August 21, 2010

Wish You Were Here.

We are gushing with joy over the arrival of our guests for a 9 day Safari/Zanzibar adventure! Karibu sana - Joannie, Katie, Tracy, Jim, Steve, Mason and Marie!

For those of you that are not able to join us on our Safari/Zanzibar Adventure - you will be missed.  Can't wait to share pictures and stories on our return. Until soon.

Photo Credit:

Andrei Sinioukov

August 17, 2010

Perception Matters.

Traffic in Dar almost looks fun in sketch form.

These sketches of Dar street life are brought to you by Sarah Markes, who was trained at Central St. Martins in London as an illustrator and graphic designer, and who has lived in Dar es Salaam for the last seven years. Her ultimate aim is to produce a book of drawings and creative writing inspired by Dar es Salaam street life, which is supposed to be launched at the end of this year. I cant wait! In the mean time, be on the look out for updates on her work and progress here.

August 16, 2010

Books by the Foot.

I feel like a real grown up. Andrei and I just bought our first piece of furniture. It is a book shelf. And I  am in love. Upon its entry into our new home, I set about the task of arranging all of our books and treasured objects on the hard wood shelves. Oh joy. It turns out I am not alone in this rather strange idea of fun, feast your eyes on these images from i suwannee who uses her blog to showcase her fetish for artful bookcase arrangements in her regular feature, bookcase of the day, it is pure delight.

Here are some of my favorites.
Incidentally, if your book shelves at home are looking a little sparse, did you know that you can order books by the foot? I remember when Andrei introduced me to this concept, when we first started dating, I nearly choked. As we were passing a gorgeous home in Dupont Circle with some mightily impressive book shelves, I casually commented, Oh my, check that collection out. Andrei said, you know you order those things by the foot. WhAAt?! Is this a past time for the rich, instead of developing a collection over time. Andrei laughed, perhaps, but this was originally a service to set designers, or people in the staging industry. Either way, if you are looking to impress a certain someone with your home "library" this could prove a useful option. If it is not the literary impression you seek to impart, you can also feel free to order foot upon foot of books along more aesthetic persuasions, feeling blue today anyone? how about firey red or maybe just warm red? or are you looking to follow popular whims right now and go green? or how about some white on white action?  And so it seems the fun never ends when contemplating books by the foot.

Current Obsession.

I am currently listening to Micah P. Hinson's My God, My God over and over.
Check out this song here. And then pre-order the entire album here. It will not disappoint.
Happy Listening.

August 11, 2010

The Motorist.

Photo Credit:

Carolyn Schroder

Frameworthy Saturday Afternoon.

The Cottage.

Incidentally, this is our new home. Home Sweet Home.
Photo Credit:

Andrei Sinioukov

August 10, 2010

Fanciful Excuses.

As mentioned in my last post, I seem to have a knack for casually forgetting the positive spirit boosts regular exercise renders for me. I have been known to think up some pretty fanciful excuses to justify such indolence. But sincerely I doubt I am alone in this camp. In all honesty, one of my biggest hang ups with biking to and from work right now hangs on the fact that I do not have a properly functioning bag to carry my things.

Upon moving here instead of bringing my ever trustful, virtually indestructible, one-of-a-kind handcrafted R.E.Load messanger bag, I opted to bring a more versatile Lululemon messanger style bag. Big mistake. Lesson learned. Several months ago en route to work via bike, my Lululemon bag broke, ie: fell off my back in the middle of the street while I was crossing two lanes of on-coming traffic. (As a side note: while I love Lululemon athletic gear, this is their SECOND bag that has failed me, falling apart within 6 months of purchase after just normal wear and tear, incidentally they made good on the first sale - replacing the broken bag for me free of charge, but following the second bag failure, I have realized I should just stick with their clothes, and perhaps so should they!) The scene played out in slow motion for me.

I look back to confirm the whereabouts of my bag to find it lying listless in the middle of the traffic lane. I look up and realize the sheer volume of cars flowing at great speed towards me. I shudder when I realize my MacBook is trapped inside the bag. I awkwardly dismount my bike in a state of panic. I contemplate risking life and limb to run into traffic to save my bag, er computer. I do a double take of on-coming traffic. Oh f*ck. I decide to save myself and rush to the side walk on the other side of the street. My face grows flush and I feel a wellspring of tears building. Suddenly, someone shouts and I look behind to see someone rushing into on-coming traffic, swooping down to gather my bag (and its unknown contents) all just in time to miss on-coming traffic and deliver the bag safely it into my hands. This whole incident makes me seriously rethink some of the widely accepted stereotypes about how untrustworthy the locals are, how they will steal the shirt off your back if given a chance, etc. Humanity and decency prevail, but the bag does not survive this incident.

