our wedding.

Posted by pamela on Sep. 01, 14 | 6 COMMENTS

Two weeks ago today, I married my love, Benjamin Hoover. A new season, overflowing with love and joy has begun. I have thought of so many different ways of sharing some of this special time, and I hope you enjoy this walk through a few of the treasures and backstories of the day we became husband and wife.

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Our Rings: All Five of Them

It takes five rings to tell our engagement and wedding story. When Ben asked me to marry him on the beaches not far from our California home, he gave me a simple silver ring with my birthstone, an Aqua Marine, in it. He had commissioned the ring from a jeweler — making one to fit my right hand that I could take with me on all of my travels around the world. Together we found an antique ring that we had copied with great grandmother’s diamond for my second engagement ring, something new from something old.

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Creating our own tradition from one I knew from my childhood spent in Jordan, I got Ben an engagement ring as well, that he wore on his right hand (a very simple, very inexpensive ring – nothing special except its significance). In the weeks following, Ben would say, “Another first…. I had dinner tonight wearing a ring…. I took a shower with a ring… I taught a class with a ring…And so on.” His conclusion was that men too should get engagement rings as they are a precious reminder of a new and beautiful season, a season of preparing for marriage.

When looking for our wedding rings, we wanted simple bands that matched. For me, one that I could wear when I traveled but also to go with my wedding band. I love what we found. I love that we used jewelers working from home or local stores for our rings. I love the simple beauty and deep significance of our rings.

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And this bowl. “To have and to hold.” A gift from my sister-in-law Lauren, was used by our ring-bearer (my nephew Liam) and hold my engagement rings on my bedside table when they are not on my hands.

My Wedding Jewelry: Gold from Damascus

Much of my childhood was spent in the Middle East, where women would receive sets of gold for their wedding. While we lived there, my Dad bought my Mom a set of gold that was stunning in its simplicity – handmade knots linked together. When I was 19 years old, my Mom and I went to Damascus one last time before our family left Jordan. Dad had us buy three sets of gold to match my Mom’s: one for me and each of my sister-in-laws on the occasion of our weddings. Several days before my wedding, my Dad gave me my wedding gold at a family dinner. It is so beautiful. Even more than its beauty, I love knowing that this marriage was planned for and prayed for years ago.

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A Family Wedding….

This wedding was about family and friends — the wonderful community that surrounds us. Our deepest hope was that people would enjoy each other as they celebrated with us. And so we wanted to celebrate in a way that included things we loved to do with each other and those we loved, hoping for lots of conversations and laughter. Before the details, one picture of the community that gathered with us that day – representing so much family and so many friends from different times and places.

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Location & Decoration: Family, Colors and Places

The wedding was held in the gardens of Aunt Louise’s house. The gardens were large enough for the ceremony to take place in one area and the reception (dinner and games) in another area. Living in California where our backyard is closer to a postage stamp than a lawn (and it is brown, not green), it felt so wonderful to be surrounded by such natural beauty.

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I love bright colors, and my mom made hundreds of yards of bunting that danced in the wind all day. Cloth napkins were made into bow ties around plasticware for people to use and then take home. The fabrics we used were from America and Africa, combining beauty from the two continents of my recent life as I live here (now with my Benjamin) and continue to travel the world.

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I love that we can return to the place that we got married every time we visit Pennsylvania. It will forever be a special and happy place to us.

Games: Fun on the Lawn

Ben and I love to play games together, and a garden wedding seemed a perfect place for lawn games, or games that could become lawn games. We took our photos before the wedding… part of which allowed us time to take some time to play these games before anyone arrived. It was like a little date – games and laughter  — I just happened to be in a wedding dress.

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Food: A Local and Family Affair

The centerpiece of the our dinner was barbecued chicken — Hoover BBQ Chicken that is — a family recipe and on a homemade grill with a Hoover Dad as the grillmaster. Sides from Wegmans (a grocery store – but prepare for a a long and serious argument from Ben should you ask why, or if, they are better than any other grocery store). It required a giant napkin to protect my white dress.

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And then there were the drinks: sangria and beer. We sipped sangria right after the wedding as we soaked in the glory that we had said our vows and were actually married – we were husband and wife! A few precious moments alone. Thank you to Uncle Todd and Aunt Karen for making gallons of this sweet glory. We smuggled a quart of this into our hotel on our wedding night too. And then there was the beer that my brother Chris made and bottled special for our wedding and Lauren designed special labels for. Somehow we managed to save a few and sneak them home in our luggage. Perfection.

