wayfaringwordhack: (kicking it island style)
As I mentioned in another post, I spent a hectic couple of weeks doing hand-lettered signs to raise money for Egyptian charities.

I rented a booth at a Spring Fair, held by the Maadi Women's Guild, on the premises of St John's church in Maadi. I decided to give 50% of all sales to charities, and I sold exactly enough to pay for my booth and my framing expenses. I sold one more painting after the fact (and gave 100% to charity) and also got some interest to sell any remaining pieces in a store and two requests for commissions. One of the commission hasn't gotten back to me, and I haven't given my price to the other one. I think once I do, though, she won't accept. She wants me to hand-letter an entire Psalms and embellish it with watercolor. I know what a crazy amount of work that is going to be and won't just give the piece away. Ah, the joys of putting a price on one's time and creativity. I think she will refuse because she already winced when I told her (custom) framing would cost $25. That is crazy cheap, especially for the size of are we are talking about, which is 100cm X 70cm.

Here are some samples of what I did (click on thumbnail for larger image):

wayfaringwordhack: (Default)
As the mother of three small children, I often find myself wondering where my days and time go. Unsurprisingly, I have a definite answer to where all my energy goes.

These past two months have been crazy busy, though, what with dealing with the whole family being sick with one thing after another. We are coasting along with mild coughs and some eye discharge for the boys. As lon as its doesn't et any worse, l can cope. Ok, from that sentence, uess what key is screwing up on my kelybolarld now.l LWelll, besides the llinsane lllllllll that just inserts itself where elvesl.l...olr clever ...ollr ever it lwanlltls. Does charming things with my auto-correct, let me tell you. And makes it very hard to type. Sigh.

All this because there are no ground wires here in Egypt, at least not in the flats we've had. So every time there is a surge, my keyboard flips out. :( My laptop will also be glad to be back in France.)

And speaking of France...

We learned that despite setting aside vacation days into a special account for the past four years so he could insure having some time to settle the family on our return to France, J's employer insists he come straight to work. This is the craziness that they subject him to in order to not have his pay docked: remain at work until the end of his shift on 31 July, fly out on 31 July so that he can land IN FRANCE no later than 11:59 p.m., and report to work at 8 a.m. on 1 August. The answer to his request to have one day off from his vacation time (not a freebie) was, "Absolutely not."

Fine, we thought, and proceeded to plan out an alternative. J decided to take more vacation time before his termination date to accompany the family back to France, settle us in, fly back to Cairo on the 29th, sign some papers on the 30th, and fly back the 31st in order to be at work on August 1. We even asked the current owners of the house we are buying to move the hand-off date from 2 Aug to July 22. They agreed.

Then we had to look like idiots and ask them to move the date up even more when one of J's colleagues told him to be careful about the dates he was taking off. Apparently, he has to be in Egypt for the two weeks prior to his termination date. So nice of his boss to tell him.

The family we are buying from is super nice and understanding, so we'll leave Egypt 4 July, move into our new place 8 July, and J will spend a few days with us before flying back to Cairo. When he returns to France, he'll head straight to work and will work until the company releases him for time off.

For those who don't know or remember, he is with the riot police in France and is regularly sent on deployment for 3 weeks at a time. This means that we could potentially go for 5 weeks without seeing him. This is going to be a trying time for the kids. First an international move--for the boys from the only country they've ever known, but one could argue that Sprout doesn't remember much of living in France--and then not seeing their father for such an extended period of time.

BUT! We will be back in France. We will have a gorgeous home in a lovely, clean! rural setting. We'll have awesome adventures getting to know a new place. It will be peaceful; we will be in our element.  So good things on the horizon despite the bumps.

I'm to that stage of change where I'm getting antsy, with physical pangs, yearning for this transition to either get more squarely under way or to pass altogether. We should get the boxes from the moving company within a couple of weeks; that will help. As will a more solid move into hotter temps so I can put away all mid-season clothing and bedding.

