Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For all those still waiting to be moms...

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Apron strings
Hanging empty crazy things
My body tells me
I want someone to tie to my
Apron strings

Apron strings
Waiting for you pretty things
That I could call you
I want someone to tie to my
Lonely apron strings.

Your baby looks just like you when you were young
And he looks at me with eyes that shine
And I wish that he were mine
Then I go home
To my
Apron strings
Cold and lonely,
For time brings
thoughts that only
Will be quiet when someone clings
to my apron strings.

And I'll be perfect in my own way
When you cry I will be there
I'll sing to you and comb your hair
All your troubles I will share

For apron strings
Can be used for other things
Than what they're meant for
and you'd be happy wrapped in my
Apron strings

You'd be happy wrapped in my
Apron strings

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Enkuwan Le Berhane Tensayewu Adderesachu!

Today is Easter in Ethiopia (Fasika). I believe the post title means, "Happy Easter," but with the way my Amharic education is going it could also mean,"How do I get to the airport?"

Easter is a big deal in Ethiopia. It is more important than Christmas (Gena).

From Whats on When...

"Easter Friday is a day of preparation and church-going. People go and prostrate themselves in church, up and down, up and down one hundred and one times. The main religious mass takes place on Saturday night, a sombre, sacred occasion with music and dancing until the early hours of the morning."

I thought the Catholic mass was difficult, what with all the kneeling, and standing and sitting. I never really did get those movements right when I was growing up. Like a lemming I would just follow along. I followed my Dad for a while until I realized that he never stood, knelt, or sat at the right time. An old football injury had absolved him from the calisthenics.

One hundred and one times? These Orthodox Christians have been on a vegan diet for the fifty five days of lent leading up to Easter. Here is a video, but beware, the sound quality is poor.

"At three am, everyone returns home to break their fast and a chicken is slaughtered at midnight for the symbolic occasion. In the morning, after a rest, a sheep is slaughtered to commence the feasting on Easter Sunday."

Not exactly a visit from the Easter bunny. In fact, if I were the Easter bunny I would high-tail my little cotton tail right out of the vicinity.

I have gotten mixed advice from local Ethiopians in regards to attending one of their masses. Some are very encouraging and feel that we would be welcomed, others flatly say, "I wouldn't recommend it."

I am sure my prostrating would be all wrong anyway.

Happy How Do I Get to the Fasika!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Friend or Family Feature...

Today's Feature is...

My Aunt Mary!

The above picture is of my Grandma Jean, my Aunt Mary and me. I am the one wearing the festive hat. I love this picture. I feel like it is a bit symbolic. I feel that, in a way, my Aunt Mary has had her strong arms underneath me for some time now. I feel like she has been helping me keep my head up.

My Aunt Mary has always been extremely supportive. So many times I thought that she was the only one in the world who could really understand what I was going through. She has had challenges of her own in the family building department. She knows all too well the pain of pregnancy loss. Her thoughtful cards, knowing words, and loving encouragement have helped me immensely.

My Aunt Mary was the only person I knew personally who had adopted a child. She actually adopted two children, two beautiful daughters. It is some how reassuring to know someone who has done something that you are considering doing, before you actually do it. “Well, it turned out okay for Aunt Mary so it must not be too scary.”

My Aunt Mary has a beautiful family chock full of children, adopted and biological. Aunt Mary never pushed the idea of adoption on me. She let me get there on my own. Her support was constant. Her encouragement was only spoken when I asked her to speak it. My Aunt Mary, with her loving words and kind gestures has helped me to stand up, brush myself off and get myself together. She has, by example, led the way.

My sister Kate recently had the opportunity to attend a birthday celebration for my cousin Brenna. Kate said that at this celebration my Aunt Mary got up and made a speech. She told Brenna about the moment she heard that Brenna was going to be her daughter. She told her how excited she was. She described how incredibly happy she was then, and how thrilled she feels now to be her mom.