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Dessert was cupcakes from a baker who works from her home. On cupcakes: let’s just say that flavors like Blueberry Buckle and Peanut Butter Cup make my day. Nom nom nom.

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Our Wedding Party: Deep Friendships and Long Faithfulness

These dear friends are like family to us. My bridesmaids (Renee, Bethany, and Elizabeth) are ones that I have known for years, have lived in community with, and have shared the ups and downs of life with. I could not imagine this day without having them there with me. Ben’s groomsmen (Jonathan, Matt, and Duane) included his brother and two dear friends from his childhood that I had heard endless stories of since we first met. As we stood at the alter, we had the great blessing of being surrounded by deep friendships and also be six people who each have strong marriages and have been blessed by children in their homes. In the week leading up to our wedding, we heard countless stories of love and faithfulness, all encouragements that what we had now was just the beginning, that our love could grow deeper and richer with time. What a beautiful witness. And yes, all three beautiful ladies standing with had their first child this year, and so we swapped flowers for babies after the wedding… love these women, their husbands, and their babies.

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Our Family: We Are So Blessed

There is so much to say about our families. We love them so much and wish that we could be close to all of them – though that would mean somehow being everywhere from Georgia to Pennsylvania to Scotland all at one time. One could always hope. We are blessed to both come from great families, to have parents who’s love has grown richer through the years, and to have siblings we love being with. And the kids – oh the fun of the nephews and nieces. As we return to a life of emails, phone calls, and skypes, it is fun to think back to this time together that was so precious.

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The Ceremony: Where Two Became One

Our ceremony was simple. We were surrounded by nature and family and friends, and we were married by Gary Jacabella, Ben’s uncle. This was the most important part of the day and the one that is the most difficult for me to express. Getting married is a very surreal stepping from one reality to a new one, promising to choose to love another for the rest of my life – a promise I am sure I do not yet fully understand. There are three things that I would like to share with you: the family blessing, our vows, and the Lord’s Supper.

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The Family Blessing comes from A New Zealand Prayer Book  and was read by one Crane sibling and one Hoover sibling as we celebrated our families.

Eternal God, creator of us all,
we praise you for all the ways
in which your love comes into our lives,
and for all the joys
that can come to men and women through marriage.
Today we especially pray for Pamela and Benjamin
as they begin their married life.
With them we thank you for the love and care of their parents,
which has guided them to maturity
and prepared them for this commitment.
Give them strength
to keep the vows they have made,
to be loyal and faithful to each other,
and to support each other throughout their life,
that they may bear each other’s burdens
and share each other’s joys.
Help them to be honest and patient with each other,
and to welcome both friends and strangers into their home.
In all their future together
may they enjoy each other
and grow through the love they share, until, at the end of this life,
you receive us all into your eternal kingdom,
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

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Our vows, which will take us a lifetime to understand and to live out. May we never forget the promises we made on our wedding day.

In the name of God, I, Benjamin/Pamela, take you, Pamela/Benjamin, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, through laughter and through tears, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.  Forsaking all others, I commit myself to you. I will seek to serve you with tenderness and respect, energy and intelligence, imagination and love. This is my solemn vow.

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And the Lord’s Supper… our parents helped serve everyone on our wedding day as we shared in communion together for the first time as husband and wife, surrounded by our community. I wish I could extend this richness to you as well.

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Dancing: Mostly in the Kitchen

Ben does not love to dance, but he dances with me… mostly in the kitchen and sometimes under the stars on the beach. To make me smile, he danced with me under the stars at our wedding. And then I danced with my Dad. I love these pictures, and goodness, I love these men.

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Now: Creating a New Normal

Ben and I are back in California now…. we had a lovely week in the Poconos ignoring the world following our wedding during which we explored waterfalls and hibernated in a cabin (read Ben’s post about that here). Then a week of work and trying to make one home out of all of our stuff; we are getting there. As I sit back and remember this time, I smile at its beauty and am so thankful for everyone who made it possibly by helping with the wedding and those who traveled distances – small and great – to celebrate with us. I only wish that we could have had more time with each of you. I am thankful that friendships cover miles and years and cannot wait to see you again.

End Notes

You can read Ben’s post about our wedding here.

