Sweet Dreams – Christmas Bacon

Because I am posted in a country where I might contract malaria, I have been given an antimalarial medication called, “Mefloquine”. One of the side effects of this medication is lucid dreaming. The following is what I dreamt last night (as best I can remember). 

​I was at a college during the  season. I was helping to run the mess hall with some other people. Things had been going okay. I was eating well. I knew several of the students. Maybe I was a student here as well. The normal kitchen staff was there and it was time for breakfast on Christmas morning.

We were up really early making sure that breakfast would be ready in time. At 7am, no one was there. By 0701, it seemed like everyone was there. I didn’t want to open the serving line just yet for some reason. I wanted to get the students excited about Christmas breakfast. There was a ton of bacon. As the line opens up, we start to have an attack from some helicopters. They’re shooting. Now I’m responsible for getting everyone inside and under safe cover. Once I think I have everyone inside, we lock everyone in. 

Be kind to yourself.
Onward.

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Monday in a Picture – Cutting Grass

It was the summer of 2006. This was the summer before my senior year of college, and I was spending it with my uncle and his family in Fayette County, Georgia. All of the single family homes seemed to have perfectly manicured lawns. There wasn’t a blade of grass out of place. On one Saturday morning, my cousin, uncle, and I got up early. It was time to cut the grass at our house. 

This was a new experience for me. I had never cut grass, or done any yard work. My cousin and uncle taught me how to start and use the gas powered lawnmower. It was hard work. I wasn’t able to achieve that perfectly manicured look that I saw at the neighbors’ homes, but I got the job done. 

Almost eleven years later, I am responsible for maintaining the grassy area around my home on the homestead. My host mom reminds me of this when my grass grows too high. She warns me that high grass gives snakes places to hide. 

Lawnmowers are a rarity in Swaziland. They are practically non-existent in the rural community. There are two options for cutting grass. There’s an older pair of garden shears, and there’s something called a siheshe (pronounced see-heh-shay), or slasher. It’s smaller than a bush knife and has a modest handle with a thin, long metal blade. When my host brother was home for the Christmas holidays, I saw him using the siheshe to cut grass. I asked him how one cut grass with it. He responded simply, “just beat the hell out of it”. I remembered that on one weekday afternoon as I attempted to cut my grass, Swazi style. Eventually, I found a rhythm. I also found a new appreciation for lawnmowers. The slasher gets the job done and gives you a workout. Luckily, I only have to cut the grass twice a month. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

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​Monday in a Picture – Grow Your Own Food: the Garden

Last week, I finished my garden. I used the techniques that we learned in a training session last month. Read about that training here. Building this garden was a great way to test my own knowledge and skill before leading trainings in my community. I’m still planning the community demonstration gardens with community leadership.

Double digging to depths of 30+ centimeters is hard, tedious work. The Swazi sun made the task even more unappealing. I hyped myself up by watching Ron Finley’s TED talk about guerrilla gardening. While the entire video is extremely motivational and inspiring, one quote stuck out to me.

“Growing your own food is like printing your own money.” – Ron Finley

I like money. I like food. Challenge accepted! It took four days to complete. I’m happy to announce that it’s done. Some of my neighbors came over to learn and help. It felt great to actually understand permagardening well enough to explain it to others. 

I’m sure that I didn’t do everything perfectly. There were measurements that I forgot to take. My idea (and practice) of companion planting is definitely not what we learned. I didn’t add ash or charcoal to the soil because we didn’t have any available. 

For those who may be wondering what I am hoping to grow, I planted seedlings of lettuce, red cabbage, Chinese cabbage, butternut squash, onions, okra, basil, something called rocket (which the sales associate told me is like spinach), broccoli, cauliflower, and eggplant. I planted seeds of chamomile, flowers, tomatoes, and spinach. Now, I’m just hoping that the seeds and seedlings turn into food.

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

P.S. – This is what the space looked like before it became a garden. 

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​Monday in a Picture – Plowing and Planting 

Everything in life has seasons. Election season in the US is over. American football season is in its prime, while basketball season is just starting. Right now, Swaziland is heading into summer, which is the rainy season. Warm temperatures and rain mean that it’s time to plow and plant. 
The staple crop in Swaziland is umbila (pronounced om-bee-la), or maize. The staple food is liphaleshi (pronounced lee-pa-lee-she), or porridge, which is made from ground maize meal. In my community, all homesteads have some land set aside for crop farming. Many of these families will grow substantial portions of their needed maize during the summer months. Some families may even have extra to sell. But before any growing can be done, the fields have to be readied. This includes plowing the field(s), which is sometimes done by hand with a hoe, shovel, or pick. It can also be done with a tractor pulled plow (as seen in the picture above). 

I spoke with these guys for a bit. They told me that this was a prime season to make money for their respective families. You can hire these guys to plow your field (assuming you live close by). I learned that they work all day, literally. They start working around 4:00 a.m., and work until 7 or 8:00 p.m. That’s a laborious workday that starts before the sun rises, and ends after it sets. They told me not to worry because they had a light on the tractor for working in the dark.  The conversation was brief because there were fields to be plowed and money to be made. Before they left, the driver asked if I could take his picture. Wish granted. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

Sweet dreams – Harriet Tubman 20

Because I am posted in a country where I might contract malaria, I have been given an antimalarial medication called, “Mefloquine”. One of the side effects of this medication is lucid dreaming. The following is what I dreamt last night (as best I can remember). 


I was somewhere in the US. I had agreed to cut some guy’s hair. He was a friend of a friend. I wasn’t working. He said that he would give me ten dollars to cut his hair. He had a big day coming up. He was white. He had hairy feet. 

The next day comes, and I’m cutting his hair outside. I am paying meticulous attention to what I’m doing. I cut his hair and give him a fresh line up. For some reason, I ask him if he wants me to shave his feet. He says ‘no’. I say ‘okay’. I’m not really impressed with the job I’ve done. He likes it though.

He’s getting up to leave. And he says ‘oh, yeah. I need to pay you for this. He said how does forty bucks sound?’ I’m excited because I was only expecting ten. He pulls out a crisp twenty dollar bill. It’s a Harriet Tubman twenty dollar bill. Fresh and new. I am so excited, like ‘bruh where did you get this?’. He just smiles. Realizing that he only gave me twenty, he pulls out another twenty. It is fresh as well. But it has a woman named Dunn on it. She’s Loretta Dunn. She’s famous for something (I still don’t know what). I’m so happy that I don’t even want to spend it. I want to save it and frame it like my first dollar.