Thursday, September 20, 2012

Making It Count

I have started three blog posts in the past week and now here I am writing a fourth. I guess it will be one about not having been able to complete the other three. To be fair, it’s not exactly that I couldn’t complete them, it’s just that I sat down, excited to write, and then found I didn’t have a clear focus or really much of an idea of what I wanted to say. Now as I write that, I think it seems that my inability to write something organized is perhaps a bit reflective of my life here. Some days I feel really on top of it, organized, ready to go and totally at peace with the gentle Malagasy breezes, the impending Spring and the myriad chirps, knocks and squawks of the unknown animals that inhabit our little plot of land and its surroundings. Other days, not so much.

It’s a nice post here. Where Tana excels as a Foreign Service post is in its hominess. The location of the majority of the Embassy houses (a nice suburb within 10 minutes of downtown and half an hour from the Embassy) makes for pleasant and not overly hectic living. It’s also a really tight knit community. I love in every way that I can walk the children to school and that our close friends are near by and that our social circle expands well beyond the Embassy community. But, Madagascar is very, very far away. And it feels that way. And that feeling can be distracting.

My husband recently fell upon the awareness that in a two year posting, every week is approximately one percent of your tour. I find that both cool and shocking. What that means for us is that something like 12% of our tour is over – and we just got here! So, I feel torn between the moments when I just sink in and love it (the moments when I knock out everything on my list while simultaneously take time to just “be”) and the moments of the profound awareness that this will be another really quick two years of our lives and sooner than we know, we’ll leave behind all that we love here. And I ask myself, what will I, personally, have to show for it?

So, all that’s to say, every day brings ups and downs, successes and, if not all out failures, at least challenges. If I look at the to-do list I posted here a few weeks ago I see each item in the context of the mixed emotions of uprootedness, but I also see that, without even thinking much about it – I worked on that to-do list.

I have made cheese – really good homemade ricotta with local milk that smelled like, evidently, what milk is really supposed to smell like. Then, I tried to make the same recipe with powdered milk, which, according to the Internet, is totally possible. I ended up with a big pot of hot powdered milk. This clearly goes in the “fail” column.

Fish tacos – done! Really well done in fact. I got together with a group of girlfriends and provided the incredibly easy and, if I do say so myself, delicious corn tortillas. I’m personally not any closer to knowing how to make the beer battered fish. I was concentrating so much on the tortillas and the Coronas we got from the duty free store, I didn’t really pay attention to the fish process. But, it was delicious as enjoying great food in the company of friends always is.

The tomatoes are planted and starting to sprout. Not much to do there, but sit back and watch. And, I now have citric acid and cheese salt stored in two of my Ball jars…that’s something I guess.

So it is, as always, the ebb and flow. One day’s perfect the next it takes just a tad more effort to not see the long line of days stretching out and wonder what in the world I’m going to do with myself here. Luckily, I find the Foreign Service life makes a great excuse for seeing the glass half-full. I have the first little sprouts of basil and cilantro coming up which means sometime in the next few months we’ll enjoy garden fresh pesto and salsa. And, I have the sparkly, giggly eyes of a five month old, whose only home she’ll know for her first two years is this distant little world floating in the Indian Ocean. Maybe my lists, my productivity and my fulfillment come on the waves of these little gifts. If that’s not inspiration for making it count, I don’t know what is.

Tiny, baby Basil!
Itty-bitty Cilantro!


  1. Oh my gosh, this post was basically a mirror image of what is in my head--write down to the tiny seedlings!! We actually really like living in New Delhi (a bit of a change from our last post) and every week that passes that I find myself doing silly things like unpacking or waiting for maintenance people, I think "ugh, I am wasting our time here!" It's hard to remember that this is life, not everyday can be a perfect adventure and making a house feel like a home, making food for my family to eat--those things all matter just as much as getting out and seeing things. You obviously have it down pat though! Great post! Happy Gardening!

    1. Well, I can't say I have it down pat, but I can say I'm trying. It sounds like you are too - and you're right, all these things do matter. It's just making that shift in perception, isn't it? Glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks!