Monday, July 30, 2012

Cultivation and Personal Growth

I’m not really one for resolutions, but I am one for pretty regular self-examination. So, one of the things I am working on for this year is remembering to (1) be myself and (2) be true to myself. I was recently reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project (a really, really good book that I highly recommend – even if you’re already happy) and she found that in honoring and accepting yourself as you truly are you can be happier. She gives the example that she really wants to be the type of person who enjoys Jazz clubs, but she just isn’t. So, she just says, “You know, I’m just not that into Jazz clubs.” It’s not that you don’t try to make personal improvements; it’s just that you accept yourself a bit more. This makes sense I think.

I’ve applied this to myself in the realm of my garden. I have always really wanted a vegetable garden. I absolutely love getting fresh veggies from the garden. My whole life – from my early childhood in Indiana to driving through the Texas Hill Country in our pre-FS life to just about every international adventure - has been punctuated with stops at roadside stands to load up on just-from-the-garden goodies.

But, here I have to confess, despite the joy I get from seeing fresh veggies and herbs begin to pop up from the soil, I have no real desire to tend my own garden. I don’t mind dirt and I love being outdoors, but I just do not have the skills or patience to manage the earth and the seeds and the watering and the sunning on my own. I wish I did. I really wish I did. Besides the fact that I would get the tasty, healthy pay-off, I have this romantic notion that a woman who tends a garden with dirty hands, a smudge of soil on her nose and a floppy hat must be very sexy…in a rustic, Little House on the Prairie sort of way.

So, anyway, I'm practicing being true to myself…and I hired a gardener. His name is Arthur and he works every morning. It’s autumn here (and the dry season) so he rakes the leaves and waters the plants. He also turned my empty, but perfect garden space into a true garden. And, he made these wonderful little signs! This little plot of land with its little green beans starting to pop up makes me really happy.  Having a reliable, kind and honest person to help it grow makes it that much better.

The garden spot - pre-Arthur
Green Beans!


Chinese cabbage...not sure what I'm going to do with it.

The view of our house from the garden

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fourteen months later - Madagascar!

What a break that was, huh?! Yes, fourteen months ago I was not especially feeling bloggy. In fact, I was feeling rather overwhelmed with the arrival of the end of our first Foreign Service tour. In all honesty, perhaps blogging is exactly what I should have been doing, but I didn’t feel my heart was in it and I just kept feeling like I was running out of things to say. But, as the last several months have left me with a running mental list of blog posts, I figure now is as good a time as any to get back into it.

So, here goes.

But, first things first. What in the world have I been doing for the last 14 months? And, why am I getting back to For Lack of Tacos now?

Well, here it is, the last year in 100 words:

Last beach trips in the Dominican Republic.
Last days of work with Peace Corps.
Saying goodbye to DR friends.
Crazy stuff happening in Santo Domingo.
Pack out.
Mommy/Daddy trip to New York in October.
End of my first-trimester (yep, that’s right – there are 5 of us now…and the dog!).
Our oldest started kindergarten.
French…November - March.
April – baby girl arrives! Joy!
Minor freak out about moving half-way across the world with a newborn.
Pack out.
Hard times saying goodbye again. Sniff sniff.
Two days in Paris.
Great welcome.
Hints of feeling a new home beginning here.

So, it’s no haiku, but I think that sums it up.

Now, onto the interesting stuff! We are here – in Madagascar! Madagascar!! This is largely the reason I just can’t resist getting back to writing. This is, quite seriously, like no place else on Earth. And, while For Lack of Tacos has long since stopped being a “food blog” per se, I still love food and holy cow, do they have good food here! If I’m not careful I’m going to be leaving here with two doughy thighs that will look a lot like the baguettes with which I religiously stuff my face.

But, as always, it’s not just about food around here. As you can tell from my summary up there, this transition has been seriously intense. Moving to Santo Domingo was not without its challenges, but moving here, with our two oldest children now 6 and 4 and a brand new (seriously adorable and precious) baby girl in tow has brought me face to face with the question, “Why do we do this again?” And yet, day after day, I see why we do this. No, there still aren’t any tacos stands, but that is still okay.

So, I’m back here. Making grocery lists again. Trying to feed our family. Trying to turn the simplest ingredients into yummy treats and hoping I do it all at least a little gracefully and with at least a tiny bit of humor…and wine. And, I just keep praying we don’t stop finding ways to make it all make sense and learn our lessons – because, you know, it really is a great adventure. Yay!

As always, thanks for reading. Stay tuned…