Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Here are a few pictures from the Talent show on Saturday night. I will post more in the Photobucket album soon.
Here are the girls all ready to go dance. Are they cute, or what?
Opening moves

Alexa's solo

One more, just because they are so freaking adorable.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I have been getting emails from concerned Burkinamom fans. They all say pretty much the same thing, ie: “Hey B- What’s the matter? The film is great, but I’ve watched it about 20 times now. WRITE something, dammit!”
It’s true that I have been resting on the cinematic laurels of FAVL. Which was not a good idea, as they are comfy, but not my own. Michael K at FAVL did all the work and all I did was paste in a link. But I was VERY happy that all my family and pals could finally see Aslan, Midnight and all the gang.
What have I been doing? Well, last week was spent getting ready for the weekend. Mallory, Alexa and their twin pals E and S were in serious training for a show. We had the dance teacher at the house every afternoon, the furniture all pushed against one wall. Alexandra is Russian and trained as a dancer back when it was called the Soviet Union and they did not kid around. She had to train for hours every day, she tells the kids, and if her posture was less than perfect, her mattress was confiscated, forcing her to sleep on the wooden bed frame. Ah, the good old days.
Anyway, the girls worked a lot with her, getting ready to perform at the ISO Talent show. And I have to say that they were wonderful on Saturday night! I will have pics to post soon. Sorry, no film.
Sunday night was the concert for the small choral group I sing with, so there were a few extra rehearsals for that, as well. One of the highlights was two piano pieces played by Valentine. She has only had four lessons and has mostly just been teaching herself. She played a couple of minuets and sounded great.
There was also the Saint Ex school fun fair on Saturday morning. And there was also the rehearsal for the “Profession de foi” ceremony for Valentine that is happening on the 3 of June. Along with teaching catechism, going to the gym daily and working at Papiers du Sahel, I managed to be too busy to turn on my computer for several days.
This week promises to be a bit calmer. I am working a lot at Papiers, though. Some of the women are taking an accounting course, so I am filling in for them, running the shop from 8am to 2pm each day. I mostly keep very busy, but do take a short break at about noon. I drink a diet Coke and read a bit. Or try to. This morning, I grabbed a paperback on my way out the door. When I settled down to read it a few hours later, I knew I was in trouble from the first page. The writing was pedestrian, but I can live with that. All I ask for is a decent story that will make me forget how hot I am for a little while. But the stupid details were killing me. For example, the main character is supposed to be a hard-hitting criminal lawyer. Her name? Betsy Korn. Her name is actually Elizabeth, but she thinks it’s too dignified for a “frazzled” scatter-brain like herself. (It’s common knowledge how those high-class lawyers hate to have a dignified image.) That’s really the best name he could come up with? Sounds like she’s going to cook food with possums in it and then marry her first cousin.
Also, within the first twenty pages we already had two lawyers named “Alfred”. You’ll be surprised to know that they were not called “Alfie” or even “Al”. I guess guy lawyers don’t mind being dignified.
I will restrain myself from further ranting. Just be assured that it was all really stupid. If you are tempted to read something by Phillip Margolin, don’t. I’m saying this as a friend.

Late breaking news!!!! Yesterday afternoon, Al and Mal polled their money and bought a air of little “mange-mil” birds. They are cute, tiny, little yellow things. Well, they were. The girls have just discovered the bamboo and wire cage laying on the tile out on the terrace. The bars are all bent and nothing left of the birds but tiny yellow and grey tufts of feathers. The cat is sitting nearby, looking pleased with herself. This looks pretty incriminating….

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I got a very entertaining free sample at the supermarket recently. It was instant coffee packaged in Singapore. I'm not in advertising, but I just can't think that making your ad look like a sticky old piece of paper that has been used as an impromptu coaster is the way to go.
Worst of all, the manufacturer makes the rather alarming promise that it “leaves you drooling”. Perhaps it contains a mild neurotoxin that makes you salivate excessively and loose facial muscle control? Kind of scary.

