Archive for January, 2008

Dead Things*

Thursday, January 31st, 2008
What’s the most interesting dead thing you’ve seen lately?
Because I’ve been seeing a lot of dead things.
Every time I see a dead thing I think about the states, and how dogs and cats are pets. And then I lie to myself about how we clean up our roadkill and other Dead Things, which for the most part we don’t.  It sort of depends on the size of the thing.
Every once in a while a dog gets hit (or dies on its own because of god-knows-what kind of insect-born infection) and the lies in the road partition for a week or two while everyone ignores it. I can always feel my face wrinkling as I concentrate on trying not to look, smell, or otherwise acknowledge the rotting masses.  And also not to step in them, which can be more difficult than it sounds.  After a while they flatten a bit and turn the color of dust like everything else.
What do we do with our roadkill when we *do* dispose of it? The other month I saw a recently-hit dead cat lying in the road, noting with morbid interest that it was probably a new addition to the road’s decor.  The next day, walking past the same stretch of road, I saw that it had disappeared-only to realize a moment later that the corpse, having fully passed into the state of rigor mortis and beginning to bloat, was sticking haphazardly out of a trash can.  Interesting.
I routinely step on a sheep jawbone in front of tailor boutique, and the other day a leg fell out of the freezer (causing my mother to shout “it’s a leg!!”).  The bones and fur of a particularly gross dead cat decorate my morning route to the university, along with a trail of intestine that reaches into the street.
Just, you know, a point of interest.  Something to think about while I sulk because it’s already getting hot again.
p.s. I have a new friend and skin parasite.  His name is Albert, and he’s been renting living space on my back.  We’re not getting along very well; he doesn’t like to clean and he’s making me itch.  He never signed a contract either, making him a squatter. When I noticed him I thought he might be in the process of moving out, but then he decided that he has the liberty to take over more space which is definitely not true. Ringworm is so pretentious. Now I’ve got his fungus-y number and he’ll be out withing the week, Inchallah.
p.p.s. Dearest, most darling mother, see how I’ve grown??  Far from sleeping with my bedroom door open because I’m afraid to think about things decomposing, I step in rotten cats and on jawbones in the street.
*The previously mentioned letter, posted in it’s entirety on the repeated request of Moom.  Sheesh!!  Also, Albert is disappearing.  In case anyone was curious…

How efficient!!

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

(Before the actual post though, the man next to me in the cybercafé is singing loudly and smacking his lips with obnoxious frequency. It may not sound like much, but I’m about ready to turn around and cuff him about the head and shoulders until he stops. At least he’s not watching porn. Okay, onward.)

I’m new at housing searches. I’m just starting to figure out prices and different types of units and Obnoxious Realtors and all that good stuff. My latest discovery, which is sort of embarrassing because I probably should have known about it before, is that there are “efficiency” units available. Studio/efficiency…it just never occurred to me.

The word “efficiency” makes me giggle a little bit. I was digging through my pictures and thinking about housing and it occured to me that nothing could be more minimalist-and efficient-than a power line. It’s too bad I don’t have wings and can’t live off eating worms.

Unless you count flying bugs with day-long lifecycles, because they don’t need houses at all.

Unless…has anyone got a spare refrigerator box?? I could set it up outside the library and buy a little charcoal stove!! Someone bring me back to earth, please!

Don’t you wish your office looked like this??

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

My life looks like that, with a little less organization. ;D

For lack of anything better to say, at least until I find time to take pictures of the FINISHED Africa Socks and another guilty i’m-sick-of-giant-pink-shawls project, here is an excerpt from my latest e-mail to my family:

“I have a new friend and skin parasite. His name is Albert, and he’s been renting living space on my back. We’re not getting along very well; he doesn’t like to clean and he’s making me itch. He never signed a contract either, making him a squatter. When I noticed him I thought he might be in the process of moving out, but then he decided that he has the liberty to take over more space which is definitely not true. Ringworm is so pretentious. Now I’ve got his fungus-y number and he’ll be out withing the week, Inchallah.”

Is anyone else amused that I’ve sunk to the level of skin parasites for blog fodder??

I’d rather be walking toward this sunset again, thanks very much.

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I could turn the act of stressing oneself out into a profession, as it seems to be what I do best. One of the most amazing thing about Sénégalese culture is that there are very few opportunities during which one can engage in such an act. Until…now.

It’s a shame that the idea of Going Home has to be present for the end of my stay here, because I’d really much rather not have to deal with it. I think the worst thing about study abroad at Kalamazoo is having to face another quarter of school, while you’re out of the country and can’t prepare for it in advance.

I have my classes more-or-less planned, but if I’m going to do a theatre performance SIP (large project equivalent to a senior thesis) I have to have a proposal ready by the end of April. That sounds like a lot of time but…I have no access to scripts. No books, and only so much time and money to waste in the cybercafé. That’s just the first stress-inducing factor.

My most pressing disaster is that my housing plans for spring sort of…uhm…collapsed in a giant heap of disastrous non-existence followed by my intended roommate ditching me. So. Uhm. Kalamazoo has to house me somehow, right?

Those are the two biggest concerns for the time, although I’m sure that I’ll continue to gather them with some sort of freakish black hole-like effect until my hair stands on end and my teeth ache. Life as usual.

Hey all,

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Everything is going well here, even if I’m quiet.  I spent a week in a village being force-fed by a crazy (yet lovely) woman, and now I am in the process of organizing some things related to school in the spring.

I am also putting together my final projects for the Sénégal program, which actually takes a fair amount of time.  Even if a lot of that is waiting time.

