I’ve lived in Hargeisa for nearly three years, and learned a lot through trial and error and… more error. I can get around pretty well on my own, including at the market, diving in, finding what I need, negotiating a bit, and jumping back out. But there’s one section of the market I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around: Grain Alley. (This is a totally fabricated name that I established to reflect how intimidated I am by this place. It works, yes?). Grain Alley is lined on either side with giant sacks of legumes, cereals, and other dried goods. Vendors, all women dressed in colorful jilbab or wrapped in patterned scarves, sit perched atop their mountainous spreads , each sack not much farther than arms length… So, I’m reaching out, friends. Anybody out there a cereals/grains aficionado? Anyone cook regularly with these? What am I working with here?
Over time we’ve lost, relievedly, the quest for illusory perfection as individuals and in partnership. We’re flawed; we wear old glasses. The functional old is as good as the shiny new; as long as you can see that clearly (as well as, you know, oncoming traffic), you’re in good shape. We’ve learned to rely on what works. Marrying is typically appreciated as a process of gain: joint commitment; two lives indefinitely summed; the amalgamation of homesteads and accumulation of material trappings. Yet, there is loss. It’s inherent to gain and equally an element of relationships, albeit less advertised.
Last stretch of 2017, friends! Sliding right on into the new year with a few fun links. I’ll be on an airplane shortly, hopefully coming out the other side in Tokyo, assuming all goes according to plan. If you’ve got any recommendations, let’s hear ’em! Freakebana, the “turnt cousin” of ikebana, ancient Japanese art of flower arranging. I dig it. (Above photo from NYMag IG. More at Freakebana.life IG) Disequlibrium is the uncomfortable secret to creative success. (Quartz) Consider also that swearing can “fuel intimacy and bonding” among co-workers: [T]he development that intrigues me most, and that Byrne discusses in colorful detail in her book, is a series of studies showing how swearing can fuel intimacy and bonding — and make you more likable. Byrne, who works by day in a male-dominated tech job, says that for her, swearing is a “necessary rite of passage” when she joins a new company. And she’s not alone. “From the factory floor to the operating theatre, scientists have shown that teams who share a vulgar lexicon tend to work …
Been back in Hargeisa for a few weeks and, uh… I’m still unpacking. Anyone else slow to unpack? It takes me weeks, actually using each item in my suitcase one by one until they’re empty. Otherwise, I put toiletries in the bathroom and throw laundry in the hamper and leave the rest to marinate for ages. Oh, the unexpected luxuries of adulting! I used to get sick when I traveled, usually 7 to 8 days after arrival, and usually a dastardly flu that would linger for ages. This time around, I was gettin’ hitched on Day 7 and couldn’t afford to be under the weather. I did mountains of research, and here’s what brought miraculous success…
I’ll admit pomegranate scones seem incongruous, like a peacock in the bathtub, but with some zest from oranges and mandarins (provenance: desert oases in Awdal Region of Somaliland) the tart pomegranate works. Did you know that winter is pomegranate season? (You probably did, you smarty-pants). At least in the northern hemisphere, that’s the case. The gems around our home had been looking awfully plump and crimson on their branches lately, despite dry and chilly weather. I just assumed they were in a good mood for whatever reason, but it turns out they, like me, get rosy cheeks from the brisk air!
Bit of a knock-down the last few days: my grandfather passed, my Last Grandparent Standing. Fortunate to have had him in my life for so long; fortunate to have so many fond memories. He was a mischief-maker right through to the end, always one well-timed pause away from the next joke. I presume he’s back to franks and beans and the occasional ice cream sundae, in a condo at the beach with my grandmother. I’d rather write about him, now, than the regularly scheduled programming.
Herewith, a bit of wit and wisdom from Jack Reilly, Grandpa Extraordinaire:
Brush your teeth after lunch. You don’t appreciate your teeth until you lose them.
Driving in reverse is an equal, if not superior, skill to driving forwards. Learn it well; it will come in handy one day. Freeze candy bars, chocolate covered graham crackers, Oreos: They’re surprisingly delicious cold.
Give more than you think you can to people who need it more than you do.