So, not surprisingly, on Sunday morning I drank my usual, non drool-inducing coffee and went on to have a great day. The highlight was almost certainly the goat racing. You can have your Kentucky Derby and Ascot - the Ouagadougou Goat Races have them all beat.
Of course, the only way to get the goats to run is to have their owners run in front of them all the way. If horse racing operated on the same principle, I’m guessing it would be way less popular. But for goat racing, it works pretty well.
Of course, this meant that usually the fastest child, rather than the fastest goat, won. But it was still very good fun.
We all got together over at the house of my Friends of African Village Libraries pals: Leslie and Michael, plus their two children who are the keepers of Minnie. Gina (the goat wedding photographer) and her husband were there with their twin girls and Midnight. Our neighbours Tony and Kirsten came by with their two kids as well, so it was a good crowd. None of the other neighbours came out to watch, though. It was 4pm and still very, very hot. Mad dogs, Englishmen and crazy American goat racers, I guess…..
When the kids and pets got tired of running down the road, we all went in for a rest. There were snacks and drinks provided by our gracious hosts. There was no champagne like at Ascot, but we didn’t have to wear silly hats, so I considered it a fair trade. I noticed that Mallory just grabbed a handful of cookies and headed right back out into the heat, though. I peeked out the door and saw her feeding Goaty(aka Aslan) the treats and making much of him. She does love that goat.
After the break, a couple of the kids hopped on behind Leslie’s motor scooter. So then we got more of a high-speed thrill ambiance going. She raced down the dirt road, the goats in hot pursuit. It was one of the more unusual things I have ever seen in Burkina.
The winner? Well, it was kind of like the Special Olympics for goats. We wanted them all to go home with good self-esteem. They each won a few races and then after that, I don’t think we really kept track. As no money was changing hands and there was plenty of beer, the process seemed more important than the results.
Stay tuned for the film!!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Queen of Sweden visited a travel agency recently with her dog.
Well, it was actually Mallory, dressed up in a long white robe. Did you know that Swedish aristocrats dress remarkably like Galadriel in Lord of the Rings? I didn’t either.
As for the dog, that was Alexa on all fours, panting daintily and looking vaguely like an afghan hound, if you squinted.
Valentine was the travel agent, seated at the coffee table in the middle of our living room. She helped Her Majesty plan an exciting trip to Switzerland.

Today’s dress-up involved some friends, as Valentine is away at “nun-boot camp”. (More on that later. ). Here’s a picture of the girls dressed up for a game. You can see that Goaty is not left out of the fun.
The forces of good are clearly represented on the left by a fairy and an elf. The two on the right are evil witches. Apparently some witches are far more fashion-savvy than others.

Now for the bad news. My jaunty comment yesterday that the chickens are all well must have jinxed the bunnies. The first thing I heard this morning was Mallory shouting “Mom! Alexa’s bunny is GONE!” I ran outside and found that indeed, one was missing. The driver was nearby, waiting to take Valentine to the convent (Nun boot camp, right?) so I asked him if he knew anything about the matter. Mahama told me that the guardian had found that the little guy had managed to get out of the cage and had gotten caught by the cat. Yes, the same cat that was the cause of so much misery not too long ago. At that point, Old Moussa came walking up “I’ve got it, boss!” he said, dangling the little fluffy head by the ears. The body was hanging quite a bit lower, swinging on a long, red thread. I put my hands over Mallory’s eyes and explained to Moussa that we REALLY didn’t need to examine the poor little guy.
There have been a few tears and nobody is talking to the cat today.

As for Valentine, no, she is not taking the veil. Her catechism class is having a retreat at a convent down at Koubri, one hour to the south of Ouaga. She wasn't really keen to go (hence the "nun boot camp" comment) as it is very hot right now. Also, she would have liked to be home to see her dad. JP was scheduled to come home today after ten days out doing research. But she packed her Bible, mosquito repellant, etc and took off this morning at about 7:30. The kids were supposed to all go on a chartered bus. But when the bus showed up at the rendezvous point, a problem became evident. It was a nine seat bus, not a 19 seater, as the organizers had understood. I guess somebody messed up. Anyway, I was asked to volunteer the use of our Land Cruiser, as it has nine places. I was very nervous that it wouldn’t make the trip, but the driver said that it went fine. And hopefully it will do as well on the trip tomorrow night to fetch them back.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

We have started a trend, it seems. Goats are the new "in" pet for the fashionable expat home in Ouaga. Our friends that run the Friends of African Village Libraries organization also bought a little goat for their children. Minnie was a little skittish at first, so our friends asked my girls to come over a few times and help out with the goat-taming. The twins brought Goaty over and a good time was had by all, mostly. The twins have determined that Goaty loves Midnight but she's not too keen on him. Considering that they've only been married a few weeks, it's rather sad. And Minnie thinks Goaty is All That, but he's not terribly interested in her. It's kind of like "Days of Our Lives", but with goats.
Minnie has calmed down over the last two weeks and has become a very fine pet, if a little demanding. Yesterday, I was walking down the road when I heard an urgent flurry of bleating from across the intersection. I looked over towards my friends' house and saw that Minnie had stuck her head under the gap beneath their gate. She recognized me and was calling me over! I went over and scratched her head a bit. No one was at home with her and she was lonely, poor thing. She's used to lots of attention.
I haven't mentioned our chickens in a while. They are all fine, all four of them. Yes, Jaguar and Snowball have been joined by two little chicks. The twins are having lots of fun with the babies. Their favorite activity is turning over rocks and letting the chicks loose on the bugs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I had a really excellent Mother’s Day. Probably a much better one than I deserved.