All photographs (except the last one) are by Jen Capone. She is pure awesome.

my first major league baseball game

Posted by pamela on Jul. 06, 14 | 1 COMMENT

Ben believes that baseball is about as close to perfection as exists on this earth. This is just one of the many areas of diversity in our lives given that, until recently, I did not know more than a few rules of the game and certainly had no clue about farm system or that games are played in series. Ben is a veritable baseball encyclopedia and feeds me a daily baseball fact or (often an update on the Phillies). Slowly, I am learning (though I suspect my knowledge will always be elementary).

On Saturday Ben took me to my first Major League Baseball (aka MLB) game to see the Oakland Athletics play the Toronto Blue Jays. There was something all-American about a baseball game, and we lived up the experience. In-N-Out burgers on our way to the game, hot dogs and popcorn at the ballpark. A beautifully groomed field full of bright green turf. Fans dressed in yellow and green, and one special fan dressed in a yellow and green cape playing the banjo. Vendors yelling their little rhymes to entice one to buy hot dogs and iced tea and ice cream and cotton candy.

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Then there was that moment (not long after asking if birds ever poop on the players), in which a bird pooped on my head. I laughed so hard I cried as Ben cleaned my hair out using the tissues in my purse. Ben has promised me that he has never seen this happen and that I should be safe in the future. I mostly believe him.

And then there was the baseball. It is infinitely more interesting game when the intricacies are understood, even at an elementary level. The details I will stumble over, so for those you should just check out Ben’s blog, The Benjamin. What I will say is that my first game had the fun of a great double play, 3 extra innings, a coach getting ejected, lots of foul balls into the stands, and the one run of the game was glorious. I think I am learning to like baseball, but this is also heavily influenced by the goofy grin of the guy who was sitting next to me all day.

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menstruation is normal

Posted by pamela on May. 28, 14 | 0 COMMENTS

Today is Menstrual Hygiene Day, a day of brining awareness and supporting women around the world in managing menstruation in a hygienic way that is private, safe, and dignifying. I wrote a blog post for Lifewater about menstruation  - a little about my journey, but mostly about why it is important, how it is normal, and what we do at Lifewater to help women around the world. The first paragraph of the post is below; follow this LINK to read the full post.

Yes, menstruation is normal, and yes, this is something you should care about.

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“Several years ago I was walking through communities in Northern Uganda and found this slogan painted on the side of a school building The school was out of session, so the classrooms were empty that day, and I found myself lingering a little longer, thinking about the message it shared with its students every day: Menstruation is Normal. As part of a WASH campaign, the other buildings had other messages – about handwashing and drinking safe water – but it was this one that caught me because of its boldness.”

You can read the rest of this post HERE.

a new season has begun

Posted by pamela on Apr. 28, 14 | 5 COMMENTS

Each season has iconic things that signify the changing of the season; in the spring, there are daffodils and spring flowers, and in the fall there are leaves that turn brilliant reds and yellows. In my life, a new season has begun, but instead of daffodils and changing leaves, the physical sign of this new season is a ring I now wear.

When I met Ben last year, I had no idea that a great adventure lay ahead of us. Since we met, the conversation that started over Thai food one night has continued while hiking hills, walking beaches, cooking dinners, and over many a meal. We discovered that we love to laugh and be together. In Ben, I have found an amazing man; his presence makes my life much richer. I am excited, even giddy, to be sharing the news of our engagement.

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I am so very grateful for this new season – it is full of life and colors and new beginnings. It is full of dreams and possibilities and hope. It is a beautiful season indeed.

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vacationing in a scottish castle

Posted by pamela on Apr. 14, 14 | 0 COMMENTS

Sometimes a girl dreams up something crazy like spending her 33rd birthday in a castle in Scotland. And then, sometimes, dreams come true and the whole family decides it sounds like a good vacation as well. They day after my birthday, I jumped on a plane, hopped over the pond, and made my way to what remains of Rosslyn Castle, just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland.

What, you wonder, do you do in a castle for a week? You ignore the world and revel in the history that took place where you are living and eating and sleeping. You take your nephew on adventures with mud and rain and ruins. You drink cups of tea (and coffee) while eating crumpets with jam and scones with clotted cream. You explore Rosslyn chapel (where the Da Vinci Code was filmed), have drinks at the exclusive Scottish Malt Whiskey Society, and walk to the local pub for fish & chips, vegetarian haggis and pints of cider. You discover what ‘castle cold’ really means and learn to close shutters and doors to keep the heat in. You eat meals and laugh and play games with your family. All while living in a castle.

