30 July 2015

Most Eggsheads Want To Talk It Away

I can't speak for an East African safari, but with the very private safaris of the Okavango and Zambezi, one learns very quickly that stealth is the key to keeping the animals from scampering away and to continue doing their natural animal-thing. When you've got a lioness and her three cubs feeding on a recently killed warthog, and all of this is happening less than 10 feet from your camera lens, it's really not the time to to speak up and say, hey, honey, hand me the video and the tripod.

I somewhat jokingly (somewhat) say to Rusty (as in: all the time) that we really (I mean really) need to work on our communication skills. Rusty would tell you that all we need to improve our communication is a quieter wife. Still . . . when called upon to do so, our communication is actually superb . . . as in, eye movements speak volumes (so does a kick underneath a table), and body language says it all. Such was the case the other day when the monkeys came to lunch, less than ten feet from our poolside railing. We were able to trade positions and cameras with the stealth of an F-177. For the howler troupes that live near Mil Colinas, this is as close as they've ever come.

I like to think of myself as the poster-child for grace under pressure. I work well under pressure . . . always have. In the most stressful of situations, I become more calm (yes, even with the pet broker incident, though arguably to a lesser extent). It’s when I’m not overwhelmed with a to-do list that I turn into a piece of flotsam. So yesterday I had an epiphany. I’m not bored . . . I simply don’t have too much on my plate. I wasn't intended to be a lady of leisure. Time to get busy . . . nay, time to get too busy. Happily, Javier and Tonio have begrudgingly obliged.

Wednesday marked day-five in the battle against fire blight. Six days ago Cynthia and Lubos produced a magic potion to be sprayed on the blighted plants (and a separate potion for the grass that I tried to kill with a made-for-Texas-grass Weed-n-Feed). The potion instructions said to apply a certain strength on the initial day, and double that strength after five days . . . continuing with that same double-strength potion at five day intervals. Well believe you me: if I know anything, it’s how to follow a prescription. 

Yesterday dawned cloudy . . . so it was hurry, hurry, hurry to spray every plant before the sun broke through. That, and clean up the sewing mess that I began earlier in the week. I set up my sewing machine for the first time in 12 years. I’d almost forgotten how to use it. Kathy, think Project Runway. I transformed a skirt into a dress . . . a rather sad dress, but it was complete with matching collar for Jill The Pill. Think mommy-n-me . . . like this puzzling photo of the baby howler clinging to mom's tummy.  

So as I realized that I need more to do, Tonio and Javier came to my rescue . . . after practically begging them to let me help. For hours yesterday they directed me to identify empty planters to hold our Pringles shrubberies while construction is underway. Kathy, agua aquí . . . Kathy, agua allí . . . Kathy, agua de allá, ahora! I need to be overwhelmed with to-dos. And it's difficult because Javier and Tonio, were I to permit it, would do anything and everything for me . . . perhaps it makes them feel even more useful. Clearly it makes Tonio happy to fill a wheelbarrow with dirt that I've excavated by hand. Tonio comes on-the-run with a shovel. 

Lubos alerted us to the fact that the guys would need 220V power from our laundry room for something (I can't be bothered with any detail involving tools). So today after slicing watermelon for the guys, Javier indicated that they were ready for the 220V outlet. Silly me. I assumed that they'd use the outlet to plug in some type of tool. Nope. They hard-wired a cement mixer.

I keep my own electrical tape in my girls-only tool box (why, I have no idea as I don't do electricity); and Javier needed some additional tape. I believe what stunned both Tonio and Javier was that I brought forth the tape from a box, clearly mine, in which resided a lavender tape measure, and a girly set of metric wrenches (in a nice little roll-up bag), etc. They were literally speechless. Not even a gracias.

Wait. I'll go further: what really stunned them when they needed electrical tape was that they interrupted me patching a tear in Rusty's favorite shorts with a needle and some yarn. Perhaps they didn't know that gringas could sew by hand . . . or that their own gringa doesn't mind ruining her manicure by digging by hand into rocky soil to save a plant (okay, I do mind, but lo que hay). They never have anything to say to me when they find me wet and muddy while weeding or moving plants . . . though I hear soft laughter.

Now as to patching Rusty's shorts, we all know that I live to please my man. Well, at times this is actually true . . . as in, when I happen to be bar-tending for myself. Rusty would tell you that were it indeed true, I'd learn when to STFU and simply tend bar . . . or make a well-balanced dinner (and not merely two bratwurst rolled in tortillas, as we had last night).

In Burkina Faso the locals make a drink from the leaves of hibiscus flowers. It's called bissap; and I recognized immediately its potential as a cocktail mixer. I'm resourceful in that way . . . and thrifty -- the stuff costs mere pennies. The same dried blooms are available here (that latitudinal continuity thing), and they're called Rosa de Jamaica. Don't think Texas hibiscus. Where this particular type of hibiscus grows I'll never know. Never seen 'em. One steeps them in hot water like tea leaves. The deep fuchsia color will permanently stain/dye anything. Sugar, grated fresh ginger, and mint leaves are optional . . . but the final product is strained, like tea, refrigerated, and added to vodka or gin. Just enough to color . . . as with O.J. in a mimosa. Today I'll keep Tonio and Javier happy with bissap, sin vodka . . . we don't want the guys that happy.

No, I haven't bailed on War And Peace . . . but that's a night-time activity. In fact, I'm absolutely rapt, awaiting the Count's imminent death. To whom will he leave his title and fortune? As to the patching of the shorts . . . it's actually an experiment in what I can do with yarn. Sssh . . . don't say a word. Oh, and to the bless-her-heart author of the Spoil Him image, it would be much more laughable if you'd learn how to spell broad . . . but I'll keep quiet. Lo que hay