Our Faithful


San Francisco to Addis Ababa, 2011.  Malika wins the award for best traveller-though Thor outrivals her driving abilities!

From day one at SFO when we forgot the gate to her palace, through the Ethiopian rainy season and even now that she must live with us in an unheated house, Malika maintains her regal repose.

She delights in having a garden that gives her access to the warm Ethiopian sun at every angle on the dial. She’s fond of her chicken yard mates, particularly their daily food offerings of barely and corn meal.

She’s the best guard in town. One glimpse of Malika and most passersby literally jump and run, eyes wide open aghast that they’ve nearly been devoured. Meanwhile, Malika has barely noticed them.

Malika always stands by, looking out for us. We’ve been able to reward her with fresh cow hocks and lamb bones from the local butcher stall. She’s wild about the gobs of marrow and the heft of her sinewy treasures.

We love you Malika!

How am I to fly?

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Our Doro Girls

Doro Girls

Addis Ababa, September 2011.  Ethiopians celebrate the New Year on the eve of September 11th.  Known as Meskerem, the center of this national gala is a feasting dish called ‘Doro Wot’ or Chicken Stew.  On the days before along every road, you see women, men and children carrying home bunches live chickens.  Strange to see them hanging by their feet in a daze, knowing that they’re soon to become the center of much attention and joy.

It was two days before Meskerem that Finn set out to find his ‘Doro Girls’ and begin his egg farm.  We went to a small Poultry Stand recommended by a friend, and Finn quickly selected Sally, Emmaline, Kelly and little Ginger.  A youngster at the time, we guessed that Ginger was mistakenly included in the Meskerem roundup.

It’s taken some time, but the girls provide 2-3 beautiful brown, ORGANIC eggs each day!

Doro Bet

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Kids at Work

Addis Ababa, November 2011. I’m still having great difficulty accepting the fate of so many Ethiopian children who ‘must’ work for a living. It becomes one of those facts of life with which we move through on a daily basis.

We see this little boy every morning when taking our kids to school. He has always impressed us with his calm, determined demeanor and his professional approach to work. Thor has helped him improve his ‘product’ by supplying shoe creams and a cleaner polishing cloth. We also encourage more parents to slow down and get a shine. He works the two block stretch where parents park and walk their children to the Lycee. A shine with creme costs 5 birr or about USD 30 cents. For comparison, a cup of coffee is about 10 birr, the local newspaper is 6 birr or a locally baked roll of bread might cost 6 birr.

The reality is that many, many families here cannot survive without the income from their children. I’m assuming that he has a family because I notice that his clothes are cleaned once a week and he himself appears well-fed and dressed.

We have learned that he goes to school in the afternoons. I can only hope!

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Our Great Adventure

August 2011, San Francisco.  During the last days before moving our household to Addis, when Thor and I communicated mostly in grunts and gestures,  London street artist Ben Eine rang the bell.  A rising star, Ben thought he might like to paint our west wall.  “Yes.” “Go, paint!” we yelped happily.  Ben’s creation ‘literally’ caught the vibe of our upcoming travels and the delightful revival of Hayes Valley.  During those zany days, we held the image as a happy talisman of our decision to break out and explore the Horn of Africa.   Learn more about Ben at www.einesigns.co.uk.

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Treasure Island Sailing

Finn's First Solo

July 2010.   Ship Ahoy!  We are not surprised that Finn took to sailing like a fish to water.  The 10-day workshop at Treasure Island has been jam packed with solid instruction and helpful ‘life experiences’.  On Day #1, all sailors must demonstrate their ability to capsize their boat and right it again–by themselves.  Finn admits that the instructors taught them helpful techniques, but the task was still a bit daunting.  Usually, the kids were in teams, particularly on the larger vessels.  In addition to getting around, Finn learned all key parts of the boat and sails.  How to tie knots…a lesson well learned when on student failed to properly secure their boat and proceeded to remove the center board.  Before long, the boat began drifting out into the bay.  I think the instructors let the child hang out long enough to drill in the lesson before launching the rescue craft!

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Soccer Tigress #14

Feven, the family athlete, is completely enthralled with soccer.  ‘Defense’ is her current game, but she hopes to be a left or right wing soon.  For the last two seasons, she has been a member of the Jaguar Team of French American International kindergarten players.  Coach Jay and numerous parents have been leading the kids from ‘daisy pickers’ toward more organized, ball-passing, position players.  Practice is afterschool on Tuesdays and most games are on Saturdays in Golden Gate Park.  Go Fevie Go!

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Gone Fishin!

Ethiopia, Christmas 2009 


Fishing Buddies at Lake Langano

Christmas 2009, Lake Langano, Ethiopia.  After countless casts with provisional homemade gear, our new fishing buddies joined the cause.  Within minutes, they pulled in the first catch.  Wow!  Gedame, the eldest of the group, gifted the largest Tilapia to Finn.  That evening, the kitchen staff grilled it for our dinner.  Yum!  Without doubt, it was the best meal in the house.  Other guests were eating, can you believe, Boston Baked Beans and Pork Chops!

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