It was a lovely week and I am grateful for these shared memories. As I sit writing this, it seems to me that stories like these are beautiful and precious reminders to keep dreaming. To be audacious in our dreaming. If we do not dream, our dreams can never come true. This is not a fairy tale—I think we normally have to work for our dreams and that they rarely happen on their own. But, if we do not dream, a dream can never come true. May we all choose to keep dreaming audacious and crazy dreams. Sometimes they come true.

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Private: our very own castle.great room

The ‘great room,’ now a courtyard.

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Our living room for the week. rosslyn chapel

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Adventuring with Thumper.

a surfing weekend

Posted by pamela on Mar. 16, 14 | 0 COMMENTS

 

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Moving to the Central Coast of California means that surfing, a sport I had never considered doing, has suddenly been an easy and obvious hobby. I have not been on the water for months. In the fall the waves were mostly just beating me up and, when combined with cooler air temperatures, I lacked the motivation to make it happen. Then yesterday was a surfing day with friends, and it was absolutely perfect. Not only did I get to surf and play in the water for a couple of hours (where the waves were perfect for a beginner), I got to help a special friend, Silas, surf. What a perfect way to kick off a birthday weekend. And now I am off to Scotland for a week in a castle with my family. Hard to beat this. I hope your spring is filled with fun and laughter.silas surfing

let’s go fly a kite

Posted by pamela on Feb. 24, 14 | 0 COMMENTS

On Saturday I hiked one of the peaks along the coast here in California. For my mountain climbing friends, let me put this in perspective: 4 miles round trip, peak at 1,347 feet, a beautiful ocean view waiting for you at the top. A perfect hike for a late afternoon, and if you time it right, you can watch the sunset over the ocean on the hike down. This is one of the joys of the area – beautiful hikes not far from home that are easily indulged in with friends.

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To add to the fun, I have a little kite I bought a number of years ago on a day when I needed a smile and thought surely this little kite would bring a smile to my face. Well, it has brought a smile many times since, and Saturday was no exception. The winds were a little too strong and swirling for my little kite, and so it dove around like a drunken sailor. Oh the laughter as it pitched and rolled and danced above my head with a mind completely of its own.

My nephew, Thumper, has recently fallen in love with some of my favorite childhood musicals, including Mary Poppins. And so as I think about a kite and a carefree afternoon over the weekend, I could not help but think of a song from the Mary Poppins:

With tuppence for paper and strings
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground
You’re a bird in a flight
With your fist holding tight
To the string of your kite

Oh, oh, oh!
Let’s go fly a kite 
Up to the highest height!
Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let’s go fly a kite!

Afternoons like this bring such joy and sunshine to everyday life.

split pea soup & welcoming 2014

Posted by pamela on Jan. 02, 14 | 2 COMMENTS

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When I was a child, and really, well into my 20’s, lentils tasted like dirt. It was not that I did not like them and was trying to find an excuse to not eat them, but they honestly tasted like dirt – like the earth beneath our feet. Make a 20 bean soup and I could tell you that it contained lentils because it would taste as if a spoonful of dirt was tossed into the pot to cook alongside the beans and spices. My taste buds were simply wired a little incorrectly when it came to this bean.

This was more than a little tragic given that I spent much of my childhood in the Middle East where lentils were a normal part of the local diet. Thankfully, it was not the most common food and I could generally avoid them and instead eat the wide array of food that I found to be truly fantastic. Every few years I would try (by choice or necessity) lentils again, each time disappointed.

Then, one day in my mid-20’s, I was served lentils by an unknowing friend. I could not imagine being rude and rejecting the home cooked meal, and so prepared to eat a meal I assumed would taste like earth. But it did not. For the first time, I tasted a lentil without dirt, a bean that was actually quite good. It was as if my taste buds had been rewired. Unfortunately, I found out (not that much later) that this did not apply to split peas. In the same moment I tasted them for the first time, I found out that I was wired to find them a little too earth-like to be enjoyable. Oh body, really, what is the point?

I see no reason to go out of my way to eat (or cook) things that taste like dirt. So, no split pea soup was being prepared or ordered by me. Then, on Sunday, I was served split pea soup by another unknowing friend. It was wonderful! I had a second bowl and then was given some to take home, which I promptly had for lunch the next day. Once again, my taste buds had been rewired.