How will my adoption impact my Aunt Mary? My Aunt Mary is pretty incredible. She has a beautiful family and a successful career. She has a huge group of friends. Every Sunday night she has family dinner at her house. All are welcome. It is a sight to behold. Three generations, food, dogs, babies, dishes, ice cream. It is what you think of when you envision an enviable family dinner scene. I can’t wait until my kids get the opportunity to sit at that table and break bread with my Aunt Mary. They will be so lucky to sit next to this woman. She will never make them feel different or less important because they are adopted. She will embrace them in her strong, thin, beautiful arms. Whether they see her once a year or every Sunday night, they will know that they can always count on her for love and for support. My Aunt Mary knows how longed for these children are, how difficult it was finding our way to them, and what an incredible gift it will be to know them.

I can’t wait.

Thanks Aunt Mary.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Friend or Family Feature...

The Friday Friend or Family Feature has been preempted today by the Friday Friend or Family Feat of Fantastic-Ness.. Last night I learned some news.

Apparently, these two petite nieces...

were quite moved by Tuesday's post. They read about the drought in Africa and got very upset.

After making some calls, and crunching some numbers, they decided to take action. They shattered their piggy banks and sent their allowances to Play Pump International. Their generous contribution will help provide clean water and play ground equipment to children in Africa.

Here is a video...

A Merry-Go-Round attached to a water pump... Genius.

"While children have fun spinning on the Play Pump merry-go-round (1), clean water is pumped (2) from underground (3) into a 2,500-liter tank (4), standing seven meters above the ground.
A simple tap (5) makes it easy for adults and children to draw water. Excess water is diverted from the storage tank back down into the bore hole (6).

The water storage tank (7) provides a rare opportunity to advertise in outlaying communities. All four sides of the tank are leased as billboards, with two sides for consumer advertising and the other two sides for health and educational messages. The revenue generated by this unique model pays for pump maintenance.

The design of the Play Pump water system makes it highly effective, easy to operate and very economical, keeping costs and maintenance to an absolute minimum.
Capable of producing up to 1,400 liters of water per hour at 16 rpm from a depth of 40 meters, it is effective up to a depth of 100 meters."

Betsy and Abby know how important it is for a kid to be a kid.

The fact that my nieces did this on my birthday is particularly sweet. I have a sneaky feeling that my brother had something to do with this. Thanks guys. This company is hoping to expand to Ethiopia in the next year.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Top Six Reasons My Birthday Was Better Than The Pope's...

Yesterday, Pope Benedict and I shared a birthday. We were both born on April 16th, 1927. Here are the top six reasons why my birthday was better than the Pope's.

Reason Number 6...


Although Pope Benedict had a big, beautiful cake, it seems that it was more decorative and that he didn't actually eat it.

Here is my cake...

Here is my cake, three and a half minutes later...

I mean really, what good is a cake if you don't get to eat it?

Reason Number Five...


Steven and I went for a hike. If you really want to feel your age on your birthday, put your rickety body through a five mile climb in the mid-day heat. This hike seemed a lot easier one year ago. When we finally reached our destination we took our bench's advice.

The Pope, however, had a very stressful day; crowds, protests- not very relaxing.

Reason Number Four...


Here is the menu for the Pope's Birthday dinner:

Morel-encrusted diver scallops, ramp spatzle, angel hair asparagus bisque, duo of veal, white truffle potato dumplings, baby carrots and boletus mushrooms, heirloom lettuces and candied pumpkin seeds, spring squash carpaccio, styrian pumpkin oil vinaigrette, raspberry crisp and mint coulis.

Sounds good right? Well guess what...

"His Holiness will skip the dinner in his honor. Pope Benedict won’t be on hand for the big White House dinner tonight marking his visit."

What? A Birthday dinner without the Birthday Pope? What gives?

He should have come to Mao's with us...

Delicious. And at my age, the early bird special provides all of this and more, for under 10 bucks a person.

Reason Number Three...


A tasteful bouquet from a friend, lovely. If you receive acres and acres of flowers, the smell becomes downright overwhelming, some would even say nauseating.

The Pope probably never receives birthday gifts he really likes. No one really knows his size or where to purchase those fancy vestments. No one, for instance, would probably ever think to get him his very own beautiful, personalized green glass...

The "J" glass. Steven said there were some "B"'s available, and also a couple of "P"s.

Reason Number Two...


Oh sure , the Pope may have a really cool hat and a souped up Pope Mobile,

But the pope is also celibate. Enough said.

And the Number One Reason my birthday was better than the Pope's...


The pope had to spend his birthday with this man...

