memories of roses

I love roses, and I love that I can get beautiful single stems at the farmer’s market here in San Luis Obispo. I love them for their beauty, and I love them for the memories they hold.

When we first moved to Jordan, we moved into a new building and the garden beds were empty. We had moved from the tropics where everything grew fast and large, but this was the desert. The little, scraggly rose bushes we planted looked like little sticks in comparison to the veritable jungle we had left behind. I remember doubting that they would ever becoming something grand.

In the coming years, those little sticks became rose bushes that looked me in the eye with branches heavy with flowers. Pink and white flowers that were so incredibly fragrant. From the gate to our door I walked by these bushes every day, and I would stop to smell the roses. It would just take a moment, but what a lovely moment.


Now my flowers are more ‘perfect’ and less fragrant, but I love them all the same. Maybe some day I will again have rose bushes. Until then, I am content and thankful for the farmer’s market.


the cornetto

I do not think I have been to the Frankfurt airport since I was in college and was returning home to Amman, Jordan for Christmas or summer holidays. Where the Amsterdam airport has long been a familiar friend, the Frankfort airport remains a mystery. If you stumble upon the correct place, you are suddenly graced with wonderful German breads and meats and beers. Having not yet unlocked the mystery of this airport, that stumbling often takes longer than should be necessary.

But, to the point, The Cornetto. When I got to college I remember someone telling me that the American “Drumstick” was similar, the ‘same thing.’ Oh, that can only be said if you have not had a Cornetto. Here is the magic of The Cornetto: creamy ice cream, rich chocolate, a few perfect nuts, and a crunchy cone that has its own perfect flavor. It is not a thin dip of chocolate on top with inexpensive peanuts sparsely placed. It is just the right amount of chocolate in thick drizzles, nuts determined by the specific type of Corneetto purchased, and the ice cream not watered down. But the grande finale is this: you know you have a real one when the cone itself is crunchy as if the cone is ignorant of the fact it was all put together in a factor and should be getting soggy in your hands as the ice cream melts. They manage this by the finest layer of chocolate on the inside of the cone.


Perfection dear friends, perfection. And an instant transport back straight to my childhood where The Cornetto was a happy treat. Maybe it is even more of a treat today when found in the Frankfurt airport – along with its flavor and texture comes the flood of memories. Corner stores and family vacations. Most of my family likes the Magnum more (more ice cream and chocolate, but no crunchy cone), but to each their own. We ate them together, that’s what matters.

using a pick is not normal?

I recently realized that using a hair pick to comb / brush your hair is not normal when you are white. I used to think that it was just a preference, though I honestly have never understood the appeal of the traditional comb. But now I realize I am not normal.

I started using a pick when I lived in Fiji during Middle School. Fijians, and most people of the neighboring island countries, have hair perfect for making ‘Afros’, though they traditional sport a much shorter version. In Fiji a pick is used to comb hair and puff it out so that it looks good. My hair was definitely the wrong color and texture, but it did need combing. Since then, plastic and wood picks have been my friend.

Today when I travel, I normally carry a small pick and forgo a brush altogether. The pick is simple and does the job well. It is something I have never questioned. One evening after a long day during my Northern Kenya adventure in April, I was combing my hair out in the common area. The trip afforded little privacy, and that night only one shower room, so it was the polite thing to do. Erik made a comment that was half question to the effect, “You use a pick for your hair?” I was exhausted and all I could think was, “Yes; I did not make space for a brush in my back pack. Besides, I rarely use one.” I think what I really said was, “Yep.”

Then Sunday night I was having a fantastic conversation with Elizabeth about race and culture, which somehow got around to Fiji and hair. Elizabeth, good friend who often house sits for me, and who is definitely white, had noticed the lack of combs and presence of picks in my bathroom. Really? Yes. Elizabeth always carries a comb in her purse. But they lack a proper handle. The have two sides – one side gets much finer than a pick. But why would I want that?

And that is how our conversation went. Both of us baffled at the other’s choice while laughing at the discussion we were having. Abstractly, I see the point that, for my hair, a comb and a pick are the same thing. But I can promise you that if I loose my pick or it tragically breaks, I will go on a hunt for a new one. I think it is the island girl part of me that simply will not let go. You think you know how you are different and then BAM – another point. Another point that makes me smile and remember happy times. Now I wonder – what other aspects of my daily life are not ‘normal’?

on camping

In amongst other travel, I have four fabulous camping trips this summer, three of them still ahead of me. Next week I am celebrating a decade of friendship with three friends   plus two significant others who we also love. As locations and menus and equipment lists have flown across email inboxes, I have been reminded of my childhood camping trips. 

Back in the day mom and dad did all of the planning and we participated. Certain foods were pre-made and plenty of peanut butter and jelly was packed (also on next week’s menu). Camping equipment was pulled out and off we went. Not to a camp site with a number, running water, and electrical outlets. We expected to have beaches to ourselves, to bring in all the water we planned to use, to entertain ourselves for days, and to be tired of PB&J’s by the time we left. On the Sinai we brought every ounce of shade we  would have on beaches with no trees, in Fiji we would load our gear onto our boat to go to deserted islands, and in Jordan we abandoned tents to sleep on the rocks under the night sky. 

Along the way there were a few classic mishaps when items were forgotten. In Jordan we abandoned tents, but in Fiji they were helpful items to have. On one trip we forgot the tents (and the towels) in the car. Rather than abandon the trip, we slept under the clear night sky. And in the morning I found out what heavy dew is – it felt like it had rained. In Jordan once we forgot the two pots we normally cook in. A good 4 hours from home, we came up with an innovative solution – we used Saltana’s (our German Shepard) food and water bowls, which were made of metal. So yes, my family has literally shared dishes with the family dog. And it was a fantastic trip. 

I have no idea what mishaps might happen during the upcoming camping trips, but I do know that in spite of, or even because of, them, I will have a glorious time.