As I say hello to 2014, I wonder how many other things in life are like this? I was content in my lentil and split pea free existence, and never would have gone out of my way to try them. But over time our tastes do change and develop; intentionally or unintentionally, they change. I would like to say that I always curate my tastes in life to be for good things, the things that are rich and fill the soul, but that is not always true. And I would like to say that I am always up for trying new things, but that is also not always true.

When I turned 30, I was coming out of a hard season of life, and as I was picking myself up and looking around, I decided that there was only one way to go: forward. Life did not look like what I thought it would, and so I declared it that my 30’s would be a decade of adventure. What better way was there to welcome the unknown and take a step forward then to declare the unknown to be good, life yet to be discovered full of fun? Adventures are grand but they are also often small, created by finding joy in life. They are found in the adrenaline of rappelling off of cliffs and the freedom of skinny dipping in a lake under the stars. They are found in books read on the beach and conversations with new friends by a fire. Adventures are found by choosing to find magic in the everyday.

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I am just shy of three years into this decade of adventure, and I love looking forward and wondering what the rest of this decade will hold. I have an inkling it will be rich. And I as I look forward, I am thankful for the reminder found in my split pea soup that tastes really do change, and I have a choice to help them along and keep trying, or to sit in what ‘I know to be true.’ I am thankful that I have friends who are on this journey with me, ones who share a sense of adventure, a deep-seeded joy, and a love of laughter. Thank you dear friends for making my life rich. Here is to a 2014 filled with adventures, magic in the everyday.

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Getting ready to do a polar bear swim today, January 1, 2014 (in costume, of course).

how i pack

Posted by pamela on Nov. 21, 13 | 2 COMMENTS

I am often asked about how I pack for my travel — about what to bring, my favorite odds and ends, and, my favorite, how it all fits into a carry-on. For some of you this is normal, for others, shocking. But, here is the simple, practical reality: When I travel, I rarely stay near the airport for even 24 hours, so when luggage gets lost, it either causes a major kink in the schedule or I go without my luggage. The simple solution is to not check luggage. Besides, why carry more than needed through airports, stuff it into taxis, or up airport stairs? It’s not fancy, but it normally works. So, here are my thoughts and tips.

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Basic principles: 

  • Figure out what you are doing and pack minimum that you need. That is mostly what this is about, plus a few extra gadgets to keep life fun.
  • Remember that you can always do laundry – even if it’s in a sink. You just need enough time for it to air dry.
  • For clothes, pack things that are flexible and can be worn with each other. Layers are your friend.
  • In most places people wear their nice clothes. So, think about leaving your safari-worthy clothes behind. Unless of course you are actually going on a safari.
  • Remove any extra packaging you can. For example, I often put medicines in smaller plastic bags and leave the bottles behind.
  • Never forget your headlamp. More often than not, it will be a good friend: when the bedside table is missing a lamp or when the power goes out.

Some of my favorite travel gadgets and where you can find them: 

  • GoToob Travel Bottles. these are super easy to fill with your own shampoo. Made a painful task easy. I use 1.5 oz bottles, which I do not see online. This lasts me for a two week trip without problems, so think before you pack 3 oz of shampoo.
  • Sea to Summit Dry Bag. I have the 4L one – it fits my journal, Kindle and camera with room to spare. It takes up almost no space, but has saved them from the middle of a surprise rain storm.
  • Kindle. I love the feel and the smell of books. I love used books. What I love more is being able to have a bunch of books in my bag all the time without devoting a lot of my bag to books. I still love paper books when I’m home.
  • Therm-a-Rest Stuff Sack Pillow. With my fleece inside it is far from a perfect pillow but has made up for more than one horrible pillow.
  • 2XU Compression Socks: Apparently I’m getting old because I love these on my long flights. I feel so much better after a trans-Atlantic flight when using these.
  • Sleeping bag liner. I only carry this when I am going back-country. But, when needed, this is great and I love that it is mosquito repellent.
  • Reusable Gear Ties. These keep the wires orderly and keep me sane. Definitely worth a couple of bucks.
  • Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes: I use the Quarter Cubes for my first aid kit and for my electronics. I use the Half Cubes when I am traveling to two different climates or regions to keep clothes separated. They keep my packing easy and use space well.
  • GSI Collapsable Coffee Drip. In much of rural Africa the only coffee available is instant coffee. But, I can normally get hot water. This silicon collapsable coffee drip has made many a happy morning for me and my travel companions.

