africakids.jpg Today we had another fantastic day here in East Africa. We spent the day at our first distribution for one of the new parishes for the Carpenter's Kids. The village we visited was called Mzologe, and they are not yet linked back to a parish in New York. It was the first time that the children of this community received their school clothes, shoes, and mosquito nets.

Once again the community welcomed us with open arms, and we were greeted by virtually the whole community. Today's trek took us a couple of hours deep into the interior land along the Rift Valley. Upon arrival, we again were greeted by joyous song and dance. Everyone wanted to shake our hands and we happily took the time to meet each one. Young and old, the village excitedly swept us up into their music and dancing.

We later took a tour of the community including a giant windmill just outside of the boundaries. Unfortunately, it was a sad symbol of a government program in failure. The complete machinery was still almost entirely in place, but the long rods that extended down to the well below were broken. What had at one point brought water to the village, sadly lay broken and in disrepair, casting a sad shadow on the tiny country village.

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emily_fox.jpgCongratulations, you’re pregnant – and for the first time since you were eight, you can eat whatever you want! Because you’re with child and therefore eating for two! And you are supposed to be a little insane from the hormones! So when you decide you must have half a jar of peanut butter for a snack, you only have to shrug helplessly and say, “I can’t help it – the baby loves peanut butter!” as though the kid were tapping out some kind of Morse Code on the inside of your belly.

 Juliet Maeve Scott,
December 28th, 2007
6 lbs 2

Everyone smiles indulgently at you and touches you kind of inappropriately on your belly area and tells you what a blessing the whole thing is and you agree because it is indeed nothing short of a blessing to be able to order rice pudding after lunch with no pangs of guilt whatsoever.

Sure, you can’t have sushi, but there are so many other perks: cookies and pizza and macaroni and cheese (for the calcium, of course) and real soda and cupcakes, glorious cupcakes, which you can even have for breakfast if you want and nobody bats an eyelash. I was thrilled for many reasons to learn I was pregnant, but I cannot deny that chief among them was the Get Out of Jail Free card that I’d been looking for my whole adult life.

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bentley.jpgTwo years ago I fell madly in love with a fella named Bentley. His piercing emerald green eyes and perfect shade of thick brown hair melted my heart those first few moments we met. He makes me laugh everyday, loves to travel, swim in the ocean with me and he'll go anywhere on a whim. My perfect day is to stay home, lying on the sofa with him, cooking him three perfect meals a day. We share a  pillow at night and sometimes I find myself staring at him while he  sleeps.

Nothing and no one has ever halted my love to travel as much as  him. I find myself completely homesick when I leave him. When I packed my bags to go to Juneau, Alaska last week I promised him I would bring home as many salmon treats that would fit in my bag.  But until the airlines come up with a new rule that dogs can sit in a passenger seat, Bentley will have to be left behind at the farm with my Mother.

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littleindia.jpgYou gotta love a guy like my friend Howard. On Memorial Day Monday at 10:30 a.m., I called him in Santa Monica from my bed in Sherman Oaks and said, “Whatcha doing today?”

“Don’t have anything until 4 o’clock,” he said.

“I don’t have anything till 6 – wanna go to Artesia and check out some of the Indian restaurants?”

“Oh yeah,” he said, “meet ya at the corner of Artesia and Pioneer Boulevards at noon.”

“Fab, see you there.” Jumped out of bed and hit the shower.

Next to the joy of eating a long, festive meal at a giant table surrounded by family and friends, my favorite culinary ritual is the food safari, an expedition off the beaten track in search of something new and delicious. My sister Jo will drive to the four corners of the earth with me to try a new pizza joint that we’ve heard is good. There was the 2-hour car trip up to Hartford with the old boyfriend, because we’d read great things about an old diner. And my very busy bud Peter managed to keep a lunch open last week so that we could go sample the hot dogs (five different ones!) at the new Papaya King in Hollywood.

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dogs.jpg Friends have teased me for years.  Do I care?  Not one bit. 

So…I cook for my dogs.  When I prepare a delicious meal for friends they are all appreciative, and if dogs are man’s best friends why wouldn’t I make a similar effort for Cisco (my Golden/Husky mix) and Buddha (my Chow).  Most dog owners, when asked, refer to their pets as beloved family members. “Would you feed your family a steady diet of packaged cereal?”

Whose idea was kibble anyway?  Kibble does not exist in nature.  The list of ingredients on a can of Alpo or a bag of Science Diet is a mile long and really scary.  I prefer to keep things simple. I’m certain there is not a dog lover to be found who wasn’t alarmed by the recent recall of at least sixty brands of pet food that contained a deadly plastic called melamine.  Just a few days ago public health officials in California recalled a type of Pedigree pet food because of possible salmonella contamination.  I was outraged and saddened by the loss of dogs and cats that consumed these processed foods, but I wasn’t worried about Cisco and Buddha.  I’ve always known exactly what they are being fed.

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