely missed hitting some elephants on the road, he yelled, "Shut the windows! There are elephants!" Actually, a few times when I was giving presentations, my screensaver of my safari photos came up, and every time someone would yell, "Shut the windows!" We laughed a lot.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

A day of Thanks!

Brooke's plate (too much green)

Last weekend we had the opportunity to hook up with a few of our friends (mostly Peace Corps) for an early Thanksgiving. We started planning for this Thanksgiving extravaganza when we were still in Zambia, which is interesting since that is where Brooke will be for Thanksgiving this year. Some of you will remember she was in the Northwest province last year while I celebrated Thanksgiving with a bunch of Hands at Work volunteers and this year she is helping facilitate a workshop on all kinds of fun things like monitoring and evaluation, writing proposals and reports, all about the ins and outs of microsoft excel and word. Sound like fun!

I think that someone should invent a font that is called the sarcastic font. Then when writing you could just change the font to sarcastic font and everyone would read whatever you wrote in a sarcastic tone. Not sure which of our avid blog followers would be willing to take that on, but I'm sure it is a million dollar idea. You could create all kinds of fonts for the tone you want to express. Angry font, loving font, sarcastic font, the possibilities are really endless. Just remember who to thank once you make it big time. Ideas are the mother of invention.

Anyway, we had an excellent time hanging out, cooking, eating, drinking the occasional beer or glass of wine, and playing football. The only thing that was missing was the Lions game followed by the Cowboys. Man I miss watching football on TV.

One of the highlights of the day was just before we ate we decided it would be good to go around the room and say what we are thankful for. The most common theme was that we were thankful that we had found each other and thought of each other like family. We were thankful that even though we weren't with our real families we still had people who we could get together with that made us feel at home.
Too much eating!!!

Brooke going out for a pass from Quarterback Kristy

Brooke after her touchdown catch

Marc and Lou trying to get the ball back after a terrible pass, but then realizing there were massive dogs on the other side of the fence!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Jed and I went to Lesotho on Saturday with Marc and Kristal. Our best buddy Marc is going home to Canada in a couple of weeks, and we're going to miss him so much! Our long weekend away was our last hurrah with Marc (although we're betting he'll be back here before we leave). We had such a nice time.

Brooke and Kristal planning for the weekend

We left early Saturday and drove almost 10 hours to a backpackers near the Sani Pass. We spent the night at the backpackers and then left Sunday morning for guided tour into Lesotho. We signed up for the 2-day "cultural experience" tour, which wasn't exactly what we had been hoping to do, but it was the only option. (We've all had our fair share of cultural experiences lately...we were really just hoping to relax.) So, our guide Christeen drove us in a 4x4 Land Rover up the Sani Pass. It took about four hours to cross the border and get to our final destination. Along the way, she told us about the history of the mountains and we stopped often to admire the views.

Jed and Brooke in the Drakensburg Escarpment
(the road we drove along is in the background)

The Twelve Apostles

The view looking back into South Africa as we got close to Sani Pass

The Lesotho flag at the border crossing,
the most relaxed border crossing we've ever experienced

Our destination was the home of Ndodi Thabiso, a warm Basotho man with a lovely family. Thabiso lives in a village of about 200 people in the mountains. The village is isolated, and the people practice subsistence farming. When the crop is bad, like it will be this year, they don't have many options. They have already started rationing their food in preparation for the poor crop they're expecting in June. The huts are round--made of stone, mud, and dung--with thatched roofs, and for some reason all the little boys we saw had shirts but no pants. This little village actually does better than some of the others because they've gotten involved in tourism. The community gets a little money for accepting tourists (very regularly), showing them handcrafts and traditional dancing (which was very cool). We also got to try traditional homemade beer. It was thick and sour and whitish-colored. (Yuck!)

The next morning we went on a three hour pony trek. Basotho ponies are bred to be small and handle the steep mountain climbing. Jed nicknamed my pony ZigZag McGee, because he was so stubborn he didn't want to go straight down the hills.