In other news, I was also been busy painting a lot to raise money for Egyptian charities. I'll try to remember to take some photos and do a Sunday snippet...


wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
So, things:

Got my laptop back from the shop.  It works. Not perfectly, but certainly functional and probably for many years. No thanks to Apple.

I have some crud that really resembles strep throat.* I am self-medicating with homemade remedies and feeling better. J seems to have something similar (he has congestion; I had none. My fever lasted 2 days; his is going on four...), but the doc said J probably has something viral. A pediatrician came to the house today and said the three kids have strep. Didn't do a swab test or send anything to the lab, though.

I am not going to miss Egypt, but here are a few things that I will be sad to have no more of:

- Access to Egypt's mad love affair with all things DELIVERY! Seriously awesome when you are sick and can't muster the energy to cook for the sick family.

- Awesomely exotic blooming trees. (Note to self: take some pics when you feel better)

- The smell of citrus trees in bloom. Heady.

- The network of lovely people we've met here


And now time for bed.  Oh, I'm going to miss that, too. Our mattress here is terrific. Not so the one waiting on us back in France. :P

____________
* I spent almost all day yesterday lying in bed, watching this guy paint with his baby in his arms:


So relaxing. :D
wayfaringwordhack: (Egypt: Sphinx)
After a blessedly uneventful trip, we are back in Egypt for the final stretch.  It is a weird feeling this time, knowing we are set to experience so many "lasts." Last time to do this, that, and the other here in Egypt. I've been doing that, more or less, since end of July, but this time it has kicked up a notch.

I've started mentally sorting our possessions, deciding what will go back with us and what won't. I'm so eager for things to move that I want to start giving away those won't things right now. It is too soon, though, and that would be just silly.  Still the ansty-ness is distracting as I'm trying to settle back in.

There are so many things to get done:

- Get N'Djema vaccinated, etc. in prep for our trip
- Get Junebug and Ti'Loup their American nationality (yes, I am lousy about taking care of admin stuff)
- Decide whether or not I want to do pottery and/or jewelry-making workshops before we leave here, and if so, Get on with it!
and lots of other things that my tired mind can't think of right now... Things which aren't the usual, "make progress on my art/books/etc."

Also, despite many attempts on J's part, we're still no closer to knowing what is going on with our car. Today he contacted someone who may be able to help. Fingers crossed. Because if it can run, or isn't in too bad of shape, we have to decide if we want to take it back to France and look into the cost and procedure of that.
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
Or does she?

Goat is the name we gave our car that was stolen a year and a half ago. A few days before we left for our holiday, J was getting ready to throw away the key. "Wait," I said. "You never know."

J got a call today saying the police found Goat in Suez.

We don't know what condition the car is in, but it still has its diplomatic plates and these are what we need to hand over to customs when we leave the country in order to avoid heavy penalties.

Praise the Lord, whether she rides or not.

If she does, she just might come back to France with us, carrying all our boxes.
wayfaringwordhack: (Egypt: Sphinx)
Sheesh. Almost let another Sunday slip past me.

These past two weeks were crazy busy with the pageant, making costumes and working on the painting that I have to do onstage, and with writing. It takes a lot of prep work to pull off something that is A) big and B) painted live.  Not something I really want to repeat in the near future.

We had a dress rehearsal yesterday, and all went well. This week, i have to adjust some costumes and tweak a few things for the painting. One more dress rehearsal on Saturday, followed by two shows, and then this will be finished.

And what comes next? Christmas. :P

NaNo will end in a couple of days, and I can ease up on the word goal. I don't, however, want to stop writing, unless of course I finish the story. I am writing towards the climax now. 
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
As you can guess from the subject line, Sprout is still crazy in love with dinosaurs (at this time in her young life she says she'll be a paleontologist when she grows up), so dinosaur fun it was.

A peek at the preparations and some party photos.