Specific packing list (designed for a trip to Uganda & Ethiopia – vary based on your trip specific location and activities: 

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Clothes: 

  • Women: 2 skirts, 2 pairs trousers
  • Men: 3 pairs trousers
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 3 button down shirts or blouses
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 1-2 long sleeved shirts / 1 light cardigan
  • 1 pair pajamas
  • 5-7 pairs underwear (women: bras and slips)
  • 2-3 pairs socks
  • 1 pair compression socks
  • 1 fleece / outer layer
  • 1 rainy coat (if rainy season)
  • 1 bandana
  • 1 pair of chaos / walking shoes
  • 1 pair close-toed shoes
  • 1 pair flip flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat (for sun)

 Gear: 

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  • rolling, carry-on sized bag
  • day pack / shoulder bag (airlines call this a ‘personal bag’)
  • purse (that is packed inside backpack or luggage)
  • headlamp or small flashlight
  • alarm clock (or watch in addition to phone for when phone looses battery)
  • camera, charger
  • universal electricity plugs
  • passport & driver’s license (and a photocopy in different location of both)
  • journal or notebook
  • roll of electrical tape (best if you have a half roll lying around the house) – this has gotten me out of several binds
  • small sewing kit (needle, thread, safety pins)
  • thin, small tea towel – when traveling to the remote areas this has served as a bath towel, a bandage, and a wash cloth (all separate times)
  • ATM card
  • Airplane blow-up pillow: helps the long flights be manageable
  • for coffee lovers going to bad coffee locations: coffee drip, paper filters, coffee

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Toiletries: 

Remember that all liquids must be in 3 oz (100 mL) or less containers all packed in a 1 quart (1 liter) zip lock bag.

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  • 1 pack travel size hand wipes
  • 1 small hand sanitizer
  • 1 hair brush or cob
  • 1 soap / body wash
  • 1 deodorant
  • 1 lotion
  • 1 shampoo & conditioner
  • 1 toothpaste & toothbrush
  • nail clippers and file
  • 1 sunblock
  • 1 insect repellant

Medicine: 

These are the basics. Bring what you need and what your travel doctor recommends. 

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  • Malarone (anti-malarial pills)
  • Chewable Pepto Bismol
  • Imodium
  • Neosporen and bandaids
  • Ibuprofen or preferred pain killers
  • Allergy medicine as needed

How to pack: 

Some people like to roll their clothes, and I often resort to this on my way home. But, when on the road, I like to be able to see my clothes and easily work out of my suitcase. I fold my shirts and trousers so that I can see them all without unpacking. I like packing cubes (quarters) for first aid kits and wires. Also, I have a bad habit of forgetting things when I am tired and jet legged, which ends up being more often than I care to admit. So, whenever I can, I get bags and cases (iPhone cases, kindle covers, camera cases, etc.) that are bright colors, colors that do not blend in with bed spreads or disappear in airplane pockets. You can laugh, but this has saved me more than once. I hope these pictures help — all of that really can fit together. And yes, because of the specific itinerary on this trip, I packed more than normal – normally there is room to spare.

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Notes for other regions: 

As I said above, this was a packing job for Uganda / Ethiopia. It was the end of rainy season, so I needed a rain coat. I was moving frequently so had less time to wash clothes, and I needed some layers for Addis Ababa, where the weather is cooler. When I am in major cities, I pack clothes appropriate for cafes and evenings out. When I am in Asia, I pack fewer layers and more thin cottons. When I have space, I always toss in a pair of yoga pants or shorts to lounge in. When I go to a cold climate, I work with undershirts and a versatile sweater or two. Sometimes, these plans do not work and I have to check luggage, but, thankfully, it is rare. (Extra camera gear and cold climates present the biggest challenges and the most frequent checked luggage.) Most of the time, this is how I travel.

Do you have any special travel gadgets or packing tricks? I would love to hear them!

a small piece of magic

Posted by pamela on Nov. 06, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

I walked to yoga class in the dark, and as I walked home the stars shone bright. O’Ryan and the Big Dipper overhead, I could not help but smile. I was still warm from yoga, the air was cool, and a fire was waiting for me at home. A small piece of magic, a burst of beauty.

a smart shower? worth the investment.

