Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 2 Tutorial, How To Build Your Own Mud House

We are now on Day 2 of the house building fiesta. Check out yesterday’s post for Day 1, starting from strings and stakes.

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Here’s a shot of how it looked first thing in the morning.

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Jon apprenticed with the carpenters on the roof. The men below are digging up fresh mud. This will be mixed with straw to make the perfect batch of mud for the walls.

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The skill and detail of these men, perched high above the ground is amazing. Jon was working with them, doing less of the detail work.

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I love this shot of Demelish, currently not looking so confident. :)

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The men filled jerry cans from a small stream to start to make a mud mixture.

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The water is poured on the freshly dug mud and the men start to mix.

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Other men start to bring in sheets of tin, one roll at a time. Tin is very sharp and dangerous.

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Time for coffee break!

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Other men haul in straw in preparation for my favorite part.

Come back tomorrow to see how it shapes up. 



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So, You Want To Build Your Own Mud House?

 After our first house building experience, Jon started with a friend from the ground up. 

Day 1, Morning 1:

Stakes and string marked off the future walls, men poured in from all directions.

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Discussing wall placement

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Sawing logs to frame the house

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Let the walls begin!

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A separate group of men worked in a nearby pasture, peeling the bark and notching the wood.

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Do you see the hut in the background? The closest one is for livestock, the further is the house where the family has been living.

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Many hands make light work.

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Lunch break!

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A few of the many neighbors who came to help

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This sweet woman, Asmarich, is delighted for her new home but also stayed up all night, making injera for this crowd. She was exhausted.

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The father and daughter of the house.

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Placing the ceiling beams. They were notched by the carpenters. Jon is one of the workers at the top.

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The girls and I were served lunch in the hut.

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They thought it was the best thing ever, they love potato wet.

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These women bustled to prepare the next meal..

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The woman on the right is a Mother-in-law. She told me this is a sad time of year as one year ago, her mother and father died, but that she is joyful that her daughter will have a home.

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Does your six year old wield a large, curved knife to peel potatoes?  

Picture overload, I will never have the internet to post all of this, so it just became part 1. Stay tuned. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Leave the Birthday Banner Up

As I wrangled two toddlers in the grocery store line and some well-meaning person would say, “Cherish these moments, they go by so fast”, I would smile but held my tongue so I didn’t say, “You know, I kind of want these days to be over!” Now, they are 5. F-I-V-E and I get it.

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Do you know how close five is to ten?!?

We’ve had a whole lot of celebrating around here. Five only comes once.

We were keeping a family on the way through, from Addis to their home, 3-4 hours east of us a few days before the girls birthday. So, in the spirit of Third Culture Kids celebrating each moment, we did an early birthday.

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Decorating cupcakes and the kitchen

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Licking out the frosting dishes. We celebrating three birthdays, (our girls and their littlest).

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The weekend before, we had a house full as we celebrated a friend’s 40th birthday and Jon’s birthday and the girls were first introduced to trick candles. This is about the 5th go-around, the perfect reason not to eat cake after a child has blown out the candles.

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 After the party, they left us the trick candles...

Back to the girls’ birthday...

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Our power was out and came on just long enough for me to get the cakes baked…Bur the requested calzone…that is another story which I shall not weep about here. I really, really was wishing for anywhere with take-out.

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But thank goodness the cakes were done!  And we made our house into a “fancy” restaurant because everything is fancy with candlelight.

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Five was such a fun age for trick candles. Funny, every time!

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When you are five, you can cut your own cake.

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Now, the best birthday gift of all, Jon’s parents are coming. Here. We will also be able to do Thanksgiving together as well as our third party and pull those little stubs of trick candles out for one last hurrah. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Barn Raisin'

Okay, not really a barn but this is the season that many in our community are building houses. Because the houses are made of mud, it takes forever for the walls to dry in rainy season and because our rainy season last forever…err...over 6 months, a lot of work happens while the sun shines. :)

Community members pitch in to help the neighbors building houses, not just with financial help but also with physical labor. As we try to be members of the community, we have been able to help different families but buying some tin or nails. 

There is a huge push to get the rural folks under tin roofs as opposed to grass. Since we have been here, we’ve noticed huge neighborhoods being constructed with mud-walled, tin-roofed houses.

Yesterday, a friend came over and asked me to go and look at a baby who had a nail in his eye. I explained, again, that I am not a doctor or a nurse. It didn’t matter, they wanted me to see it. Part of our project here is helping in medical crisis…sometimes running a bit of an ambulance service. The times we have run someone, it has been a laboring women. Jon was heading out anyways to help build a house. We walked to the baby’s house. He was out with his aunt, so my weak stomach still have that to look forward to. The nail is out but now they would like to know about medical possibilities. 

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We saw friends filling jerry cans in the river, lots of water needs to be used to mix the perfect mud. They also rented a horse cart for the day.

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They took it across the pasture and road and as close as the horse could get to the house. It is a town house so we had to go up through other houses (very small town).

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Up towards the house we went. Usually only women are seen carrying jerry cans, so I was glad to see the men. :)

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Digging for the mud outside...

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Mixing mud inside, it is a learned art, straw, mud and water…It is then walked on and mixed together until it is a surprisingly strong substance.

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The house is wood framed under the mud and these men had a thin stick that was their measurement for their boards.

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They have made so much progress in a few days…it helps there were about twenty men, with two women making constant food and coffee in front, a few toddlers running underfoot.

We were served very sweet coffee, potatoes and injera with thick shiro paste spread. The whole mood was very festive. The new homeowner said, “Eat, eat, today is a holiday!” 

Jon is out today, helping another friend build his house. As we walked down trails, we had to watch for the falling trees as it is the season for new houses.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When Life Gives You Power Outages..

And mini marshmallows that are melted into one squishy chunk, we make s’mores over candles and act like it is the coolest thing since electricity.

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Dry Season Scenery


Our front yard view. We’ve made it through rainy season and are loving the sunshine!  Days are between 65-75 degrees F. Nights are cool, it will freeze in the nights during December. But the daytime…it is glorious!

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It feels like springtime.

I had so much to say but life is full today, so let’s hope I have internet tomorrow. ;)

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Hiking with friends…This is a US Peace Corp worker from a nearby town.

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Jon thinks I should hike this. I’m almost persuaded and then I see this picture. Malcolm is a semi-professional climber from New Zealand…he said it was a good hike.

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Our Aussie/NZ friends on a more kid friendly hike

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Dry season has yet to disappoint. Creation shouts the glory of God.