Expect to hear from with with some pictures in the next few days!!


Monday, January 14th, 2008

Look, look!! I finished something!! Emily is probably quacking away in disbelief. In the process of photographing said finished-ness, I discovered the “Foliage” setting on my camera that I was previously unaware of. I uphold the better quality of my photos as good evidence for the logic of photographing your knitting in the bushes. Thank you very much.

I have not figured out how to post multiple photos to an entry using this method of photo storage and posting, but I promise to work on it.

(Actually I’m pretty sure that I know how, but it takes more effort and I choose to ignore it for the time being in the interest of my own personally happiness and comfort.)

What are you doing with *your* weekend??

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

I, personally, am doing a lot of nothing. Let me tell you, it feels wonderful. It all started yesterday with excellent schedule that does not include classes. I slept in, then walked around in search of fried dough balls. Specifically, the ones on the way to the university that contain coconut shavings and have a sugar coating. I just happened to find a manageably-sized piece of a car rapide lying next to the road, so naturally I collected it. Photos to come.

I spent the rest of the morning drinking tea at the Baobab Center, finishing the Brea Bag (Once again, photos to come. I do miss Emily the Yarn Duck.) and listening to my friend as she discovered that the new kid across the table was actually the kid who unstacked her blocks in kindergarden, and who collected frog eggs from the pond in third grade. How strange, to find your block unstacker ten years later and 4,000 miles from home. I thought it was strange to find a Rotary scholar from the U of M…

We also went to the beach yesterday. Think about it for a minute, and bask in the glory that is January. (Go look at and scroll down a bit to see the new years blizzard that describes my home right now. Incidentally, that’s my sister’s new blog.) It’s a little bit difficult to stomach, until you just stop thinking about the date and the season. I wouldn’t object to some mail-ordered snow.

As for today?? I slept late, ate a lot of snacks, and read books. I’ve started Catch 22, which is good so far. (Aside to The Master Of The Universe, it reminds me of you.) I was planning to read for a while in the afternoon before going out on a walk, but unfortunately I was smothered by the cuff of the first Africa Sock, and passed out cold for three hours. Erm…so that’s my day. Week-end. Yes.

The photo was taken just outside of Oussouye; a small village in the Basse-Casamance region.

I shall leave you with a list of the funniest search terms on my stats page:
> how are vitamins suppose to be packed in luggage
> sheep mouse
> genius losing my mind
> how many mice do you get in a nest
> mice nest size needed
> chieck amadou bamba*
> mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse

*Cheick Amadou Bamba is basically the Jesus of Sénégal. He is the central figure of the Mouride brotherhood, and of the Baye Fall. I’m sure that he’s on Wikipedia, if you’re curious.

I still knit.

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

I’m aware that I probably have at least fifteen previous blog posts with the same title, but it still fits.

On top of the Azalea Shawl I have been working on the Brea Bag, pattern by Norah Gaughan. (If you’re not familiar with the book Knitting Nature, now is the time to look it up. This pattern is not in the book, but it is free and if you search for “brea bag” on google you should find it right off). The front/back pieces pictured to the right take only a few hours each. Right now I am working on the strap, which takes a bit longer because it goes all the way around the bottom as well.

It always gets tedious to work on long and skinny pieces, but fortunately I have the solution. I always fold and tie the tail so that it doesn’t twist and so the weight is centered.

I have been reading a lot of Harry Potter, although I ran out of resources yesterday. I borrowed three and four from my host brother, five and six from the Baobab Center, and-of course-I have no way of obtaining seven without spending sixty dollars. (And I thought hardcover books were expensive at home…) As you may have guessed, that’s not happening. The upside is that I found Othello for five dollars, which ought to keep me occupied for a little while. I really miss theatre.

p.s. It’s still way too hot to be January.

Guerilla Frogs and UFOs

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Thanks to my father…

I have no idea where he finds these things.

Contemporary knitting language really is quite innovative.  I became aware of it when I started reading knitting blogs, sometime in January 2004.  Up until that point I was only aware of programs like Livejournal, for which I upheld the greatest degree of disdain, considering the kind of nonsense high schoolers write “journals” about.  I can’t remember what suddenly made me aware that there were specialized blogs out there that had Subjects, but one day I decided to see if knitting blogs existed.

They did!!  I was kind of embarrassed to admit that I was reading them at first, but after a while they were so useful and funny that I forgot that I’d ever found the habit strange.  As a veteran, I remember the minor confusion at terms like “frogging” (taking the needles out of your project and ripping it out; “rip it, rip it”), and “UFOs” (UnFinished Objects), but word gets around pretty quickly.  At that point, there was a set of main knit bloggers who often referred to each other in entries.*  The network was large, but not *that* large.  The blogs I read often referred to Back In The Day when the knitting blogring was tiny, and you could read them all if you wanted to.

I’ve never really been a commentor, but I am still faithful to many of the blogs I started with.  I haven’t been able to read any since I’ve been in Sénégal, but I fully intend to catch up once I’m home in the states with “Real Internet”.  Ah, luxury.

P.S., the fabric in the last entry is a cotton.  The pattern shows up because of the weave in the fabric. 

* I still think it’s really cool how you can pick our circles of bloggers who know each other and have become friends through the network.  I myself am not communicative enough to really fit into that, but I like it.  It’s like the Human Knot game that I play with children in theatre.

Baal ma ko*

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Despite the lateness, I have no time to post today. Slept less than two hours on a boat last night.

Next time!!

* “Forgive me it”, in Wolof