redeeming missiles

Posted by pamela on Feb. 03, 14 | 2 COMMENTS

redeem: compensate for the faults or bad aspects of something (The New Oxford American Dictionary)

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I do not know where bullets end and missiles begin, but as I crossed the compound, it seemed to me that what I was seeing would fall into the (small?) missile category. Except that instead of looking threatening and telling stories of trauma, this missile was disguised as a planter. The end of the missile was cut off and plants tumbled out of its top. It was beautiful. Had I not known where I was, I probably never would have taken a second look as it was beside a tree in a large courtyard, and I never would have realized what I was seeing. But I did, and it made me smile to see how this home in northern Sri Lanka had redeemed this weapon of war. Intentional or not, a symbol of war became a symbol of beauty, violence replaced with peace. A stunning act, a beautiful moment.

I am so thankful when I notice  ‘little’ things when I am traveling.

memories of roses

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

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.

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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.

 

three weeks, three locations

Posted by pamela on May. 29, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

Three weeks, six cities, two countries on different continents, travel by foot, car, 4-wheel drive and plane. Not a particularly abnormal three weeks of my life. In California I enjoyed wine country, in Michigan I was blessed with another week of stunning spring, and in Ethiopia I discovered regions I had not yet visited. Now I am back in California and am looking forward to a few weeks during which I will not be visiting an airport or living out of a suitcase.

week 18: San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

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week 19: Kalamazoo, MI, USA

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week 20: Ethiopia

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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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a photo a day: first weeks of a new job

Posted by pamela on May. 02, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

Weeks 14 – 16

Locations: San Luis Obispo, CA and Poipet, Cambodia (with a layover in Tokyo, Japan)

First weeks of work at Lifewater International in beautiful San Luis Obispo and my first trip to visit our partners in Cambodia. Minus my current affliction with jet leg, it has all been awesome. Loving finding the beauty in these new places.

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a photo a day: discovering beautiful lands

Posted by pamela on Apr. 12, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

Weeks 12 & 13

Location: Cross-country Atlanta, GA to San Luis Obispo, CA

After last bits of laughter and fun with family, dad and I towed the trailer across the country. It was long day through both beautiful and plain country and then we arrived at the ocean and drove north to find my new home in San Luis Obispo. Beautiful. Right now the land is green and full of stunning flowers. The strawberries are fresh and from the local farmer’s stand. I am soaking in the goodness before the season changes to bring brown colors and different fruits. I am blessed.

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a photo a day: the glory of spring

Posted by pamela on Mar. 28, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

Week 12

Location: Atlanta, GA

This was a week of welcoming spring. I believe that there is a magical two weeks, sometimes it lasts as long as three, where spring puts on a grand show. Out of a barren wanter during which the trees of stood barren and cold come buds, then beautiful flowers, and finally fresh green leaves. Trees take their turn showing off their beauty before they slide into the green that will grace their leaves through the summer. If you blink, you will miss it.  I try and soak in every single bit of the glory of spring so that I can have my fill while it is here as it never stays for long.

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a photo a day… in 2013

Posted by pamela on Dec. 31, 12 | 0 COMMENTS

2013 is going to be a year of transition. Even if you were to ask, I do not have answers on what is next, but I promise there are things brewing and that I am filled with wonderful anticipation. As I begin another season of life, I am excited to remember the original tagline of this blog, “A piece of where I am.” This has been a place for me to write about the journey and to find beauty in where I am. As this year of transition begins, I want to record it and share it.

In addition to writing about “where I am,” I am launching a fun little photo project. In 2013, I will be posting a photo a day through Instagram (tagged with #365), and will share those photos in a weekly blog post with some thoughts to wrap up the week. I will collect these photos in a little book to share with you at the end of the year. This blog has often helped me to find the beauty that surrounds me, and I believe this project will do that as well. My hope is that, as I search for beauty in where I am, that you too will be blessed.

Just to fill you with anticipation, here are some instagram photos from 2012.

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Chilling in my hammock (Kigali, Rwanda).

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Flying places: sometimes in small planes (Uganda).

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Old land (Northern Kenya).

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Making coffee on the road (Ndola, Zambia).

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Handwashing station in the desert (Northern Kenya).

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Big flower, little bee (Northern Uganda).

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Village scenes (Lira, Uganda).

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House projects Africa style (Kigali, Rwanda).

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Sunset and lake (Michigan, USA).

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Hiking Ben Nevis (Scotland).

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Coffee (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia).

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Ancient buildings (Rome, Italy).

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Old art (Rome, Italy).

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Water and islands (Hydra, Greece)

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Interesting signs (Marsabit, Kenya).

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Beautiful and yummy food (Atlanta, USA).

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City sunset (Atlanta, USA).

I hope that you too are filled with anticipation as we prepare to ring in the new year!

All my love,

~pam (the nomad)

a lake gateway in uganda

Posted by pamela on Nov. 13, 12 | 2 COMMENTS

This weekend as I curled up at home, I kept thinking about my trip to Uganda earlier this year. A good friend and I visited Lake Bunyonyi just north of the border with Rwanda. A mountain lake, the evenings were cool and we huddled under our blankets, but the days were warm. At an ecolodge on a small island, we had some of the joys of camping without any of the stress. Home was a straw geodome with an open front looking onto the lake. Our balcony made for a perfect view of the night sky so clear that the Milky Way was like a cloud across the sky. The outdoor shower had a picture perfect view. Taking the local dugout canoes on the lake was an exercise of patience and laughter as we discovered our abilities in western canoes and kayaks did not apply here. And the food was good, simple, and cheap. What more could you ask for on a weekend getaway? Here are some photos and at the end some ‘how to’ details for those of you enticed to make a trip of your own!