I made my first ever pinata, a triceratops that I failed to get a picture of before it was smashed to pieces. Huge Fail. Especially since it was finished days before the party. Have some production shots:



My mil tactfully said, "That's not a dinosaur. It's a rhinoceros." And then wisely--since she'll be the first to tell you she isn't really "up" on her animals, much less dinosaurs--added, "Or maybe not." LOL

OK, I lied. I pulled a stillshot of the finished pinata from the video of the kids smashing it, but it was filmed at night and doesn't do it justice. If I do say so myself.


Out of salt dough, I made four dinosaur skeletons, one for each team of mini paleontologists to race to assemble. Here is part of the pterandon, drying:


Each dino had 45-50 "bones"  and measured one meter long. That's a lot of salt dough. I assembled and photographed them so the kids would have a "cheat sheet."  I had to use it myself to double-check the spinosaurus.


I would have loved to have the kids excavate the "fossils" and then put them together, but a) we don't have the room in our yard, and b) I didn't think the fossils would survive that. :P

Since this wasn't a surprise party, Sprout and Junebug got in on the decorations:


I got the idea for this cool banner off Pinterest:


Instead of cutting out each letter, I drafted the whole on three large sheets of paper, which I taped together.

I made dino eggs out of salt dough and coffee grounds with a small (not as little as I wanted, actually) dinosaur figurine inside. I was going to make one for each kid, but Egypt is not the US where one can find any little trinket one wants, not even in the Egyptian Toys-R-Us. So the eggs, which looked very much like rocks, doubled as decor, holding up an ostrich egg as a centerpiece. You can barely see them in the photo above, but I'll post another. There where just enough eggs that I could give them out to the members of the winning team in the Great Dino Games. But we played those after snacks, which were:

Herbivore Munchies, Cretaceaous Chips, (GF) Carnivore Chicken Bites, (GF) Pterosaur Tuna, Dino Tails (baby corn), dinosaur eggs, dino DNA, Fruitivore salad, Marshosaurus Molars (large and small marshmallows; I was pretty chuffed to find a dinosaur called Marshosaurus); dinosaur fossils (huge pain in the butt; will never make again), dino print cookies, and prehistoric popcorn.



I jazzed up some free food tent printouts with free clipart.

After snacks, the kids divided up into their herds: Triceratops, Stegosauruses, Spinosauruses, and Pteranodons.

Then they played Dino Stomp, which consisted of a timed race to pop all the balloons tied to J's ankles and wrists while he did his best to escape them. Next was Pterosaur fishing, at which the Pteranodon team exceled, clenching their victory of the games since they were able to catch the "special" fish, worth ten points. :P Then came the fossil puzzles, and finally the naked egg spoon race. That didn't last long, as you can imagine with small children, but it was OK because it was getting late and time for cake.



pinata.jpg

See how narrow our yard is:

pinata.jpg

I was all over the place with the party and didn't take any of the photos. So my absolute biggest fail was not getting a photo of the cake. It was a volcano, four layers high to get the cone shape. It had both chocolate and red velvet layers and was covered in icing, then ganache, and drizzled with red and yellow icing to simulate lava flows. It was a pinata cake; the top three layers were hollowed out to make the volcano chimney and filled with candy. It had fake palm trees and sparklers, and it was pretty awesome, even if prior to being decorated it it looked like a steaming pile of dino poo. LOL

Again I tried to pull photos from the video, but yeah...just not the same.



Happy Birthday, Sprout.
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wayfaringwordhack: (hellville)
A propos of my last post, here is a video via [livejournal.com profile] frigg that shows a glimpse of a campaign to educate people here about sexual harassment:

wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
Or shall we just call it, "The State of Things." Forgive me, LJ, for it has been awhile since my last post.

_________
I've never tried to put a cut under a cut, so be warned that when I say something vile happened, there should be an additional cut there to keep it out of public view unless you want to read it. If there is not a cut, don't read on, there's nothing more to see. :)
________

In which you can read about the State of Things )Vile Thing )

Anyhow. Did not mean to end on a tirade.SaveSaveSaveSave
wayfaringwordhack: (Egypt: Sphinx)
*cue Europe's song* (Oh 80's, what hilarious fashion you witnessed!)

