God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nary a Prophtess in Sight

When you are my age--not quite ancient--you have had a variety of previous lives. Some quite forgettable, some equally memorable but most just the stuff of which our years are made. Somehow during that time we progress from infant, to child, to adolescent, to young adult, to mid-life and beyond.

In one of my lives I was an educator and, I like to think, a good one. I began in junior high school (this was before the transition to middle schools) where I taught English and for a brief period, social studies. Classes were strictly divided by ability--high, medium and low; although in an effort to fool the kids and parents, they were called x, y, z. Interestingly, these levels usually differed in color.

Classes ran about 40 or so; desks were in straight lines from front to back; the worse rule infraction was an occasional gum chewer; seldom was a student "sent" to the office; parents arrived in droves for open house and much learning was rote. Yes, this was a long, long time ago, for sure.

I arrived on the cusp of change and so soon my classes sat in semi-circles;  students were allowed to dialogue which introduced noise; rote, except for spelling, gave way to inquiry and debate; personal interpretation of what the author may have meant overshadowed multiple-choice. We began to teach our kids to think independently, creatively. They even were allowed to do the unthinkable--question the teacher.

One of the areas with which I met success was helping students learn how to write--well. This was before the days of "random" writing where kids learned to write in the absence of learning structure, sentence variation, grammar or anything else that might restrict creativity. In my mind, these were the lost years of instruction as witnessed today by the number of "grown-ups" who have difficulty creating the written word. Bizarrely, at this career point, I was an administrator and so was tasked with making certain that teachers taught this free-thought writing approach.

It is totally possible and a reasonable expectation that students write well structurally and still be creative and mesmerizing--a la the great writers. Fortunately, the pendulum has swung some and teachers now focus on creativity and style. Unfortunately, many of these teachers are a product of the "lost years" and so are having to do some catch up themselves. This is not a huge problem as all that I knew about writing and the teaching of writing I learned as I taught.

Anyway, all of the above is lead-in to my current failure.... Casey. He has  no interest in my stored wisdom as he writes for his English class. He clearly labors under the thought that I can't possibly understand what he and his teacher know. Having thrown at him the totally logical thought that we pay for his Italian and algebra tutors, but that he has a free English tutor, you would think he would be thankful. No! He turns his back.

In a way it is simpler; I can just turn him over to Mr. Silvestri and not worry --forget that my very insightful input might help his grade--no matter. Yes, life gets easier sometimes if you just let go.

It has been said: "I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his hometown."
Luke 24:4

The hometown is right here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Super Good Fish Tacos

Yep--another recipe from non-Dolly Domestic. Truthfully, I am much more at home writing about Kenya or Italy or Casey or SP than I am about cooking; however, once in awhile I do have some culinary star to share. Such is tonight. This was our second time with these and we loved them both times--even Casey--he who doesn't like much. The sauce is what makes these a cut above others.

Crispy Fried-Fish Tacos
1/2 cup mayhonaise
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 pound tilipia fillets, cut into 4 by 1 inch strips
2 large eggs, beaten
3 cups panko

Shredded cabbage
Lettuce leaves
Sliced Scallions

  1. In a bowl, whisk the mayonaise with the hoisin sauce, relish and lemon juice.
  2. In a large, reusable plastic bag, combine the flour, garlic and onion salts and white pepper. Seal bag and shake. Add fish and shake to coat.
  3.  Dip fish in the egg and then in panko. Transfer to wax paper.
  4. In a deep skillet, heat the oil to 350°. Fry fish  over moderate heat, turning once, until golden. Drain on paper towel. 
  5. Serve fish with warm corn tortillas.
Garnish with hoisin sauce, shredded cabbage, shredded lettuce, cilantro and sliced scallions.

And, as usual, I forgot about taking pictures so just use your imaginations. You can send me a photo when you make them. They are yummy!

From: Food and Wine, 2010

Monday, September 06, 2010

Amboseli-The Last Adventure

Last stop on safari--Amboseli National Park. We really weren't ready for our  grand adventure to end but what can you do? 

What we did was enjoy each moment left to us--savoring each landscape, each sunset, each wildlife sighting. Mt Kilimanjaro shone for us each morning as we opened tent flaps; Masai children greeted us with smiles and song.

We arrived to this wonderland on a small Cessna--just big enough for the pilot and we three. Casey, in the co-pilot's seat, peered out the window at the animals below-not sure that this was all going to end well.

Landing completed this very cool experience as there, in the middle of the bush, was a shack, a vehicle and our driver with cold drinks and treats. Soon a chief from one of the scattered Masai villages arrived on his motorcycle welcoming us to the Amboseli Bush. We were in a world far from our own.

After another 45 minute drive over boulders, bush and ruts, we arrived at our new oasis--Satao Elerai--a beautiful, camp, seemingly arising magically from nowhere. Below us was a water hole being visited by a herd of elephants. Birds filled the air. It was warm and silent and majestic.

 That afternoon we visited a Masai boma (village) which was similar to but different from the Samburu village we had been in earlier on the safari. The huts were a little more refined, the layout a little more communal. Daily life though was about the same--wood gathering, games, school for the children, basket and jewelry making. Life is hard but routine.

Satao Elerai leases its land from the Masai community and works with the villages through The Satao Elerai Community and Wildlife Trust in efforts to protect the wildlife and eco-systems in that area. The trust also provides clothing and medical help to the people of the boma we visited.

The next three days we saw the animals of the bush--elephants, giraffes, lions, buffalo, birds and more. Although we had seen such animals many times by now, the thrill hadn't left. Each new encounter was as awesome as the first time. How can watching an elephant community in their own environment, relating and interacting oblivious to  intruders become boring? No way...........

Does the ethereal beauty of giraffes ambling through trees and bush become mundane? I don't believe the Masai think so.

There was so much we saw, leaving us with vivid kodachrome memories. Here are a few more--samples of what is there. Really, you do need to go--it is unlike any vacation you have had before! This was our second, Tanzania in 2002 and, I think, Botswana will be next.

We worked with Southern Cross Safaris in planning our individual safari; however, they do offer small group safaris, also.

I also recommend Menengai Holidays. Daniel is a delight to work with and offers quality programs.