The pony trek was beautiful, but man, are we sore!

A village

On the way back to South Africa, we stopped at the highest pub in Africa. It was cold and foggy. I enjoyed my first-ever mulled wine. Delicious!

Kristal and Jed kicking back in the highest pub in Africa.
(Notice the lady sleeping in the background...apparently a bus full of elderly French people broke down on the way up the Pass and they had to walk up the hill to the pub to wait for another bus to pick them up. They were so sweaty and tired and hilarious!)

We spent Monday night back at the backpackers, eating pizza and trying not to talk about work. We managed pretty well was great to enjoy some time away and be a little silly.

Kristal, Marc, and Brooke brushing their teeth

We stopped at McDonald's on the way home, a highlight of the trip...the closest McDonald's is over 3 hours away, so we don't get it very often!

Well, today all four of us are sick with stomach cramps and diarrhea...giardia maybe? (Awesome!) Most likely, it was some bad water we drank. (It started before McDonald's, so thankfully that's not the cause.) But it was worth it! We had a great time.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cutest dog EVER!

By request, here are a few pictures of our Buhle ("Beauty"). I was a little worried when Hands said they wanted a Rottweiler, but she's the sweetest dog in the world. (Don't tell the burglars that though.)

8 weeks old

1 year old

She got zapped by the electric fence again this week, the day after her first birthday. (That actually hasn't happened for a long time...they recently moved the fence, so she's still getting a handle on the new boundaries.) They say it takes two years for Rottweilers to really "grow up"...sounds about right.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Back in SA

We made it back to South Africa. Kristal and Marc picked us up in Nelspruit and we ate pizza together. They brought us flowers and had cleaned our house...they made us feel so was wonderful. Today we're relaxing in the cool, cloudy SA weather, cleaning, doing laundry (in a machine!), watching movies, appreciating the things we missed liked the best dog in the world, hot showers, Pepsi Light, and our pillows.

We've been reflecting a bit on our time in Zambia, too.

Things we will miss:

  • Lawrence, Luckson, Joseph, Emily and Alisha and all the CBOs
  • Eating with our hands (only me, not Jed's not such a fan, maybe because of the germ factor)
  • Walking everywhere
  • Enerjelly jubes (which they have in SA, but I was introduced to them here)
  • Roommates who cook us dinner every other night
  • Being so close to town
  • Grace Kunda
  • Walking at night
  • Feeling “safe”
  • Arteco
  • The Internet cafĂ©
  • 40-in-1 movies on the street

Things we will not miss:

  • Hand-washing clothes
  • The heat
  • “Spider-scorpions”
  • Boiling our water
  • Pineapple squash juice
  • Hungry Lion chicken
  • Eating fish with the head still on (and the tails and the fins and the scales)
  • Being offered 100 billion Zim dollar bills for a “special price”
  • The street vendors’ Mopani worms
  • Negotiating a price to get home after work every day
  • Taking malaria medication and corresponding “Larium dreams”

Thursday, November 6, 2008


We made it back from Luanshya yesterday. Things there went very well. We spent a few hours with James from Mulenga. James is supporting twenty orphaned children in that community with a meal a day, and he's recently mobilized 15 volunteers to start visiting their sick neighbors. It's awesome! He's doing GREAT work and he has such a humble heart. Then we spent a day and a half with Pastor Jacob, Thomson, and Paul in the service center, creating budgets, talking about their struggles, and helping on the computer. I'll be back there in two weeks for a workshop with all the service centers, and I'm excited about that!

Alisha's sick today...sounds like it might be food poisoning. We suspect the Hungry Lion (fast food) chicken we all ate yesterday, although Jed and Emily and I escaped unscathed. I think she'll feel better soon though.

We're wrapping things up in the office today and tomorrow morning and leaving for Lusaka tomorrow afternoon. Our flight leaves at 7am on Saturday. Looking forward to getting home to the Farm.