In one year, we will be returning to Europe. This time, excepting any strange and totally unpredictable happening, we'll really be going back to France on 31 July 2017, give or take a day.

This coming year is going to zoom by. O.O

And these wee ones won't be so wee in another year's time.


Ti'Loup will probably even be walking by then, or swimming :P
wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
I forgot to take pictures of this week's creative endeavors,* but I remembered to take one of Ti'Loup's quilt. (fresh out of the washing machine; should have ironed it for the photo. :P )  And because [livejournal.com profile] frigg made me laugh with a comment the other day to the effect of "In my mind, your craft room is a pristine space," you also get a bonus of the reality that is my atelier. I did spare you the mess that is the children's side. In fact, their workspaces so are overflowing with their stuff that they always come to my tables... o.O In fact, I had just cleaned the table on the left to install the new tablecloth and the stuff you see there is Junebug's and Sprout's paintings in progress.

So, the blanket:





Mess:



_______________
* I did some colored pencil sketches of fruits and plants, and two watercolor "exercises". One was an attempt (following a tutorial) of painting mixed media abstract flowers. I kind of failed on the abstract part. I think I'll take another stab at it is this week. I also did a painting of a leaf as an exercise in mixing colors. While I'm not happy about how my leaf turned out, I did succeed in mixing up the colors I wanted, using those handy watercolor mixing charts I made a while back, which you can see hanging on the left-hand wall in the photo above.  Junebug joined in every now and then, but Sprout did both exercises with me, and we had a lot of fun talking color together. It was neat to hear her repeating Quinacridone Magenta and Burnt Sienna to herself. It is amazing to watch a kid making knowledge her own.
wayfaringwordhack: (critters: Maki World Domination)
When you ask the parents of a newborn if you can come by and meet the baby, please, come by and meet the baby.

Because even if I don't clean my house from top to bottom, I do make an effort to tidy it for you.

I do either bake something or go buy something to make sure I don't welcome you empty-handed.

And you know what else? I miss out on my nap.

I am tired and I have hormone things going on as I recover from 9 months of pregnancy and the whole rollercoaster of giving birth.  So maybe I'm a little bit sensitive here. But seriously. If you say you are coming:  Come.

(Twice now, we've had no shows. Once, the people just seemingly forgot.  The second time, the couple did call to cancel 30 min before they were supposed to show.)
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: my loves)
Both Junebug and Sprout are pleased with their brother, wanting to hold and caress him at every opportunity. They are both really gentle with him.

And snuggled around the cute babyness, you can see the blanket I made. I'll try to get around to taking a photo of it laid flat.

Baby pics )
I don't know if anyone remembers, but before Sprout was born, we referred to her as "Little Bean." Since "coquille" implies the outer shell to hold something, now that our little one has emerged, I'm going to start calling him Ti'Loup* here, which means "Little Wolf." Just because.

___________
* "Ti" as in petit, pronounced "tee", and the P in loup is silent: tee-lou. If we would have gone with a different first name, we were considering Loup for a middle name.
wayfaringwordhack: (flora: sunflower)
The thought that perhaps went through the gardener's* head before he ripped up our corn seedlings:

"Egads! What are these tall, healthy-looking plants surrounded by bare earth?  They must be an invavise species, intent on destroying all other plantlife! I must pull them up posthaste!!!'

And that was the end of our corn.  And also of a self-sown melon plant.

Ah well, we'll try again, this time putting stakes and other types of protection/markers to indicate that these plants should really be allowed to live.

Our idea of direct sowing into the lasagna bed  (a bed made up of layers unripe compost and dry vegetal matter, topped with soil) did not work.  One is supposed to transplant into the bed, but because we had nothing to transplant we tried seeds.  No luck. We'll plant flowers and things from the nursery for now and maybe add in seedlings as we have them (if we do) for this year.  The bed needs to be planted and mulched so the layers don't collapse.

We have a lot to learn.