Posted by pamela on Nov. 05, 13 | 2 COMMENTS

You know I love water and nearly everything to do with it. And so, today, I introduce a new idea – taking a minute to seriously think about how long you spend in the shower.

How long are your showers? How many gallons of water flow down the drain while you simply enjoy the warmth? How much does it cost you? I bet if you had any idea how much water, and how much money, you were spending, you might change your habits. There is a new little device being made that would tell you exactly that information with an instant feedback loop. It would snap on to your shower, and turn orange and then red when you were in the shower for too long. Paying attention to that little red light would save gallons of water and lots of dollars every month. Take a minute and check out the details HERE

These guys are still in college, but they have a great team and a great idea. My geeky, water conserving brothers are confident they can pull this together (and know the professors supporting this team). I want to believe that innovations like these really do make a difference, and that is why I am telling you about this.

I rarely plug products here, but this one is worth checking out. They have 10 more days to fund this project, and I think it is awesome. I live in a region that is constantly short on water, and my water bill is my most expensive utility bill every month. I am supporting this project. I hope this project is wildly successful and that one day these smart showers will be commonplace. Will you join me and help make that a reality? Let’s conserve a little water together.

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ps – The kickstarted page shows some of the quotes of others who think it is cool…. like Fast Company!

being thankful & learning new rhythms

Posted by pamela on Sep. 30, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

It has been a few months since I wrote here, and even longer since it was a regular habit. For me, that is what happens sometimes when life gets tossed upside down. In the last six months life took several turns that I did not anticipate: I took a job months earlier than I intended to, moved to California, added Asia to my work travel schedule, bought a condo, and am in the midst of a small remodel. Pause and take a deep breath: the nomad, who two years ago downsized and moved to Africa, then moved back and was preparing for months of travel, photography, cooking, exploring and seeing friends, instead took a job and bought a house (and has done very little photography, cooking, or seeing of old friends). These twists and turns were both unanticipated and beautiful; I am thankful for this journey.

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I feel like when you accept a job, you step into the unknown. It does not matter how much research you have done, how many conversations you have had, or how many details you  have worked out – it is an unknown. There are hopes and dreams and you want to pretend that you know what you are stepping into, but it will be different than you anticipate. The hope is that it will be better in its own way, but it is the gamble taken. I have just completed six months at my job — and I am thankful to say that it is has been better than I hoped for and I am excited about the future. There is so much work to do, so many lives to impact, but I am in a place where I can work and can grow, I am with a team that is strong. We are far from perfect, but  we embrace the challenges and believe in excellence. Trust me, you will be hearing more about my journey at Lifewater and the lives we impact. It is good and I hope you join me in the work we are doing. I am thankful for this work.

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Then there is the condo. There is a part of me that never wanted to make such a purchase and a commitment to upkeep of a property, but then there was another part of me that wanted a place that was my home – my own place of peace that I could share with others. Well, I am in the midst of creating the latter: my very own place of peace. When you buy a 1979 condo that had never been updated and had downsized your possessions (or left them trailed behind you in other countries), this is a not small labor of love, but a worthy one. I am thankful for this home.

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This is where I find myself: on a most unexpected adventure, but thankful it is where I am. My world has been flipping around, and I am starting to find my new normal, and for that I am thankful as well. I can honestly say that I am excited by where I am and what I am doing. I am excited by this challenge and this journey, and I look forward to sharing more of it with you as I settle into the new rhythms of my life.

i love coming home

Posted by pamela on May. 09, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

a photo a day: week 17

location: San Luis Obispo, CA

As much as I love to travel, I love to come home. I love familiar feelings of places that I know, that share a piece of my story and a part of my history. I intuitively knew that this is different than nostalgia, but I could not make that thought tangible, so I looked nostalgia up in the dictionary.

Nostalgia is “a sentimental longing or a wistful affection for the past, typically a period or place with happy personal association.” (New Oxford American Dictionary)

This love of coming home is not a longing of the past. Instead it is a sense of belonging and a placement within history. My home is my haven where I am free to create and to simply breathe. It is my place of peace that I share with loved ones. Every time I move, I work to make my new house my home as quick as possible, and I am glad to say that as I fill the pores of this house with the smells of cooking and her walls with my photos it is becoming a home, a place I love to come home to.

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