It was a little torturous being away from TV and Internet on Tuesday. We got our election updates from Emily's brother in Indiana and Kim in Egypt. We're a divided household this election, but I'm confident Jed will learn to love Obama! :)

By the way, the congressional delegation's trip to ACTS has been canceled. Too bad!

Love to you all,

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Training Day(s)

So I promised Brooke that I would post again. I know I don't do it very often. It just gets difficult at times. I just never know what to post about. Luckily, over the past two days we have been doing training for the CBOs and the staff from Hands at Work in Kabwe for the past couple of days; so thankfully I have something to write about.
From Zambia

On Friday, we had the opportunity to have 6 CBO managers into the office for training on proposal writing, reporting, and income generating activities training. Brooke focused on the proposal writing and reporting while I had the pleasure of teaching all about IGA! Unfortunately, the internet cafe closes in 5 minutes. So this is all I can write for now.
From Zambia

Tomorrow we leave to go to Luanshya, just a bit further north in Zambia. We will be there until Wednesday, learning about the project, and spending time with the people there. We wish we could have had more time there, but on Saturday we head back to South Africa. We found out today that there is going to be a congressional delegation at the ACTS clinic, which is just across from our NGO in South Africa. They are going to be there on Monday, November 8, and Peace Corps has asked us to go meet them! Exciting stuff. Hope everyone is doing well back in the US. We miss you guys, and once we are back in SA, hopefully we will be in better contact with all of you.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Victoria Falls

We had a great trip to Livingstone, Zambia last weekend. It didn't start off so well, we hitched to get to Lusaka. Jed's face alternated between ghost-white and greenish for two hours. And then our 7 hour bus ride turned into 10 because of a fuel filter that needed to be replaced and a two-hour dirt-road detour. But when we got there we relaxed! We saw Victoria Falls, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Outside the wet season, it's over 1.25 miles wide. It's the dry (hot) season now though, so most of the Zambia side was dry. We walked almost all the way to Livingstone island, across lots of rocks that are normally underwater.

On Saturday afternoon, we went on a river safari above the falls, viewing animals in the national park nearby Livingstone. It was SO relaxing. We had a few drinks and relaxed on the boat.

The hippos were a highlight...

Just before sunset we got off on a small island, snacked on appetizers, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

Do we look relaxed?

On Sunday we went for a helicopter ride and got a fantastic view of the falls. Here's the view in front of me...

And to the side...

The mighty Zambezi River. During the dry season, the falls are about 3 times this wide. Even now it's absolutely stunning!

I know you all miss Jed. He's been so busy checking scores when we get to the Internet cafe that he hasn't had time to blog, but he's promised to blog in the next few days. We're back in the office this week. We think we FINALLY found a house for Emily and Alisha to stay in. Yay! The car has broken down again. But we're well and in good spirits. Tomorrow is the presidential election in Zambia, so the office is closed, but we'll be working from the orphanage and hopefully we'll rest some too. Sunday we're going to the other Zambia service center for a few days, and we're all looking forward to that.

We miss you all SO much! Feel free to drop a line when you can.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Church choir in Zambia

Jed and I went to Lawrence’s church on Sunday and gave our testimony about how we came to Africa. The church had an amazing choir. Here’s a little taste…


It hasn’t rained in Kabwe since May. So you can imagine my disbelief last night at 12:30am when the drops start to fall and we’re sitting in a broken down truck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, expecting our ride to show up soon (finally!).

Maybe I should start from the beginning. Jed and I got up at 6:30 Tuesday morning to pack our bags and move from the lodge where we’ve been staying for almost three weeks into a house about 12km outside Kabwe situated on a farm that’s been converted to an orphanage. Here’s a picture of the house:

From Zambia

(More about the orphanage another time.) We dropped everything off at the house on our way out of town and drove to Lusaka. Our plan was to pick up Alisha and Emily at the airport, but since they didn’t get in until 8pm, we were going to hang out in the city for a day and do some shopping for the new house that Hands will be renting in Kabwe.