______________
* It might have been the gardener or one of the two garbage collectors that our landlady sometimes pays to clean up around the front of the building.
wayfaringwordhack: (Junebug: Diggin' life)

I guess I can close the link on what to do if birthing one's baby happens unexpectedly at home or in the car. :P

I started having contractions on Thursday afternoon, after a busy couple of hours on my feet. But they were nothing to call the doctor about, coming, as they were, at least 30 min apart and very manageable on the pain level. At two minutes to midnight, a more serious bout of them woke me, keeping me from from dozing off until 6 a.m., after which point they went back to every 30 minutes or so, allowing me to sleep 20 min at a time until 9 a.m.

At a little past 2 p.m., the contractions started coming quicker, if not harder, so my doc suggested going to the hospital to be checked out by the doctor on-call. We arrived at there at 4, with Sprout in tow, leaving Junebug in the care of our housekeeper.

Two hours later, after another swift and hard dilation,* I barely made it into the pool, as my doctor barely made it back from Alexandria to assist in the birth, in time to deliver our son. Sprout was so proud to be part of it and see her new baby brother come into the world.

So Boaz Kaelig** Faure, came to us as befits his name (Boaz = quickness, swiftness; Kaelig = Generous lord). He weighed 3.485 kgs (7.68 lbs) and measured 52cm (20 inches).

I was released from the hospital at midnight and should be in bed, but the adrenline is stll running high. Still, better try to sleep some more. I need it. :P

____________

* Similar to Sprout's arrival in the world, only with much less vomiting.
** Briton/Celtic name prounced "Kay-lig", "lig" rhyming with fig. I wonder, since part of the name is French and Boaz is easy to pronounce, if my mother-in-law will approve. Or will she declare that we gave this baby a "weird name," which is her verdict for her other two grandchildren. :P

wayfaringwordhack: (Junebug: Diggin' life)
This morning, Sprout and Junebug donned J's and my clothes so they could be the parents.  Sprout informed me that our housekeeper would be keeping us "children" while she and Papa went to the Opera.

She and Junebug went into the yard and were sitting on the steps:

Junebug sings "Who Let the Dogs Out!" *
Sprout: That is not what you listen to at the opera!

Sprout begins to hum a La, la, la, lilting tune, and Junebug insists on repeating, louder, Who let the dogs out!!!!

Sprout: No, no, no. That is not opera music.

:P

______________
* Junebug's interest in (and knowledge of the existence of this song) is thanks to his father who heard it over 15 years ago during his first visit to the States to meet my family. He never heard it again. Talk about a good memory for earworms. If only he remembered other things as well as he remembers music. ;)

Junebug sings this a. lot. A couple of weekends ago, we were on a family retreat, and at 1:30 a.m., Junebug woke up crying.  Both J and I tried to comfort him, to no avail. Finally, he began to quiet down, and we heard a dog bark outside. He happily sang, "Who let the dogs out" and fell back asleep shortly after. :P
wayfaringwordhack: (flora: passionfruit)
Not very well if it's not planted, that is for sure.

We had actually started planting back in, um, February, I think, but it was a bit here and there as we tried to build up enough compost to do a "lasagna bed."  Given that we don't receive much sunlight in our garden, our first efforts have left us a bit ho-hum and unmotivated.  But after I read [livejournal.com profile] barbarienne's post about what all she has been doing in the garden, I decided it was time we got serious.

So, we've bought planting soil to finish off the bed and we put in lots of seeds (even though I think you are supposed to use seedlings/transplants:

marigolds
3 types of radishes
beets
Russian kale (we prefer Tuscan but don't have any more seeds. I have some growing already and plan to let at least one plant bolt)
chives
basil
lemon balm
dill
okra
bell peppers
tomatillos

We also planted 3 pots of tomatoes, 2 of tomatillos, and 1 of basil to grow on the front balcony, and 8 pots of okra to transplant out front once they are big enough not to be mistaken for weeds by the gardener who sees to the communal area in front of our flat.