I woke up Sunday morning to a rustling sound in my bedroom. I thought it was the cat, which would have meant a very, very bad start to the holiday. The cat has been banished to sleep outdoors ever since a very unfortunate recent incident in which she used my bed as a litter box. It was very horrible, made even worse by the fact that the twins were sleeping in the bed at the time. I won’t go into graphic detail here, but trust me, it was a nightmare, if your nightmares involve cleaning cat poop off two nine year old girls at three in the morning, changing all bedding involved, airing out the room, running for the heavy-duty air-freshener when the open window doesn’t help, yelling at the cat and throwing her out the door and then making up beds for three people somewhere else because the gross-out quotient is too much for you in the end.

So, you can understand that the idea of the cat in my room woke me right up out of a sound sleep. But happily, it was Valentine. She was bringing something into my room. She told me that no one else was up yet, so I went right back to sleep and didn’t wake up until later when Mallory peeked into my room. She stage whispered “She’s awake.” to the other three waiting in the hallway. I sat up and saw what Valentine had been up to. She had installed a small table in the center of the room and piled it with flowers, cards and gifts.
I was treated to a song written by Valentine and performed by all four kids. I knew she was a writer, but a songwriter? It was really good!
The cards and gifts were wonderful, too, in that Mother’s Day gift kind of way. I got no less than two teddy bears, a jewel box and a big bunch of white silk flowers.
They even made me a coupon book offering various services, such as dish washing and table setting. One coupon even says I can redeem it for a pedicure from Severin, which is beyond sweet, if a bit strange. I’d bet that most 11 year old boys don’t even know what a pedicure is, let alone offer to do one. I think that’s one coupon I’ll have to keep and frame, rather than use.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Last night we were sorting through stuff to sell at the jumble sale at the International School. Valentine came into my room with a pile of clothes.
"That's the stuff you want to sell, sweetie?"
I took the top item of the pile- a red, white and black striped shirt that had been a gift.
"You don't like this?" I asked innocently.
"It's fine, " she responded. "if you enjoy wearing loser-ific clown suits."
Ouch. Deadly, searing, venomous sarcasm. Guess I do have a teenager on my hands. Valentine is usually very sweet, but she has occasional bouts of extreme puberty.
I have to say that I laughed like mad and wrote on the price tag "Loser-ific clown suit: 300 fcfa".

("Loserific"? Where does she get this stuff? She never watches TV. On the weekends she gets to watch a couple of dvds, parentally approved. Her friends are ALL non-english-speaking. Maybe hormones alone can cause you to invent completely new words.)

The sale was this morning. It's not actually a sale, but more of a junk re-distribution program for the expat community. Your kids sell their old Polly Pockets, then promptly go buy somebody else's old Polly Pockets. It's dead clever, really.

This year I managed to actually make money, which is ostensibly the point of the whole excercise. Looks like we'll be going out to lunch for Mother's Day tomorrow!

BTW- The shirt is still with us. Apparently no loser-ific clowns came to the sale this year.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I finally have pictures of the goat wedding! But the bad news is that Blogger is being difficult about letting me load pics today. So, I leave you with a single photo of the the lovely bride, Midnight:
For the rest of the pics (and they are well-worth seeing) check out the photo album at right. Click the link and then choose the "Goat Wedding" sub-album. Enjoy.

Friday, May 04, 2007

I've been really sick. I would have sworn it was Ebola, but as I didn't hemorrhage out of every bodily orifice and die, I guess it wasn't that. It was more of a sinus infection - bronchitis- fever thing. I had completely lost the will to live by Monday and Tuesday, but rallied on Wednesday, as I regained the ability to read. My headache had been so bad that I couldn't pick a book for days, which is horrible for me. But yesterday I got all the way through "The African Queen". Like most people, I've seen the old Hepburn movie, but I had no idea that it was orinially a novel. It's a funny old relic, well-worth a read. It's very different from the film- much better, as is usually the case.
But enough of that. How about some pictures? Everybody likes pictures? Right?
Last Friday, just before I got ill, we had some friends visiting from Chad. They were on vacation in Ouaga, to relax and do some shopping, which tells you just how bad N'Djamena must be. Anyplace that makes Ouaga in the hot season look good has to be pretty scary. In fact, they had been evacuated to France just before Christmas, as rebel forces approached the city. They're back now, but not exactly at ease. So, they came back to Burkina for a break to see their old friends. One thing on their to-do list was shopping. So, I took them to the local mall.

Hey, you can't get great shopping like THIS back in Chad! Anne was looking for buckets made out of old tin cans. The twins helped her hunt around.

Nearby the recycled metal goods was a huge area of the market devoted to "traditional medicine". The practioners are people who get called "witch doctors" in old novels like "The African Queen". The stands are piled with stringy bones, ashy powders, dried animal parts and skins, and all kinds of indescribable stuff. I managed to take one picture in one of the more quiet corners of the market. It's not one of the more impressive stands, but it gives an idea.

The thought now occurs to me that I was seen taking that picture and the owner of the stand put some kind of wack on me as punishment.