On a recent trip to Morogoro, I was aimlessly wondering around and discovered a heaping pile of second hand bags from the United States. I was knee deep in bags, searching in earnest for a suitable replacement. I manage to dig something out of the pile that looks like it could serve my purposes. I negotiate a price of $5.30, cough over this modest amount and consider myself lucky. Until two weeks later the bag breaks and now there is a gushing hole leaving the bag partially open at all times.And so I am once again left with a fanciful excuse to not ride my bike regularly to and from work. Ug.

I recently discovered these Makr backpacks and I am lusting over them. Aren't they pretty and perfect? These handcrafted bags are made in small batches to ensure their quality and to not overproduce. But alas suffering from a bout of indecision over the price (as well as its durability given my track record...), I missed my chance to grab one of these. And since my R.E.Load bag remains in storage for the foreseeable future, my research for a replacement bag continues...

Bike Love.

The other day following an unruly bout of homesickness, Andrei and I met for a bike ride after work.
Ok, ok, while our ride was not nearly as scenic, nor even half as romantic, it did seem that a nice leisurely bike ride was just the cure for homesickness I had been seeking without even realizing it.

As most of you know, I am a bike aficionado. So you can imagine my sheer delight to receive this from Andrei on my birthday morning.
David Byrne is well known as the co-founder of the Talking Heads, but his professional and personal interests delve far beyond his leading role in this band. Since the early 1980s, DB has been riding a bicycle as his principle means of transportation in New York City, and following his discovery of the folding bike, bicycles now accompany him most anywhere in the world he travels. Bicycle Diaries chronicles his observations and insights - what he is seeing, whom he is meeting, what he is thinking about - as he pedals through and engages with some of the world's major cities from San Fransisco to Istanbul to New York to Buenos Aires.

He writes:

"I found that biking around for just a few hours a day - or even just two and from work - helps keep me sane. People can loose their bearings when they travel, unmoored from their familiar physical surroundings, and somehow loosens some psychic connections as well. Sometimes that's a good thing - it can open the mind, offer new insights - but frequently its also traumatic in a not-so-good way. Some people retreat into themselves or their hotel rooms if a place is unfamiliar, or lash out in an attempt to gain some control. I find that the physical sensation of self-powered transport couple with the feeling of self-control endemic to this two-wheeled situation is nicely empowering and reassuring, even if temporary, and it is enough to center me for the rest of the day.

It sounds like some form of meditation, and in a way it is. Performing a familiar task, like riding a bicycle puts one into a zone that is not too deep or involving. The activity is repetitive, mechanical, and it distracts and occupies the conscious mind, or at least part of it, in a way that is just engaging enough but not too much - it doesn't cause you to be caught off guard. It facilitates a state of mind that allows some but not too much of the unconscious to bubble up."

His words speak straight to my heart, I find that bicycling as both a form of transport and exercise grounds and centers me. I suppose I too strike that meditative "zone" that he references, which distracts me from my daily stresses and allows my creative juices to flow, in fact, most of my blog entries are crafted in my head as I ride home from work each day. I have long discovered that a little bit of exercise each day does wonders in terms of positively lifting my spirits, although admittedly this is a lesson I tend to casually "forget" on occasion.

If his words are not inspiring enough, perhaps these pictures will prove to be dually inspiring. Throughout the Bicycle Diaries DB chides the commonly held perception that spandex is a required uniform for urban cycling, which surely detracts some from this "sport". Now if only I could figure out how to look this good on a bicycle?!


Photo Credits:

August 5, 2010

Homesick Today.

Perhaps it is exciting news from home and I am not there to celebrate (my sister Katie's engagement to her wonderful finance, Mark, who will surely make a grand new addition to our family + my cousin's purchase of her first home in the SW waterfront!), perhaps it is the rather gloomy weather here, perhaps it is the massive anticipation of our safari/Zanzibar adventure at the end of this month with 7 of our most adventure-filled loved ones, or perhaps it is just the Thursday blues, regardless of the reason, I am feeling a little homesick and pining for my next visit home, whenever that may be. Until soon.