I didn't have a great success rate with corn and a zero success rate with jalapeños and chilis at our other place, so I'm going to germinate the corn first and use improvised seed trays for peppers tomorrow.
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
Last week, Sprout and I were in an accident on the scooter.

It was my fault; for some reason, unknown and completely unrecallable, I accelerated when I was trying to brake to avoid hitting two cars who were closing the gap I was driving in.

I flipped over the front of the scooter, landing on my back, a mercy for a woman who is 7 months pregnant.  My right side was banged up from flying over--and breaking--the mirror, but I had no other big injuries. Sprout's bottom lip and chin were cut by the visor of her helment, and her left wrist was abraded, but the sweet love's first words were, "Momma, are you OK? Are you all right, Momma!?"

Many Egyptians came to our aid, offering help, water, comfort...even returning the two coins that had fallen from my pocket.

When Sprout finally calmed down enough, she told me that she is not used to crash landings. To which I fervently replied, neither am I and I hope we never have to get used to them. The baby was moving normally that night, and since I had no abnormal pains or anything suspicious, the doctor said all was well. I was a little nervous upon discovering a bruise just above my navel, but Coquille has been unfazed.

The next day, I was pretty sore, but Sprout seemed fine. She and Kainam got the full-fledged flu, though, and I got a nasty cough that insured this was one tiring week.  The kids still have fever today, but I hope we are all on the mend...

The gift

4 Feb 2016 05:11 pm
wayfaringwordhack: (glass ball)
Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts about gift-giving in my last post.  I'm going to reply here with what we ended up doing.

After discussing it with J, we decied to let Sprout make a gift (a picture she drew, for which we got a frame) and then to offer a second gift from the rest of the family.  So, Sprout did her drawing, and we went to an art supply store to look for a frame. While we were there, Sprout saw a heart-shaped canvas. She grabbed it and exclaimed, "Oh, Mom! I know A would love this! Can we please buy it for her?  It's just like a heart and will show her I love her. Oh, please!" I agreed to the great idea and suggested we also buy some paints and brushes, so A would be sure to have something to make a masterpiece with.  Then Sprout picked out "the most hearted gift bag" to show A how much she loves her.  We put the framed picture and art supplies together and voilà.

I liked the idea of buying something Sprout could personalize, but in Egypt, things like that are not to be found just anywhere. With the short delay, we didn't have time to hunt something down.

And we don't know if A liked the present or not. It is the family's tradition to open the gifts after the guests have gone.
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: chocolate - animated)
[livejournal.com profile] asakiyume has some lovely painted cookies, and she shared the recipe with me in the comments of this post (do click through, even if you don't plan on making any cookies, to admire hers.  And here are some lovely example of stars and more angels).  I made a batch to take to a Christmas party today* (um, many cookies did not make it because we had to, um, well, eat them.  For research purposes, you understand. Oh, and I gave a few to my housekeeper in her Christmas gift bag).

I wanted to experiment with natural dye and a red-and-white color scheme so used lingonberry (similiar to cranberries but smaller) juice. I think two things went "wrong."

First off, I perhaps made the icing a bit too thin. Not from a taste standpoint because, being made from powdered sugar, the icing was already sweet enough, but maybe the icing would have held up better to the juice? I dunno know.

The second problem, then, was the juice was too acidic and ate through the icing, making it hard for me to do detail. Instead of painting smoothly *on* the icing, I found that the colors pooled a bit under the surface. You can't tell in the photos, but looking across the cookies, you can see where the glossy surface of the icing has been disolved. Maybe beet juice next time?

Still they are pretty, I think, and I had a lot of fun doing them.



Sprout helped, but she ate all of her creations (except the unfrosted tree you can barely glimpse with the brightest red touches). My favorite was when she painted big swatches of red across a hedgehog, adopted a squeaky voice, and said, "Oh, I'm bleeding!" before she gobbled it up. :P

_________
*It isn't late for Christmas parties because here in Egypt we get the fun of having celebrations from the Western-assigned 25 December Christmas day until the Coptic Christmas on January 7.

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