I got to spend mine with these guys...

My favorite part of this whole day was lifting my hike heavy head from my sunny napping place and seeing this...

My wonderful husband picking a plump, juicy loquat off of our tree, peeling it, de-seeding it and feeding it to our dogs. Birthday perfection.

So your Holiness, if on April 16th, you find yourself in the states again, please give us a call. We'll show you how to celebrate a birthday.

I am Lucky.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I've got a sadness that I can't shake today. It started with this article.

I also have been reading some heartbreaking stories from adoptive families home with their adopted Ethiopian children. There is so much grief.

Like the little boy whose birthday cake reminded him too much of the cake at his care center's goodbye ceremony, and the little girl who nuzzled up to her dad's hair after he roasted coffee and said," Daddy, you smell like Ethiopia."

I am sad today.

To the beautiful and resilient people of Ethiopia... I am praying for rain.

These pictures I used are by Niall Crotty and the song is by Snow Patrol.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Friend or Family Feature...

Today's Feature is...


We met Fortune several years ago here. Fortune is an artist. If you have ever been to the Venice boardwalk, you know that it is no place to sell your art. It is wall-to-wall people...

One misstep by a slippery, sun-screened skateboarder can wipe out years of work. I read somewhere that Venice Beach is the second largest tourist destination in California next to Disneyland. While that may mean the occasional sale to a tourist, it is still a very difficult way to succeed as an artist. This recent article from the Los Angeles Times explains some of the challenges.

We would see Fortune frequently wheeling in his work, setting up, and settling in for a long, hot day in the sun. We bought this from him...

It looks exactly like the four hundred square foot house we lived in, in New Mexico. The painting cost about forty dollars.

A few years later, we were participants here.

Fortune's booth was two booths away from ours.

We commiserated about the inebriated festivals goers who really had no interest in purchasing anything.

Here is what Fortune says about his work...

"I want to foster an awareness of the conditions suffered by South Africans, who create makeshift shelters by optimizing outside space and leftover materials - metal, tires, stones, etc., whatever they can find to build their homes.

Fashioning my work as homage to my ancestors, family and community, these pieces are a reminder of the day-to-day life in black South African townships. But shanties exist throughout the world and my art actually tells a story of the universality of poverty.

The characters in my scenes are about communities who have overcome adversity and have progressed into the 21st century. Complex dimensions allow a peek down streets at women washing clothes, children playing, girls braiding hair and wandering drunken fathers. Pictures of everyday events, ironically set against the backdrop of vivid dawns and dusks, reflect the darker issues of economic enslavement, discrimination, poverty and hardships.

Shanties are slowly disappearing from South Africa’s landscape. Redevelopment and investment begin to paint a brighter picture for the future of South Africans, an encouraging example for the people of the world who are experiencing poverty today."

I find Fortune's art absolutely breathtaking. You really have to see them in real life to appreciate them fully. They are three dimensional. The work is vibrant.

I am happy to announce that Fortune has moved off of the boardwalk, and into Equator Books.

This bookstore is showing his work through May 30th. If you are in Los Angeles go check it out. Be sure to go on the first Friday of the month for extra festivities.

If you are not in LA, you can see more of his art here.

How will my adoption impact Fortune? I believe Fortune's art will have an impact on my children. This it what my kids will see when they wake up in the morning...

Maybe it will remind them of where they came from. Maybe it will make them think of their birth mom. Maybe it will make them long for what they have left behind. Fortune knows a little bit about that. His wife and children still live in South Africa. He sure does wish it were easier for them to come visit him. It sure would have been nice for them to see their dad in his big, incredible art gallery opening.

I can't wait to bring my kids to Fortune's studio. It is a magical place. There are coke cans, and soup cans. There are piles of sand and bags of rocks. There are little cut-out figures lying around, people, dogs, wheel barrels. Just walking in there makes you want to get your hands dirty and create something. In Fortune my kids will see a man who has worked very hard to achieve his goals. They will see a man who struggled, and is still struggling with racism and persecution. They will see a man who has dedicated his life to fostering an awareness of the universality of poverty. They will see a man generous in spirit. There is a kind of warmth that radiates from Fortune. You can see it in that very first picture. You can really feel it in person.

Congratulations Fortune. We are so proud of you.