Oleander Hawk Moth

Not all our bugs are scary. Some are just beautiful! This morning as Matt and Aaron left to teach at CAPA, Aaron found this beautiful oleander hawk moth (Daphnis nerii).

Thankful

We don’t always celebrate Thanksgiving with a big meal, but we did this year! We have a couple visiting CAPA professors, Aaron Johnson and Myral Watson, staying with us, and Chris and Ashley Mullins joined us too.

We have already established that I’m a kitchen nerd, so I’m ok showing you my detailed schedule.

I found myself a couple of helpers, and they did a fantastic job!

Sweet potatoes! Secret: I could only find white sweet potatoes, so I used food coloring!

After a while, I had so many dishes that I started stacking them on the floor. And then Martha called to say she had stayed in Salima (1.5 hour drive away) and would be late for work. Oh boy, if I ever needed someone to wash dishes for me it’s on Thanksgiving day! Hurry back, Martha!

And then she came and rescued the day! Whew! I was using toddler forks to whip eggs! No time to wash dishes on Thanksgiving day!

In the late afternoon Matt, Aaron, and Myral set up the outdoor lights and moved our table and chairs onto the lawn. We love eating outdoors, and it felt fitting to do so on a holiday! Matt read a devotional for us on God-centered rather than self-centered thankfulness. It was a good reminder for us all!

Then to dinner! Ashley brought yummy salad, rolls, and pumpkin pie, and the girls helped me make the rest. It was quite a feast!

With pie, ice cream, and stories, we enjoyed a special time of thanksgiving long into the night. We are very blessed to share this holiday with friends and family, near and far. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tanzanian Blue Leg Centipede

The girls are already in bed tonight, and they just missed a little excitement! I saw something scurry down the hall way toward the door that goes to the back porch. It took me a second, and a double take!, before I realized it was a Tanzanian blue leg centipede.

I yelled for Matt, of course! He grabbed the large Rubbermaid container from the sink that we had just eaten leftover chicken pot pie out of and caught this guy!

If you want to see him in action, click here to watch our video on YouTube! Warning: he’s definitely bigger and freakier in the video!

Last Week

Things were a little too busy and chaotic to post much last week. We spent the week living in a half put-together house,

finding our toiletries in the hallway,

storing our laundry and all miscellaneous chairs in the living room,

and navigating the rearranged furniture in our rooms.

Meanwhile, we had all the white door frames throughout the house and all the tiles in the master bathroom painted with stinky oil paint, and then sprayed the interior walls of our house with Fendona, a crystalline version of permethrin.

And so we spent 3 nights sleeping in our tent, in our backyard, to avoid the various smells in our house.

Despite all the chaos, we had fun camping! Our family loves to camp! And it’s nice now to have so much of our house “finished” and back together. We are not quite done, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

Summertime Garden

It’s summertime! We heard rumors of 49C/120F temps in Mangochi this week, but we have only hit about 97F. That’s hot enough, without air conditioning, and half the time without power at all. But the garden is loving the sunshine! Here are some shots from around our garden…

Flamboyant tree:

Albizia tree:

Ginger:

Queen palm:

Rose of Sharon:

Garlic:

Jasmine:

Jacaranda tree:

Boganville:

Mangoes!

And avocados!

Rainbow Shield Bug

This afternoon we found one of our favorite bugs in our backyard!

The girls were about to lie down in the hammocks for rest time and this rainbow shield bug was just hanging out on a hammock. Yay for cool African bugs!

Electrified!

Apparently when you start reworking wiring for inverters and solar panels and such, things can get a little shocking… Since about noon yesterday our house has intermittently been “live.” At various points the metal roof, the bathroom faucets, running water, and the breaker boxes have all shocked people. Thankfully most of the shocks have been pretty mild, and neither of the girls have been shocked.

So early this morning, Matt drove to the other side of town to pick up our electrician, Adriano. At one point several years ago I jokingly suggested that we build Adriano a flat in our yard because it seemed like he lived here anyway. I’m revisiting that idea now…

By the time the girls and I left for swim lessons this morning at 7:45, they had figured out that there was a problem with the grounding wires. Power was leaking from the neutral to the ground line… which is why it connected to the plumbing and roof. Not that I understand all that, but the people who need to understand it do. 😊 Hopefully we’ll be less electrifying soon!

