* Railroad tracks. I will always love them.
* Cool mornings. Today my alarm went off at 5:30 because the coolest, quietest hours take place even before the sun lofts itself over the mountains. When I stop to listen, there are actually roosters all over the city, I can hear a chorus of them in the distance, some of them close enough to pick out individually. There are the plentiful Common Mynahs, grunting and clicking and singing, and there are people pulling their food carts out to the street.
But this falls into the background of morning sounds--none of this noise applies to me, I don't have to address any of it, so I will soak in my own silence.
* Old friends. Carrien came to Pai and stayed for a couple of nights. She arrived with her kids just a few hours after Chinua left and the two of us did our best to harness the delightful chaos that ensued. Nine kids in a not-so-big house. There was a lot of laughing and shrieking and bonding.
I'm pretty sure that Carrien is a superhero. She's just made an international move pregnant while her husband back ties things up in the U.S. She's been here a month now, and is handling everything with stamina and grace. Even the bus trip to Pai with all her kids, including a two-year-old. I've been doing this sort of thing so long that it's second nature to me (and to the kids), but everyone doesn't live their lives on buses and it can be so challenging at first. She's amazing, and very, very kind.
* Solo standing at the window in my room, saying, "Those are beautiful clouds, those are beautiful clouds..."
* Miriam's help. She is so kind and helpful. And when a German woman cleans your kitchen, your kitchen knows it.
* My landlady. Now she has gone and installed an air conditioning unit in my bedroom, because she is worried about Isaac being too hot. (She took it from another house, where she said they weren't using it.) We won't use it all the time, partly because I don't like the huge jump between air conditioned temperature and outside temperature, and partly because this house has too many gaps between the boards for it to be economical to cool. But I have felt badly about putting Isaac to sleep in my room, which feels like an oven in the afternoons. When I wake him up he's a puddle of sweat. It will be so nice to cool it down for him.
* A new thought. I started reading the book The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers, and I read recently about the importance of believing in our value as mothers. I've been mulling it over and carrying it around in my heart. Sometimes I feel as though my life and job as a mother is limited to breaking up fights and dealing with attitudes. It's been getting me down lately, despite how wildly I love my kids.
Thinking about my value as a mother has me contemplating how much they love me. They need me and love me and that makes everything I do important. I try to imagine how I look through their eyes, and I look necessary and lovely and lovable. And tall. So when I'm doing laundry or washing dishes, I think about this, about the necessary work of motherhood and about how I can do it with joy and contentment. Seeing myself through my kids' eyes is changing the way I feel about what I do. I'm their mom. They need me, and it's important to remember that, especially with the bigger kids who aren't as reliant on me in physical ways anymore.
It's Day 3 of the Chinua absence and I'm telling you, people in villages do not miss a beat. I was walking to the store last night and an older man at the end of my street asked me where my husband went. Since the people on my street are so kind, I told him. I think they will be the sort of people who will look out for me while Chinua is gone.
And with that, I'm off to start the day. The sun is about thumb height above the mountains. I think I'll get some lettuce out of the garden before it gets too hot, so we can have salad tonight.