Taking a pause from paddling… also a pause from going in circles.

Sunset over the lake.

The outdoor shower with a view of the lake. I love showering outdoors, so this was pure happy.

Looking into the geodome from the balcony. Those are just regular old candles on the table. Above the bed in the middle there is a little skylight.

This is the view from the bed towards the balcony… where we played many games of cards, sunned ourselves, red books, and watched the stars at night.

The night sky. Do you see the Milky Way. This is what happens when there is no light pollution and no moon.

How to: 

  • Visit the Byoona Amagara and make a reservation using their email addresses. When I went, it was about $17 per person.
  • Take a bus from Kampala or Kigali to Kabale. From Kapmala you can take the Post Bus or Jaguar. Best to get tickets ahead of time to make sure you have a seat. There are cheaper options, but the mini-bus routes will take much more time and you will be much less comfortable – I suggest paying the price (less than $20). Kabale is about 6 hrs from Kampala and about 1 hr from the Rwanda border.
  • From Kabale, find a taxi to take you out to Lake Bunyonyi and to the dock for Byoona Amagara. From there you can either get the powered boat (a few dollars and about 15 minutes) or take a canoe (free and about an hour).
  • All electricity on the island is powered by solar power, so it is likely that you will not have much power if it has been cloudy/rainy, so be prepared with a flashlight (although they do provide candles). Also, the water is heated by solar, but if it has not warmed up, the staff will heat water for a bucket bath if you want.
  • This is an ideal location to relax, read, do some canoeing, play games, and watch the stars. If you want to do lots of hiking, this is probably not for you. If you need to rest and recharge, this is your spot.

This has been one of my favorite trips in the region – I hope you love it too!

a touch of my garden’s beauty

Posted by pamela on Oct. 30, 12 | 0 COMMENTS

I love my garden in Kigali. It is a wonderful haven – a place in which to escape and be filled with peace as you soak in the beauty around. Although plants grown year around on the equator, with the rains, the garden wakes up and the colors become more vibrant. Here are a few pictures I took on a walk through the garden a few weeks ago. This is just a small piece of its beauty. I wish we could meet for a cup of tea or a Saturday brunch and soak in its beauty together.

a brilliant night sky

Posted by pamela on Aug. 21, 12 | 1 COMMENT

Last night I was lying under the an absolutely brilliant night sky contemplating divine beauty. The day had been near perfect: my soul was filled with the laughter of friendship and silly adventures, my stomach full with good food, and my skin sun-kissed from a day outside. And then the day was pushed to perfection when the clouds cleared and the stars emerged in a way only possible where there is no light pollution. The Milky Way was a cloud across the night sky. I could not help but say that this is divine beauty made by a creator in such a way that I, that we, could enjoy it. My dear friend added, “And that we would be made to appreciate beauty.”

drying wheat

Posted by pamela on Jul. 19, 12 | 0 COMMENTS

This is the mountain that I visit regularly here in Rwanda because it is where our water projects take place. It seems like I nearly always visit during rainy season though – not intentionally, just the way it happens. It is fun to see it change with the seasons, here with wheat drying.

 

i climbed ben nevis

Posted by pamela on May. 06, 12 | 0 COMMENTS

Not too many weeks ago, I climbed (hiked) Ben Nevis, the highest point in the UK (though lower in elevation than my home in Kigali). Today it has been cold and rainy, which somehow seems an appropriate time to write about the climb. This was a big climb for me – my longest ever. You go from sea level to 4,400 feet and back in about 9.5 miles. For all the other outdoor things I love, you might wonder why this is the longest hike (in terms of elevation change) I have done. I have bad knees, and honestly did not know how they would do, but figured it was worth finding out.

I tried to put everything in my favor including buying walk poles. In America, it seems walking pools are for the old or the trendy. In Scotland, however, they were a normal part of hiking attire and at least one third of the hikers (of all shapes and sizes and ages) had them. Given that Scotland is a land of walking, hiking, and climbing, I decided to learn from their wisdom. I am thankful that I did learn and plan on taking the sideways glances of Americans with a smile on my face every time I use them in the future. They are grand.

Back to the mountain. Actually, first to the glen. Our first day at Fort William, we decided to hike Glen Nevis, the valley below Ben Nevis. I didn’t think about the kilometers to miles conversion much, and we ended up doing a 12 mile walk. I can fairly confidently say that Matt & Lauren (brother & sister-in-law) would have been thrilled to turn back early and cut the walk in half (or less). But, they humored me as I urged them on, and we stopped for many pictures along the way.

The next day was Ben Nevis. We were prepared with food, drinks, all appropriate layers and a compass in case the top became totally clouded in. The nice guy at the shop described it as a “long, hard plod.” But it was already sunny (miracle) and the weather forecast was good (another miracle). And so we began the plod up the mountain. At this point, I was reminded that my legs are used to walking flat ground for miles at end, but going up is not their favorite. Matt, who bikes all the hills of Edinburgh, smiled and urged me on. Ever the brother, he loved the role reversal.

Matt and I did make it to the top where we the clouds again cleared and granted us some amazing views. I need to mention here that Lauren, though not feeling great, made it half way up the mountain. This, from a woman who bought her first pair of hiking shoes less than two years ago. Check out her comments about the mountain here. And that is how I climbed a mountain, saw some grand views, and fell in love with walking poles.

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