Settling the Dust

Every October there is a rain that is called the “chisime luksha” rain. It’s the out-of-the -blue storm that stops the dust and cools us off. I love this rain, and it happened to be today.

It was foggy this morning, which is a bit odd for this time of year, but a sure sign that the humidity has rolled in. Then it got hot fast. By 9:45am, our thermometer told us it was 31C (88F). By 1:30pm, the car thermometer said 37C (98F). Oye. Then just after 2pm, one of the windiest downpours I’ve ever seen hit Lilongwe.

The trees were whipped around, debris and leaves flew everywhere in the air! I wanted to open all the windows because the wind was COLD, but there was too much rain.

Matt went to work pretty quickly. The last of our solar stands had been painted in the morning, so needed to be moved out of the rain ASAP. And the cars had windows cracked. By the time he got back inside, he was drenched!

It rained off and on for about 3 hours, sometimes hard, but it generally calmed down to a nice moderate rain. As we enjoyed the natural air conditioning, I started cleaning up the puddles and wet furniture on our porch. I smiled to think that, Lord willing, a couple months from now I will be drying out furniture and squeegeeing our porch floor on an almost daily basis as we go into the real rainy season. Today was just a taste, and for us, a pleasant, cool taste.

For others it wasn’t so pleasant. We’ve heard reports of tree limbs falling on cars, of 6 injured at Maula Prison where iron sheets tore off the roof, and of lots of power lines down. Our power is still out, putting this blackout at 17 hours and counting… just kidding it came on as I typed that! And, off again. Oh dear. We all know the rains are good, and so important for Malawi, but they come with their own set of dangers and concerns.

For today though, we will enjoy the relief from the heat, the joy of water, and the hope of green and food. And the sunset… God painted a masterpiece tonight, even the little corner we could see from our yard!

Inside, Outside Today

Today Abigail and I are watching Season 1 of Shaun the Sheep with a sick little Naomi. She’s doing better now, but it was a rough morning.

Naomi isn’t letting me go very far, so rather than jumping on that list of housework I need to catch up on, I’m sitting here looking at the housework: the accumulation of dusty winds, saw dust from woodworking, and fine powdery dust from plaster work… on my living room side table. Looks like someone was having a little fun with it!

It’ll keep for another day. Today I’m going to hold my baby.

Outside is another matter. Fun things are happening out there! Richard and Matt have mounted a stand for our soon-to-be-installed solar water heater.

And Ernest is building customized stands to hold our soon-to-be-installed solar panels! These panels will feed into our inverter, which can prioritize that the power we use first comes from solar, then from the electric company, and then from the back-up batteries, for all those hours our power is off (13.5 hours off yesterday!). The customized part is related to the pitch of our roof and maximizing sunshine reception with the best angle.

Fun, noisy things happening outside, and quiet, good things happening inside. That’s our world here at the Floreen home today!

Construction Zone

The paint-the-house project necessitated a few home repairs before we started with the paint. But when you need a whole truckful of sand and lyme for the concrete and plaster projects, well, you know you live in a mud brick house. Stronger mud! That’s what we need!

Some of the repairs are related to water seeping up where the original builders “forgot” to put down that layer of plastic that keeps water from seeping in. Note to self: if you ever build a house, that plastic sheet is mandatory!!! Other repairs are little things like moving this light switch, which for years has lived behind the open hall door. I’ll probably keep moving the door to turn on the light switch for months, but having it in a more logical place makes me feel like we have righted a wrong!

In this picture, you can see 2 new holes in my kitchen ceiling. My wonderful husband is having down-lights installed that will focus on the work areas, and putting the new lights on the inverter. No more chopping vegetables by candlelight!

And the painting continues… bathrooms today. Two coats in each of 3 bathrooms for today.

But look at those clean, shiny, newly-painted kitchen walls and cupboards!

Once the dust settles (literally) today, I’ll move back into that beautiful kitchen!