Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Give Me One of Your Children

On Monday, I was walking along the road with my children. Kate was running ahead to the raised grass path, and Malachi was dawdling along in the dirt. Two Zambian ladies approached us, walking the other way. I nodded in their general direction; they greeted me and then one of them said, "Give me one of your children."

"Which one?" I asked.

She pointed at Malachi, the two-almost-three year old, decked out in his shorts, t-shirt, and hat, slowly scuffing his shoes in the dirt. "That one."

"You don't want him," I said consolingly. "He's too much trouble." We smiled amicably at each other and parted ways.

Swing Project

A project I have been meaning to work on for some time now that we are settled in Choma is to make a swingset for the kids to play on outside. Although there is a park nearby with swingsets, the swings are missing (the slides are a bit rusty, but functional; Michelle has photos on her blog). Awhile ago I put up a single rope swing, hanging from a large tree, but it only works so well.

The main challenges were finding timber and tools. I used pine planks (roughly 2x6 size). Everyone warned me that they would be eaten by termites, so I coated them with some black oily stuff. I made a couple of 'A' frames by chiseling out half of the top so that the two main supports would fit together nicely. For tools, I used a handsaw purchased with precious allowance money, as well as an electric drill MCC had bought, and some screws and a screwdriver. My hammer was a nailbar I had brought from Canada.

My design isn't perfect--there is slight horizontal play from side to side, but for swinging it is fairly solid--unless you get going a bit too high, when the whole thing starts to rock out of the ground--so that will need some concrete poured into the ground and around the legs. But the kids enjoyed their first swing--despite swings made out of rope and hardwood scraps--and I'm pleased.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Snow in Africa? I'd settle for a little Rain

It is now December, so the Christmas season is officially upon us. Here in Africa there are not too many signs of it, though. For one, there is the 30 degree weather with sunny blue skies and puffy white clouds! The rainy season is late and even the locals are complaining about the heat a little bit. Inside our house, however, Christmas is making some sneaky inroads. The tree is up, as well as an advent calendar that gives some candy and a new Christmas activity to do each day (today the kids made gingerbread cookies).

The Christmas spirit seems to be affecting Cookie, our three-legged mutt. She is not the friendliest dog I've ever met; in fact, I've never even petted her. She shies away when anyone gets too close. Ever since she hurt her leg somehow--her front right paw dangles uselessly as she hobbles around--she's been even more scarce. She's supposed to be our guard dog, but I'm not sure how much use she'd be against an intruder. She is, however, attempting to make friends with our new kitten, Fanta. I don't think she even knew Fanta was living on our porch for a few days, until I drew her attention to her at dinnertime. Ever since then, Cookie cautiously approaches, sniffing and wagging her tail, making strange, happy half-growl, half-whine sounds in her throat, with the odd bark. Fanta isn't scared of her, but doesn't get too close either. It's interesting watching them interact. I'm hoping Fanta will help Cookie be easier to tame. Cookie doesn't have a problem eating cat food, either!

I recently read 'The Dog Who Wouldn't Be' by Farley Mowat. Now there is a dog with some character!

Things are going well at Chodort. I'm working on some cabinets with another carpenter. They are going in a kitchen in a new duplex on 'The Plot,' a parcel of land close by where Chodort is building rental houses to help supplement its income. We are using white melamine for the actual boxes, but everything else--rails, doors, plinth, etc--is made of rosewood, the go-to hardwood around here. Rosewood looks okay when it is finished, but it is very time consuming to plane from rough planks, and cut into the right sizes. I'm enjoying my days 'off' at work--having two preschoolers home all day gets on my nerves sometimes!

A case in point: last Friday the kids were driving me nuts, and it was only the morning! Michelle was at her office in town for the day, doing Teacher Mentor work. The Lord provided a boy named Provide to play with Kate and Malachi. I got a little uneasy near the end of the day when he didn't seem ready to go home--and then he did the dishes, swept the floor, and asked me for a job--but overall he was a welcome distraction. He is an eleven year old orphan who lives with his aunt, and has school break now.

Well, enjoy the snow this Christmas, and don't forget to pray for rain for Zambia!