We had a great day. We went to the Lusaka Museum first, which was actually quite a letdown—not worth the two stars the guidebook gave it. But still, we learned a few things. Zambia’s story of independence (in 1964) is an interesting one, and it was nice to learn a little bit about the political history on the eve of presidential elections next Thursday.

Then we stayed downtown for lunch at Subway, which was a real highlight for Jed, since he hasn’t had Subway in over 15 months! I held out for pizza, which turned into Jed’s second lunch, since they happened to be buy one get one free day. Then we shopped for fridges and kitchen supplies and bedding. (After two hours bargain-hunting for a fridge, we had the realization that we couldn’t get it back to Kabwe, since they have to be transported standing upright. Geesh.)

We had a really great dinner at an Irish pub, where we ate delicious Chinese food, and talked about all the people we miss and what everybody is up to, and then we left for the airport. The girls made it safe and sound…

From Zambia

A few hours later (around 10:30pm), we were only 50km from Kabwe chatting happily with Alisha and Emily in the car, when we heard a loud POP! Jed tried to blow it off, but a few minutes later there was steam coming out from the hood. Turns out, a fan belt broke and ripped a huge hole in the radiator hose. Awesome! We thought about hitching, but that’s tough with four people and lots of luggage. So we waited for Lawrence to find a generous friend with a car willing to come pick us up 50km away. And let me tell you, our two-hour wait was quite the interesting cultural experience. I guess we just got lucky, because the car stalled about 20 feet in front of a crack house. We watched middle-age men truckin’ back and forth to the shebeen (bar) all night, which was, in typical fashion, blaring Celine Dion and Boyz II Men deep into the dark African night. Just as we were expecting Lawrence to get to us, the rain starting drip, drip, dripping…and then pouring cats and dogs (and elephants and lions).

Lawrence’s driver-friend Sydney had a taste for really loud Bemba-language, Christian music, which was fine by us since nobody was really in the mood for chatting at this point. I was squished in the tiny back seat between Lawrence on one side and Emily and Alisha on the other. After a few minutes, Lawrence started giggling and turned to me and said, “You know, this song…it’s saying that even when your problems seem many, God is still in control.” Hehe. He has quite a sense of humor, doesn’t He? J

It’s the next day, and Jed’s off in the steamy heat trying to help another generous friend of Lawrence’s tow the truck to a mechanic. Poor guy gets stuck with all the fun stuff like killing bugs and fixing the toilet and towing the truck in the 100 degree heat. And with hardly a complaint! (If I didn’t already know I married a great guy, some old man on the street prodded me very sternly last week to appreciate what a good catch Jed was, as Jed was buying bananas for a couple of hungry 10-year-old boys.)

I’ve said a little bit about Zambian food, but I finally took a picture. This is nshima (corn meal porridge), tomato relish (gravy), fish (this day I took a piece without the head, but I can officially eat fish with the head still on without feeling nauseous now), and rape (like spinach). We’re getting really good at eating with our hands! The method is important. You scoop up a little nshima, squash it into a nice ball in your palm, then use it (and your thumb) to scoop up some veggies and relish. No problem!

From Zambia


P.S. I had some great day dreams in the middle of the night last night in the car…I could spend hours daydreaming about memories of playing with Melissa Walli from as far back as first grade. I remember eating carrot sticks at Melissa’s and playing on the scaffolding outside their house, which is eternally under construction in my memory. (Melissa’s mom kept carrot sticks in water in a Tupperware, and for some reason I thought that was really cool.) We also played “school” a lot, maybe because they had an awesome blackboard in their basement. I had never had a brother at that point (although I dreamed about having a baby brother some day, did you know that?), and Melissa’s brothers were like crazy people from another planet to me, always busy, always getting hurt. Anyway…shout out to Melissa. Happy birthday! I miss you!